I deliver this post with a “heavy heart.”
But not a heavy heart.
(The crucial distinction to be clarified shortly.)
Last night – as of this writing – the Los Angeles Dodgers lost the decisive seventh game of the World Series 5-1 to the Houston Astros, handing the Astros the championship, four games to three.
In this morning’s newspaper, there was a full-page picture of Dodgers third-baseman Justin Turner getting hit by a pitch, the second time he was hit, a startling four Dodger hit batsmen, plunked by Astros Game 7 pitchers. (They must have thought they were playing Dodge Ball.)
The revealing caption below the photo of the grimacing Turner (replacing the hoped-for celebratory “dog pile” on the Dodger Stadium pitcher’s mound):
Looking for an explanatory scapegoat, easily located, as hugely ineffective Dodger starting pitcher Yu Darvish surrendered the five Astros runs in less than two innings, the ubiquitous L.A. Times “Pun Guy” – L.A. Times Editor: “There was a budget squeeze. We could keep an investigative reporter or the ‘Pun Guy.’ We kept the “Pun Guy.” – assigned Darvish culpability for the Dodgers defeat with the headlining quip:
“It Had To Be Yu.”
But it wasn’t just him. Although… geez.
After falling behind 5-0 in the first two innings, the Dodgers had numerous chances to catch up, and blew all but one of them – a one-run “answer” later in the game – and they were unable to cash in further on that one.
If Game 7 had been “scored by rounds” like in boxing, the Astros capturing the first two rounds, the Dodgers eking out a next seven-inning advantage: Dodgers win ultimately “on points.”
Unfortunately, it’s not boxing.
Where, after a glorious 104-win season, the “Comeback Kid” Dodgers, in do-or-die “Crunch Time”, were unable to rise successfully to the occasion. Where a shoo-in “Rookie of the Year” who hit 39 home runs during the regular season struck out 17 times in 28 World Series at-bats. Where a four-time All-Star pitcher performed atrociously in both his World Series appearances.
“Yu! Stay away from that ritual dagger! There is always next season!”
And therein lies my message – the thing that’s uniquely wonderful about sports.
The Dodgers loss?
It was “agonizing.”
But not agonizing.
It was “heartbreaking.”
But not heartbreaking.
It was “life and death.”
But not life and death.
It’s critical real life,
Lived entirely in metaphor.
It matters desperately.
But at the same time…
Hope may have died at Dodger Stadium last night.
But no one actually succumbed.
With every Super Bowl, Stanley Cup, NBA Championship and World Series, the stinging disappointment of a loss is offset by that sobering awareness.
There are worse things than the Dodgers losing the 2017 World Series.
It could have been the Blue Jays.