If the LAD win it all will it count?

By: coachemup!



As you may have heard, the Los Angeles Dodgers have been trying to win a World Series since 1988.

They have won their division a franchise-record seven seasons in a row. And in each of those seasons they have found new and excruciating ways to get bounced from the playoffstime and again, while trying to take home the big prize.

It has been a strange time to be a Dodger fan. The Dodgers’ utter domination of the National League West for the better part of a decade has been one long halcyon dream. Each October has given way to nightmares. For a few weeks after every season ends, I find myself wondering if it truly is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all, or if Alfred Lord Tennyson is full of it.

October wounds never quite heal until a championship — or three — offer the antidote. So each season, Dodger fans begin with high hopes and fresh scabs, tender in places that could rip open again when the regular season ends and the real season begins.

Of course, this pandemic-shortened season is different in so many ways it’s hard to track fan emotions. Some are thrilled to have something to watch on television every night other than news of mounting death tolls and job losses. Some are uncomfortable and downright angry that Major League Baseball is conducting a season and perhaps taking COVID-19 tests away from the public to do so.

Given how weird the 2020 season will be, if MLB is able to complete its 60-game regular season and play all the way through the World Series, it’s hard to imagine any team’s fan base being irate that its team didn’t win it all. It’s Opening Day, and we still do not know where the Toronto Blue Jays will play their home games this year. In the hours leading up to the season’s first pitch between the Nationals and Yankees, we learned that Washington’s star outfielder Juan Soto tested positive for the coronavirus and will be out indefinitely. We also learned that the playoffs this season will expand from 10 to 16 (!) teams. That means more clubs will make the postseason than not this year, and any of the top-seeded teams could be eliminated in a scary three-game series immediately.

On the surface, expanded playoffs would seem to hurt the best teams in the game, including the Dodgers, Yankees, Twins and Nationals. But a glimpse into recent history shows that a little bit of grace may help them in the long run. The Dodgers may have won the NL West for the last seven seasons, but they enjoyed the division’s best record through the first 60 games only twice.

2019: 41-19. First place in NL West. Seven games ahead of the next best team in the NL, Milwaukee. Lost in NL Division Series.

2018: 30-30. Third place in NL West. Ninth-best record in the National League. This team made it all the way to the World Series in 2018. But had that regular season only been 60 games, the Dodgers would not have made the playoffs.

2017: 35-25. Third place in the NL West. Fourth-best NL record. This team also made the World Series.

2016: 32-28. Second place in the NL West. Fifth-best in the NL. Wound up making the NL Championship Series.

2015: 35-25. First in the NL West. Second-best record in the National League. Lost in NLDS.

2014: 31-29. Second place in NL West. Fourth-best in NL. Lost in NLDS.

2013: 27-33. Last in NL West. 11th-best team in NL. Lost in NLCS.

During the Andrew Friedman era that began in 2015, the Dodgers have prided themselves on the kind of roster depth that allows them to withstand the injuries that always happen during a 162-game slog. As those marathon seasons crept into July, August and September, the club’s skilled reinforcements from the minor-league level were able to help kick the Dodgers’ play into another gear while other teams bit the dust. In seasons where they started slow, the Dodgers simply outlasted everyone to the finish.

This season will be a 60-game sprint. And while their lineup is arguably the toughest they’ve constructed in decades from one through nine (yes, there’s a designated hitter in the NL this year, too!), a three-game losing streak is more like a 10-game slide, and that should terrify the best teams especially. The worst teams have nothing to lose this year, and that should also terrify the best teams.

There will be some who say that any team that wins the World Series this year will bring home a championship with an asterisk, but I think that’s bollocks. The team that wins this year will be the team that gets the hottest in October. And isn’t that what happens every year?

The Dodgers do have good juju when it comes to strange seasons. In 1981, MLB players went on strike for six weeks in the middle of the season. Division winners of the first and second halves played each other in the first round of the playoffs. The Dodgers — who had won the NL West in the first half by going 36-21 — beat the Astros 3-2 in a five-game series in the first round, then squeaked by Montreal with a 3-2 series win to capture the pennant. They then won the World Series in six games over the Yankees.

The Dodgers played 110 regular-season games that season. That trophy carries no asterisk; that title carries no doubt.

If the Dodgers do finally win it all this year in a shortened season, it will be sad if the pandemic never allows fans to see games from a championship run in person. But winning a championship is never easy. And if the Astros don’t have to take an asterisk for 2017, no team should have to wear one this year.

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