In addition to trying to win a World Series, the Atlanta Braves are trying to end one of the most devastating curses in sports.
After almost watching a big lead slip away in true Atlanta fashion, the Atlanta Braves held on to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers and remain the only team undefeated in the MLB playoffs.
It’s hard for an Atlanta outsider to understand how significant this is.
Though the National League title is still undecided, the Atlanta Braves took a commanding 2-0 lead on the Los Angeles Dodgers last night. While the win was certainly impressive and deserves to be discussed, arguably the bigger story here is that they didn’t lose.
The Dodgers gave up seven runs to the National League East champs before they were able to get on the board in the bottom of the seventh inning with a three-run shot by Corey Seager. The Braves would then proceed to give up four runs in the bottom of the ninth as every fan in Atlanta held their breath for the impending doom that has haunted the city’s sports teams for quite some time now. But, in a surprising turn of events, they didn’t blow it. Dodgers center fielder AJ Pollock simply grounded out to third, and the Braves won. Shockingly.
Every Braves fan watching the game last night knew the game two emotional roller coaster all too well. Holding on to big leads simply hasn’t been the Atlanta way. After the infamous “28-3” blown lead in the Super Bowl four years ago, Atlanta has been the laughing stock of the sports world, despite bringing an MLS Championship trophy to the city within two years of having a team. Even when the Atlanta Hawks were good, finishing the regular season atop the Eastern Conference in the 2014-2015 season and making it to their first Conference Finals since the league adopted the two-conference model, they were ultimately swept by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, making them the first number one seed to be swept since the Detroit Pistons did it in 2003.
Starting the NFL season 0-5 and blowing two fourth-quarter leads this year even forced former Falcons players to speak out in disgust and call for the firing of the coaching staff. Atlanta Falcons Head Coach Dan Quinn thought to support the Braves after they clinched their spot in the NLCS by wearing a Braves hat, which caused the entire Atlanta fanbase to believe that its World Series chances were surely doomed. But, to the city’s relief, Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff were both relieved of their duties in the same week that the Braves managed to not blow game two and take the 2-0 series lead.
As the Falcons continue to underperform and look to replace their coaching staff, many Atlanta fans are speculating that they’ll have to sacrifice the success of its NFL team for a Braves World Series championship. But how can sports fans be sure that this year’s Atlanta Braves team is the real deal? Yes, they’ve clinched their third straight National League East championship, but after last year’s embarrassing effort in a 13-1 loss to the Arizona Cardinals to end the season, it’s fair for Braves fans to still be on the fence about their world series chances.
But, there seems to be something different about this team. For one, they actually like each other. Team chemistry is a huge deal in sports and if there’s one thing we can say about this Braves team is that they’re willing to mix it up, which happens to be their new team slogan. This also may be the most fun Braves team we’ve gotten to see in quite some time. Freddie Freeman is doing what he’s always done for Atlanta and making yet another MVP case. A solid mix of veterans and youth has given the city a new energy and a new hope for the future of its sports teams.
Holding on to beat the Dodgers last night may have swung the pendulum in Atlanta. We’ll have to reserve judgment until the end of the series, but for now, Chop on Braves fans.