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It was worth the wait

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For the first time in my life, the Dodgers are champions

World Series - Tampa Bay Rays v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Six Photo by Maxx Wolfson/Getty Images

24 years. 3 months. 18 days.

That’s how long it took for me to experience a Dodgers World Series championship. I didn’t think I would ever write a post like this. For all my life, I’ve heard one thing. 1988. I don’t have to worry about that anymore. Now, it’s all about 2020.

I started going to Dodgers games in 2000 or 2001, I don’t have an exact date, but it was somewhere around that time. As an only child, my parents wanted to get me invested in the team. That sure turned out to be a life-changing decision.

I remember going to about 5-10 games a year. Going to the bobblehead games to begin my collection (I have over 100 now). I remember seeing the likes of Shawn Green, Paul Lo Duca, Adrian Beltre and so many more. Those are my early Dodgers memories. I didn’t really understand free-agent signings, trades were new to me, and I didn’t know about division titles, let alone the World Series.

As the years went by and I got older, I began to have a better understanding. I began to learn about the history of the Dodgers, and how long it had been since they last won a World Series. Mind you, at this point it was about 20 years, so nothing even too bad.

I don’t remember the 2004 or 2006 division series too well, as I was still in elementary school. I remember being a little upset when they lost to the Mets, but I didn’t really think too much of it. 2008 was when I really got my first taste.

I remember in 2008 when the Cubs were the team to beat. It had been 100 years since they last won it, so it seemed like they were the team of destiny. I had no expectations, but I just remember watching the games on TV. Remember the James Loney grand slam? I’m fairly certain I texted every single one of my friends after that happened and went over my texting limit. Remember when Manny Ramirez was literally impossible to get out? What a series that was.

The Dodgers advanced to the NLCS for the first time in my life. They were one series away from advancing to the World Series. I went to my first ever playoff game. I still can’t recall which game it was, but I remember I ditched school and went with my parents. I sat in the highest seat possible all the way down the left field line. The foul pole was blocking my view of home plate. I hate a better view of my car in the parking lot. It didn’t matter though, they won. Though I was only 12 years old, it was the most exciting sporting event I had ever been to. That was when I had my first taste.


Unfortunately, we know how that series played out. The Matt Stairs home run off of Jonathan Broxton is still sketched into my mind. Losing to those damn Phillies who I desperately wanted to beat. We came up short. This was the first time I can remember being upset after a series. 2008 was the year I truly became a baseball fan.

2009 was a fun year. That Dodgers team was great, and I followed them closer than the year before. After a quick sweep of the Cardinals, we were matched up against the Phillies for the second straight year in the NLCS. No way they could beat us two years in a row, right? Same result. Phillies in five.

Then, I entered my high school years. I guess the Dodgers thought it would be a kind idea to absolutely suck during my time in high school. Those were the Frank McCourt days. Remember those? Remember when you’d go to a Dodgers game and the place was about half full? What a time that was. It didn’t matter. I still went to my 5-10 games a season. I was old enough where me and friends could go on our own and didn’t need a parent with us. Who else remembers that? Going to a game without an adult? You could eat whatever you wanted, yell whatever you wanted at the players. Being 16 and sitting in the left field bleachers went exactly as you’d expect.

Finally in 2013, they broke their postseason drought. Just in time for my senior year of high school. When I think of 2013, I immediately remember Juan Uribe and his ‘jazz hands’. I think that was the craziest I had ever reacted from a moment in a baseball game. I was watching in my room and started screaming and running through the house. What a moment. Just like that, the Dodgers were onto the NLCS yet again.

They got closer than I had ever seen them get to reaching the World Series, but ultimately the Dodgers lost in six games to the Cardinals. I’m still upset at Joe Kelly deep down for breaking Hanley Ramirez’s ribs. Had that not happened, I think the Dodgers would have had a much better shot at advancing.

LA won the division again the following season... losing to the Cardinals in the postseason for the second straight season.

2015 seemed like it would be a different year. The Dodgers signed Zack Greinke and had arguably one of the top rotations in all of baseball. I was so confident that his acquisition would be the move to get the Dodgers over the hump. Then, Daniel Murphy happened. I don’t even have to look at his stats from that NLDS. I’m convinced he hit 1.000 with 5 homers during that five-game stretch.

Heartbreak yet again, and another year down the drain.

