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The Lakers won a championship. Will the Dodgers follow?

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An LA title two-for is halfway complete

Los Angeles Lakers Night at Dodger Stadium Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

I’m sure the Dodgers are tired of hearing about 1988, bringing up the last time the franchise won the World Series. But with the Lakers winning the NBA title on Sunday night, the mentions now figure to only go through the roof.

In 1988, the Lakers and Dodgers pulled off the championship double dip for Los Angeles, with the Lakers completing a back-to-back run (and five titles in nine years) in June, followed by the Dodgers following suit in October.

This year, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the sports calendar is off kilter, so the Dodgers completing a championship run would make for a rare combo given they would be separated by less than three weeks, rather than four months.

That Lakers title in 1988 was led by Hall of Fame point guard and current Dodgers co-owner Magic Johnson, the main link between the two iconic franchises.

Since then, the Lakers have won six championships, but the Dodgers have rarely matched up with their own contention:

  • 2000: Dodgers 86-76, 2nd place, 8 games out of a playoff spot
  • 2001: Dodgers 86-76, 3rd place, 6 games out
  • 2002: Dodgers 92-70, 3rd place, 3 games out
  • 2009: Dodgers 95-67, 1st place, lost NLCS 4-1
  • 2010: Dodgers 80-82, 4th place, 11 games out

This year’s Dodgers have the best record (43-17) and best run differential in MLB (+136), and are widely considered the favorites to win the championship, now with eight victories remaining in their quest. By winning even two games against the Braves in the NLCS, this year’s Dodgers will have come closer to a championship during a Lakers title season in 32 years. But they have a larger target in mind.

After the Dodgers’ first two series wins, as well as when the clinched the division, the team’s celebration has been relatively muted. This is partly due to the extra guidelines during a pandemic, but also because the Dodgers seem more focused on their ultimate goal.

“Records are cool, championships are cooler,” said third baseman Justin Turner on Thursday after setting Dodgers postseason records for hits, games played, and runs scored.

“It’s just step two,” Mookie Betts told MLB Network after the Dodgers’ sweep of the Padres on Thursday. “Obviously we’re super excited, but we have to keep our eyes on the prize, and that’s the World Series.”

The Lakers added another notch to the “since 1988” belt with their title on Sunday. But while the Dodgers following suit create a nice footnote for the city, the Dodgers winning the World Series this year would mean never having to be burdened about 1988 ever again, and that’s an even bigger prize.