Long ago, the Atlanta Braves were the number one obstacle we loved in their fight for the National League East Division championship. But now, the years have passed and only three players still active in the majors have already faced the Montreal Expos (Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina). And the Atlanta Braves are champions of the MLB World Series 2021 with, as a bonus, a Canadian general manager at their head!
Alex Anthopoulos also studied with the Expos before becoming general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays in 2009, then vice-president of baseball operations for the Los Angeles Dodgers before joining the Braves in 2017. Having him I’ve met at Jays training camp before, I can tell you that Alex is a good guy though, I have to admit, I haven’t always been okay with some of his dealings with the Jays. I found that he sometimes paid too much for the veterans he was going to seek by liquidating young hopefuls like Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud or Matthew Boyd.
But now, since his time in LA under the velvety wing of the president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, Anthopoulos has learned a few tips to find useful players without paying too much in return. Do you know what he gave for World Series MVP Jorge Soler this summer? A minor called Kasey Kalich, a minor league reliever who has yet to throw higher than A Fort. What about Joc Pederson? Bryce Ball, a 24th round pick in the 2019 draft, is certainly talented, but who also didn’t overtake A Fort. And for Eddie Rosario, who broke the records during the playoffs? Pablo Sandoval, who was released by the Cleveland Indians immediately after the transaction. All this, only in 2021!
Adversity – The Ingredient That Won The MLB World Series 2021 for The Braves
In short, our friend Alex is a good reason to love these Braves, but he is far from the only one. Never forget that the Braves won the World Series even though they were only 12th in the major leagues, but most importantly, they started and ended the season without one of their best young pitchers and they lost two of their top three hitters this summer. Tell me about a club capable of facing adversity!
Canadian pitcher Mike Soroka, second in Rookie of the Year in 2019, hasn’t played a game due to an Achilles tendon injury that refuses to heal, young phenomenon Ronald Acuna Jr. injured a leg in July and did not return to play and outfielder Marcell Ozuna, contracted for $ 64 million in February, has not played since his arrest and arraignment in May in a context of domestic violence.
I don’t want to turn swords in the wound, but it’s kind of like, say, the Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup without Carey Price, Shea Weber and Jesperi Kotkaniemi, you know what I mean?
In the absence of those superstars, others have taken over: Charlie Morton who struck out 216 batters this year, Max Fried who shut out the Astros in Game 6 of the World Series on Tuesday and young starter Ian. Anderson at the mound. At bat, besides the Rosario, Pederson and Soler, veteran Freddie Freeman continued his good work hitting 31 home runs and still being on base as young third baseman Austin Riley stood out as a leader with his 33 long balls in his third season in the majors.
And what’s not to like about Braves manager Brian Snitker? As Kent Mercker pointed out to me last week, for 44 years this baseball man has known only one organization both as a player and as a coach: the Atlanta Braves. Having evolved at A, AA and AAA levels as a player, he made the same journey as a coach, climbing the ranks one by one before finally tasting the major leagues in 2016 as manager. And at 66, an age when many are already retired, he won his first World Series.
So there you have it, for Anthopoulos, Snitker and all those unloved players who were called in and answered the call of a team that had already taken a few hits, I think it’s worth forgetting a bit our old grudge against Atlanta and to celebrate with them!
The Number 24
The number of strikeouts for the Atlanta Braves’ Tyler Matzek during the season-ending playoffs, the third performance in that title behind teammate Max Fried (29) and Nathan Eovaldi of the Boston Red Sox (25). Do not forget that Matzek is a reliever and that he launched “only” 15 innings and two-thirds spread over 13 outings. Yes, yes, the former Colorado Rockies first-round pick has officiated in 13 of his 16 playoff games, earning three wins. Not so bad for a guy who didn’t play at all in 2017 and spent 2018 and part of 2019 in independent circuits …
The Grand Slam
There’s a reason Jorge Soler was named the World Series MVP. After a regular start against the Milwaukee Brewers and he only went to bat twice against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Cuban, however, exploded when it mattered most. The one who already had two home runs in the World Series added a third in Tuesday’s 7-0 victory, a three-point slap, improving his average to .300 for the final series and his total of RBIs at six.
The Golden Sombrero
Khalil Lee, a young New York Mets prospect, has only appeared at-bat 18 times in majors this year, but managed to be struck out 13 times for a .722 strikeout percentage. ! By comparison, Joey Gallo led the majors this year with a .346 percentage and 213 strikeouts. Is it surprising? No! In 2017, Lee pulled off an extraordinary “feat”: being struck out eight times in a single Level A baseball game. Okay, the game ended in the twenty-first inning, but everything remained the same! Journalist Jeremy Frank of the Diamond Digest even coined a new name for this statistic: plutonium sombrero.
Every October, the sports world gets festive with America’s Major League Baseball MLB World Series title pledge that pits the champion teams of the American League and the National League. And the recurring question is: Why is it called the World Series? The doubt arose for many years as the name was established even before Major League Baseball had an international expansion.
One version suggested that the championship was sponsored by the New York World Newspaper, a newspaper of the time, however, the name dates back to years before the 20th century and even to the origin of the American League which was founded in 1901. In 1884 there was the first attempt at a “World Series” in a confrontation between the National League and the American Association to create the “United States Championship.”
The Providence Grays of the National League were victorious and were promoted by the Sporting Life newspaper as “Champions of the World”. Even after that precedent-setting event, the name of the championship was not established as such.
Various publications from 1903 to 1944 gave it various names such as; World’s Championship Games, World’s Championship Series, World’s Championship, World’s Series, World’s Series Games, Worlds Series, and finally MLB World Series. It recognizes 1903 as the first World Series that pitted the American League champion against the National League champion. It was until 1969 that the postseason was extended with a preliminary tie called the Championship Series, one for each league, and in 1995 another one called the Division Series was added.
Game 1 of the World Series brought in quite a few interesting tidbits and amazing performances. The Braves reached the final after winning the NL East, getting one up the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Division Series as well as the Dodgers in the NL Championship Series.
The Astros managed to win the AL West, defeating the White Sox and the Boston Red Sox, which was a major win. Obviously, because of the home-field advantage that the Astros commanded, it seemed that the match would swing in their favor.
The Astros did win Game 5, which brought the series to Houston, but the Braves weren’t going to be let down this easily. They were able to win Game 6 and eventually managed to clinch the World Series as a result of that. Jorge Soler became the MVP after his impressive batting score of .300 in the Series, with home runs in three of the victories secured by the Braves. His performance actually managed to land the lead for the Braves in each of the games, one that they would never surrender afterward.
Under the management of Brian Snitker, the Braves have managed to achieve something quite phenomenal, and one that’s going to be talked about for years to come. It’s a phenomenal achievement on the part of the Braves and one that is going to resonate with the team and the town for a long, long time as they won the MLB World Series 2021!