AP

I was off to Arizona State in 2016 and remember watching the NLDS against the Nationals in my tiny dorm room with all my friends. I didn’t sit down at all during Game 5. I vividly remember them bringing in Clayton Kershaw in for the ninth inning, while Murphy, the very one who killed the Dodgers the year prior, was on the Nationals and due to hit that inning.

I had already accepted the fact he was going to beat the Dodgers yet again, so when Kershaw got him out I lost my damn mind. Then, Kershaw got the strikeout to send the Dodgers to the NLCS yet again. There’s a video somewhere out there of my friends carrying me down the hall as we all were screaming in excitement.

Eight years after defeating them in the postseason, we were matched up against the Cubs. They seemed like the team of destiny yet again, only this time, they truly were. They knocked us out in six games, but this one for whatever reason didn’t sting as much. I was happy the Cubs were advancing, and they truly were the better team.

Ah, that brings us to 2017.

This was a Dodgers team unlike any I had ever seen before. The regular season was a breeze. Nobody could stop them. They were the best team in baseball, and easily the best Dodgers team I had ever seen. This was the first time in my life I actually thought the Dodgers could win the World Series. Sure, every year I hoped they could do it, but 2017 was the first time I genuinely thought they had it in them.

They swept the D-Backs in the first round, and made it look easy. Since I was in Phoenix for school, I got to see them advance in person. It was the first playoffs game I had ever been to where I got to see the Dodgers advance to the next round. Up next, the defending World Champion Chicago Cubs.

Although they were the defending champs, I wasn’t worried. I don’t know why. I had a feeling. What a series. The Justin Turner walk-off, the three-home run performance from Enrique Hernandez in Game 5. For the first time in my life, the Dodgers were going to the World Series. I was 21 years old, and this was the first time I would ever see my Dodgers in the World Series. I didn’t know it was possible.

I remember walking down my hallway blasting “I Love LA” on my portable speaker. It was awesome. The Dodgers were in the freaking World Series. For good and bad reasons, I remember that series far too well.

Game 1. The Chris Taylor home run to kick things off. Incredible. The Dodgers won the game, and just like that... we were three wins away. Game 2, when Kenley Jansen allowed that homer in the ninth. We lost. Series tied. We were so close to being up 2-0. So freaking close.

Game 5. The craziest game I’ve ever watched, still to this date. The back-and-forth battle. All the lead changes. I remember I had my baseball show to do on the ASU radio station, but I skipped it to watch the game. I screamed. I moaned. I cried. I also might have let out a few swear words. That was the most painful loss of my life.

The Dodgers took them to Game 7 and lost. They were pretty much out of it after the first few innings. I didn’t blame Yu Darvish for the loss then. I still don’t. He was the right choice. The Dodgers acquired him for that very reason. He just didn’t deliver. The Dodgers offense also didn’t deliver. You know who brought in the only run for them that night? Andre Ethier.

I was heartbroken. We were so close. The greatest regular season in Dodgers history, and we were only one game away. Onto the next season.


2018 was just as good. The Dodgers were great again and cruised through the regular season. This time, we made an even bigger splash by acquiring Manny Machado, arguably one of the five best players in all of baseball. We went through the Braves with ease, but the Brewers poised a major threat.

It was a back-and-forth series, with the Brewers being an extra-innings victory away from going up 3-1 in the series. We went to a Game 7 in Milwaukee. That game had it all. The Chris Taylor catch. The Yasiel Puig home run. For the second consecutive season, the Dodgers were going to the World Series.

LA quickly fell behind 2-0 and the series looked like it would be a quick one. We all endured that unforgettable 18-inning Game 3 that ended with a Max Muncy walk-off home run. The following game, things looked to be turning the corner as Yasiel Puig yet again delivered in the clutch. Who can forget it. For many, they say that’s the loudest they’ve ever heard Dodger Stadium. Remember Kobe Bryant in the front row flexing his arms? What an image. That was supposed to be the Dodgers’ night. That was supposed to be the turning point to hopefully get them over the hump.

They ended up blowing the lead and lost the game, and ultimately the series the following day. For the second consecutive year, the Dodgers lost in the World Series. Another year, another heartbreak.

Just when you thought the Dodgers couldn’t break your heart any more, the 2019 NLDS happened. They were facing the Nationals, who had just come off a thrilling come-from-behind victory in the Wild Card Game. The Dodgers were the clear-cut favorites to win the series.

