I didn’t think I could appreciate Austin Riley any more than I already did. He’s one of the best third basemen in baseball and a perennial MVP candidate, but he’s also just an all-around fantastic human being and a ferocious competitor. Last season didn’t end the way Braves Country envisioned after coming back to win the NL East and winning 101 games. Austin Riley knows that, and he wrote a piece for the Player’s Tribune prior to Atlanta’s home opener that has me ready to run through a wall, and I think most Braves fans will feel the same way after reading it.
See you all tonight, Atlanta! But first, I wrote this for you l. @PlayersTribune https://t.co/E6WKdr7nBg
— Austin Riley (@austinriley1308) April 6, 2023
I’m not going to go through quoting the entire piece. I’m just going to encourage everybody to read it because it is truly incredible, but here’s one excerpt I know Braves fans will appreciate.
But my favorite part about it is our crowd, Braves Country, and that pop you hear of the fans at the park celebrating. I mean, that level of noise at Truist … I can’t even fully describe it to you. I was on second base at the time, and I just remember rounding third and looking at Wash and, I kid you not, it was like he was vibrating. Like there was an earthquake or something, and the ground was shaking. That whole scene still gives me the chills. (Dansby and me used to talk about how it’s almost best that we lost that game and had to play another one in Houston — because if we’d closed it out after Game 5, The Battery might have exploded from all those people partying so hard.)
Here’s the thing about our fans: While moments as big as the grand slam game are special, I feel like they’re passionate like that all season long. Braves Country always shows up, and they’re always loud — whether it’s Game 5 of the World Series or a Wednesday afternoon game in April. Our fans … they can definitely flip a game for us just with their energy.
Riley is typically a man of few words. He always says the right things to the media and goes about his business in a professional manner. If he hadn’t talked about it in this piece, I would have never known how personally he took the loss to the Phillies in the NLDS last year. It has been on the minds of the entire team for the last six months, and they are here to make it right in 2023.
So far, the Braves are doing a damn good job of helping us forget. They are 5-1 and fresh off a sweep on the road in St. Louis, which doesn’t happen very often. Atlanta already looks head and shoulders better than the rest of the National League, and they are only going to get healthier over the next couple of weeks.
Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire
You must log in to post a comment.