It started early.
4AM eastern, 1AM pacific. Those on the west coast who wanted to watch their Dodgers open the season were better off staying up late than waking up early. Those on the east coast rolled out of bed to find the most beautiful sight on our televisions to start a cold March day: baseball.
One week before the rest of the league would play a meaningful game, the Dodgers and Diamondbacks opened the 2014 season with a pair of games in Australia. This marked the beginning. It broke the layoff from offseason to regular season. It was the ceremonial first pitch waking up America – literally, in most cases – from a slumber.
It started with one.
Over 2,000 games later, it now concludes with one.
Over the past year, we have seen pitchers dominate the league, Tommy John surgeries galore, the retirement of an icon, and an upstart team shock the world in dramatic come-from-behind fashion to take on a franchise currently in a transition from dominant to dynasty.
Tonight, we will see the final game of the baseball season.
It has been written many times in the past, and it will fill the internet tonight and every time going forward that it occurs: there is nothing better in the world of sports than game seven.
Some people only watch the playoffs for a given sport – at least, intently. Some live and breathe with every pitch. Some wake up at ridiculous hours to watch two teams play a game halfway across the world.
Everyone watches the seventh game of a series.
The drama is obvious. Each pitch that crosses the plate is one closer to the end. For every inning that concludes, it is stamped into the history of not just the singular game, but the culmination of an entire season. Every moment is more tense than the previous one, and, more than ‘obvious,’ the drama is also guaranteed.
Baseball is a game where the participants take turns. I go first. You go next. My turn to hit. Now yours. We each get our chances; let’s see who does more with what we are given. When the entire season is dependent upon the result of each opportunity, those opportunities become raised to an unmatched level of importance.
This is why we watch sports.
We don’t know if a fifth or sixth game in a series is going to conclude the season. In the history of seven-game series, we will never know if it will be decided by a single event until the sixth game concludes. Forever, the team that forces a game seven will have just staved off elimination, and we, the seekers of drama, will have lived that experience, as well.
It is for this reason why we feel so lucky to have received a game seven, especially in the World Series.
Baseball is a marathon. An investment of both emotion and time.
We know that this journey started over seven months ago. We know how much we will miss it when it ends. Those of us who follow the sport on a daily basis will lose something, and an empty sadness will appear. But at least, for once, we know when the ending is coming, and we will have our closure. We know that the adventure of a baseball season deserves a fitting conclusion, and there is only one way to end a season to which we have given so much of our hearts.