Game 7 Memories: The Joy of Baseball Silences the Foghorn

There will be no Game 7 this year. We’ve only had two in the last five World Series, so it’s far from a safe assumption. I attended a pair of them during my time with the Astros, including the last World Series (and Houston) game I went to, just over two years ago: Game 7 in 2019. It was a miserable experience at the time, and only exacerbated by the things to come, both publicly and privately. At the same time, the last two minutes of the game reinforced my love of baseball.

The World Series is incredibly stressful for teams, and that stress is magnified greatly by the time one reaches the finale. Between exhibition games, the regular season, and the playoffs, teams are approaching their 200th game of the year, and with all of that, it still comes down to nine innings. Win the game, and your team is part of history. Lose, and you are little more than the answer to a trivia question.

The stress of the day is overwhelming, and it feels like game time will never arrive. My wife, who had been traveling with me since Game 3, decided to drag me away from my nervous energy by finding an afternoon movie to help distract from the importance of the evening to come and pass the time before we headed to the ballpark. She suggested something popular on the indie film scene at the time: Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse.

If you know the film, you are likely already laughing at the thought of it serving as a stress reliever. While it is quite excellent, it’s a claustrophobic, incessant doomfest about a pair of lighthouse workers, isolated during a storm, as they spiral into insanity, or maybe just more into insanity, given that they arrived there already well on their way.

Beyond striking visuals and a pair of incredible performances from Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson, what stands out most about The Lighthouse is the sound design, which is among the most memorable I can think of. Sound plays a massive role in the film; the music and ambient noise are constant and always foreboding, but the most iconic sound from the film is a frequent foghorn (as heard in the beginning of that trailer) that acts as an indicator of things ramping up. That foghorn stays with you, and it still enters my headspace at times of high stress.

My wife and I arrived at the stadium early to avoid a sold-out crowd, get something to eat and relax in the quiet team offices before we needed to enter the pressure-filled stadium itself. And over the first six innings, things were going quite well for the Astros. But it all unraveled in the seventh. I remember watching Howie Kendrick’s home run from our seats about 20 rows behind the third base dugout, sure that it was a foul ball off the bat. I was wrong.

For the first time since sitting in the theatre that afternoon, I heard the foghorns.

After the Kendrick home run, the foghorns continued, as the Astros’ bullpen allowed a 3–2 lead to balloon to 6–2 by the bottom of the ninth inning. Houston’s probability of winning the game was less than two percent. I don’t remember the stadium being that quiet since the early years of my Astros career, when instead of being on the verge of a title, they were the worst team in baseball.

We had a highly vocal Astros fan directly in front of us on that night who throughout the game was loud and exuberant, often cajoling the section to stand or scream or to meet his energy level in cheering. By the bottom of the ninth, even he was quietly sitting, seemingly resolved to the fact that there was nothing he could do.

George Springer led off the inning by popping out to second base.


Jose Altuve struck out.

Foghorns, only louder.

If you were to stand in our seats that night and look straight ahead, you would be looking at third base; to watch home plate, you needed to turn your head to the right. With the Astros down to their final out, for reasons I’m still not sure of, I turned my head to the left instead. Maybe I just wanted to take it all in. Yes, they were down to a 1-in-500 shot at winning, but I was still witnessing history.

That’s when I saw it: Juan Soto and Victor Robles, the two happiest and most excited people I had ever seen in person. In between every pitch, they were jumping up and down, at times screaming into the air, and sharing looks at each other of “Holy crap! This is happening!” It was pure, unbridled joy, and it was infectious. I told my wife to stop turning her head to the right and focusing on the game, and instead go left and bear down on these two outfielders she had never heard of. By the time Michael Brantley whiffed on a killer 3–2 slider from Daniel Hudson, she was smiling along with Soto and Robles.

The Nationals hurdled from the dugout and mobbed the middle of the field as Soto and Robles sprinted in. There I was, standing in the losing team’s stadium, part of the losing team itself, and I couldn’t help but smile as I watched the celebration. The sound of the foghorns slowly faded away.

Kevin Goldstein is a National Writer at FanGraphs.

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2 years ago

Love it. It is hard not to feel joy when looking at Snitker’s face as he was being hugged by his coaching staff after the final out. Doesn’t matter who you root for.