• Exclusives

    Braves Fans, This Is a Big Deal, and It’s Just the Beginning.

    Over the past several years, the Braves have had little to play for at this time of year outside of playing “spoiler” to teams whose October dreams actually outlasted the Labor Day discounts on cargo shorts at Old Navy.

    This year, yet again, the Braves are about to button up the regular season with a week of relatively meaningless baseball. But this time it’s Atlanta’s NL East rivals who will play out the remainder of the schedule while mentally mapping out October fishing excursions. The Braves, in contrast, will be tuning up for the postseason.

    When the Mets and Phillies host Brian Snitker’s squad this week, it will serve only as a sad reminder that the Braves have a date for a dance to which they’re not invited.

    I could pretend to feel bad for them, but I’ve never been good at keeping a straight face.

    It might be quite a while before the Braves experience that kind of emptiness again with a week left to play. And that’s a beautiful thing.

    Admit it, you were spoiled. Before the Braves stripped and sold nearly every valuable part like a stolen Mustang in a chop shop, winning the NL East just wasn’t a big deal. Even after Atlanta’s gaudy streak of division titles ended, the Braves still broke camp each spring with a chance to compete.

    Then came a painful rebuild that saw the Braves trotting out lineups uglier than a Shaquille O’Neal free throw. Braves fans were suddenly exposed to something they were sheltered from for nearly a quarter-century: terrible baseball.

     

    Young fans don’t remember the 1980’s when the Braves were the butt of many a baseball joke. And some older fans seemingly forgot.

    It should now be clear to all that a division pennant is a big accomplishment. It should not be taken for granted. So as we gear up for the return of October baseball to Hotlanta, don’t forget to do one thing …

    Enjoy it!!

    Whatever happens in October, remember that the Braves are playing with house money. They’re not supposed to be here. Not yet. And if they suffer an early exit, the Braves will still be sitting on a you-know-what-load of chips this winter. This is a young, remarkably gifted roster, with waves of talent still toiling on the farm and plenty of cash to spend in the off-season.

    And regardless of the outcome, the postseason experience young stars like Ronald Acuña and Ozzie Albies gain next month will pay dividends for years to come.

    This is just the beginning.

    How far do you think the Braves will go? Chirp me up on Twitter: @FriedbasballATL

    Kent Covington is a national radio news reporter and BravesWire Editor.