For the first time in franchise history, the Braves made it into the playoffs last season via the National League wild card berth. After a four-year postseason absence, the celebration was understandable. But here’s the question of the day: Was it worth hanging a pennant?
The Braves returned to Turner Field Tuesday night. The most obvious stadium addition was on the second deck facing in left field: a pennant with “2010″ on it, the number painted in white. It’s the 17th pennant in the line and they’re color coded. The pennant for the Braves’ lone World Series win (1995) is red.
All others are yellow with numbers in blue (division champions) or red (National League champions). Or white.
Gotta tell you: It looks a little strange. I’m not knocking the Braves’ decision. Fact is, when I first heard a couple of months back that they were consider it, I thought it was unusual, but now I’m somewhat neutral on the subject.
Here was general manager Frank Wren’s response when asked about any debate that might have gone into the decision to hang a wild card banner: “I never thought there was a debate. When you travel around baseball, you see them displayed as we have. Making the playoffs is special and should be recognized. In other sports it doesn’t carry the same significance because over half the the teams that start the season get in, whereas in baseball it is still an elite field that make the playoffs.”
One slight correction: This is not an automatic in baseball. The Braves’ are the 17th team in major league history to reach the postseason as a wild card (10 in the National League, seven in the American League). I decided to canvas the other 16. Here are the results of my email survey:
– The Braves are only the sixth wild card team to hang a banner. Oddly, all are in the National League. The others: Colorado, Houston, Milwaukee, Chicago Cubs and New York Mets.
– Eleven decided not to hang a banner. They are: New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, Oakland Athletics, Los Angeles Angels, Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Dodgers, Florida Marlins, St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants.
– A Florida official said since the team won the World Series in wild card seasons (1997 and 2o03), wild card banners weren’t hung. He wasn’t certain if the banners would’ve been had the team not won the title.
– St. Louis won’t even acknowledge that it was a wild card in 2001. The Cardinals consider themselves “co-division champions” with Houston and have that designated on a wall in the clubhouse. They have no sign in public view.
– Seattle, a wild card in 2000, has a banner designating it was an ALCS participant. A Mariners’ official said they probably would not have recognized the wild card berth if it lost in the opening round.
So what’s your view on this? Were the Braves justified in hanging a banner or do you find it strange (or both)?
Coming later: Why I think the Braves will win the National League East.
By Jeff Schultz