Look, I know that recency bias is a very real thing. For anyone unfamiliar with the term, it’s the habit of declaring the last great thing you saw as “the greatest ever.” Whether it’s an athlete, movie, or TV show, we humans have a collective bad habit of declaring some (admittedly very good) things as “OMG the greatest thing in history of film/telvision/sports/etc.”
Calm down. Things aren’t always as great as they seem in the moment.
Except the 2017 World Series. That thing was f**king amazing. Seven games between two of the best teams in baseball to decide the championship. It was filled with drama, controversy, record breaking performances, hot takes, meltdowns, heroes (and villains), and in the end, the first World Series title in Houston Astros history. On the flip side, the big spending Dodgers once again finish a season without a ring and will be thinking all winter about how things went so wrong.
Here are the ten standout moments — some good, some bad, and some downright strange — from the greatest World Series I’ve ever watched.
10. Chris Taylor First Pitch Home Run
Game 1 kicked off in Los Angeles in 103 °F heat, the hottest World Series game ever recorded. It didn’t take long for the Dodger bats to heat up either. After ace starter Clayton Kershaw pitched a scoreless half of the first inning to start the proceedings, L.A. leadoff man Chris Taylor pounced on the very first pitch from former Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel and blasted it into the stands for a home run. It was surely a sign of things to come.
Both starting pitchers were dominant, but it was Keuchel who made the key mistake. In the sixth inning, he gave up a two-run blast to Justin Turner that put the Dodgers ahead 3-1. The clutch L.A. bullpen took care of the rest, giving the Dodgers an early Series lead.
9. OMG Game 2
Game 2 started slow, as starters Rich Hill and Justin Verlander managed to keep the scores low and the game tied at 1-1 through four innings. As the innings wore on, though, things got crazy. First, Dodgers manager Dave Robertson pulled Hill from the game in the fifth inning — a move that was questions by many, since Hill already had seven strikeouts. Then a two-run home run by Corey Seager in the sixth made it look like Game 2 might be a carbon copy of Game 1.
The normally untouchable Dodger closer Kenley Jansen came for a six-out save, but couldn’t keep it together. He gave up a RBI single in the eighth and a game-tying double in the ninth to level the score at 3-3. It was just Jansen’s second blown save of the entire season. Then things got really crazy.
The Astros lead off the tenth inning with back-to-back home runs by Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa to take a 5-3 lead. The Dodgers answered right back with a Yasiel Puig dinger and a Kike Hernandez RBI single to send the game into the eleventh inning. The hit parade continued, as George Springer blasted a two-run shot into the stands to restore Houston’s two-run lead. The Dodgers attempted to fight back again, via a Charlie Cluberson solo homer, but eventually fell 7-6 in 11 innings.
8. Yuli Gurriel’s Horrible Decision and Brad Peacock’s Ridiculous Save
Game 3 was a less dramatic affair on the scoreboard, as the Astros returned to Texas and roughed up Dodgers starter Yu Darvish for four runs in the second inning, putting a stranglehold on the game early. When Houston starter Lance McCullers Jr. started to falter in the sixth inning, reliever Brad Peacock came in to clean things up. Remarkably, Peacock stayed in the game until the end, pitching a 3.2 inning save, giving up no hits and striking out four. It tied a record for the longest postseason save in MLB history.
Unfortunately, Peacock’s immaculate performance and Houston’s new 2-1 Series lead was overshadowed by Yuli Gurriel being caught on camera making a racist gesture after hitting a home run of Darvish, who is Japanese. He quickly apologized (and Darvish was exceptionally gracious and accepting, considering the situation) but MLB still announced he would be suspended for five games — next season. The decision was hotly debated and continues to draw ire from people who believe that MLB decided that the World Series was more important than combating racism.
7. Dodgers Wait Until Late in Game 4
Compared to Games 2 and 3, the fourth game of the World Series was fairly dull. Both offenses were quiet for most of the game, with game tied 1-1 after eight innings. It seemed like some more extra inning dramatics were in store. Instead, Astros closer Ken Giles melted down completely. He gave up a leadoff single to Corey Seager, then walked Justin Turner. Cody Bellinger then smacked an RBI double to center field, knocking in the go-ahead run. Giles was pulled, but the Astros gave up four more runs (three on a Jod Pederson home run) and that was that.
After the game, both teams complained to the media that the baseballs felt more “slick” than usual, causing pitchers to struggle with throwing certain pitches like a slider. This new accusation fits in nicely with the recurring theme of the entire season, in which multiple players theorized that the balls were different somehow. A handfull of pitchers dealt with strange blister issues on their fingers, and felt like the ball seams were different in 2017. Collectively, MLB players smashed the single season home run record for an entire season, which caused even more speculation that the 2017 baseballs were somehow “juiced” to crank up offense, and therefore, provide more entertainment.
6. OMG Game 5
Remember Game 2? How great it was? Well forget it entirely, because Game 5 is the new Game 2!
