The Atlanta Braves 0-4 start brought back a few memories. If youre old enough to remember the 1970s and 1980s, you probably thought you were in a time capsule. Starts like the one they had this season were commonplace back in the day.
In fact, this years bad start was the worst since the 1988 season, when Atlanta started out 0-10. That made me go back in time for a little history lesson of what was one of the worst seasons in Braves history.
Yes, this is something we probably all wanted to forget. Like this years team, the 1988 Braves did not make a major acquisition during the offseason. But unlike this years team, the 1988 Braves at least had a better excuse.
They were in the middle of the Bobby Cox/Stan Kasten rebuilding plan. Cox was the general manager then, while Kasten was team president. They were committed to rebuilding a horrible franchise through young players, and they knew it was going to be a painful process.
Chuck Tanner, the always-positive manager, got fired that season. He said publicly he wanted to develop the young players, but his penchant for winning made him make decisions that didnt always make sense in a rebuilding plan.
Rick Mahler and Zane Smith were still in the rotation, but names like Tom Glavine and Pete Smith were starting to appear. Glavine was 7-17 in his first full season and hardly looked like a future Hall of Famer.
Then there was this John Smoltz pitcher who came up that season. He turned out to be pretty good, too.
You think Chad Durbin looks bad so far this season? Well, hes probably no Ed Olwine. And in 1988 the Braves thought they had their own Fernando Valenzuela, but instead German Jimenez looked like the Mexican equivalent of Kenshin Kawakami.
Bruce Sutter was 35 years old that year. He was still closing games, at least when they could close games. But Sutters shoulder was quickly giving out thanks to too many split-finger fastballs.
The lineup was, well, horrible. Dale Murphy was still there, but he had a bad season. Just like the Braves pushed Tyler Pastornicky into the lineup this season, they pushed Terry Blocker into center field in 1988. Lets hope Pastornickys results are much, much better.
The infield had Gerald Perry at first, Andres Thomas at short, and good old Ken Oberkfell at third. Ozzie Virgil was behind the plate, and Dion James was in left field. No one struck much fear in opposing pitchers that season.
Perry was actually pretty good, hitting .300. But thats tainted by the fact he sat out the final day of the regular season to protect the important statistic. Nothing like going all out for your team.
Ron Gant was the second baseman. Yes, the second baseman. He came up at that position. He showed great promise as a hitter, but Gants defense at second became so bad that the next season they would try him at third. Then they sent him down to the minor leagues to learn how to play the outfield. That eventually turned out OK.
Atlanta had 54 wins and 106 losses that season, its worst ever in Atlanta and worst in franchise history since Boston lost 115 in 1935. You had to hold out hope the young players were eventually going to do something (and they did), but it was not easy watching games on a nightly basis.
Thankfully, this years Braves have rebounded and improved since the winless start. But if you think this year was bad, you just need to remember a few seasons from the past to know it really wasnt.
Listen to The Bill Shanks Show from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at www.foxsports1670.com.