Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

The consolation prize: Why the World Series matters most, but the regular season still matters

San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Now that Madison Bumgarner has gone full Hershiser and then some, now that the San Francisco Giants have a well-earned dynasty of three World Series titles in five years, now that history has recorded this all in fresh ink, I’ve reached the stage of acceptance with the 2014 season.

But I am left with a sincere question …

Clayton Kershaw will win the National League Cy Young Award and maybe the MVP, the Dodgers won the NL West, and all anyone will say this winter is how they are inferior to Bumgarner and the Giants. I’m not denying people the right to say it.

But if winning the World Series is all that matters, and what you do in the regular season matters not at all if you win the World Series, and if how you finish in the regular season gives no hint about whether you’re going to win the World Series, then why worry about what is happening during the regular season?

The only answer I can find is this. The regular season does matter. It matters because, despite what the Giants (and Royals) pulled off this month, the division title puts you in the best position to win the World Series. And it also matters because, despite what the Giants pulled off this month, a six-month triumph is objectively more impressive than a one-month triumph.

Don’t misunderstand me: You, I and Kershaw would trade every bit of regular-season happiness for what San Francisco is experiencing tonight. The World Series is No. 1. But I can’t go the all-or-nothing route.

It’s not as if Bruce Bochy and the Giants lost the NL West to the Dodgers on purpose. It’s not as if the climactic losses by Bumgarner and Tim Hudson to Zack Greinke and Kershaw at the end of September were just a big “I meant to do that” misdirection.

The supreme winners of October couldn’t get it done in September. The Dodgers took their best shots and triumphed. So don’t tell me the Dodgers don’t know how to win. They proved they could win. If the regular season is irrelevant, then why not just eliminate the regular season and turn baseball into half a year of March Madness.

The Dodgers know how to win. So do the Kansas City Royals, and the St. Louis Cardinals, and for that matter, the Arizona Diamondbacks. They each won x number of times in 2014, but only one team could win x+1.

Maybe the Giants had more character in 2014, maybe they had more talent, maybe they have a sixth sense about short series (say that six times fast).

Maybe they had a pitcher who was unconscious in October while the Dodgers had one who was unconscious for months and months before that. After all, in the four games without Bumgarner in the World Series, the Giants lost three and were outscored, 24-15.

But strength and character are not limited to one team per season. it’s not zero-sum. That the Dodgers fell short does not mean they are empty, bereft. Their season was not without meaning. And any idea that the Dodgers couldn’t win because of such and such a person is emphatically ridiculous.

I have no doubt that if you restarted the 2014 MLB playoffs with the same participants, they would yield a different result.

The World Series is absolutely the grand prize, the holy grail. The Dodgers’ goal, from the top of the organization to the bottom, from the clubhouse to the front office, was nothing less. Elimination was, and still is, a gut punch. My acceptance of tonight’s result is simply acceptance of the hole in my stomach.

But I will resist any attempts to trash what the Dodgers accomplished in 2014. It was great, at times fantastic. At the worst time, it was flawed.

Everyone will aim to do better, so that the next great season ends with a celebration.


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  1. It was a great season for the most part.
    BTW congrats to the Giants.

  2. I have been a Dodger fan since 1965. I will always be a Dodger fan. Days like today point out for me that the 600 bucks I gave to a scalper in Oakland to sit behind home plate for game 5 of the World Series was worth every penny. I do now openly wonder if I will ever see another World Series game with the Dodgers winning again in my lifetime. whatever



  4. jpavko

    And how many times dis the Dosgers and Giants play in 2014 and how many did the Giants win? Fewer than the boys from L.A. ,that’s for sure. Now, tell who is the better team, Just means the Dodgers have to be better in 2015

  5. Sorry Jon, not accepting this. This is the worse feeling as a Dodger fan. Kershaw just didn’t do in his 2 games against the Cards what he did in 26 of his 27 games in the regular season (granted the O could have helped him in second start), and the feeling is very empty. His Cy Young and possible MVP awards will not be satisfying for me at least. Congrats to the Giants they won when it mattered most, hopefully the Dodgers will do this soon.

  6. I guarantee if the Dodgers’ Gordon had hit that ball to the wall in the ninth inning, he wouldn’t have stopped at third.

