Late Wednesday afternoon I rushed home so I could watch the Atlanta Braves host Game 5 of their opening round playoff series.
Roughly 20 minutes later I turned the TV off in disgust and disbelief.
I had never seen anything like it in a baseball postseason. The St. Louis Cardinals’ offense put the game out of reach before Atlanta had recorded its second out of the game. The final score was 13-1.
The loss put the Braves in a tie with the Chicago Cubs for the most consecutive playoff series defeats (10) in history. Chicago did that, though, over an 88-year stretch. Atlanta packed all of this disappointment into just 18 years.
And eight of those 10 postseason rounds have ended on the Braves’ home field.
So you’re not alone, Twins fans. We know what you’re going through.
Minnesota set an ignominious record of its own with another playoff sweep against the New York Yankees. The Twins have now lost 16 consecutive playoff games, 13 of them to New York.
The two series were similar in some respects. Minnesota went something like 3-for-28 with runners in scoring position, while Atlanta left the bases loaded twice in a 5-4, Game 4 loss at St. Louis.
Atlanta’s biggest bats went silent when it mattered, as did Minnesota’s, and both bullpens also suffered meltdowns at inopportune times.
The one thing that struck me was how differently each organization reacted to defeat.
The Braves’ Freddie Freeman, who had an awful series against St. Louis, said the season was a failure because Atlanta had the talent to win it all. (I disagree, but whatever.) The Twins, likely taking a cue from rookie manager Rocco Baldelli, stressed how proud they were of the year they’d had. The loss to the Yankees seemed secondary.
The two clubs are a year apart in their trajectories. Last season Atlanta was the team that surprised everyone and was just happy to be in the playoffs. This year they had higher expectations.
Perhaps that’s where Minnesota will be next year, but their “aw shucks” attitude this time around understandably rubbed some fans the wrong way.
The Braves have more question marks on their roster but both teams should be playoff/division winner contenders again, and hopefully one or both of them will finally end the suffering of their respective fan bases.
Mike Hautamaki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.