The baseball-is-boring crowd may have to modify that stand after this year’s playoff roller coaster ride especially in the World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros.
Momentum has shifted from moment to moment, and Games 2 and 5 have gone to extra innings. After a grueling 162 regular season schedule, division, and league playoffs, everyone involved has to be operating on fumes.
Both Wild Card games were 1-0 affairs with the New York Yankees beating the Minnesota Twins, the Arizona Diamondbacks the Colorado Rockies. Although the Dodgers handled the D-Backs in just three games, the Chicago Cubs needed all five games to move on, the Astros four.
In the NLCS, the Dodgers again won handily 4-1, but the Astros needed all seven to prevail against the Yankees.
In the past seven years, the entire season has come down to the final game four times as it did last year when the Cubs prevailed over the Cleveland Indians (8-7) in a 4-hour and 28-minute, 10-inning classic. At the time, Richard Justice of MLB.com wrote, “We may have just watched the greatest World Series game ever played, and that may be the thing Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians can agree on weeks from now when there’s time to reflect on things.” Cubs’ president of baseball operations said he “died like six times” during that last game.
Fans of both teams left standing may have felt the same way during this World Series, especially in Game 5, a 10-inning affair, which lasted five hours and 17 minutes and ended in a 13-12 win by Houston. As Astro’s reliever Joe Musgrove said, “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, ‘This is the craziest game of my life.’ This was the craziest game of my life.” Of course, the game ended with a walk-off line drive by 23-year-old Alex Bregman in his first full major league season off Dodgers’ closer Kenley Jansen (who had 41 saves and a 1.32 ERA in the regular season).
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For both teams, this final game has extra meaning as the Cubs’ victory did last year that wiped out 108 years of futility. The Dodgers haven’t been to the World Series since 1988, but the Astros had never won a single game in the fall classic until this year. In Houston’s only appearance, the White Sox swept them in 2005.
The boring sport of baseball actually bested Sunday Night Football in ratings for Game 5. The following game attracted between 23 and 25 million viewers, according to Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated.
The Dodgers may have the advantage of winning last night and playing at home. But the Astros have proven to be a scrappy bunch that absolutely does not give up. Whatever happens, boredom will not be a problem.