ARLINGTON, Texas – Get used to it. The Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves, who will play a win in Game 7 on Sunday for the privilege of moving to the World Series, are definitely here again. It may not be next year, or next year, or even the year after that, describing at once the diversity of baseball and the excellence inherent in both teams, stacked sufficiently to investigate the three years on the road and still peacock about their chance of success.
This obvious is evident in the National League Championship Series, which is not necessarily a series for history books. The Dodgers̵7; 3-1 victory over the Braves on Saturday at Globe Life Field even though the series is the closest the NLCS has to offer in a tight game. However, in each is a glimpse into why these teams are so good and why interactions, no matter how difficult, should be expected.
Translating that into a Game 7 to keep in mind is impossible to predict. Game 7 is a rare gift to taste, and the fact that baseball offers its minions two of them in two days should do even the most terrifying opening, annoying strike, annoying analytics hating buzzkill.
This one will determine the opponent in the World Series of the Tampa Bay Rays, who avoided a historic fall in the American League Championship Series and defeated the Houston Astros in their Game 7 on Saturday night. Whichever team represents the NL, it will be against the formation of an organizational organization, the development of a premium player – a dispute between teams running in enviable ways throughout the game.
Dodgers are here, and will remain in this stratum, for so many reasons. They draft and develop players better than any organization. They spend more money than others. They balance the main goal of chasing championships with the necessary discipline to build sustainability. The Dodgers are the worst nightmare of all: smart, talented, rich, patient, hungry.
Even then, the playoffs – and these playoffs in particular, with no day off – require more than the Dodgers have to walk through Game 7 with self-assurance. Their starting pitcher was … well, manager Dave Roberts said he wasn’t sure, which is probably not true, because once Game 6 is over the Dodgers know exactly what they have. They can join Tony Gonsolin, the rookie who was knocked out in Game 2, or with Julio Urias, their Game 3 starter who could also be a firefighter in the late entry, or with Brusdar Graterol, their 100 mph-sinkerballing right hand that will be as valuable as the last entry. Clayton Kershaw, their former Ace, who will work the two-day break? Probably not, but he will go to the bullpen, as he did in Game 6, ready to leave.
“We’re not done yet,” Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner said. “We still have a lot to do. We’ve got a lot [Sunday]. We will prepare and enter and fight for each pitch and find a way to win a ballgame. “
The Braves are not as fat as a pocket like the Dodgers, and their development pipeline is not overflowing with so much talent, and what is on their big league list is scary. These are Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies, signed for cheap and small contracts. This is Cristian Pache roaming center field with the speed, accuracy and agility of a drone. Mike Soroka, when he returned from his torn Achilles, and it was Max Fried, and Ian Anderson, who entered these playoffs with six career starts, still did not give up on them and take the balls for Game 7.
“I have 100% confidence in Ian Anderson,” Fried said. “He is as ready and as smart as their arrival. You will never know his rookie year by how he takes care of himself, his silence and how he conducts his business.”
Anderson’s last win-or-go-home game, he said, was in high school, which for the 22-year-old was not specific at first. He emits silence and serenity, and his release in Game 2 is unusually short and wild, which is why he throws four shutout inings that are impressive.
Fast hooks are de rigueur in Game 7s, as Tampa Bay Kevin Cash and Houston’s Dusty Baker show at ALCS, so Anderson and TBD stamp their names on history books because the hero of NLCS may not be on the cards. If modern baseball dogma takes over, and it probably will, the game will be determined by a cohesive group of three: offenders, bullpens and managers.
Roberts and his counterpart Brian Snitker, are not considered the same type of chess player in dugout Kevin Cash of Tampa Bay. It’s hard not to see Game 7 on Sunday through that lens, comparing everything each team does in Tampa Bay – the decisions it makes, how it matches, what a showdown looks like.
Ronald Acuna doubles down on Nick Markakis ’right field mark to give the Braves their first running game.
The Rays are the Aldi in the Dodgers Whole Foods. Lose the ability of Los Angeles to pay large sums of money and the organizations are alike, which is not surprising, since Dodgers baseball running man Andrew Friedman, once ruled Tampa Bay. The Rays share the Braves ideals, seen as an old-school franchise but landed in Game 7 of the NLCS leaning heavily on two starting pitchers, which at one time were like the Rays getting.
Tampa Bay could give itself 24 hours to share before it tries to figure out how a home-based offense can get away with playing Globe Life like an endless warehouse. The Rays scored an unthinkable 72% of their run this posteason in the home run, and if those were to be fewer and farther apart, the Rays would need another world to build against one to say the two most dangerous lineups in baseball or to learn a completely new offensive strategy on the fly.
Then again, the great teams are organizing. This is what the Braves did earlier in this series next to no one giving them a chance against Los Angeles. This is what the Dodgers did when Atlanta climbed 3-1. And this is what the winner of the World Series, whether the Rays or the Dodgers or Braves, will do next week.
So far, they are just happy that they are here. Because when some jabroni says “Get used to it,” one skeptic might say: Cubs. And it’s true: Starting in 2016, the Cubs should be at the start of a half-decade long window of supremacy. It did not happen. And in the NL, the San Diego Padres have something to say about an annual Dodgers-Braves showdown. As Steve Cohen owns the New York Mets, that could be the Dodgers’ Xerox modus operandi and give it some flavor on the East Coast.
Until then, we had Game 7. Whatever the sport, every now and then, Game 7 meant so much more, though Snitker said he would treat it like any other game. He would not do it because he did not. That is, Roberts said correctly, “What do you live in.” And for the coming many great matchups, the many years these teams have been preliminary, so far all they live in is to make sure they have tomorrow.