As I write this piece on Tuesday afternoon, Game 6 of the Major League Baseball World Series is looming this evening. The wild rollercoaster of a season may come to an end with a Los Angeles Dodgers’ victory. The strange, turbulent, 60-game season will have come to a close. While inevitable bleak storylines loom — like massive layoffs — there’s still a lot to glean from this season. Let’s take this World Series as a reminder of what this sport is.
1. Small market teams can compete
While I don’t expect to see small market competitors year-in and year-out, the Tampa Bay Rays have once again proven that small markets can be competitive. As you recall, the Rays, after a rebrand, found themselves in the World Series back in 2008, but couldn’t quite get the job done. Now, in 2020, they’re trying to get it right this time around. Their odds are unfavorable, but here’s to the little man. The Kansas City Royals got it done in 2015, maybe Tampa can, too.
2. Randy Arozarena is baseball
Prior to the World Series and American League Championship Series, it’s likely that many casual fans had never heard Arozarena’s name. But can you blame them? Before the updated rankings come out, he’s currently Tampa’s 19th best rated prospect. But in a massive postseason, he’s been dominant, hitting .370 with an OPS of 1.247, and nine home runs. Add in the fact that he now has the most postseason hits ever, albeit in an extended postseason, and the baseball world now knows his name.
3. Clayton Kershaw is good
This seems like something I shouldn’t have to say, but Kershaw has his giant share of postseason detractors. In his age 32 season, the all-time great is finally exorcising some of those October demons, putting many of his critics to bed. This postseason, he’s 4-1 with a 2.93 ERA over 30.2 innings. If the Dodgers hang on to win the whole thing, it will be in no small part to Kershaw’s work on the mound.
4. Baseball is fun
Sports simply don’t get much more exciting than Game 4 of this year’s World Series. It was a tremendous back-and-forth tilt which eventually saw Tampa walk it off. It was storybook stuff. With the Dodgers going full Bad News Bears in the bottom of the ninth, the Rays stole a game. Kenley Jansen simply didn’t have the right stuff to put away Tampa for good in that game, and it ultimately culminated in what would be ruled an error by center fielder Chris Taylor, as well as catcher Will Smith, allowing Arozarena to knot the series up at 2-2.
Then, Manuel Margot’s attempt to steal home against Kershaw in Game 5 was nothing short of electric. It’s a shame he didn’t manage to get in because that’s all we’d be talking about in the moments leading up to Game 6. And who knows, if he’d have gotten in, maybe Tampa Bay would be leading the series going into Tuesday evening. I understand those that take issue with Margot’s aggression, but it was excitement in a position that looked like the Rays might not come away with anything. I’m here for that.
5. The blue bloods are back
This isn’t necessarily the wrap many of us want, but this World Series is going to show that eventually the blue bloods of the sport come around to reign supreme once again. The Dodgers haven’t won a World Series since 1988 and, sure, they’ve had a lot of non-title success, but that’s only nine years more recent than the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 1979 title. Baseball can be a tough sport to crack and despite the many Dodger attempts since ‘88, they haven’t been able to do it. Until now. The trophy is headed to Tinseltown.