Eric Graff: The Legend of El Oso Blanco
Man, sure is hard to just pick one moment that sticks out over the last couple of months that were full of ohhhh’s and ahhhhh’s. Most of my crew have mentioned the great ones, so I am gonna cheat and not really pick a moment but a movement: The Legend of El Oso Blanco! Everyone saw Braves beat writer Dave O’Brien tweet about Gattis all during spring training, talking about his power and massive size. Most just figured that he was a favorite of O’Brien,and he was just pumping him up a bit because of his interesting story. Then, Gattis made the Braves opening day roster and people started to take the White Bear a bit more seriously. Then, he hit a homerun in his first start and the Legend was born. It seemed like anytime Gattis came up late in a game, he was going to hit a homer, and lead the Braves to another victory. Whether it was catching, playing left field or pinch-hitting, any Gattis at-bat was an absolutely must-see. I admit that I got totally swept up in the hype and even bought myself an El Oso Blanco shirt. Predictably, he cooled down, but the Legend is still alive.
Mark Kolar: Upton brothers homering against Cubs
Not only was this just plain awesome, but a key reason it is my favorite moment was because I was in Atlanta that weekend to take in my first ever Braves games. My first game was Friday night’s 4-1 win, in which Justin also homered, as it seemed he homered in about every game in April. It was by far one of the best experiences of my life, being there with my family, doing the chop, and losing my mind when the Braves made the comeback that night. That game will forever hold a special place in my heart.
Brad Rowland: Gattis and Simmons go back-to-back off Dodgers’ Kenley Jansen
It have been only one notch in the win column, but this one was so much fun. On May 18th, Evan Gattis stepped in to the batter’s box against Kenley Jansen while still in the midst of the run where it seemed like he would hit a home run in every big spot. On cue, he took one of the best closers in the league over the left field wall to give the Braves a 2-1 lead. On the very next pitch, Andrelton Simmons hit a home run to virtually the same spot, and with that, the Braves held a 3-1 lead that they would hand over to Craig Kimbrel for the win. It isn’t often that Turner Field is erupting in mid-May, but that was the case here.
Harris Nye: Jason Heyward’s game-saving catch to beat the Mets
In a season that was wonderful to follow as a Braves fan, there are many to choose from. From the Upton homers to beat the Cubs, to Gattis homering as his dad was being interviewed, to Justin’s bomb of a grand slam against the Dodgers, to Jason Heyward’s two out homer to tie the Nationals this was one of the hardest categories to pick. The one moment that stands out above all the rest was Jason Heyward’s game saving catch to beat the New York Mets. I just remember the sheer joy and beauty of watching my favorite current player seemingly channel one of my all-time favorite players as Heyward looked exactly like Andruw Jones as he sprinted across center field to rob the Mets of the game-winning hit. It was as spectacular and important a play as any Brave made all year, and the highlight I watched over and over again after it happened.
Drew Wilburn: The Division-Clinching Win
My favorite moment has to be watching the Braves celebrate clinching the division pennant. It’s been a while since the Braves have gotten to celebrate one of those. In fact, it’s been so long that the last time it happened was before I moved to Georgia and started following baseball. This was my first time watching one of those celebrations, and it was a cool sight to see. Not only that, but this team has been through a lot this season with injuries, and it is great to see the hard work and perseverance pay off. I’m also excited that this team doesn’t have to play that crazy play-in game again. Runner Up: Scott Downs’ first appearance as a Brave when he met the team as he came into the game and somehow managed to get the Braves out of a jam to pick up a win. Honorable Mention: Fredi Gonzalez placing Jason Heyward at leadoff for the first time.