Bradley’s Buzz: The reborn Braves have sworn off losing

Atlanta Braves celebrates the win against the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-3 at Truist Park on Sunday, June 12, 2022. Braves complete sweep against the Pirates, extending the winning streak to 11. Miguel Martinez / miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

Credit: Miguel Martinez / miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

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Atlanta Braves celebrates the win against the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-3 at Truist Park on Sunday, June 12, 2022. Braves complete sweep against the Pirates, extending the winning streak to 11. Miguel Martinez / miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

Credit: Miguel Martinez / miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

On June 1, general manager Alex Anthopoulos spoke with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the Braves, who were 23-27. “The talent on this club speaks for itself,” Anthopoulos said. The Braves haven’t lost since. Talk about calling your shot.

They’ve won 11 games in succession. They’ve cut the Mets’ lead, which had grown to 10.5 games, nearly in half. They’re .002 percentage points behind the Giants for the second (of three) wild cards. FanGraphs gives the Braves an 83.9% chance of making the playoffs.

On June 1, Anthopoulos expressed no great concern. “You really don’t overweight small sample sizes,” he said.

Then: “You just know that over the course of six months, it’s going to balance out.”

The balancing has begun. The Braves ranks eighth in the majors in runs, sixth in OPS. William Contreras and Michael Harris, summoned from the minors, have become major contributors. Dansby Swanson, no longer leading MLB in strikeouts, is having an All-Star year. Among National League pitchers who have worked 30 innings, Spencer Strider is ninth in ERA; Kyle Wright is 13th, Max Fried 15th.

As of June 1, the Braves hadn’t won even three in a row. That’s ancient history. They look like the Braves again. They won’t finish below .500. They won’t miss the playoffs. They’re still really good.

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About the one cause for pause

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Atlanta Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos introduces newly acquired All-Star first baseman Matt Olson, signed to an eight-year, $168 million deal that runs through the 2029 season, at his press conference during Spring Training at CoolToday Park on Tuesday, March 15, 2022, in North Port. Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com

Atlanta Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos introduces newly acquired All-Star first baseman Matt Olson, signed to an eight-year, $168 million deal that runs through the 2029 season, at his press conference during Spring Training at CoolToday Park on Tuesday, March 15, 2022, in North Port.  Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com

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Atlanta Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos introduces newly acquired All-Star first baseman Matt Olson, signed to an eight-year, $168 million deal that runs through the 2029 season, at his press conference during Spring Training at CoolToday Park on Tuesday, March 15, 2022, in North Port. Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com

The 11 consecutive victories have come against teams below .500. The Mets, meanwhile, just went 5-5 on the road against the Dodgers, Padres and Angels. Over the course of a season, schedules tend to even out. That’s not meant to frighten anyone. It’s just a fact.

We return, yet again, to track records. The Braves have won the NL East four years running. They came within a game of the World Series in 2020 after their rotation came apart in September. They won the World Series in 2021 after buying a whole new outfield at the trade deadline.

They’re adept at problem-solving. Their GM has faith in them. They have faith in their GM. Strange things happen in baseball, but it would take many strange things to keep this team from playing into October.

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About the Big Apple

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Jimmy Fallon waves a shirt during Game 5 of the NHL Hockey Stanley Cup playoffs Eastern Conference Finals between the New York Rangers and the Tampa Bay Lightning, Thursday, June 9, 2022, in New York (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Credit: Adam Hunger

Jimmy Fallon waves a shirt during Game 5 of the NHL Hockey Stanley Cup playoffs Eastern Conference Finals between the New York Rangers and the Tampa Bay Lightning, Thursday, June 9, 2022, in New York (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Credit: Adam Hunger

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Jimmy Fallon waves a shirt during Game 5 of the NHL Hockey Stanley Cup playoffs Eastern Conference Finals between the New York Rangers and the Tampa Bay Lightning, Thursday, June 9, 2022, in New York (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Credit: Adam Hunger

Credit: Adam Hunger

Over the course of four decades at the ol’ AJC, I’ve heard many times how kindly the Atlanta media is to its sports teams. “This would never happen in New York,” goes the plaint. “The media there doesn’t care about anything but championships.”

