The best part of the 2018 Dodgers’ season took place on October 27, 12:29 AM. Game 3 of the World Series. Max Muncy – the 28 year old utility man who was almost out of baseball prior to the 2018 season – strode to the plate, fresh off of a 35 homer campaign that saw him become, seemingly out of nowhere, one of the best hitters in the game.
It was the bottom of the 18th inning. Nathan Eovaldi – the 28 year old journeyman who had found himself bouncing around five teams in the span of his seven year career – was pitching in 7th inning of relief. Originally slated to be the Game 4 starter for the Boston Red Sox, necessity found him pitching scoreless inning after scoreless inning in a game that would ultimately go down as the longest in baseball history.
When the ball soared through the night sky, far above the roaring crowds at Dodger Stadium, it seemed as if the very city was shaking. The score was 3-2. The game had ended. And the Dodgers – for the first time since October 31, 2017 – had won a game in the World Series. Never mind the 2-1 deficit. Never mind the depleted pitching staff. The Dodgers had won – and it seemed as if the feeling would last forever.
Less than 24 hours later, the Los Angeles Dodgers lost a baseball game. And 24 hours after that, they lost another. The season had ended with a familiar bitter taste. Another loss on the biggest stage in the game. 4-1, Red Sox.
It’s easy to look at the Dodgers’ predicament and shrug. So what? Since 2013, the team has won six straight division titles. Two straight pennants. Two trips to the World Series. The most wins in baseball. A second-place finish to the best team in the game – a team that had won a franchise-high 108 games – shouldn’t be considered a failure.
Except that for Dodger fans, it is. And this season might have been the worst one to date. A team that had come back from an LA – worst 16-26 start, traded for star shortstop Manny Machado, won a division title on the 163rd game of the season, battled against the Atlanta Braves, battled against the Milwaukee Brewers, won the greatest game in postseason history against the Boston Red Sox in the World Series – and yet for the sixth straight year, they couldn’t get it done.
It’s easy to point fingers. The inconsistent offense. Two abysmal starts from Korean pitcher Ryu Hyun-Jin. Most of all, Dave Roberts – the manager who took out a pitcher that had allowed only hit through the 7th inning and handed the ball to a bullpen that coughed up eight runs in less than three.
For Dodgers fans, it won’t matter. Maybe next year, one might think. Maybe the team will sign a few star hitters. Or relievers. Or even fire Roberts, who was booed by his home crowd prior to Game 5 of the World Series.
None of those things seem close to happening. The front office, for all of the money they have available, hasn’t pulled in a big free agent in their three years running the team. Dave Roberts seems a likely candidate to be resigned to a large extension. And besides – these are the Dodgers. The 1991-1993 Buffalo Bills. The 2014-2018 Cavs, except that even that team was able to win a championship. This team hasn’t in 30 years.
Wait until next year? Maybe. For the fans, though, it’s either next year or never. Enough is enough. All of this success – all of this winning – and still no trophy. The 2018 Dodgers were only the latest.
Brandon Kim, Grade 10
Culver City High School