This year’s World Series pitted two 100-win teams against each other for the first time in 47 years. The Los Angeles Dodgers represent the National League while the Houston Astros are the American League representative. Through five games of the World Series, the Astros lead the Dodgers 3-2. Here are five thoughts for the first five games.
For people that complain about how boring baseball is and how long the games take (which is a very valid complaint, especially for people on the East Coast), the first five games of the World Series have reminded everyone how exciting and dramatic baseball is in October.
- Game Two was a classic…and then Game Five happened.
Game Two was a classic World Series game, with five home runs being traded in extra innings. The Astros tied the game in the ninth with a home run, then proceeded to hit three more in extra innings; the Dodgers hit two but came up just short in a 7-6 Astros win.
It ended up not even being the best game of the series. Game Five was a back-and-forth affair, where the teams traded three, three-run home runs, and combined to hit seven home runs in an epic five-hour marathon that lasted ten innings. Alex Bregman hit the walk-off single in the bottom of the tenth as the Astros prevailed 13-12 in an all-time classic World Series game.
- Yuli Gurriel should have been suspended for the World Series.
This sadly focuses on no aspect of the game itself, rather concerning a racial gesture and slur used by Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel in Game Three. After hitting a home run off Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish, Gurriel made a gesture appearing to mock Darvish’s Japanese heritage by pulling his eyes into slits and saying “chinito” which translates to “little Chinese boy.”
Typically, the use of racial or homophobic actions or phrases earns the guilty player a suspension. For example, Kevin Pillar of the Toronto Blue Jays received a two-game suspension for an anti-gay slur earlier this year. In this case, Gurriel did receive a suspension; however, the suspension will not occur until the beginning of next season. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred chose to delay the suspension, citing that it would be unfair to the Astros as a team to suspend a key player on their team.
Millions are watching these games, and the MLB is simply condoning Gurriel’s inappropriate behavior. Losing a starter for the remainder of the series would deal a blow to the Astros chances, but players must learn that actions have consequences, and there is never an acceptable time to blatantly disrespect your opponent and their culture. Gurriel has played well in the World Series, but he should not still be playing.
- Historic home run rate
Home runs have acted as the difference-maker in the first five games. Justin Turner’s home run won Game One for the Dodgers. Game Two saw both teams trade home runs in a wild, extra-inning finish in which the Astros prevailed thanks to George Springer’s two-run home run in the 11th inning. Seven home runs were hit in Game Five, and the now 22 home runs hit in the series is a World Series record, surpassing the previous mark of 21 from the 2002 World Series between the Giants and Angels.
Pitchers and coaches on both teams have noted that the World Series baseballs feel slicker than usual, which is likely contributing to the historic home run rate. Nevertheless, this has provided great entertainment for fans.
- Strategic dilemmas
Postseason baseball dramatically alters the in-game strategies for managers, particularly with pitching decisions. Starting pitchers have a shorter leash and tend to be pulled earlier in the game than during the regular season; relievers can be pulled at the first sign of trouble.
Take Alex Wood. In Game Four, the Dodgers pitcher had a no-hitter through 5 2/3 innings when he gave up a solo shot to George Springer, and Wood was taken out of the game. The bullpens have struggled for both teams, which has surely added stress to both managers as they have had to finagle tricky and high-stress decisions in the late innings.
The World Series illuminates the strategy in baseball, as each decision is made with a World Series ring on the line.
- These two teams are here to stay.
Both teams are young, deep and talented. The Dodgers had the second-best pitching staff in baseball, led by three-time Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw. The Astros had the best offense in the MLB, with likely MVP second baseman Jose Altuve leading the charge. Both teams have youth on their sides, and it would not be shocking to see these two teams meet again in a future World Series.