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The AJC’s Top 50: Nos. 26-30

The landscape of Atlanta sports changed in 2017.

Literally.

Stadiums were raised, razed and renovated.

There were many more significant moments in sports involving the city, it’s teams and people connected to our region.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution compiled and ranked a list of the 50 biggest moments in Atlanta sports for the year. Over 10 days, we will reveal the list in ascending order, five at a time, until it culminates with the biggest and most defining moment on Dec. 26.

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Today: 26-30.

30. Freddie Freeman breaks wrist after MVP-caliber start

The bright green cast was unmistakable. Freddie Freeman, the Braves top player, fractured his left wrist on May 17 when he was hit by a pitch from the Blue Jays’ Aaron Loup. The next day, the Braves first baseman was wearing the protection that would keep him out for 10 weeks. Freeman was off to an MVP-caliber start as hit had a .341 average, .461 on-base percentage and .748 slugging percentage through the first 37 games. He led the National League with 14 home runs. Freeman returned on July 4 – after just seven weeks. One big thing. He returned to play third base to keep Matt Adams in the lineup. The experiment didn’t last long and Freeman soon returned to his natural position.

29. Hawks blow up roster in youth movement

Just two years removed from the Eastern Conference finals, the Hawks put the finishing touches on a complete roster makeover. With Al Horford, DeMarre Carroll and Jeff Teague already gone, the Hawks began to restructure. Kyle Korver was traded on Jan. 7. The complete new direction would come when Travis Schlenk was hired as general manager in May. He traded Dwight Howard, who’s one-year return to Atlanta did not work out. Paul Millsap was not offered a contract and left as a free agent. Tim Hardaway Jr. also left via free agency. When it was all over, the Hawks entered the 2017-18 season with Dennis Schroder as the longest-tenured Hawks player in his fifth season. The team strategy became to build around young players like Kent Bazemore, Taurean Prince, DeAndre Bembry and John Collins with more future draft picks.

28. Braves pick up 2018 option on Brian Snitker

The Braves’ late-season struggles to end the 2017 season led the much speculation that Brian Snitker would not return as manager. Snitker took over for the fired Fredi Gonzalez and had a 126-146 record over a season and a half. He was tasked with bringing along a core of young players to build for future success. The Braves opted to bring back Snitker in October but made several staff changes, including removing popular former Braves Terry Pendleton and Eddie Perez and hiring Walt Weiss. The decision on Snitker was made while the Braves were between general managers. 

27. Georgia Tech fails to make bowl game

For the second time in three years, Georgia Tech failed to make a bowl game. A loss to rival Georgia left the Yellow Jackets with a 5-6 regular-season record, below the needed .500 record. Georgia Tech had its early-season game against UCF cancelled due to Hurricane Irma. There were attempts to schedule another game in its place. When those efforts failed, Georgia Tech was left out of the postseason. “The message to the team was, just disappointed,” coach Paul Johnson said. “And we've got to do better. I've got to help them more and we've got to play better. Bottom line.”

26. Braves finally find deal for new spring training home

Ground was broken on a new spring training home for the Braves in North Port, Fla. on Oct. 17, completing a three-year search. The new facility will cost an estimated $100 million and be the planned centerpiece of a 10,000-acre development in Sarasota County. Plans call for a stadium with 6,200 fixed seats, berm seating for another 2,000 and outfield dimensions mirroring those of the Braves' regular-season home, SunTrust Park. Six full practice fields and two half fields are planned nearby. More than $40 million in taxpayer funds from the state of Florida, Sarasota County and North Port will go toward the project.

The list so far:

26. Braves finally find deal for new spring training home

27. Georgia Tech fails to make bowl game

28. Braves pick up 2018 option on Brian Snitker

29. Hawks blow up roster in youth movement

30. Freddie Freeman breaks wrist after MVP-caliber start

31. Hawks eliminated from playoffs by Wizards

32. Devonta Freeman signs big contract

33. Falcons’ PSL sales become issue

34. Brian McCann wins World Series with Astros

35. Falcons draft Takk McKinley

36. Hawks draft John Collins

37. Deshaun Watson leads Clemson to national championship

38. Tour Championship double winners

39. Sergio Garcia wins Masters

40. Brad Keselowski wins Atlanta NASCAR race

41. Hawks open practice facility

42. Ascension of Braves’ Ronald Acuna

43. Kennesaw football wins conference, goes to playoffs

44. Georgia State takes over Turner Field

45. John Isner wins fourth BB&T title

46. Georgia Swarm win National Lacrosse League title

47. Matt Stafford gets NFL-record contract

48. Braves release of Bartolo Colon

49. Rams hire Dunwoody’s Sean McVay

50. Warrick Dunn in Falcons Ring of Honor

Links:

Day One

Day Two

Day Three

Day Four

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