In some ways, the Braves’ 2021 World Series championship resembles the only other one they have won since moving to Atlanta in 1966. They beat a high-powered offensive team in six games in both cases – Cleveland in 1995, Houston in 2021. They had an intense left-handed pitcher on the mound for Game 6 of both series – Glavine then, 27-year-old Max Fried now. They won the clinching game via a shutout both times.
This time, Fried pitched six innings of four-hit ball before relievers Tyler Matzek and Will Smith handled the final three innings. And this time, the Braves’ hitters gave their pitchers a much larger cushion, scoring seven runs Tuesday night compared with one run on that Saturday night in 1995.
“Seven runs would have been nice,” Glavine said with a laugh, “although sometimes you lose your concentration a little bit when you have a big lead.”
He was impressed with how Fried, who had a shaky start in Game 2, bounced back with a dominant outing in Game 6.
“I wasn’t surprised, really,” Glavine said. “He made some good adjustments (during Game 2) that I thought he was going to carry over. He did a really good job of using his change-up and of using his fastball away to keep the Astros’ hitters honest and keep them off that inside stuff they were aggressive on in Game 2.
“But more than anything, just knowing Max’s makeup, I thought his mentality was going to be to show that Game 2 was the fluke. … Based on his demeanor, he was hell-bent on taking advantage of this opportunity and doing what he did.”
It was a Glavine-like demeanor.
This championship was unlike the 1995 title in some significant ways, though. The 1995 Braves were 26 games above .500 and led their division by 11 games as of Aug. 5, the same date the 2021 team climbed above .500 for the first time and remained in third place in its division. And certainly, the 1995 team – and maybe any other World Series champion you can name -- didn’t have to navigate as many injuries and other setbacks as the 2021 Braves.
“It’s certainly not what you’d expect,” Glavine said of the course these Braves took to a championship. “But it’s funny (how things work out). Nobody wants to lose a guy like Ronald (Acuna), obviously, but had Ronald not gotten hurt (in July), what trades do the Braves make, if any? And what kind of team does it end up being? I think that’s a really fascinating conversation to have and look at it.
“But to overcome the things they did, it speaks to the character of the team, the leaders on the team and certainly Snit (manager Brian Snitker). It’s the age-old cliché: You get guys hurt, and, guess what, nobody feels sorry for you. You’ve got to figure something out, and that’s what these guys did. They understood you don’t replace a guy like Ronald, but you can spread it around and everybody can pick up the slack. Collectively, everybody has got to pitch in, and that happened.”
From July 31, the day after general manager Alex Anthopoulos acquired an all-new outfield at the trade deadline, through Tuesday night, the Braves posted a 48-25 record, including 23-7 since Sept. 18.
“It’s the epitome of a team catching fire at the right time,” Glavine said. “Not only did the moves at the deadline mesh with the team, but (the new players) all got hot. There wasn’t a team that was playing better baseball going into the postseason than the Braves were, and they were able to carry that all the way through.”
Glavine, who last pitched in 2008 and was inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame in 2014, pointed out that the World Series turned out “just as I predicted.” On a radio show before the series began, he picked the Braves to beat the Astros in six games.
“I’m certainly thrilled for the team, knowing exactly what the feeling is like to set out in spring training to be the last guy standing and now you are,” he said Wednesday. He is perhaps happiest for the Braves’ 66-year-old manager. “I’ve known Snit forever,” he said.
When an 18-year-old Glavine played on the Braves’ instructional league team in Sarasota, Fla., in the fall of 1984, a 29-year-old Snitker was that team’s manager.
“To see him finally get his shot at the big-league level and do what he has done, and to see him now have a world championship, I couldn’t be more thrilled for him and where it cements him in the history of the Braves organization,” Glavine said.
Other than 1995 and 2021, the franchise’s only other World Series championships came in 1957 as the Milwaukee Braves and in 1914 as the Boston Braves.
Glavine knows from experience that winning a World Series should be savored fully because there’s no telling when, or if, it might happen again.
“You got that right,” he said. “Who would have thought it’d have been 26 years before (the Braves) won another one?”