What a ride, what a ride

Oh, I had big dreams about this Dodger team today.

And what fueled those dreams was how resilient the 2013 Dodgers were and the heights they were able to reach. The truly fun Dodger teams are the ones you can never count out – the teams that could make comebacks something you not only hoped for, but nearly expected.

Moving from last place to first in such spectacular fashion this summer, peaking with that 42-8 run that made time travel seem possible, had the effect of a Cupid’s arrow in my baseball-toughened heart. There would be no easy surrender. It was what allowed me to believe as the final wave of injuries swallowed up Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Hanley Ramirez, what allowed me to believe as the Dodgers faced three consecutive winner-take-all games.

That, and the proof from 1988 that the improbable could come to life.

To say the least, tonight’s season finale, a 9-0 loss in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series, did not do those dreams justice. Clayton Kershaw was on one end of the universe, and Michael Wacha was on the other. I was so prepared for a virtual repeat of Game 2′s vice grip on my nerves, but my vision just evaporated.

One of baseball’s eternal questions is whether it’s better to go down in bitterly close defeat or with a giant thud. I think this time, I’ll take the thud. But as time passes, it all blends together anyway, becoming yet another tally on our endless journey through the desert.

This has been the Dodgers’ biggest step in the past 25 years, but we still wonder how many more we’ll have to take.

I liked this team. I liked these guys, without exception. I would list them all, but I would just be listing the entire roster. (OK, I don’t really get Brian Wilson, but he sure joined in without a hitch.) This was as easy a Dodger team to root for as any.

However much you might be hurting, think of them. But also, feel free to revel in your community of fellow fans. Man, that conversation about which organization was superior or which fans were better was as dumb as it gets.

This was a different kind of year blogging about the team for me. I stayed on hiatus almost the entire offseason and didn’t even decide to resume more regular efforts until the day before the regular season began. And even then, my work was less dedicated than it had been, as I repeatedly questioned how much time I should devote to it. I felt a bit like an old man at the blogging game. I felt I could still reach some heights, but I was picking my spots. I took my rest.

As the season went on, however, these 2013 Dodgers energized me. They were in my head, and they got much more out of me than I would have expected. They reminded me that in some ways, this still feels like my calling.

We’ll see what happens next.

For those who came back around, thanks for reading. And let’s get these guys healthy and plug those holes and go get that World Series next year.

  • RBI

    Wow. What a championship post.

  • bhsportsguy

    Jon was re-invigorated like Vinny

    • Bob_in_Vegas

      And we are grateful for both.

    • Gilberto_Reyes

      If Vin is not too old to announce, then Jon can’t be too old to blog! Thanks for another great year and looking forward to the next one.

  • leekfink
  • Jason Ungar

    Great Year everyone, thanks again Jon. excited for next year already. This was just a totally unexpected game tonight that you just have to shrug off and move on.

  • Joanna Casey

    Great post, Jon.

  • Spence

    TBS guys are blasting Mattingly for pitching Kershaw too much.

    • Adam Luther

      Yeah Kershaw shouldn’t face the Cardinals.

    • dalegribel

      How annoying does an announcer have to be to make McCarver look good? Just ask Ron Darling.

  • rumped6

    For fun, I did a little research about the rosters – the Hollywood Hessians (unlikeable in the way they were constructed, Jon) against the Missouri-Men-at-Home, because I have never understood the approbation, almost universal in your part of the world, for Logan White’s work, especially when it comes to the other eight menials that the rules require assist the pitchers.

    Homegrown Dodger position players in tonight’s box: 1 (AJ Ellis, who came hard and well last year, then slipped a good deal this. (Puig doesn’t even occur to me here, though scouts deserve much credit for seeing what he might be; I neither approve nor blame the brief work the minor league staffers did with him. Most of his development, the very good, the very bad, goes to Cuba).

    Homegrown Cardinal players: 8. Almost all of them relatively young and cost-efficient, including Carpenter (95 hits this season with two strikes; turned this game inside out with his AB in third), and the ready reserve Shane Robinson (did you see how comfortable he looked?)

