22 Years Later, the Atlanta Braves Are Back Where a Generation of Fans Has Never Seen Them
At 8:09 p.m. Eastern tonight, the Atlanta Braves will play a World Series game for the first time since 1999. Given that I was using sippy cups while that sweep at the hands of the Yankees was going down, this is the first time I've ever seen my favorite team reach the biggest stage in baseball.
I've seen them find a way to squander this chance so many times, it feels truly surreal to be here. My first vivid Braves memory is the 18-inning loss to the Astros in 2005 to lose that NLDS. I was at the infamous Brooks Conrad three-error game in 2010 to hand that series to the Giants — I can still see the ball going right through his legs for what would have been the third out in the 9th inning. I remember the 2013 NLDS, a series which would unknowingly be the beginning of a nearly decade-long Dodger blue thorn in the side of Atlanta. And most recently, we all recall the 10-run first inning from the Cardinals and what happened after a 3-1 lead in the NLCS last season.
But these guys aren't those guys. Sure, some of them were wearing the tomahawk across their chest for the last couple losses I mentioned. Hell, Freddie Freeman was even there back in 2010.
This team is different, though. You can see it. You can feel it. As Joc Pederson so eloquently put it, "We might just be those motherfuckers."
Braves fans little more than a decade older than myself remember seeing five World Series played in Atlanta in nine years. I had never seen the Braves win an NLDS until 2020.
It wasn't for a lack of talent. I've watched Chipper and Andruw Jones, John Smoltz, Brian McCann, Jason Heyward, Craig Kimbrel, Freddie Freeman and a whole host of others play at Turner Field and Truist Park.
Maybe we just needed this ragtag bunch of weirdos, though. Joc Pederson's bleach blonde hair and pearls. Guillermo Heredia's swords. Eddie Rosario randomly turning into the greatest hitter on Earth.
If ever there was a group that felt like it "might just be those motherfuckers," it's this one. And all of that doesn't even include the fact that this team was below .500 on August 1 before reeling off one of the most improbable three-month stretches of any team in recent memory. I've never cheered for a team that I truly felt had destiny on its side — as an Atlanta fan, it's usually quite the opposite. This one does.
For an entire generation of Braves fans, the first team they've seen play for a world championship is certainly not the one anyone would have picked. Maybe that's a good thing.