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Braves Look to Overcome Obstacles, Reestablish Their Dominance

Ashley Landis
Braves players celebrate their 2021 World Series Championship. Since that title, Atlanta has fallen three games to one against the Philidelphia Phillies in back-to-back seasons and look to redeem themselves in 2024 (Photo by Ashley Landis/AP Photo via WFTV)

Following back-to-back disappointing finishes to their season, the Atlanta Braves enter 2024 looking to return to the top of baseball’s mountain. With Spring Training only weeks away, the question is whether the team has what it takes to reestablish their glory. 

After winning the World Series in 2021, the Braves have been among the best teams in Major League Baseball. In 2022 the club finished the regular season with 101 wins and the second seed in the National League. In 2023 they entered October baseball with 104 wins and the best record in the Majors. 

In both of those seasons, the team lost in the NL Division Series three games to one versus their rival Philadelphia Phillies. 

After two humiliating postseason defeats at the hands of their division foes to the north, Atlanta looks to work their way back toward baseball’s pinnacle. With the season looming closer each week, the obstacles and the questions continue to mount.  

One of the bigger obstacles that the Braves faced this winter was the departure of fan favorite Third Base Coach Ron Washington. The team’s beloved infield mastermind left to seize his chance at a managerial job with the Los Angeles Angles. 

Kevin McCollum, head coach of Forsyth Central High School’s baseball team, feels that Washington’s absence can impact the team’s winning chemistry. 

“Any time there are coaching or player changes, it can affect the chemistry in a positive or negative manner.” – Kevin McCollum, head coach of FCHS’s baseball team 

Conversely, North Forsyth High School baseball coach Jim Cahill said that the team shouldn’t face too much adversity from Washington’s absence citing new Third Base Coach Matt Tuiasosopo’s qualifications at the hot corner. “He has a great relationship with the players and has been in the organization a while,” he says.  

Before being promoted by the organization, Tuiasosopo was the manager of Atlanta’s Triple-A affiliate, the Gwinnett Stripers. 

On top of this, the question of if the Braves can beat Philadelphia still stands. In three tries including the past two matchups, the team has never beaten their arch nemesis in postseason play. 

Cahill believes that Atlanta’s losing streak to their NL East rival shouldn’t phase them. If anything, he feels that it will work as a motivator for them to work harder and make needed adjustments. 

“These guys are professionals. It will fuel their off-season preparations for the season.” -NFHS Baseball Head Coach Jim Cahill 

The “Fightin’ Phils” themselves have had a cold offseason so far losing Closer Craig Kimbrel to the Baltimore Orioles and first baseman Rhys Hoskins to the Milwaukee Brewers. Still, with a returning pitcher Aaron Nola and stars such as Bryce Harper and Trae Turner, the Phillies are set be a major dark horse in the NL. 

Even if the Braves work their way past the Phillies, an even greater threat has emerged ahead of them.  

The Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta’s cross-country rival, sounded alarm bells over the offseason when they signed two-way player Shohei Ohtani to a 10-year $700 million deal. That signing combined with additions such as pitcher Tyler Glasnow and infielder Teoscar Hernandez makes L.A. a sure favorite to win the NL Pennant. 

The Braves have also made a series of signings this offseason shoring up their pitching. With the additions of pitchers Aaron Bummer and Reynaldo Lopez, Atlanta looks to possess one of the best bullpens in the league. 

The team traded infielder Vaughn Grissom to the Boston Red Sox for their veteran starting pitcher, All-Star Chris Sale. 

Even with the flurry of moves Atlanta has made this offseason, time will tell if it is enough to keep pace with their enemy to the west. McCollum views the matchup between the two-baseball giants as evenly matched, saying that all professional players are elite. 

“They stack up well against anyone in the league,” he said. 

Cahill also believes that the Braves pair well with the Dodgers. He credits General Manager Alex Anthopoulos with how he has built the roster for this season, and others to come. 

Though the road back to the top looks to be a difficult one, coaches believe that Atlanta has the pieces to reclaim its spot as one of baseball’s powerhouses. They play their first spring training game on Saturday, April. 24.

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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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