The Dodgers Are Back In The World Series!

They manned the hell up against a damn good Braves team.

Jim Rome
October 19, 2020 - 9:24 am
Cody Bellinger

USA Today

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The Los Angeles Dodgers are going to the World Series. If I’d told you that a week ago or a month ago, you wouldn’t have been surprised. But admit it, if I told you that late Thursday night, you’d have been on my grill. And bet any amount of money you had.  Because they were dead on arrival. And you knew it. And down 3-1 in the series, you assumed they knew it, too. 

As the late, great, Mike in San Diego would say, their pitchers weren’t pitching well and their hitters weren’t hitting well and their fielders weren’t fielding well and their fans weren’t fanning well.

Oh, and the bullpen was a disaster.

But they won on Friday night. Then, they managed to grind out a win on Saturday night in a game where the bullpen DID DO its job. So sure, anything less than a ring was going to be a colossal disappointment this year for LA, but at least if they went down, they were going to down swinging. At least they were showing some serious grit and heart in forcing a game 7, no matter what happened. Sure, the ring is the thing, but at least they didn’t lay down and die at the first adversity this easy. At least they ate a few haymakers and continued to stand in the center of the ring and trade. And most importantly, at least they gave themselves a chance: at least they got to Game 7, no matter how little you trusted their bullpen. They got there with some momentum, and swag; and their mojo.  Until the first inning, when they promptly fell behind 1-0.

That’s the thing about Atlanta. It’s not just that the Dodgers weren’t playing well, they had just run into a buzz saw. Atlanta was playing well. Atlanta is a damn good team. They’re really good right now and they’re going to be even better in the years to come.  They’re relentless and they’re sure as hell not afraid of the moment. Or the big stage. 

And they proved that again in the second inning when Dansby Swanson went yard, 2-0 Braves.

Be honest, Dodger fans, at that point, you were not feeling it. You might have even just changed over to the Rams game, although that wasn’t going much better. You were preparing to call in today and crush Dave Roberts. You were going to kill him, call for his job, demand that Clayton Kershaw retire, demand big trades, and big free agent signings.

You were going to call them chokers. That the pressure gets to them. That they’re the kings of the regular season but nothing more than October scrubs. Admit it. You were going to do that. All of you. 

But then Will Smith came up with two on and he singled to right, sending two runs in. 

Now it’s tied up. And Smith continues to be one of the most clutch dudes on this team. He’s had a total of three hits in the last three games, but two of them were massive. The three-run bomb in Game 5 and the RBI single last night.

But Atlanta will not go away. Like I said, they are absolutely relentless. And no sooner did the Dodgers tie it up in the bottom of the third than Atlanta took a 3-2 lead in the top of the fourth. Every time it felt like the Dodgers landed a good shot, Atlanta would counter with an even bigger one. 

And now they’ve got runners on second and third with no one out, and a chance to bust this thing wide open against the much maligned arsonists in that Dodger bullpen: the very thing that anyone who had watched even an inning of this series, was expecting, the Dodgers are on the ropes, taking a beating, unable to defend themselves, the ref is taking a long look and if the Braves land one more good shot, you know he’s going to step in and stop the fight. 

But, then this happened.

If you don’t a dog in this fight, and you’re neutral, you’re laughing, because l, that was comical. That is some of the worst baserunner ever, at the worst possible time. That’s some little league bleep right there. But if you’re a Braves fan, you’re tripping hard and immediately thinking, that absolutely is going to come back and bite us in the ass. That was one of the biggest blown opportunities ever. And I you’re a Dodger fan, that’s one of your greatest moments in years: the great escape that allows them to stay in the fight. 

Because make no mistake: Atlanta was in position to end that fight right there. They have both hands around the Dodgers’ throats: all they had to do was squeeze: instead you puked all over themselves. 

Dansby Swanson leaving from third on contact isn’t the biggest sin of all-time, but if you go, you better get home. And if you’re Austin Riley and you leave from second, you better get to third. You definitely cannot start for third, go back to second and then start running to third again. The only time you ever see that in a game, is where a bunch 9 year olds do and are all crying after the game and the coaches and parents take them for ice cream and remind them, heyy, take it easy fellas, it’s not like this was game 7 with a trip to the World Series on the line!! Except in this case, that’s exactly what it was. 

