Every year, each year more than the last, comes the refrain: “The Dodgers have to win the World Series this year.”
And every year I wonder, “or what?”
Not far in the future, there are books and newspapers and Baseball Reference pages imprinted with the result of the 2017 playoffs. Less than a month from now, there will have been a parade downtown with “I Love L.A.” blaring non-stop, or there won’t have been.
It won’t be because the Dodgers tried any more or any less than their best. It will be because along their best effort, they finally caught the breaks that have flown by for the past 29 seasons.
The playoffs are in Schrodinger’s box, and it’s just waiting to be unlocked.
It’s not that the Dodgers have no control over their fate. But they can only control what they can control. And they can’t control everything. No team can.
World Series odds
12.5% Red Sox
— Jon Weisman (@jonweisman) October 1, 2017
The World Series isn’t a morality play, you can’t will yourself to victory, and neither the Dodgers nor their fans are owed anything. And even if that mattered, what of it? Cleveland, Washington and Houston have all gone longer — in some cases forever — without winning a World Series. Just because the people of Los Angeles feels boundlessly deprived doesn’t mean they are.
The “We’re the Dodgers, we’re a big city, we’re a hallowed franchise, we deserve this” mentality — no one cares.
That doesn’t mean surrender. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t believe. The Dodgers are equipped to go all the way. They’re certainly no longer the hip pick to do it — I dare say a ton of people are on board with Arizona ending the Dodgers season sometime in the next week, let alone the Nationals, Cubs or American League champs. But there is talent and leadership and impatience and desire and more talent up and down the Dodger roster. There are mountains ready to be scaled and primal screams waiting to be unleashed.
If you’re a Dodger fan, go open-hearted and full-throated into these playoffs. Just understand that seven other fan bases can rightfully do the same.
As much as you might have dreamed of it, I don’t think there’s any fathoming what a World Series title will feel like in Los Angeles. The fans of this team haven’t gone this long without that elation since 1955. Putting aside the specific utopia of Kirk Gibson’s home run, there hasn’t been an emotional euphoria to match ’55 in more than seven decades.
But if not …
What can we do? We’ll try to understand. We’ll agonize, pick up the pieces, call for changes. Many will demand firings, purgings, blood. All trying to make sense of a purely irrational moment in a purely irrational game.
And then we’ll start over again. We’re baseball fans. It’s what we do. Or else.