Revisionist history, revisited

As I said yesterday, I figured there’d be more …

Three additional points:

You say that my final point (that the Braves are the ones manipulating history) is off-target because the media and MLB, and not the Braves, are the ones who say the streak for the Braves is at 12. But the Braves web site itself says the streak dates back to 1991: For exampe, in the 2002 season write-up, the Braves say that “[Bobby] Cox, who also posted his 1800th career win during the season, guided his team to its 11th consecutive division title.” So the Braves ARE engaging in the data manipulation.

Second, in one section, Chass quotes the Yankees media guide as saying the Yankees “reached postseason play for the ninth consecutive year in 2003, extending the major league record which they share with the Atlanta Braves.” Note the use of the word “year.” Under any definition of “year” it cannot be said that the Braves have been to the post season for 12 straight years, or that they have won the division title for 12 straight years. That’s simply impossible.

Finally, even though you still disagree with me, I think we must both agree that there’s a reasonable — if not persuasive — argument on the Yankees’ side of this debate. With that said, what team is being more dishonest here? The Braves are taking advantage of the 1994 strike to make their history sound greater than it is. To use the strike to their advantage just makes me sick. If you were the author of the Braves’ media guide (or the Braves web site), would you be willing to say the streak is 12, knowing full well that the Expos had the Braves beat in 1994, or at the very least the Braves did not win the title in 1994? Why say “12” when you can legitimately say “9”? Saying “12” just opens the Braves up to criticism for taking advantage of the strike. The bottom line is that the statement in the Yankees media guide is less intellectually dishonest than the Braves’ statement on its web site. Besides, you should hate the Braves more than the Yankees anyway — the Yankees have never cost the Mets a playoff berth, but the Braves have.

I will now let this issue die.

I would’ve liked to let it die, too, but two things came to me:

Sorry to continue this, but I too will try to let it die. I just wanted to clarify something that came across wrong. I said it wasn’t the Braves who are manipulating history, and that’s untrue, because they are. My point was that they aren’t doing it on their own. Everyone — and I mean everyone — believes their streak began in 1990. They don’t need to use the streak to bolster their argument in the eyes of the media or MLB.

I can’t argue with your point about the definition of “year,” and clearly the Yankees made sure they used that word in their notes instead of “season.” But you could just as easily add “year in which playoffs were held.” No one does, but maybe they should. Perhaps that’s the solution to this, something all the asterisk hounds should push for in order to clarify things.

It shouldn’t be surprising that a team would use the strike to its advantage — it was the players who walked out, who ended the season. The owners feel like they were the victims in the situation. So Braves ownership (as does the Yankees) would want to use the strike to their advantage. The Yankees clearly are, otherwise there’d be no need to even mention the Braves in their accomplishments. While I concede that the Braves are using 1994 to their advantage, I’d suggest you must admit that the Yankees are, in a way, looking at that year as I am. Otherwise, why wouldn’t they say that their streak was at 10? They were in first place when the 1994 season ended, 6.5 games ahead of the Orioles. But they can’t say they made 10 straight postseasons because there wasn’t one that year, same as the Braves don’t say they DIDN’T make the ’94 postseason, because there wasn’t one to make. The Yankees don’t say they have one more division title than they do because there was no division title in 1994, so the Braves have won 12 straight division titles. And you can’t speculate like this (what kills me about the strike more than anything is Matt Williams’ pace to break Roger Maris’ 61 home runs), but who’s to say the Braves couldn’t make up 6 games (that’s how far behind Montreal they were in mid-August) in the final 6 weeks of the season. I’m not using that for my argument, just throwing it out there.

Finally (and this is the main reason I had to respond), I don’t see the Braves as having kept the Mets out of the postseason. Technically, yes, they did, by winning eight division titles over the Mets. But the Mets wouldn’t have won those titles against anybody. They weren’t competitive enough. In 1995, the Mets were 21 games back, tied with the Phillies, and wouldn’t have made the postseason under any circumstances. In 1996, they were 25 back in fourth. In ’97 they were 13 back in third, but it was the Marlins who won the wild card and kept the Mets out. I don’t like that Marlins team for winning the Series in just its fourth year, breaking the ’69 Mets record of winning it in their eighth (but which was done before free agency and the farm system as we know it). In 1998, the Mets were in second, 18 games out, losing the wild card to the Cubs. In ’99 and 2000, the Mets won the wild card (and the Yankees kept the Mets from their third world championship) and in 2001, the Mets were 6 games out in third, 4 behind the Phillies, but 9 games out of the wild card. It was more than the Braves that kept them out that year.

Anyway, this has been fun, and I won’t blame you if you want to get one last word in.

While dwelling on it more later, I thought, What is the answer to the question “In the division in which the Braves have played, who has won the last 12 division titles?” The answer is Atlanta. In the last 12 postseasons, who has made the most appearances. Again, Atlanta, with 12.

So while he is right that when you bring the word “year” into it, the Yankees have a point, but that is how they are manipulating it. The way I see it, other than the individual accomplishments that have gone on record, it’s as if 1994 never happened, at least when it comes to baseball.

But I think this discussion is over for now.

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