After what seemed to be a never-ending time in quarantine with no sporting events to look forward to, the MLB season continued in a very distinctive way, and before you knew it, the 2020 World Series came to be. Even with all the new COIVD-19 guidelines put in place, the game of baseball was being played, and fans across the country were excited. To add to this excitement, we got a pair of very distinct teams set to battle each other for the title. This year, we witness the Los Angeles Dodgers clash with the Tampa Bay Rays for the covenant title of the year no one seemed to understand. On one side, we had the Dodgers, a team that’s not a stranger to playoff races and also might have been cheated out of their first title since 1988. On the other, we have the Rays, a team that has never made it to the World Series and barely has any playoff success in their 22-year history. Both teams had much to worry about when it came to their opponent, meaning we were in for a fascinating World Series.
How did we get here?
The path to the World Series was different for both teams. The Dodgers were the favorites to win it all from early on in the decade. Their stong depth in hitting was poised to hand them over one if not various World Series titles over the course of their 8 consecutive playoff run. Oddly enough, they only saw one title as their pitching collapsed during the most crucial times. They were also the victims in the Astros cheating scandal that saw them only continue their playoff woes, although this one could have gone in their favor if the Astros had not cheated. Still, they saw themselves make it far once again and hoped for a better outcome in 2020.
On the other hand, the Rays had not been so lucky when it came to playoff contention. With a total of 8 playoff titles spanning from 2008-2019 (none of which include a World Series title), many never thought of the Rays to be a team to watch out for. After the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the regular season’s start, the season was shortened to only 60 games, and the Rays were in it to win it. They didn’t start July off very well but then went on a 21-7 run in August, which made them stand out from everyone else in the division. They ended the regular season with a 40-20 record landing them in 1st place in the AL East.
And then comes the World Series.
Many implementations went on to ensure the World Series would not interfere with COVID-19 restrictions. This meant no fans, many COVID-19 tests being conducted to players and staff, and holding the World Series in a bubble-like environment, similar to what the NBA and NHL had done. Even with these implementations, fans could attend the NLCS and World Series to 25% stadium capacity. The World Series was held at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. Although it might have been tough for teams to realize how different the environment would be if they won the title, everyone was happy to finally see the baseball classic come to be after a long couple of months.
The World Series had many stand out players. For one, Clayton Kershaw some postseason success, which was not common for him as he had many struggles in past postseason outings. He was able to get the game 1 win against the Rays after his team backed him with 8 runs. Kershaw would go on to win both his games pitched and recorded a couple of records. His start in game one tied with Greg Maddox for second-most in MLB history with 11, and his 200th postseason strikeout in the fifth inning surpassed John Smoltz for second-most all-time.
Randy Arozarena of the Rays set a record for most postseason hits (27) with his single in game 5 that scored Yandy Diaz and shrunk the Dodgers lead to just one run. Although the Rays would lose that game, Arozarena continued to see success against the Dodgers. He scored 3 home runs against the Dodgers, breaking the record for most home runs in a single postseason. In game 3, he surpassed Derek Jeter for most hits by a rookie in the postseason.
Perhaps the most talked-about game had to be game 4, which saw various lead changes throughout the game. This game was crucial as the Dodgers would go on to take a demanding 3-1 series lead, had they won. The game looked like it was going in their favor with one more out to record and one more strike away from their victory. Then, the unimaginable happened. One bobbled ball in the outfield and a passed ball later saw the Rays upset the Dodgers in the most untraditional way possible, through errors on routine plays. After a routine single to Dodgers outfielder Chris Taylor, Taylor bobbled the ball, allowing the runner on first to advance to third. Then, while trying to relay the ball to cutoff man Max Muncy, Muncy tries to get the ball to catcher Will Smith. Smith ultimately ended up letting the ball get away, allowing the man on third to score and the Rays to walk it off, tying the series at two wins apiece. Had Dodgers pitcher Kenley Jansen been backing Taylor behind home plate, the Dodgers could have possibly gotten the run out at home, and the game could have ended differently. Regardless, the game was every baseball fan’s dream to watch, no matter who you were rooting for.
The Dodgers win plus a little twist.
Nonetheless, of this game’s outcome, the Dodgers would finish the Rays in game 6, winning them the title. After 8 brutal years of a consecutive playoff appearance, they were able to secure the title during a season where nothing seemed to make sense. Nevertheless, the Dodgers fought long and hard throughout their 8 years, so this was a title that was well deserved. And it wouldn’t be the ending to a 2020 sporting season without a little COVID-19 talk.
As the Dodgers had just won the title, it was announced that Justin Turner of the Dodgers had tested positive for COVID-19, which is why he was taken out of the game in the eighth inning. After winning the World Series, he still decided to celebrate on the field with his teammates, violating MLB COVID-19 protocols. This led to an investigation from MLB, which ended with them later dropping any potential of further punishments for Turner.
Needless to say, this World Series had many elements to talk about. With many changes going on, both teams delivered, and fans saw a terrific fight coming from both sides. From having no hope in a 2020 season to getting a short 60 game season, many fans were appreciative of the season put together, although it may not have been a traditional one. Now, let the 2021 predictions commence.