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Tales from the 2023 World Series: Stories from a sports lover

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he Phoenix night air carries an anticipating silence, casting a mellowed glow over hungry fans in Chase Field. The prophecy of the bottom of the ninth — the coveted ring — rests on the brink of a singular pitch. At two outs and two strikes, the batter Ketel Marte wears a heavy expression as he waves the bat, loosening the unsettling tension in his arms. He takes his stance. He awaits the inevitable. Reliever Josh Sborz kicks up his left leg and begins the motion of swinging his body. His right palm releases a streak of white, a comet gliding toward the crater of a sweat-blackened leather mitt. Marte stands motionless. The umpire’s clenched fist punches the air in a quick, sharp blow. Eruption ensues. The Texas Rangers have won it all.

When a friend asked me whether I wanted the Texas Rangers or Arizona Diamondbacks to win the 2023 World Series, I had difficulty deciding. Although I don’t have a connection with either team—I’m unfortunately a loyal Angels fan until I die—I was excited that two wildcard teams had fought their way to place in the Fall Classic. 

As an English major, I am drawn to stories, and fascinated by the way narratives hold the power to deepen connections with others. When it comes to baseball, the stories of dedicated teams, hardworking players and loyal fanbases are a recurring theme, but each season, there is always a new narrative to write. There’s always something added to the story—whether that be through the addition of energetic characters, teams that haven’t had much screen time in the past, or even the age in which fans find themselves engaging in the baseball world. As a baseball fan, I immerse myself in the emotions that come from this shared human experience, emotions that amplify on the cusp of glory. I believe each team, each player, and especially each loyal fan, deserving of the overwhelming emotions of a World Series win. 

When it was down to the final two, both teams captivated me with favorable arguments. On one hand, there were the Rangers, a team that had yet to win their first World Series title in franchise history. Emerging from a six-year playoff drought, the Rangers dominated the AL West in 2023 by signing key players during the offseason. However, it was the story of Texas right fielder Adolis Garcia that piqued my interest, a Cuban native who embodies the meaning of resilience. With a desire to play in the Major League, Garcia continually endured setback after setback, playing in Japan to circumvent the Cuban government and seemingly making his big break after being signed to the St. Louis Cardinals to only make 17 Major League appearances in three years. He was eventually traded to his current Rangers ball club. Despite this trade, the Rangers and all other MLB teams failed to see his potential as he went unclaimed after being designated. Eventually, the Rangers called him up in the 2021 season as an injury replacement, and since then, Garcia has not looked back, becoming the most wanted man in every stadium he has touched in 2023. Putting aside my allegiance to the Angels, I have to admit that Garcia carries an electrifying energy to every single one of his at-bats. His story makes his successes all the much sweeter. 

On the other hand, the Diamondbacks have made a film-worthy Cinderella run. According to FanGraphs, the D-backs entered this season with a 1.2% chance of reaching the World Series. Despite those parameters, I was greatly satisfied to see them defy all odds, knocking down a domino line of improbable upsets against the Brewers, Dodgers and the heavily favored Phillies to rightfully earn their place on center stage. Additionally, I love a good redemption story, and for “the Snakes,” it was 38-year-old Evan Longoria and his second chance at winning the ring that tugged me in the direction of the D-Backs. Despite contemplating retirement before the season, Longoria signed a one-year contract with Arizona in order to bring veteran leadership to the young clubhouse. Little did he know that he’d get another opportunity to flirt with World Series victory, 15 years after his initial date with the ring when he reached the World Series as a rookie in 2008 with the Tampa Bay Rays. I am in constant awe of this mysterious mixed roster of players who have cracked the code and slithered their way into the World Series. 

Despite rooting for both teams throughout the postseason, I find it more exciting to be favoring one team at the end. In the case of the World Series, I’m always going to root for the underdogs, but my guide had not prepared me for the unforeseen scenario where the last ones standing would be two underdog teams. After a frenzied deliberation in my mind, I settled on the Rangers. In the end, the measly tiebreaker was Cal alum and fellow Bear Marcus Semien who pulled the rope in my Texas pick. Nonetheless, my allegiance to the Rangers in the series was a rocky rollercoaster of emotions, to say the least. Most avid baseball fans can agree that the World Series is worth the watch no matter your home team. It is a time when the greatest teams and players of the season face off in their final performance: a long, 162-day dance throughout the regular season, and an additional month of arduous playoff tangos boil down to this one moment. This season’s Fall Classic was no different. 

In Game 1 of the 2023 World Series, I watched an entertaining back-and-forth brawl between the two teams in offensive runs. With a two-run lead in the ninth, it seemed the D-backs had taken the game, but every Texas fan in Globe Life Field Stadium anxiously gripped onto the mantra “It ain’t over till it’s over.” As if sensing their pleas, Corey Seager answered with a miraculous rocket of a homer to left field that not only tied the game but forcibly awakened a beast in the crowd, leaving me wide-eyed with excited shock. When the notorious “bad man” Adolis Garcia came to the plate in the 11th inning, I had a feeling something was brewing, and in true Garcia fashion, he delivered. With a swing of the bat, Garcia sent a walk-off solo homer and officially etched Texas’ name down as the Game 1 winners. 

