Brian Snitker, Alex Anthopoulos embracing World Series or bust attitude

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There’s a theme going around Braves Spring Training right now, and it began with A.J. Minter, who said it is “World Series or bust” for this 2024 squad.

Minter is far from the only Braves player feeling this way. Spencer Strider, who appears dead set on becoming an outspoken leader this year, has sung the same song all offseason, and even the Braves manager and general manager are not shying away from expectations.

“Whatever these guys want to use as fuel,” Alex Anthopoulos said earlier this week, via David O’Brien of The Athletic. “I was telling someone this today, there was a Phil Jackson quote. I sent it to (Braves manager Brian Snitker). It was basically that speeches don’t motivate players, motivated players make great teams. And that just tells me these guys are really driven, they’re really motivated.”

“It made me think about our roster. You know, we have a lot of really motivated guys. And coming from a guy like Phil Jackson, who’s won that much, (Jackson’s quote) landed with me. I really started thinking about our team and our roster. So when I see comments like that, however these guys want to view it, whatever they use as fuel, is great. I mean, I’m much more just in the moment — you know, we have to get through spring healthy, we’ve got to try to win the division, all that kind of stuff,” said Anthopoulos.

When the 2023 season abruptly came to a halt following a second consecutive defeat at the hands of the Philadelphia Phillies, a cloud of uncertainty hung right over the top of the organization.

How could this happen again?

The 2022 Braves were something special, winning 100 games and cruising to another NL East title. But the 2023 Braves, that was an unstoppable force, led by arguably the best offense in the history of baseball. Yet, the result was the same. During the regular season, the Phillies would be lucky to escape with a win in a series with the Braves. But for two straight years in October, the Braves felt like they were doing everything they could just to avoid a sweep.

Something was missing; something had to change.

It’s never easy for a 104-win team to take a look in the mirror and evaluate why they’ve struggled when adversity strikes. Most clubs in the same position might point fingers and blame factors out of their control. But the Braves haven’t shied away from the problem.

As A.J. Minter put it earlier this offseason, the Braves just need a little more “F-U attitude.”

“I think he’s just gonna bring so much more in the clubhouse,” A.J. Minter said on Foul Territory regarding the acquisition of Chris Sale. “He has that dawg in him, and I spoke on, we have such really good guys in the locker room, and I think we need a little bit of that F-U mentality. I think Chris is going to bring that.”

That F-U attitude seems to be the difference when looking at the last two years compared to the 2021 team that won the World Series. The 2021 Braves only won 88 games, and before Joc Pederson arrived, didn’t even look like they were going to compete for a postseason spot. Pederson even mentioned how the vibes were off, and how it was his job to change that.

Of course, the rest of the story will be told in Braves Country for generations. From the bleach blonde hair, to the pearls, to the “We are those motherfuckers” speech he put out into the public during the Braves postseason run; Joc Pederson embodied the F-U attitude as much as any player that’s ever walked through the Braves clubhouse. He changed the course of history just by being himself.

But it’s also what’s been missing ever since Pederson walked out the door. The first step to overcoming an obstacle is realizing there’s an obstacle in the way. The Braves have had a long time for self-reflection, and it’s evident they’ve pinpointed the issue.

The F-U attitude is back in Atlanta.

David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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