Forget the slick baseballs, this World Series was epic
Ryan Kolakowski | Thursday, November 2, 2017
Despite duking it out over seven games, the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers appear to be in agreement on one thing — something was different about the baseballs in this World Series.
“The World Series ball is slicker. No doubt,” Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander said to Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated.
And he’s not the only one.
“Why in the world would the baseballs in the World Series be different? Because you can see the difference. You can feel it. I don’t understand it at all,” Astros pitching coach Brent Strom said.
“I had trouble with the ball throwing a slider. It was slicker,” Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Yu Darvish said.
Who’s to blame? Major League Baseball.
Pitchers were complaining that the surface of the baseballs has changed since the regular season, and they’re backed by the fact that home runs in the Fall Classic were up a record-level. Dominant pitching performances were down. Every fan, from the most casual to the most devoted, have recognized the spike in offense. Game Two of the World Series featured eight home runs as the Dodgers won 7-6. Game Five saw seven, as the Astros claimed a 13-12 victory.
In this series, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw surrendered seven earned runs and two home runs in 15.2 innings pitched. Astros ace Dallas Keuchel gave up six earned runs and two home runs in 10.1 innings pitched. These numbers strongly deviate from season norms.
Fans and analysts are exclaiming that the balls were juiced or too slick, and that was leading to the uptick in offensive production.
Major League Baseball has contested the claim that the World Series baseballs are any different. “The only difference is the gold stamping on the baseballs,” Peter Woodfork, the senior vice president of baseball operations for Major League Baseball, told Verducci.
Regardless of whether the balls truly are different, I personally do not care, and fans should not really care either.
It does not matter to me that the balls may or may not be different. This has been the most entertaining World Series in recent memory.
The fireworks of Game Five kept me glued to the screen. The constant lead changes kept casual fans engaged for 10 innings that spanned over five hours. That game alone sparked the entertainment value of the 2017 World Series.
This World Series has been more entertaining than the 2016 Fall Classic, a series that saw the Chicago Cubs overcome a 3-1 deficit to defeat the Cleveland Indians in seven games. Four of those seven games were decided by four runs or more. The individual games were hardly gripping.
This 2017 matchup has been far more entertaining than the 2015 edition of the World Series, a matchup that saw the New York Mets blow leads in the eighth inning or later on three occasions. The Kansas City Royals were victorious in only five games.
To be clear, the past few editions of the World Series have been jam-packed with action and excitement. The late-inning heroics of the Royals in 2015 were thrilling. The extra-inning finish to game seven of the 2016 World Series kept everyone glued to their televisions, if only for one night.
This year has brought a new level of intensity to the Fall Classic. The balance between competing teams is tremendous, and the back-and-forth action of games has been mesmerizing. The scandal and mystery surrounding the status of the baseballs presents a new level of intrigue for fans to consider.
Every element of the 2017 World Series — the offensive fireworks, the battle of two 100-win teams, the 29-year championship drought for the Dodgers, and the potential for the Astros to claim their first ever title — have built up suspense.
Forget about the concern over baseballs. This has been the most entertaining World Series that we have seen in years.