Because Game 1 was electrifying, I was excited to see what moments would define Game 2, and neither team disappointed. Both teams carried the momentum with incredible defensive plays, but it was Arizona who broke the game open in the 8th. Throughout the playoffs, I have thoroughly enjoyed watching the incredibly talented rookie Corbin Carroll and postseason-hit streaker Ketel Marte. In keeping up with their reputations, they each played vital roles in the 8th inning, tacking on extra insurance runs to seal the deal. When it was all said and done, some part of me was pleased with Game 2 belonging to the D-backs, who boasted an impressive nine runs to Texas’ one. I was happy that D-back fans were getting a taste of a well-deserved World Series game win. 

With the series tied, I could not wait for the next show in Game 3, especially since all eyes were on the pitching marquee matchup that flashed, “25-year-old rookie Brandon Pfaadt vs. the veteran and future Hall of Famer Max Scherzer.” For baseball fans, we were getting treated to a classic David vs. Goliath showdown. While Goliath exited the game after three innings due to back tightness, I was proud to see that David put up a great fight. I could only imagine the diverse mixture of nerves, excitement and awe racing through Pfaadt who, in his first year in the Majors, found himself pitching in the World Series. Although I wanted the D-Backs to win this game for Pfaadt, the Rangers were able to ride their three-run third inning to a Game 3 victory. 

If there were a game that could define the tumultuous nature of the sport called baseball, then Game 4 must be it. Although the action tends to fall in later innings, Texas could not wait to join in on the fun. From the start, my eyes were glued to my screen as the Rangers blew the D-backs out of the water with an onslaught of back-to-back five-run innings with exhilarating multi-run homers from Seager and Semien that silenced the Arizona crowd. Despite a sizable cushion, I was glad to see that the D-backs did not back down from the ring, putting pressure on the Rangers in the 8th and 9th innings with multiple runs. Ultimately, it was the Rangers who prevailed in a score of 11-7, putting them one game away from holding up the Commissioner’s Trophy. 

Despite my physical distance from the ballpark, I could sense the stirring atmosphere of the games through the images that poured out from my phone screen — waves of fans swaying in anticipation, zoomed-in shots of players leaning their arms over the dugout rail to await their fate and announcers parting the seas of silence, letting the plays do the talking. Since I had no connection to either team, I got to enjoy the World Series for the sake of watching the beautiful game of baseball. In all its unpredictability, baseball has left me turning on my screen each day for the last eight months. But the dawning end of the World Series is different. There is no guarantee of a  “we’ll get them” tomorrow. 

Although I mostly (kinda) stood by the Rangers in each game so far, I couldn’t help but wish for the D-backs to redeem themselves. Maybe it’s because I’m drawn to the excitement of a comeback and rooting for the losing team (something I know well with my Angels). Maybe it’s the desire for deserving D-back fans to taste another sip from the Fountain of Youth and revel in another win. Maybe it’s just me, another baseball fan, wanting to engross myself in just one more night of baseball before having to wait until March to relive all these emotions again. Whatever it was, nothing prepared me for the rush of emotions I felt on that last out of the last game of the World Series. 

As fate would have it, the Rangers did indeed win the World Series, closing off Game 5 with a five-run shutout. As I watched that final out, I  couldn’t help but smile with pure bliss as a herd of players excitedly rushed the field. The pinnacle of a nearly eight-month-long baseball season came to a well-deserved, thrilling, emotional closure. 

Because the media loves two sides to every story, the camera of course had to pan to the Diamondbacks dugout. Through my phone screen, I felt a heaviness in my chest as I watched the D-backs dejectedly stare out at the clamorous pack of Rangers storming the field. The feeling of “that could have been us” was written so clearly in their eyes. What hurt even more was seeing the post-game interview, where I watched D-backs manager Torey Lovullo fight back tears just to apologize for feeling like he “didn’t do [his] job.” I can’t even begin to imagine the way he was feeling. 

The story that rarely makes it to the front-page headlines, however, is the story of your everyday sports fan. From the die-hard season ticket holders to the locals who occupy their summer nights with friends at the ballpark, to the ones who support their team from their screens, the fans are the ones who make these moments come alive. They feel all the wins and losses of their team, the chest blow of a disappointing upset and the physical joy of a walkoff in extra innings. They proudly wear their team’s insignia and eagerly sit in a stadium through rain or shine. Many stay until the last out, even when their team is losing by a significant margin. They are the fans who congregate around the TV, praying for a miracle in the ninth. Head in hands, they sit with hearts pounding and anticipation overflowing in shaky legs and bitten fingernails. You have the fans who spend their whole lifetime waiting for their team to possess World Series glory. 

These unknown stories have led us to the same place, whether it’s in the plastic seats of a ballpark or at the edge of the couch in front of a TV, we gather with other excited listeners who wait anxiously to hear the ending to the same story.  More than anything, I believe the fans are the people who deserve to win, and in every World Series dual, only half get to feel that way. In this baseball season’s story, it is Diamondback fans, and all baseball fans who didn’t make it to that final series, who are left without their desired ending, and the only thing we can do is wait. So, here comes the waiting. We await the promise of a new season, a new story, and the hope of winning it all. Again and again and again. 

Contact Stephanie Nguyen at