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Atlanta Braves' Austin Riley (27), Dansby Swanson, center, and Ozzie Albies, right, celebrate after a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Sunday, Aug. 22, 2021, in Baltimore. The Braves won 3-1. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

The words came from Atlanta Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos during a weekend interview with MLB.com.

Said Anthopoulos of his desire to develop a certain "vibe" in the clubhouse: "Sometimes I wonder if I overdo it. I walk away from really talented players all the time. I still try to balance that. I don't know that I'm ever going to find the right blend, but my default is always to go with the high-character good guys."

It is not a recipe embraced by everyone. Some pro sports teams go for talent first, last and only. And if the chemistry isn't there, they'll keep buying and selling players until it is.

Philosophy aside, some teams — such as the New York Yankees outfit that rolled into Atlanta on Monday for the start of a brief two-game series against the Bravos — have that kind of bank account. And it's often worked for the Pinstripers, though not so much lately, since the Yanks haven't won it all since 2009.

But the Braves Way has also worked pretty well the past 30 seasons, or ever since then-GM John Schuerholz and former manager Bobby Cox won 14 straight division titles between 1991 and 2005, reached five World Series over that span and won it all in 1995.

Those teams were loaded with high-character good guys, as well as a franchise-wide expectation for consistency of effort and professionalism.

Say what you want that there should have been more world championships — and there should have been — but winning 14 straight division titles was arguably the tougher feat, and an MLB record that may never be broken, no matter how much money the Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers spend trying.

And no matter what happens during this murderer's row of a schedule the next few days against the Yankees, San Francisco Giants (3) and at the Dodgers (3 more), this is a Braves bunch that's starting to strongly mirror those 14 straight division champs in terms of effort and approach.

Or as manager Brian Snitker noted after Sunday's victory at Baltimore — the Braves' ninth straight on a nine-game road trip: "I always just get the feeling with these guys that they never underestimate anybody. They come, they prepare and they play the game, regardless of where we're at. They're just so locked in on today's game which is a really good [trait]. It's just kind of that, 'Take care of business,' type thing every day."

Those words could just easily have come from Cox 25 years ago, or Schuerholz, or star pitchers Tom Glavine and John Smoltz. It's an ingrained mindset and few organizations have embraced it better than the Braves.

But a version of those words also came from current pitcher Touki Toussaint after Sunday's win in Baltimore, the revitalized Toussaint noting, "We just take every game for what it is, and on to the next one. There's a little more bounce now, but I think guys are just locked into next game because we know how hard this game is."

They appear to be playing with a lot more bounce than during that dreary run of 16 straight games from mid-July to early August where they never won more than one in a row or lost more than one in a row to set a Major League Record for mediocrity.

Since then, however, they've won 16 of 18 to grab a five-game lead over Philadelphia prior to Monday's game against the Yankees. Beyond that, they've done it with bandaids and duct tape, overcoming the pitching loss of Mike Soroka and the all-around loss of the spectacular Ronald Acuna Jr. to reach this lofty perch.

And before anyone questions their ability to hold onto their advantage in the overall woeful National League East, consider this: Let Atlanta play nothing more than .500 baseball the rest of the way — something they've pretty much done all year until this recent hot streak — and the Phillies would have to win 25 of their last 40 just to force a one-game playoff.

Is that possible? Of course. But it's not likely. And given that, the Braves don't have to be great the rest of the way. They just can't stink.

All of which brings the conversation back to Anthopoulos and the moves he made at the trade deadline to acquire Joc Pederson, Adam Duvall, Jorge Soler and Richard Rodriguez, all of whom have delivered much in this recent run.

"People asked me, 'Why would you add?'" the Braves GM explained to MLB.com. "There were 60-plus games left at that time. The standings can change 10 games from now [and] all of a sudden, you get hot like we have now. My biggest focus right now is, we worry about tonight's game. We have a lot of tough games coming and you can't take anybody for granted at this point."

Once again, the Braves Way is proving to be a pretty reliable way to reach the playoffs for a fourth straight autumn. At least for right now.

Contact Mark Wiedmer at mwiedmer@timesfreepress.com.

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