When you finish 27 games behind the 5th place team in a 6-team division, you suck. Hard. And no Atlanta sports team — Falcons, Hawks, Flames, Thrashers, Dream, Chiefs, Knights, Crackers — sucked harder than the ’88 Braves.
Despite a 92-loss season in ’87 the front office stood pat, trading for Terry Blocker (lifetime OPS: .509) and signing Juan Tyone Eichelberger and Lonnie Smith off the scrap heap.
Even perennially optimistic manager Chuck Tanner struck a realistic tone.
“It may be a long season, but it has to be done and I can do it. I’m going to do it,” Tanner told Furman Bisher. He was fired after 39 games.
After losing 15 of their last 18 spring games the Braves played host to the Cubs for the season opener at Fulco, where the bad omens outnumbered the fans.
Rick Mahler, who had not allowed a run in four previous Opening Day starts, surrendered four in 5 IP. Despite that the Braves still entered the 9th with a 2-run lead, which was promptly squandered by Bruce Sutter, pitching in his first game since May 1986.
Chicago won in 13, 10-9. The Braves would lose nine more before notching the first of 54 wins.