Take Me Out To The October Ballgame

Just in time for Halloween, baseball season finally concluded on October 30th with the Washington Nationals winning Game 7 of the World Series. Personally, I don’t think of the end of October as baseball time; I’m more focused on SEC football at this point. Nevertheless, I tuned in to the Fall Classic to watch the best of the AL BAT-tle the best of the NL. I also had a BALL gathering information on the Series and its participants.

After a regular season of 162 games which began on March 20th, it all came down to a winner-take-all seventh game in the World Series. While a game 7 is exciting, it isn’t all that uncommon. A little over a third of the World Series match-ups have come down to a decisive game 7. In fact, a game seven was required when the Astros beat the Dodgers to win the 2017 World Series..

Speaking of sevens, the officiating crew for this year’s World Series consisted of seven umps. What? You could only count six on the field? Yup. There were only six present at the game live and in person. Number seven wasn’t even at the ballpark. He was the replay official assigned to MLB’s New York office. Well, that’s boring to sit in front of a monitor nowhere near the baseball stadium.

This year’s World Series was the 115th World Series to have been played. The American League’s Houston Astros were heavy favorites, having attained the best record in baseball this year. Best is, of course a relative term. The Astros’ 107-55 won-loss record was only a .660 winning percentage. That kind of percentage would be a failing grade on a school test, but hey, this is sports. The National League’s Washington Nationals, who only made it to the playoffs as a wild card team, logged a 93-69 win-loss record, a winning percentage of a mere .574.

Pitted against each other in the role of skipper for the Series were two former Major League Baseball players. Houston’s A.J. Hinch, a catcher in his prior MLB playing career, opposed Washington’s Dave Martinez, who was a catcher in his playing days. Hinch, with a degree in psychology from Stanford, had the educational edge since baseball is such a game of strategy and a thinking man’s game. Since his team lost, perhaps Hinch should consider pursuing a master’s.

The first game of the 2019 World Series was played at Minute Maid Park in downtown Houston. The Astros secured home field advantage by being the pennant winner with the better regular season record. And just how many of the 41,168 seats in Minute Maid Park were filled with fans imbibing fruit juice? Somehow I think the majority were washing down their ballpark franks with beer rather than lemonade. The sea of orange seen in the stands was not orange juice but Astros’ fans sporting their team’s color.

After two games in Houston, the World Series action switched to our nation’s capital. Nationals Park, situated in the southeast quadrant of Washington, D.C., holds slightly more fans than does Minute Maid Park–171 to be exact. Home field was no advantage in this World Series though. In fact, the home team lost every single game of this series. Home wasn’t home, sweet home.

Even if you aren’t a sports fan and don’t care about the action on the field, people watching was fun during the World Series. What crazy get-ups were rabid fans wearing to draw the camera’s attention? Take, for example, the man who had his face painted like a giant baseball. There was also ne wearing a colorful ASTROnaut helmet. Nowhere to be seen was Houston Astros’ pitcher Justin Verlander’s wife a/k/a Kate Upton. Maybe she was cheering her hubby on incognito.

Even the people on the field were fun to observe. What was up with all that facial hair on the players? Marge Schott (former Cincinnati Reds’ owner who required Reds players to be clean-shaven) must have been turning over in her grave. Every time Anthony Rendon came up to bat I had a strong urge to go find a pair of scissors to trim that long hair on his chinny, chin chin. Not sporting facial hair was young Nationals outfielder Juan Soto. Soto not only had the thrill of playing in a World Series, but he got to play in a World Series game on his 21st birthday–October 25, 2019. Less thrilling was the fact that his team lost the game.

To the victor go the spoils. What are the spoils in the World Series? First of all, the winners get to brag that they are the best of the best. Second, they get a big payout; victors have earned a bonus just shy of $400,000 for winning the World Series. Of course, no players have to live off of food stamps playing professional baseball; the average baseball player earned a salary of approximately $4,000,000 in 2015. And then there’s some bling–a World Series Ring. Ever since the 1922 World Series, players on the winning team have each been gifted with a ring. Similar to a class ring, a World Series ring typically has a large stone with the team name and logo. In some instances, the ring is inscribed with the player’s name and number. Every MLB player wants to put a ring on it–his own finger.

The winning team receives the Commissioner’s Trophy. It is the only championship trophy of five major sports in North America not named for a person. (The NFL has the Vince Lombardi Trophy, and the NHL has the Stanley Cup.) Fortunately, the trophy looks way better than its name. At 24″ tall and 30 lbs. in weight, the award is made of sterling silver. Featured on the trophy are 30 gold-plated flags, one for each Major League team. Below the flags is a silver baseball covered with latitude and longitude lines, symbolizing the world. A new trophy is made each year, so the recipient doesn’t have to cough it up a year later to the winner of the next World Series.

The baseball season’s now officially over, but the party continues for the Washington Nationals, the World Series Champs. While each player on the winning team can truthfully say, “Baseball’s been very, very good to me,” we fans can all say that this year’s World Series, one that came down to the wire was very, very good to watch even if we had to wait until the end of October to see it.

JUST WONDER-ing:

Did you watch the World Series? If so, for which team were you rooting? Is the baseball season too long? Do you agree with the statement that baseball is a thinking man’s game?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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