Nov 3, 2021 - Sports

Land of the free, home of the Braves

The Atlanta Braves celebrate their 7-0 victory against the Houston Astros in Game Six to win the 2021 World Series at Minute Maid Park on November 02, 2021 in Houston, Texas.
The Atlanta Braves celebrate their 7-0 victory against the Houston Astros in Game 6 to win the 2021 World Series at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday in Houston. Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

It took the Atlanta Braves until Aug. 6 to get above .500. Now, for the first time in 26 years, they're World Series champions.

Driving the news: Jorge Soler and Dansby Swanson on Tuesday night both hit home runs to propel the Braves to victory — and Max Fried pitched six shutout innings and struck out six batters without a walk. It's the Major League Baseball franchise's fourth-ever title.

  • "This city has been hungry for a championship for so long," said Braves legend Freddie Freeman, the longest-serving member of the team.
  • "I cannot wait to see the crowds in the next couple days when we get back home. I’m just so thankful that we were able to bring them home a championship."
  • Soler on Tuesday became the second Cuban-born player to win World Series MVP.

The big picture: The Braves join the 1964 Cardinals as the only teams to go from losing record at the All-Star Break (44-45) to champions.

  • Streak ends: Atlanta had gone 16 straight playoff appearances without a title, the longest such streak in history.
  • Streak continues: For the seventh straight World Series (outside of 2020's neutral site affair), the victors won the title on the road. The 2013 Red Sox are the last team to clinch at home.

What they're saying: Freeman, the friendliest man in baseball, is finally a champion. His mother, Rosemary, who died of melanoma when he was 10, would be so proud.

  • "He felt like, to honor his mom, he had to be a great kid," his father, Fred, said Tuesday. "When he was 10, that's what he decided he was going to be. He always said, 'I know mom's watching.'"
  • "She'd be the first one on that field, running out to bearhug him right now," added his brother, Andrew. "She did everything for us ... if she was here today, oh my gosh. It would be absolutely amazing."

The bottom line: The Braves didn't look like championship material for most of the year. But they never stopped trying to win — and ultimately, they did.

  • It's a worthy lesson in an era where teams are increasingly either "going for it" when they view themselves as serious contenders, or planning for the future when they don't.
  • Sometimes, it's best to just live in the moment. See what happens. In the end, that's what every athlete and fan wants: a fighting chance.

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Axios' Erin Doherty contributed reporting.

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