There wasn’t much sugarcoating the feelings in the Atlanta Braves clubhouse after their game four loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. For the second straight season the Braves were bounced in the first round by their NL East rival.
The aftermath resulted in some eyebrow raising quotes from Braves’ players and coaches. It’s hard to process such a magical season ending so abruptly, but the NLDS loss meant the team was forced to come up with answers to questions they may not have been expecting to hear so soon. We’ll dive into a few of those and react to the meaning behind them.
No blame placed on the time off
With three of the four teams that received a bye failing to advance to the LCS there was an abundance of discourse surrounding the current playoff format. Many fans’ and media memebers are asking for the top seeds to not have to endure such a lengthy delay between meaningful baseball games.
When you listen to the quotes from the Braves personnel its clear Atlanta isn’t using that excuse as a crutch. Game four starter Spencer Stider had a great quote following the season-ending loss.
"…If having five days means you can’t make the adjustment, you have nobody to blame but yourself."- Spencer Strider
Manager Brian Snitker says the team was prepared as they could have possibly been. Between the sim games and the attendance of Braves fans in the stands, Atlanta seemed to take every precaution they could think of the be ready for this series.
Snitker went on to say he looked at the success of the Houston Astros and how they’ve handled the 5-day layoff, that’s why he isn’t putting that excuse on the table for the Braves. That doesn’t mean the conversation around this layoff for division winners is going to disappear anytime soon.
Paying credit to the Phillies
Just about every Braves player interviewed made sure to note they were beaten by another great team. They don’t think less of their talent and admitted they didn’t play their best baseball, but at the same time they showed recognition to the talent in the Phillies organization.
Relief pitcher A.J. Minter had some glowing things to say about Philadelphia’s performance, including a statement that said they outplayed Atlanta at their own game. Certainly, a reference to the home run production the Phillies got in this series.
"This game will break your heart, and you just got to give hats off to Philly. They executed, they played flawless, they beat us at our own game."- A.J. Minter
The adjustments that need to happen and the disappointment felt
Atlanta’s ace was the first to admit that a change was necessary if the team wanted to make a deeper playoff run. Spencer Strider said “What we do in the regular season seems to be working, but we’re gonna have to make an adjustment to the postseason approach…that’s something I’m gonna get to work on and we’re gonna get to work on as an organization the moment we get out of here.”
MLB home run champion Matt Olson was paraphrased as the following: ”There was no way to sugarcoat it, very disappointing to have a good year then come in and have to say goodbye to everyone after after the first series of the playoffs.”
All-Star second baseman Ozzie Albies told reporters that this is what motivates the team to work that much harder. Something I don’t think any fan ever questions was these guys work ethic. It’s still refreshing to hear how much the locker room cares deeply about winning.
Ronald declined to speak to media
A lot is being made of the Braves star Ronald Acuña Jr. leaving immediately after the loss and foregoing any interviews after the Braves elimination. Whether you agree with the decision or not, I think it’s important to realize all of this steams from the passion Ronald has for this team and for the sport of baseball in itself.
That passion showcases itself on the field regularly, and in devastating losses such as these you can understand why it may be difficult to strum up reasons as to why things ended so poorly. Having to speak on that failure allows that to set in even moreso than anyone would want, so personally I understand the decision.
If we are going to take anything from all of these quotes it’s that this Braves team cares. They care a tremendous amount, and they understand the frustration felt by Braves country with the way 2023 ended. As Ozzie said, all the more motivation to come back next year and win it all.