Fans waited 29 years for the Dodgers to return to the World Series, but the Houston Astros proved too strong
As a kid, I looked forward to playoff baseball every year. However, being a lifelong Dodger fan, there are always mixed emotions about the MLB postseason. On one hand, you’re hopeful that this year will be the year the Dodgers bring a championship to Los Angeles. After all, it’s been 29 years since that momentous game one of the 1988 World Series at Chavez Ravine. On the other hand, Dodger fans are skeptical about what the Dodgers can accomplish. They have won the National Western Division five straight years in a row, yet have failed to bring a title to the city of Los Angeles.
Remember when Kirk Gibson scored a walk-off homerun to the right field pavilion off the Oakland A’s closer Dennis Eckersley? I’ve grown up watching that homerun on YouTube and hearing legendary broadcaster Vin Scully say, “In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened!”
However, this year marked a milestone many Dodger fans believed to be impossible. When Dodger shortstop Charlie Culberson caught the last out of the National League Championship Series, it was the first time that the Dodgers had made it to the World Series since 1988.
At the time, it felt like the Dodgers had already won the World Series. As a millennial, I have never witnessed the Dodger Stadium grass spray-painted with the World Series logo. However, throughout all the celebration and joy, I knew that the Dodgers still had four games to win, and they would have to do it against the second-best team in the league: the Houston Astros.
The 2017 World Series would turn out to be one for the ages. It was one of the rare instances in sports where the two teams with the best records throughout the regular season (Dodgers 104-58, Astros 101-61) faced off in the World Series. Most baseball fans knew that in a ‘best of seven’ World Series, the Astros and Dodgers weren’t going to give in.
“This series was destined to go seven [games] pretty much the whole time,” Astros pitcher Lance McCullers said in his pregame press conference.
Indeed it did, as momentum constantly shifted after every game. In game one, Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw was flawless, striking out 11 batters and leading his team to victory. Astros outfielder Marwin Gonzalez hit a game-tying homerun in the ninth inning of game two, helping the Astros eventually win 7-6. Game two set a World Series record for the most homeruns hit in one game, with eight.
“I almost had a heart attack on 10 different occasions throughout the course of the World Series. I am not even a big baseball fan, but it was amazing,” junior business major Raymond Luna said.
The series than moved to Houston, where the Astros would win two out of the three games played at home, including an insane 13-12 win in game five. The Dodgers would have their backs against the wall going into game six, down three games to two. In front of 56,000 fans at Dodger Stadium, the Dodgers then pulled out a 3-1 win in game six, forcing a decisive winner-take-all game seven.
The Dodgers were on the cusp of bringing home a championship for the first time in 29 years. However, Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish gave up two runs in the first inning, and three runs in the second inning of game seven. The Dodgers offense failed to sustain any type of threat of offensively, and eventually lost 5-1.
It was a dreadful feeling watching the Astros celebrate at Dodger Stadium. I instantly thought of how many times the Dodgers let the Series slip through their fingers, and I was heartbroken.
But after the game ended, they showed a clip of Astros fans celebrating in Houston and literally crying tears of happiness.
Only nine weeks removed from Hurricane Harvey, the city of Houston has slowly started to rise again. Thousands of homes left in ruins and billions of dollars in damages have left the greater Houston area devastated. As the camera panned through fans celebrating the World Series, you could feel the delight the Astros had brought them. Sports is often considered a vessel for people to escape from everyday reality. Although I was distraught and heartbroken, I couldn’t be happier for the people of Houston.
“I was rooting for the Astros because of what happened with Hurricane Harvey,” sophomore theology major Tyler Dawn said “Throughout the series, you saw the people of Houston rally around their team. This was more than baseball.”
Sports talk radio in LA has been quite somber since game seven of the World Series. As Dodger fans reflect on this past season, it’s difficult to digest the fact that we have to wait five months until the 2018 season. The idea of being the 2017 World Champions felt so tangible for Dodger fans, yet the Astros will be parading their win through the streets of Houston.
Maybe the 30-year anniversary of the 1988 championship will be our year, Dodger fans.