The Atlanta Braves are your 2021 World Series Champions over the Houston Astros, winning the series 4-2.
Was it a heart-racing series where the superstars had to come up in the biggest of spots in order for the team to overcome adversity, the type of narrative that you read about in storybooks? No.
But this team and the year-end narrative is one of miracles.
The Atlanta Braves had overcome so many odds this season that the way they seemingly cruised through this World Series is what was particularly surprising- it’s almost as if their demons were already exonerated, and they were playing with house money. Game 1, their ace, Charlie Morton, got hit by a pitch in the leg that BROKE IT, and he continued to strike out the rest of the batters in the inning, and they went up 1-0. Then, after the Astros strung together some hits to get a game 2 win to even the series, they won 2 games in a row to go up 3-1 on the series with contributions coming from all over.
Finally, after the Astros threw everything they had out of the remaining healthy pitchers on staff to get a game 5 win and send it back to Houston for Game 6, the Braves were absolutely locked in and capped off the series with an emphatic 7-0 win with three home runs. The three-run shot from Jorge Soler over the Houston train tracks was such a mammoth shot that it ripped the soul out of the stadium as the beast of a man pounded his chest in admiration of his work from the batter’s box, and they just couldn’t ever recover afterward.
Atlanta has been a sports city characterized by theatrical finishes that have led to heartbreaking collapses over the years- that’s why this Championship series that almost felt so easy was so surprising. They outmatched the Astros with a better, healthier pitching staff; Jorge Soler was the standout batter, going .300 with 3 homers, but practically got a different man to step up in a big spot in the lineup every night.
So, what’s the story of this Atlanta team?
We’re fresh off of a shortened, weird, 60-game length season where 16 teams made the postseason. Baseball is intended to be a marathon, not a sprint, and the Braves embodied that with every obstacle they overcame throughout the year with their next-man-up mentality. It’s what makes the game magical.
This is a team that trailed the Mets and Phillies in the division for the majority of the first half of the year.
This is a team that had their home run leader arrested for domestic violence, their superstar tear his ACL, the catcher goes on the 60-day IL, their ace tear his Achilles for the second straight year, and a starter break his hand by angrily punching a wall.
This is a team that at 44-45 thought about trading Freddie Freeman at one point, the face of the franchise on the end of his contract, just to just prepare for next year and call 2021 a wash.
Instead, they pushed their remaining chips to the center of the table. When Acuna went down, the addition of an entirely new outfield of guys on cheap contracts was thought of by many as trying to put duct tape over a hole in a wall that had just been detonated by dynamite. That duct tape happened to be the reason they won the World Series. They got Eddie Rosario from Cleveland because he wasn’t performing and they didn’t want to pay him- he was your 2021 NLCS MVP with 14 hits.
Jorge Soler was having an abysmal year in Kansas City before seemingly hitting every ball into orbit when he put on a Braves uniform. Adam Duvall was brought back and hit two World Series home runs. Joc Pederson and his flashy blonde tips wearing a chain of pearls became a cult figure that will be an Atlanta icon forever, with the entire city rallying behind him and his look during “Joctober.”
It took a year to write this Atlanta story. It wasn’t just beating the champion Dodgers in the NLCS after blowing a 3-1 lead to them last year. It wasn’t just bringing a title to Georgia after the heartbreak of the 90’s teams, the 28-3 blown Super Bowl lead by the Falcons, the blown College Football Championship by the Georgia Bulldogs in 2018.
It was the Braves’ ability to rally a team together in a way that sports rarely ever sees.
The Atlanta Braves were graced by the hand of destiny, who was the author of the history book this year for the 2021 Major League Baseball season.
It would appear that Destiny enjoyed writing this novel in the ambiance of a Waffle House, listening to Outkast in sweet bliss this year.
Featured Image: Curtis Compton