Will there be terror?
Yes, there will be terror.
In a way, tonight’s Game 6 of the World Series should be a freebie for Dodger fans. The Dodgers can spare a loss and still win the World Series. In fact, the Dodgers are slight underdogs tonight. It is rookie Tony Gonsolin, capable but inconsistent this month, against recent Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell. The strength and length of the Dodger lineup gives Los Angeles more than a fighting chance, plus the idea that Gonsolin — like Dustin May in Game 5 — will be better prepared mentally and physically for this game than he was in Game 2. But still, it’s not drawn on paper that the Dodgers should win tonight.
Moreover, the Dodgers enter tonight’s contest knowing that if they don’t got tonight, they’ve got tomorrow. And tomorrow would bring Walker Buehler, an October stalwart who already conquered Game 3. And Buehler would be backed up by (among others) Julio Urías, who on three days’ rest would be ready to hit repeat on his National League Championship Series closing performance. And despite the debacle of Game 4, an ending really unlike any in World Series history, there is no questioning the resiliency and determination of this Dodger squad.
But as the hours tick down toward tonight’s game, are you really going to feel like you have a free ride? Is there any scenario where, without knowing the outcome, with the knowledge that a Game 7 victory might be sweeter but without the assurance that such victory would come, you would want to leave the Dodgers’ 32-year odyssey to the vagaries of one night?
Talk about terror.
I went to Game 7 of the 2017 World Series, the World Series that turned out to be poisonous. I was filled with excitement as I entered Dodger Stadium, two hours before the first pitch. The Dodgers had endured their own version of this year’s Game 4 — their 13-12, 10-inning loss in 2017 Game 5 — and come back to win Game 6 on Halloween night. The Astros were formidable, but I believed. I believed it was the Dodgers’ time.
And then, almost before I knew it, the night went from hope to morbidity. It happened so quickly it practically bypassed terror.
This postseason is different. This postseason has given us the Dodgers clawing back from the fingernails on the cliff’s edge of a 3-1 deficit and three must-win games against the Braves. This postseason has given us a World Series where the Dodgers have scored runs with two out like no other, like they were toying with the Rays and our psyches. This postseason has made the case that the Dodgers thrive with their backs to the wall. That not only can they take a punch, they are empowered by that punch.
This postseason has given us the illusion that you can throw all the Shakespearean drama you want at the Dodgers, and they will still earn their bows at center stage when the curtain falls.
Of course, the Dodgers can win Game 6. They can make this easy on themselves and on us. But maybe there’s a thought, that Game 7 is meant to be. Game 7 has to happen, but don’t worry, because the Dodgers are primed for Game 7 like they’ve never been before. And that means we should just pace ourselves emotionally for Game 6. Don’t worry, because there’s nothing you can do to change the destiny of this World Series.
But no such luck.
If at any moment the Dodgers fall behind tonight, Game 7 looms. Even if the Dodgers are leading tonight but that lead seems the least bit vulnerable, Game 7 looms. And Game 7, for all its promise, for all its tantalizing promise, brings terror. Absolute terror.
There are no free rides. Good luck, Dodger fans. I am with you.