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The Atlanta Braves tomahawk, a proud symbol of being a jerk

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Know Your Enemy: Atlanta Braves

Can the White Sox beat this mighty team? I doubt it!

| Wikimedia Commons

Following a thrilling All-Star break for Sox fans, in which we thrilled to the site of slugging hero Luis Robert Jr. pulverize a ball, and then thrilled to the news that he got hurt doing so and didn’t play in the actual All-Star Game, and so the one bright spot of a season became reduced to a grim punchline, it’s time to play baseball again. I guess. Thrilling.

Anyone hoping for a post-break boost, in addition to being so dangerously deluded as to be considered harmful to children and birds, will thankfully have their hopes shattered by our trip to Atlanta. The Braves are the best team in baseball, possibly by a good margin. And I know, it’s baseball, anything can happen, but right now the Sox are hoping to do well enough to salvage some trade value. That’s where we are.

The White Sox are 8-10 all-time against the Braves. Not a storied rivalry, here.

So How Are They Doing, Anyway?

Real good. Like, really frightfully good. They’ve got the highest team WAR in baseball, at 22.1. They’ve got the third-highest run differential. They are at the top of the league in so many hitting and pitching categories. They had eight All Stars. Hell, their entire infield played the fifth inning at the All-Star game.

And, not to get all nerdy or too “inside baseball,” but they have the most wins in baseball, and the highest winning percentage. If that’s a stat you care about, or something. As a Sox fan, I find it distasteful. Tacky.

The Braves have some of the game’s brightest young stars, endless revenue, and a future that seems removed from limits. They’d be fun, except for all the stuff we’re going to talk about below.

Are the Hitters Fearsome? Need I Worry About Dingers?

Let me put it this way: At 169 taters, they’ve mashed 20 more than the runner-up Dodgers and 32 more than the Rays. That is nuts. It is not impossible for them to beat Minnesota’s record of 307, set in 2019.

Matt Olson has 29, Ozzie Albies has 22, and the slacker Ronald Acuña Jr. is at 21. He also has 41 stolen bases. He’s so much damn fun. The lineup is stacked, up and down.

And the Pitching Matchups? What of Them?

They are very good at pitching the baseball, as well.

Friday, July 14
Sox: Michael Kopech (3-7, 4.08) is coming off the IL, so this is a really good team to face first, for sure.

Braves: Charlie Morton (9-6, 3.43) is, at 39, officially an ageless ... if not wonder, then an ageless perfectly respectable pitcher.

Saturday, July 15
Sox: Lance Lynn (5-8, 6.03) has put together a couple of good starts — or, well, one very good start against Toronto — and is at the center of every trade conversation. We’re at the point where some people don’t want him to start against the Braves so that he doesn’t suck and devalue his return potential.

Braves: Spencer Strider (11-2, 3.44) is just awesome, man. He’s so good. Though you can say that at 1.09 his WHIP is a little above his career average, so he’s slipping. You’d be wrong, but you can totally say it.

Sunday, July 16
Sox: Dylan Cease (3-3, 4.30) has been at 3-3 since before the mountains rose or bones evolved, yes he’s been perpetually stuck at three wins and three losses in a permanent looping hell, devoid of progress or regression, no matter how well or poorly he pitches. He’s in a universe devoid of form or meaning. He’s been here for just a real long time, you know?

Braves: Kolby Allard (0-0, 4.22) is a spot starter who has bounced around the last couple of years, though he’s averaging more than a strikeout an inning in 10 innings with the Braves this season.

Why Do We Hate Atlanta?

Atlanta has some real character — it is a city that emerged from the wreckage of Jim Crow with an eye toward the future, one where people had roughly equal political power. It still has character, and large stretches of weirdness, as anyone who watched Atlanta can attest. There were cool music scenes and interesting art emanating from a Deep South city that decided to be “too busy to hate.”

But really, it’s gone too far toward bland homogeneity. Atlanta has become suburban sprawl, as politicians on every side of the aisle trip over each other to give more and more to corporations, to sand over everything interesting and radical, and to make it a city where Nothing Bad Could Ever Happen, Or At Least You Don’t Have to See It. The political leaders see RoboCop as an aspirational tale.

You saw this in the last stadium move to Truist Park, in unincorporated Cumberland. True Braves Fans (™) didn’t want to have to go into Atlanta, of all places. They needed a corporate theme park to watch the Baseball Arm of a very successful portfolio. And while that is also on the Braves, that is Atlanta in a nutshell — we’ll reduce everything to the blandest and least-interesting possible level to maximize short-term profit and drive Shareholder Value. Atlanta escaped from a tragic past to become the blandest of all possible futures.

Why Do We Hate the Braves?

Chief Wahoo and the Indians. The Redskins. These names and icons are now, thankfully, in the trash bin of history, clung onto only by increasingly embittered dead-enders who think that dumb-mouthing “cancel culture” and “woke” over and over and over makes them today’s version of punk rock.

But the Braves persist. And it is easy to see why the name seems initially less oppressive, because, on the surface, it is miles removed from the visceral cartoonish horror or Wahoo or the obvious racism of the Redskins. It’s respectful, right? It is paying homage to those that came before, proud warriors and all that. There is a sepia nobility to the name, much as we would honor the proud Trojans or something.

But that belies the true oppression of it all. Indigenous people are not gone, at all. They exist as citizens and in a series of mostly-broken-but-still-actual treaties with the USG. The naming conventions of teams was part of an effort to say “These people are all in the past, we honor them” while real, living people are saying, “Actually, we’re still here.” There’s no nobility in erasure.

And really, as 90% of the below tweets show, even if there is a kernel of honor, no matter how misguided, it clearly isn’t in the minds of the fans or whomever starts playing The Chop. At the end, it’s no different. At the end, nothing is ever different.

Let’s Hear it From White Sox Fans!

The Whole Chop Thing

Other Historic Theft!

Because They Are Liars!

We Don’t, Actually!


Into the valley of death ...

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