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Braves Win Division, Building Excitement Throughout UNG

Jack Thurmond
Fans in Truist Park celebrate an Ozzie Albies home run against the Philadelphia Phillies on Sept. 18. Despite losing the game 7-1, Atlanta clinched a postseason first-round bye, giving them home-field advantage through at least the NLDS.

The skies above Philadelphia were clear on the evening of Sept. 13 when relief pitcher Kirby Yates struck out centerfielder Brandon Marsh, seizing the Atlanta Braves sixth straight division title.  

The team celebrated together on the pitcher’s mound while leftover Phillies fans rained boos of disapproval on them. After a while, the celebration turned to the visitor’s clubhouse where players popped champagne bottles and danced the evening away. 

The Braves clinched homefield advantage in the National League and were the fastest team to win their division. They won the NL East with 19 games left in the season.  

Team enthusiasts at the University of North Georgia who have reveled in the franchise’s dominance over the years show high praise for the feat.

Aaron Russell, a senior middle education major, has followed the Braves for the past 13 years. He believes the fanbase is blessed to see their team win six straight division titles.    

“It was a lot easier this year than it was in others, but it’s still a big accomplishment.” – Aaron Russell, senior middle education major

Seen here is the 2023 NL East Championship flag being flown at Truist Park, the Atlanta Braves stadium. The flag was ceremoniously hung up before the first pitch the evening of Sept 18. (Jack Thurmond)

Atlanta punched their postseason ticket with high aspirations, which include winning their second World Series in three years. Although the team has gone through a recent rough patch since sealing the division, fans still possess high hopes. 

Tyler Partain, a freshman business management major, has supported the Braves for 15 years and prays that Atlanta wins it all this year.

The MLB postseason starts in October, and although there is no confirmation on who the Braves will play, fans have already decided who they want to see.

Zach Barnes, a junior kinesiology major, believes the teams division rival, the Miami Marlins, would be an easy matchup.

“It would be one I’d have more faith in,” he said. 

Will Smiga, a senior film major, hopes Atlanta eventually sees their cross-country rival, the Los Angeles Dodgers, citing hard feelings left from the departure of longtime Braves player Freddie Freeman.  

“Out of spite, I’d love to see us play the Dodgers to show him what he left behind,” he said.  

One team on their radar is the Philidelphia Phillies, the same team that watched them conquer the eastern pennant. Last year, the Braves played the Phillies in an NLDS series that ended in a dreadful defeat for Braves Country.  

The Phillies pulled off the gentleman’s sweep against Atlanta, winning the series three games to one, including two drubbings in Philidelphia each ending 9-1 and 8-3.  

With Philidelphia clinching a wild card spot on Sept. 26, both teams are on a collision course for round two. However, Braves fans believe things will be different if Atlanta were to come across their foes to the north.  

Russell feels they will be more motivated and is counting on them to be more focused on delivering some payback, similar to when they beat the Dodgers in the 2021 NLCS after losing to them in 2020

Smiga also trusts that a rematch with the Phillies would go differently, citing potential cockiness expressed by Atlanta going into last year’s matchup. 

“I feel like last season we got overconfident since they didn’t look great, so this time I think they’ll be locked in and ready for them.” – Will Smiga, senior film major   

Braves Country is confident they can get the job done this year. As the anticipation for the playoffs increases, fans are ready to cheer their team to victory. Until then, fans can continue to cheer them on for the remainder of the season and support their journey to the World Series. 

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About the Contributor
Jack Thurmond
Jack Thurmond, Staff Writer
Hello there! My name is Jack Thurmond. This is my third year at the University of North Georgia, and I am studying communications to become a sports journalist. I joined the Vanguard because it gives me the window to experience things I typically would not get to.
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