One of the greatest October classics ever has concluded.
The Houston Astros defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in game 7.
Here’s a look at how the thrilling series will be remembered.
The Dodgers and Astros were the two best teams in baseball for most of the season, and they didn’t disappoint.
During the regular season, the Major League Baseball record for most homeruns was set, and that carried over to the postseason, where the record was again eclipsed.
That was just one of many storylines in a rollercoaster series.
Over the coming days and weeks, baseball historians and commentators will debate the merits of the 2017 World Series and put it in its proper place in history. Was it the best ever, or the third, fifth or seventh? That’s a matter of personal opinion, and something that can be discussed on social media or neighborhood barstools across America for fans who are so inclined.
If constant plot twists, engaging storylines and captivating baseball are the barometer, the 2017 Series is on a short list of matchups that will stand the test of time.
As the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers dragged themselves off the field late Wednesday night, the common denominators were soreness, sleep deprivation and a sense of emotional depletion. As players on both the winning and losing sides offered their takes, you got the distinct impression the Astros didn’t win this World Series as much as survive it.
The Astros and Dodgers did not save the best for last, so the 2017 World Series might be slightly diminished on the list of all-time great October matchups. A classic Game 7 is the cherry on top, and there was no Bill Mazeroski cavorting around the bases to end it, or Jack Morris-John Smoltz pitchers’ duel, or Luis Gonzalez blooper over second base to serve as the emotional punctuation mark.
The Astros took an early lead, gradually sapped the energy from the Dodger Stadium crowd of 54,124 over the course of three hours and 37 minutes in the finale, and ground out a 5-1 victory.
But when fans in Houston, Los Angeles and living rooms across America reflect upon this series, they’ll remember a lot of the crucial elements that make for compelling sports theater. These teams each won 100 games during the regular season. The momentum swings were profound. And the human element was ever-present.
The Astros and Dodgers are both regarded as “analytically based” teams, which suggests an almost robotic and methodical approach to baseball. But that knee-jerk characterization missed the emotional element that made the 2017 Series so compelling. The respective rosters might have been conceived in a lab, or on a spreadsheet, but the Astros and Dodgers played with a passion and a camaraderie that fosters a common purpose and can’t be faked.
Over the course of seven World Series games, the teams combined for an array of memorable moments and scenarios:
• Five of the seven games were decided by one or two runs — the most such games in a World Series since 2000. Each team scored exactly 34 runs.
• Los Angeles and Houston combined for a World Series-record 25 home runs, and the Astros set a record for a single team with 15.
• Houston’s 7-6 victory in Game 2 was notable for eight homers — five of which came in extra innings. The Dodgers were 98-0 on the season when leading after eight innings, but lost after Marwin Gonzalez took Kenley Jansen deep in the ninth.
• Game 4 at Minute Maid Park was decided in the ninth inning when the Dodgers scored five runs to break a 1-1 tie. Cody Bellinger snapped an 0-for-13 funk with a crucial hit in the seventh inning and drove in the winning run in the ninth.
• In Game 5, the Astros rallied from deficits of 4-0 and 7-4 against Kershaw to win 13-12. The Dodgers had won 113 straight games when leading by four runs, and entered the game with a 49-1 record since 2012 when Kershaw pitched with a four-run lead.
The series took a pause for controversy in Game 3, when Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel homered off Yu Darvish, then made a racially insensitive gesture in the dugout that was captured on national television. The incident carried over to the Los Angeles leg of the series, when Dodgers fans booed Gurriel with fervor each time he stepped to the plate.
The Dodgers are similarly blessed, even if they were in no mood to celebrate Wednesday night. After winning 104 games and reaching the World Series for the first time in 29 years, they came to realize the truth in Tommy Lasorda’s proclamation: You “haven’t done s—” if you don’t win Game 7.
The conclusion of a season accentuates the agony and ecstasy of sports.
On the side of agony, the Dodgers and Manager Dave Roberts will have to face questions of whether or not they should’ve started Clayton Kershaw, the best pitcher in baseball.
Kershaw has had postseason struggles in the past, but conventional wisdom says it’s best to go down swinging with your ace.
Instead the Dodgers chose to go with Yu Darvish because it was his turn in the rotation. Darvish struggled mightily in game three and couldn’t get out of the second inning.
In game seven, Darvish again couldn’t get through two innings, and the Dodgers were unable to dig out of a 5-run hole.
On the side of ecstasy, Astros’ young star Carlos Correa experienced an ending that wouldn’t be believable in a Hollywood movie:
1 night, 2 rings. Carlos Correa proposes! Congrats to the Correa’s! #WorldSeries