The Dodgers have been to the postseason 8 straight times, including in each year since Dave Roberts took over as manager. While some faces have come and gone, the greater core of the team has remained intact through much of the success… and eventual failures.
Moreover, with 2020 marking the end of several long-time players’ contracts, the narrative of this being the last hurrah has been even more punctuated.
Of course, Justin Turner has been chasing a ring since he first arrived in 2014. Kenley Jansen has been in pursuit since before the start of this run of 8 straight. Clayton Kershaw has been part of two separate runs of success with the organization. The 2008-2009 NLCS teams that twice lost to the Phillies, and this current core in the run of 8 in a row.
Combined with the role player core made up of Joc Pederson (2014), Kiké Hernandez (2015), and even Pedro Baez (2014), that feeling of pressure is definitely palpable.
Flashing back, that would almost seem like a Dodger tradition. The 1955 championship team consisted of Brooklyn legends that always came in second to the Giants or Yankees. But them Bums got it before undergoing a talent overhaul.
The 1981 Dodgers had the record-setting infield that was getting older, which was something the front office was not too keen on. Garvey-Cey-Lopes-Russell made up the core of teams that had twice lost to the Yankees (1977-78).
Now the 2020 club is looking to get over the hump and failures of 2017 and 2018 in the Fall Classic. Moreover, they might be trying to do it for those guys that have been chasing the promised land for nearly a decade.
A Greater Goal
The free agent core of Turner, Hernandez, Pederson, and Baez might not quite have the same ring to it as Duke Snider, Pee Wee Reese, and Jackie Robinson; or Steve Garvey, Ron Cey, and Davey Lopes. Perhaps one day they will find a place in the greater Dodger franchise lore, but for now they all absolutely have failures in common. And the end of their tenure in blue being on the horizon.
Can the current core find the success of their predecessors before the band breaks up?
Well, if you ask Dave Roberts, that might just be on the minds of some of the newer class in LA.
You talk about Clayton — Kenley’s been here for so long, Justin, who’s been around so long, those are guys that have mentored the young guys and really made them feel welcome. … I think these guys understand that there have been some veterans that have put in a lot of time to not have a championship yet.
Importantly, Doc did admit that the goal of a world title has more weight behind it than just a handful of veterans. The championship would be for the team and for the fans in Los Angeles above all else. But one day players from this team — if they can pick up two more wins over the Rays — will undoubtedly concede that Kershaw, Kenley, Turner, and company played on their minds a lot more than they lead on.