For 5 hours last night, Americans had the opportunity to forget about politics.
The greatest baseball game ever played was on TV, you see. Game 5 of the 2017 World Series between the Dodgers of Los Angeles and the Astros of Houston was one for the record books. And, with the exception of a few former presidents with hometown ties to one of the teams tossing out the first pitch, there was nothing of Washington, or Trump, or Clinton, or Russia to be had.
It was heaven.
One of the greatest pitchers to ever climb the hill, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ phenom Clayton Kershaw, faced what is very likely the best murderers’ row of hitters ever to dig in at the plate in the 2017 Houston Astros. But don’t take my word for it:
Where to begin? Inside a pile of humanity, of grown men caked with dirt and sodden with sweat and brimming with life all enveloping a 23-year-old and screaming, “You’ve gotta be kidding me!” Alex Bregman, the hero of a Sunday night that bled into a Monday morning, always says that, when it’s appropriate and when it isn’t. Here, it was apt. Because for the previous 5 hours, 17 minutes, for 417 pitches, for 25 runs and seven home runs and innumerable tachycardic episodes, the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers turned their fifth meeting this World Series into an unrelenting, dizzying colossus of a baseball game…
…it might be better to begin by allowing Game 5’s oddities to reinforce the improbability of a single night stitching together so many indelible moments. There were the 25 runs scored in a game started by two Cy Young Award winners. And the seven home runs, four of which tied the game or changed the lead, bringing the series total to 22, a new World Series record. And speaking of, never had a World Series game featured a trio of three-run home runs, a feat even if the ball is, as so many believe, juiced. Nor had the World Series witnessed a team come back twice from at least a three-run deficit like the Astros since 1993, when Toronto beat Philadelphia, 15-14, in the only other game among the 113-year history of the World Series that resembled this.
That’s from a professional sports writer who watches baseball games from Spring to Fall, nearly every day. He’s as awestruck as the rest of us.
What’s missing from his coverage? With the exception of the “are the balls juiced?” controversy, what’s missing is politics. Of any kind. Any mention of what the players think about the national anthem or what’s happening in post-hurricane Puerto Rico or whether or not the president should have said what he said is gloriously and blissfully non-existent.
Not to say these men don’t have opinions on those things. They just don’t bring them onto the field.
Instead, fans are treated to a display of pure physical effort from men playing their hearts out as they must have when they were children first falling in love with the game.
And it’s easy to forget some of them are not much older than kids and can make stupid mistakes, like the controversy over Astros Yuli Gurriel making a gesture some thought racially insensitive at Dodgers’ pitcher Yu Darvish. (Gurriel has been reprimanded and will take his suspension during the 2018 season.)
But even that was cleared up quickly by Darvish, who prefers to let bygones be bygones, probably to maintain his focus on the game.
It’s been incredible to see; and tomorrow’s game 6 back in LA will be just as fun and free. Because people can put aside their worries about the world for a few hours and appreciate competition without malice. Or, as Resurgent writer Jesse Kelly put it on Twitter:
How great is sports when it's an escape from politics instead of a painful reminder? #WorldSeries
— Jesse Kelly (@JesseKellyDC) October 30, 2017
The NFL, which found it’s Sunday Night Football matchup between Pittsburgh and Detroit blown away in the ratings by the World Series game last night, should take the lesson.