At some point within the next few days the Dodgers will clinch their fourth consecutive NL West title. In fact, it’s certainly feasible that by the time you’re reading this, the Dodgers have already clinched the division. So the champagne may or may not have been popped already, nonetheless it would just be postponing the inevitable. I’m writing to make the case of why this division title is sweeter than the previous three.
Now I’m not spoiled by all means. Division titles are hard to come by and winning four consecutive is the best run to date in franchise history for the Dodgers. Prior to this four-year run, the Dodgers had won back to back division titles only twice (1977 & 1978, 2008 & 2009) rounding out one of the best regular season decades in Dodgers history (2008-2018). But the reason why this four-season run doesn’t stand out as a memorable one is because the Dodgers have failed to reach the World Series the past three seasons. Regardless of how this postseason plays out for the Blue Crew, this quest for a fourth consecutive division title has been by the the most gratifying to me for a few reasons.
After an offseason of re-establishing the Dodgers roster and managing team, the Dodgers’ offseason moves have paid off in a big way. The Dodgers moved to first-year manager, Dave Roberts and “mutually parted ways” with Don Mattingly after three consecutive playoff appearances including one trip to the NLCS. The Dodgers also were tasked with the job of replacing their second ace, Zack Greinke. The front office responded with Japanese rookie, Kenta Maeda. Needless to say, both moves played out well for the Dodgers as Roberts has shown his worth and is a viable candidate for NL Manager of the Year and Maeda has been the ironman of the Dodgers rotation this season, starting 30 games and being the only starting pitcher not the hit the DL this season (knock on wood). The adversity started during the offseason by seemingly having to hit the reset button, but it didn’t stop there. The Dodgers adversity continued all season long with Clayton Kershaw spending over two months on the DL, Yasiel Puig’s rollercoaster of a season and I can’t even count how many players hitting the DL this season, setting an MLB record for most players on the DL. The team has continued to climb up a road very few have traveled with all the injuries, let alone had as much success as the Dodgers have had. The champagne sure will be sweeter considering the Dodgers used close to 60 different players in the big league level.
After hitting a low point in the season when the Dodgers found themselves seven games out of first place and just lost Kershaw for what turned out to be an extended period of time. The Dodgers’ season seemed all but lost, with rumors that Kershaw’s season might’ve be over, the club was facing questions of how they would respond. Well the team responded and responded in a big way. The Dodgers have gone 46-32 (.590) (38-27 without Kershaw) and flipped the division standings by 13 games. The offense was a big part of the mid-season turnaround with Corey Seager, Justin Turner and Yasmani Grandal leading the offensive spark. But the bullpen is not to be ignored. The bullpen is a big showing of resiliency and the key to the success all season long. Having pitched the most innings in baseball with 551 innings is impressive, but what’s even more impressive is they lead the league in bullpen ERA with 3.25. When we go back to the last three seasons we often saw our bullpen as a liability during the regular season and the postseason, that is not the case this season. Roberts has the team believing in itself and all the veterans and rookies have really settled in their roles finding a chemistry that they weren’t able to develop under Mattingly. Speaking of rookies, the production of the young core from the Dodgers has been second to none. With the clear front runner for Rookie of the Year, the front office couldn’t make any wrong moves calling up impact players like Julio Urias, Jose De Leon, Brock Stewart, Ross Stripling, Rob Segedin and Andrew Toles. All the rookies seemed to gel well with the clubhouse chemistry and each have come up big for the Dodgers in certain situations. Roberts not only has the clubhouse believing in it’s potential, but also embracing the next man up mentality, which is making narrowing down a Dodgers playoff roster pretty difficult for the first-year manager.
As Dodgers fans we’ve been tormented by the Giants even year success since the 2010 decade kicked off. Winning two championships (three division titles) since 2010 has been a big reason why the Dodgers recent success has fallen under the radar. Well this indeed is an even year and, well I’m going out on a limb and saying it — THERE WILL BE NO GIANTS HOLDING UP THE WORLD SERIES TROPHY! I know right, bold call. But seriously, the Giants have always been a thorn in the Dodgers’ side and it’s gratifying to see their second half collapse and their train wreck of a bullpen try to preserve the few wins they’ve been able to edge out the second half. It would be a nice turn of events if the Dodgers are able to flip the even year theory to one of their own.
There’s not much to be said that hasn’t been said already by most of our editorial staff, but Vin Scully deserves it. After 67 seasons of calling Dodgers games, the Dodgers have played motivated all season long to send Vin away with a winning season. As our announcer who witnessed the very first Dodgers World Series title run, Vin is more than deserving of another memorable season as he closes out his career. You can tell in the enthusiasm of Vin’s voice from Thursday night’s win over Colorado, that he wants the Dodgers to clinch the division before their road trip. Calling two games at one time to track the Giants game seemed like Vin hopeful thinking for the Dodgers to control their own faith during this final home stand. Vin has said it numerous times that he’s fueled by the roar of the crowd. We all know Dodgers Stadium will be roaring if the Dodgers can clinch at home before Vin’s final game at Dodgers Stadium.
Unfortunately for the baseball world, we will lose two iconic broadcasters after this season. Padres broadcaster, Dick Enberg is also set to retire from doing the play-by-play. Scully and Enberg are two of the greatest announcers of all of sports and shared an amazing bond that I, as a journalist admire. Unfortunately for Enberg his Padres didn’t reward him with a competitive season but his talents don’t deserve to be overshadowed by our own Vin Scully. The two broadcasters have left a great impression on sports broadcasting and baseball will not be the same without them.