Jason Deal

I pinched myself last Wednesday morning just to make sure the night before just wasn’t a sweet dream.

It wasn’t. It was on my news feed on Facebook. It was on the headlines of the local papers. It was on the scroll of ESPN and featured on the local sports casts.

The Atlanta Braves are the World Champions of Baseball.

They have over so many Octobers before tore my heart out and stomped that sucker flat, to borrow the words of the late great Lewis Grizzard.

There was no doubt about it last Tuesday night.

The Braves beat the Astros 7-0 to cap an improbable season with a World Championship.

I just looked at those words again on my computer screen and not just to make sure I spelled them right.

I looked at them to make sure they were accurate.

They are. Even pinched myself and all that.

You couldn’t have drawn up a plan or wrote a script any more perfect. Under .500 in August, the Braves came back to win the division.

Then they beat the Milwaukee Brewers three games to one in the wild card round and then the vaunted Los Angeles Dodgers four games to two in the National League Championship and then the Houston Astros in the World Series.

We had been there before.

I remember the bad awful years, though I was young. The Braves were generally out of contention back in those days before spring training even got underway. They were the lovable losers.

People at one time actually wore bags on their heads at the old Atlanta Fulton County Stadium. You could pick where you wanted to sit because no one cared.

Then came the 1991 worst to first series. I was a senior in high school. I was bleary-eyed trying to go to class.

In those times, there was also the night Sid Bream slid and the night Tom Glavine pitched a shutout and David Justice hit it out of the park and the Braves beat the Cleveland Indians to win the 1995 World Series.

That was 1995. I was young and needed the money and worked at that other newspaper down the street here in Blackshear. I still need money. I am no longer young, however.

The late great Skip Caray yelled in to the mic “Braves win! Braves win! Braves win!”

Then... nothing.

Oh, there was the phenomenal run of 14 straight division titles but there was always the footnote of only one world series. I was so tired of the guys crawling, scraping, working so hard, just to choke at the end.

That ended Tuesday night.

Max Fried pitched a gem. Tyler Matzek came on in relief and Will Smith saved it.

Jorge Soler hit a three run homer with Eddie Rosario and Ozzie Albies on to make the score 3-0. I’m pretty sure Soler’s homer landed on the moon somewhere. Class act and native Georgian Dansby Swanson hit a two run homer with Albies on to make it 5-0. Face of the franchise and all around good guy Freddie Freeman hit a double scoring Soler on to make the score 6-0 then followed it up with a solo homer to make the socre 7-0. That was the final.

There was no doubt about it. We wanted it. The guys played loosy goosy and it showed. It was fun. The game is suppose to be fun.  

I watched the games with my Daddy, who is a big Braves fan. We watched a re-run of it the following night, just to make sure.

As Swanson fielded and threw to Freeman to record the final out I turned to my Daddy and we gave each other high fives.

It was enough to make a grown man cry.

I’m not sure what that was in my eyes, but it was liquid and kept running down my cheeks.

The Braves are World Champions.

It’s real. It isn’t just a dream.

• Jason Deal is the news editor for The Blackshear Times. Reach him at jdeal@blacksheartimes.news.