By most measures, the 2016 World Series was everything baseball could have asked for: two teams fighting to end a mythical championship shortage, the singular history of the once-cursed Chicago Cubs, terrifyingly talented pitchers, seven games, movie-style come-from-behind victories, inspirational clubhouse speeches and an extra-inning rain delay that closed with the end of the longest drought in post-ancient Grecian sports history. Whether you were a sabermetric-obsessed psychopath or the casual fan who got dragged to the bar with one, the 2016 Series offered something to grab onto. This year’s matchup could have been the Cubs vs. the Yankees, and it’s the … Astros and Dodgers. So, yeah, sorry. But in case you haven’t already switched to football (if you live in L.A., you haven’t!), here’s everything you need to know:
The Los Angeles Dodgers and the Houston Astros! You remember the Dodgers from the Kirk Gibson pinch-hit walk-off fist-pump blast that appears by law in every World Series highlight reel ever assembled, and the Astros from being the team that had all the stripeys in the ‘80s. In Los Angeles, more people attend Dodgers games than those of any of the city’s 12 NFL franchises. In Houston, fans have turned to the Astros to help them … move on from the ongoing devastation of Hurricane Harvey. So if you don’t have a dog in this hunt, might we humbly suggest Team Astro.
Good question! MLB.com posted a handy breakdown by position, in which “Batting numbers are presented with traditional BA/OBP/SLG and Weighted Runs Created Plus, or wRC+, a park- and league-adjusted number where 100 is set as "league average" for easy comparison” oh for everloving f**k this is why everybody watches football now.
Who has the longer championship drought?
The Dodgers haven’t won a championship since the year “Hysteria” was released, but it’s hard to feel too bad, since they’ve won five of them since moving from Brooklyn to L.A. in 1958. (Since ’88, they’ve played in 67 playoff games.) Houston hasn’t won a championship in its 55 years of existence, which would be a long time for everyone except fans of the Cubs, Indians and White Sox, who swept the Astros in the 2005 World Series. Did you guys know the White Sox won a World Series recently? Yeah, I’d totally forgotten too.
How did the Dodgers get here?
The Dodgers enjoyed the kind of season you usually only see in “Baseball Stars” for the original Nintendo: After going a forehead-slapping 91-36 in the first five months of the season, they experienced an August-September slide for the ages: 1-16, including 11 straight losses. No team has ever won a World Series in a regular season that found them losing 11 games in a row. Luckily, their NLCS opponent, the Chicago Cubs, failed to get out of bed for their series, and the organization sent a bunch of dudes who swung at pitchouts in their place. The Dodgers won the series by a combined run total of four million to 2.
How did the Astros get here?
The Astros fended off a surprisingly fierce ALCS challenge from the (shuffles papers) upstart underdog wild card New York Yankees, because nothing makes sense in 2017.
How good are these teams?
Baseball nerds will enjoy that this will mark the first time since 1970 that two 100-win teams will play in the World Series. MLB.com probably has some super-wanky stats about that.
Who are the best players?
For the Dodgers, that would be Justin Turner, who hit .986 against the Cubs; Yasiel Puig, who hit .987 and National League Rookie of the Year Just Print it Already Cody Bellinger, who is a major league ballplayer despite looking like the guy currently playing your older brother on some game for the Xbox. For the Astros, it’s (shuffles papers) everybody in their lineup but particularly Jose Altuve, the fun-sized 5’6” breakout star who will soon shove all your height jokes into his MVP trophy. They also have starters Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander, whom nobody can hit.
Who has home field advantage?
The Dodgers, because baseball stopped being stupid about this last year.
Why does everyone have beards?
Ugh, I don’t know. Justin Turner looks like if Hagar the Horrible joined the Electric Light Orchestra. Normally we’d make a Thor joke about him, but occasionally Thor misses the thing he’s trying to hit. Keuchel’s beard is weirdly square-shaped, like he’s been sculpting it with a garden trimmer.
What will game-time conditions be like?
The competition will sure be SIZZLING! Partly because it’s going to be ONE HUNDRED DEGREES tomorrow, though forecasts have it cooling down to a manageable 97 by game time. Wednesday’s highs may be around 102, according to Weighted Degrees Created Plus, a league- and wind-adjusted number which multiplies the number of degrees and divides it by the inflation-adjusted sum of the humidity coefficient.
Who is broadcasting the game?
Joe Buck and John Smoltz. Everyone hates Joe Buck, because Joe Buck has a singular, pointed hatred for every individual team in the major leagues.
Is it called the World Series?
OH PLEASE, THIS IS 2017. In the grand tradition of the Championship Series presented by Camping World, which is the store between the Kohl’s and the rug outlet offering a clearance sale, the World Series will be known as the World Series Presented by YouTube TV, cementing the union of the grand national pastime with the place you go to watch pirated Slovenian broadcasts of the games blacked out in your area.