This is probably about 99 percent subjective projection, but …
When I went to the Dodgers’ National League Division Series clinching game last week, the Dodger Stadium crowd seemed to be brimming with optimism. Then Monday night, in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series, the crowd was throaty with desperation. Both were really loud.
Tonight at Dodger Stadium, the crowd seemed much more wary and tense than either of those two games. It wasn’t a must-win game, but it also wasn’t exactly a house money game. And that made things not quiet, but a touch more subdued.
In reality, this game and the last one I went to against Atlanta were much the same experience — a promising beginning followed by slow, painful torture through the middle innings, and then a moment of hope in the Dodgers’ final at-bat. But the biggest difference of all was that there was no two-run home run to save the day, no echo of Juan Uribe from the previous week or Kirk Gibson from 25 years earlier.
The Dodgers need to win three games in a row over the next four days to reach the World Series and avoid elimination. They can do it, and I hope fans realize it. Odds are they won’t — odds are that St. Louis can win one out of three games. But having a fully rested Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Kenley Jansen over those final three games is as much as you could hope for from your pitching staff (although we might well have seen the last of Hanley Ramirez, who had to leave tonight’s game after six innings, for a while).
It’s worth keeping the flame burning.
I am curious what Wednesday’s crowd will be like. Many people who bought tickets for NLCS Game 5 probably didn’t anticipate it would take place during the day — that plus disillusionment will probably keep Dodger Stadium from being a packed house. In any case, the Dodger season has had enough twists and turns — there’s no benefit in assuming there won’t be any more.