I’m boycotting this year’s World Series between Houston and Atlanta and it’s not just because the Dodgers lost to the Braves in the NLCS, though that still smarts. At the top of my list of reasons not to watch is that in 2017 the Astros perpetrated an illegal sign-stealing system involving video cameras and trash cans. (I couldn’t make this stuff up, folks!)
The Astros cheated their way to a World Series title over the Dodgers, which still has me furious. In fact, I was hoping the Dodgers would face Houston in this year’s World Series and settle the score, no pun intended. (Yes, I know, technically that wasn’t a pun.)
The punishment Houston received from MLB was a slap on the wrist given the severity of the crime. The Astros were fined $5 million, which is chump change, and being cheaters they’re definitely chumps. They also lost two draft choices for two years and fired their manager and general manager. (And had to repeatedly write on the chalkboard “We were bad boys and will never do it again.”)
The real truth, as my title suggests, is I bleed Dodger blue and desperately hoped this year the team would return to the Series and win back to back titles, which has only been done fourteen times in MLB history. In fact, it hasn’t been done since 2000 when the Yankees actually won 3 in a row (1998-2000) defeating the Padres, the Braves and the Mets. (Admittedly, I take perverse pleasure that the Yanks haven’t been back to the Series since!)
Whereas Oakland won three World Series in a row (‘72-’74) and the Cincinnati won two in a row (‘75-’76) the Dodgers have never won back to back World Series. I had high hopes this was going to be the year, which were buoyed when L.A. signed future Hall of Famer pitcher Max Scherzer and infielder Trey Turner who, as it happens, won the 2021 batting title, at the July trade deadline.
Unfortunately Scherzer developed a “dead arm” and couldn’t pitch in game 6 against the Braves and Turner had a disappointing playoffs. Add to that Justin Turner’s pulled hamstring, Clayton Kershaw’s forearm injury which caused him to miss much of the year and the playoffs and slugger Max Muncy who injured his elbow in a freakish collision on the last game of the season and also missed the playoffs.
Not to be a whiner but all those unfortunate circumstances combined is likely why the Dodgers didn’t make it to the Series. (Okay, maybe I am a whiner.) My friend Cary insists I should be watching the Fall Classic because, “There’s nothing quite so restful as viewing a sporting event when you couldn’t care less.” That’s great except I do care because I despise the cheater Astros! (“Cheater Astros” almost sounds like a tasty snack.)
Sadly, there’s a bit of a curse to being a Dodger fan, though as a compassionate nod to my friend Mark in New Jersey, clearly not as bad as being a Mets fan. Another close friend and student of baseball, Lance, is someone with whom I shared the misery of the 1962 Dodgers losing in a playoff to their bitter rival the Giants. L.A. How bitter? Put it this way, radical Giant and Dodger fans routinely beat, stab, shoot and yes, kill each other in squabbles. (Though, given those crimes, “squabble” may be an understatement.)
Back to 1962, the Dodger were in the third game of a three game pennant playoff series with the hated Giants and leading 4-2 in the 9th inning, which is still remembered as one of the worst innings in Dodger franchise history. They ultimately lost 6-4 in devastating fashion as, amid the chaos, reliever Stan Williams faced three batters, surrendering a sacrifice fly, an intentional walk and a bases-loaded walk around a wild pitch that brought home what would be the winning run. In 2018, fifty-nine years later, Williams said he was “over it.” (For Lance and I, the pain is embarrassingly fresh.)
So, referencing ‘62, as sad as I am about the Dodger season collapsing there’s some consolation because at least we eliminated the Giants. (Mixing gardening and baseball, being a die-hard Dodger fan is a rough row to hoe.)
Baseball is a uniquely wonderful and beautiful sport but this year the Dodgers have done me in. Despite the many thrills, following their ups and downs was agonizing. The baseball season feels like an entire year as they play twice as many games as the NBA and seventeen times the NFL. The game is slow, the season is long and despite the euphoric highlights suddenly it’s all over and you’re left with nothing. Frankly, I question whether if it’s worth it. (I also wonder when spring training starts.)
Jack also writes Laughing Matters which appears every other Friday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.