It was not “the season” for the Red Sox or the Yankees. And it was an odd baseball season overall. But there was a season, and now there is, in our COVID-19 era, something to celebrate. This is what The Los Angeles Times had to say recently about the Dodgers’ World Series win:
For the second time in this strange and awful year, Los Angeles has found a reason to cheer.
The World Series championship won by the Dodgers on Tuesday night is its first in 32 years, a drought made all the more frustrating by the near-misses in recent seasons. Twice in the previous three years, the Dodgers made it to the World Series only to lose — and in 2017, to a Houston Astros team that cheated its way to victory.
So the Dodgers were due. All the more so considering how heavily the team’s owners — Guggenheim Baseball Management, which bought the team after Frank McCourt put it into bankruptcy — have spent over the years. Just before the season started, they opened the cash spigot again for the newly arrived outfielder Mookie Betts, a game-changer at the plate and in the field. Betts, who starred for the Boston Red Sox when they beat the Dodgers in the 2018 series, scored what proved to be the winning run Tuesday.
The expensive, star-infused lineup is one thing the Dodgers had in common with the city’s other titleholder, the Lakers, who won the NBA championship a little more than two weeks ago after missing the playoffs for seven agonizing years. Another thing the teams share is the giant local fan bases they have built up, each of which cuts across ages, races, ethnicities, incomes and political views.
With all the challenges thrown in our way this year — the pandemic, the recession, the monstrous wildfires, the reckoning with systemic racism, the exceptionally divisive election season — we need as many sources of joy and unity as we can find. And it’s hard to imagine a better one than these wins.
Also like the Lakers, the Dodgers claimed the championship by beating a team from south Florida, 4 games to 2. To get to that point, though, they came from behind again and again, scoring a record number of runs in innings with two outs. That’s a remarkable sign of resilience and determination.
Plus, the team appears to have gotten lucky. Star third baseman Justin Turner was pulled late in the final game after a coronavirus test he’d taken earlier came back positive. That development could have disrupted the Dodgers’ lineup had it happened earlier in the series, or had the series gone to a seventh game Wednesday.
If there’s anything bittersweet about the Dodgers’ win for Angelenos, it is how the pandemic kept the fans out of Dodger Stadium for the entire truncated regular season. In fact, it kept the team out of Dodger Stadium for the league championship and World Series games. There was something off about watching the Dodgers win the championship as the home team playing in a largely empty stadium in Arlington, Texas.
From a distance, then, let’s be grateful that the magnificent Clayton Kershaw, he of so many disappointing postseasons, finally has a World Series ring, thanks in no small measure to the two games he won (one with spectacular stuff, one with a lot of grit). And we can bask in the redemption manager Dave Roberts must feel, having finally ended a season without a chorus of second-guessing about his personnel moves.
Yes, the Dodgers are a big-market team with all the advantages that conveys. Yes, they were the second-highest-paid team in baseball, with a payroll almost four times the size of the team they beat in the series, the Tampa Bay Rays. But as the Dodgers have demonstrated so painfully in recent years, money doesn’t translate into championships. Talent and determination do, salted liberally with good luck and good health.
Let’s all be thankful for that.