The Vanderbilt Hustler 2017 World Series Roundtable

Photos via Pinterest/USA Today.

It’s October, and you know what that means: it’s time for the Hustler’s World Series roundtable.

Before the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers begin the Fall Classic in LA on Tuesday, we gauged how the Hustler’s staff felt about this year’s series. Take a look:

Cutler Klein, sports editor

The Yankees still have 27 World Championships, right?

They do?

Good. Carry on.

Max Schneider, assistant sports editor

What a dream year it’s been for the Los Angeles Dodgers. 104 wins, another Cy Young candidacy from Clayton Kershaw (who has even looked good in the playoffs), a standout rookie year by Cody Bellinger, the best home record in years, and sweet, sweet revenge on the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS.

Unfortunately for the Dodgers, this dream might just turn into a nightmare, one that should cause a lot of fear.  Not the kind of fear of big monsters or anything like that.  The kind of fear of little bugs or spiders, because sometimes it’s the little things that scare the living daylights out of us.  That “little thing” is Jose Altuve, and he is your MVP.

Now I’m a Yankees fan and I love me some Aaron Judge, but it was hard to ignore the ways in which Altuve flat out won games with the bat, the glove, and with his legs.  In the four Astros victories over the Yanks, Altuve had eight hits.  In the three losses, he had zero.  Houston lives and dies with the little man.

But that’s not to say that he doesn’t have ample help.  Two hitters in this starting lineup hit below .280 in the regular season, with four guys eclipsing .300, not to mention the exceptional pitching of Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander, the latter of whom appears to be in his 2011 MVP form.

The saying goes, “Houston, we have a problem,” but starting Tuesday night, it might just be LA with a problem on its hands.  Astros in 5.

(props to Sports Illustrated for predicting this outcome back in 2014).

Simon Gibbs, sports reporter

Dear José Altuve,
I am a big fan of yours (no pun intended, but yes, I am three inches taller than you). I know you’re out there somewhere, so please hear me out. I have one thing to ask of you: win this for Ruben Tejada. Yes, that old, pathetic man Chase Utley is still in the league, and no, I haven’t forgotten about the time he broke our shortstop’s leg on a takeout slide. Also, tell Justin Turner that he looks like a confused, Amish leprechaun. Actually, tell him he looks like a neglected, misfit leprechaun. Like if Buddy the Elf were a leprechaun, he’d be Justin Turner. Just win this as payback to those guys that cursed the Mets. I think that would make me feel better.
Thanks big guy. Or little guy. Which would you prefer?

Claire Barnett, multimedia director

I honestly thought baseball was over for the year… isn’t it a Spring and Summer sport?

Betsy Goodfriend, sports reporter

Winning a World Series would uplift any city, but none perhaps as much as Houston. It’s no secret that Houston has endured a painful recovery from Hurricane Harvey’s record flooding in August. Even today, couches and insulation that were ruined in the ravaging floodwaters sit in front of homes, waiting to be collected by an overwhelmed city cleanup crew.

But Houston has needed this championship for far longer than the past two months. Houston has been desperately waiting for this since 1962, back when the Astros were known as the Colt .45s. See, while the Astros have not experienced the century-long title droughts that the Cubs and Red Sox did, the city as a whole has only won two championships in any of its three major sports. Those two Rockets titles in the ‘90s are awfully lonely.

The heartbreaks range from the Oilers’ blowing a 35-3 lead to the Bills in the 1992 playoffs to the Astros’ deflating, 16-inning loss to the Mets in the 1986 NLCS. As my great-grandmother often said, “Houston teams have a way of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.”

The Oilers allowed the largest comeback victory in NFL history and broke the city’s heart before leaving for Tennessee just five years later.  The game goes by “The Comeback” nationally and ‘The Choke” in Houston even 25 years later. Oilers quarterback Warren Moon was dominant in the first half, and the defense kept the Bills’ explosive offense quiet. A few successful Bills onside kicks and a Moon interception took the game to overtime all tied up at 38. Warren Moon was picked off on the first drive, and Buffalo later kicked a field goal to move on to the AFC Championship game.

The Astros’ Game 6 defeat still is arguably the city’s most gut-wrenching, oh-so-close defeat. After carrying a 3-0 lead into the ninth, Houston allowed three runs in the top of the inning. The Astros and Mets traded runs in the 14th inning, before the Mets scored three runs to the Astros’ two in the 16th. The sorest part of that loss is that Cy Young winner Mike Scott was scheduled to pitch Game 7 to send Houston to the World Series, but he never got the chance.

That’s enough sad Houston sports history for now because the MLB’s third-longest active title drought is about to finally be over. Astros in 6, #EARNIT.

Christia Victoriano, sports reporter

As a die-hard Indians fan, I felt extremely inclined to avoid this World Series following my heartbreak over the massive choke-job that the Tribe pulled against the Yanks in the ALDS. That being said, I’ve decided that this series is worth watching for a few reasons.

The first and most important reason is the immense satisfaction I get knowing that the most annoying franchise in baseball gets to watch it from home. A Dodgers vs. Yankees World Series would’ve been excellent for ratings but terrible for mankind.

Second, the explosive Astros offense vs. the lockdown Dodgers rotation is definitely an exciting matchup. Clayton Kershaw certainly hasn’t lived up to his “best pitcher in baseball” reputation thus far in the playoffs, but the Dodgers rotation, who almost completely shut down the Cubs in the NLCS, is packed with depth. Shout-out to Rich Hill, who is yet another addition to the long, illustrious list of players that were terrible when they played for the Indians but became great players on other teams.

Finally, this World Series continues the recent theme of ending championship droughts. Both fanbases are hungry for a title. The Dodgers haven’t won a World Series since 1988. The Astros are looking for their first in franchise history.

Is Houston finally going to get that long sought-after first championship? I doubt it. World Series titles are often won or lost in the bullpen, and Los Angeles has a significant edge there, with a postseason record 23-inning scoreless streak going into the World Series.

Go Tribe. Dodgers in 6.

Sarah Saxton Strassberg, sports reporter

First of all, I’m still salty about the Nationals’ Game 5 loss to the Cubs. And the fact that the Giants haven’t been good (or even decent) since 2015. However, the World Series is shaping up to be one wild ride, which is at least a small consolation.

The Dodgers have quite the advantage over the Astros on paper; they were by far the best defensive team in the MLB this year and had the best pitching rotation (what else do I have to say besides Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish, Dallas Keuchel, Justin Verlander?), and although the Astros led the MLB in True Average and other offensive stats, the Dodgers were not far behind them at all.

That’s not to say that the Astros will lose in four games–anything can happen. I’m always down for a good underdog story, so of course I would enjoy seeing the Astros win, especially after their years and years as the butt of endless jokes, but even I admit that the Dodgers practically deserve to win.

Elisabeth Zak, guest picker, Angeleno and Avid Dodgers Fan

Los doyerssssssss.

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