Keep your heads up Dodger fans, this season was not a complete failure.
All across the West Coast on Thursday, Dodgers fans are lamenting their teams’ World Series loss. The Dodgers came within striking distance of winning the World Series this season. However, from the first pitch of Game 7 until the final out, it seemed as if the Dodgers were light years away from winning it all. The recipe for a comeback was all there. The Dodgers’ young, exuberant core was set to lead the franchise to the promised land in front of 56,000 loyal and star-studded fans after going down 3-2 in the series. But, Los Angeles quickly learned that not all fairytales have a happy ending.
The Astros deflated the crowd from the start, scoring five runs in the first two innings, leaving the Dodger Stadium crowd shell-shocked. Although the crowd was able to get back into the game, the uneasy tension looming over the city prevented any real fan impact. The spectators then could only watch as the Astros celebrated their first World Series title on Los Angeles’ turf. The years of waiting, the 104 wins, the faith put into this team — and nothing to show for it.
Despite all of this, the 2017 season was not a failure for the Dodgers.
In the end, the Dodgers were one game away from a trophy; nine innings away from baseball immortality; 27 outs away from eternal glory. While that may seem like a huge disappointment right now in Los Angeles, it’s actually pretty remarkable. The Dodgers set numerous regular season records for wins in a 30-game span. They were the best home team in baseball and racked up 104 regular season wins. They got to the World Series, so isn’t that enough? Well, to Los Angeles, no. But to put it into perspective, 28 other fanbases would kill to be in the spot of Dodgers fans. At least the Dodgers made it.
If that’s not good enough, they took the Astros to a Game 7. Yes, the Yankees did it as well, but the Yankees are also one of the best young teams in baseball, along with the Astros and Dodgers. The Dodgers gave not only their fans but baseball fans, in general, some of the best World Series games in history. Games 2 and 5 were instant classics and will forever be remembered for both the good and bad. This season was so good for the Dodgers that it took a Game 7 of the World Series — the last possible game played during the season — to defeat them. Additionally, they mowed through National League opposition, which bodes well for their chances to get back to the Fall Classic next season.
Los Angeles showed that it was just one starting pitcher away from a title. Yu Darvish wasn’t the answer, but so what? He’s a free agent now. With the MLB Winter Meetings on the horizon, Los Angeles is one of the most appealing destinations. The Dodgers can only get better from here — and they will. Management has done an incredible job throughout the last few seasons, and they now know exactly what they need to make that final push. It’s going to happen sooner than later.
And if none of that is enough, Los Angeles learned a lot about its young players this postseason. While guys like Joc Pederson thrived in big moments, Cody Bellinger and Corey Seager froze up when it mattered most. But that’s not exactly a bad thing. There is an upside to Bellinger and Seager’s slumps — experience. Players such as Austin Barnes and Chris Taylor were fantastic when the team needed a boost, too. If nothing else, this young Los Angeles team can take the experience away from the World Series. After all, they’ll likely be back within the next few seasons, if not next.
Although the Dodgers didn’t come away from the season with the ultimate hardware, they did get an NL pennant. In addition, a few of their players will walk away with awards as well. Clayton Kershaw is expected to be in heart of NL Cy Young conversations; Kenley Jansen won NL Reliever of the Year; Cody Bellinger is likely going to win NL Rookie of the Year. If that’s not enough, Turner, Bellinger and Seager will be in contention for the NL MVP.
All things considered, there’s no reason for Dodgers fans to hang their heads. They had a wildly successful season which some franchises can only dream of. At the end of the day, the Houston Astros winning the 2017 World Series came down to fate — just ask Sports Illustrated. The Dodgers came within 27 outs of history and that should be celebrated, not shamed. Don’t worry though, Dodgers fans, your team will be there soon. Here’s to the many years of incredible baseball to come.