ATLANTA -- When the Braves won their first title since moving to Atlanta last night, they shared the joy with the fans at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. Many of those who attended remained for almost two hours after Game 6, clapping and singing along to Queen's "We Are The Champions."
They roared when Chipper Jones came out and took a victory lap around the bases, finishing with a slide across home plate. They cheered as Jones jogged along the stands and reached up to shake hands and slap five.
They clapped as, one by one, many of the Braves emerged from the dugout, wearing new caps and T-shirts, with the word CHAMPIONS emblazoned upon them. They collectively laughed when pitchers John Smoltz and Steve Avery raced out of the dugout to the center-field wall. Avery shook the can of beer he was carrying, jumped up and sloshed brew over the ESPN crew as it broadcast in center field.
Happy days, all around.
"The only thing people can't say," said pitcher Mark Wohlers, "is that we can't win a world championship. My hats off to [Tom] Glavine, [David] Justice, and the defense -- they were awesome, and we brought it home to a city that deserves it."
From Day 1 this year, Glavine said: "We were on a mission. We were very businesslike and the only thing that would make our season a success would be a World Series title. You have to give [manager] Bobby Cox credit for what we accomplished. He never got too high with the wins or too low with the losses. His businesslike approach rubbed off on everybody."
Facts and figures
Glavine is now 4-2 with a 1.83 ERA in six career starts in the World Series. . . .The one hit allowed by Atlanta is the fewest ever in a deciding game. . . .There have been four other one-hitters in World Series history, all complete games: Ed Reulbach, for the Chicago Cubs against the White Sox in Game 2 of in 1906; Claude Passeau, for the Chicago Cubs against the Detroit Tigers in Game 3 in 1945; Bill Bevens, for the Yankees against the Brooklyn Dodgers in Game 4 in 1947; and Jim Lonborg of Boston against St. Louis in Game 2 in 1967. . . .
Four other times a home run has produced the only run of a World Series game. The last: Frank Robinson for the Orioles against the Dodgers in Game 4 in 1966. Paul Blair did it the day before, in Game 3. . . . Glavine got $150,000 from a contractual clause for winning the World Series.
Justice continued to jibe Cleveland pitcher Orel Hershiser for saying that the pressure was on the Braves.
"Don't play no mind games on us," Justice said. "Keep your comments to yourself. I'm speaking on behalf of my teammates. They don't have to worry about any of that stuff. They can just go out and play. Hey, there are a lot of things [mind games] going on in the World Series."
Somebody asked Justice if the Braves and Indians would be congratulating each other at the end of the World Series, because the teams don't seem to share much affection -- witness the confrontation between Eddie Murray and Greg Maddux, the angry words Justice had for Hershiser, etc.
"Nah, it's no big deal," Justice said. "We [Justice and Hershiser] can go out to dinner, and I'll buy. I'll tell him right there, Orel, quit playing them mind games. But I don't have anything against those guys. It's not personal."
It's not personal. But several Braves, including Justice, did not like the comment by Indians shortstop Omar Vizquel that Atlanta cannot win the series. "They know they can't win a World Series," Vizquel said. "They already lost twice. When you have that on your mind, it's tough to get out."
"I think that's ridiculous," said Atlanta's Ryan Klesko. "I think it's a real plus for us to have so many veteran guys who have been in it before, because they know what it takes to win a big series."
All gamesmanship, said Cleveland manager Mike Hargrove. "I would assume both teams have quite a bit of pressure on them," he said. "Doing a lot of talking about it doesn't make it any easier. You deal with it and go out and play the best you can."
Before last night's game, Cleveland outfielder Albert Belle apologized to NBC reporter Hannah Storm for cussing at her before Game 4 of the World Series. Storm accepted -- "I'm happy he apologized," she said -- and Hargrove sent her a letter of apology.
But in a pre-game news conference, other reporters, some of whom have been cussed at themselves by Belle in the past, peppered Cleveland general manager John Hart with questions about Belle's "volatility" and where the GM would draw the line of acceptable behavior.
"I think there is only certain things an organization can do," Hart said, "I think it's something in which the organization would be supportive until you find out what the facts are. At this particular stage, an organization can take whatever action it deems appropriate and ultimately it falls back to the player."
One writer asked Hart if Belle was going apologize to all the writers he has cussed at, and Hart said he would "defer comment."
According to a spokesman for Major League Baseball, the commissioner's office is looking into the incident involving Storm, and will render a punishment.
Atlanta Braves vs. Cleveland Indians
( (Braves win series, 4-2)
Game ... ... Result
Game 1 .. .. Braves, 3-2
Game 2 .. .. Braves, 4-3
Game 3 .. .. Indians, 7-6, 11 inn.
Game 4 .. .. Braves, 5-2
Game 5 .. .. Indians, 5-4
Game 6 .. .. Braves, 1-0