Imagine a baseball movie where a story was told about a team that faced an abysmal amount of adversity that had very little to do with the actual guys on the field.
The tale that is presented features the ballclub being sanctioned by Major League Baseball in such a punishing way that their General Manager was banned from the game for life, had to resort to hiring a lifelong Minor League Baseball manager, and their best player subsequently tore his ACL and missed an entire season.
Here’s the thing, that’s not a movie (at least yet).
That is the 2021 Atlanta Braves. Your World Series Champions.
As a baseball fan first, and broadcaster second, I’m truly happy for Atlanta. When you look at what they have needed to overcome in the last four or so years, it’s remarkable.
Quite frankly I’m also not mad at the fact that Alex Bregman hit under .100 in the World Series. Tough to hit a baseball when you don’t know what’s coming, eh?
No matter the severity of the pressure they faced, Atlanta never blinked.
A lot of that is credit to their manager Brian Snitker; A guy that manages with his gut. Analytics certainly have a place in sports and most definitely in baseball. But it hasn’t been the Tampa Bay Rays winning World Series. It’s been the teams with the IT factor.
Thus the tale of the Braves was written.
Snitker managed and coached in the Minor Leagues for over 40 years. I’d love to know how many hours he spent on a bus in his life. That number has to be astronomical. In 2016, he was managing Triple-A Gwinnett in the International League. That’s when his phone rang to become the interim manager following the departure of Fredi Gonzalez.
There was no immediate smooth sailing for Snitker. As mentioned, the organization was about to implode from the front office down.
Because of cheating and bad business in the international signing and scouting areas, the Braves got in a whole bunch of trouble with Rob Manfred in 2017. That led to John Coppolella, their GM and a Notre Dame alum, being banned from baseball. The Braves didn’t just lose their GM either. They were forced to surrender 13 of their internationally signed prospects from 2016, which at the time was the best class in baseball.
So alright, no GM, Minor League manager, and your farm system just got gutted. Atlanta said bet.
Freddie Freeman stayed. Freeman continued to believe. At the start of this season, just when it looked like they were fully loaded for a major run, Ronald Acuña tore his ACL.
Their best player. The guy that if executives had the option to start a team with any guy in the league, many would pick him.
But Snitker and Atlanta never wavered. A trade deadline frenzy followed. Joc Pederson, Jorge Soler, and Eddie Rosario all became Braves. Pair that with the start studded lineup featuring Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson, and you’re getting to team of destiny vibes.
It’s not only refreshing for the game, but it’s exciting. Against a team that still features cheaters, the Braves showed that cheating doesn’t win. They did it the right way; With Hank Aaron looking down on his former club too.
The Braves were patient, diligent, and passionate on their way to their first World Series since 1995.
We’ll see you in February, baseball.