Freddie Freeman swinging the biggest stage in baseball for the first time, Jose Altuve & Co. is coming back for more. Luis Garcia, Framber Valdez and a new set of Houston arms face off against Ozzie Albies, Austin Riley, and those enthusiastic young Atlanta bats.
And the never-ending quest for Mr. Dusty Baker.
Braves-Astros, a lot to savor in this World Series – even a family showdown. Troy, the son of Atlanta manager Brian Snitker, is a Houston batting coach.
âIt’s like the Snitkers are going to have a World Series trophy in their house here,â Dad said on Saturday night. “I don’t know who’s going to own it, but we’re going to have one.” So that’s a pretty cool thing too.
A clash in preparation for six decades, involving former rivals of the National League who have played more than 700 times, including five playoffs. Think The Hammer and The Toy Cannon in a home run derby at the Astrodome, or Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz against Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio on a June evening on TBS.
Due to the lineup and COVID-19, the Astros and the Braves haven’t seen each other since 2017. They will now meet for Game 1 on Tuesday night in Houston.
The Astros opened as a 3-2 favorite on the FanDuel site.
But before we start, let’s just say: there are a lot of fans who might not be thrilled to see either team here at the end of October.
Altuve and Astros teammates Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman and Yuli Gurriel will wear the label of cheaters forever after being part of a team that devised an illegal sign-stealing scheme en route to the 2017 Championship.
At Minute Maid Park, they are acclaimed. In every other stadium, they’re heckled – and worse – as the worst villains in the game.
“Since the news came out, the bad news we had to deal with about what happened in 2017, I think we’ve all wanted to prove what kind of players we are and what team we are.” , said Yordan Alvarez, MVP of the AL Championship Series.
âI wasn’t here with the team in 2017, but I was booed just as equal as anyone else. So I think we all have the same mentality that we really want to win a World Series to show that we’re just a great team, âhe said.
The Astros are entering the World Series for the third time in five years and made it without ace Justin Verlander, who missed the season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.
The Braves overcame a season-ending knee injury for dynamic star Ronald AcuÃ±a Jr. in July and jumped after being stranded at 52-55 in early August. Boosted by NL Championship Series MVP Eddie Rosario, Atlanta made his first appearance in the Fall Classic since 1999.
Yet while the roster and stadium have changed, the sights and sounds of Atlanta still remain. Throughout the NLCS, Truist Park fans have chopped and chanted emphatically during the highlights for the Braves.
In an age of social calculation that has seen the Cleveland Indians change their name to Guardians and the Washington NFL team shed a nickname seen as racist, the Atlanta scene is sure to garner more attention.
On the pitch – and on the bench – many eyes will be on Baker.
He won the World Series as a player with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1981 and took five teams to the playoffs as a manager, but never won the crown.
Baker took the job in 2020 in the wake of the Houston cheating scandal – âthere are a few things I still hadn’t accomplishedâ – and at 72, with a lifetime of credentials, has another chance.
âLast year I really felt like a substitute teacher. I was an underdog, âBaker said. âBut this year they made me feel like I was one of them and they have definitely always been one of mine. This is the whole story. Everyone talks about teamwork, they talk about a team, but it’s a feeling you have for each other.
Baker’s story in this game runs particularly deep. Playing with the great Hank Aaron of the Braves in 1968, he achieved his first major league success at the Astrodome in a loss to Jimmy Wynn and Houston.
Over the years, these teams have met a lot, starting with the 1962 expansion of the Houston Colt .45 against the Milwaukee Braves. There were the days when wide receiver Joe Torre was trying to throw young Joe Morgan out, the Niekro brothers would pitch at each other and fireball Nolan Ryan against Dale Murphy.
The .45 became the Astros in 1965, and from 1997 to 2005 the clubs played five times in the NL Division Series, with Atlanta winning three of the clashes. Houston moved from NL Central to AL West in 2013.
Snitker certainly followed them all. The Atlanta coach, 66, has spent four decades with the Braves organization as a player, coach and skipper.
He tuned in on Friday night when the Astros and his son Troy beat Boston in the decisive sixth ALCS game.
” It was nice. Proud of him. I went to FaceTime with him. I watched the celebration, âhe said hours before the Braves knocked out the Dodgers in Game 6 of the NLCS.
âI told him the first time, it’s not that easy, you know, it’s really hard to get there, as you can see. But it has been a great experience for him and I am happy for him. I said, I hope I can join you, âhe said.
A few hours later, he and the Braves were on their way.
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