Why a Strong Start Will Benefit Dodgers in 2018

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World Series hangovers are real. They are the downside, really the only one,  of playing baseball into November. 20 teams out there ended the season a month prior, and yes, those other 10 teams wouldn’t trade the postseason for a month of extra rest, but the effects of October are noticeable. No more noticeable than they are for the two teams that made it all the way to the end. Los Angeles didn’t win, but they played seven games in the World Series. Regardless of the result, that’s enough to incite exhaustion.

The Dodgers have something to prove in 2018.

The World Series changes teams. We saw it briefly with the Cubs in 2017. They didn’t make it back to the Fall Classic, and whether what happened in 2016 is the reason as to why is unknown, but I doubt that it was.

The Dodgers simply outplayed the Cubs.

LA needs to start 2018 off strong because last year, hearts all across baseball broke when the Dodgers lost in seven. That pain is still real, and noticeable, but can easily be forgotten when hope replaces it. The Dodgers will be good in 2018, that is a fact I have no trouble believing, but the reality is, the only medicine for a World Series loss is a victory the following year.

I didn’t believe in this last year, but I believe in it now; the Dodgers are the team with the most pressure on them to win. The Cubs wanted to repeat in 2017, but they didn’t have to. They won in 2016, they broke a curse, they accomplished the goal that has been at the forefront of every season for over a century. They didn’t have to win.

The Dodgers do.

Heading into Opening Day, their goal shouldn’t be to win the World Series, not just yet. It should be to prove that Game 7 is not who this team is. They have to prove that this club is Game 5 of the ’17 NLCS. This club is Justin Turner hitting a walk-off homer on the anniversary of Kirk Gibson’s historic blast.

The Dodgers need to start off 2018 in valiant fashion because that’s what this team is capable of. They are capable of winning the World Series but, this year, I don’t think the possibility of it is enough. They can win the World Series, and they can force Game 7 to become but a footnote in a much bigger story, but they have to get back to the Fall Classic.

That in mind, we can’t forget that the Dodgers thrive on energy. All those walk-off wins in 2017 were no coincidence. They were merely examples of everything this team can be.

Game 7 is one game, and so is Opening Day. One game, out of at least 162. If you’re asking me, the latter matters far more than the former in this case. The Dodgers are great. That may not change in 2018, and if it doesn’t, Dodger fans could have a very different story to tell once all the dust settles.

 (FOLLOW SARAH ON TWITTER: @SARAHMANINGER)

 

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