Graphic by Jarrod Castillo

Dodgers have a long history with failure

By Ivan Garcia Contributor

Bummer.  

The Los Angeles Dodgers lost another World Series.

Yet again, the Dodgers witnessed an opposing team celebrate a World Series victory on their home field and in front of their fans. This time, it was the Boston Red Sox who were crowned champions after defeating the Dodgers in five games.

It was a familiar sight for Dodger fans given that a year ago, the Houston Astros also celebrated at Dodger Stadium after winning Game 7.

Consecutive World Series losses for the Dodgers reminds fans of 1977 and 1978, when they fell to Reggie Jackson and the New York Yankees. That was also the last time the Dodgers made consecutive World Series appearances.

That being said, it’s accurate to say that Dodger fans are all too familiar with failure.

Since playing in Brooklyn, the Boys of Summer experienced an epidemic of failure, losing the Fall Classic in 1916, ’20, ‘41, ’47, ’49, ’52 and ’53.

In 1955, they finally won their first World Series title, their only in Brooklyn. However, the following season, they lost to the Yankees in the World Series.

After the franchise moved to Los Angeles in 1958, they triumphed once more, defeating the Chicago White Sox in the ’59 World Series.

Furthermore, the Dodgers beat the Yankees in ’63 and the Minnesota Twins in ’65 behind Hall of Fame pitchers Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax, with the latter being one of the greatest pitchers to ever play. Three World Series titles in eight years in Los Angeles was quite a Hollywood beginning.

However, the Dodgers would experience a 15-year drought, losing the World Series on four separate occasions (’66, ’74, ’77 and ’78). With Tommy Lasorda managing Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes, Bill Russell, Ron Cey and rookie phenom Fernando Valenzuela, they won again in ’81.

Seven years later, in 1988, Lasorda managed the Dodgers to its most recent World Series title, featuring memorable postseason performances from pitcher Orel Hershiser and outfielder Kirk Gibson.

Hershiser had a 3-0 record and posted a 1.07 ERA in 42.2 innings against the New York Mets and Oakland Athletics. For his efforts, he received National League Championship Series and World Series MVP honors.

Meanwhile, Gibson produced one of baseball’s most iconic moments. After initially being ruled out of the game due to injury in both of his legs, he hobbled to the plate and hit a game-winning, pinch-hit home run in the ninth inning of Game 1 of the World Series off of Athletics’ closer and future Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley.

Hershiser and Gibson’s efforts propelled the Dodgers to a shocking victory over the Oakland A’s.

With that said, the last two World Series appearances for the Dodgers have produced distressing collective and individual performances.  

In Game 2 of the 2017 World Series, closer Kenley Jansen blew a save in the ninth inning after allowing a game-tying home run to Astros outfielder Marwin Gonzalez. Jansen also allowed game-tying home runs in Games 3 and 4 of the 2018 World Series against the Red Sox.

Additionally, Clayton Kershaw, whose struggles in the postseason have been well documented, failed to hold a lead in Game 5 of the 2017 World Series and struggled mightily in the 2018 World Series.

The blame isn’t solely on Jansen and Kershaw, however, as other factors such as a struggling offense, stranding runners on base, lack of productive performances from key mid-season acquisitions and debatable managerial moves have affected the Dodgers chances of lifting their seventh World Series trophy.   

With a payroll of over $200 and $180 million in 2017 and 2018 respectively, these Dodger teams failed to end a World Series drought that has now reached thirty years.  

There is no debate that the Dodgers are a world-class organization whose pioneering efforts and great teams and players of the past have left a lasting legacy in baseball.

In 1945, the Dodgers signed Jackie Robinson and helped break baseball’s color barrier in 1947. Today, Robinson’s no. 42 is retired across Major League Baseball.       

As a member of the Dodgers, pitcher Chan Ho Park became the first South Korean to play in the MLB after making a relief appearance in 1994. Also, in 2002, outfielder Chen Chin-Feng became the first Taiwan-born player to play in the majors.

In 1995, Dodgers signed pitcher Hideo Nomo, who became the second Japanese-born player—and the first since 1965—to appear in an MLB game. Nomo’s performance earned him the NL Rookie of the Year and his success during his career paved the way for future Japanese baseball players.

Players like Pee Wee Reese (1), Duke Snider (4), Jim Gilliam (19), Don Sutton (20), Koufax (32), Roy Campanella (39), Robinson (42), Drysdale (53) and managers Walter Alston (24) and Lasorda (2) are in the Hall of Fame and each have their number retired by the Dodgers.

While the Dodgers have been groundbreaking in some respects, their history of futility is a fair characteristic of the franchise.

Since their days in Brooklyn, a common expression among Dodger fans has been “Wait ‘til next year!”

So, there is hope.

Before that hope is another long winter, another spring training, another hot and arduous summer of baseball.

All this before even getting a chance of playing in the Fall Classic and potentially, winning.

What a bummer.