Mainstay is the word that best describes both manager Brian Snitker and his Atlanta Braves.
The Braves clinched their sixth consecutive National League East crown on Wednesday with a 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Braves became the first MLB team to lock up their division this season.
Although a repeat, Snitker imparted words of wisdom to his team: “You should enjoy every time you get a chance to do this. I told them, ‘Don’t forget how this feels’ because it’s an excellent feeling that lets you know your hard work is for something.”
Austin Riley launched a two-run home run in the first (his 35th of the season) to give the Braves an early lead. Atlanta’s Cy Young Award candidate Spencer Strider tossed seven innings, struck out nine, and allowed one run.
“Now we’re gonna be at the head of the table.” 🍾🍾🍾 pic.twitter.com/5ctBlN0pk2
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) September 14, 2023
They’re now set up for a postseason with home-field advantage in pursuit of their second World Series title in three years. But there are concerns.
- They might face the Phillies for a second straight year in the NL Division Series. That best-of-five series did not go well for the Braves last year.
- The home-field could be hijacked by the Dodgers in the NL and the Orioles in the AL. Both are on the Braves’ heels.
- A combination of a Braves win and loss from one of those two teams puts Atlanta one step closer to home-field advantage throughout October.
For the A
Atlanta increased its MLB-best division title total to 23. This season matches their second-earliest clinch date. The 1995 club also sealed the NL East on Sept. 13, and the 2002 team clinched on Sept. 9.
The Braves have seemingly made winning the East a rite of September since the 1990s. This year’s team looks loaded enough to win their third World Series since moving from Milwaukee to Atlanta. During that span, Atlanta won 11 straight NL East titles from 1995-2005 and the World Series in 1995 and 2021.
Snitker the Brave
Snitker, 67, has been part of the Braves organization in different roles since playing in their minor league organization from 1977 to 1980. In 1981, at age 25, Snitker retired as a player to become a coach in the Braves organization. And there he has remained, having toiled in the minors for years, even managing the Durham Bulls in 1987.
He became Atlanta’s manager in 2016. Two years later, the run of division titles began.
The former minor league catcher is a subtle, knowledgeable baseball man loyal to the Atlanta organization for five decades. In return, the Braves rewarded him with MLB’s most talent-laden team.
Snitker is revered for his connection to players, handling numerous challenges in a way that kept them motivated and unified. The Braves manager oversees a veteran coaching staff and is supported by their front office management and its devotion to roster construction that has yielded baseball’s most dominant team.
The sense around the Braves borrows from Snitker’s message to the team: an excellent feeling that lets you know your hard work is for something.
Main Photo Credits: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports