September 30, 2008, 3:37 p.m. In fact, we're already there.
If you've been enjoying the Dodgers year-long 50th anniversary in Los Angeles celebration, hold onto your hats for the encore.
Next year, in 2009, the team presents a half-century retelling of their first world championship in L.A., which featured the Dodgers besting the Chicago White Sox in the World Series, four games to two.
Los Angeles finished the 1959 season 86-68, in a flat-footed tie with the Milwaukee Braves. The Dodgers got 7 2/3 innings of shutout relief from Larry Sherry in County Stadium to win the first game, 3-2, following up with a 6-5 extra inning decision at the Coliseum to win the pennant.
Up in the booth Vin Scully played travel agent with the famous call, "and we go to Chicago!" Perhaps this year the Dodgers will reverse the itinerary with a National League Division Series win over the Cubs, and advance to face the Brewers in the Championship Series. We'll know soon enough.
And by the way, no, I don't remember 1959. I'm not that old, but thanks for asking. At the moment I'm psyching up for the 2008 playoffs. I think the Dodgers can handle the Cubs and then play for their first World Series in 20 years. I think they can, but I'm not making any predictions.
Perhaps more out of pure fear than anything, neither are the Chicago writers. We weren't afraid of the big bad jinx, remember, but those guys clearly are.
"Since the Cubs won five of seven meetings -- all between May 26 and June 8 -- the Dodgers have transformed into one of the most dangerous teams to face in a best-of-five series." Sounds like Gordon Wittenmyer, of the Chicago Sun-Times, is more than a bit concerned.
Paul Sullivan, of the Chicago Tribune, is too: "[The Cubs] have never won a postseason game west of Chicago, combining to go 0-8 in San Diego, San Francisco and Arizona. The Dodgers pose a significant challenge with the top-ranked pitching staff in the league. It centers on Lowe, a veteran sinkerballer who went 3-0 with a 0.59 ERA in September and was 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA against the Cubs in 14 innings this season.
Trib columnist Phil Rogers, on the other hand, gives L.A. the edge in pitching, bench and intangibles, the Cubs the edge in hitting and fielding, rates the managers a draw, but comes out with the Cubs winning in five. Nice math there, but OK.
Over at ESPN.com, 9 out of 10 writers are on record picking the Cubs, with Jim Caple the lone holdout. It's 1988 all over again, when literally everyone and their brother had the Mets beating the living crap out of the Dodgers in the NLCS. And when that didn't work out exactly, the same clan of "experts," including most famously and to the chagrin of Tony La Russa, Bob Costas, gave the Dodgers no chance against Oakland in the World Series.
The history books are filled with examples of teams that weren't supposed to win who did, and heroes coming out of absolutely nowhere to shine in October, with bonafide stars flopping all around them. You never know which players are going to step up in the face of pressure.
Maybe Juan Pierre will be this year's Dave Roberts, with Chan Ho Park playing the role of Larry Sherry. Probably not, and Park's August-September wall-hitting performance is as big a concern as the Dodgers have, but it could happen.
Here's the roster for the NLDS, as posted first by Tony Jackson, of the Daily News. Pitchers: Joe Beimel, Chad Billingsley, Jonathan Broxton, Clayton Kershaw, Hiroki Kuroda, Derek Lowe, Greg Maddux, Chan Ho Park, Takashi Saito, Ramon Troncoso, Cory Wade.
Catchers: Danny Ardoin, Russell Martin.
Infielders: Angel Berroa, Casey Blake, Blake DeWitt, Rafael Furcal, Nomar Garciaparra, Jeff Kent, James Loney, Pablo Ozuna.
Outfielders: Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, Juan Pierre, Manny Ramirez.
Conspicuous by his absence is Mark Sweeney, so you can start those cartwheels now. What this also means is that Manny Ramirez will be playing the outfield throughout, with very little backup from Pierre. Fine by me.
What it also means is that Jeff Kent and Rafael Furcal will be counted upon and will get opportunities to make an impact. And just having them there is a huge lift for the Dodgers. My guess is that one of the two will do something special and thoroughly unexpected and the Dodgers will have their best postseason series in 20 years. And yes, I know that's not saying much.
My guess is that we won't be employing the phrase "three and out" this time around. That's just a guess, mind you. I fully admit that I have no idea. You on the other hand, are free to chime in with yours. We'll post them in Talkback…
Award Time: National League Most Valuable Player: Ryan Howard. Second place tie between Manny Ramirez and CC Sabathia.
American League MVP: Dustin Pedroia, with Justin Morneau a close second.
NL Cy Young Award: Brandon Webb, followed by Tim Lincecum and Johan Santana.
AL Cy: Cliff Lee. Roy Halliday second, Daisuke Matsuzaka third. Honorable mention: Francisco Rodriguez.
NL Rookie of the Year: Geovany Soto, with Joey Votto a very respectable runner-up.
AL ROY: Alexei Ramirez, by a whisker over Evan Longoria.
NL Manager of the Year: Lou Piniella.
AL Manager: Joe Maddon.
NL Executive of the Year: Doug Melvin.
AL Exec: Tony Reagins…
Media Savvy: From Rotoworld.com: "An anonymous clubhouse insider told the Seattle Times that Mariners teammates were so annoyed with Ichiro Suzuki earlier this season that they considered beating him up. "I just can't believe the number of guys who really dislike him," said the insider. "It got to a point early on when I thought they were going to get together and go after him."
The coaching staff and then-manager John McLaren intervened when one player was overheard talking about wanting to "knock him out." Perhaps the goal would have been to knock him around like the rest of the league has done to Carlos Silva this year, but given Mariners' hitters reputations, it's likely that the team could land several blows and still not do any damage. It's not as though Richie Sexson had a chance of making contact."
And a nice piece by old standby, Tim Brown, of Yahoo Sports…
Dodgers Favs: In case you missed it, here's the Los Angeles Dodgers All-Time Team, as voted on by the fans during the past year, with my picks in parenthesis:
First Base: Steve Garvey (Garvey).
Second Base: Davey Lopes (Lopes).
Shortstop: Maury Wills (Wills).
Third Base: Ron Cey (Cey).
Catcher: Mike Piazza (Piazza).
Outfield: Rick Monday (Willie Davis).
Outfield: Reggie Smith (Dusty Baker).
Outfield: Duke Snider (Raul Mondesi).
Starting Pitcher: Orel Hershiser (Hershiser).
Starting Pitcher: Sandy Koufax (Koufax).
Starting Pitcher: Johnny Podres (Don Drysdale).
Starting Pitcher: Don Sutton (Sutton).
Starting Pitcher: Fernando Valenzuela (Valenzuela).
Relief Pitcher: Eric Gagne (Gagne).
Statue for Sandy: The Koufax in bronze campaign continues. Please Vote “Yes on 32.” And tell a friend…
Remember, glove conquers all….
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