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Braves have another meeting in the desert while looking for a winning oasis

For the second year in a row at around the same time, the Braves felt compelled to have a clubhouse meeting. The different circumstances suggest that the standards have risen.

Syndication: Arizona Republic Joseph Rondone/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

By now, most of Braves Country and a lot of the baseball world is at least aware of the lore from last season. After playing a calamitous baseball game on May 31 in order to lose 8-7 in extras to the Diamondbacks, the then-defending World Series Champion Atlanta Braves fell to 23-27 and had finally reached their nadir in the NL East race that year. The loss put them 10.5 games behind a Mets squad that had stormed out of the gates and while it’s now very clear that you can’t win a division by the time June rolls around, you can certainly play yourself into losing it.

That was when The Meeting happened. Manager Brian Snitker called a meeting at some point between that game and their next contest with Arizona on June 1. Atlanta won that one 6-0 and didn’t lose again until June 17 — only after their winning streak had risen to 14 games were suddenly 37-27 and just four games behind in the division. The meeting appeared to have worked like a charm, the Braves remembered who they were and ended up going an astonishing 78-34 to finish the season as NL East champions. We’ve heard the story a million times by now but it’s always fun to think back on that incredible run to the divisional pennant.

Fast-forward to the present-day and if you were looking at things on paper, it seemed as if the Braves were in a much better position at this point than they were last season. In fact, it’s an objective standpoint — the Braves were 33-23 heading into Friday night’s action and had a solid four-game lead atop the NL East. However, the Braves dropped a tough 3-2 loss to the Diamondbacks and this was their third loss out of four games with two of those losses coming in a series defeat to an absolutely moribund Oakland A’s team. This is when I remind you that the Braves haven’t won three straight games since May 9 so while things are still going relatively smoothly, it hasn’t exactly been all sunshine and flowers around here after an incredibly tough month of May.

With all of that in mind, I suppose that it makes sense that Brian Snitker decided that this was the perfect time to have The Second Meeting. Bob Nightingale of USA Today reports that the Braves did, in fact, have a team meeting following their loss on Friday in Arizona.

As the tweet suggests, the initial results have been promising. Atlanta took the middle game on Saturday night and then won Sunday’s game in incredibly dramatic fashion, as a resurgent Eddie Rosario capped off a fantastic series by hitting a go-ahead Grand Slam in the top of the ninth inning with two outs to shockingly turn around the result for the Braves.

Instead of dropping a series to a resurgent Diamondbacks club, the Braves are now returning home knowing that they just went into the co-NL West leaders’ house and took a series. I’d imagine that the emotions are nearly at the polar opposite of where they were after barely anything went right in that Oakland series and it had to have done a lot for the team’s confidence going forward. I’m not going to sit here and predict that the Braves are going to rattle off 14 straight wins again but sometimes all you need is to see something go your way just once before an avalanche happens and maybe this is the spark that will start a special run for the Braves.

It’s pretty clear that Atlanta needed some type of spark, though. The Braves were clearly aware that they had hit a blip, as evidenced by this quote from Austin Riley via Justin Toscano of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

If that’s not enough, then this quote from Travis d’Arnaud via David O’Brien of The Athletic also seems to support the theory that the Braves themselves were well aware of the dip in quality that they had been going through:

Again, it’s important to understand that the Braves are in a much better position right now than at this point last season. With that being said, this is probably a sign of the constantly-raising standards that currently exist in Atlanta’s clubhouse. While the team itself is keeping the usual even-keel that comes with any given baseball season — where it pays not to get too high or fall too low with the ebbs and flows of any season — it really does say something about a team that’s currently up a handful of games and are up double-digits in the W-L column that they felt like their current run of form was concerning enough that a team meeting was warranted.

The standards that this team internally holds itself to are probably a lot higher than we realize. I’d imagine that this would come with the territory after winning a World Series one year and then following it up with a triple-digit win season the next year. If they’re going to return to the top of the baseball mountain, there’s a certain standard that they’ve got to live up to on the field. The good news is that the Braves have enough experience within this team that they have a general idea of what that next level looks like and what it feels like when they’re about to embark on a serious run.

It still remains to be seen if the sequel meeting here in 2023 has a similar effect to the original meeting that happened in 2022. The Braves could continue to maintain this form and suddenly find themselves in a fight if/when one of the other NL East teams finally gets on a hot run or they could hit their highest level of form and leave everybody else in the dust. This team is definitely capable of pulling off the latter scenario and if it does happen, then the Braves will have another meeting in the desert to look back on as the proverbial turning point.

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