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A very serious Dodgers-Braves comparison

All the information you REALLY need before the NLCS
@michaelsclair
October 12, 2020

When the Dodgers and Braves square off to start the NLCS on Monday night, it will have the feeling of a World Series game. These are two of the most powerful teams in baseball, finishing first and second in the Majors in home runs and runs -- with the Dodgers

When the Dodgers and Braves square off to start the NLCS on Monday night, it will have the feeling of a World Series game. These are two of the most powerful teams in baseball, finishing first and second in the Majors in home runs and runs -- with the Dodgers ahead in runs by just one!

The Dodgers have three MVP winners on their team in Cody Bellinger, Mookie Betts and Clayton Kershaw, while the Braves counter with a contender to win the award this year in Freddie Freeman.

Both are a perfect 5-0 this postseason, too, which will have to change in Game 1. So, while we could compare them based on strengths and weaknesses, I think you'll agree that the best way to separate them is based on things a bit more esoteric.

If you need a guide to get acquainted with these clubs, I hope this helps:

On-base celebration: Dodgers' slaps vs. Braves' Mix it Up

Baseball is a game of hand signals. Catcher to pitcher, third-base coach to the batter. And, of course, they're to be used when you get on base to celebrate.

Mookie Betts brought his slaps to L.A. from Boston, and it's a Dodgers celebration now. Get ready to see this happen next time Betts doubles to the gap:

When other players do it though, they uhh, seem to struggle.

Meanwhile, when the Braves get on base, they’ll “Mix it up” -- a move started by Marcell Ozuna and Ronald Acuña Jr. that imitates stirring a bowl of food.

Edge: Braves

Organist: Dieter Ruehle vs. Matthew Kaminski

The Dodgers and Braves have arguably two of the biggest organ stars in the game today (the other who would round out this trifecta would be Josh Kantor of the Red Sox). They’re funny, quick to play a punny tune, and are always happy to troll the opposition.

Sadly, neither will be at the Series. But follow them on Twitter and you’ll likely see them send a few messages to their teams:

Edge: Push

Franchise player: Mookie Betts vs. Ronald Acuña Jr.

It's almost impossible to pick who's the star on the Dodgers. Do you go with Bellinger -- who is not only the reigning NL MVP, but came up with the play of the postseason in the NLDS against San Diego? Kershaw, who is set to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer? But no, we'll give the edge to Betts, who gets it by virtue of his brilliant smile and fantastic first season in Los Angeles. It may have only been a 60-game season, but it was enough for L.A. to ink him well into the next decade.

Meanwhile, Acuña gets the nod over Freeman. Sure, Freeman's been there longer and may wind up with some serious hardware this winter, but Acuña is the literal representation of the next generation of ballplayers. He's exciting and fun and flips his bat as no one else can.

Given his role as the Braves' leadoff hitter, he can also set the tone for the entire game when he steps to the plate.

Edge: Dodgers

Mascot: N/A vs. Blooper

Yeah, the Dodgers don't have a mascot. They're one of three teams -- the Yankees and Angels are the others (and you could argue that the Angels' Rally Monkey is a mascot) -- not to have one. Perhaps it's because they were known as "Dem Bums" while in Brooklyn and that's just not going to fly these days:

Meanwhile, the Braves have Blooper, who came to life in 2018 after the team put everything that makes a Braves superfan into a machine and it spit this fuzzy monstrosity out. He came into his own this season as, without fans in the stadium, he was allowed to get as wild and weird as he wanted with his costumes.

Blooper won't be in the bubble, but he will be entertaining fans back in Atlanta at team watch parties.

Edge: Braves. It's better to Bloop than to have no Bloop at all.

Food: Dodger Dogs vs. Blooper Burger

It's a real old school vs. Guy Fieri-inspired dining choice here. L.A. is known for its Dodger Dogs -- the same that Vin Scully would faithfully recite ad copy for in every game for who knows how long. They're simple: It's a thin, long hot dog in a bun with maybe some mustard or relish.

Meanwhile, Truist Park's signature food -- other than a bevy of southern fried options -- was inspired by the mascot. The Blooper Burger is a gutbuster that even the oversized fuzzy dude himself would struggle to consume. This monstrosity features four cheeseburger patties, a footlong hot dog & chicken tenders with lettuce, tomato, onion and jalapenos, with cheese sauce all bundled between Texas Toast.

Yeah, that'll work.

Edge: Braves, though your physician may disagree.

Way to heckle your opposition fans: "Do you leave in the 7th inning when watching at home, too?" vs. "Maybe you guys would have won more than one World Series in the '90s if Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz didn't prefer golfing to playing for you."

Edge: Push. There's no winning here.

Cult player: Enrique Hernández vs. Pablo Sandoval

Hernández has done it all with the Dodgers: He's worn costumes, he grew out a super '80s cop movie mustache, academic studies focused on his pants have been written, and he's played nearly every position on the field. He's also come up big in the postseason, including a three-homer NLCS game against the Cubs in 2017.

Sandoval is brand new to fans of the Braves, who picked him up after the Giants released him earlier this year. He played in all of one regular-season game with the team, and though he was on the NLDS roster, he didn't make an appearance.

Still, everyone loves the Kung Fu Panda. And if he does anything for the Braves like he did with the Giants (can you imagine if the Braves let Pablo pitch?), and comes up with some big postseason performances, everyone will really fall in love.

Edge: Dodgers by a mustache hair. Sandoval needs to play hero in a Braves uniform first.

Best hair: Dustin May vs. Dansby Swanson

Listen, I get it. It's been a tough year for haircuts. Most of us are walking around with haphazard self-cuts done in our bathrooms. So, really, we all get a pass for the year. Still, there have been a few standouts.

Like, Dustin May. The only thing more impressive than the rookie's performance on the mound this year has been his mane of bright red hair. He's like the main character from Pixar's "Brave."

Meanwhile, Swanson gets the edge ever-so-narrowly over Acuña's long locks. Swanson's somehow preternaturally coiffed 'do was at the center of the Braves' postseason run last season, and his hair has yet to lose its antigravitational pull.

Edge: Dodgers

Best postseason moment so far: Bellinger's catch vs. Ozuna's "selfie"

With the Dodgers holding a slim lead against the Padres in Game 2 of the NLDS, Fernando Tatis Jr. blasted a deep drive to center field. Bellinger raced 97 feet back and, with his hand above the wall, brought back the home run. Cue up the Dodgers' freakout:

After the Reds had failed to score against the Braves in the entirety of the Wild Card Series -- and following Trevor Bauer's attempted trolling -- Ozuna went deep in the eighth inning of Game 2 to basically end all of Cincinnati's hopes. So, naturally, he took a break down the line for a selfie, immortalizing the moment.

Edge: Dodgers, though both of these moments will likely be overshadowed by what happens this week.

Michael Clair writes for MLB.com. He spends a lot of time thinking about walk-up music and believes stirrup socks are an integral part of every formal outfit.