The BEST: 2016 Cleveland-Chicago World Series Game 7
Summary: On November 2, 2016 the two MLB teams with the longest championship droughts took one another to this dramatic final game seven. The game contains plenty of runs, a comeback by the home team in the 8th inning, and both teams scoring in one tense extra inning. The core drama plays out not just on the field but also on the faces of the players and fans who go from elation to desperation and back.
Consumption Time: 5 hours 32 minutes
Cautionary Instructions: Rav Aharon Lichtenstein said, “If the Modern Orthodox were settling for mediocrity in Torah, it is not because they were burning the midnight oil poring over Plato and Milton.” If I might be so bold, it is our over-immersion in society’s spotlights like those belonging to spectator sports. As we seek the good within sports, it behooves us to be constantly aware of our ultimate commitment to the starlight “in another league.”
Why this is the BEST: The uninitiated will ask what does a game involving grown men running to catch a ball have to do with the best that has been thought and said? Rav Lichtenstein writes, “The world of sport is, in a certain sense, trivial… Nevertheless, moral qualities come and do come into play: cooperation, teamplay, an attempt to get the maximum out of yourself, etc. The inherent effort of the person himself, or the loneliness of the long-distance runner in his isolation, are very significant moral elements. While one need not accept the British belief that the battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eaton, there is no question that within the essentially trivial world of sports, real moral greatness and real moral degradation can be seen” (By His Light, pp. 42-43).
While tapping into these moral elements common to all sports, baseball reaches for something more. A. Bartlett Giamatti wrote of this:
“It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.”
The Cubs and the Indians and their fans had lived this heartbreak for generations. In this game, every play is invested with the memories of “maybe next years” going back to 1908 and 1948.
The broadcast attempts with various introductions to convey the meaning of this one game to the lives of the teams’ players and the lives of their fans. Yet, it is the game itself which achieves something beyond that marketing – at moments flirting with what Don DeLillo described as “the deep eros of memory that separates baseball from other sports.”
Published on September 5, 2019
This is the seventh installment in TraditionOnline’s “The BEST” column, exploring exemplars of the best culture has to offer thinking religious people — click here for the series introduction and links to all entries in the series.