Hasn’t been easy this year. Hasn’t. Remember when Hyun-jin Ryu never pitched, or when Brandon McCarthy made four homer-prone starts before blowing out his arm? Or the ludicrous panic of “what’s wrong with Clayton Kershaw” early on? Or the very real panic of “so is A.J. Ellis totally cooked now?” early on, or if Jimmy Rollins was totally done? Or the total collapse of Joc Pederson, or the endless hamstring injuries, or the very disappointing year from Yasiel Puig, or the endless OH GOD THE BULLPEN worries, particularly with Chris Hatcher & Joel Peralta, or the fact that Johnny Cueto, David Price, or Cole Hamels never arrived? Or when Yasmani Grandal‘s shoulder caused a second-half collapse? Or when Juan Uribe was dealt for some reason? (Actually, that was bad at the time, and feels worse now.) Or the fact that no matter how much sense the Dee Gordon deal made, it was difficult to refute those who saw Gordon carrying a batting average north of .350 into July? Or the fact that no matter what decision Don Mattingly made, it was always doomed to be wrong, at according to a sizable portion of the fanbase?
Despite all that — and obviously, with plenty of counter balance on the positive side, from Kershaw & Zack Greinke, to Mike Bolsinger & Corey Seager, to Brett Anderson & Enrique Hernandez, and more — this team just went nearly wire-to-wire to win their third straight NL West title. It’s the first time the Dodgers have ever done that. It’s the first time any team has ever done that immediately following a bankruptcy scandal that threatened their ability to meet payroll. (I mean, probably. I didn’t look that up. Figured it was safe to assume.)
And yeah, the work’s not done. Two consecutive playoff flameouts and nearly three decades since a title mean that simply getting there isn’t enough. If they advance to face the Cards again, heaven help Kershaw if he’s anything less than perfect. There are those who will always throw the size of the payroll back at you. They aren’t going to get home field in the NLDS against the Mets, and so if they take the gas pedal off, you’ll hear plenty about “momentum.”. There’s more to be done, because there’s always more to be done, at least until the ring.
But man, there’s still nine long days until the NLDS begins. There’s plenty of time to worry about the roster and home-field advantage and all that. As we saw with the collapse of the Nationals and disappointment of the Red Sox, no amount of talent and salary guarantees anything. If you follow a team daily, you’ve got to at least take a step back and enjoy the accomplishment, even if you hope for more. Some teams go decades without this. You’ve seen it three times in three years.
That’s pretty good. That’s pretty great. Take the time to enjoy that. It’s an accomplishment that should not be overlooked.