There is one Super Bowl a year. It feels as if this World Series has produced six Super Bowls already, with a seventh one tonight, Game 7 between the Dodgers and Astros. We now get a World Series, one that goes the distance, that is even better than the last one. It is the reason why, a little past five in Los Angeles, a little after seven in Houston, the country goes to a baseball game tonight. And a whole lot of the whole world.
What we have gotten from these two teams so far, across six games that will be remembered for a long time, is not just a celebration of baseball, and all its possibilities. Oh, the Dodgers and Astros have given us possibilities all right, every night with two 3-1 games and two extra-inning games and just about everything in between. But this Series has also reminded us of the essential drama of baseball, the singular drama of every pitch and swing, every single night. There have been other World Series. Never one better than this.
One game left.
The other night I was standing near the third-base dugout at Minute Maid Park with Stan Kasten, the president of the Dodgers. And he was talking about what it has been like to watch this Dodger season, this run of theirs to the World Series, from the inside, after the Dodgers had not played in a Series, despite some near misses, in 29 years. Kasten talked about what all of it has been like, what Dodger Stadium, where the last act will be played out tonight, has been like. Stan has done a lot in sports. He was with the Braves of the 1990s. He talked about the experience he has had with this new Dodgers and sounded like a Brooklyn guy talking about what it was like being a kid and watching the Dodgers in the 1950s.
"I feel like I've been a part of something important," Stan Kasten said.
We all do.
One year after we just assumed we could never see a better baseball October than we got in October of 2016, we really have seen a better one. With the last chapter still to be written, last scene of the movie tonight in LA. We've seen Game 2. We've seen Game 5. On Tuesday night, we saw the Dodgers get a win off Justin Verlander in the game Verlander was hired to win.
I believe we very well might see Verlander tonight. Why not? I once saw Randy Johnson start and win Game 6 of the 2001 World Series against the Yankees, then get the win in Game 7 the next night out of the bullpen, the night the D-backs did what the Astros tried to do on Tuesday night and try again to do tonight:
Win their first World Series.
I absolutely expect to see Clayton Kershaw for the Dodgers. Kershaw: a great left-hander of his generation the way Verlander has been a great right-hander, but one who couldn't hold a 4-0 lead in Game 5, or make it out of the bottom of the fifth. He and Verlander have now started four games in this Series between them, and have won one combined win to show for it. Verlander started Game 2 and started Game 6. He has given up a total of five hits in those two starts. Still does not have his first World Series victory.
And you know what that is? That is baseball.
Somehow, after all the big swings and big hits we have witnessed over the World Series nights before tonight, you know what hurt Verlander as much as anything? Hitting Chase Utley with a pitch. It changed plenty in the bottom of the sixth in Game 6, when the Dodgers were getting a couple of runs and getting ahead 2-1.
The Super Bowl ends and you only remember the stars, even if somebody else scores the winning touchdown. It is different in the World Series, especially one like this. We don't just know Jose Altuve now, and Carlos Correa, and Cody Bellinger, who helped his team mightily in Game 4, but who also has had two Series games when he struck out four times. We also know Brandon Morrow, who threw six pitches in the bottom of the seventh of Game 5, and gave up two home runs, a double, a single and four runs. But you know what happened on Tuesday night? He came out of the bullpen, Morrow did, and got the Dodgers out of a big jam when the Astros had a chance to stretch their 1-0 lead and maybe put away the Dodgers for good.
Morrow found out about possibilities, too, in baseball and in the Series: The possibilities of redemption. George Springer dove for a ball and missed in Game 5 and turned a Bellinger single into a triple, in a moment when the Dodgers got back ahead in that crazy game, 8-7. And then you know what happened after that for Springer? Next time up he hit a home run that you were afraid might bust a window at Minute Maid Park.
We know him. We know Alex Bregman, who knocked in the winning run in Game 5. We know Chris Taylor, who knocked in what became the winning run for the Dodgers in Game 6. We saw Kenley Jansen give up the home run in the ninth inning of Game 2 to Marwin Gonzalez that allowed the Astros to come back and win that game in extras, and then saw Jansen give up Bregman's hit in the 10th in Game 5. But Jansen got up and showed up on Tuesday night, in the eighth and ninth, six up and six down on the way to Game 7.
The Dodgers haven't won the Series since 1988, when they had Kirk Gibson and Orel Hershiser and Tommy Lasorda. The Astros, of course, in business since 1962, have never won a title. There was so much talk in the American League Championship Series, when the Yankees were up three games to two on the Astros, how great it would be to have a New York-LA World Series out of the past. It would not and could not have been any better than the one we got.
This is all about the beauty and power of baseball, something that does not have to be explained these days. All you have to do is watch. One more Super Bowl tonight. One year after Game 7 between the Cubs and Indians, we get this Game 7, in a ballpark that opened for business the year the Houston Astros opened for business. We all go to a baseball game tonight. Around the world, they call soccer the beautiful game. Not in LA. Not tonight.