The World Series starts tonight, and for the 28th consecutive year, the teams are the Not Dodgers facing off against the Not Dodgers. And since last year I did this post, which was delightful to every right-minded person in the world, I figured, hey, what could be more fun than doing a new version of it for this, the year 2016? Nothing! Nothing could be more fun.
Last year I also did this post before the playoffs started, which could be relevant to your interests as well. Shameless plug? Shameless plug! Anyway, let’s get started.
Game 1, Javier Baez steals home
Oh, this is beautiful. Look first at how out he should have been. He was at least 30 feet down the line with his momentum going to the plate. That’s Out City. He rented a condo in Outville and bought some furniture and put up Halloween decorations. He invested his time and money into the governance of the unincorporated village of Out and settled in for the long haul. Then he was like, "lol I could probably fool Carlos Ruiz with a stutter step" and it worked! God, that was great. Even that wouldn’t have mattered if Ruiz had made a good throw to third, which he didn’t, and Baez was able to slide safely in under the tag.
AJ Ellis would have thrown him out, you know. Very strong defensive catcher, that AJ Ellis. Too bad the Dodgers left him off the NLCS roster.
Game 1, Miguel Montero grand slam
This was, in many ways, the perfect Cubs-Dodgers NLCS game. The Cubs outplayed the Dodgers through 7 innings, carrying a 3-1 lead into the 8th behind a fantastic Jon Lester start, some timely hitting against Kenta Maeda, and a hilarious Javier Baez steal of home (see above). But then, in the top of the 8th, the Dodgers staged a comeback. Greatest Baseball Player of All Time Andrew Toles singled, Grossest Baseball Player in His Own Immediate Vicinity Chase Utley walked, and Oh God It’s Justin Turner Again singled to load the bases. In came Actual Goblin Aroldis Chapman, who blew the lead. Momentum was on the Dodgers’ side. They’d tied the game against one of the greats in the game, and things were looking up.
Then Miguel Montero hit a pinch hit grand slam in the bottom of the inning. On the next pitch, Dexter Fowler homered too, which was fun, but it doesn’t compare. This was wondrous.
Game 4, Addison Russell home run
The Cubs, known to all as the greatest team in the history of baseball, came into this game having been shut out in two straight games. Their offense was sputtering, the Dodgers had a 2-1 series lead, and they needed something to spark them. The Cubs had already Padresed their way to two runs in the inning behind a bunt single, a ducksnort, an actual line drive hit, and a groundout, but they needed something more than that. They needed Addison Russell to homer to right-center field at night in Dodger Stadium. It’s a good thing their needs were so specific. Otherwise, this could have been chaos.
This is the Statcast video instead of the normal one because the normal one isn’t currently available for embedding, which sure makes a lot of sense and we can all see how that protects the integrity of the online content provided to us by Major League Baseball.
Game 5, Jon Lester
Lester hasn’t been getting as much press for it as he could, probably because he hasn’t had any surprise relief appearances (yet!), but he’s been spectacular this postseason, starting 3 games and giving up 2 runs total in them. In this one, he was just better than the Dodgers. I like it when baseball players are better than the Dodgers. I liked this start. Good start.
Game 5, Javier Baez double
A 5-1 lead is a solid lead, but the game’s not over. Especially with Aroldis Chapman being shaky in the playoffs, which he was in Game 3 against the Giants, he was in Game 1 against the Dodgers, and he would end up being in the 9th inning in this game, 5-1, while things look dim, is still emphatically a game. 8-1 isn’t. 8-1 is done. 8-1 is over.
I mean, the Giants bullpen could blow it, obvs, but for just about any other team, 8-1 is over. The Cubs were any other team. This one ended right here.
Game 6, Kyle Hendricks
It would have been easy for the Cubs to lose this game in classic Cubs fashion, going up against the best pitcher on the planet in an elimination game. It was apparently easier for Kyle Hendricks to go 7.1 scoreless innings.
Game 6, Clayton Kershaw
Look, I genuinely like Clayton Kershaw. He seems like an excellent person and he’s awe inspiring to watch on the mound and he deserves all of the success he has earned in his professional career.
This postseason was also a Kershaw gem and a Game 7 Dodgers win away from being the Clayton Kershaw Postseason. It doesn’t really matter that his start in Game 1 of the NLDS wasn’t very good, because the team won, his start in Game 4 was fantastic, and he got the save in Game 5. He pitched a masterpiece in Game 2 of the NLCS and you could read the articles. You, in fact, could just copy and paste the Madison Bumgarner articles from two years ago, replace his name with Kershaw’s, and no one would ever really know the difference.
I would not have enjoyed that. I would prefer the Dodgers to never have nice things, but there’s something to be said for their having nothing but nice things, but always things that aren’t quite nice enough. "MOM," says the Dodgers at Christmas. "This 700 piece starting rotation set is going to be SO COOL. I HAVE TO have it, Mom! I have to!" But it never fills the championship-sized hole in his heart. You can’t buy a father who cares, Dodgers. You can’t buy chemistry.