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Dodgers, Astros Prepare For A Hot And Sweaty Game 1 In LA

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

We do not know who will win game one of the World Series tomorrow night, but we do know there will be lots and lots of sweat. The Los Angeles Dodgers host the Houston Astros. And right now, the temperature for the first pitch tomorrow is forecast to be 96 degrees. That makes for a very summery fall classic. Richard Justice is a national columnist for mlb.com, and he joins us now to preview the series. Welcome back.

RICHARD JUSTICE: Thank you, Robert.

SIEGEL: For sure, we're going to have a lot more pieces about the heat by grumpy, wilted sportswriters. But will temperatures actually affect the game on Tuesday all that much?

JUSTICE: You know, it'll probably affect the pre-game preparation. One of the things managers do now that they didn't do in past years - and it started with Joe Maddon in Tampa and in Chicago - is manage risk, keep players off the field, especially on hot days. And it's going to be a hot one. But it's probably only going to be the first hour or so. You know, after the sun sets, it'll - the temperatures will go down quickly. But it will be a different experience.

SIEGEL: I guess, outside of the Cleveland Indians, these were the other two clear-cut best teams in the major leagues. What do you think of this matchup, the Dodgers versus the Astros?

JUSTICE: Well, we haven't had two 100-win teams since 1970. And I think there were portions of the year where baseball fans would argue - until Cleveland got really hot at the end and won 22 in a row, there were portions where you'd say the Dodgers - they're the best team maybe in years. And then the Astros were the best team for a while. So you know, this is the way you're supposed to do it. You're supposed to settle it on the field.

They have - both have very deep lineups. The starting pitching is really good. I would say the Dodgers' bullpen might be a little better. Added to that is the two managers - Dave Roberts of the Dodgers and A.J. Hinch of the Astros - worked together with the Padres and are the best of friends, stay in touch all year. That adds another dimension to it.

SIEGEL: Here's a two-word question you can answer as you like. Jose Altuve - say something.

JUSTICE: Phenomenal, a guy that was told he wasn't good enough in Venezuela. He is a superstar. He made himself into a superstar. He cares as much as any player any of us has ever been around. He's got the quickest hands. I think he's the guy that everyone - everyone who cares about the Astros, he's the guy they love the most.

SIEGEL: He's their great second baseman. Now, for longtime fans, the weirdness of this matchup is that for years, they were both in the National League West. Houston has changed leagues. Does that feel a little strange to you?

JUSTICE: It does feel strange. I live in the city of Houston, and you know, baseball fans there - who were your rivals? Your rivals were the Cardinals, the Reds, the Cubs. So it takes some getting used to. In the '80s, these were not just rivals. These were very bitter rivals. And very good teams for stretches met in the playoffs. So yeah, it does - it will look funny seeing two traditional National League teams on the field at the same time. But you know, change happens.

SIEGEL: I think we're going to hear a lot about Houston's recovery from Hurricane Harvey. What do you think a World Series win would mean to that city?

JUSTICE: Oh, I think - when the Astros came home, the Astros were - had to play - were displaced and had to play three games in Tampa. And the players were terribly worried about their families. An outfielder named George Springer thought he had lost his home for a few days. You had families trapped at home.

When they came back, they were not sure they should come back. They asked the mayor, should we stay and play the Mets in Tampa? They'd played the Rangers in Tampa. And the mayor, Sylvester Turner, said to them, no, you come back here, and you play baseball. And we'll count this - we'll mark this as the beginning of the reconstruction. And it's been very emotional. The players have said and done the right things. They've rolled up their sleeves and gotten to work.

A sportswriter asked A.J. Hinch, the Astros manager, hey, what are you going to say to get - to clear the players' minds and get them - stop them from thinking about this after a visit to the George R. Brown Convention Center where they saw firsthand displaced people and did what they could to help? And he said, I don't want them to put that out of their mind. We are parts of this community. I want them to have that in their mind when they play.

SIEGEL: Richard Justice is a national columnist for mlb.com. Thank you.

JUSTICE: Thank you, Robert.

SIEGEL: And the World Series begins between the Houston Astros and the LA Dodgers tomorrow. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.