I'll always hate the Atlanta Braves....but I am an admirer of what they've been able to do over the past 15 years.
In the last 14 seasons that ended when they were supposed to [read: except in 1994 which, apparantly, MLB has decided to just leave out there incomplete like an abandoned novel], the Atlanta Braves not only went to the playoffs, but were division champions. They were NL West champs in 1991-1993 and NL East champs from 1995-2005. In that time frame, the only team that finished ahead of them in the standings isn't even around anymore [the Montreal Expos in 1994]....four expansion teams have been added....two new divisions formed....and 19 new stadiums have been added.
The last season that ended without the Braves in the postseason , the USSR was still around, George H. W. Bush was the President, Buster Douglas knocked out Mike Tyson, Michael Jordan hadn't won an NBA title yet, Nelson Mandela was released from prison, there was still an East and West Germany, Iraq invaded Kuwait which introduced most of us to Saddam Hussein, Barry Bonds was skinny in Pittsburgh, Jon-Benet Ramsey was born and most of the players in the NBA and NFL hadn't set foot on the pro stage yet.
Oh, and the Braves were regarded one of the worst teams in baseball.
That makes their rise all the more remarkable. Their ability to develop their prospects coupled with an ability to chose the right free agents and great coaching have put them in this position. An amazing run that began with Terry Pendleton winning the MVP and a guy named Mark Lemke establishing a playoff rep.
Yes, I'll be right there in line with people who criticize Atlanta for only bringing one World Series title home with them during this time frame...but the fact that they were such a playoff fixture is amazing. Don't forget, it wasn't like they had stiffs in their division. Florida won two World Series while finishing as runner up to the Braves....and the Mets went to one as a Wildcard as well. Plus, the Braves held off the 100+ win Giants in 1993 to win thedivision. The division they were playing in sent a representative to the World Series in 8 of those 14 seasons.