World Series Game 6

They did it. The Dodgers won the World Series.

It took 3 trips in 4 years, but they finally did it.

And, for me, it’s the first time that a major league team I’ve been behind has won the World Series. I remember the years when the Smokies almost made their way to a championship but never did, and that was a crushing disappointment for me…but this is the fuckin World Series and that almost makes up for the Smokies back when I was a teenager. I was screaming my head off when Urías threw that final strike (ask Keaton, who was almost as excited as I was.) Lucky for me, the neighbors were all watching the game, and they screamed plenty when they won too. It was great getting a chance to get that excited, especially with everything that’s happened this year. Something dang good finally happened. I guess going kinda viral on social media can be considered a good thing, too…but this felt a lot better. Let’s just say that having my team win the World Series is way more in my comfort zone than having a whole lot of strangers write about how I look in boardshorts.

It was a good, tight game. Nothing crazy like last Saturday (I don’t think I could have handled another of those), but there was plenty of excitement as Tampa Bay got off to a quick lead and we didn’t catch up until the 6th when we scored two runs thanks to a wild pitch, a double (Betts) and a fielder’s choice RBI from Seager. Then we really were nursing a 1 run lead until Betts hit one out in the 8th for badly needed insurance.

Like all low scoring games in baseball, this one was more about the pitching than the offense. When Gonsolin let Arozarena hit that homer I think every fan in LA thought ‘oh shit, we’re sunk.’ But Gonsolin pulled himself together, came back and got 2 outs in the 2nd, and turned it over to the bullpen. Floro, Wood (who was so efficient I barely noticed him up there – 6 batters, 20 pitches, 3 K), Báez, González and Graterol were all great…and then Urías – on only 2 days’ rest – came out and was basically perfect for the last 7 outs. (Yeah, I was terrified that Jansen was going to come out for the 9th…you never know what Dave Roberts is going to do, but, for this game at least, he made all the right decisions. Not that his decisions weren’t backed up by some fantastic pitching.)

Look at it this way: the bullpen (plus Urías) pitched 7 1/3 innings, gave up 0 runs and 0 walks and struck out 12. If that was one pitcher, you’d be tearing your hair out he was so good.

Meanwhile…

There’s always gonna be a big mystery attached to the game, and that has to do with Kevin Cash pulling Blake Snell after only 5 1/3 innings. I’m sure anyone reading this knows what happened, but let me reiterate: Snell – who the Dodgers couldn’t solve in Game 2 – was truly lights fuckin out last night. He was basically unhittable, with 0 walks and 9 Ks. There was nothing the Dodgers could do to get on base, let alone score. Pretty much, he had the team by the balls. And I don’t mean baseballs lol.

Ok, so he gets through the order twice and it couldn’t have been going better for him. Yeah, he gave up a hit to Barnes, but big deal. And then Cash pulls him. You should have seen the look on his face…and the words he mouthed. Afterwards he kept saying how it sucked and how he wanted to stay in the game, but the Tampa Bay manager was apparently locked into the idea that Snell shouldn’t go 6 innings or see the LA batters a third time. That’s while Snell was probably pitching one of the best games of his life. I don’t get it. I guess Cash had a lot of faith in his bullpen, which is supposed to be terrific, but which wasn’t holding up against the LA offense all series long. Sure enough, Anderson comes in, and we scored 2 before you could say ‘jackrabbit’ (as Meemaw likes to say.)

Let me say what everyone I’ve talked to has said: pulling Snell was something Dave Roberts would have done, not Kevin Cash. I don’t know what he was thinking. I’m sure he regrets the decision, and I feel bad for the guy, since he’s gonna have to live with that for the rest of his life. The same is true of Snell, and I feel worse for him. I’ve yet to know a pitcher who likes getting pulled, and this was way worse than getting pulled in the middle of a high school game. Of course, we don’t know how Snell would have been against the order a third time around, and he doesn’t have any kind of a track record for going 6 innings, but, I’d of stuck with Snell if I were Cash.

On the other hand, if he stuck with Snell, maybe I wouldn’t have woken up as happy as I did this morning. Actually, when I first woke up, I didn’t immediately remember it – then it hit me and I felt great all over again. I was waking up in the morning and the Dodgers were World Series champions.

Maybe the person I was most glad for was Kershaw. He’s gone through more postseason frustration than anyone, and knowing you’re bound for Cooperstown without a World Series ring must have been driving him crazy. He’s achieved everything a pitcher can achieve except one…and now he’s achieved that too.

