Phooey — that’s about the only reaction from an Atlanta Braves fan that’s printable in a family newspaper after the 2011 team completed the worst September collapse ever.
Braves fans remember 1991, when the team went from worst to first to get into the postseason playoffs and the World Series. That season began a glorious run of 14 consecutive postseason appearances.
Last season the Braves returned to the playoffs for the first time in five years.
This year, from April through August, it appeared the Braves of 2011 were a sure bet for postseason play. As late as Sept. 6, the team was eight and a half games ahead for the National League wild-card spot.
Optimistic fans were busy counting their postseason chickens, saying there was no way the Braves could lose a playoff spot. They started counting too soon — those postseason chickens never hatched. The Braves squandered their huge lead, and on the final night of the regular season, reality arrived for all. The Braves lost. The St. Louis Cardinals won. The Braves go home. The Cardinals go to the playoffs.
The losers’ typical cry is: Wait till next year.
But what will next year hold after this heartbreaking loss? And yes, it was even more heartbreaking for the players than for the fans.
There are a lot of young players on this team. Many have performed admirably. Some seemed to grow tired in September. Others have been disappointing during much of the year.
It’s this young nucleus that holds the keys to the future.
Those are 18 players who can be the core of a 2012 Braves team that can right the ship and bring October playoff baseball to Turner Field. We implore Braves management to find the other pieces — most notably a shortstop, another outfielder and bench players — this fall and winter.
If that happens, the team might begin another playoff run, shorter but as exciting as the one from 1991.
— Online: http://www.times-herald.com