By JOHN JAMES MARSHALL/Designated Writers

It takes a couple of days to sink in, but Atlanta’s World Series has give me one stark realization — I may never see one of my teams ever win another a championship in my lifetime. And that’s fine, as I begin inching toward the fourth quarter, I realize that you really, really need to enjoy them.

Guys like me pretty much live their sports life through four teams — their favorites in MLB, NFL, NBA and college. And if the Green Bay Packers win another Super Bowl like they did in the 2010 season, I’ll be happy. But not like this.

What really impacted me as the Braves closed out the Astros in Game 6 is just how hard it is to win it all. All sports have minefields along the way, but there is no grind quite like baseball. A season that lasts six months and then three playoff series. Every game, every inning, every pitch is a potential trouble spot.

It’s not until you get clear of it all that you can look back and see just how tough it was to pull it off.

They say that you are more upset after a championship loss than you are happy after a championship win and to some degree that’s true. But for me, not in this case. Having won three straight NL East titles, the Braves opened the season as a potential World Series team, but things quickly went south. They started by losing games (the first four), then started losing players. The best pitcher re-tore his Achilles. The cleanup hitter broke his hand and then broke the law (allegedly). The catcher tore ligaments in his thumb. Then the best player in the National League blew his knee out on the warning track in Miami.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the bottom of the standings. As it turned out, nobody in the division was any good. The New York Mets were in first place, but only because someone had to be. The Braves should have packed it in, but it’s as if the baseball gods wouldn’t let them.

And somebody else wouldn’t let them – GM Alex Anthopoulos. Five days after potential MVP Ronald Acuna was lost for the year with a knee injury, Anthopoulos did something that surprised quite a few baseball people.

He went for it.

He made a thought-to-be-insignificant trade for Chicago’s Joc Pederson, even though the Braves didn’t have a winning revord and were five games out of first place.

Some GMs like to show everyone how smart they are and give up on a season before the trading deadline so they can (1) justify their existence and/or (2) make a bunch of trades to “secure the future.” But his move sent a signal to the team that he wasn’t giving up on the 2021 season and they shouldn’t either.

In the course of almost every team’s season, there is a time in which they get hot for no reason. That was the Braves in August, winning 16 of 18 and zoomed to the top of the standings, partially because nobody else in the NL East wanted to.

Having watched this team all year — I saw all or part of probably 140 games — you begin to develop certain emotions for various people on the team. Ozzie Albies and his ever-present smile. Dansby Swanson, the former No. 1 overall pick and Atlanta native who just kept getting better. Austin Riley, who turned into an MVP candidate at age 24.

But the two people to be happiest for are obvious — Freddie Freeman and manager Brian Snitker.

Freeman is the heart and soul of the team and if there is another body part that needs to be mentioned then he’s that too. His story is well chronicled, but even if you can’t stand the Atlanta Braves, it’s almost impossible to not like Freddie Freeman. (And if you don’t like him, I challenge you to read the backstory on him.) EVERY team in the major leagues wishes they had a player like Freddie Freeman.

And then there is Snitker, who the Braves organization didn’t even want to be their manager until the players stepped in five years ago. He had been with the Braves for 39 years and been demoted more than once by the organization before being named interim manager in 2016 as the team was at one of its lowest points. Ownership looked at other candidates before they had the common sense to talk to the players and find out the man they were looking for was already right there in front of them.

Snitker is a player’s manager. Freeman is a player’s player.

They make it really easy for people like me to pull for them. And really easy to be proud for them when they win the World Series.