There are so many things to love about this World Series, starting with the two cities involved, and the baseball history in those cities, and the waiting in both to win another World Series. There are the ballparks involved. Wrigley Field and Fenway Park will always be fighting for the title of the most wonderful sports venues in America, but you have to know that Progressive Field in Cleveland -- which I will always call The Jake -- is a pretty wonderful baseball place itself, maybe the least discussed of the small, wonderful modern parks, and the most underappreciated.
Then you have all the stars of the Series so far, all the way until Aroldis Chapman threw 100-mph fastballs for nearly three innings on Sunday night when his team's season was on the line, and next season was right outside Wrigley if Chapman didn't do the job.
You've had the managing clinic that Terry Francona has put on for the Indians, maybe even informing Joe Maddon's decision to go with Chapman with one out in the top of the seventh in Game 5. You've had Corey Kluber and Coco Crisp and Andrew Miller and Cody Allen, and Francisco Lindor's play in the field and at the plate. And of course you've had Kyle Schwarber coming all the way back from knee surgery to join the World Series in Cleveland, and about to rejoin it there.
There are a ton of reasons why you didn't want the thing to end on Sunday night at Wrigley, as the Cubs and Indians were producing that crackling-good 3-2 game, starting with this reason: In this great moment for baseball, you want this to be called a great Series when it is over. It can happen even if it doesn't make it as far as Game 7. But it was never going to be that -- outside of Cleveland anyway -- if it had ended in five, without the Cubs even getting a game in Chicago, ended in five the way last year's World Series did between the Royals and the Mets.
But maybe the best part of this World Series, the best part of all at this time in America, is that by focusing on it -- and hard -- we can spend less time focusing on an election that, however it ends, will make you want to jump into either Lake Michigan or Lake Erie just to clean yourself up when it is over.
In that way, baseball right now feels as important as it ever has.
It doesn't feel this important just because it is some diversion from the Real World. It feels that way because it seems a thousand times more real than the mud wrestling we are watching, on a daily basis, in presidential politics.
It was Howard Cosell, God rest his cranky soul, who loved referring to the world of sports as the "toy department." But now you watch all those faces, young and old, especially the old ones, in Chicago over the weekend. You hear all the stories about how the Cubs have mattered to these fans and how long they have mattered, and how baseball has been passed on the way it has from one generation to the other. And that is no toy department, not in Chicago and not in Cleveland, not in any part of America where sports still makes people feel as if they're all in something together. That is a real and wonderful and important part of life in this country.
Certainly it's not just baseball that makes us feel that way. You know what LeBron and Kyrie and the Cavs did for the city of Cleveland just four months ago, the same thing the Indians are trying to do now. But the history of baseball, the rich and lasting and profound backstory of baseball, still takes on tremendous weight in America, no matter what the ratings and revenues are in pro football.
No one in their right mind would ever suggest that the ratings for this World Series and the appeal of this World Series matter to the future of the country the way this campaign does, as much as this hideous campaign has diminished our country's standing around the world. It was Jacques Barzun who once wrote, and famously, that "whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball." And that was always such a fine sentiment for those of us who love baseball, even if the country is a million times more complicated than that. But you know what? I'm fine with old Barzun right now.
This World Series, however it plays out this week at The Jake (yeah, I'm going to keep calling it that), isn't going to bring the country together the way the U.S. hockey team did in Lake Placid in 1980. The country isn't getting behind one team, or the other, even though there is probably more of it rooting for the Cubs simply because their waiting has been longer in Chicago; because they are more of the darlings in this throwback Series. But you can imagine what kind of darlings the Indians would be outside of their own fan base if they were going up against anybody besides the Cubs, certainly after what happened with the Cavs in June.
Both of these teams, and this one baseball event, provide a wonderful respite, even for a few hours a night, from politics. That is what the World Series does. That is why it seems so valuable, seems to matter as much as it does. Seriously, would you rather be talking about Chapman and Miller and Tito and Joe Maddon and Kyle Schwarber, or about Comey and Clinton and Huma and Weiner and emails and Trump, who claimed over the weekend that not only was Hillary Clinton going to open up the borders, she was going to let in "650 million" people, which you have to say would be some trick in a country that only has half of that now?
Really, you always wanted to laugh after these debates when one candidate, usually Trump, would immediately declare victory, and cite the kind of online polls that are about as scientific as The People's Choice Awards. It made you even more impatient for the next postseason game in baseball, where you only get to declare victory if you actually score more runs than the other team.
The World Series will end this week, either on Tuesday night or on Wednesday night. This presidential season -- hopefully, prayerfully -- will end next Tuesday. You can't wait for it to end. You don't want the baseball to end. I just wish there was a game tonight. Or two. The World Series is something to cheer right now. The World Series is real. In an election year, I vote for that.