Earlier than the World Series, Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson was requested a query that he didn’t significantly need to reply.
Along with enjoying a sport with a historic, bone-deep inclination towards superstition, he had a private tendency towards it: On the finish of April, for instance, after his group had gotten off to a scuffling begin, Swanson was seen burning sage within the clubhouse. (The Braves gained their subsequent three video games.) If you happen to took that motion to imply that he positioned inventory in curses, or vibes, or another nebulous types of power, it was pure to ask him how he felt in regards to the Braves’ enjoying for the championship in Houston, which occurred to be the positioning of a sure native soccer squad’s infamous demise 4 brief years in the past.
Did the return to Houston have him prepared to interrupt out the sage once more?
“I can’t even reply that,” Swanson says.
He shouldn’t have needed to: There was, after all, no logical connection between the 2021 Braves and the ’16 Falcons or any of the historical past that had given Atlanta its fame as a tortured sports metropolis. Nevertheless it was simple to see how individuals may really feel in any other case. Atlanta’s championship report in big-four males’s sports appeared too absurd, too private, to really feel as if it was something however cursed.
The Braves had not taken dwelling a title in a era, although they’d gained extra video games than every other group within the Nationwide League from 1996 to 2020. The Hawks had made nearly three dozen playoff runs since shifting to city half a century in the past, however they’ve by no means reached an NBA Finals, not to mention gained one. The Thrashers appeared in a single NHL playoff sequence of their 11 seasons on the town earlier than relocating to Winnipeg. Then there are Swanson’s beloved Falcons, authors of the hardest lack of all. The younger shortstop had traveled to Houston in 2017 for Tremendous Bowl LII, and he noticed his group blow that 28–3 result in the Patriots.
None of that historical past had any bearing on the 2021 Braves—or, at the least, none of it rationally ought to have. (“It is a few years later and a totally completely different sport,” Swanson says of enjoying for a championship in Houston, taking pains to spell out simply how foolish the entire thing sounded.) However the infielder, who grew up in Marietta, Ga., understood the psychic wounds behind the reporter’s query. And whether or not or not the concept of an Atlanta title curse made sense, it didn’t change how a World Series loss—or, for that matter, a World Series win—could be obtained by followers.
To lose could be to supply yet one more knowledge level on this story of futility. To win, in the meantime, could be to kill the narrative.
Swanson knew that. So when the Braves had gained the World Series and he stood earlier than the cameras after Sport 6 at Minute Maid Park, soaked in champagne, grin plastered to his face—he couldn’t assist however to circle again to the soccer sport that he had watched on this metropolis 4 years earlier.
“It seems like no higher story could possibly be written than God making us come again right here and profitable the World Series in Houston,” he stated. “All the things comes full circle.”
The thought of an Atlanta title curse was constructed round groups that misplaced after they had been anticipated to win. However this Braves group was nearer to the other: It gained when it had been anticipated to lose.
That’s a standard chorus for a championship group—”Nobody thought we had been going to be right here, and man, take a look at us now!” However there was an unusual fact to it for the 2021 Braves. For them, such a line appears not like an exaggerated chip on the shoulder, however a easy acknowledgement of truth. That they had probably the most losses of any group that made the playoffs this season.
They had been a couple of video games beneath .500 as late as August. That they had watched an damage take out a participant who was not simply probably the greatest on the group, however probably the greatest within the sport, when NL MVP front-runner Ronald Acuña Jr. tore his ACL in July. The struggles saved coming even deep into October: When ace Charlie Morton fractured his leg on a comebacker in Sport 1 of the World Series, it left the group with simply two true beginning pitchers.
But the Braves gained, and so they saved profitable. A part of that was easy expertise. Half was the regular presence of Atlanta supervisor Brian Snitker. Half was front-office savvy—a torrid second half wouldn’t have been doable with out the choice to rebuild the outfield on the commerce deadline. And half was the peculiar mixture of timing and luck that’s required for any championship—an ingredient that had been lacking in a single playoff run after one other for Atlanta. But right here it was in October 2021. At precisely the best time, with simply the best mixture of expertise, the Braves had performed their greatest baseball of the 12 months.
Which is to say—sure, perhaps nobody thought they had been going to be right here. However, man, take a look at them now.
If Swanson got here by his understanding of the Atlanta sports fan psyche from delivery, then Freddie Freeman was drafted into his. The California native turned the face of the franchise not too lengthy after his debut in 2010. He has performed lengthy sufficient now to function a bridge throughout completely different eras of the group—he began out enjoying beneath Bobby Cox—and he has by no means suited up for an additional main league membership. By way of greater than a decade with the group, he has lived via each variation of fine season and unhealthy, and he has internalized what these wins and losses can imply to Atlanta.
Which means it’s Freeman, greater than anybody on this roster, who has been requested over time to reply for a way the Braves would possibly match the tortured sports legacy of town. Within the early-morning hours of Nov. 3, 2021, he lastly acquired a distinct variation on that query: “How good does it really feel to know we’ll by no means be capable of ask you in regards to the Atlanta sports narrative?”
Freeman may solely beam.
“We killed the narrative,” he says. “And we get to kill it for a very long time.”
Extra Braves Protection:
• Dues Paid in Full, the Braves Are World Champions
• Max Fried Finds One other Stage to Win It for Atlanta
• Brian Snitker Is Previous-Faculty. He Would not Embrace Analytics. And He is Thriving.
• Pearls Earlier than Swing: Meet the Man Behind the Joctober Bling