The Atlanta Braves are dominating MLB this season, and fans feeling good
AILSA CHANG, HOST:
Major League Baseball's postseason is about to begin. All year long, one team has dominated - the Atlanta Braves. They've been leading the majors in homers, runs and hits for most of the season. And as Peter Biello of Georgia Public Broadcasting reports, their fans are watching with a sense of awe.
PETER BIELLO, BYLINE: One night after a recent Braves win, fan Matt Dover waits outside Truist Park, where, just hours before, Braves' star right fielder, Ronald Acuna Jr., hit two home runs.
MATT DOVER: Bam. My God, that thing got out in 4 1/2 seconds. That thing was like a heat-seeking missile, dead center.
BIELLO: Dover believes Acuna is a lock for National League MVP. Recently, Acuna joined the 40/40 club, becoming the fifth player in Major League history to reach 40 homers and 40 stolen bases in a single season. The Braves have the best record overall and were the first to clinch a playoff spot.
DOVER: Best team in baseball, hands down, this year's Braves - hundred percent.
BIELLO: Next to him, Jonathan Lang waves a red Braves jersey. It's covered in player signatures, and he's hoping to land a few more. He says first baseman Matt Olson has made this team special by setting his own record.
JONATHAN LANG: Breaking Andruw Jones' single season home run record, 51.
BIELLO: Olson also leads the majors in homers and RBIs. Collectively, the team has the best batting average in the majors. As for pitching, righty Spencer Strider leads in strikeouts and could win the Cy Young Award, baseball's top honor for pitchers. On the other side of the park, in a baseball-themed entertainment district known as The Battery, two women are dressed in Braves gear and elaborately decorated hats.
JENNIFER LEMMING: It's got the feathers, all the colors of the Braves, just bringing the spirit.
BIELLO: Jennifer Lemming believes it's also the team spirit that makes the difference.
LEMMING: They're giving high-fives, like, after they make a play. You can tell there's just a lot of joy in what they're doing. Even when they're down, like, they never give up.
BIELLO: And she says that joy makes them fun to watch. The Braves have had a record number of sellout crowds at Truist Park this year. Chevy Clarke from Atlanta came with friends. He says the Braves' stats are great, but it's really about the team's chemistry on the field.
CHEVY CLARKE: They're all having fun. They remember that it's a game that we all used to play in our backyard with our pops, with our mom. They're throwing socks at us. We hitting the balls with plastic bats. You know, that's what it is at the end of the day.
BIELLO: And he says remembering to have fun could take the Braves to another World Series. For NPR News, I'm Peter Biello in Atlanta.
(SOUNDBITE OF JERMAINE DUPRI SONG, "WELCOME TO ATLANTA FT. LUDACRIS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
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