It has been five years since the Braves last experienced the playoffs, but Atlanta will continue playing into October for the 15th time under manager Bobby Cox.
The Braves clinched a spot for at least a one-game playoff Sunday afternoon when they beat the Phillies 8-7, though the one-game playoff wasn’t necessary in the end. It was a wild game that saw the Phillies come back from an 8-2 deficit only to have Billy Wagner close the door by striking out the side in the ninth. The crowd erupted into celebration and you couldn’t help but feel the goosebumps.
After a post-game concert, a few hundred Braves fans stuck around and sat by the home dugout to watch the Padres and Giants game on BravesVision. Fans endured the somewhat chilly weather to watch the Giants beat the Padres 3-0, thus making the Braves the National League Wild Card team.
BravesVision then switched to the Braves locker room to show the team celebrating their playoff berth. It was a wild scene. Beer and champagne flew everywhere. Copious amounts of beer was poured on to players heads, especially during interviews. Brian McCann was dancing in the middle of the locker room with knee-high white socks on. David Ross and Derek Lowe were sneaking around like two troublemaking boys. Bobby Cox eventually came into the picture with a huge smile on his face, though he was constantly wiping beer from his eyes as many players doused him.
The celebration emptied onto the field, much to the liking of the fans who stuck around. The area around the dugout quickly became littered with Bud Light cans. Players ran by the fans giving high fives and the players eventually lifted Bobby Cox up on their shoulders.
It was good to see the Braves hit the ball again — and score runs. The team was determined to win Sunday. The fans were determined. It was a playoff atmosphere from the first out to the last out. The Braves responded when they were backed against the wall. They couldn’t lose. It wasn’t an option.
Despite all the injuries, this team persevered and made the playoffs. Who cares if they are lucky to be there? They made it. More importantly, they earned it. You can’t blame a team when they lost so many good players. This team has heart and they have nothing to lose. No one is giving them a chance. Heck, some of the Braves own fans aren’t giving them a chance. But I guarantee you that every one of those players believe they can win it all.
They are led by scrappy backup players and a top of the rotation that is pitching quite well at the moment. They have veterans, 20-year old rookies, comedians and one beloved manager. The bullpen has been a strength all season long, even though it faltered a bit in the Phillies series. I think the time off between now and Thursday will be a good thing. Everybody will get some much-needed rest and be ready to go for Game 1 on Thursday night in San Francisco.
Even if you aren’t a Braves fan, pull for Bobby. If the Braves send their skipper out with another World Series ring, it would be nothing short of magical. This season has always had the feel of something different in the air. It’s “the stuff dreams are made of“.
Here’s a video from my phone of the players celebration on the field. It’s brief, but gives you an idea of what it was like.
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