Back in the days of the Brooklyn Dodgers, “wait ‘til next year” became the unofficial slogan of the long suffering Dodger fans. They won pennants in 1941, 1947, 1949, 1952, and 1953, but would fall to the New York Yankees in the World Series all five times.
In 1955, ‘next year’ finally came and the storied “Boys of Summer” beat the “Bronx Bombers” in seven games for the World Series Championship.
Our current Dodgers feel a bit like those hapless losers. We’ve won four consecutive National League West titles only to lose in the Divisional and Championship series. So close and yet so far.
I’m just as disappointed, frustrated and depressed as all of you. But, the simple fact is – the better team won.
Did the Dodgers play as well as we know they can?
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Nope, and that part will sting for awhile. But, if you’re only bashing the Dodgers, you’re not giving the Cubs the (grudging) respect they deserve. They played their hearts out. They rose to the occasion and are being rewarded with their first World Series appearance in 71 years. So, hats off to them.
It hasn’t been that long for us, but 28 years is a long time too. Our hunger for a celebration in the streets of Los Angeles is getting stronger by the year.
This has been a bittersweet year for us Dodger fans. All season long we’ve been savoring the final melodious games of Vin Scully. We wept openly during his final goodbye ceremony. I think many of us daydreamed of Vin leading our World Series parade. We wanted to give him the gift of a World Series win in his final year, just as bad as we wanted it for ourselves.
I can easily conjure up an image in my mind of Vin and his lovely wife, Sandi, sitting in the backseat of some cool old convertible, waving to the throngs of euphoric Dodger fans, as they drive down the streets of LA. His smile would’ve been brighter than the sun. I think we all held that secret fantasy.
But, that’s not how this story ends. We’re without Vin and without a World Series win. However, we’re left with hope. This team, as much as you may not want to see it today, has the potential to be even stronger next year.
Don’t get me wrong, the front office needs to address some HUGE gaps this offseason. They need to do, literally, whatever it takes to sign Kenley Jansen to a long-term contract. Don’t play games – lock him in NOW. Same goes for Justin Turner. In my opinion, these are two of the first things the FO needs to do. There’s other key moves and trades they need to make also, but I’ll let others delve deeper into that swamp.
I’d like to leave this on a positive and hopeful note – as annoying as that may be at this moment. Our future looks bright. Corey Seager, a lock for ‘Rookie of the Year’, had a shining season. His immense skills and amazing maturity (for a rookie no less) should give us all a hopeful rush. Joc Pederson bounced back from a rough second half in 2015 and put up solid numbers. I expect him to get even better next year.
There was the feel good story of Andrew Toles who came up big over and over again at the end of the season. Kenley Jansen was our rock. Adrián González, Justin Turner and Chase Utley offered veteran leadership all season long. At any given time a different player stepped up and shined. To name a couple, Rob Segedin’s home run off the churlish Madison Bumgarner, before rushing off mid-game to welcome his new baby. Or Charlie Culberson’s walk-off NL West clinching home run.
Whatever the negative narrative there is on Clayton Kershaw right now, I’m not buying it. Did he struggle in game 6, yep – the whole team did, hence the loss. But, I’ll take Clayton Kershaw over any other pitcher in a big game, every single time. Our bullpen, although they struggled at the end of the season, is one of the key factors in getting us through the regular season. They stepped up and carried our ever-changing starting pitching, who rarely made it past five innings.
We’ve got the electric Julio Urias ready to contribute big next year. I think we’ll see much more of our stellar prospects moving up to the bigs next year. And we’ve got Dave Roberts, who I think is the perfect manager to guide this team to the next level. He had a ‘Manager of the Year’ worthy freshman season, he brought out a grit and fire in this team we haven’t seen in years. The foundation’s been laid for a winning culture in the clubhouse and I look forward to seeing our fiery new skipper guide this team even further next year.
So, yes, we need to fill some gaps this offseason. Lock in some player’s contracts, release and trade some others to acquire much needed pieces. But, I’m hopeful. This season has been an exhausting, exhilarating roller coaster of emotions. We’ve got four months to relax and gear up for Spring Training when we hop back on the roller coaster and do it all over again…with a different, better outcome hopefully.
So, I’ll leave you with this – as the dejected Dodger fans from back in the day said after every disappointing season, wait ‘till next year.
— Blue, The Dodger Dog (@DodgersBluepen) October 23, 2016