Baseball fans have to feel blessed that we've had gripping games to fill our October nights during this pandemic and the immense uncertainty about our future as a republic. It was only the third time since MLB went to seven-game championship series that both leagues came down to Game 7 dramas.
For six innings, the Braves-Dodgers NLCS final game looked like a classic in the making. Braves took early lead, Dodgers tied it in the third on clutch two-out single by young catcher Will Smith from University of Louisville.
To me Smith was one of the unsung heroes of the Dodgers victory. He hit a game-turning three-run homer against Braves southpaw reliever Will Smith to win a previous game.
It was quickly announced that it was the first time in the playoffs that a player hit a homer against a pitcher with the same name. What I want to know: WHEN DID IT HAPPEN IN THE REGULAR SEASON? No word at press time.
Smith also made the key defensive play thwarting a big Braves rally when they gained the lead again. He ran Dansby Swanson back to third base when he broke too soon for the plate on a grounder to third. Justin Turner made a great tag on Swanson heading home and then threw out young Austin Riley who delayed going to third from second.
The Dodger bullpen then shut down the Braves totally for the rest of the game. You just knew that sooner or later they would score and that they did on a Cody Bellinger home run
in the bottom of the 7th.
A 2018 NL MVP, Bellinger has not had a good year but if he gets on a hot streak that Dodger lineup will be hard to beat. But don't count out the newly crowned AL titleists Tampa Bay Rays.
Rays fans told me that I wouldn't jinx them by my ode last week to their beating the Yankees. It allowed us to celebrate YED, Yankee Elimination Day, that special holiday that should but doesn't teach humility to the outrageous entitlement of too many Yankee fans.
The Houston Astros under Dusty Baker's quietly passionate leadership did throw a major scare into Tampa Bay. They won three close games in a row after losing the first three.
But a first inning home run by Randy Arozarena, the sensation from Cuba who now lives in Mexico, gave the Rays a two-run lead in the first inning.
Talk about the little things that determine close games. The TV camera caught Houston starter Lance McCullers Jr. hesitating before he threw the fateful pitch to Arozarena.
He kept the team in the game afterwards, giving up just a solo homer to another unsung star catcher Mike Zunino.
But former Astro and Pirate Charlie Morton was on his game and pitched nearly flawlessly.
In this age of the annoying mantra, "Don't dare let a pitcher go through a lineup three times", Morton left with two on and two out in top of sixth after only 66 pitches. But the Rays bullpen sealed the deal in the 4-2 victory.
The odds-makers and TV people love LA and Hollywood and the Dodgers certainly have a lot to prove after winning eight NL West division titles in a row with no World Series wins.
But I'll be rooting for the Rays and their scrappy defense and their "Stable of Horses" in the bullpen who are seemingly interchangeable. Just hope Randy A. gets more help at bat.
Always remember not only "Take it easy but take it!" but also, "The only reason to play baseball is to keep winter away."