This has not been a particularly tense World Series. There’s been a common thread in the last five games of the series: a team takes the lead, then they make the lead bigger, then they make the lead biggest, then everyone shows up again tomorrow.
There have obviously been fun moments — the seventh inning last night stands out — but since Game 1, there hasn’t been an iota of ninth inning drama, no late inning heroics that upend expectations, nothing to make fans cheer in the late innings rather than quietly shuffle out in a resigned stupor.
That doesn’t have to be this World Series’s legacy, though. We know that because of 2014.
People remember the 2014 World Series as a great, dramatic series — it crushed the poll of the most dramatic Giants World Series of the century — even though, on a game by game basis, it wasn’t exciting. Only two games were competitive after the 7th inning, and just Game 4 featured a post-second inning lead change (a few other games were briefly tied, only for the team that had been leading to retake the lead and eventually win the game).
But that’s not what we remember, is it?
We remember Madison Bumgarner for five innings with the title on the line, and Joe Panik and Brandon Crawford turning a miraculous double play, and Madison Bumgarner shutting down the Royals, and Gregor Blanco and Juan Perez kicking the ball around when it was extremely not cool of them to do that, and Madison Bumgarner Madison Bumgarnering Madison Bumgarnerly.
That one game changed the identity of that Series from teams swapping boring blowouts to The Madison Bumgarner Series. His first two starts were part of that too, of course, but without a five inning save in Game 7, people would put him in the category of 2003 Josh Beckett instead of Untouchable World Series God Madison Bumgarner.
And it could happen again this year. The last World Series Game 7 we got was in 2017, and that one was kinda a dud, except for the part where the Astros ground the Dodgers’ bones into a fine powder and snorted it on the mound at Chavez Ravine. The year before that, the Cubs beat the Indians 8-7 in a stone classic 10-inning Game 7 that really stole some of the Giants’ thunder from having just played a great one two years earlier.
There’s no reason Game 7 has to follow the same script as the rest of the series. 2017’s Game 7 was boring, despite the Dodgers and Astros having played multiple wildly entertaining games. 2016’s and 2014’s were riveting, and those series both had their share of clunkers. The 2019 World Series has been just about devoid of late inning dramatics. Let’s hope that tonight’s game is one for the ages.