A Braves Hall of Fame celebration

"If I had a beef with a certain player, I always made them get up at 7 o'clock in the morning and come down for breakfast and we would talk about things,'' Cox said. "But that was as close as I ever got to a player off the field.''

The only blemish

The Braves wouldn't be human if they didn't feel some regret over their failure to collect more than one title. In Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, Minnesota's Jack Morris beat Smoltz 1-0 in one of the greatest postseason pitchers' duels in history. The Braves' most devastating loss came in the 1996 World Series, when they outscored the Yankees 16-1 in the first two games in the Bronx and then lost four straight. The pain from Jim Leyritz's Game 4 homer off Mark Wohlers will never completely heal.

That lone title is the Braves' one soft spot and a bit of a hot button when it's mentioned in their presence. They continue to maintain that it's unfair for a handful of October failures to tarnish their long-term achievements.

"I would hope people talk more about the success and the consistency of winning than they do about how many world championships we won or should have won," Glavine said. "I would argue that it's tougher to win 14 straight division titles than it is to win two World Series in a given time. The Blue Jays won back-to-back World Series, and then they were gone. The Marlins have won a couple World Series, and look at everything that's happened in between.

"Do we feel like there's some disappointment that we didn't win a bit more? Sure. We were right there on the cusp in '91 and fell a little bit short. In '92, we just got beat. If there's one World Series that I think any of us feels like we let get away, it was the '96 World Series. To come home from Yankee Stadium up two games to nothing, you couldn't have asked for anything better than that. But we didn't close the door."

Kasten wholeheartedly agrees. He has gained perspective through the years in conversations with John Hart, Bill Polian, Mike Krzyzewski and other friends who have achieved major success in the sporting world coupled with some major disappointments in their quest to go the distance.

"Yes, I would have liked to win more," Kasten said. "But that's because I want to win everything every day. It doesn't diminish the pride I have long-term over what we put together. John [Schuerholz] and I talk about it from time to time, how even one more [title] would have changed that narrative. But it's not something we dwell on."

It's natural to wonder: In a new era marked by revenue sharing, luxury taxes and increased baseball parity, will another team come along and match the Braves' standard for consecutive division titles and so many Hall of Famers? Cox, for one, won't rule it out.

"I think it's a record that's probably going to be broken someday," Cox said. "I never thought that Lou Gehrig's record would ever be broken. I didn't think anybody would get close to that, and Cal Ripken did it. So I think anything is possible in the game of baseball."

Possible? Yes. But it's about as probable as Ben Revere winning a home run title or a Molina brother leading the majors in stolen bases.

Kasten still reflects on a quote from baseball executive Walt Jocketty during Jocketty's former tenure as GM of the St. Louis Cardinals. It neatly summarizes his feelings on the vagaries of October baseball.

"Walt had a great quote that I love," Kasten said. "He said, 'This year will be more special for us because we will have won our division two years in a row.' And you know what? He was exactly right, because it's hard. I think that was a great quote to put in perspective what our teams did in Atlanta."

Individually and collectively, the great Braves teams made their mark over a decade and a half with class and a penchant for winning baseball games. Now it's time for them to be celebrated in Cooperstown.

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