An estimated 1 million people have descended on downtown Atlanta to celebrate the Braves’ fourth World Series title — and the city’s second — with a parade on Friday.
Several school districts canceled Friday’s classes after the Braves clinched their first championship since 1995 with a 7-0 Game 6 win over the Astros in Houston on Tuesday night.
The city, already known for traffic congestion, is expected to have heavy delays as the parade moves north through the downtown area. The team will then get on Interstate 75 and head to Truist Park on the outskirts of the city, where the second part of the parade will be held. There will also be a rally from 3pm to 5pm at the park itself.
A total of six double-decker buses and two dozen other vehicles will be shuttling manager Brian Snitker’s club on Friday.
An estimated 1 million people have descended on downtown Atlanta to celebrate the Braves’ fourth World Series title — and the city’s second — with a parade on Friday
Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker celebrates the team’s World Series victory during Friday’s parade
Soon-to-be free agent Freddie Freeman waves to fans from the back of a truck during Friday’s parade in downtown Atlanta
Fans cheer for World Series MVP Jorge Soler of the Atlanta Braves as he gets on the buses with family members
Atlanta Braves right fielder Joc Pederson celebrates with a cigar atop a double-decker bus in the downtown part of the city
Atlanta Braves left fielder Eddie Rosario waves to fans in downtown Atlanta during the World Series championship parade
Braves manager Brian Snitker triumphantly pumps his fists in the air as he’s paraded through downtown Atlanta
The Braves’ six-game World Series win is obviously something to celebrate, but Friday’s parade could also serve as a ‘farewell’ to franchise cornerstone Freddie Freeman, who homered in the finale in Houston on Tuesday.
Freeman will be a free agent this offseason and is expected to attract lucrative offers from wealthy clubs, such as the New York Yankees, who are in desperate need of a left-handed slugger such as him.
‘Did I think I’d be sitting here with no contract? No, I didn’t,’ Freeman said after stopping by the Fox set during the postgame celebration in Houston, not long after catching a throw to first for the final out. ‘This is a crazy game, a crazy business. But everyone knows where my heart is. And that’s the Atlanta Braves.’
Freeman’s future is the most pressing offseason issue facing the Braves, who capped an improbable run to their first World Series title since 1995 with a 7-0 rout of the Houston Astros in Game 6 on Tuesday night.
There was no shortage of confetti at Friday’s parade in Atlanta celebrating the Braves’ fourth World Series title
Fans with signs wait for members of the Atlanta Braves to pass during a victory parade and celebration to mark their MLB World Series win over the Houston Astros in Atlanta
Fans cheer, and at least one appears to be doing the tomahawk chop, as the Braves are paraded through Atlanta on Friday
Members of the Atlanta Braves ride in open buses alongside the city’s famous Fox Theater during a victory parade
The temperature was in the mid-50s Fahrenheit in Atlanta on Friday, which is considered cold by many Georgia natives
A Braves fan holds up a WWE-style championship belt during Atlanta’s World Series victory parade on Friday
Atlanta Braves fans wait for the start of the World Series championship parade at Truist Park, where a rally was expected
The Atlanta Braves haven’t won a title since 1995, when they beat the Cleveland Indians in the World Series
It’s hard to envision the Braves defending the title they worked so hard to achieve without No. 5 at first base.
The Braves had hoped to lock up the 32-year-old Freeman to a long-term deal before they got to the end of the season, but the two sides have yet to agree on terms.
Freeman was among 160 players who became a free agent Wednesday, along with World Series MVP Jorge Soler and NL Championship Series MVP Eddie Rosario.
‘I’ve been here since I was 17 years old. Almost half my life, I’ve been in this organization,’ Freeman said. ‘It means everything to put on that Braves uniform every day. So hopefully I can continue to do that.’
Freeman’s uncertain status left the city with a bit of dread, even as it prepared for a Friday parade to toast Atlanta’s second championship in the four major American sports.
If Freeman re-signs, the Braves should be the favorites for a fifth straight NL East title and one of the top contenders for another Series championship.
Their most dynamic player, outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr., is expected to be fully recovered at some point during the first half of the 2022 season after going down in July with a season-ending knee injury.