    • jpavko

      That very topic was debated on ESPN2 this morning. Knowinthe run would tie the game and how Bumgarner had pitched all series, if Wallach had stopped the runner at third, hed be looking for a new job today

  7. oldbrooklynfan

    I think probably the hardest thing to take is that the Dodgers won the division and the second place Giants won the World Championship. I can still remember watching the Giants tipping there hats to the Dodgers when they clinched against the Giants.
    I never had the slightest thought, at that point, that the Giants would end up with the biggest prize.
    It doesn’t hurt as much as it use to, so it’s easier to tip my hat to the Giants on there well deserved victory.

  8. Baseball, unlike most of the other major sports produces champions that are not always the most dominate team. Although the Giants won the WS I don’t walk away from this season thinking that they were the best team of 2014. In reality the WS match-up might have been the weakest two teams in the final series in quite some time. You can get a Cinderella story every once in a while but to have two in the same season is pretty rare.

    • jpavko

      When the Giants won the wild card, then defeated St. Louis, I had to think of how differently things would have turned out had they met the Dodgers, who they couln’t touch all regular season in the LCS

      • Winning 9 times out of 19 games isn’t couldn’t touch. However I do agree the Dodgers probably would have won a best of 7 series against.

  9. I turned the game off just as the last weak out hit the panda’s glove. I’m so tired of seeing a team that has less talent, in my opinion anyhow, win it all when our Dodgers can’t seem to put it together in the postseason. So tired, too, of success over 162 games not translating to 11 wins in the postseason. When I reflect on the season I take joy in what the Dodgers did. Hopefully the gut punch of a postseason will succumb to that joy.

    Speaking of the Dodgers being more talented, Jon, if you looked at the Giants roster and Dodgers roster who would you rather have at each position, counting starting rotation, bullpen and bench as positions?

    • Here’s my take:
      SP1- Kershaw of MadBum (dude deserves all the praising he’s getting, but Kersh is a HOF) SP2- Greinke over Peavy , SP3- Ryu over Hudson, SP 4 Vogelson over Haren (not by much, might even be even), Petit over anyone the Dodgers threw out after Beckett was done.
      Closer- Jansen over Casilla, Setup 1 Howell over Romo, Setup 2 Affedlt over Wilson, Setup 3 Lopez over League, Mid relive- Wright over Machi (toss up), late call up Strickland over Baez right now, but Baez may be better in future.
      C- Posey over A.J. (not even close)
      1B- Agon over Belt
      2B- Gordon over Panik (I think Dodgers will be wise to sell high on Gordon though)
      SS- Hanley over Crawford (closer than it should be though)
      3B- Panda over Uribe
      LF- CC over Morse (very close though)
      CF- Puig over Pagan/Blanco
      RF Even Kemp/Pence (2nd half Kemp better than Pence however)
      Mgr- Bochy over DM

      So yes Dodgers have/had a little talent, but the pen was poorly constructed, and Kershaw just laid an egg in game 1 against the Cards, and it just doomed them for doing anything in the playoffs.

    • jpavko

      something more to look forward to in 2015. The Dodgers prove to one and all who is the better team Let’s kick some butt Blue!

  10. alleyalbee

    Jon, as a long-time lurker from the great Toaster community, to the ESPN days, and now to this iteration, THIS was the post that really made me want to reach out and interact.

    I agree with many of your points. But where you lost me, and probably others, is your statement that “a six-month triumph is objectively more impressive than a one-month triumph.” Because it’s not. The Dodgers won six more games than the Giants did over the span of those six months (leaving aside the question as to if one were actually able to see that winning regular season, which I did not). The Giants won more games than that in a one-month postseason… a time period that MATTERS. Not to say the regular season is devoid of meaning, but postseason games really matter, if you want to be a champion, as opposed to one of six divisional winners. And I think everybody, yourself included, would trade that regular season the Dodgers had for the postseason the Giants just had.

    Your post strikes me as a combination of rationalization of the Dodgers’ season and trivialization as to what the Giants have accomplished.

    My Dodger fandom survived the trading of Mike Piazza, the ownership regimes of FOX and the McCourts, the GM-ing of Paul DePodesta and Ned Colletti, the Broxton and Kershaw double-choke jobs in the playoffs, and the Time Warner blackout of the entire 2014 regular season. It’ll be tough to get through this one.