    There’s a lesson here. The Balzac Boys say they get it ( and they deserve credit for this season; as disappointing as the finish, their great fill-in-the-gaps gambles, which I did not like, paid off, and paid off well, at least for now. Congrats on their good eyes for this turnaround). Will be interesting to see if they really do.

    Jon: That last twit. That last twit….

    Next year in Dublin! Next Year in Hoboken! Next year in Amsterdam!

    • Spence

      I dont think there’s any argument that the Cardinals drafting and development of players has been vastly superior to the Dodgers. Whether the Dodgers can be a good team going forward thru more free agency/trades than development will be challenging.

  • WinnipegDave

    I feel sad that the season is over. Sad too that I had to work this evening and couldn’t be around to commiserate with all the fine folks to be found at Dodger Thoughts. I do look forward to next season, even the hot stove league, but feel a bit weary from 7 months of intense fandom. Now that the Dodgers are truly done for the season, I am ready for a break to cleanse the pallet and start fresh and freshly energized for 2014. What a long narrative baseball has. It is hard when that narrative ends so jarringly as it did tonight.
    Congrats to the Cards. They clearly were the better team tonight.
    And is so often the case for the Dodgers… Wait til next year!
    Thanks Jon and everyone for being a go to place for me to cheer on the Dodgers.

    • das411

      “cleanse the pallet” has a ring of that bluebleeder fellow, doesn’t it? anyone know if he’s still around? #oldtimers

  • WBBsAs

    This will be a better, healthier team next year. Not many holes to fill, except for the bench.

    • Spence

      I dont know about that. All the injured guys will be in their 30s

      • Bob_in_Vegas

        What’s wrong with being over 30? I haven’t had a problem with that for . . . oh, the last 20 years or so . . .

        • Spence

          most pro athletes hit the downhill after 30, especially in the post PED era

        • dalegribel

          Bob, we need to have a beer

      • WBBsAs

        A stronger bench should help out with that. Some of the injuries, such as Kemp’s ankle and Hanley’s HBP, were freakish accidents unlikely to be repeated. Kemp, by the way, will not be 30 until next September.

        • Spence

          Kemp’s having his 2nd shoulder surgery to repair the shoulder that apparently was not fixed last season is what I’m concerned about.

  • Daniel Zappala

    Jon, thanks for all you do for this fan who must now watch from outside the state. I view the games through the box score and through your eyes. The color you add makes all the difference in the world.

  • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

    Wacha was their Minotaur.

  • Onlyatriple

    On behalf of all of your readers Jon, thank you and thank your family for sharing you with us.

  • dsm9412

    Enjoyed reading you all year, Jon. Definitely enhanced my enjoyment of the summer run.

  • NoahUCLA

    Thank you Jon. I was very happy to have a place to go to read about and talk about our Dodgers. I think Logan White might be the saddest of all the Dodgers today. We picked 18th and didn’t choose Wacha, and they chose 19th and got him. Ugh!!! Corey Seager better be great. Congratulations to him though, he bested Kershaw twice. Not many pitchers can say that. Here’s to a healthy Hanley and outfield next year.

    • El Duderino

      Wacha beat the Dodgers bats and not Kershaw I would argue. Wacha received run support in this series and Kershaw did not. Simple as that. Dodgers have routinely failed to give Kershaw adequate run support this entire season.

      More of a Wacha beats the Dodgers lineup versus him beating Kershaw type situation

      • NoahUCLA

        True. Although tonight the Cardinals’ bats beat Kershaw.

        • El Duderino

          Kershaw did throw quite a few innings this postseason, one on 4 days rest. St. Louis seemed to not rely on their starting pitching as much as the Dodgers did. Kershaw was obviously not 100% and it showed. Wacha was better rested/managed the Cards

  • Strike4

    Only four months until pitchers and catchers report!

    • John_from_Aus

      and late March for opening day in Sydney!

  • ASW1

    Jon, thanks for all your passion and insight this season – it was a pleasure to be able to hang around DT as much as I did this season after having taken the last couple years off.

