Alex Perl | July 25th, 2019
The Los Angeles Dodgers have not won a World Series since 1988. Now despite longer droughts occurring in Baseball, this one stands out when you take into consideration the last two seasons. Since 1988, the Dodgers have either been mediocre or in some cases a solid playoff team. This all changed when the Dodgers finally won the pennant in 2017. Years of struggle and anguish among the Los Angeles faithful had now changed, and then in the World Series that year the Dodgers lost.
Now it is indeed no small feat at all to capture the pennant, to reach the World Series is something in itself. Two teams in Major League Baseball (Mariners, Nationals) have never even reached one, but when your in a city surrounded by the dominance of the Los Angeles Lakers, and now your hockey team has even captured a couple of Stanley Cup trophies of their own, one begins to wonder as a Dodger fan, when is it our turn?
The 2017 World Series was a beacon of hope, despite losing in seven games to a very deep Houston Astros team, Dodger fans could not hang their heads in shame no longer. Sure Manager Dave Roberts may have made a bad choice starting Yu Darvish in that game, sure the bats weren’t clicking like previous games, but the curse had seemed to be lifted, the Dodgers had reached a World Series. With the Los Angeles Lakers turning into a sort of Futile mess in Basketball that had been unseen in years of Los Angeles history, maybe it was time for the Dodgers to lift the hopes of LA and lead a new era of baseball and competitiveness in the sport.
The roster of the 2018 Dodgers was one not to balk at, Rookie of the Year Cody Bellinger was back, as well as promising up and coming All-Star Shortstop Corey Seager, the starting pitching rotation led by perennial All-Star Clayton Kershaw remained nearly intact as well. Also, the team traded for fan favorite and former Dodger Outfielder Matt Kemp. The team was on the rise and after a World Series let down the season before, seemed in prime position to win it all.
Then the familiar descent of the ’88 Dodger curse was back. Seager’s season was over, due to injury by the end of April, Bellinger was nowhere near the form of his rookie season, Kershaw was battling injuries, as well as rotation stalwart Hyun-Jin Ryu. The only surprises would be Kemp who despite advancing age would make the All-Star team, as well as Max Muncy a Minor League call up who showed huge power numbers and even participated in the Home Run Derby, also youngster Walker Buehler who would become possibly the Dodgers most reliable pitcher.
By All-Star break despite the shortcomings, the team was still in first place in their division, and prior to the All-Star break would trade for All-Star Shortstop Manny Machado as a fill-in for Seager. The second half of the season was a hard-fought struggle for the Dodgers as they fought off the hard-charging Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks to once again claim the division title.
Although the competition in the National League was considered weak, the American League boasted the defending champion Astros, a team many felt were not even the best in their league. While the Yankees, Red Sox and Astros were all fighting for a chance to win the American League, the Dodgers outfought a tough Milwaukee Brewers team led by National League MVP Christian Yelich to win back to back pennants and set up a return date to the World Series.
The Red Sox would eventually win the American League and this was no ordinary team, they had won eleven more regular-season games than the Dodgers despite being in a much tougher division, had the leading American League MVP candidate Mookie Betts (an award he would later win) and American League Cy Young candidate Chris Sale to round out a deep roster. The Dodgers like most of the world had expected would fall, which indeed they did in five games to the Red Sox, the only win being a Muncy walk-off home run. The off-season was one many Dodger fans and pundits were dreading, what was to be the outcome? Retool and restock or blow it up and start from scratch?
The Dodgers decided they still had plenty in the tank and made a major trade which sent former All-Star pitcher Alex Wood, Kemp, and fan-favorite but serious underachiever Yasiel Puig all packing to the Cincinnati Reds in a move to clear up cap space. They signed their division rival Arizona Diamondbacks starting Center Fielder AJ Pollock, a move which was considered strong despite his injury history, and was considered a very productive two-way player and a much needed right-handed bat in a left-handed heavy lineup. The Dodgers even made a push to bring in former MVP Bryce Harper, a move which would culminate in Harper going to the Philadelphia Phillies, but the effort was there, no longer could fans claim the Dodgers were being tight with their funds. Despite the only major move being Pollock, Dodgers President of Baseball Operations was quoted as saying “I see no weakness” referring to his team, their depth, and star power. Maybe this was finally the year the curse of ’88 would falter.
So far the 2019 season has been nothing like 2018, the Dodgers at the moment have the best record in baseball, the leading MVP candidate in Bellinger who is hitting better then ever, the return of Seager, a strong rotation led by now National League Cy Young favorite Ryu and a cast of players who are all doing their part to possibly get the Dodgers that coveted World Series title. The Dodgers have never come out of the gate playing this well, though with the second half of the season now underway, the seeds of what seems to be a possible title run have been planted. The Dodgers seem to be a legit title contender this time and not a runner up, maybe it’s time the city of Los Angeles needs to turn its eyes and ears back to its new city saving franchise.
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images