Until the Atlanta Braves prove they can beat the Los Angeles Dodgers (you know, beyond just a game here and there in the regular season or the playoffs), you have to assume the Braves will never beat the Dodgers.
As long as a baseball is round.
Given that — along with guys for the Dodgers such as Mookie Betts, Max Scherzer and Justin Turner — you shouldn’t expect the Braves to conquer the Dodgers during something like the National League Championship Series, which opened Saturday night in Atlanta at Truist Park.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. The Braves won Game 1 in a thriller. With the score tied 2-2 in the bottom of the ninth inning, Ozzie Albies stole second after a one-out single, and then he triggered the screams of joy in Atlanta’s five surrounding counties when he scored on Austin Riley’s single to left field for a 3-2 Braves victory.
Here’s the problem for the Braves, though. The NLCS isn’t one game. It’s a best-of-seven series.
There also was last season, when these teams also met for the right to represent the National League in the World Series. Those 2020 Braves won Game 1 (sound familiar?), and then they took Game 2. In fact, they went up 3-1, which meant they only had to beat the Dodgers in just one of a possible three remaining games for the NL pennant.
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The Braves didn’t do it.
Of course, they didn’t.
They were facing their bogeymen in blue.
“The basic part is, God, we just had to win one game, which is, as we see, is really hard to do,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said earlier Saturday to the media, recalling his team’s October horror in 2020 before Halloween. “I mean, we were in a good spot and had to win one game, and they went out, and I think they took that same approach; they had to win one game for three days in a row and did.”
Bogeymen do such things, along with things such as this (Warning: Close your eyes if you’re squeamish, a Braves fan or both):
- If you go back to the 2013 and 2018 National League Division Series, and if you include last year’s NLCS, the Dodgers entered this postseason with three straight victories over the Braves in postseason matchups.
- The Braves were 2-4 against the Dodgers this year during the regular season, which means the Braves have lost the season series to the Dodgers for five consecutive years.
- Since 2014, the Braves are 19-38 against the Dodgers in regular season and postseason games.
- During the Braves’ last 24 games (regular and postseason) in Los Angeles, they are 4-20 (.167), and they’ve lost seven straight and 10 of their last 11.
Maybe this is a coincidence, but probably not: You can trace the start of the Dodgers’ dominance over the Braves to 2012. That’s when Forbes reported the Guggenheim Baseball Management purchased the Dodgers, Dodger Stadium and real estate surrounding the ballpark for $2.3 billion.
It also didn’t hurt the Dodgers’ unofficial role as Braves killers for just shy of the past decade that the majority of those who pushed LA to its seventh world championship last year came under this ownership.
Those players are still around for the Dodgers. Not only that, but those players range from drafted ones, such as shortstop Corey Seager and catcher Will Smith (2012 and 2016, respectively), to center fielder Chris Taylor and right fielder Mookie Betts acquired through trades (2016 and 2020) to free agents such as third baseman Justin Turner and pitcher AJ Pollock (2014 and 2019).
Then there is the steady Dodgers management.
Veteran sports executive Stan Kasten joined Earvin (Magic) Johnson and others as a part owner of the franchise from the start of the Guggenheim group’s tenure, but Kasten also is team president and CEO.
Kasten brought along Bob Wolfe, his long-time associate of more than 40 years (the Atlanta Hawks and Braves, the Washington Nationals and now the Dodgers. In addition, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has been around since 2015, and vice president of baseball operations Josh Byrnes arrived the year before that.
Somewhere, among all of the above, is the reason the Braves will never beat the Dodgers.
Until the Braves actually do it.