As the Los Angeles Dodgers and powerhouse Atlanta Braves battle it out for National League supremacy on a (hopefully) crash course for the NLCS, it turns out there's another bit of bragging rights at stake between the two parties.
Both teams love to send opposing pitchers to the showers early. Both teams love to muscle up and leave the yard. Both teams like to steal bases at an alarming rate (or an alarming rate for a first baseman, at least). And the pitching! Whew, boy. That certainly ... kind of exists beyond Spencer Strider.
But, more than anything, the 2023 Braves and Dodgers thrive on demoralizing their opponents immediately. Both teams love to ambush first-inning pitches and send them to the bleachers.
In fact, this year's Dodgers and Braves both rank among the best teams ever at drilling first-inning home runs. Per Sarah Langs, the 2019 Cincinnati Reds currently hold the all-time record for most first-inning home runs in one season, but the 2023 Braves are just three away from tying the mark, and the '23 Dodgers sit just two homers behind them.
2023 Dodgers, Braves could be all-time first inning home run champions
Now, four or six more first-inning home runs in the final 10-day stretch of the season feels like a tough ask. It's reminiscent of when that sick boy asked Paul O'Neill for two home runs in a game on Seinfeld. But if anyone can meet the mark, it's probably one of these clubs -- especially the Bravos, powered by a fire-breathing Ronald Acuña Jr. seeking 40 homers and 70 stolen bases this season.
As both teams hurtle to the finish line likely locked into their current playoff seeding, awaiting byes and building anticipation, the pursuit of this hidden mark should add an extra wrinkle to the season's final weeks.
Now, can we please sim past the Brewers/Phillies/Cubs/whoever and deliver America the postseason series they demand? None of those teams can be overlooked. We're not stupid. We just wish they could be.