The mood was tense, the crowd was hushed, and Corey Seager stepped to the plate. Up above around him, fans watched as this man – this young, talented player who so embodied the 2017 Dodgers – stood at the plate with the weight of millions on his shoulders.
The pitcher – Charlie Morton, a journeyman starter who had bounced around from team to team, only to find a home with the Houston Astros, pitching in his first World Series – stood, watching Seager. He delivered the pitch. Corey Seager swung. He grounded out to second baseman Jose Altuve. Astros win.
For the Los Angeles Dodgers, who had not won a World Series in 29 years, this was the end of a long season. It was a season in which they won 104 games, the most in MLB; blew past the surging Arizona Diamondbacks and reigning champs, the Chicago Cubs; played six thrilling games in the World Series, each more exciting than the last; only to vanish, without even a whimper, in the final and decisive Game Seven.
They had overcome every adversary. A stumbling start to the season, the Dodgers lost their best pitcher, Clayton Kershaw for nearly a month. The Dodgers also overcame a rough stretch towards the end of the season that saw them lose 15 out of 16 games, a bullpen collapse in the World Series. Yet, despite it all, they lost.
One of the most infuriating parts of the Series came in Game 3, where Yu Darvish, the Japanese phenom who had been so effective prior, imploded, giving up a home run to Yuli Gurriel, the 33 year old rookie. The rookie then in turn promptly pulled at his eyes to make them look slanted and yelled chinito, a Spanish term meaning “little Chinese boy.”
The response on social media was instant and scathing, berating Gurriel for his actions and calling for his immediate suspension. MLB, apparently putting ratings above punishing a player for a racist gesture, instead dealt a meaningless 5-game suspension starting at the beginning of the 2018 season.
The Dodgers overcame that too, however, fighting back in Game 4 and 6 to tie the series at two and three games, respectively. They overcame their paranoid manager, Dave Roberts. They overcame their tired bullpen, which was shaky from overuse. They gave us one of the most entertaining World Series of all time, a Series that included the most home runs in its history. All to fail in the end, when it mattered most.
Although it may just be considered a game, to some, it was a game that meant life or death and gave an entire city national recognition. For those who were playing and those who were watching, it was a crushing blow and a cruel reminder that sometimes the game will end badly. But, remaining positive, there is always next year and the next World Series to work towards.