From a Die Hard Fan
A (Possible) Win for the Ages, & For the Fans
In 1988, the Los Angeles Dodgers played the Oakland Athletics in the World Series. Although Game 1 was being played at Dodger Stadium, the A's, who won 104 games that year, were the heavy favorites to win the championship. In the bottom of the 9th inning (Hey there, anybody who's a baseball fan knows this story from the back of their hand, bare with me while I recap the end of the game. I'm trying to let the newbies [Don't be mean, baseball needs as many fans as possible] in on the action. Thanks for the patience), Kirk Gibson, who didn't play for the majority of the game, came in to pinch hit with two outs and one on, and put the Dodgers down 3-2. The crowd went wild simply by his presence. With the count full, Kirk Gibson hits a home run to right field and the Dodgers won Game 1. By many historians, it is considered one of the most iconic moments in baseball history.
The Dodgers went on to win the World Series in five games. This would mark the last time the Dodgers went to the World Series, let alone win it all. In the 29 year championship drought, they've been to the playoffs ten times, they've won four rounds in the playoffs, only to have come short of a title every time. It's left myself, and other fans, to wonder when we'll ever see another championship.
I was born in 1990 and have been a Dodgers fan my whole life. In my lifetime I have never seen the Dodgers win the World Series and over the years that has made me a very bitter and, at times, very angry fan. Although a 29 year championship drought may seem tame in comparison to the Red Sox (86 years), Cubs (108 years) and Indians (69 years and still on going), to me a 29 year drought might as well feel like a 129 year drought.
Growing up a Dodgers fan in the 90s, I saw some really bad teams. But every game I went to, the Stadium was always full. Going to Dodger Stadium is just something that's ingrained in the D.N.A of L.A. I've always believed that at Dodgers Stadium more than any other sporting venue in L.A do you see every type of resident represented. In Dodger Stadium, every type of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, whatever box you check off on the census, that person goes to a Dodgers game. If you're a native Angeleno, you go to Dodger Stadium; if you're an L.A transplant, you go to Dodger Stadium; if you're traveling to see your team on the road, you go to Dodger Stadium. Even if you're a tourist from another country that knows nothing about baseball, you still go to Dodger Stadium because of how important it is to the city.
This year in particular feels much different from previous years. Going into the playoffs, I've felt more confident about this Dodgers team than I've felt about so many teams that came before them. This year the Dodgers broke an L.A Dodgers record by winning 104 games (only the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers won more games with 105) and gave them the best record in all of the majors. They broke records by having the best 50 game stretch in over 100 years. Even late in the season when they lost 15 out of 16 games, they retained the best record in the majors.
In baseball, there are countless stats that would point to why they're a good team. But with this team it's not just about one or two of your best players with the best numbers, it truly was a team effort. Out of the ten walk off wins they had this year, the winning run was created by nine different players. This is significant for two reasons. One, it showed that the team grew into having a never say die kind of attitude and two, it gave the fans reason to believe that they could see something really special when they went to the ball park that night. This season, fewer and fewer fans made the decision of leaving early and beating the traffic (which by the way, it's a trend that I've always hated, however, unless you've been to a game, then you don't know how bad the traffic really is) and stayed to the very end to see another walk off win. With those comeback wins pilling up, the team spent the majority of the season believing that they were the best team in baseball, and with that attitude, their record reflected that.
At the start of the 2017 season, the Dodgers knew that their season was going to be World Series or bust. Last year they were only two wins away from going to the World Series, before being beaten by the Cubs. Prior to this 29 year drought they never went more than 16 years without winning a championship. Prior to this 29 year drought they never went more than seven years without going to the World Series. The team knows what needs to be done. They could smell it last year, but this year, they're determined to take the whole thing.
If the Dodgers were to win it all this year, it would be the ultimate reward not just for the players, but for the fans. I mentioned being a Dodgers fan growing up in the 90s and, I repeat again for emphasis (along with some bitterness), I saw some really bad teams. They only made the playoffs twice that decade, but they still lead the league in attendance for eight out of the ten years. This proves the true loyalty that Dodger fans have for their team. These stats aren't too surprising considering that these are the same fans that, back in the 1978, helped the Dodgers become the first professional baseball team to surpass having over 3 million fans in overall attendance. In 2017, they lead the league in attendance with 3,756,856 showing up to the park. The love for this team has never wavered. From the moment they moved from Brooklyn to L.A in 1958, and started playing games in the L.A Coliseum, the team and the city have always been intertwined. Since 1988, we've seen the Rams and Raiders leave. We've seen the Rams return and Chargers arrive (even though nobody really wanted them to). We've seen the Lakers win five championships. We've seen the Kings win two Stanley Cups. All of those championships that I've referenced have all happened post 2000. This year, more so than any year prior, is time for the Dodgers to join the 21st century.