Wednesday, 1 November:
Game seven of the World Series is upon us, and it is the single greatest sporting event in the world.
Forget the Super Bowl, that’s a one-off exhibition. World Cup soccer is close; but the clear superiority of baseball as a game eclipses the boys in shorts running around nature of soccer. For sheer drama alone, there is nothing quite like this.
20 spring training games, dozens of intrasquads, 162 regular season and two rounds of playoffs come down to one baseball game. The best part of all this is the two very best teams in baseball are represented; nobody sneaked in this year.
Tuesday’s cracking good 3-1 Dodger victory followed the slugfest in Houston won by them, and the numbers show how good the game was. Once again, errorless ball was played. There were only 3 walks in the game.
The Dodgers were efficient; they only left 4 men on base whereas Houston left 8, and that’s the difference. Dodger stars Corey Seager and Joc Pedersen had RBI’s, and Cub fans can only wonder what impact those left handed bats might have had, as these were players the Cubs had agreed to take in the Jeff Samardzjia/Jason Hammel swap with LA.
Instead, Oakland offered Addison Russell and Billy McKinney, and Theo jumped at that.
There were mitigating factors; Pedersen is a big swing and miss type, and Seager has a reputation of, well, not always giving 100%. Russell is a better athlete, and McKinney had that hardscrabble get on base type of grit teams love.
McKinney did hit .306 for the Yankee AAA club, they acquired him in the Aroldis Chapman deal. As far as Russell goes, he just may be one of the most attractive trade pieces the Cubs have, and they simply must break up the right handed strikeout prone lineup if they want to repeat as champs.
Anyone who has been watching the Series so far has seen some real quality at bats. This is probably the best lesson one can take; nobody goes up there hacking like, say Javier Baez. Not only that, but they have a notion of what they want to do.
Hitting to the opposite field when called for. Elevating the ball to stay out of double plays. Working the rare, but key, walk.
Pitchers pounding the strike zone. The balls don’t miss by much.
Excellent decisions by both managers, who have shined so far. That was expected from the solid baseball mind of Dave Roberts, but A.J. Hinch, who was almost the skipper of the Cubs has proved his worth.
The lack of grandstanding by both teams only focused it’s glare on Yasiel Puig, who just can’t help himself. His .167 average with no walks speaks loudly enough.
Everyone else is all business, and the amazing performances both teams get with guys who were stringers elsewhere has been quite spectacular; this speaks to smart organizations.
Chris Taylor is hitting .257 with 3 homers and 7 RBI’s. He hit 21 home runs this year.
The 27 year old had ONE career homer coming into the season, and he makes the major league minimum of $507, 500. Simply put, the Dodgers don’t win without him.
Same with reliever Brandon Morrow, a so-so 33 year old starter (51-43, 4.05) turned into a lights out reliever. For Houston it’s recycling Brian McCann, the smart draft of Alex Bregman and the amazing performance of the ‘mighty mite’ Jose Altuve, easily one of the two or three best players in the game.
Picking up Justin Verlander didn’t hurt. He pitched a fine game, despite the loss, but had newly announced fiance’ Kate Upton there. Nice consolation prize.
The happy couple.
So, who knows how this last game goes? Two teams so evenly matched, this may come down to who bats last…