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The World Series Is All We Want And Can Never Have

Ronald Acuña Jr. of the Atlanta Braves watches his second-inning grand slam against the Los Angeles Dodgers, which made him the first MLB player in history to hit 30 home runs and steal 60 bases in the same season.
Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

Ronald Acuña Jr. spent yesterday afternoon getting married, and last night making some numerical and cinematic history. The wedding stands on its own, the numbers are the impressive but partially artificial 30-60 homers-and-steals barrier last reached by nobody, and the cinematic is this, followed by this.

The problem for Acuña is, none of the three got him any closer to the National League MVP award because L.A.'s Mookie Betts, playing for the opposition and surely Acuña's closest rival, did this and this. He completed the getting-married part two years ago, if that's any of your business.

Acuña has been the best in a series of very good Atlanta Braves, who battered Dodger pitcher Lance Lynn last night, 8-7, and was the consensus MVP for four months. Betts, who did the same to Atlanta's Spencer Strider and Joe Jimenez, has forced his way into what is now a realistically vibrant debate on who has had the better year. Unlike Shohei Ohtani, rowing the fastest boat on the River Styx and without real competition for American League MVP, Acuña and Betts play on exemplary teams who must, if there is a divine source rather than the gormless chaos of mere existence, meet in the NL Championship Series and then in the World Series because the LCS will not last long enough.

If this strikes you as Orioles or Rays or even Mariners erasure, stop your pitiable whining, you despicable whelps. The World Series will be as it has always been and the above paragraph will affect nothing, so unclench that which you have clenched.

But for all the other entertainments this baseball season has provided, the two things that have not faded are the Braves and Dodgers, with Houston the three best teams the league has produced in the last half-decade. The Astros are in what we can only hope is a king-hell fight for the American League West title with Texas and Seattle (and if you're still holding onto that cheating thing, move on; we're not relitigating the Civil War for you posers), but the Braves and Dodgers have been excellent for almost the entire season, mostly because their lineup cards ooze malevolence.

The Braves clearly have the better pitching, mostly because their rotation has stayed relatively intact and their newest addition, Max Fried, might be the best of all. The Dodgers by comparison have used almost 40 pitchers already this year, and their last eight starts have been taken up by Caleb Ferguson, Lynn, Julio Urias, Ferguson again, Bobby Miller, Clayton Kershaw, Ryan Pepiot and Lynn again. That's not a rotation so much as it is a mosh pit.

But the Dodgers finished August 24-5, and the Braves 21-8, because they averaged more than six runs per game for the entire month; all that was sparked by the top of the order, where Acuña and Betts explain the terms of engagement for pitchers across the league, namely chuck-and-duck. With all due deference to Ohtani, the direness of his medical situation and the decomposition of his team have taken a bit of shine off the titanium, while Acuña and Betts glow brighter now than ever, when the games matter most and excellence is most clearly displayed.

Thus, Thursday night was a rightful payoff for the in-house and at-home audiences. Acuña's entire at-bat for the 30th home run was mesmerizing, and Betts's attempts to bring the Dodgers into compliance make the rest of the series as tempting as anything college football can manage (yes, we're looking at you, LSU-Florida State), and blissfully the NFL doesn't start until next weekend. We would never encourage you to watch anything you would not otherwise find yourself (yes, we're looking at you, Sheffield United-Everton), but you could do far worse. That it all must end before the World Series is a glitch in the schedule that Rob Manfred surely would fix were he not so busy angling to be the next Pac-12 commissioner.

And finally, if the above arguments haven't swayed you, why wouldn't you want seven games of this?

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