The drama of a Game 7 is real. Tonight, the Tampa Bay Rays and Houston Astros play for a spot in the World Series.
Also real, though, is baseball’s new, drastically altered world.
Home field advantage? Well, if any players in the Rays-Astros American League Championship Series game feel at home in San Diego, perhaps.
Screaming legions of faithful followers? Sure, if you’re playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers or Atlanta Braves in the National League Championship Series — and you consider approximately 11,000 fans to qualify as “legions.”
Major League Baseball decided that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NLCS and World Series will be played at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, home of the Texas Rangers, and the ALCS is going down at San Diego’s Petco Park, home of the Padres.
No fans are permitted in the San Diego stadium, but even as cases rise in the greater Dallas area, fans will be watching today’s Dodgers-Braves game in person.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and the Rangers drafted protocols to follow, and one look at the stadium shows the crowd seated in small pods throughout the stadium.
So that’s something trending toward normal, at least.
The Braves, with Max Fried set to start, have a 3-2 series lead entering Game 6 against Walker Buehler and the Dodgers at 1:38 p.m. PDT.
The Rays, who took a 3-0 lead, have seen the Astros rally to win the past three games in a row. Charlie Morton holds Tampa Bay’s hopes as he starts tonight against Houston’s Lance McCullers for the 5:37 p.m. PDT start.
Meanwhile, the San Diego Union-Tribune had some fun providing baseball fans suggestions for how to watch the Rays-Astros games. The newspaper offered vistas from more than 15 buildings that have a view of Petco Park.
As a story in the Union-Tribune put it, “It might be the worst seat you’ll ever buy, but after seven months of pandemic, we’re not judging.”