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After topping Tampa Bay in Game 6 and winning the equivalent of 116 plays in this surreal, lessened season, L.A. closed the chapter on its recent playoff fails. But Hollywood love a sequel.
We understand sports as a narrative without knowing the ending. A midseason slump is a sign of clubhouse dysfunction and impending collapse–or an obstacle to overcome on a track back toward victory. A clutch home run from an unlikely protagonist is a deus ex machina–or a footnote, a blip, in a loss. A playoff operated is a step to build on next season–or the unknown-in-the-moment high point for a whole dealership arc.
The Dodgers’ story has been adding sections for years, but lately the fib has felt trapped in an singular sort of stasis. This isn’t a mere meta watching; the players felt it, extremely. When the team trailed in the 2020 NLCS, pitcher Alex Wood noted that after so many deep postseason operates without payoff, “You can start to feel stagnant a little bit . … Things like this have become almost expected and normal.”
For eight seasons, the Dodgers have been winning their split, and for eight postseasons, the Dodgers have been losing, unable to capitalize on the numerous the possibility for a claim. The story lines brewed, their ultimate decide dreary as ever: Would Clayton Kershaw ever induce two star-worthy starts in a series? Would the team ever stop blowing large line heads? Would the MLB club with the most enviable compounding of coin and player development show exactly why those advantages stuff?
Resolution ultimately arrived Tuesday, in the strangest situations: a “home” game in Arlington, Texas; under a closed ceiling; in front of 11,437 supporters watching the ending to a season that virtually didn’t happen. And perhaps shouldn’t have happened, given the international framework of the COVID-1 9 pandemic, which immediately soured the postgame festivities as sees learned that Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner had been removed for receiving a positive coronavirus evaluation cause midgame. The specifics and going of Turner’s positive evaluation after MLB travelled weeks without a COVID-1 9 case–and Turner’s subsequent appearance during the celebration–will need a separate resolution.
Amid those surreal and antonym events, and after World Series losings in 2017 and 2018 and so many other crushing playoff loss besides, the Dodgers secured their first World Series designation in 32 times, with a 3-1 win in Game 6 against the Rays.
This title didn’t come easy–even in the earn, the story computed twistings and uncertain turns. The Dodgers overcame a 3-1 lack in the NLCS, including in-game deficits in recreations 5 and 7. They hurled apart Game 4 in the World Series with wrongdoings drew from a Little League blooper reel. They fell behind in the first inning of Game 6, and stood behind until the sixth inning.
But such fateful on-field developments in the moment transform into plot points, ever more instances of rising action, in retrospect. The climax of this particular tale came in the late innings of Game 6, when the Rays’ Kevin Cash performed the managerial decision that propelled thousands and thousands of second speculates. With starter Blake Snell cruising — 5 1/3 scoreless innings; two slams; nine strikeouts, including six of the first three hitters in the Dodgers’ order–Cash called upon reliever Nick Anderson rather than give Snell pitch a third era through the fiat. For about a year, Anderson was the most wonderful reliever in baseball; this postseason, nonetheless, he’d gone a record-tying six consecutive tournaments granting at least one run.
Anderson broke that unsavory record within five slopes Tuesday–a setback in the Rays’ story and a propulsive time in the Dodgers’. With Austin Barnes on first base after a single, Mookie Betts rent a doubled down the line. Both athletes moved up on a wildernes pitching, and Betts composed to take the lead on a Corey Seager ground ball. Betts last-minute computed a home run for an insurance extended. Meanwhile, six Dodgers relievers combined to hold the Rays scoreless after the first.
On one entrust, the Dodgers haven’t been particularly unlucky as a franchise. They’ve acquired eight schism entitles in a row; with the usual playoff structure and a one-in-eight chance each time, they “should” have won exactly one entitlement in that span. The math extended for the part so-called World Series drought, extremely: With 30 teams in the conference, if clubs had an equal shot, the Dodgers would win one designation about every 30 times, so they didn’t miss the mark by much.
But baseball teams don’t have an equal shot, and the Dodgers don’t have countless equals. They’ve run a top-five payroll in each of the past eight seasons, includes the no. 1 payroll four times; meanwhile, their musician occurrence machine has produced hotshots out of midround draft picks and other teams’ castoffs. The two tentpoles of their success often intersect, as when they transactions expendable prospects for Betts, then provided the MVP outfielder for 12 times and $365 million before he’d toy a single game.
Rather than an average team with an average championship chance, the Dodgers are linchpins of modern postseason baseball. Since 2013, the team giving full play to 84 postseason plays; Houston’s in second place with 63, and every other team has half as countless as the Dodgers or fewer.
That exposition was in place before this postseason. As Ben Lindbergh wrote Tuesday, unlike with the upstart Rays, every casual October viewer knew all about these Dodgers–the key references and long-running story lines, the strengths and most powerful remembers, the blames and many foibles–before this latest run.
Yet the resolution remained uncertain, as did the story’s legacy in turn. In a boasts culture that importances championships above all, the 1990 s Proposals pencilled a tragedy rather than an invigorating fiction. The Dodgers needed to win to transform their own genre, lest the stagnancy felt by Wood and supporters across Dodger nation curdle further, and the questions surrounding Kershaw and Dave Roberts and Co. change ever bolder in the team’s pages.
On a broader timescale, the Dodgers’ story is still not terminated. Almost as many brand-new questions grow. Will they earn more championships?( They’ll be the best team leader into next season, but none has recited since the 1998 -2 000 Yankees .) Will they challenge the record for consecutive postseason looks?( They’re exclusively a little more than halfway to Atlanta’s 14 in a row, but if the playoff province is permanently expanded, it’s hard to imagine the Dodgers ever missing .) Will they ever finish with a losing record again?( They haven’t done so in a decade, and their worst record since 2012 is 91 -7 1.)
Those rebuttals will come eventually; Hollywood enjoys a sequel, after all, and with the core of this championship crew, which won the equivalent of 116 games in this shortened season, returning along with a host of obligating brand-new personas, the Dodgers could well cement a postseason in addition to a regular-season dynasty.
But those new questions and asks belong to the sequel. At long last, resolution to the first edition is here, in the final strike of the 2020 World Series hurling into Barnes’s glove behind the plate. All those postseason stumbles are now definitively one of the purposes of a slow climb to the top of the sport, rather than inescapable evidences of Sisyphean failure. The ultimate arc of a narrative is so much clearer when the ending is finally revealed.
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