To the Braves, Diamondbacks, Giants, Mets, Cardinals and Cubs — the teams that denied my Dodgers time after time since 1988 — I say “Thank you.”
Without the pain of those near-misses (10 trips to the postseason without a World Series berth), Thursday night’s NLCS victory wouldn’t have been nearly as meaningful for me.
Thank you for the competition. Thank you for the pain.
Oh, don’t get me wrong — I would have preferred to have a few World Series appearances sprinkled in between 1988 and 2017. Very definitely.
But missing out on the Big Dance for all those years made me realize how precious winning can be. It taught me to savor every special moment. It helped me understand that a season can be considered successful even if it doesn’t include a championship.
I think of all the great players who came and went without seeing the World Series while wearing Dodger blue. Ramon Martinez. Eric Karros, Hideo Nomo. Mike Piazza. Kevin Brown. Raul Mondesi. Shawn Green. Gary Sheffield. Eric Gagne. Zack Greinke.
It’s unbelievable to me that it took so long for the Dodgers to get back to the World Series, considering all the wonderful talent we’ve amassed over the last three decades. But that’s baseball and that’s why they play the games.
I’m touched by the outpouring of support by other teams’ fans since the Dodgers clinched the NLCS on Thursday. I’ve heard from Cub fans, Cardinal fans, etc., telling me that they’ll be pulling for my guys this time around.
I feel like I’ve been a good sport when other teams won all these years (well, not so much when the Cardinals won, truth be told.) So I guess the baseball gods felt like it was my time and had been tortured long enough.
This 2017 Dodgers team has been a joy to watch, but no more than any other year.
I’m proud of how passionately I follow the team, in good times and in bad. I watched just as many games in 2005 (when the Dodgers finished 71-91) as I did this year.
The Dodgers had excellent teams in each of those seasons. Ten trips to the postseason, and they fell short of the World Series every time. That’s a Major League Baseball record that you don’t want your team to own.
But I treasure all of those seasons, all of the memories, all the joy, and all the sadness.
Win or lose, I’m going to enjoy the World Series. I’ve waited too long for this experience to dwell on anything negative.