Braves, Astros kick off World Series teeming with history, subplots

Sports

Stadium workers paint the logo on the field Monday, Oct. 25, 2021, in Houston, in preparation for Game 1 of baseball’s World Series tomorrow. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

(NewsNation Now) — Freddie Freeman is swinging onto baseball’s biggest stage for the first time. Jose Altuve & Co. are back for more. Luis Garcia, Framber Valdez and a fresh set of Houston arms will be facing Ozzie Albies, Austin Riley and Atlanta’s eager young bats.

And, of course, the endless quest for Mr. Dusty Baker.

It’s the Atlanta Braves and the Houston Astros in a World Series with plenty of history and a ton of story lines. In fact, this one even features a family faceoff: Atlanta manager Brian Snitker’s son, Troy, is a Houston hitting coach..

The Series kicks off Tuesday night and it’s a matchup six decades in the making, pairing former National League rivals who’ve played more than 700 times, including five postseason series. Think of Hammerin’ Hank Aaron and Jimmy “The Toy Cannon” Wynn teeing up home run derby at the Astrodome, or Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz vs. Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio on a June evening on TBS.

The Astros have become regulars when it comes to recent appearances in the World Series, having appeared in three of the last five Fall Classics, while the Braves are back for the first time since 1999.

The 2021 World Series is a best-of-seven series with the Astros hosting up to four home games and the Braves hosting up to three. Home field advantage was determined by the team with the best regular season winning percentage. Houston will host the first two games at Minute Maid Park, then the Series shifts to Atlanta for up to three straight games at Truist Park. If necessary, Games 6 and 7 will be back in Houston.

The Astros opened as a 3-2 favorite, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Because of scheduling and COVID-19, the Astros and Braves haven’t seen each other since 2017. In Tuesday’s Game 1, Valdez gets the start for the ‘stros against the Braves’ Charlie Morton, a former Houston ace.

The Astros got here minus ace Justin Verlander, who missed the season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

The Braves overcame a season-ending knee injury to dynamic star Ronald Acuña Jr. in July and surged after being stuck at 52-55 in early August, boosted by NL Championship Series MVP Eddie Rosario.

On the field — and the bench — a lot of eyes will be on Baker.

He won the World Series as a player with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1981 and has taken five teams to the playoffs as a manager but never won the crown.

Baker took this job in 2020 in the wake of Houston’s cheating scandal — “there’s a few things I still hadn’t accomplished” — and at 72, with a lifetime of credentials, gets another chance.

Baker’s history in this matchup runs especially deep. Playing with Braves great Aaron in 1968, he got his first major league hit at the Astrodome in a loss to Wynn and Houston.

Over the years, these teams met a lot, starting when the 1962 expansion Houston Colt .45s took on the Milwaukee Braves. There were the days of catcher Joe Torre trying to throw out young Joe Morgan, the Niekro brothers pitching against each other and fireballing Nolan Ryan facing Dale Murphy.

The .45s became the Astros in 1965 and from 1997-2005, the clubs played five times in the NL Division Series, with Atlanta winning three matchups. Houston moved from the NL Central to the AL West in 2013.

Snitker certainly followed all of them. The 66-year-old Atlanta manager has spent four decades in the Braves’ organization as a player, coach and skipper.

Whether you’re planning to watch from the comfort of your home, a bar, or attend a game in Houston or Atlanta, here’s the World Series 2021 best-of-seven full schedule:

Tuesday, Oct. 26
Braves at Astros, Game 1 (7:09 p.m. CT/ 8:09 p.m. ET)

Wednesday, Oct. 27
Braves at Astros, Game 2 (7:09 p.m. CT/ 8:09 p.m. ET)

Friday, Oct. 29
Astros at Braves, Game 3 (7:09 p.m. CT/ 8:09 p.m. ET)

Saturday, Oct. 30
Astros at Braves, Game 4 (7:09 p.m. CT/ 8:09 p.m. ET)

Sunday, Oct. 31
Astros at Braves, Game 5* (7:15 p.m. CT/ 8:09 p.m. ET)

Tuesday, Nov. 2
Braves at Astros, Game 6* (7:09 p.m. CT/ 8:09 p.m. ET)

Wednesday, Nov. 3
Braves at Astros, Game 7* (7:09 p.m. CT/ 8:09 p.m. ET)

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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