The Atlanta Braves were never cooler than with Chicks Dig the Long Ball.
The world changed when a pair of Cy Young winners gave us Chicks Dig the Long Ball back in 1999.
For my Greg Maddux birthday (No. 31), I decided the world needs to be reacquainted with the greatest commercial to ever grace the face of the earth. “The Professor”, “Mad Dog” or “Doggy” teamed up with “Glav” Tom Glavine to create The Clash of baseball commercials, the only one that matters, Chicks Dig the Long Ball. You may disagree, but you are incorrect.
Ace pitchers are athletes worth Heather Locklear’s time.
It was a different world back in 1999. Mark McGwire was shooting himself up with cattle steroids. Bill Clinton was in the White House. And of course, the Atlanta Braves were the Team of the ’90s. Armed with the greatest pitching staff of all time, they went to five of nine World Series that decade. Though they went 1-4 in those five Fall Classics, they still won 20 percent of the time!
Heather Locklear took in some Big Mac BP action, thoroughly impressed with the home run champion. Maddux and Glavine looked like they were playing intramural baseball for Lamdba Lambda Lambda. “Hey, we got Cy Young winners over here!” was Doggy’s passionate cry to get her attention. Too bad it’s the equivalent of being an Academic All-American. They had work to do.
There are montages and then there’s this commercial. Armed with maple bats and fresh pairs of Nike spikes from a local sporting goods store, Glav and Doggy became The ATL version of the Bash Brothers instantaneously. It didn’t matter who played the role of Big Mac or “No Way” Jose Canseco, they were going to do it the right way with hard work, determination and Nike spikes.
Running bleachers in sweats carrying bats sounds like Pedro Cerrano‘s pregame routine to not hit breaking balls for the Cleveland Indians. When Glavine told Maddux to “Step into it!”, striking him in his invisible six-pack with a bat, you knew they were going to win. Glavine looked low-key hockey bruh shredded with his chiseled back. He could have been Wayne Gretzky’s LA Kings teammate.
A day or so, later when it was their time to shine in the batter’s box, Glavine and Maddux put on a fireworks show that would have had Chris Berman say “back, back, back, back, back” until he ran out of oxygen and passed out on the floor over so much excitement. It didn’t matter that Glavine won four Silver Sluggers or Maddux won 18 Gold Gloves, they knew that Chicks Dig the Long Ball.
Locklear may have asked the pair of ATL pitching GOATS, “Hey, have you guys seen Mark?” but Glavine backed that up with the pettiest and most awesome ad-lib of all-time, “HeY, hAvE YoU gUyS sEeN mArK?” When you won 20 games in a season five times and mastered the outside corner with the circle change, you can say whatever you want because you’re a champion.
20 years later, Glavine told his Braves broadcasting partners Chip Caray and Jeff Francoeur he and Maddux were single-handedly responsible for bringing Locklear back into the public eye, not Melrose Place. We know he’s lying, but Glav is one of the five greatest left-handed starting pitchers in baseball history and Maddux is the greatest pitcher of his era, and not Roger Clemens.
Though Mark Wohlers getting Carlos Baerga to fly out to Marquis Grissom in centerfield in Game 6 was the peak of that era of Braves baseball, capping off the greatest game of Glavine’s life, you could say Chicks Dig the Long Ball was the beginning of the end for the Team of the 90’s period of greatness. No, it wasn’t just because 1999 was about to become 2000. Big changes were coming.
1999 was the last year the Braves made it to the World Series. 2001 was the last time they advanced in the postseason. Billionaire media magnate Ted Turner sold the club to some corporation. By the end of 2002, Glavine had to go play for the loathsome New York Mets. After 2003, Maddux had pitched his last game for the Braves before going back to the Chicago Cubs.
While keys pieces of that team remained, such as ace pitcher John Smoltz, switch-hitting legend third baseman Chipper Jones and the most ejected manager of all-time Bobby Cox, none of the Braves teams in the 2000s had the heart or the sheer dominance of the Team of the 90s. They weren’t good enough to command the attention of one Locklear still rocking a Redbirds ball cap.
In the years since Chicks Dig the Long Ball, Cox, Glavine, Jones, Smoltz and general manager John Schuerholz have all been inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The ex-Expos have won a World Series. The Cubbies ended their 100-plus title drought. The Boston Red Sox returned from 86 in 2004, winning four titles in the last 17 years. Atlanta is still wishing to party like it’s 1999.
Soon, Atlanta may have its full-blown reincarnation of the beloved Glavine, Maddux, Smoltz trio in the form of Ian Anderson, Max Fried and Mike Soroka. Is this desperation? Oh god yes, but this new era of Braves baseball may end the city’s World Series championship drought before I celebrate my Tom Glavine birthday (No. 47) in 16 years. Thank Nike for Chicks Dig the Long Ball.
With the DH probably becoming universal full-time soon, we must cherish this commercial forever.