The Atlanta Braves are World Champions. There’s something so surreal about those words. They haven’t left mouths across Braves Country for a week or more, depending upon when this is published. Baseball in the south is grand once more as Braves fans from all over celebrate this amazing accomplishment. First baseman Freddie Freeman, during his celebratory speech, gave a lot of credit to this group. This writer can do nothing but concur with the former NL MVP. The fans this season paid a lot of long suffering visits to Truist Park, basking in its’ glow, but wondering if the team would ever improve. Night after night, they packed the park, searching for some kind of spark to light the team’s proverbial fuse. As the months went along, they finally got it.
Joc Pederson, Eddie Rosario, Jorge Soler, and Adam Duvall all provided it. The Braves’ outstanding infield of Freeman, Austin Riley, Dansby Swanson, and Ozzie Albies provided it. Injured players like Ronald Acuna Jr. and Mike Soroka provided it, even from off the field’s confines. The Night Shift bullpen corps of Tyler Matzek, Luke Jackson, A.J. Minter, and Will Smith provided it. Good management provided it. Finally, the fans themselves provided it, and last Friday, everyone lined the streets for a victory parade like no other. It all culminated in a celebration inside Truist Park itself. This writer was lucky enough to attend, and it was a day that will never leave this mind. Once more, the battle is complete. Now, it is time to revel in the spoils of war.
Atlanta Braves Celebration Phase One: Joyous Traffic
The day began like most days when going to Truist Park…fighting traffic. Humorous though the line may be, it was also true. Thousands of cars all jammed in around The Battery, attempting to find that elusive parking space that they weren’t able to secure online. They came from all over Braves Country, in vehicles both large and small. Every color of the rainbow on four wheels was represented. However, in the end, parking was accomplished and we were able to head inside. Of course, it was this writer, a good friend, and about 50,000 of our closest compatriots. The foot traffic was extensive around The Battery, however happiness buzzed around it as well. People weren’t upset when they were shoved into one another. It was all one big, extended, incredibly joyous family.
Our dynamic duo managed to find its’ way through the crowd and up to the Bally Sports stage outside. Now…anybody who knows this writer knows that one of his dreams is to become the Braves’ play-by-play broadcaster. To say that Chip Caray is a personal hero would be like saying that chocolate chip cookies are melty and delicious. It’s simply an irrefutable fact. So, getting to watch the live broadcast was a true treat. It was the closest thing to watching them broadcast an actual game. The fact that it was a championship victory parade made it even better. Unfortunately, they were not on screen at the time, so we were unable to make our regional television debuts. It was still a very entertaining and interesting experience.
Atlanta Braves Celebration Phase Two: Inside the Park
Yet again, our small group made its’ way throughout the heaving masses. By this point, large piles of people were beginning to bunch up along Battery Avenue in anticipation. We, on the other hand, made our way to our seats right alongside the Braves’ bullpen in right field. The mood in the stadium was palpable, even though the team had not yet arrived. Tension had taken its leave in favor of absolute bliss. More specifically, to quote Braves’ radio announcer Ben Ingram’s Game Six call, “pure euphoria.” Everyone was wearing a smile and bucket loads of Braves gear. This included Yours Truly, who was wearing a jacket that referenced the Braves’ three previous World Titles. After being approached by a stadium staff member and told that another year needed to be added, a sudden realization occurred. Namely, the fact that the jacket needs to get progressively larger with each subsequent title this team wins. However, this writer could do nothing more than concur with the friendly staff member before heading to his seat.
Once there, we could turn and crane our necks to watch the parade coverage on the center field screen. Seats were quickly beginning to fill up around us. The atmosphere within the stadium made the three hour wait time go by rapidly. A championship had been won, and the fans were extremely eager to celebrate. This was also true on the parade route itself, as bus after bus passed not so unruly mobs of Braves fans. Many had brought homemade signs and were given posters that said “Battle Won,” in reference to the team’s postseason theme. The mighty gathering cheered with all their might as bus after bus of Braves champions displayed themselves.
Phase Three: The Red Carpet
Once the team arrived at the stadium, they were introduced one by one via a red carpet. In many a fan’s eyes, that long crimson path may as well have been Aladdin’s. The magic was in full effect as the roster made its way onto a stage set right on top of second base. To a thunderous ovation, Braves broadcaster, and former outfielder/first baseman Joe Simpson started the proceedings. He made reference to the different color towels that opposing fans had waved. In doing so, he asked if anyone in the state of Georgia enjoyed the color orange, speaking of the Houston Astros. This writer just so happens to be a Tennessee Volunteers fan, so orange is a personal favorite. However, the only colors celebrated on this day were red, white, and navy.
The Atlanta Braves brought out a veritable cacophony of celebration, featuring an open mic for the players to use. Many sought to urge the team to re-sign Freeman, while others thanked the fans for their support. Outfielder Joc Pederson utilized an expletive on live television while pitcher Charlie Morton exhibited a response that drew a lot of emotion. General Manager Alex Anthopolous was quarantined in his suite due to COVID. That didn’t stop him from speaking as he reminded fans that they were champions as well.
Phase Four: Wise Words
However, the best speech of the day did not come from a player nor a team executive. It came from the wife of the late Atlanta Braves Hall of Famer Hank Aaron, Billye Aaron. She emphatically proclaimed that, “the chickens have come home to roost!” Her words regarding her husband were touching, bringing tears to the eye. She made reference to Romeo & Juliet, telling everyone that she would tell Henry that he was her Romeo and she was his Juliet. Then, she said that the team and its fans shared a similar relationship of love and commitment. Simple proof of these words lay in the massive amount of cheers that greeted her as she took her seat once more. Even though her speech was not the culmination of the time, it may as well have been. Truer words were never spoken.
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Freddie Freeman, Joc Pederson, Eddie Rosario, Jorge Soler, Adam Duvall, Austin Riley, Dansby Swanson, Ozzie Albies, Ronald Acuna Jr., Mike Soroka, Tyler Matzek, Luke Jackson, A.J. Minter, Will Smith, Joe Simpson, Charlie Morton, Hank Aaron