That Nats battled and forced a Game 5 at Dodger Stadium. LA led most of the way and were only six outs away from advancing with a two-run lead. You know what happens next. Back-to-back homers off of Clayton Kershaw and a grand slam from Howie Kendrick in the 10th inning sent the Dodgers home before they could even reach the NLCS.

Another year, another heartbreak. Seven straight division titles and nothing to show for it. That loss was draining. For whatever reason, that Game 5 loss was harder than any loss in years prior. Maybe it was because it was so shocking? Maybe because I knew deep down this team could have won the World Series, and we would never get a chance to see what they could have done.

The feeling didn’t go away. It stayed with me for months. The anger and frustration of yet another wasted October. Now what? What’ll be the difference next year? They’ll make the playoffs again, but is it even worth it?

As if having to re-live the 2017 World Series wasn’t painful enough, we all found out in January that the Houston Astros cheated. Those assholes cheated. They cheated to get to the World Series, and they cheated in the World Series. I’ve expressed my thoughts in previous articles and on Twitter, so they don’t deserve any more of my time. But those assholes cost us a championship.

It just made everything worse. It was bad enough losing a close series like that, but knowing they cheated??? By the way, they got off the hook with literally no punishments. Did I mention I hate them?

Okay, okay. Back to the purpose of this piece.


Then in February, there was hope. The Dodgers shocked the baseball world and stole Mookie Betts from the Red Sox. Yes, they stole him. They acquired arguably the best player in all of baseball, and it didn’t really cost them anything. All of a sudden, there was hope. There was a light at the end of the tunnel. This was the guy that was going to get us over the hump and help deliver a championship to the city of Los Angeles.

I was ready.

Then, the pandemic hit. The whole country shut down. It looked like baseball, something that many of us used as an escape from the outside world, wouldn’t be played. The year that started with such hope quickly turned into devastation.

The months went by, and eventually we got baseball back. Not the baseball we were accustomed to, though. We were given a 60-game season. Fans weren’t allowed in the stands. There would be no minor-leagues. It would be a season for the ages. But it didn’t matter. We had our beloved baseball back. Everything seemed somewhat normal again.

The 2020 season went as planned. The Dodgers absolutely dominated. Their offense was the best in baseball, along with their pitching. They went 43-17 and were without a doubt the best team in baseball. We knew they’d reach October, that wasn’t the question. What lied ahead though, that was the question.

In a brand new three-game Wild Card series, the Dodgers easily took care of the Brewers, sweeping them 2-0. Instead of continuing the playoffs at Dodger Stadium, they traveled to Texas where they’d make Globe Life Field their new home. Just like the NBA, Major League Baseball decided to create their own bubble.

In the NLDS, the Dodgers faced a young and hungry Padres team. For San Diego, they were the most exciting team in baseball all season. They played the Dodgers tough, and they were coming in as underdogs, eager to pull off the upset. I won’t lie, I was really worried about this series. Needing to win only three games, the hot offense from the Padres along with their pitching looked like it would be a major problem.

It wasn’t. The Dodgers went through them no problem in three games, advancing to the NLCS where they’d take on the Atlanta Braves.

Early on, it looked as if the Dodgers were in trouble. They fell behind 2-0 in the series, and ultimately 3-1. Just like that, they were one loss away from being eliminated. One loss away from a wasted season yet again. However, though they needed to win three straight, I didn’t really lose much hope. All they gotta do is win three straight? They did that so many times during the regular season, why not one more?

Well, they did it. The Dodgers won three consecutive games with their backs against the wall and advanced to their third World Series in four years. Their opponent? The Tampa Bay Rays.


Unlike their previous opponents, the Rays didn’t have an offense that jumped out on paper. They had fantastic hitting, and a lineup that played fantastic baseball. Top to bottom they were an excellent team, and I knew it would be a battle.

The Dodgers won two of the first three, and were one strike away from taking a commanding 3-1 series lead. Then, the craziest finish I had ever seen in a baseball game happened. Two errors from the Dodgers cost them a win, and just like that the series was tied at two with all the momentum riding with Tampa Bay.

