Series will clearly settle 'Team of '90s' debate
Posted: Thursday October 21, 1999 03:48 AM
October heat: John Smoltz has a 2.25 ERA in seven career World Series starts. AP
ATLANTA (AP) -- There it is, engraved right on the ring Atlanta
Braves general manager John Schuerholz proudly wears: "Team of the
To him, the Braves already own that title. No debate needed on
the team of the decade, not even if the New York Yankees take home
this World Series trophy.
"To answer that question for the 1,442nd time, we don't need to
do anything," Schuerholz said. "We've won more games than any
team, we've won 100 games three years in a row, we've won eight
straight division titles."
"If you choose any criteria except one narrow criteria -- World
Series championships -- we lead it," he said.
Of course, that's not such a narrow category. Not to the
"Aren't we the team of the century?" New York GM Brian Cashman
said Wednesday. "World championships, that's the goal."
Fittingly, the clubs that had the majors' two worst records in
1990 get a final chance to make their cases starting with Game 1
Saturday night at Turner Field.
Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, MVP of the AL Championship
Series, probably will start for the Yankees. The Braves can pick
from any of their Big Four of Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Greg Maddux
and Kevin Millwood.
For Atlanta, it's an opportunity to win that elusive second
World Series title. The Braves beat Cleveland in 1995 -- prompting
them to put that boast on their rings -- but have nothing else to
show for eight straight trips to the NL Championship Series.
For the Yankees, it's a chance to win their record 25th title
and third in four years. That recent run began when they beat
Atlanta in six games in 1996.
"We've got another shot at them," Atlanta third baseman
Chipper Jones said.
The Braves earned their fifth trip to the World Series in the
1990s by beating the New York Mets 10-9 in 11 innings Tuesday night
in Game 6 of the NLCS. The Yankees beat Boston in five games in the
Atlanta took a day off Wednesday while New York's practice at
Yankee Stadium was rained out. That gave extra time for the Yankees
to talk about -- or turn down -- debate about the top team in the
last 10 years.
"Players don't worry about it," catcher Joe Girardi said.
"There are a lot of different players on both teams."
True, a lot has changed for the Yankees since 1990, when they
went 67-95 with a starting lineup that included Oscar Azocar, Steve
Balboni and Bob Geren, plus a rotation that had Tim Leary, Chuck
Cary and Andy Hawkins.
The Braves were even worse that season at 65-97. That was the
year they traded Dale Murphy and could only hope that young Glavine
and Smoltz would blossom.
Overall, Atlanta is a major league-best 925-629 in
regular-season games during the decade and the Yankees are next at
851-702. Oh, their interleague record against each other?
The Braves have won titles in the West and East in the 1990s and
became the first NL franchise to reach five World Series since the
Dodgers in the '50s. The Yankees have gone to the playoffs for five
straight years, their best stretch since going to the World Series
And now, with no slight intended to Toronto for its
championships in 1992-93, it's all come down the Braves and
Yankees. At stake, a trophy and a title -- Team of the Decade.
"I hope we win another World Series," Schuerholz said. "At
least it would put an end to that question."
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