In baseball, and perhaps even in all of sports, nothing is more anticipated and exciting as a seventh game in a World Series.
It’s a bittersweet moment in time when everyone knows there will be no game tomorrow for the first time in seven months. One team will have a parade in its honor in a couple of days, while the other team will be resigned to playing the game over and over in their heads and wondering what went wrong. But in reality, it’s more likely that nothing really went wrong. It’s just that not enough went right.
In the final hand of the World Series of Poker, only two players are left standing. They’ve jostled back and forth, sometimes up and sometimes down in their holdings. They’ve bluffed and they’ve been bluffed. They’ve capitalized on the errors of others, and they’ve made costly mistkaes themselves. But they are the survivors.
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They are survivors though only until that final hand is played and what is known in poker as the river card is drawn and turned over for all to see. The river is the fifth and last card to be dealt to the community card board. A player losing the pot due only to the river card is said to have been rivered. Tonight, the river card of this year’s World Series will be revealed in Cleveland, Ohio.
And we’d like to believe that the best team always wins, but we know that isn’t always so, especially when, in a brief World Series matchup between two teams that have already played 180 games or so since April, take the field to play one more final game knowing that it’s winner take all and loser go home.
And we also know from the experience of having watched baseball over the years that much like the river card in poker, there is always an element of luck in a World Series. And that one team will hit screaming line drives all night that will be caught by fielders who hardly move a step to snare them and retire the side, while the other team will hit a dribbler down the third base line that will be athletically fielded and thrown to first a hair too late, and a rally will have been started.
And we know, too, that each of the players on these two teams have been beaten down by the physical toll that the long season has taken on their bodies. But that for one more time, “there’s no crying in baseball,” and all of that will get put aside.
And we also know that both managers will have a game plan worked out for the final game of the World Series, and that they will especially concentrate on how they will use their pitching staffs. But we also know that by the sixth inning they’ll already be on Plan C and working feverishly to come up with a Plan F for use later in the game. And that one manager will win this battle of wits while the other will see one of his pitchers hang one in the zone and he will become fodder for second-guessing that will last well into the winter. That’s just the way it goes when the river card is drawn.
One game. One night. Just like all the games that have been played before the one being played tonight. Except, of course, it isn’t. It’s the seventh game of the World Series and everything becomes magnified, especially because we know that this World Series is one that will be remembered and talked about for decades yet to come.
This is a shining moment for baseball. And as fans of the game we should revel in the fact that our sport, despite all of its warts and scars, continues to show its resilience and popularity. On Sunday night, for instance, more people watched the World Series than Sunday Night Football, even though “America’s Team” (the Dallas Cowboys) was playing. And according to Forbes, this World Series has the highest ratings ever!
So let’s sit back and enjoy the moment. Because the river card is about to be revealed at Progressive Field during the seventh game of the 2016 World Series.