On Sunday night, Baseball was drunken and bellicose in Houston at the bachelor party, the last game of the World Series where no names could yet be written, signed, and registered as official. It reveled in the end of a very long work year by removing its shirt, downing 25 shots over five hours and committing to a list of hazy memories that included seven home runs, twenty eight hits, eleven walks, scaling the Sam Houston statue, and two errors, careening into blown run leads of 4, 3, 1, and 3 beafore Springr-hic-nowaidihwas Be-Berg-BREAGMNA cAn too waLK …ed it off.
Baseball woke up on Monday morning and Literally The Houston Astros were a game away from winning a World Series.
Then came Halloween, and while fans might have expected flaming semi-truck wheels bouncing down the street, Baseball instead showed up to the party with a haircut, a freshly-shaven face and a tuxedo—the one given to him by his father, who had seen it handed down from his own father. And while, yes, Baseball did nip to the bar in the top of the third for a quick Springer home run, he spent the evening’s remainder dancing a turn with each of the old ladies; they could almost smell the Cracker Jack, made the way they used to make it.
Justin Verlander and Rich Hill emerged from stage left and stage right, each wielding fencing épées, parry, parry, thrust!, the only misstep coming when the stage was tipped slightly upward in the third inning. Each man acquitted himself bravely in the elimination game, Hill for just four and two-thirds innings, Verlander for six.
It during was that sixth inning, fate would have it, that Baseball stood at the dinner table, clinked its glass in a stately fashion, and waited patiently as the guests—across America in bars, restaurants and living rooms—stopped speaking and listened to the prose that was to pour forth from the mouth of the wise old game.
With the score at an elegant 1-0 and the Austin Barnes and Chase Utley on first and second via single and hit-by-pitch, respectively, Chris Taylor stood at the plate. Taylor was cast here in the the starring role of one of Baseball’s favorite frame-ups: the Mark Lemke ("Sides choose back-and-forth until one has chosen the most unlikely World Series hero, then play shall commence"). With no outs, all Taylor needed to do for success was advance the runners into scoring position where they might tie the game on a sacrifice fly or take the lead with a hit.
Instead—swinging hard at the first pitch, and then the second, Taylor took a deep breath—a feat of athleticism impossible for those in the stands—and overcame an 0-2 count to hit the ball to the opposite field for a game-tying double. Now there's that old song. There's that chorus we sing in church. Utley scored the go-ahead run on a Corey Seager sacrifice fly. The gutsy and the unselfish, holding hands and bowing for crowds both granular and global, both mundane and majestic. It was 2-1, and the record spun to click-click-click end.
Baseball checked his watch, a grand old irreplaceable piece given him by his great-uncle who had served under Anderson in Fedala with the third infantry. There was time for one quick one before the short walk back across the neighborhood. The stage tipped again and Joc Pederson gave the Dodgers a seventh-inning insurance run to make it 3-1 Dodgers. The regal old Blue and white and Sandy Koufax grey.
So now we look forward to the crossroads of Game Seven tomorrow, and we are left to wonder what to make of baseball’s stoic old Rich-Hill-curveball-vs.-Justin-Verlander-fastball waltz on Tuesday night, so soon on the heels of its hallucinogen-addled visions of swinging a bat made of snakes at a ball made of francium as Def Leppard covered Die Antwoord on Sunday night. Is this sport the wild friend that draws in a million new friends in one night, simply nursing a hangover by hiding behind good behavior? Or is it the regal and handsome charmer from an advert for luxury sedans?
Will Game Seven be another pitcher's duel, each manager out-strategizing the other until one of the game's earliest old friends takes home another pennant for its trophy case?
Or are Literally the Houston Astros really going to win the World Series?