Astros vs. Dodgers World Series: These longtime vets have a shot at winning a ring
Granderson, Verlander, Beltran and more are looking to reach the top of the MLB world
LOS ANGELES -- We're just one day away from the start of the 2017 World Series. It's a series between two titans, the first Fall Classic between 100-win teams since 1970. So many different aspects of the series are interesting and I'd like to focus here on some longtime veterans who might finally get to win their first World Series ring.
This isn't to say that these guys "deserve" a ring more than anyone else, it's just a fun little side story to see someone who has been in the game for more than a decade and has never won the big one to finally reach the top of the proverbial mountain.
An added bonus here is that fans who don't care to root for either team might find an individual he or she likes here to rally around. You might not be a Dodgers fan, but you can be a Curtis Granderson fan for the World Series, for example.
Let's take a quick look, going with the Dodgers first, since they are the team with home-field advantage. This is subjective to an extent, but we'll focus mostly on players with at least 10 years experience who have never won it all.
Los Angeles Dodgers
We start with a good one in the sentiment department. Ethier is the longest-tenured Dodger. He's been with the organization since being drafted in the second round in 2003 out of Arizona State. He's been through the McCourt years, lots of playoff success and been an outfield sidekick of MVP candidate Matt Kemp, back when Kemp could run. Thanks to injuries, Ethier's only been able to appear in 38 regular season games in the past two years combined, but he's still had an impressive 12-year run with the Dodgers. He'll hit free agency after the season, so perhaps a World Series ring would be the best going-away present.
This one is tough. Gonzalez isn't with the team. He was badly hampered by injuries this season, so the Dodgers mainstay was left off the postseason roster. Surely he'd love to be in different circumstances, but getting his first ring in this his 14th season would still be meaningful. Right?
Long known as one of the nicest guys (I can personally vouch for this part) and best teammates in baseball, the 36-year-old Granderson is looking for his first ring in this, his 14th season. He's appeared in 14 different postseason series in seven different years, including two World Series, but has never won a ring. Is the 15th time the charm?
The 37-year-old Hill went from promising starter to mediocre reliever to nearly-out-of-baseball to independent ball and now he's looking for his first ring in a 13-year MLB career.
OK, so Kershaw isn't exactly in the same mold as some of the others listed here, but he's a future Hall of Famer and the best pitcher of his generation. He's the pitching version of Mike Trout in that the "oh man, I'd love to see him make a deep postseason run" sentiment fits. Maybe two dominant outings in a World Series championship series will shut his legions of critics up for good.
This feels like the last chance for the 40-year-old borderline (in the opinion of many -- I'd personally have him in) Hall of Famer. He's on his last legs and a free agent after the year. Beltran has been to 14 different postseason series in seven different seasons and played in the 2013 World Series. He's to this point never won it all, despite a .311/.417/.618 career postseason slash line. Confession: Beltran's case was what gave me the idea to write this. It just feels like this would be the perfect conclusion to his career. We don't often get "ride into the sunset" championships from Hall of Famers in sports and here's the chance for one in MLB.
The veteran lefty is now 33 with a ton of wear and tear on his arm. His days in rotations might be in the rearview. He's been to eight different postseason series in five years with four different teams but never won the big one.
The seven-time All-Star and six-time Silver Slugger winner has played in seven postseason series in his 13-year career, but never the World Series.
Maybe it would feel wrong if he finally won a ring and it wasn't with the Tigers. It's still weird to see him in a different team's gear. A championship is a championship and though he didn't join the team until Aug. 31, there's no chance the Astros are here without Verlander. He's 34, a possible future Hall of Famer, a former Rookie of the Year, Cy Young winner and MVP. He's a six-time All-Star with 123 career postseason innings pitched. The 13-year veteran has never won a ring, though. Perhaps this is it.
If you don't like the Dodgers or Astros, perhaps you like one of more of the players listed above and can get behind the "I want (insert name) to win a ring!" sentiment. There are definitely some candidates in this one on both sides.
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