So I wonder if Brian Snitker grabbed Swanson and Riley and the fellas and went looking for bomb pops and the ice cream trucks. By the way, when you’re a kid, what’s better than the ice cream truck: and no clones, the degenerate driving the truck doesn’t bump those tunes to muffle the screams in the back of the truck: he does it to let the neighborhood kids know he’s there. Anyway…

That was some little league bleep from the Braves. And some textbook execution by Justin Turner and the Dodgers to get that double play. Again, the Braves could have and should have busted thing wide open: instead the Dodgers get out of the inning with limited damage a helluva lot more than life than expected.

And then Mookie Betts hit them with the paddles again when he did this.

 

 

That is three straight games with a massive play in right field. That is the definition of an MVP, a guy who is changing the game at the plate, on the bases, and in the field. Scoring runs and saving runs. But as great as that catch was, the Dodgers were still down 3-2. That is until Enrique “Kike” Hernandez pinch-hit in the bottom of sixth and went yard. 

The home run was tremendous, freaking majestic: an unbelievable singular moment: but the entire at-bat was a tour de force. Coming off the bench, ice cold, working an eight-pitch at-bat and then tying the game like that is legendary. A truly iconic LA Dodger moment.

And you can talk all the junk you want about the Dodgers payroll or about how they’re loaded with MVP candidates like Betts and Cody Bellinger, but they are also loaded with guys like Hernandez, who played for two other MLB teams before he got to the Dodgers. Justin Turner was with two other big league clubs before LA. Max Muncy was flat out released by the A’s before he signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers.

And those guys are every bit as important to this team as Betts and Bellinger. Of course, they’re talented as hell. Everyone knows that. But they’re also tough as hell: and not everyone believed that. In fact, when they fell behind 3 games to 1, everyone believe they were the opposite of tough: that they were chokers. That they had no grit. And that didn’t possess the clutch gene: that they were made of the WRONG STUFF. 

Except they had a little something for all the haters. They had everything i just mentioned and they had this is the bottom of the 7th:

 

Boom! You watch sports for moments. And that was a moment. Correction that was an all-caps MOMENT. Holy crap. Game 7, bottom of the seventh. 

That was clutch as hell. I have no idea why Chris Martin was still on the mound after throwing 30 pitches the night before and I’m guessing he would’ve preferred to be anywhere else on earth when that ball hit that bat, because he knew it would be just a matter of a couple of seconds before it was ricocheting off some empty seats.

The drama and tension in these MLB playoffs has been incredible, despite the fact that there are no fans, or limited fans, at the games. But can you imagine if Bellinger hit that at Dodger Stadium last night? Can you what a scene that would have been?

And yes, I know he re-dislocated his shoulder in the celebration with Hernandez, and honestly, I can’t blame him. I know it’s a little reckless, but in that moment, he had to be peaking on adrenaline and you’re not going to come to home plate and just shake hands with your teammates.

Sure, next time maybe you do something like the old Mark McGwire fist bump-stomach punch that doesn’t pop your shoulder out of your socket, but whatever. If his shoulder is back in place now, I’m not going to sweat it.

I can’t stress this enough: at a time when EVERYONE was calling them choking dogs and saying they had no heart; they showed extreme heart:they manned the hell up against a damn good Braves team and kept their season alive by winning three straight elimination games. Everyone was waiting to rush in and kill these guys, but they wouldn’t die. They were the best team in baseball during the regular season and they just proved they were toughest as well. 

But you can tell in how they celebrated that comeback or in this case, didn’t, they know the work isn’t done. They know they have to win four more and they have to do it against a damn good Rays team. They know that if they don’t win four more, the same folks, namely everyone that was looking to rush in and kill them for losing to the Braves will be waiting and looking to do the same if they don’t get to four wins first against the Rays. I’ve got nothing but respect for the Rays, top to bottom. But I’m riding with the Dodgers: best team in baseball and come to find out toughest motherbleepers in the game: and now they and everyone else know it.