It’s October 28, 1995. We’re at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.
Braves reliever Mark Wohlers has retired Cleveland’s first two batters of the ninth inning in a brutally tense 1-0 game. If he can get past Cleveland’s Carlos Baerga, the Braves will hoist their first championship after three World Series appearances in five years, and 29 (often long) seasons in Atlanta. But Baerga can tie this game with one swing of the bat, keep hope alive for his team’s dream season, and help the city of Cleveland end a championship drought 31 years running.
This World Series has been a match-up of the miserable: Cleveland embodied baseball irrelevance for over 40 years, while Atlanta’s awful and empty decades of pro baseball had the honor of a national broadcast. Then the 90s hit, and Cleveland built baseball’s best offense, while Atlanta’s starting pitching dominated the sport. One franchise had a chance to end decades of misery. The other one? Well, maybe that city would win a Super Bowl?
To understand how painful – and proud – these two suffering franchises, cities, and fan bases are, we need to rewind.