Twenty-five years ago this month, the Tommy Lasorda Dodgers were coming off consecutive 89-loss seasons and merely hoping to get back to respectability. Kirk Gibson, Orel Hershiser and friends made sure that the 1988 season would be remembered for far more than that, and that’s the last time the Dodgers have tasted October glory — a full quarter century ago, the longest drought since the interminable wait for their first championship in 1955.
Since then, there’s been some high points (five consecutive Rookie of the Year awards from 1992-96, back-to-back NLCS appearances in 2008-09, for example) and more than a few low points (1992, every three-year deal Ned Colletti has handed out aside from Hiroki Kuroda, Kevin Malone, FOX, and the entire McCourt era). We’ve seen eight managers and 473 different men suit up for the club, from Eric Karros‘ 1601 games to the single appearance by Adam Melhuse and six others.
Yet what we haven’t seen is the team in the World Series, and for the last few years we haven’t even really had much hope of that changing. Sure, you can never count out a team with Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw, but few of us really entered the season with much hope. Remember, 2012 was supposed to be just about treading water with Colletti’s myriad back-loaded two-two year deals while the team was finally sold. 2011 was the true low point of the McCourt era, with the most fun game being “is this the week he defaults on payroll?” 2010 had two Ortizii — two! — and the Garret Anderson deathwatch. To say it’s been a tough few years… well, that’s an understatement.
But not this year. This year there’s a full season of Adrian Gonzalez instead of any James Loney at all. There’s hopefully healthy years from Kemp & Kershaw. There’s Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu, & Carl Crawford instead of Ted Lilly, Joe Blanton, & Juan Rivera. There’s not Hanley Ramirez yet, but there will be, instead of Dee Gordon. There’s Yasiel Puig instead of Jerry Sands, and there’s Stan Kasten & Magic Johnson instead of Frank McCourt and his army of scumbag lawyers. There’s a shiny new set of upgrades to Dodger Stadium, and there’s still Vin Scully, thanks to whatever deity you prefer.
It’s been twenty-five years, and that’s far too long. This is the year where we can realistically hope that changes. Game. On.