Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker Jr. Credit: YouTube

A large number of New Yorkers were hoping they would be rooting for the Yankees going for the franchise’s 28th World Series ring right now. Instead, Tuesday marked Game 1 of the 2021 World Series between the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves, which ended in a 6-2 win for the National League champions from Georgia. For many Major League Baseball fans, it’s a game of choosing your poison.

 Do you want to root for a team that continues to lead its fans in a tomahawk chop chant or do you want to root for a team that’s been found to have cheated in winning the 2017 World Series championship while in the view of some remaining unapologetic?

The Braves, who won their division 88 victories this season, have stunned baseball by making it to the Fall Classic. And it’s not just about winning games. It’s who they beat to get there.  There’s nothing truly remarkable about this Braves team. They played in a weak National League East where the New York Mets held first place for much of the season before collapsing in late August. They suffered a tremendous setback when their best player, left fielder Ronald Acuna Jr., tore his ACL in July.

However, instead of calling the season a wash, Braves General Manager Alex Anthopoulos recognized the division his team was playing in was still ripe for the taking and went all in. He acquired Eddie Rosario, Joc Pederson, Jorge Soler and Adam Duvall, and remade the entire Braves outfield.

Atlanta then seized the moment, defeating the 95-win, NL Central Division Champion Milwaukee Brewers in four games in the National League Division Series (NLDS), followed by an upset of the 106-win juggernaut Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series (NLCS), dismissing them in six games. The parallel is the current Dodgers have the look of the 1990s Braves with a lot of winning, but only one ring to show for it so far.

 With the Astros, there’s a cloud of cheating. But it looks like many of the players don’t care or choose to learn the lessons of The Secret and state that “If I believe people aren’t angry at us, then people aren’t angry at us.” Seemingly everyone except shortstop Carlos Correa. He’s more than fine with playing the villain and being an irritant while still being one of the best shortstops in the game. Correa hit .385 against the Chicago White Sox in the ALDS and outfielder/designated hitter Yordan Alvarez picked up where Correa left off, winning the ALCS MVP by posting a slash line of .522/.538/.870 against the Boston Red Sox.

Houston is favored to win it all, but the Braves are playing some of their best baseball right now. While you’d say that should be the case, the postseason is unpredictable. The Braves, however, are like a hot goalie in the NHL Playoffs: they’re on until they’re off and hoping the motel lights don’t go out on them just yet. 

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