The future of baseball is as bright as ever. Time to latch on.
You know why baseball is great? The second we try to predict what will happen is the second we subject ourselves to be completely befuddled and amazed. No one can predict exactly how baseball will go. Unlike the NBA, where we have known for the past three years who will make the finals before the season even starts, baseball keeps presenting new twists.
Hopefully at one point or another, you tuned in for the World Series between the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers. As someone who cheers for neither team in the slightest, I latched on to this series as if it were my own team playing.
To further prove why baseball makes fortune tellers look like fools, I predicted a clean sweep by the Dodgers en route to their first World Series Championship since 1988. I thought they had recovered from the team that lost 16 of 17 and returned to the team that owned a record of 91-36.
I thought my prediction was a sure lock especially when the Dodgers led 3-1 with five defensive outs away from a 2-0 series lead. Then Houston tied the game in the ninth off sure thing, Kenley Jansen, and went on to win 7-6 in 11 innings.
Aside from the fact that a game with a score of 3-1 in the eighth inning finished 7-6, which is crazy enough, I decided from that point on, I would disregard all past statistics and numbers. It gets beat to death that none of that matters in the postseason, but it could not be more true.
No sabermetrics or analytics could have predicted a 13-12 extra inning finish in Game 5. Additionally, quite a few people probably wrote off the Astros when Clayton Kershaw, one of the greatest pitchers of the modern era and maybe ever, owned a 4-0 lead. Okay, so he gave up four runs and Houston tied it. But then the Dodgers scored three runs and led 7-4. Surely the greatest pitcher on the greatest team will not blow it again. Except they did and went on to win the game on a walk-off in the 10th inning.
So now Houston possesses a 3-2 series lead, but the series is going back to Los Angeles. There is no way the Astros can beat them at home.
There we go, the Dodgers won Game 6 and they beat Justin Verlander along the way. Yu Darvish is going to pitch in Game 7 and there is no way he will implode like he did in Game 3. This is why the Dodgers traded for him. The Astros woke the sleeping giant and it is time for the giant to squish the little bug. After all, how was Houston ever to contend with the likes of the Los Angeles Dodgers?
Then they did and handled the Dodgers winning 5-1 in Game 7 to win their first ever World Series Championship.
This sheer insanity cannot happen in any other sport. It is not just the playoffs that surprises people. The regular season which starts in April and concludes in September contains a number of surprises. For instance, the Minnesota Twins clinched a playoff spot after losing 103 games the previous season and the Cleveland Indians won 22 games in a row to name a few. Those exact scenarios have never happened in the history of the sport and I think I can actually make a correct prediction in saying it will never happen again.
No other sport offers a commitment in the same way baseball does. What other sport requires you to follow the same team for six months? It becomes a second family and a nice constant in life. They play almost every day and a tough loss can only sit in your mind for a day just as an exhilarating win is in the past almost immediately.
This sport is too unique to be written off. Players spend years developing their skills in the Minor Leagues in hopes of reaching the show.
The strategy is far more advanced than that of any other sport. In football, Tom Brady can be involved in every play if Bill Belichik wants. Aaron Rodgers will always have the ball in the crucial moments. But in baseball, you cannot send Bryce Harper to the plate every time the bases are loaded. You cannot always bring in Clayton Kershaw to escape a jam. Especially with the analytics on the rise, baseball has become the most epic game of chess.
Baseball takes its sweet time over the course of seven months including the postseason and we should all sit back and enjoy. Do not complain that the game takes too long too play. That is what makes baseball great. There is no clock and a game is never over in that there is no deficit too large. Equate trailing by five scores in baseball with one inning left to losing by five scores in football with one minute to play. A five run inning in baseball can actually happen whereas it is practically impossible in football.
Also, a bad start does not doom the season. Even a few months of subpar play does not eliminate a team’s chances at the playoffs. If your team leaves you upset in October, the bright side is pitchers and catchers report in February and baseball will soon return with the promise of a fresh season.
Maybe someone has the complaint that there is not enough action and not enough scoring. With that in mind, I think it is fair to say the most exciting bit of action in a baseball game is a home run. If that is the case, baseball is as exciting as it has ever been. This past season saw the most home runs in a season in history. Players also hit more home runs in this postseason than any other before. Guys like Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees and Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins are absolutely clobbering the ball along with many others in the league. With the new approach of hit or die at the plate, the ball has a chance to fly into the stands at any point.
When spring training commences in February, sit back, relax and watch America’s past time. Join the community of fans of all different backgrounds that do not know each other and cheer for the same thing.