The Braves are looking to start 2021 strong but need key players to step up

Wow. It has been a week full of highs and lows for Atlanta Braves players and fans after just a few games. Without further ado, let’s go to the board.

Mike Soroka’s story back to an MLB mound

Mike Soroka has taken another significant step towards returning from a torn right Achilles he suffered on Aug. 3. 

The Canadian ace saw two innings of work in the final Grapefruit League game, his first action since the August injury. Competing against MLB competition was one more step for him. Surrendering a home run while dealing with an error from his fielders, Soroka ended his spring debut with a double play, so Tuesday was positive for everyone.

Opening Day reflections are here! 

Thursday saw baseball’s return and the Braves’ first meaningful game since the NLCS’s painful culmination against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Facing off against the Philadelphia Phillies on a windy, 40-degree afternoon, luck was not with the defending NL East Champions as Max Fried, Dansby Swanson and company would discover early on.

Fried, and his fielders, looked out of sync as the lefty struggled with his grip all day. Fielding mishaps saw the Braves miss easy outs.

Despite that, Fried scratched and clawed his way through five innings of work, eating innings and keeping the Braves close with a 2-0 deficit when he exited the game with 94 pitches logged.

His gutsy performance was not all in vain, though, as Pablo Sandoval displayed his power and muscled a two-run shot over the right-field wall to spoil a dominant performance from Phillies ace Aaron Nola.

In the end, the Braves left too many opportunities wasted, and Bryce Harper and the Phillies were able to walk it off in the 10th inning to spoil an Opening Day comeback.

All in all, it was a sloppy Opening Day; the mistakes could be easy fixes, though. 

The MLB made the right call on the All-Star Game

On Friday, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred announced the 2021 All-Star Game’s Removal due to Georgia’s newly passed Georgia Voting Laws.

While this is the correct statement by the MLB and MLB Players Association, categorizing this as a gut-punch would be an understatement for every MLB fan, writer and Georgia as a whole.

For fans looking forward to attending All-Star Weekend in Atlanta, the news comes as a disappointment.

As a central hub, Atlanta hosting the All-Star Game could have brought potential hope for economic recovery following the pandemic. 

In terms of making a statement to everyone, the MLB did just that. Still, it is plausible that choice did not feel fair to Georgia’s citizens, especially those openly against the law.

In the end, the MLB made the best statement they could. But the fans and business owners were left in the cold due to a collision between sports and politics. In the era of player empowerment, this was a decisive step for chance by a sport that has not had the most appreciated track record for promoting change.