    While I’m not “old,” I’m certainly not young at 32 years of age, and I don’t have the memories of 1988 to hang my hat on and look back on with fondness. Before it’s all over, I’d just love to see the Dodgers win a title, just once.

    And it’s not the NL West one that I care about.

    • Jon Weisman

      ” Not to say the regular season is devoid of meaning, but postseason games really matter.”

      Isn’t this exactly what I wrote?

      I also wrote:

      “Don’t misunderstand me: You, I and Kershaw would trade every bit of regular-season happiness for what San Francisco is experiencing tonight. The World Series is No. 1.”

      “The World Series is absolutely the grand prize, the holy grail. The Dodgers’ goal, from the top of the organization to the bottom, from the clubhouse to the front office, was nothing less. Elimination was, and still is, a gut punch. My acceptance of tonight’s result is simply acceptance of the hole in my stomach.”

      How did I trivialize what the Giants accomplished or what a World Series means?

      I have absolutely struggled with the Dodgers missing this opportunity to win the World Series. I just don’t see an appreciation for what they didn’t accomplish and an appreciation for what they did accomplish as mutually exclusive.

    • Granted that the Giants won games in the post season that the Dodgers didn’t, 5 years ago the Giants wouldn’t have even been in a position to win the post season games as they wouldn’t have qualified for the playoffs. The fact that baseball is listless in trying to capture more TV ratings, they over react and add a second wildcard team when there was no reason to.

      • That reasoning doesn’t fly, Giants had same record as Pirates and would have played a one game playoff to determine the WC winner anyway.

    • jpavko

      that is over the course of the season.How many times did the two teams meet head to head with the Dodgers coming out waaaay on top 17-0 anyone?

  11. A Dodgers fan since 1957…. I feel qualified to chime in… this loss hurt as much as the 1962 loss to the Giants in the playoffs. That year, with an injured Koufax through the last half of the season, the Dodgers managed to win 102 games and STILL didn’t make it the Series against the Yanks. That season just about killed me. Losing to the Cards in the Divisional Series hurt just as much. This was as good a Dodgers team as perhaps I’ve seen in the last 30 years… they had it ALL (except came short in the BP). No matter how much I love him, CK did not get the job done when it counted the most. Even he will tell you that, and how disappointing it all was. The team seemed to have good chemistry, it hustled, it was an exciting team to watch… this should have been their year…. And, as I said in earlier posts, the only consolation perhaps is that great teams like the Angels, Tigers and Nationals lost in the Divisional Series as well… yeah, some consolation…. Congrats to the Giants for getting the job done when it counted the most. Bumgardner looked like a leftie Orel out there.. he was unreal…. he and others on the Giants got hot at the right time….. One more thought… the 1988 edition of the Dodgers, save Hersheiser and Gibby, was one of the weakest Dodgers teams I’ve ever seen go into a WS…. and they won!! I was at the game when Gibson hit his now-famous home run and commented to my cousin as we left the stadium…. “Well, I think that will hold me over for another 25 years!”… well, it 26 years now since the Dodgers played in the Fall Classic.. time is UP!!!!

  12. The Nationals bested the Giants during the regular season way more decisively than did the Dodgers, yet went down pretty quickly, 3-1, when they met those same Giants post-season. Do not take as a given that the Dodgers would have done any better. It seems the post season competition, where in every series is for *all* the marbles, is a different game. Regular season competition is a slog, a marathon, each game but a small passage in a long novel full of turns and twists. A win or a loss against your adversary today not quite a final reckoning. Intensity, though maybe ever-present, is of necessity lower burning. But in post season every team must maintain a laser focus on beating their adversary or going home, which means intense preparation for each game, focus on each and every member of the opposition team, their strengths and weaknesses, your strengths and weaknesses, pitching plans, back up pitching plans, and then during the course of each game, knowing when to remain patient, and when, because of the do or die today circumstances, to throw out the protocols that served you well for all season. No one seems better at preparation and managing for all the marbles than Bruce Bochy. No one seems better at preparation and calling the right pitches for the right batters than Buster Posey. Three times in five years the Giants have taken the crown despite their under dog status. Doing this once might be due to extraordinary luck, doing this every other year for three times cannot be just luck.

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