With the 2017 NLCS well underway, all of our postseason questions are finally being answered. Yes, the Dodgers and the Cubs are playing a rematch of last year’s Championship series, but this postseason is different, and we’re starting to see why. This Los Angeles team is almost unrecognizable from who we saw last year, as they lost a decisive Game 6 of the NLCS to the Chicago Cubs.
Different city, same story. As the NLCS shifted from Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles to Wrigley Field in Chicago, the postseason gained a new level of intensity. This isn’t L.A., this is Chicago. This is a city that is still reeling from a World Series Championship. Chicago is a baseball town in every meaning of the word.
The postseason has a way of making us incredibly nervous. It has a way of taking over our thoughts and instilling a little anxiety and a lot of excitement. But the postseason can also remind us why we fell in love with the game in the first place.
The postseason is officially upon us, which means that every theory, every prediction, is about to be either dismissed or fulfilled. October has a way of writing things in stone. If something great happens in October, it’s going to be remembered, no questions asked. Whether it’s a Justin Turner three-run homer in the first, or that one game where the Dodgers scored five runs in the 5th inning. October remembers everything, and so do those who shape it.
That’s really all anybody is thinking about right now, the postseason. The Dodgers have said that all of the team records, and winning 100 games for the first time 1974, is really cool, but it’s not the ultimate goal. I’m not saying winning 100 games is easy, of course it’s not, but the Dodgers have their eyes set on the Fall Classic, and so do all the fans. The Boys in the Blue clinched the National League West on Friday, in a game which they cemented the one thing we’ve known all season; the Dodgers know how to win baseball games. To make matters better, within five days of each other, two of the longest-running home run records in baseball were broken; the NL Rookie Home Run record, and the All-Time Rookie Home Run record, broken by Cody Bellinger and Aaron Judge, respectively. So, after all this history, what’s next?
Clayton Kershaw. Everybody knows that name. It’s a name that is often followed by these words: “The Best Pitcher on the Planet.” I agree with that statement, and not just because I’m a fan of the Dodgers. I agree with it because it just makes sense. People often say that Kershaw has the potential to be the best pitcher baseball has ever seen, all he needs to do is win a World Series. The Dodgers have as good of a chance at a championship this year than they ever have before.
September looks different for these Dodgers, very different. Within the first week of the month, the Boys in Blue have not looked like their normal selves, as the pitching and offense have not been at their usual championship-worthy levels. Don’t get used to it, though, because before you know it, the Dodgers will hit their stride again and we’ll go back to being amazed with their caliber of play.
I’ve never looked at the roster of a playoff contender and seen any tough choices to make. I’ve never had to look at a teams outfield, and figure out who should play left field because usually there’s a clear answer. Not for the 2017 Dodgers. In the postseason, managers want to put their “A-Team” on the field, the problem is, the Dodgers have quite a few combinations of a championship caliber team, but it’s the best problem to have — it’s why they’re likely to succeed in the 2017 playoffs.