Every team wants to win the World Series. Every team wants to hoist the trophy in front of their home crowd and embrace the triumph that accompanies victory. The Dodgers wanted to be that team in 2017 more than anything, but they weren’t, and there’s nothing any of us can do about that now.
The Astros played better baseball. However, that doesn’t mean the Dodgers failed.
It`s virtually impossible for me not to be positive. I’ll complain occasionally, but I’m extremely fond of looking on the bright side, even when that practice is tested. Game 7, for example, gave me plenty of reasons to think the negative thoughts I often avoid. I kept coming back to the same conclusion, though—the Dodgers didn’t win, but they made it to the World Series, and it’s nearly impossible to convince oneself that it doesn’t matter.
It does matter. The Los Angeles Dodgers won the pennant. It’s not everything, it’s not the ultimate goal, but it’s something, and we are extremely lucky to have it.
A lot of things had to happen for the Dodgers to get where they were on October 24th, 2017. A lot of things had to happen and a lot did. The chain of events was unprecedented and, for the most part, unexplainable.
As writers, though, our job is often to attempt to explain the unexplainable. So, here we go.
Opening Day—Joc Pederson hits the Dodgers’ first home run of the season, a grand slam, that helped carry the boys in blue to a 14-3 win over the San Diego Padres.
Bellinger gets the Call Up—It’s April 25th. The top prospect in the Dodgers’ organization has just been called up. He’s here for what seems like just a few weeks, while Pederson recovers from an injury. A couple weeks pass, and in those weeks, something becomes clear, as clear as the sky over Dodger Stadium; Cody Bellinger‘s time in the minors is over. For good.
As temps rise in Los Angeles, so do the Dodgers—It’s always fun being a baseball fan during the summer. No matter where you live or who you root for, nostalgia and joy is everywhere while at the ballpark. If said ballpark was Dodger Stadium, chances are nostalgia and joy was in never-ending supply. The Dodgers spent the entirety of the summer in first place, and as Bellinger further proved the kind of player he will be, Dodgers fans everywhere rallied around the first signs of a championship team.
Kershaw lands on the DL. Again.—Fans held their collective breath in 2016, when news broke that the Dodgers’ ace was headed to the DL. In 2017, the story was the same. In the midst of a historic pennant race, L.A. lost Clayton Kershaw to the DL, but this time, the reaction was different. The Dodgers were playing well, and though they would have gladly had Kershaw on the mound, many minds were already shifting towards October, and if a healthy Kershaw then meant the absence of him in the rotation at that moment, the choice was easy. Things seemed to play out just fine.
Wood makes the All-Star team—Rich Hill lands on the DL. Alex Wood makes the rotation. Wood pitches extremely well. Wood stays in the rotation. Wood makes the All-Star team. Wood finishes the season with a record of 16-3 and a 2.72 era. It’s a story few, if any, of us predicted, but one we all welcomed in with open arms.
The front office trades for Darvish—“Source: Darvish TRADED.” Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweeted this on July 31st, twelve minutes after the 1PM PST deadline. I remember reading this tweet, and promptly started searching Twitter for more details while simultaneously jumping up and down. This was a trade that management needed to make, and they did. Sure, the ideal scenario that entered many minds when this news broke didn’t play out as planned, but it was a good trade. It’s tough not to say that Game 7 didn’t work out because Yu Darvish didn’t have his stuff. Darvish gave up the runs that lost the series for the Dodgers. But there is no way to tell that, should the front office have failed in acquiring Darvish, the Dodgers would have won Game 7, or even made it there at all, for that matter. The trade for Darvish was a good one. He added strength to a team that was already destined for the finish line.
The Dodgers go from historic winning streaks to losing 11 straight—I know. I know. The losing streak was rough, incredibly rough. I could barely watch the MLB Network for two weeks. The losing streak, though, was a blessing hiding behind the clouds and fog that fell upon Dodger nation. The Dodgers couldn’t continue winning nearly every game and sweeping almost every series. They couldn’t. They needed a reset heading into October and that’s what the losing streak was, a reset and a chance to fix problems before those problems met the much higher stakes of the postseason. If the losing streak didn’t happen, do I think the Dodgers would have won, or even made it to the World Series? No, I don’t,
The Dodgers sweep the D-Backs in the NLDS—I’m not going to lie; I was nervous about this series. I was more nervous then than I was on the first day of high school. The Diamondbacks were good all season, and the losing streak was still fresh in my mind. I had faith the Dodgers would win, and they did. I had confidence, but confidence and certainty are two entirely different things. I’m glad the former won out.
Game 5—This one seems obvious, but it’s still worth mentioning. The defending World Champion Chicago Cubs were down to their final chance to extend the NLCS against the Dodgers. They had won the previous night, but they still faced a 3-1 series deficit. The Dodgers, on the other hand, would rather not have had a Game 6. With every home run, Enrique Hernandez made the potential reality of another game at Wrigley less and less of a possibility. This is when the Dodgers won the pennant, something they hadn’t done in nearly three decades. That, in it of itself, is a beautiful piece of notable and unforgettable history.
The Dodgers lost the World Series—That’s what the papers said on November 2nd. The Dodgers lost the World Series, but as more and more time passes, I think we’ll find that, the one thing we hoped would define the season, was merely a bitter ending to a far more riveting story.
I, for one, rather enjoy the suspense of it all.
(FOLLOW SARAH ON TWITTER: @SARAHMANINGER)