"No," Maddux said. "I'm just trying to come in."
"You can do better than that," scoffed Hershiser, and shot him a look of warning. Or as Hershiser explained later, "It's kind of like, 'I can have as good control as you have.' "
Said one Brave, "[Hershiser] thinks he's pitching coach, hitting coach and p.r. director." Atlanta chafed, too, at how Tribe third baseman Jim Thome stopped to marvel at his home run in Game 5, as if it were the space shuttle Discovery—well, it did travel almost as far—and flung his bat away with an arrogant flourish. "They're a cocky team," said Glavine, "and they don't need to be. You hoped that some guys over there would be more professional than they were. Those guys don't need to be talking [trash] and tossing bats on home runs practically into our dugout. We don't play that way."
So annoyed were the Braves at what Hershiser and Vizquel later dismissed as meaningless psychological warfare that they called a team meeting before Game 6 to get over it. "We were a little too concerned about it," Glavine said, "and a couple of guys got up and said it didn't matter what they said. We controlled the Series, and if we just played our game, we'd win it."
The Indians were bullies in the regular season, coasting to the American League Central title by a record 30 games while pounding the back end of opposing rotations. But, as Mazzone said, "They found out we don't have a back end to our rotation."
When Cleveland needed to beat Avery, the Braves' No. 4 starter, at home to even the Series at two—Atlanta manager Bobby Cox took some heat for not using Maddux on short rest—the Indians failed miserably, losing the only game not decided by one run, 5-2.
Atlanta pitched Belle magnificently throughout the Series. The only player ever to slug 50 homers and 50 doubles in the same season did not pull a hit to leftfield in the six games. He batted only seven times with a runner on base and was walked on four of those occasions. At a paltry .235 he led all Cleveland hitters with more than two at bats. Likewise, Murray's play was nothing to talk about. He batted .105 (2 for 19), dragging his average in 18 World Series games down to .169.
The Braves and the gritty Glavine were almost beyond remonstration, especially from a team that, according to its own general manager, "took a couple of ball games to get a sense and feel for what the World Series is about." Atlanta's skin has been thickened by 47 postseason games since 1991, during which Glavine has logged a 1.83 ERA in 86⅔ innings.
While everyone talked about Atlanta's unfulfilled world championship quest starting with the torturous 1991 World Series, the time line actually began in the summer of 1987: Starting in July the Braves called up shortstop Jeff Blauser from the minor leagues, traded pitcher Doyle Alexander for Smoltz and promoted Glavine to the majors. Smoltz was assigned to the minors and Blauser returned there for half the next season, leaving Glavine as the current Brave with the longest continuous service with the club. All three of them spent time with the 1988 Braves, who lost 106 games and finished 39½ games out. "See that light tower up there?" Blauser said, pointing to the rim of Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium on the first base side. "One night a lightbulb fell out and came crashing down into the stands. It didn't come close to hitting anybody. That's how empty this place was. There must have been about 2,500 people."
Last Saturday night the place swelled with 51,875 people and the anxiety of a city that had never before celebrated a championship in a major professional sport, TONIGHT'S THE NIGHT proclaimed one banner. Only two other World Series ended so late in the year—Daylight Savings Time ended just after the game—and those were delayed by a strike (1981) and an earthquake ('89).