    My 10 year old daughter had her first volleyball game in the “Majors” tonight – game started at 8pm – so I left with the family when the Dodgers were already down 4-0. Had a blast at her game – she served (overhand, for the 1st time in her career) out the last 4 points of the 2nd game to win the Match 2 games to none. It was infinitely more fun watching her jump up and down while her teammates surrounded her after the game than it would have been watching the remainder of tonight’s Dodger game.

    So glad I was able to watch a bunch of kids scream, shout, and celebrate rather than the team that beat our Bums.
    Just wait ’till next year – Just Wait!!!

  • ASW1
  • http://www.linkmeister.com/wordpress/ Linkmeister

    If the Dodgers’ organization can get back to the days when they rang up <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_League_Baseball_Rookie_of_the_Year_Award#National_League_winners_.281949.E2.80.93present.29four NL Rookies of the Year in a row in the 1980s and five in a row in the 90s will everyone then shut up about the Cardinals’ drafting skills?

    • PismoBruce

      Let Seager begin that streak, or maybe Guerrero first.

  • http://www.linkmeister.com/wordpress/ Linkmeister

    Mariano Rivera is on the Weekly Charlie Rose show on PBS, and it struck how glad I am that he was in the AL all those years. That level of excellence directed against the Dodgers 7 or 11 or 18 times a season would have frustrated me to death.

    • Casey Barker

      It was kind of that way for a while with Brian Wilson.

  • John_from_Aus

    As always, Dodger Thoughts is the place to go to help me feel connected being so far away over here. Looking forward to less injuries next year, better clutch hitting (or any hitting) and of course opening day in Sydney.

  • Casey Barker

    I don’t think anyone gets Brian Wilson.

  • DS1981

    It does take some doing for a baseball franchise, the dodgers no less, to not make a single world series appearance in quarter of a century. Most people point to Fox and Mccourt as the primary causes, but because he is rarely mentioned in the story of these 25 years of failure, i want to acknowledge a man who started the current “run”, Peter O’malley. It was under his watch that the stadium started to literally crumble. His dodgers never spent much money in free agency, but in the 90′s they abandoned it altogether. And I don’t have to rehash the many horrific trades they made during that time that would have an incredible effect on this team for years to come. He knew very well why Fox wanted to buy the team. He knew it had nothing to do with baseball, and yet he still sold it to them. So take a bow Peter. You contributions are not forgotten.

    BTW, people who are so infatuated with “home grown” players, what did all those rookies of the year the dodgers had in the 90′s lead them to?

    • foul tip

      All that is history. The Guggenheimers & Kasten are a whole new game.

  • Ker Garin

    We went down with our best…you can’t ask for anything else…as the POTUS likes to say, “it gets better.” LOVE YOU BLUE…

  • 14hodges

    Thank you, Jon, for this post, and for all of your other great work this season. So glad that you returned! You helped me enjoy this ride in the ups and the downs.

  • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

    NPUT

  • PismoBruce

    As disappointed as I am in that ending, almost as much will be the lack of these posts regularly, and everyone’s responses to them. It was a heckuva ride indeedy. My bday is June 21, and all I wanted that day was a W for Kershaw. Of course it didn’t happen, but if you told me then that I could snap my fingers and the Dodgers would get to Game 6 of the NLCS, I would have gladly accepted. The future of this franchise is brighter than it has ever been in my 52 years, IMHO. I just hope they can win once more for the elder statesman, Vin, Tommy, etc.. while they are here to enjoy it.

  • WBBsAs

    Well, at least this leaves my afternoon free for a long bike ride through the Oakland Hills, on a warm autumn day.

  • michaelgreenlasvegas

    We are grateful for you, Jon, and for this team. It was an incredible ride. If you look at the injuries, they shouldn’t have gotten this far–it’s that simple. And let us remember, we had The Vin to guide us. Now, to invoke the memory of his old friend and ours, Jerry Doggett, I’ll say what he said on the final post-game show every year: when does spring training start?