By Jamie Belfer || Sports Editor
The usual 162 game major league baseball season is often described as “a marathon, not a sprint.” However, in the era of COVID, baseball soon became a 60-game sprint to the finish line after the postponement of the season. With a shortened season, teams had more urgency to give it their all every single game and work towards perfection. Having a long losing streak or a glut of injuries could be devastating for teams as it is much harder to bounce back in a 60 game season than a 162 game season. Thus, each game became much more meaningful than before. The new key to success in the 2020 season was consistency in both play and health of the players.
Two teams were able to successfully assert consistent dominance and compete with excellence all the way to the World Series — the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Tampa Bay Rays. Both teams were the No.1 Seed in their respective leagues. They had the two best records in their leagues as the Dodgers finished 43-17 in the National League and the Rays finished 40-20 in the American League.
On their way to the World Series, both teams danced with elimination at some point, yet always prevailed. The Rays cruised past the Blue Jays 2-0 in their first playoff series. However, in the next round, the Yankees put up a good fight as they worked to make the series 2-2, yet the Rays won the deciding game to move on to the next round. The Rays had a hard fought seven game series against the Astros but ultimately won to advance to the World Series. Meanwhile, the Dodgers cruised past their first two playoff competitors, defeating the Brewers and the Padres 2-0 and 3-0, respectively. However, the Dodgers were down 3 games to 1 against the Braves. After an astonishing and impressive effort, they worked their way back to win the series in seven games.
For those who think baseball is boring, your mind would definitely change if you watched the Rays and Dodgers face off in the World Series. The World Series had all the aspects of prime baseball – dominant pitching, explosive offense, sneaky baserunners, gold glove award winning plays, and interesting decisions made by managers.
Game 1 of the World Series was dominated by the Dodgers – their offense and Clayton Kershaw’s impressive pitching performance left almost no chance for the Rays to pull off a victory. The Dodgers scored first in the fourth inning as Cody Bellinger hit a 2 run blast to give them a 2-0 lead. The Dodgers continued their offensive explosiveness in the 5th and 6th innings, scoring 6 more runs. Although the Rays rallied in the seventh inning to make the score 8-3, their rally was short-lived and the Dodgers won the game.
The second and third games of the series were inverses of one another. In Game 2, Rays pitcher Blake Snell dominated from the start, throwing a no hitter through four innings. Brandon Lowe had a monster offensive game with 2 home runs, contributing to the Rays’ initial 5-0 lead. With a few Dodger home runs from Chris Taylor, Will Smith, and Corey Seager, the Dodgers fought back but were unable to prevail as the Rays won 6-4. The Dodgers finished with 5 hits while the Rays had 10 total hits in Game 2. Meanwhile, in Game 3, the Rays had 4 hits, while the Dodgers had 10 hits. In Game 3, the Dodgers quickly gained a 5-0 lead. The Rays scored one run in the fifth to make the score 5-1. In the bottom of the ninth, Randy Arozarena hit his 8th homerun in postseason for the Rays, but the Dodgers ended up winning 6-2.
Game 4 of the series had one of the most shocking and unexpected endings. This game was filled with flurries of rallies as at least one team scored in every inning except the second. By the bottom of the seventh, the Dodgers were up 6-5. However, after a Keven Kiermaier home run, the Rays tied it up 6-6. However, the Dodgers went ahead 7-6 after a bloop hit from Corey Seager. In the bottom of the ninth with two outs and runners on first and second, Brett Phillips was up for the Rays. Phillips hit a line drive to center field where centerfielder Chris Taylor booted the ball allowing the runner on first to score. After the cutoff received the ball from Taylor, the Dodger catcher Will Smith mishandled the ball, and the second Rays runner scored as the ball skipped away to give the Rays an 8-7 victory.
The Dodgers came to play in the fifth and sixth games of the series. After winning Game 5, 4-2, the Dodgers looked to seal the deal in Game 6 to become world champions. Game 6 seemed looked like the Rays victory was on the horizon as Blake Snell dominated on the mound through five innings. In a controversial decision, Rays manager took Snell out of the game in the bottom of the sixth inning after only giving up two total hits. After Snell came out, Mookie Betts started a rally for the Dodgers which ultimately led to the Dodgers taking a 2-1 lead. Betts gave the Dodgers an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth after hitting a home run to put the Dodgers up 3-1. The Dodgers went on to win the game 3-1, thus becoming World Series Champions. After losing the World Series in 2017 and 2018, the pieces finally fell into place for the Dodgers in 2020 as they earned a sweet victory. The Dodgers join the Los Angeles Lakers in the second sports championship for LA this year.
Junior Jamie Belfer is the Sports Editor. Her email is email@example.com.