2017-10-26 / Sports

Astros and Dodgers in the World Series

BASEBALL’S BEST
By LAMAR GARRARD: baseball historian

“Baseball? It’s a just a game as simple as a ball and a bat. Yet as complex as the American spirit it symbolizes. It’s a sport, business, and sometimes even a religion.” – Ernie Harwell, Washington, Georgia native, baseball announcer, Baseball Hall of Fame Ford C. Frick award winner.

As you read this, the Series should be well under way with two games having been played. After an exciting few weeks of league playoffs we now have the two contenders for the most coveted prize in baseball, a world championship.

Looking back at the playoffs, the Dodgers would not be denied as they dominated and silenced the bats of last years champions the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs had a great year, but when it came to the finals, their engine sort of ran off the tracks. Errors and weak pitching gave way to the hot bats of the Dodgers and the near perfect pitching of Clayton Kershaw.

It looked like the Yankees would overtake the Astros, but fine pitching by the Astros’ Justin Verlander was a big factor in the New Yorkers demise. The Yankees bats cooled off in the last two games as the Houstonians continued to hit better and better.

Watching the Astro’s MVP candidate, second baseman Jose Altuve, play with reckless abandon is a treat for any baseball fan. This guy gives it 200 percent as evidenced by his 2017 batting average of .346 and his 24 home runs. He batted right at .400 for all of the playoffs and made some spectacular defensive plays. His hitting was like a machine in that he got hit after hit after hit mixed with timely home runs.

It would be cool to see Astro manager A.J. Hinch ring up the first World Series victory in the team’s history. Although the Dodgers are favored to win on paper, the Texas team has to be a sentimental favorite. After all, four years ago they were known as the team in the cellar and a team that could not win, putting together several 100 loss seasons. For a city that has endured so much pain and devastation from the recent hurricane, Houston could use a boost in the city’s morale and psyche.

The L. A. Dodgers have not won since Tommy Lasorda’s team clinched a 5-4 game victory over the Oakland A’s in 1988. It has been 29 long years since Kirk Gibson hit his game-winning home run and the television captured him limping around the bases on his bad knees and torn hamstring. Dodger pitcher Orel Hershiser was untouchable in the series and won games two and five. If the $6 million-a-year outfielder Yasil Puig can stop sticking out his tongue at the cameras and just play ball, anything can happen. It looks like a great match up and like I have said, one team could sweep it four in a row or it could go the full seven games like it has so many times in the past.

As a side note, Milledge Murray and I will present a program on Ty Cobb at the main Augusta Library on Telfair Street at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, November 1. We will also be talking about the Cobb memorabilia that is on exhibit.

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