The Atlanta Braves are the National League East champs. That means they’re headed to the post-season. They’ll face the Los Angeles Dodgers Thursday in Atlanta. Braves fans are excited. They say they know why the team is going to win the World Series. But most baseball experts have a different take.
Brett Chadwick is 26 and he says that’s how long he’s been a Braves fan. When asked how the baseball season is going to end up, he doesn’t hesitate.
“We’re going to win it all,” he says, .
His wife, Melissa, chimes in, “Oh we’re going to win.”
They say the team has new blood both on the field and in the front office. And that’s what’s going to make this year different.
They admit they’re a little nervous.
“They kind of tapered off towards the end of the season. But it will be okay,” Brett says, as his wife chuckles.
On the other side of the stadium, Coleman Dumas agrees with them, for one simple reason.
“It’s our time. It’s our time,” he says. “We’ve assembled the right people and gotten the right pieces in. So I really think it’s our time.”
Dumas and a group from his church in Thomaston drove 90 minutes to come to Turner Field on Sunday. The Macon resident says the team’s newest players are making the difference this year.
“It took a while for us to get all the pieces together but I think bringing the Upton brothers in along with the supporting cast, we got the right pieces to go all the way,” he says.
Dumas is referring to outfielders B.J. and Justin Upton, a pair of brothers who came to the Braves earlier this year.
And he isn’t wrong. The new players have energized the team, which had one of the best records in baseball this year. Experts also say it has the best pitchers for the later innings.
But it’s not the first year it’s looked like the team could go all the way. The Braves have won more than a dozen regular season titles in the past two decades. But they haven’t won the World Series since 1995. Incidentally, that’s also the last year there was a government shutdown.
“This is the first time they’ve gone into the playoffs as National League East champions since 2005,” says Mark Bradley, who covers the Braves for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “They haven’t done well this century in the playoffs.”
He says few baseball statisticians are picking the team to beat the Dodgers, much less win the World Series.
And that’s partly because playing well during the 162-game regular season often means little during the championship series. Statistically, the playoffs are a crap-shoot. Bradley says take the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006.
“They were considered the weakest team to make the playoffs,” he says. “They won the World Series. Strange things can happen in October.”
Back at Turner Field, fans were enjoying the beautiful fall weather and feeling the joy that comes when everything is still possible.
Coleman Dumas, the Macon resident, knows how he would feel if the Braves won the World Series.
“It would be a dream come true for Georgia. It will be great for the city of Atlanta,” he says. “To be able to stick our chests out and say, ‘We’re the world champions once again.’ Once you’ve won it, you want it back. So I’m just excited and I just believe we’re going to get it back this year.”
The first pitch is Thursday night at 8:37 p.m. at Turner Field.