No matter how depressing this offseason has been, it could be worse, as this walk down memory lane reminds us.
The Braves. losers of three straight, were 38-74 entering play on Aug. 10, 1988. A crowd of 6,070 turned out on one crazy summer night to watch Rick Mahler battle Andy Hawkins.
A three-run homer by Murph gave the Braves a 3-1 advantage in the 3rd. The lead held until the 9th when, as you’d expect, the roof caved in. After a Tony Gwynn single, Andres Thomas booted a grounder by Keith Moreland to put the tying runner on base. Marvell Wynne bunted the runners over to 2nd and 3rd with one out. Mahler then coaxed a grounder from Benito Santiago but unfortunately it was hit to Thomas, who committed his second error of the inning.
The Braves still led by 1 and, following a strikeout of Randy Ready, were just one out away from victory. Mahler did his part, getting Garry Templeton to ground softly to first. Guess what happened next.
The third error of the inning, by Gerald Perry, tied the game at three.
It would stay that way for six innings. German Jimenez allowed two runs in the top of the 16th but the Braves battled back, scoring one and putting the tying run on third with Thomas coming to bat. Appropriately, he recorded the final out, dropping the Braves 25.5 games out of first.
What is it about shitty ex-Braves and uniform burning? Frank LaCorte, one of the worst hurlers in Braves history, torched his Astros uni. Talk about your fashion statements, heeeeey!
When Damaso Garcia burned his Blue Jays togs in the summer of ’86 the Braves pounced, acquiring the two-time All Star with a .293 BA and an average of 34 SB over five seasons for Craig McMurtry, was was 10-26 over his last three years in Atlanta. The late Jesse Outlar of the Atlanta Constitution called the deal “almost too good to be true.”
It was true, but there was nothing good about it. Garcia missed the entire ’87 season with knee problems, returning the following year a shell of his former self. Garcia totaled just seven hits as a Brave — three of which came in the ’88 opener. After that, he managed but four hits in 53 AB. That’s an .075 BA. His .117 BA that year was lower than pitchers Rick Mahler, Zane Smith and Charlie Puleo.
While his talent dissipated, Garcia was as big an asshole as ever. He was released in May after twice pulling himself from the line-up and refusing to play third base.
The Braves celebrated Garcia’s departure by burning his uniform.
In 2012 we celebrated the 20th anniversary of Sid’s slide, and the 30th anniversary of the ’82 NL West champs.
Next year marks the 25th anniversary of the worst team Atlanta has ever seen, regardless of sport. Despite having 5 present, future or borderline Hall of Famers (Bruce Sutter, Glavine, Smoltz, Murph, Ted Simmons), the ’88 Braves lost 106 and should have lost more. They ranked next-to-last or last in the NL in:
- Hits Allowed
- Fielding Percentage
Four players batted under .200 (min. 50 AB): Jim Morrison, Jerry Royster, Simmons, Damaso Garcia
No Braves pitcher reached double digits in wins. Reliever Paul Assenmacher’s 8 wins were second only to Rick Mahler’s 9.
The ’88 Braves did lead the NL in one category: Errors. Their DP combo, Andres Thomas and Ron Gant, combined for 60.