Were things starting to fall apart again? Why us? How could anyone lose a game like that, why did it have to be the Dodgers? Luckily, we didn’t have to wait long for the next game, as they played Game 5 less than 24 hours later. The Dodgers easily could have lost this game. They could have been still in shock from the night prior. Instead, they were the opposite. They were eager and hungry. The Dodgers jumped out to the early lead, setting the tone for the night. Clayton Kershaw, needing one final chance to cement his postseason legacy, gave yet another fantastic start for his team. The Dodgers won, and they were one win away from winning the World Series.

Having a day off between games was brutal. I couldn’t get the thought of Game 6 out of my mind. For the first time in my life, the Dodgers were one win away from winning the World Series without it being a Game 7. I had never seen them this close. I didn’t know how to handle it. Could this be it? Could this finally be the end of a life long streak?

Tuesday arrived, and my heart was racing as soon as I woke up. I just couldn’t wait. The minutes felt like hours, and the hours felt like days. Eventually, five o’clock rolled around, and it was time for Dodger baseball. Tampa Bay jumped out to the quick lead, but I didn’t lose any faith. As the game progressed, I had a positive mindset. Something felt different about this game. I don’t know what, but something felt different.

Though they were trailing, I just had this feeling that at some point the tide would turn, and the Dodgers would jump out front. Entering the bottom of the sixth inning, I just had this strange feeling.

Whatever that feeling was, it came true. The Dodgers jumped ahead and took the lead. A lead they would hang on to the rest of the way.

Once we got to the seventh, I began counting every out. Nine outs to go... eight, seven, six.... Then we reached the eighth inning, five more outs, four more outs... Three. More. Outs. One inning. One inning away. The Los Angeles Dodgers were one inning away from ending their drought.

I was jokingly texting friends asking them how do I react. I had never been this close to my team winning a championship. I’m a Clippers fan (yes I know, I know, don’t hate me for it) so I’ve never experienced my favorite team winning a championship. For 24 years, I’ve been disappointed year after year.

Not this year. The disappointment would finally end. Julio Urias came out to pitch the ninth, and I just knew. I just knew that this was his game to finish, and he would get the job done. Two outs to go. Urias looked untouchable out there. One out to go. One freaking out. 32 years riding on the line, and all you have to do is get one out? C’mon.

Strike three. Right down the middle of the plate. The batter never had a chance.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are World Champions.

World Series - Tampa Bay Rays v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Six Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

I just stood there. I stood there and stared at the screen. I honestly can’t remember if I clapped or if I yelled or anything. It all was a blur. I just watched the Dodgers win the World Series. Can you believe that? The Dodgers! That wasn’t supposed to happen, right? What’s the protocol here?

As long as I can remember, I’ve watched winning teams celebrate in baseball, basketball, football and even hockey. I’ve watched nearly 100 teams celebrate winning a championship. But never my own. And now, that was all over.

I’ll tell you what I do remember. I remember them showing Clayton Kershaw in the bullpen, raising his hands in the air, knowing he was finally a champion. When he started running with his hands in this air and his big smile, tears began to roll down my face. He’s been a Dodger for nearly half my life. Nobody deserved this more than him. He was a champion. They all were.

Kenley Jansen, Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager... and most importantly, Dave Roberts. All of them. World Champs.

Watching them all hoist the trophy and take pictures with it was something I only ever saw while playing video games. It didn’t seem like real life. It seemed fake. Oh, but it was real. It was happening in front of my very eyes. I was watching my team, the team I’ve loved my whole life, the team I have been with through all the ups and the downs... they were champions.

The night continued on, and I was like a little kid again. Watching all the coverage, all the press conferences, everything. I stayed up until about 2 a.m. This morning when I woke up, it still didn’t seem real. Checking my phone. Checking the news. Checking everywhere. No matter where you look, it says the Dodgers are World Champions.

So here we are. A lot of words and memories later, this piece comes to an end, just like the season. There was a lot to say, because the Dodgers have given me a lifetime of unforgettable memories and moments. If this is the journey I’ve gone through with them through only 24 years, I can’t even imagine what the next 50 years will be like. Whatever they’re like, you’re damn right I wanna be along for that ride.

I love the Dodgers. I seriously love them. No matter what they put me through, all the heartbreak and pain they cause every year, it has all been worth it. I wouldn’t trade the last 24 years for anything. They prepared me for yesterday. They prepared me for today. And they prepared me for tomorrow.

Because the Los Angeles Dodgers are finally.... World Series Champions.