Bradley’s Buzz: Will the Braves go bust if they don’t win the World Series? Nah

052322 Atlanta: The 2021 World Series Champions patch is shown on an Atlanta Braves player during their game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Truist Park Monday, May 23, 2022, in Atlanta. (Jason Getz /

Credit: Jason Getz /

Credit: Jason Getz /

052322 Atlanta: The 2021 World Series Champions patch is shown on an Atlanta Braves player during their game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Truist Park Monday, May 23, 2022, in Atlanta. (Jason Getz /

He could have said, “We’re here to compete for a championship,” but every player on every team says that, even though many know their team has no hope in Hades.

He could have said, “Our plan is to reach the NLCS and lose to the Dodgers in six,” but no player on any team ever says that or anything like it.

On Valentine’s Day 2024, A.J. Minter said this: “It’s World Series or bust.”

If we’re to take Minter at his word, the Braves have two options – win it all or fold the franchise. We know this isn’t how it works. Some team wins the World Series every year. The 29 others do not go out of business, though the A’s might relocate. The 29 others recalibrate and reconfigure and try to do better, though realistically it’s not always possible to better what they’ve done. Such is life.

The speaker of those headline-friendly words was Minter, a fine reliever known to us media folks as a Good Talker. Brian Snitker spoke no such sentence, having been around long enough to know that a manager who predicts a World Series title is a manager who might be asked if such a failure constitutes managerial malpractice.

The speaker of those words was not Alex Anthopoulos, who has overseen seven playoff teams over his past seven seasons as somebody’s general manager and who doesn’t go a day without reminding himself that his one World Series winner was the one with the worst record. (Also that he, having tested positive for COVID on the morning of Game 4, wasn’t in Houston for the crowning Game 6.)

The speaker of those words spoke what’s on everyone’s mind. For the Braves, who won the 2021 World Series and have gotten better since, no consolation prizes exist. But this isn’t the NFL, where the team with Patrick Mahomes wins nearly every year. Indeed, the team without the sport’s best pitcher took the 2023 title with Jacob deGrom recovering from Tommy John surgery.

FanGraphs assigns the Braves a 25.2 percent chance of winning the World Series. By baseball standards, that makes them a huge favorite. With MLB’s expanded postseason running to 12 qualifiers, no baseball team can be an overwhelming favorite. Having a one-in-four shot to win it all carries the three-in-four probability of not winning it all.

Every team reports to spring training with winning the World Series as its goal. For a few teams, it’s a reasonable expectation. But baseball, as we know, is a funny game. In spring 1991, the Braves were coming off a season that saw them win 67 games, the fewest among MLB clubs. They came within a run of being World Series champs. It took them three more October tries to claim the big prize, but they did it.

Many of these Braves carried around the Commissioner’s Trophy that Tuesday night in Houston. Several of these players are among baseball’s best at their positions. Anthopoulos didn’t sell Vaughn Grissom’s future in the attempt to come close again. Everyone associated with the organization will be disappointed if the World Series commences without them.

That said, being a professional sports team carries with it the being-professional part. A team can do almost everything right and have it wind up wrong. A fast player representing the championship-winning run can dally around second base. A fearsome closer can throw his third-best pitch and see it fly over the left-field fence. A broken-bat looper can tick off an All-Star first baseman’s mitt with his team four outs from clinching a series.

All the above happened to excellent Braves teams. Something like that could happen to this one. But let’s recall the doings of autumn ‘21: of Eddie Rosario resembling Roberto Clemente; of Jorge Soler becoming Mr. October/November; of Tyler Matzek holding the line night after excruciating night; of Charlie Morton finishing an inning on a broken leg. All that happened, too. We’ll carry those memories the rest of our lives.

I’d love to guarantee that these Braves will win the World Series, but nobody – not M. Bradley, not A.J. Minter, not Rob Manfred – can do that. I can almost guarantee that this team will play into October. Will I go so far as to predict another Braves-Astros Fall Classic? I will indeed, but I’m sometimes wrong.

All I know for certain is that, no matter what, the Braves will field a team in 2025. They’re not going away. They won’t go bust. They’ll try again, which is what they’ll do even if they win the 2024 World Series. The one great truth in all of sports: There’s always another season.

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