Same as it ever was
From comfort of home, Braves clinch another division titlePosted: Monday September 09, 2002 4:17 PM
Updated: Tuesday September 10, 2002 2:40 AM
ATLANTA (AP) -- The Braves are always looking for ways to break up the monotony.
They've clinched on the field. They've clinched at 37,000 feet. On Monday night, they clinched the NL East from the couch.
Atlanta won its 11th straight division title when second-place Philadelphia lost to the New York Mets 6-4. The defeat dropped the Phillies 21 games behind the idle Braves.
The Braves missed a chance to clinch on their own with a 7-0 loss to Montreal on Sunday.
"We're fairly confident we're going to win our division," Tom Glavine said. "It's just a matter of when we do it."
While division titles are ho-hum in Atlanta, the Braves were ticked off that they might not get to celebrate as a team. There were no plans for the players to get together Monday night.
"That would stink," Chipper Jones said. "I would much rather wait until the Mets get into town."
Ah, the Mets. New York was to arrive at Turner Field on Tuesday for the start of a three-game series.
After all, it was the Mets who overhauled their roster during the offseason with an eye toward ending Atlanta's amazing run of division titles -- unprecedented in the four major U.S. sports.
New York brought in four former All-Stars, a former MVP and a future Hall of Famer, but it hasn't done much good. The Mets are last in the East.
"Certainly, they were the team that everybody thought was loading up to take a run at us," Glavine said. "It didn't work out that way."
The Braves got off to a mediocre start -- six weeks into the season, they were two games under .500 -- but a 71-30 pace since then blew away the competition.
Atlanta moved into first place for good on May 27 and had a 9 1/2-game lead by the All-Star break. They were in position to clinch at an earlier date than any other time in their streak, surpassing the 1995 team by four days on the calendar and five games on the schedule.
The Braves plan to put their champagne on ice until the postseason.
Glavine said he would be watching Monday Night Football, rooting for his home-state New England Patriots as they took on the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"Believe me, the last thing I'm doing when I've got an off day is watching baseball," he said.
Manager Bobby Cox said he would probably be asleep before the Phillies-Mets game was over. Gary Sheffield said he wouldn't be paying attention, either.
"That's something you want to share with your teammates," Sheffield said. "If I have to celebrate by myself, I don't care much about it. I'll probably find out what happened when I get to the ballpark Tuesday."
Not surprisingly, the Braves have clinched in all sorts of ways during their championship run.
For the first one in 1991, the team came back on the field after a victory at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, joining with the fans to watch San Francisco beat Los Angeles in a game that clinched the NL West championship for the Braves.
After moving to the East, Atlanta wrapped up its fourth straight division title in 1995 while on a charter flight to Cincinnati. The jet was at 37,000 feet over St. Joseph, Mo., when the word came that the Braves had clinched. The team held a private party at its hotel after touching down.
"We want to celebrate on the field," Sheffield said. "We want to win it ourselves. But we're proud of the position we put
ourselves in. However it comes, we'll take it."