The Atlanta Braves are the 2021 World Champions, having defeated the Houston Astros seven to nothing in Game Six of this year’s World Series. The Braves won the Series four games to two. This is the second championship for Atlanta since moving to the city in 1966, its previous win coming in 1995.
Going into the Series, the Astros were heavily favored to win based on the team’s statistically superior offense. During the regular season, Houston outscored Atlanta by 79 runs, which is not unsubstantial even when figuring in the difference having a designated hitter in the American League makes. The Astros also enjoyed a lower team ERA than the Braves (3.76 to 3.88).
The numbers didn’t show Atlanta coming into the Series on a roll, having just defeated the defending champion Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series. Whereas Houston had methodically taken apart its playoff opponents, Atlanta wasn’t supposed to be still standing. It would have been no surprise to many baseball insiders if the team wouldn’t have so much as made the playoffs, given how going into the season, the New York Mets were favored to win the NL East. At the same time, the Braves were penciled in as having to struggle to make the wild card game against whoever finished second in the NL West between the Dodgers and the San Diego Padres. It didn’t quite work out that way, even after the Braves lost their best player Ronald Acuña Jr. to a season-ending injury halfway through the season.
In addition to out-hitting and out-pitching the Astros, the Braves also showed far greater fervor for the game itself, the dugout erupting after every timely hit, clutch fielding play, and opposition-quieting pitching effort. Atlanta is the poster child for why baseball is enjoying a popularity resurgence among America’s youth of all races who couldn’t care less about a player’s skin color. Kids want to see people who are playing a game act like they are doing just that. Games are supposed to be fun. Team efforts are supposed to involve everyone on the team. The Braves’ exuberance is a welcome breath of fresh air in the stifling chase of political correctness that threatens to squeeze the air out of professional sports’ lungs.
Those among us who uphold conservative principles and policies while refusing to abandon our love of sports took great satisfaction in watching MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, after his knee-jerk action in taking this year’s All-Star Game from Atlanta following Georgia passing a voting reformation law, having to present the championship trophy to the Braves. The only thing that could have made the moment better would have been if Atlanta had won the Series at home. Still, given how the South sticks together in the face of Northern haughtiness, it was sweet music to hear the Astros fans who stuck around after Tuesday’s game, despite having every reason to get out of Minute Maid Park in a dejected hurry, greet Manfred with an anvil chorus of more boos than heard in a month of Halloweens.
Back in the day when Ted Turner owned both the Braves and superstation WTBS, the Braves were proclaimed to be “America’s team.” The 2021 World Series will be marked as the moment when the team became just that.