“I don’t believe what I just saw.”
Those famous words echoed as the backdrop to one of the greatest moments in baseball history and arguably the greatest moment in Dodgers history.
As Kirk Gibson rounded the bases in the 1988 World Series, the feeling in Los Angeles was nothing short of ecstasy.
Unfortunately for Dodger fans, it seems the last 25 years have been too believable.
For nearly 25 seasons, the Dodgers have been stuck in a perpetual hangover from their epic 1988 run — making the playoffs just six times before this season with a record of 9-20. In fact, it was 16 seasons until the Dodgers even won a single playoff game and 20 seasons before they won a series.
On a list of memorable Dodger moments since 1988 the only one that sticks out as having significance in a playoff run was Steve Finley’s division clinching grand slam in 2004.
In a 25-year stretch after the greatest home run in team history, it seemed as if the Dodgers had used up all their magic.
Sure, they had other great moments like Jose Lima’s complete game in the playoffs in 2004, four straight home runs in 2006, Manny Ramirez’s pinch hit grand slam in 2009 and even Clayton Kershaw’s opening day home run this season — but one thing all of those moments have in common? They didn’t mean anything.
Obviously Lima’s performance came in the postseason, but it came with the team already trailing 2-0 in a best-of-five series — a series they would lose in the very next game.
For 25 years, Dodger fans have watched the Angels win a World Series, the Diamondbacks win a World Series and the Giants win two — all without a moment they could cling to as hope that they were on their way back.
And then, in the most unlikely moment, the most unlikely player changed everything.
Up 2-1 in the series, the Dodgers sent Clayton Kershaw to the mound on three days rest, hoping to close out the series at home and become the first team to advance to the next round of the playoffs.
The game started off as well as it could have — with Carl Crawford homering in his first two at-bats to give the Dodgers an early 2-0 lead — a lead that seems more than sufficient with Kershaw dealing.
But then, it seemed like nearly nothing went right for the Dodgers.
In the top of the fourth, things unraveled in the most unlikely places.
After a lead-off single, Adrian Gonzalez misplayed a double play ball that put runners at first and second with nobody out — his second error of the game. Note: Gonzalez is a three-time gold glover with a career fielding percentage of .995.
After a Clayton Kershaw wild pitch moved both runners up, Brian McCann struck out.
After an RBI single from Chris Johnson, it looked like the Dodgers would get out of the jam with a double play ball hit to Juan Uribe. Only problem was, sure-handed Mark Ellis botched the turn and pulled Gonzalez off the bag at first, allowing a second run to score. In two seasons with the Dodgers, Ellis has committed just nine errors.