A family member, a casual baseball fan, and life-long Californian texted me this morning: “Can you get me tickets to tonight’s game? It’s a must-see here in LA.”
After 2,468 regular & post-season games, and for the 4th time in 6 years, the fate of a championship comes down to one game. Tonight. Game Seven. The greatest two words in sports.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are seeking to win their first world championship in 29 years. The Houston Astros are orbiting around their first title in the 50+ year history of the team. With so much as stake — for both teams — it’s no wonder tickets are in high demand. StubHub said on Wednesday morning that the average ticket sold to tonight’s night’s was purchased for $1,795. As pointed out here, that falls short of last year’s Game 7 between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians, where history books were about to be re-written. Per ESPN, It also more than doubles the price paid on StubHub for a Game 7 ticket in 2014 (Giants-Royals, $887) and nearly triples what was paid for a Game 7 in 2011 (Cardinals-Rangers, $696.) Since I couldn’t be in St. Louis during that latter example, I’m somewhere within here at Foley’s eating $700 worth of toasted ravioli. Worth it.
As I wrote about around the same time last year, tonight’s finale will culminate with an unlikely of scripts. Who are tonight’s heroes? Which protagonist will guide this story? For an hour or so during last year’s Game 7, Raja Davis was the king. A dramatic 8th inning home run flew out of Progressive Field and nearly into history. What happened next could not be predicted. The most dramatic in game rain delay in MLB history arrived and famously altered the fate of these two teams, cities, and generations of fans forever. Talk about an entrance!
What we do know is that for 3+ hours, this heavyweight of a World Series will seduce us towards a heart-racing final act tonight and complete a decades old quest for one of these teams. And perhaps that’s the way it should be for these characters at play. Until they win their next championship, the Dodgers remain frozen in the epilogue of perhaps the most dramatic world series script reveal of all time. The Astros, in only their second world series, are hoping to write their own 11 o’clock number.
Perhaps baseball is reminding us again not only how hard this game is to play, but how dramatic, gut-wrenching, and joyous it can all be when a script, players, setting, and mood all come together.
As the great writers Will Leitch and Derrick Goold have said, baseball, at its core, is the building and release of tension. No other sport is truly off-the-clock like baseball is (let’s ignore the pitchers warm-up clock for a moment, mmm’kay?) Football, basketball, hockey all come with derived play-clocks. At some moment 15 or 20 minutes from now, time expires for those sports and those players. And ending is forced upon us. For baseball, the on-field script not only dictates its final curtain, it manufactures its own inertia. Getting to three outs moves the action ahead and it’s up to its uniformed talent to move the scene-work forward. How a pitcher throws, how a batter reacts, how a runner jumps, how a manager strategizes all drive the plot forward. How long that takes, how many hits, how many pitching changes are all musical numbers that push and pull that tension forward. Baseball writes its script before your eyes. Ask Dennis Eckerlsey. Ask Brad Lidge. Ask anyone who has witnessed the first 6 games of this world series and they will tell you this may be the most plot-shifting series of them all.
You simply can’t hide behind an at-bat. When taking full swings at a ball, there’s no denying when you’ve missed.
Broadway is extremely similar. Like our national past time, live theatre success is dependent on achievements within its own white lines. Do you have characters, plot devices, and physical production elements that not only move the action forward, but create those pitcher-to-batter conflicts so necessary for the building and release of tension? If all of those elements come together, are you marketing a product that has the ability to demand audience attention, keep patrons riveted for 3 hours, and build loyalists for a lifetime?
On its biggest stage, baseball has shown us over the years that scripts, on paper alone, don’t make good drama. As they say in live theatre, the script needs to get on its feet. You need the players, the real-time tension, and you need a captivated and transformed audience. You need physical and perhaps unforseen production elements to truly create a masterful production. You need Gibson, Buck, Freese, Buck, and anything Scully to add narrative and skyrocket the script to new dimensions and infamy. You need heart-racing writers on deadline burning the midnight oil storytelling to the world. When you put it all together, the tension is colossal and its release is immensely satisfying.
It takes more than a line-up card in baseball, and it takes more than a great script on Broadway. It requires risk-takers and dreamers who understand that Broadway, like baseball, is extremely dimensional and highly sensory. Once under the bright lights in front of a captivated audience, a well written script can be completely flipped. In seventh games, the lights brighten, the tickets skyrocket, and the whole world watches.
It takes more than a line-up card in baseball, and it takes more than a great script on Broadway. It requires risk-takers and dreamers who understand that Broadway, like baseball, is extremely dimensional and highly sensory. Once under the bright lights in front of a captivated audience, an unlikely script can be transformative. On Broadway and for Game 7s, the bigger the stakes, the bigger the release. If you achieve that — people will come, Ray.
People will most certainly come.