Everett: What we can learn from Game 2
Joe Everett | Friday, October 27, 2017
Wednesday night’s Game 2 of the World Series between the Dodgers and Astros was one for the history books. Not to be cliche and overexuberant, but it was truly nothing short of epic. If you didn’t watch it and haven’t watched the highlights yet, do yourself the favor of watching the insane and awesome spectacle that unfolded. Then, read the rest of this article. I don’t want to recap the game as much as I want to explore what it meant, and what we can learn from it.
Sports are a funny thing. In some cases and in certain situations, they can be a breeding ground for hostility, hatred, and violence. From Eastern Europe and the violence that, in the past, has ensued over soccer, to the normal confrontations and rivalries that boil over year, sports can easily bring out the worst of people — the players and the fans — and therefore in these situations fail to inspire and promote the best that humanity can be.
However, on the bright side, sports do in fact have that potential. They can be incredible agents of good and teach valuable lessons and character traits, perhaps far more often than we give them credit for. As my colleague Michael Ivey accurately noted in his column earlier this week, sports can help us rally around the worst of situations, coming together in solidarity. In short, sports seem to encapsulate much of the human experience, and reveal many inspirational lessons that we ourselves, the fans, can begin to apply to our day-to-day lives.
With that being said, let’s examine what we can learn from Game 2.
Game 2 taught us about resilience, or fortitude — how to respond when you’ve been dealt a crushing blow. When the Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager hit a two-run homer off Justin Verlander in the bottom of the sixth inning to give the home team a 3-1 lead, it all but seemed a death toll for the Astros, who would now have to face a lights-out Dodgers’ bullpen that hadn’t surrendered a run in 28 innings. A heartbroken Verlander nonetheless implored his teammates in the dugout to show resilience, saying that while two runs “seemed like it was the Grand Canyon… I was just trying to remind these guys two runs is nothing.” The Astros responded, and hit the best closer in baseball, Kenley Jansen, for those two runs, sending the game in extras.
But here’s the beautiful thing. The Dodgers showed their fortitude as well. The rest of the game was a game of resilience — one side seemingly breaking the spirit and will of the other, and the opposing team responding just the same, all the way down to the Yasiel Puig’s last strike. Think about the example of sheer resiliency the Astros and Dodgers showed during that game, and think about how it can inspire the resiliency of the people of Houston and California. Pretty powerful stuff, and not a bad way for the Astros to earn their first World Series victory ever as they head back to their hometown, trying to win this thing for their city.
Game 2 taught us about adjustments, improvements and redemption. Take Astros outfielder George Springer, who came into Game 2 struggling with his swing and general approach at the plate, frustrated with his lack of production. He simplified his approach, and guess what? He hits the eventual-winning two-run homer in the 11th. Or even better, take Dodger’s outfielder Yasiel Puig. Fourteen months removed from being demoted to the minors — the subject of scorn and scrutiny for the brash and therefore controversial way he oftentimes played the game — Puig dedicated himself to improvement, both on and off the field, in his temperament and in his overall play. The result has been a vital component for the Dodgers’ success this season and postseason. His homer in the 10th ignited the Los Angeles’ rally, and while he failed to tie the game in the 11th, his story and impact is now long from over.
Overall, Game 2 taught us that every single person has value, regardless of various differences and the “size” of their role, within the larger context of their team. Whether it was 5-foot, 6-inch Jose Altuve hitting a monster home run and pumping up his teammates, 37-year old Rich Hill wheeling and dealing with his incredible curveball or journeyman Cameron Maybin pinch-hitting and stealing a key base, everyone has value. Baseball is a rare sport, as it is as much about the individual as it is the team, and within it we often learn our strengths, our gifts and also our individual weaknesses and failings. However, we also recognize that when we fail as individuals, we have our friends and teammates to lift us back up and support us.
These are the lessons I learned from Game 2. The series is tied and headed to Houston, and I can’t wait for the lessons we’ll learn in Game 3.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.