What some of y’all may not realize is just how important winning the World Series is for a ball player. Anyone who’s picked up a ball or a bat or a glove has thought about winning the World Series, and the ones of those kids who are cut out to be serious ball players, even if they know they’ll never see the Major Leagues, have pretended at one time or another that they’re in the World Series. How many times have I had coaches tell us that we should play like it’s Game 7 of the World Series with 2 outs? I can assure y’all, a lot. I’ve even told Lucas, Cody and even Jacob to pretend they were in Game 7 at one point or another.  Every ball player thinks about winning the World Series as the ultimate goal of their ball-playing lives. You dream about it (yeah, I’ve had dreams about winning the World Series myself way more than once), you imagine yourselves doing it when you get a big hit or make a great catch, and those feelings become more intense the closer you get. I remember one time in Hickory after a particularly good game we all got together and talked about what it might be like to win it all. I don’t know that any of us thought we’d make it to the Big Leagues (although at least Slater still has a chance at it), but it was still on our minds. Playing in the minors, yeah, you think about making it to the majors, and the ultimate goal of making it to the majors is the World Series. It’s the Everest of baseball. And that’s what was going through all those guys’ minds last night, believe me.

It must seem fuckin unreal when it finally happens.

Seager MVP

And what about my boy and fellow shortstop Corey Seager? World Series MVP on top of NLCS MVP? Sure, Betts was great, although he kinda sagged a little during the World Series, and he and Seager were the best 1-2 punch I’ve ever seen in baseball. There was no way that the Dodgers could have made it through the season and won it all without Betts, but Seager’s been fuckin amazing all season – and especially all postseason – long. His numbers are insane: batting .400 with an OPS of 1.256. He didn’t do it single-handed – baseball’s a team sport – but they certainly couldn’t have done it without him. I know some people stopped believing in Seager with some of the problems he’s had, but, now that he’s healthy, it looks like the sky’s the limit. (And those postseason stats really are the sky.)

One of the other guys who must have been in the MVP discussion was Turner with his 1.066 OPS. The downer story of last night – I’m not sure that Rob Manfred really needed to throw cold water on Seager as he got the Willy Mays Trophy by mentioning it, but maybe he wanted to get back at the crowd for the boos lol – was that Turner got removed from the game in the 8th when news came through that his COVID test came back positive. With his team 1 fuckin inning from winning the World Series. I don’t know where they locked him up, but they obviously didn’t throw away the key, since he eventually did turn up on the field and made it into the team picture. I reckon Turner’s unlucky in that he’s probably the most visible Dodger and everyone noticed him, especially when he was foolish enough to take his mask off. It’s really no big deal: the guys he was around are the guys he was around all game long and he’d been positive for COVID all game long, so a few more minutes one way or the other weren’t going to make a huge difference as far as spreading the virus was concerned. And, c’mon, the dude had just won the fuckin World Series. At age 35, with most of his career behind him and facing free agency, this could well have been his only chance at a championship. So lighten up those of you who were getting all worked up over Turner.

I also gotta say something to the other buzz killers who were saying that this championship was an ‘asterisk’ because it came after a 60 game season instead of a 162 game one. Yeah, that’s a difference, and I gotta admit that I was asking exactly that question at the beginning of the season, but – and I’m not just saying this because the Dodgers won – with everything everyone had to go through to play through a plague year, this counts. It’s the real deal. In point of act, it’s a realer deal than previous years because the postseason was longer and harder to navigate. There was that wild card round (and anything can happen in a 3 game series), then there was playing the NLDS and NLCS without any days off between games, and then there was having to play without home field advantage (although there were a lot of Dodger fans in the 75% empty stands in Arlington.) The season may not have been as long of a grind, but the postseason was a lot more demanding. That doesn’t make for no asterisk.

I may not have been as excited as Corey Seager was after that last out. Seager’s kinda famous for not showing emotion, but he was screaming with the rest of them , as he jumped into Kiké Hernández’ arms. It was a great moment. Ok, I didn’t jump into Keaton’s arms (I’m not sure what he would have said to that lol), but he did have a bottle of champagne that he brought out. He said he bought it just in case. So we had that instead of another couple Kona Longboards. Part of me wanted to shake up the champagne and do what the team wasn’t getting to do (and that sucks for them, but I’ll take the trophy even without the champagne showers)…but Keaton said “try it and I’ll lay you the fuck out, bubba.” So I didn’t lol.

Keaton grew up following a MLB team, the Rangers…and I was a part of the Rangers organization for a short while…so maybe he’d of been more excited if it had been the Rangers winning their first World Series ever. And of course neither me nor Keaton has been in LA for all that long, so we only came in on the end of the 32 year drought. But, still, even though it’s only been a 4 year drought for me, it was a difficult and frustrating 4 years. I had to watch my new team lose the World Series twice and then have that huge fuck up last season before I got the satisfaction of seeing them win.

It’s a great feeling. And, for today at least, that’s all that matters.

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