Manny Machado’s shock-the-world, Ahmad Abdul Rahim-style, two-strike bunt to start the second inning of Game 7 of the National League Championship Series was like manna from heaven for the small-ball starved crowd, and as a guy who’s not part of that crowd, I couldn’t have been happier.
It was an exquisite play from a player who throughout the NLCS has remained every bit the confounding conquerer he was when October began, brilliant in conception and execution. No doubt, many people watching used that bunt to double down on how simple the play is. I admired the skill involved.
Now, perhaps it might have inspired four more bunts to score two runs. Instead, what followed was NLCS MVP Cody Bellinger — hero of Game 4 with his 10th-inning catch and 13th-inning walkoff single — hitting an absolute smash to right field to rally the Dodgers from a 1-0 deficit into a lead they would take with them all the way on their next flight to Boston.
Four innings later, with the game still a nailbiter, Yasiel Puig crushed a Jeremy Bearimy Jeffress offering to left-center, scoring three runs with one blow.
And let’s just say, after the home runs, I also couldn’t have been happier.
In the end, the Dodgers, who at one point went six days without hitting a home run during this NLCS, lifted their torch triumphant with their biggest and best offensive weapon — with the flame was lit by the tiniest of taps. There was something for everyone to celebrate in this NL pennant. We can save the fight over which was more important for another day.