ATLANTA — This city can accomplish two things on Sunday night.

With a win, the Atlanta Braves will win the World Series – the team’s first since 1995.

More importantly, however, the city will finally strip itself of the nickname that has plagued it forever: Chokelanta will be dead, a thing of the past.

Coming into Sunday and Game 5 of the Fall Classic, the Braves have a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

They accomplished it after beating the Houston Astros, 3-2, before a loud sellout crowd at Truist Park on Saturday night.

The crowd was electric. The city is filled with excitement and hope that this will finally be the year for their Braves, who aren’t even supposed to be here. But if there is one town that shouldn’t take part in a premature celebration, it’s Atlanta.

There’s been more disappointment here than streets named Peachtree.

“They’ve been playing us very tough, very tough,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said after the game. “We have to win (Sunday).

“We’ve had our back against the wall before. The guys know what to do.”

So do the Braves in order to exercise this city’s demons. The postseason – or big games – usually don’t work for Atlanta. And we’re not solely talking about the Braves.

There’s a reason this city is called the choke capital of Sports America.

So many times a team from this city has given up a big game, a series that should have been in the bag.

And you don’t have to go back that far. It’s not ancient history. The wounds are fresh. The salt is probably still in there.

Last MLB postseason, the Braves were up in the National League Championship Series, 3-1, against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

They needed to secure just one victory in the final three games and they were World Series-bound.

It didn’t happen. Instead, the Dodgers rallied and beat them in a Game 7. It was devastating for Chokelanta, er, Atlanta.

The Braves won Game 4, 10-2, to take a commanding three- games-to-one lead.

The series looked over. But in losing the final three games, the Braves scored just seven total runs and lost the seventh and deciding game, 4-3.

It was a total heartbreak.

Chokelanta’s History of Failure

But there are even bigger choke jobs that fans in Atlanta will never be able to forget.

In Super Bowl 51, the Atlanta Falcons led the New England Patriots, 28-3, with just over 17 minutes to go. No team in Super Bowl had ever blown an 11-point halftime lead.

The Falcons had a 25-point lead.
The Falcons never scored again and lost, 34-28, in the only Super Bowl game ever decided in overtime.

Then there’s the 2018 College Football Playoff National Title Game. This was supposed to be a beautiful dream scenario. After all, Georgia got to play the big game in Atlanta. It was practically a home game.

The Bulldogs led 13-0 at the half and 20-7 in the second half. It all came crashing down as Alabama stormed back. At the end, freshman QB Tua Tagovailoa’s 41-yard TD pass brought another title to Tuscaloosa.

There’s more.

In 2012, the Falcons were in the NFC title game. They jumped out to a 17-0 lead over Colin Kaepernick’s San Francisco 49ers. The Falcons led, 24-14, at the half. But the 49ers scored 14 unanswered points to lead, 28-24.

The Falcons had a chance to win it, but Harry Douglas tripped over himself catching the football.

Had he stayed on his feet, he would have walked into the end zone. Instead, he was five yards short and so was Atlanta from making that Super Bowl.

And the creme de la creme came in 1996 for Atlanta fans. The Braves blew out the New York Yankees in the first two games of the World Series in NYC. But went to Atlanta and lost the next three games, including Game 4 – which they led, 6-0.

The Braves lost that Series in six games.
So, Atlanta sports fans, might not want to celebrate until they get the fourth and final victory.

But if they get it on Sunday and close out the 2021 World Series, Atlanta will finally be able to turn the page on a sordid history of failure. Finally.

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