Slugger Marcell Ozuna, who also missed most of the season after breaking his hand and then being arrested for allegedly attacking his wife during a domestic dispute, could return as well – most likely as a designated hitter if that rule, as expected, is adopted by both leagues.
Beyond Freeman, the rest of Atlanta’s stellar infield – Ozzie Albies, Austin Riley and Dansby Swanson – is all locked up for next season. So are the top three starting pitchers – Charlie Morton, Max Fried and Ian Anderson – as well as the key figures in a bullpen that dominated the postseason: closer Will Smith and setup men Tyler Matzek, A.J. Minter and Luke Jackson. Travis d’Arnaud will be back to catch them.
It’s a tight-knit group that the Braves would like to keep together as much as they can.
‘Kind of the one thing that really sets us apart is how organically it’s been created, the love and compassion for one another and the friendships,’ Swanson said. ‘It’s very real.’
There will be some injuries to keep an eye on heading to spring training in February.
Acuña, of course, as well as Morton, a 14-game winner who broke his leg in Game 1 of the World Series.
Not to mention Mike Soroka, the team’s former ace, still only 24 but now a huge question mark after tearing his Achilles tendon for a second time.
One fan holds up a poster featuring pictures of (from left) Dansby Swanson, Ozzie Albies, Austin Riley, and Freddie Freeman
The four outfielders who played such a key role in the Braves’ success after being acquired ahead of the trade deadline could all be headed elsewhere in 2022.
In addition to Soler and Rosario becoming free agents, NL RBI leader Adam Duvall and pearl-wearing Joc Pederson both have contract options for next season that must be exercised by both player and team.
The Braves could make a pitch for one of them to return to play alongside Acuña, but there likely won’t be room in the budget for more than that.
Once the celebration dies down, all eyes will turn to general manager Alex Anthopoulos, who missed the Series clincher after testing positive for COVID-19.
Anthopoulos pushed all the right buttons in the Braves’ run to the championship, and there’s every reason to believe he will assemble a roster capable of repeating in 2022.
The Braves don’t want to wait another 26 years for their next championship.
‘Year after year, it never happened. This year it was improbable,’ Freeman said. ‘We hit every pothole, every bump you could possibly hit this year, and somehow the car still made it onto the other side. It’s just an incredible group.’
Now the big question is: Will Freeman still be a part of it in 2022?
An estimated 1 million fans were expected in Atlanta on Friday to celebrate the Braves’s six-game series win over the Astros
Braves outfielder and World Series MVP Jorge Soler waves to fans in downtown Atlanta during the championship parade
World Series television ratings rebounded following the record low set last year.
The Atlanta Braves’ six-game victory over the Houston Astros averaged 11,750,000 viewers on Fox, the network said Wednesday.
That was up 20 percent from the 9,785,000 for the Los Angeles Dodgers’ six-game victory last year over the Tampa Bay Rays, which was played at the neutral site of Arlington, Texas, following a pandemic-shortened regular season.
This year’s Series averaged a 6.5 rating and 16 share, up from a 5.2 rating and 12 share last year.
Viewership for the Braves-Astros matchup was below the level for Washington’s seven-game victory over Houston in 2019, which averaged an 8.1 rating, 16 share and 14,067,000 viewers.
A record average of 227,164 streamed this year’s Series on Fox digital outlets, an increase of 49 percent.
Atlanta’s 7-0 win in Game 6, which finished the Braves’ first title since 1995, drew a 7.88 rating, 18 share and average of 13,968,000 viewers on Fox.
That was up from the 6.8 rating, 15 share and an average of 12,627,000 viewers for the Dodgers’ 3-1 victory in Game 6 last year and down from the 9.6 rating, 19 share and average of 16,551,000 viewers for Washington´s 7-2 win in Game 6 of 2019.
Fox said when Spanish-language coverage on Fox Deportes and streaming platforms were included, Game 6 was viewed by 14,305,000.
Atlanta Braves teammates (from left) AJ Minter, Josh Tomlin, Luke Jackson, and Tyler Matzek enjoy Friday’s parade
People await a victory parade outside the famous Fox Theatre in downtown Atlanta on Friday afternoon