The Rise and Fall of the LA Dodgers

By: Hayden Cunningham

Surprised? You shouldn’t be. This team has been choking for years. There comes a point where a team with so much potential must realize that their system is inevitably flawed. In recent years, we’ve seen seven consecutive division titles, three consecutive championship appearances, two 100 win seasons, and two consecutive world series appearances have brought absolutely nothing to the city of Los Angeles. We all knew they were going to blow it, but just not like this. It’s time for a change.

Oh Clayton Kershaw how the mighty have fallen. A strong argument can be made that no pitcher in modern baseball history has been more dominant in their prime than Clayton Kershaw. Between 2011 – 2015, Kershaw led the league in ERA and WHIP four years in a row, pitched 1,128 innings, struck out on average 10 batters a game, and only gave up 66 homeruns with a 0.5 HR/9in average. He won three Cy Young awards and even an MVP award for the national league. To call that dominance is an understatement.

*Postseason Kershaw has entered the chat.*

Postseason Kershaw is deeply flawed, there’s no argument there. But I don’t necessarily blame Kershaw for the NLDS Game Five loss, I blame manager Dave Roberts.

Dave Roberts should be fired. He should’ve been fired after the 2018 World Series. He blew the 2017 World Series. He had the opportunity to start Alex Wood, who had a great outing, or Yu Darvish, who was embarrassingly bad in the first two innings of his first start. He went with Darvish. The 2018 World Series experienced the same embarrassing decisions. Roberts relied on Ryan Madson to be the guy out of the bullpen in high-leverage situations. Except he joined the team at the trade deadline…and was bad in the first place…and he continually blew leads throughout the World Series multiple times until they lost. This is the third year that Roberts’ management skills have cost the Dodgers a World Series ring.

Listen, Dodgers. You can’t go back-and-forth between going for the World Series and building for the future. It rarely works out. Andrew Friedman (President of Dodger baseball operations) hoards the Dodger prospects and refuses to trade them, despite a surplus of position players. The team has yet to see him sign a top free agent during the off-season as well. That’s odd for the richest team in the NL.

The one glaring problem was the bullpen, and Friedman did not seem to care. Instead of trading at the deadline, the strategy was…. Clayton Kershaw to relieve against Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto?!?!?! You had Kenta Maeda. You had Julio Urias. You even had Kenley Jansen in the ‘pen despite his flaws. And instead, you bring in Joe Kelly in the tenth to load the bases then leave him in once he does?

In the 2018 off-season, multiple elite relievers were on the market. Teams spent good money on them for the same reason the Dodgers lost: bullpens will make or break your postseason.

If only the Dodgers were a team of deep talent and nearly endless amounts of money to spend on players? Wait, they are! Their resources are unlimited. What ever happened to the Frank McCourt era where they spent almost 300 million dollars in a season to try to get a World Series ring? Why does the front office care more about the future than present and why do they desperately avoid the luxury tax? Stop trying to save money when ticket prices are absurd and you have a multi-billion dollar streaming deal that makes it incredibly hard for fans in Los Angeles to watch the games.

The 2019 season, which saw a franchise record 106 wins, was a total failure. It was World Series or bust and everyone knew it. What the Dodgers are doing isn’t working. The team isn’t going to win with the analytics and the priority of making money. Clayton Kershaw isn’t what he used to be. Cody Bellinger and Corey Seager did not produce at all in the postseason. Postseason hero Yasiel Puig was deeply missed by Dodger fans.

The Dodgers are not going to win a World Series with Dave Roberts’ management style and Andrew Friedman’s analytics. Since 2017 and 2018 were ignored by the front office, I hope 2019 serves as a wake-up call that this isn’t working. Don’t get me wrong, the Dodgers are fantastic. They have been a dominate force in the National League for the last decade. They have talent up and down the roster. They have been despised by all other teams. And for years to come, teams will still see it as a requirement to get past the Dodgers to make it to the World Series. They will continue to be the gatekeepers of the Fall Classic. But it’s all for nothing if they can’t win those 11 games in October. If the Dodgers fail to get a World Series championship in this era of elite Dodger talent, it will be the biggest embarrassment sports has ever seen.

Despite the heartbreak, they’re still my team. whether it be 100 wins or 100 loses, I’ll always root for the boys in blue. I’ll still wear my LA hat with pride and I’ll still button-up my jersey and go to games. I’ll still smile and give a nod when I see a fellow Dodger fan on the street. Because this is my team. I can’t imagine rooting for any other. And when they do win it all, we can celebrate. The loses are what makes the victories worthwhile. As Randy Newman says it best: “I Love L.A.”

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