It’s one of the most storied franchises in sports history and the mere whisper of the name “Dodgers” immediately invokes the memories of some of baseball’s most glorious names, stretching all the way from New York to Los Angeles and encompassing a million sandlots in between.
Say them together, baseball fans: Koufax, Drysdale, Campanella, Reese, Keeler, Snider. Valenzuela.
Jackie Robinson! Need we say more?
With the Dodgers sweeping Arizona and moving on to the NLCS, it’s compelling to look back at those great names that have literally helped to shape America’s favourite pastime, but for fans of today’s team, it’s more important to look ahead.
It’s been too long since the World Series has come up Dodger blue. Not Cubs or Indians long or anything, but it was 1988 the last time the champagne corks were popped, and in sporting circles, that’s an eternity. That was the series best known for the pinch-hit walk-off home run hit by Dodgers outfielder and 1988 NL MVP Kirk Gibson, who could barely walk due to injuries, against Hall-of-Fame Athletics closer Dennis Eckersley in Game 1. The one you see on every World Series highlight package. But it was pitcher Orel Hershiser, singing hymns quietly to himself on the mound and mowing down hitters at a record pace, who was the backbone of that Championship squad. It would be the second and final World Series ring for legendary manager Tommy Lasorda as well.
But again that was 1988 and despite baseball folklore and their own impressive string of Hall Of Famers, the Brookyln/LA Dodgers have only managed to win 6 Championships. Compare that with the 27 World Series rings that the hated New York Yankees have to brag about.
So while it’s natural to talk about the faces of the past, its guy with names like Kershaw, Puig and Seager on their backs that are looking to finally take this team into the future. 104 wins, which was the most in their 60 year Los Angeles existence, easily outdistanced their closest rivals, and it was their fifth consecutive National League West title. All that looks nice and impressive after a 162 game schedule. It’s the final few weeks of the season that make or break history, however. Too many times the Dodgers have gone to the well only to come back thirsty, which his somewhat of a historical trademark of this famous franchise.
Throughout the ‘40s and ‘50s, there was an annual ritual of teasing their loyal fans for a good portion of the season, only to disappoint at or near the end of the baseball schedule as the Yankees or Giants or Cardinals ran away with all the final glory. Year after year, all that continuous heartache led to fans adopting the unofficial Dodger slogan of “Wait ‘til Next Year.” What goes around sometimes unfortunately comes around.
For long suffering fans however, a mere 8 more wins and the wait is over.
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