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Ronald Acuña’s start with the Braves is incredibly refreshing for Atlanta

The rookie sensation has lived up to the hype so far, and has Atlanta excited for the future.

Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

The Atlanta Braves finally called up top MLB prospect Ronald Acuña Jr. on April 25, in time for the third game of a four-game series in Cincinnati against the Reds. Since then, he has not disappointed.

Acuña went 1-for-5 in his first game, and then warmed the souls of every Braves fan the following afternoon by going 2-for-4, and sending this ball into the second deck.

He also sent our hopes skyward that the rebuilding Braves will be more watchable this season, which feels nice. The Braves are currently 19-11, are 7-3 in their last 10 games, and are first in the NL East. There’s plenty of season to go, but there’s not a chance that I won’t enjoy this team.

Joe Webster, the fan who caught Acuña’s first home run, can accurately describe how excited Atlanta is for Acuña and his potential. He drove to Cincinnati from the Atlanta area, leaving at midnight because he wanted to see Acuña play.

The immediate sprint upon catching the ball, with his hands held high says everything:

It reminded me of the most electric moment I’ve ever witnessed in pro sports — Jason Heyward’s first home run. His debut was also highly anticipated, and he represented what we hoped to be better days ahead. On the very first strike that he saw, he belted it over the right field fence at The Ted (RIP).

People in the stands were literally falling over each other in excitement. I remember trying to yell out my excitement, which almost made me pass out. But that shit was worth it. Unfortunately, the Heyward experiment in Atlanta didn’t work (I still have a soft spot for him).

On Thursday afternoon, Acuña got his second dinger of the season, another absolute bomb, this one going 451 feet into the second deck at Citi Field against the Mets.

A lot of MLB announcers say players “unload” on a pitch, but Acuña actually did that here. It felt like something out of a video game where if you were on the other side of the home run, you’re ready to throw in the towel.

I’d like to imagine a perfect world for Acuña’s career for a moment.

In Chipper Jones fashion, Acuña will own the Mets for years to come, particularly at their home field. He’ll beat them in various NLDS and NLCS series, and names one of his children “Citi” as Jones named his first child “Shea” after Shea Stadium because of his great success there.

He probably won’t do that, because Citi wouldn’t be a good name for anything other than a bank — but it’s fun to dream. The point being: it would be really, really nice if Acuña was another franchise cornerstone. Freddie Freeman is already one, Ozzie Albies is on fire, and Dansby Swanson is showing improvement this season. Also, more than one World Series out of this group would be nice, too (let me dream).

It was unfair to Acuña and frustrating for fans to see the Braves push back his call-up a few weeks past Opening Day to delay his free-agent eligibility until after the 2024 season. But he played it cool, and told ESPN, “I think it helped me develop more and be more prepared.” To be fair, it probably wouldn’t have been a good look to call up a guy hitting .152 anyway.

At this point, I’m generally OK with putting that on the back burner because he’s so damn fun to watch. Fans are passionate about their Braves baseball, and that goes even outside of Atlanta thanks to TBS having them nationally for many years.

Acuña is a breath of fresh air, because the past handful of seasons haven’t been particularly fun for Braves fans. The Braves don’t have to go on some kind of incredible run this season to be able to enjoy this ride.

They’re currently fourth in the majors in runs scored, and second in hits. They’re young, and will have their hot and cold streaks. But Atlanta can have hope for a good future for what feels like the first time in forever now, and Acuña is a huge reason for that.

Shoot, he might even help me get over my nostalgia for Turner Field. Maybe. Probably not.