This game was bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S. It had everything and is rightfully being called one of the greatest games of baseball ever played. Kewshaw and Keucel toed the rubber in a rematch from Game 1, but it didn’t go as well for either ace. Keuchel gave up three runs in the very first inning, while the normally unhittable Kershaw was also dinged for four runs of his own in the fourth.
Cody Bellinger belted a three-run home run in the fifth to give the Dodgers a 7-4 lead, only for Jose Altuve to smash his own three-run dinger in the bottom of the inning to tie it back up. George Springer missed a diving catch in the seventh, giving the Dodgers the lead again. That meant it was time for Brandon Morrow and Kenley Jansen, which normally results in a Dodgers win.
5. OMG Game 5 — Part II
But wait, there’s more! </Billy Mays>
Game 5 was so jam packed with madness that we needed another section of this article devoted to it! After his costly error in the top half of the inning, Springer made amends by unloading on a first-pitch fastball from Morrow. The Astros followed that up with three more runs (via an Altuve RBI double and a two-run homer by Correra), beating up on the tired Dodgers reliever. With an 11-8 lead and the Dodgers quickly running out of outs, it seemed like the Astros were a lock to take a 3-2 Series lead.
Instead, the Dodgers scored a single run in the eighth and three more in the ninth to force extra innings (again!). Once again, Jansen had a meltdown. The Dodgers closer hit Brian McCann and then walked George Springer. Alex Bregman walked it off with an RBI single to cap off the ridiculous Game 5. Some fun facts: the game featured seven home runs and marked only the second time in World Series history that a team rallied back from a three-run deficit twice in a single game. The game lasted five hours and 17 minutes, making it the second longest game in World Series history. It featured five lead changes and three game tying hits. It also put the Astros one game away from their first ever World Series championship, but they would have to do it on the road as the Series shifted back to L.A. for Games 6 and 7.
4. Verlander Loses Game 6
When Justin Verlander was traded from the Tigers to the Astros at the last minute of the trade deadline (literally 11:59 p.m.), it was exactly the boost Houston needed to surge into the postseason. Verlander was electric for the Astros, going 5-0 to finish off the regular season and 4-0 in the playoffs (despite not picking up a decision as the Game 2 starter). So with a change to finally win the big one… Verlander lost.
Verlander was good, but gave up two runs in six innings compared to Dodger starter Rich Hill only giving up a Springer solo shot in the third inning. Verlander may have stayed in the game, but his spot in the batting order came up in a key spot in the top of the seventh, so Astros manager A.J. Hinch had no choice put to pinch hit for him, ending his Series. It didn’t pan out though. Jansen came in and pitched two scoreless innings to pick up another six-out save, forcing a deciding Game 7.
3. Yu Blows It
With an entire season’s worth of work on the line, the Dodgers gave the ball to Yu Darvish in Game 7. Acquired from the Texas Rangers at the trade deadline, Darvish was looking to avenge his Game 3 loss. He didn’t come close. Darvish imploded from the start, giving up two runs in the first inning (aided by a Bellinger throwing error) and three in second inning, including yet another Springer Dinger. He was pulled after 1.2 innings pitched, but the damage was already done.
Houston trotted out pitchers Lance McCullers, Brad Peacock, Francisco Liriano, Chris Devenski, and Charlie Morton, who collectively held the Dodgers to just a single run (although L.A. went 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position, meaning they had plenty of chances to get back into the game). Clayton Kershawn even made an appearance out of the bullpen to pitch four scoreless innings, but the Dodger bats just wouldn’t come alive.
George Springer was easily and rightfully named the World Series MVP after the final out, and it wasn’t even close. Altuve and Correra may be better everyday players, but Springer was a monster in the 2017 Fall Classic. We went 11-for-29, batting .379 with five walks, three doubles, and a ridiculous five home runs. His OPS was an unreal 1.471 and he batted in seven of the 34 runs that Astros scored in the Series. His five dingers tied Reggie Jackson and Chase Utley for most home runs in a World Series and his 29 total bases is a new Fall Classic record.
I know the World Series in a small sample size. Springer has a career batting average of .266 and an OPS of .837. Neither of those numbers are bad, but his World Series performance was off the charts. The Astros had always planned for this, though, when they selected Springer with the 11th pick of the 2011 MLB Draft and added him to roster of talented youngsters.
1. Records and Proposals
We’ve already mentioned some of the records set in the amazing 2017 World Series, but here are a few more! The Astros and the Dodgers combined to hit 25 home runs, the most ever in a World Series. They collectively blasted eight of those in Game 2 (OMG!) to set the single-game record too. It was the first World Series since 1970 to feature two teams that won at least 100 regular season games, and the first World Series where regular season record decided home field advantage. On the negative end of the record books, Cody Bellinger struck out 17 times in the seven games — a new high (or low, if you’re a Dodgers fan).
The 2017 World Series also included some fairy tale endings. Carlos Correa proposed to his girlfriend on live television in the middle of the Astro celebrations, and she said yes (looks like they both get a fancy new ring!). Justin Verlander also announced that he will marry his longtime fiance Kate Upton in a ceremony in Tuscany next month. The celebrity couple (Upton is an actress and model, best known for appearing in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition) have been engaged since May 2016.