As the late great Vin Scully used to say, “It’s time for Dodger baseball.”
As of late, Los Angeles has been spoiled with the constant appearance of the Los Angeles Dodgers in October. The playoff appearances have been greatly appreciated, but it is a World Series Championship or bust situation as the Dodgers have set a team record of 111 wins.
Many say that the Dodgers have had a history of choking these recent years; it is partly true and part exaggeration. They have been one of the favorites to win the World Series since 2017. If what is expected to happen always happens, then why play the games?
The game is played to prove people right and to prove people wrong. The Dodgers wanted to prove their believers right while every other teams and their fans wanted to prove the Dodgers wrong; the Dodgers have been proven wrong most of the time.
Let’s not rehash the 2017 cheating scandal because that could hardly be considered a choke. 2018 was heart wrenching as they lost to the Boston Red Sox in the World Series. 2019 ended up with a loss to the eventual champions–the Washington Nationals. The championship in the 2020 pandemic bubble was hard earned but it was in the bubble, and is not recieving a lot of respect.
Dodgers entered the 2021 season as the favorite to win it all but lost to the eventual winner, the Atlanta Braves. Well, this year theDodgers have returned as the favorites and based on recent history, the Dodgers either win it all or lose to the eventual champion. If there is such a thing as a silver-lining or a consolation in this scenario–should the Dodgers lose–they lose to the champions.
This series against the San Diego Padres is a story of redemption on both sides of the clubhouse. The Padres trying to prove that they even belong in the playoffs as their star player Fernando Tatis Jr. was suspended 80 games in August for use of PEDs. Former Dodger Yu Darvish will be the starter for game two of the series, as he tries to forget the debacle of the 2017 World Series against the proven cheaters the Houston Astros. Many questions of what could have been had that series ended differently; he could have be pitching for the Dodgers now. Instead the Dodger bats have been struggling against him all year with the exception of Freddie Freeman.
Once tolerated but now hated Manny Machado is now with the Padres, who was traded for by the Dodgers in 2018 to replace Corey Seager after a season ending Tommy John’s surgery; he receives endless boos at Chavez Ravine. At first, he was welcomed by the Dodger community with open arms, as the “MANNYWOOD” section of the bleachers was revived. Machado lost the support of the Dodger fans and baseball fans in general, when he failed to hustle his way to first base on a groundball in against the Milwaukee Brewers in the playoffs. He later solidified the spurn of the fans with his statement of not being a “Johnny Hustle.” Marchado’s performance during the playoffs and eventual signing with the San Diego Padres in the off season, only added to his deserved boos. In the 2019 season, while playing for the San Diego Padres at Dodger stadium Marchado guaranteed that he would never get the love of the Dodger fans ever again. He had an exchange with Dodger fans while on deck, betting his entire 10-year $300 million contract that the Padres would win the World Series before the Dodgers. In 2020, Marchado was proven wrong and has yet to pay on his bet.
Redemption … one World Series Championship after being favored for six of them is not a good ratio. Some have no respect for the one championship because it was in the “bubble.” There is no situation that this season can be seen as a success without a championship because the Dodgers themselves have raised expectations by setting a franchise record with 111 wins in the regular season. Anything outside of a championship would be considered another choke in the eyes of many.
Relief … Dodgers manager, Dave Roberts, has relieved some of that pressure by having Clayton Kershaw pitch the second game of the series. Julio Urias pitched the first game beautifully until he began to falter in the fifth inning by allowing Will Myers to homer over the left field wall, just inches away from Trayce Thompson’s glove. Urias ended the fifth inning giving away 3 runs. Relief was necessary. Dave Roberts’ starting pitcher are 22-22 during the playoffs and his relievers are 22-13; it was time for him to earn his pay. Roberts turned to his bullpen and held the Padres to just 3 hits the rest of the game. Dodgers win and hopefully there are more to come.