The urge after any postseason is over is to draw some overarching narrative out of it. To learn what it means to be a champion in that particular sport in that particular era, or what it means for that sport in general. I’m sure if MLB had any inkling to discover what Team Cheaters vs. Team White Flight means, it wouldn’t like it. But they don’t, so we don’t have to worry about them learning the wrong lessons at least. I guess.
My mind is all over the place. It’s hard to be happy about a Braves organization and fanbase that didn’t just ignore the calls and reasons for their racist name, logo, and chant being wrong, ignorant, and hateful, but actually acknowledged that they heard it all, couldn’t argue with it, and then did it all anyway to spite anyone who pointed it out. I suppose that’s a pretty big portion of America these days. Not just accepting you’re an asshole, nor not apologizing for being an asshole, but using it as an excuse to be an even bigger asshole. Combine that with playing in a taxpayer-funded stadium in a suburb specifically designed to keep Black people away….well, America’s pastime.
But I suppose that isn’t fair to Atlanta’s players, who had nothing to do with that and went on a pretty dominant run, without their best player, to claim the team’s first World Series in 26 years. Perhaps now we won’t remember Atlanta as the franchise that squandered so many chances, or at least not as much.
Still, everyone wants to point to their acquisitions of Jorge Soler, Joc Pederson, and Eddie Rosario midseason when Ronald Acuna Jr. went down, and Marcel Ozuna was revealed to be a ghoul. And it’s something. Except it really shouldn’t be such an outlier. Teams trying to win during the season used to be kind of the norm, and there used to be only a handful of teams that just gave it up in July. Not so much anymore. And if GM Alex Anthopoulos tells you he knew that Jorge Soler would go on to be World Series MVP, and Rosario NLCS MVP, he’s lying through his teeth. Sometimes baseball is catching lightning in a bottle, and nothing anyone could repeat.
Some will try to find solace in the Astros losing their second consecutive World Series, and use it as proof that cheaters never prosper and that their accomplishments are tarnished. Except they’ve been to two of the last three World Series, and missed out on the other by a game, as well as five straight trips to the ALCS. That’s a stretch that basically every fanbase, save the Dodgers, Atlanta and maybe the Nationals, would swap for. What exactly is the lesson they’re going to learn?
Or maybe it was just the cloud hanging over it, that we don’t know when next season will start, as there will almost certainly be a lockout come December. Baseball could use a reset that a work stoppage would provide an opportunity for, except that would involve both sides working together. What we are more likely to get is both sides doing their best to make the other look like swamp people, which will only turn more people off. Even the NHL in 2005 was able to use a lockout to reset the game on the ice to be more consumer friendly.
But I don’t want to just shit in everyone’s cereal after such a night. So I’ll say that I’ve loved Jorge Soler since the moment he was called up to the Cubs in 2014. He hit this homer in August 2014, at a time in my life when I needed absolutely anything to pick me out of the worst doldrums possible. And that moment is when I knew the next few years of being a Cubs fan would be very different. To watch him do it again was a treat.
In a series that had far too many baseball observers bitching about the death of starting pitchers without allowing for the fact that both teams had two starters on the shelf, Max Fried gave the kind of performance they were longing for. I don’t know if that’s what baseball is “supposed” to look like, as sports evolve and roles change. People just like it because it’s what they remember. But it was fun to watch.
Freddie Freeman seems like a genuinely good guy who had to slog through a lot of losses to get here. Good for him.
I want anything good for Mallory Pugh, so having her boyfriend get a ring is cool, too.
Mostly I’m just relieved it’s over, not just because I don’t have to think about all the problems, but because I still have some hope, however misguided, that this can be a point where MLB changes for the better. It’s not much to hang onto, but it’s something.