This time in the World Series, the best team won
The best team won. Even if was the best-paid team. Even if it was the team you didn’t want — especially up in the Bay Area. Even if the opposing team might have been a more endearing story.
In sports, as in life, we don’t always get what we deserve. Or perceive to deserve. But if anybody did deserve to win the World Series, it was the Dodgers.
Back in February — before the virus, before the hopscotch, close-the-clubhouses schedule was conceived — the belief was the Dodgers would take it all.
They had just missed a couple times (OK, so the Astros cheated, but what could you do?) and now L.A. had Mookie Betts, an MVP. They could hit and hit and hit. Everyone in their lineup seemed a version of Babe Ruth or Barry Bonds. Boom. Homer. Boom. Another homer.
And with Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler, the Dodgers had pitching, which of course is what wins.
No wild cards this Series — although with that Game 4 sequence of balls dropping and Randy Arozarena flopping, a wild scene. Just the favorites, the experts’ picks if not the fans’ choices.
The theory has been posted here in the past, maybe too often, but it remains consistent: With cars, wine and ballplayers, you usually get what you pay for.
Whatever the Dodgers spent for guys like Corey Seager, Max Muncy, Cody Bellinger, Will Smith and Justin Turner — reportedly $220 million — it certainly was worth it.
They tell us that sporting success is cyclical, but when haven’t the Dodgers been a contender?
L.A.’s triumph is particularly galling to Nor Cal fans, who figuratively gaze toward southern California with equal parts irritation and paranoia.
When it’s not a special with Kim Kardashian on TV — hey, the entertainment business is centered there — it’s Kirk Gibson circling the bases after an epic homer. Against a Bay Area team, of course, the Oakland A’s.
Sick and tired of that Hollywood stuff, right?
The Dodgers represent all that the evil Giants fans can conjure up. The chant at San Francisco home games is not “Go Giants,” but “Beat L.A.,” something of late rarely accomplished.
The Warriors had their run, the A’s once won three World Series in succession (you can look it up), the Giants, after seasons of frustration, were Series champs three times in five years and the 49ers were labeled the team of the ’80s.
Now, however, it’s all L.A., a championship for the Lakers and two weeks later one for the Dodgers, who not only were superior to Tampa Bay but in the decisive Game 6 were provided an extra edge.
The Rays’ Blake Snell was pitching beautifully, ahead 1-0 with one out in the sixth. Tampa manager Kevin Cash, however, is one of these new-school, by-the-book tacticians, going with what he thinks rather than what he sees.
Once through the lineup is plenty for any pitcher, particularly with Austin Barnes having singled and Betts about to pick up a bat. Off went an agitated Snell, who had struck out Betts, Seager and Turner twice. On came Nick Anderson.
“We were all kind of excited Snell was out of the game,” said Dave Roberts, the L.A. manager.
Quickly you understood why. Betts doubled, Anderson threw a wild pitch, and the Dodgers were in front, 2-1. They would win 3-1.
In retrospect, Cash’s move could be viewed as a critical mistake. It did help L.A., but one way or another the Dodgers were going to win this World Series.
The Rays, a low-budget franchise in a high-budget sport, were able to hang in for a game or two. But the difference in talent would become apparent.
In the 1930s, the journalist Paul Gallico wrote, “The battle is not always to the strong or the race to the swift, but it’s a good way to bet.”
The Dodgers verified that. They won. They were the best team.