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Atlanta’s Misfortunes in the Playoffs

The city of Atlanta, Georgia has seen a number of exciting sporting events throughout the years. NCAA Final Fours, Super Bowl Games and World Series Games are just some of the sporting events that have taken place. Atlanta has three professional sports teams; the Braves (MLB), Falcons (NFL) and the Hawks (NBA). The city has had two different franchises in the NHL, but both of which have been relocated.

What has the city only seen one of? A championship. There have been 155 professional sports seasons in Atlanta, and only one time did they produce a World Champion. The 1995 Atlanta Braves won the World Series, the lone championship the city of Atlanta can claim.

The problem isn’t getting to the playoffs and not competing. The problem is not being able to sustain the regular season success into the playoffs. Year-in and year-out Atlanta teams will have a legitimate chance of succeeding to high expectations and championships, but always seem to fall short. Great regular seasons don’t translate to great postseasons. The team most known for that in Atlanta is the Braves.

The Atlanta Braves were one of the premier teams of the 1990’s and early 2000’s. Stacked with a pitching staff that included Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz, the Braves were title contenders year after year. In fact, the Braves won 14 straight division titles from 1991-2005. Unfortunately for the Bravos, they could only produce one championship.

The past seven playoff series the Braves have played in resulted in losses. A couple seasons ago Atlanta saw its 8 ½ wild card lead disappear, causing them to lose their playoff spot on the final day of the season. The team’s latest postseason failure came at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS. The Braves won the National League East this year with a record of 96-66, but lost the series 3-1. In a do-or-die game, Atlanta had a one-run lead with their bullpen taking over. Keep in mind that the Braves’ bullpen was one of the best in baseball this season. Tell that to Juan Uribe who hit a go-ahead and eventual game-winning homerun, crushing the Braves championship desires. A 96-win team, that hit a ton of homeruns, but also struck out a lot, couldn’t get it done when it mattered in October.

The Atlanta Falcons have been in the National Football League since 1966. In that span, the Falcons have appeared in just one Super Bowl, which they went on to lose to the Denver Broncos 34-19 in John Elway’s final career game. The team had hope going into the Super Bowl after defeating the 15-1 Minnesota Vikings in overtime. That loaded Vikings team with Randy Moss, Chris Carter and Randall Cunningham. However the team did not get the job done in the Super Bowl. The night before the Super Bowl, Atlanta’s leader Eugene Robinson was caught solicitating an undercover cop for sex.

In the early 2000’s the Falcons got a glimmer of hope when they drafted Michael Vick out of Virginia Tech with the number one overall pick. Right as Vick was reaching the peak of his superstardom, he broke his leg. Then he got in that awful situation involving the dog fighting ring. The Falcons have been in the Matt Ryan and Mike Smith era since 2008. The quarterback and head coach duo rack up a lot of regular season victories, but routinely come up short in the playoffs.

In 2012 the Falcons won their first playoff game in nine years after beating the Seattle Seahawks. The win didn’t come easy as Atlanta blew a 20-point lead and nearly blew their chance at the NFC title game. They managed to hang on and win to advance to face the San Francisco 49s in the Georgia Dome. Atlanta took a 24-14 lead into the locker rooms, but failed to sustain it after halftime. The San Francisco defense was all over the Atlanta offense. The Falcons had one last chance, 10 yards away from the goal line. Once again, the city of Atlanta had its heart broken by one of its sports franchises. Matt Ryan’s pass to Roddy White was knocked down, thus ending the Falcons season one game shy of the Super Bowl.

The Hawks have been in Atlanta since 1968, the team has never won a conference title since moving to Atlanta. In St. Louis, the franchise won championships, but that does not count for Atlanta to claim. The Hawks have won four divisional since 1968. In the 1980’s the Hawks were one of the better teams in the league, winning at least 50 games a season from 1985-89. However, Atlanta could never make it past the Eastern Conference semifinals. To their credit, they played against the Larry Bird led Boston Celtics and the Bad Boy Detroit Pistons. Not an easy road to getting to the NBA Finals. Dominique Wilkins was one of the most sensational players in NBA history, but not even he could lift the team and the city to a title.

Atlanta has had two different teams in the National Hockey League. Both teams have since moved from Atlanta. The Flames were the first Atlanta team in the NHL in 1972 and left for Calgary in 1980. In their eight seasons in Atlanta, the Flames went to the playoffs six times, but never won a series. In 1999, Atlanta welcomed its second NHL team, the Thrashers. The Thrashers lasted in Atlanta from 1999 to 2011. In that time span, Atlanta went to the Stanley Cup playoffs just one time and was swept by the New York Rangers. The team moved to Winnipeg and were renamed the Jets in 2011.

When it comes to the playoffs, Atlanta can never seem to get it done. The attendance for each of the active Atlanta franchises’ playoff games is lackluster. The city struggles to sell out playoff games, something that is sad. Fans are constantly disappointed, thus making it harder to invest into the teams. Time and time again the fans are let down and start to lose passion for their respective teams. The two things you can expect from an Atlanta sports franchise in each sport, a pretty good regular season and a postseason full of misery.

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I am a 2013 graduate of Clarion University with a bachelor's degree in communications and a concentration in journalism. I aspire to be great. I love sports and professional wrestling. Follow me on Twitter @KIngEdward15 and engage in sports talk with me.

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