“For what it’s worth, it was worth all the while
It’s something unpredictable, but in the end is right,
I hope you had the time of your life.” ~Green Day
Longtime readers of my column may remember that last year, I used a song to encompass thoughts I had about any Dodgers doings and happenings. I felt it fitting to bring that back for this column, and as Green Day so often does, wrote lyrics to capture exactly what I was feeling.
Although the season didn’t end the way all of us would have liked, it was quite possibly the most exciting season that could have been. Just because the Dodgers fell a few runs short of winning the World Series doesn’t make it any less so. This team won 104 games, even after enduring an 11-game losing streak three-quarters of the way through the season. That should not be lost in the aftermath of the postseason. They were the best team in baseball, and that is something to be celebrated.
Clayton Kershaw once again had a Cy Young caliber year, although many won’t vote for him because he didn’t pitch as many innings as some of the other candidates. His back issues will always be something to keep an eye on, but he will be the leader of the pitching staff once again next season, and hopefully for years to come, but that’s a worry for another time.
Kenley Jansen and Justin Turner returned to do what they set out to do, both having All-Star seasons while leading the team to the World Series. Not winning will leave a bitter taste in their mouths, and push them harder next year to finally get that ring.
The world was introduced to Cody Bellinger, and we all saw why he was not available for any trades while he was blossoming in the minors. The Dodgers will have their second Rookie of the Year in a row because of his incredible season, and they do indeed have their first baseman of the future.
There will never be enough said about Chris Taylor, and how he quite possibly saved the season. With his ability to be both a leadoff batter the Dodgers desperately needed, and more than capably filling in in the outfield when the Dodgers needed him too, he was a joy to watch take his game to another level. Definitely one of the best stories of the year in any sport, not just baseball.
Yasiel Puig‘s year, while not perfect, was also one of redemption. The Wild Horse may not ever be completely reigned in, but he may have just found his sweet spot, a new comfort level due to the patience of Turner Ward, and the watchful eye of Kenley.
This World Series was one for the ages. Suspense, home runs, pitching duels, extra innings, you name it, it had it. I will always remember Charlie Culberson‘s pure ecstatic joy after he hit a home run. The man spent most of the year at Triple-A Oklahoma City, and he got to hit a home run on baseball’s biggest stage. Same with Joc Pederson‘s three home runs. He did a stint at OKC himself for not being able to hit well, and he kept his attitude positive and delivered. While Kershaw did have a bad outing in Game 5, Game 1 and his relief performance in Game 7 did much to help his postseason reputation. Logan Forsythe showed himself to have a steady dependable bat, despite maybe not living up to fans’ expectations during the regular season. And the way Rich Hill pitched, and more importantly, handled the situation that Yuli Gurriel thrust upon the Dodgers, by taking his time on the mound repeatedly to let the crowd know Gurriel what he did was wrong, showed the high class type of person and competitor he is.
No, it didn’t end the way we dreamed, but after four years of not advancing past the NLCS, they finally made it to the World Series and gave us memories to make us smile for years to come.
There are things to look forward to for next year, also. With a few exceptions, most of this championship team will be back for next year. There will be the return of both Andrew Toles and Julio Urias from the disabled list. I saw on Instagram Toles’ post about being at Game 7, and how he can’t wait to get back on the field, and I feel the same way. Urias could be joined in the rotation full time by Walker Buehler, another young electric arm in the Dodgers arsenal. While minor in the grand scheme of things, Kershaw may finally get to start an All-Star game, since his manager will be managing the National League side.
No, the season ended with a bitter taste, but doesn’t make the whole season that less palatable. It was an incredible ride, and I’m so grateful to call myself a fan of this team. Thank you all for reading, and being on this ride once again. I truly had the time of my life. And I can’t wait for next year.
(FOLLOW ANDY ON TWITTER: @DODGERSANDYINPA)