How we got here is another matter, however. We’ve had four games, all close and tense at various points, with heroes and goats and dramatic home runs — and we have a chance to have a World Series to remember. Of course, that depends on what happens these final two or three games. I don’t think a World Series has to go seven games to be an all-timer, but it does have to go six, and it has to have a couple of signature moments or games.
In my book, the greatest World Series ever played was in 1991, when the Twins beat the Braves in seven games (with apologies to 1975). Just last year, we had a final game for the ages. So let’s compare what has unfurled so far this year to what happened in 1991 and in 2016 to see if we’re on track for something special.
Here’s my system. Each game is rated on a 1 to 5 scale:
5: Great game
4: Very good game
3: Good game
2: Fell asleep
1: Turned on an old episode of “Seinfeld”
The ratings are 100 percent absolutely completely subjective. Here we go:
2017: Dodgers 3, Astros 1. Every game can have its built-in drama aside from the final score. This one not only featured two Cy Young winners facing each other in Kershaw and Keuchel — only the fifth World Series matchup of Cy Young winners since 2000 — but also featured Kershaw making his World Series debut and delivering 11 strikeouts over seven innings. Justin Turner delivered the go-ahead two-run home run in the sixth inning.
“Keuchel and Kershaw certainly performed in Game 1 and gave the people what they wanted with the hype,” Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling said.
If Turner’s home run happens in the eighth or ninth, maybe this game gets a 5, but instead we drop it down to the “very good” category. Rating: 4
2016: Indians 6, Cubs 0. Corey Kluber was great for six innings, the Indians scored twice in the first inning and three times in the eighth to put it away as light-hitting catcher Roberto Perez hit two home runs. That was weird, but not really much drama here. Rating: 2
1991: Twins 5, Braves 2. Greg Gagne hit a three-run homer in the fifth inning to make it 4-0 while Jack Morris pitched seven innings. It wouldn’t be his best game of the series. Rating: 2
2017: Astros 7, Dodgers 6 (11 innings). Maybe the most exciting Game 2 in World Series history as the Astros tied it in the ninth inning against Kenley Jansen on a Marwin Gonzalez home run, then hit three more homers in extra innings and the Dodgers hit two of their own before falling short.
“We might be talking about this one forever. I know that will be the one I’ll think about in 20 or 30 years because it was so crazy down the stretch,” Stripling said.
In fact, it was so crazy we gave it a bonus point. Don’t argue. My rules. Rating: 6
2016: Cubs 5, Indians 1. Jake Arrieta took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, but he’d walked three batters and his pitch count was high, so there wasn’t really high drama there. The Cubs broke it open with three in fifth. Rating: 2
1991: Twins 3, Braves 2. Tom Glavine and Kevin Tapani both go eight innings — back when men were men! — and the Twins scored the winning run in the bottom of the eighth on Scott Leius’ home run. Wave those Homer Hankies. This also featured the famous Kent Hrbek play when he lifted Ron Gant’s foot off first base. That’s worth half a bonus point. Rating: 4.5
2017: Astros 5, Dodgers 3. This was a more interesting game than the final score indicates, but there weren’t any lead changes, and the Dodgers played a sloppy game with Yu Darvish blowing up in the second inning. Brad Peacock saved the Houston bullpen with 3 2/3 scoreless innings.
“We stayed positive. We knew one bad inning happened,” Jansen said after Game 3. “You can’t hang your head. You can’t let one bad thing give you a bad day. You have to know that we’ve had a great year and a great postseason.”
That mindset would set the stage for a dramatic Dodgers’ victory in Game 4. Rating: 3
2016: Indians 1, Cubs 0. The first World Series game at Wrigley Field since 1945 was awesome and loud and nuts. Neither starter gave up a run … but neither finished five innings. Coco Crisp singled in pinch runner Michael Martinez in the seventh. Rating: 4
1991: Braves 5, Twins 4 (12 innings). It was the first World Series game played in Atlanta. The Twins tied it in the eighth on Chili Davis’ two-run homer. In the top of the 12th, the Twins ran out of bench players and pitcher Rick Aguilera had to pinch hit. Imagine if we had Twitter back then! Although get this: The Twins had used eight bench players. They carried only nine pitchers back then. So lay off Tom Kelly. Anyway, Mark Lemke’s two-out single in the 12th walked it off. Rating: 5
2017: Dodgers 6, Astros 2. Through five innings, Charlie Morton was pitching one of the most dominant World Series games in recent memory … and Alex Wood had a no-hitter going. Thanks to today’s itchy-finger managing of pitching staffs, it wasn’t really a classic duel in the end, but it was 1-1 until the Dodgers scored five runs in the ninth, with Ken Giles inking his name alongside Calvin Schiraldi and George Frazier and other unclutch World Series relievers.
“These last two have been really competitive, kind of heart-throbbing from the start,” Stripling said. “It’s intense, both atmospheres are crazy, super loud, and certainly living up to the hype we could have anticipated.”
Obviously, this was a better game than the final score indicates, but not a classic. Rating: 4
2016: Indians 7, Cubs 2. Too much Kluber. Jason Kipnis hit a three-run homer in the seventh. But mostly a snoozer. Rating: 2
1991: Braves 3, Twins 2. Another walk-off win for the Braves, as cult hero Lemke tripled and scored on Jerry Willard’s sacrifice fly. This game also featured a memorable home-plate collision between Lonnie Smith and Brian Harper. Bonus! Rating: 4.5
So what’s next?
“We have Kershaw tomorrow. They have their best pitcher tomorrow,” Jansen said. “It’s awesome. Like I said, the two best teams in the game. They won a hundred games, we won a hundred games. That’s a good offensive team. So are we. We have pitching, they do have two tremendous starters. It’s going to be exciting.”
What makes the 1991 World Series so memorable was what happened in Games 6 and 7. Game 5 was a 14-5 blowout (rating: 1). Game 6 was the Kirby Puckett Game, when he made a leaping catch at the wall to rob a home run and then walked it off on a home run in the 11th (rating: 5.5, because Kirby). Then came Morris’ 1-0, 10-inning masterpiece in Game 7 (rating: 7, because that was one bad-ass performance, the likes of which might never be topped again).
Last year featured a 3-2 Cubs win in Game 5 (rating: 3), a blowout in Game 6 (rating: 2) and then the wild victory for the Cubs in Game 7 (rating: 7, for back-and-forth excitement and historic significance).
Through four games, the 2017 World Series scores at 17 points. Last year’s World Series was at 11. It really wasn’t an exciting series on a game-by-game basis until the finale. The 1991 World Series was at 16 points through Game 4, but with two all-time classic games to come.
So the pressure is on. Give it to us, boys.
“We have more to come. No matter what, we have Kershaw, Keuchel and Verlander on deck. So stay tuned,” Stripling said. “Who knows. Some crazy things might happen.”