To which I think – but haven’t really said, at least until now – “Oh, really?”

The New York metropolitan area includes two teams in MLB, two in the NFL, two in the NBA, three in the NHL and two in MLS. From March 2012 through November 2021, those 11 teams mustered no championships. New York City FC broke the drought last year by winning the MLS Cup on penalties.

I love the New York sports media. It’s great fun to read the Post when the Mets/Jets/Nets are losing. I’m just not sure such media scrutiny brings accountability – to be fair, I’m unclear what’s meant by “accountability”; does somebody have to get fired to be accountable? – to the franchises.

The Jets’ first and last Super Bowl was played on Jan. 12, 1969. The Mets have won one World Series since 1969. The Knicks’ last NBA title came in 1973. The Nets’ most recent title was the last-ever ABA crown in 1976. Even the Yankees, who are never bad, haven’t made the World Series since 2009.

As for the Rangers: They’ve lifted the Stanley Cup once since 1940. They were eliminated in the conference finals by Tampa Bay on Saturday.

I know, I know. We’re Atlanta. We’re Loserville. We can’t even keep our hockey clubs. When the conversation turns to titles, we should just shut up. Except to note that Atlanta United took the MLS Cup in 2018 and the Braves did pretty well last fall.

(The Falcons and the Hawks? OK, you got me there.)

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About a documentary you should watch

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Eatonton Colored High School's basketball team won a GIA championship in 1949-50. Pictured are (front row, from left) Herbert Stokes, J.W. Freeman, Frederick Griffith, Charles Freeman and (back row, from left) coach Odell Owens, Willie Frank Daniel, James Few, Roy Little and principal W.N. McGlockton. Freeman, now 91, is featured in the GPB documentary "As If We Were Ghosts."

Credit: Photo courtesy of Ann Kimbrough of Our Studios LLC

Eatonton Colored High School's basketball team won a GIA championship in 1949-50. Pictured are (front row, from left) Herbert Stokes, J.W. Freeman, Frederick Griffith, Charles Freeman and (back row, from left) coach Odell Owens, Willie Frank Daniel, James Few, Roy Little and principal W.N. McGlockton. Freeman, now 91, is featured in the GPB documentary "As If We Were Ghosts."

Credit: Photo courtesy of Ann Kimbrough of Our Studios LLC

Combined ShapeCaption
Eatonton Colored High School's basketball team won a GIA championship in 1949-50. Pictured are (front row, from left) Herbert Stokes, J.W. Freeman, Frederick Griffith, Charles Freeman and (back row, from left) coach Odell Owens, Willie Frank Daniel, James Few, Roy Little and principal W.N. McGlockton. Freeman, now 91, is featured in the GPB documentary "As If We Were Ghosts."

Credit: Photo courtesy of Ann Kimbrough of Our Studios LLC

Credit: Photo courtesy of Ann Kimbrough of Our Studios LLC

“As If They Were Ghosts” airs at 9 p.m. tonight on Georgia Public Broadcasting. It recounts the years of the Georgia Interscholastic Association, which administered sports for all-Black schools from 1948 through 1970. Walt Frazier, the NBA Hall of Famer who played at Atlanta’s Howard High, is interviewed. Monty Ross is the director.

Todd Holcomb has written at length about the show for the AJC. Its airing marks a victory for Herb White, who pitched the documentary when he was working at GPB many years ago. White played basketball at Decatur High and Georgia and for the Atlanta Hawks. (Because he could really jump, he was known as the “Elevator from Decatur.”)

White has spoken often about his appreciation for the Black players he faced in summer games but who went largely unmentioned by the media because schools were segregated. As he told Holcomb: “I knew there were guys with talent equal to mine who were never mentioned. I felt somewhat embarrassed.”