Game Seven. The two greatest words in sports. Tonight it was also the conclusive stage of arguably the best World Series theatre that the baseball world has ever seen.
This series had it all: juiced baseballs, controversy over sliders, big hits from little people, defensive efforts with a little too much “effort”, strike-zones wider than the Chavez Ravine, and even the obligatory conversation about should he or shouldn’t he be suspended that has become all too common throughout postseason athletics. We even got almost peak Verlander, beautiful as always Kate Upton, and nostalgia to the max with Vin Scully and Fernando Valenzuela. Nolan Ryan and Sandy Koufax each had front row seats. Pitchers getting RBI’s in an elimination game. New school met old school and the winner was baseball.
Now look, game five of this 2017 World Series was an instant classic. Whether or not if felt like somebody slipped the safety softer batting practice baseball into the game,it was the back and forth contest that Major League Baseball needed to raise the profile of the sport. And boy did it ever, with ratings exceeding Sunday Night Football throughout many places in the country. It was a five-hour-plus game with enough exciting moments that it felt like 5 minutes, even as a nasty storm raged on here in New England. It was baseball, it was pure, and it was fun. It was exactly what baseball needed.
The MVP of this series came from a little school in Storrs, CT. You may have heard of it as the perennial Queens of College Basketball. Tonight, UCONN is George Springer land. It may be November, but I don’t think even the wildest Huskies or Astros fan saw that coming, particularly after an 0-4 game one. But home runs in four straight World Series games, 5 homers total, 8 extra base hits and 29 total bases will do that.
Baseball is talked about as having an age problem. But folks, the game itself is in one of the best places it has been in for a long time. Springer, Bellinger, Altuve, Seager, Correa, Pederson, Bregman, Puig, and McCullers are all among the players 27 years of age or younger who had a crucial role in this Fall Classic and will continue to be household names for next several seasons. Purists are disappearing and millennials may be too wrapped up in our avocado toast and destroying all industry as we know it to take in 162 games plus playoffs for any team that is less than enjoyable to watch, but as a whole the sport couldn’t be in a better spotlight.
The Astros are World Champs for the first time in their franchise history. Houston did the improbable and pulled through together as a club to end one of the best postseasons in recent memory. But tonight you win, Sports Illustrated.
P.S. “Hope beyond the heartbreak” for U.S. Soccer may have been the even better prognostication. Hopefully.