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Words | Premature Obituary

November 13, 2012

The Yankees celebrate (Getty)

The Yankees awoke in Atlanta on October 22, 1996 with a must-have game 3 on their minds.  They had lost the first two game of the World Series at home in humbling fashion, 12-1 and 4-0.  Game 3 would be a essential to keeping their magical season alive, and their detractors silenced.  The prospect of 3 straight games at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium was not a promising one, but that morning’s Atlanta Journal and Constitution provided some fodder.  In an article entitled, “’27 Yankees Might Lose to These Guys” Mark Bradley boldly wrote,

That the Braves are going to win the World Series is apparent.  It is also, in the grand scheme, secondary.  No longer is this team playing against the overmatched Yankees.  The Braves are playing against history… We are no longer watching a competition.  We are witnessing a coronation.

Bradley ranked the ’96 Braves as the best team of the post-free agency era, higher than the Cincinnati Reds team that won a title in 1975 and swept the Yanks in the ’76 Fall Classic.  The Yankees were incensed at the disrespect just two games into what would become a long series, but unlike the overzealous journalist, they did their talking on the field.

They won game 3, 5-2, behind a gritty performance by David Cone.  They won game 4, 8-6, in extra innings after Jim Leyritz‘ legendary 3-run homer tied the game in the 8th.  Then, in the last game ever played at Fulton County Stadium, the Yankees rode 8 1/3 shutout innings by rookie Andy Pettitte to win 1-0 and become the first team to win 8 consecutive postseason games on the road.  Two days later the Yankees beat Greg Maddox in game 6 to claim their 1st championship since 1978.

Mark Bradley was merely the voice of a legion of people who felt the Yankees were the decided underdogs and had no chance of defeating the Braves’ potent offense and unhittable staff.  What happened was the birth of one dynasty and the premature end of another.  After game 2, it was apparent there would be a coronation, but for the wrong one.

It was the Yankees who would 5 days later become the new kings of baseball.

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