It’s over. After 162 regular games, wild card showdowns, division and league championship series, and finally seven World Series games, fans face that long winter hiatus with no MLB baseball at all.
Since the San Diego Padres haven’t announced their spring training schedule yet, local fans can’t even mark the day pitchers and catchers report on their calendars. Former commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti understood that end-of-season feeling when he wrote that baseball “… is designed to break your heart…. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.”
Despite the fact that the Padres had another lackluster season, fans could almost always find a game to watch or listen to or otherwise follow and moments to celebrate. Clayton Richard threw a complete game shutout against the Phillies in August, the first since 2014 for the Padres. Catcher Austin Hedges led baseball in runners caught stealing. Manuel Margot made highlight reel catches including one that Statcast rated with an 18 percent probability.
And many of this year’s playoff games and series had plenty of drama. Three teams, the Astros, Indians, and Dodgers, had more than 100 wins. Three teams from the National League West, the Rockies, Diamondbacks, and Dodgers, made it to the postseason.
The Division Series between the Indians and Yankees went five games with New York winning three out of five. The Cubs also needed all five games to defeat the Nationals. In the League Series, the Dodgers had little competition from the Cubs, but the Astros and Yankees played all seven possible.
The Astros won the first two games at home, but the Yankees also prevailed in three games in New York. Down 3-2, the Astros needed to win both games at home to move on to the ultimate goal. Pitchers Justin Verlander, Houston’s secret weapon obtained at the last minute during the season, as well as Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers, pitched the team to wins in the final two games.
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The World Series came down to the team with the highest payroll in all of baseball and the Astros, which ranked 18th with approximately half that of the Dodgers’ $242 million in player salaries at the beginning of the season. Somehow the relative paupers won in seven games, including Game Two, which took 11 innings, featured eight home runs, and set a World Series record.
The Dodgers went quietly in the last game, losing 5-1. As Jerry Crasnick, ESPN senior writer reported, “the common denominators were soreness, sleep deprivation and a sense of emotional depletion” for the players on both teams. Baseball fans undoubtedly felt the same emotional depletion at the end of the game and the season.
Those fans will have to follow the advice of Rogers Hornsby who pitched for 23 years beginning in 1915: “People ask me what I do in the winter when there’s no baseball. I stare out the window and wait for spring.”