The Atlanta Braves have done it again. Again. And again. Then double that.
A six pack - and not the kind your drink nor the 1982 movie starring Kenny Rogers.
It never gets old, does it?
The Braves have won the most division titles of any MLB team since division play started way back in 1969. Yes, they’ve only won two World Series in that span, but since 1991 they have ended the regular season at the top of their division 21 times.
Almost as mind-boggling is that the team has only finished in fourth place or worst three times.
Here’s the team’s regular season division standings breakdown, for those scoring at home:
5th Place: 1
4th Place: 2
3rd Place: 4
2nd Place: 5
1st Place: 21
Playoff Appearances: 23
If you are young enough that your memory of Braves excellence starts with this current run - back in 2018 - then you lucked into a heck of a time to become a fan.
If you are a bit older and have been a fan since the 1991 season, then you might be among the luckiest of baseball fans, having experienced an almost unfathomable three decades of waking up in February and knowing your team - America’s Team - had a chance to win that season in all but four of five years since before Nirvana told you how dangerous it was to have the lights out.
If there’s grey in your hair - or would be grey if you didn’t dye it or if it hadn’t fallen out - you suffered through some version of that awful 1970 to 1990 stretch, where you had hope for three years in the early ‘80s and not much else. You had Hank and Knucksie and Murph and the Roadrunner and hope that the Falcons would ... no, you didn’t have that either.
That’s okay, because your adulthood fandom has been the payoff.
Without getting ahead of ourselves, it would seem the Braves should - at minimum - have a chance to win for the next four or five years. With all-due-respect to the incredible run that the Los Angeles Dodgers are in the midst of - winning 10 of the last 11 NL West titles (assuming nothing historically awful befalls them this year) - Atlanta is set up to be the team of the 2020s.
After Kirby Yates struck out the final batter for Atlanta last night - 10 days before the official start of Fall - the team celebrated in Philadelphia, and probably carried some of that over this morning in Miami. Hopefully they enjoyed themselves. They earned that.
Post-game, many players and coaches talked about this being one check-box - with a few more left to check - this year.
We all hope each check box they have on their list gets marked before November spawns a monster; that retched time of year when the sun doesn’t rise nor set with the crack of the bat and the pop of a baseball in a mitt.
Between now and the conclusion of sugar-rushes and tricks-or-treats, the fandom of Los Bravos de Atlanta has hope that at the end of the postseason, their team is hoisting the trophy with 30 flags high above their heads before they go phishing, er, fishing.
Bask in this day. Enjoy it. Gloat.
Then shake it off. No, it wasn’t a cruel Summer in Atlanta. Hopefully, this is at least the mid-point of this team’s era.
There is one thing that shouldn’t be done by any Braves fan today.
You shouldn’t take this for granted.
There’s an expression that reads something like, “the days go by slow, but the years go by fast.”
The older one gets, the more that rings true. One day the sounds of ‘Ring’ are shiny and new - and the next thing you know The Connells are releasing the 30th anniversary version of their 1993 album.
Sitting in front of a television watching Smoltz and Glavine and Maddux and Avery and Pete Smith pitch in the rotation together is as far away now as it would have been to watch a rotation of Spahn and Burdette back then.
The ‘98 Braves team was 25 years ago.
The ‘03 one was 20 years ago.
Even that ‘13 team that of Upton, Upton, Heyward, McCann, Simba, Uggla and Chris Johnson was a decade ago.
The years do go by faster and faster.
So today, slow down, take a moment to soak in every moment and memory of this season, so far. This has truly been a historic season for the team and many of its players.
And it ain’t over yet.
This team really has had bops, and every day you should celebrate them.
Live in the moment - and wear the biggest smile you can today - but do so with the perspective that this is the new Golden Age of Atlanta Braves baseball.
If we are lucky, we can dance this dance again next year.
And hopefully the year after that, and the year after that, and the year after that, and the ...