Braves Diary: World Champions

Before I started writing this I took a look at my previous Braves diary entries and then every post I’ve made about the Braves on this site. I wrote this after we got knocked out by the Giants in 2010 about Freddie Freeman:

  • Freddie Freeman (1B): The Braves’s first baseman of the future didn’t do much of anything in a September callup, but the organization really wants him to be ready next spring. He hit well at AAA Gwinett after recovering from an injury filled 2009 that reduced his numbers. If he can hit around .300 with 15+ HRs in Atlanta he would be the best Braves first baseman in awhile.

So, yeah, I think we might want to sign this Freeman kid, he’s pretty good. I think he can satisfy those criteria.

So the original intent of my “Braves Diary” series was to give myself something to do during the pandemic lockdowns here when I could at least write about baseball. Of course, it turns out that my previous job and then things gradually re-opening somewhat got in the way. Either way, I’m really not the greatest writer in the world, so I don’t think it was a big deal that I shut it down. Besides, I still got to gloat when we took the lead in the East and then eventually won it again because, well, that’s what we do around here.

One thing I have said often in the past several hours is that, yes, while the Braves only had 88 wins this was not a case of a team getting hot and lucky in the postseason. This is a team that played like an 105-win team since August 1st. This thing was rolling for two months before the playoffs started.

I was 10-years-old the last time the Braves won the World Series. I’m generally forced to admit that I don’t remember it. I can’t speak to what I was doing at the time, but I sure did like baseball around then so I don’t think it was that I didn’t care. I usually say that the first baseball thing I really remember was Andruw Jones coaxing a walk-off-walk from Kenny Rogers in the 1999 NLCS.

I definitely will remember two things from this World Series. First, I was fortunate to have the means to fly to Atlanta at the last minute, secure a ticket, and attend game 4. We were down 2-1 entering the bottom of the 7th when one of the few (literally) back-to-back home runs in the World Series occurred. First was Dansby’s to tie the game. Next up was Jorge Soler’s homer to take the lead. The main thing I remember from Jorge’s was thinking “well, if it’s not caught, it’s out”. This is because I had spent sometime before that during the game thinking about the very short wall straight down the line in left field at Truist Park, and I had a great angle of the ball off Soler’s bat when he hit it. I didn’t start celebrating until I saw the ball bouncing in the bullpen.

Then there’s tonight (well, last night technically). It was a 0-0 game in the top of the 3rd when the Braves got two runners on, but with two out. Not a fantastic situation for us most of the year, to say the last. But Jorge got the count to 3-2, and then he pounced on a mistake. Well, mauled a mistake. Statcast said it was 446 feet, but it had to have been more. Either way, it proved to be his second game-winning home run of the World Series. For me personally, it was something we needed so badly that I started celebrating as soon as he it, and then my knees went weak. (Fortunately, my couch was right there.) Soler isn’t a particularly ostentatious guy and doesn’t pimp his homers, but when he hit it and started looking at the dugout I knew it was long, long gone.

I was nervous right up until the last out was made. Honestly, seeing Dansby double-clutch as he decided to throw to first after looking at second didn’t make me feel that much better. But there was the ball, secured in Freddie Freeman’s glove (and then his back pocket).

Most of my Braves Diary posts are kind of doom-and-gloom, and this reflects the attitude that this team attracted during the first half of the season. But they did enough to patch the holes in the ship, and some guys stepped up and performed to their potential.

One last thing: I love that this team has fun. I love that Pablo Sandoval and Guillermo Heredia were able to be themselves and keep the team’s sprits up even though they weren’t everyday players. I love that Joc Pederson could be as bad of a bitch as he wanted – if he wasn’t on the team, we never would’ve made it past the NLDS. I love that Eddie Rosario doesn’t seem to have a care the in the world – he’ll just casually hit for a cycle on 5 pitches in the season, and then eschew the chance to be only the second person to ever do it in the playoffs and hit a homer instead. I love that the bullpen was so good, even though on paper these dudes couldn’t hold a candle to last year’s bullpen. I love that Freddie Freeman is sometimes just human. He hit the game winning homer in Game 4 of the NLDS, went 0-for-8 to start the NLCS, and then sort returned to his normal self by hitting to the opposite field after that. I love that you just apparently had to piss Max Fried off to have the most clutch performance by an Atlanta left-handed pitcher since Tom Glavine in 1995.

What a team. What an incredible season. I hope I never forget it.