Sometimes your favorite team doesn't make the playoffs, and if you're in that unenviable position this year, we at Beyond the Box Score want to help you decide who you're going to root for (or against) this postseason. We'll be publishing ten articles, one for each playoff team, with writers laying out the case in favor of and opposed to each team. In this, we examine the team with the largest payroll and the most injured pitchers: the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Root for the Dodgers
The Dodgers are one of the most classic franchises in Major League Baseball. With a rich history and some charming personalities both on and off the field, rooting for the Dodgers is a lot less "corporate" than my colleague Travis will try to make you think.
First off, this was Vin Scully's last season, and as chronicled by our own staff, he's a larger-than-life announcer that we all agree is awesome. How great would it be to get Scully to throw out the first pitch at the Dodgers first World Series game since 1988?
If you hate sentimentalism, I'll give you one practical reason to root for the Dodgers: the further they go, the more we get to see Clayton Kershaw pitch. Kershaw is currently suffering from a reputation malady that he stinks in the playoffs. Isn't it about time the best pitcher in baseball got his time in the spotlight to shut down an imposing lineup like the Nationals' or Cubs'? Kershaw struck out 172 batters this season and only walked ten unintentionally; do you really want that effort to be all in regular-season vain?! We already never get to see the consensus best position player in October; why would we want the likable and charming pitching version going home early too?
If this is not enough to convince you, consider the Dodgers' opponents. Remember when the Nationals gave up their season to protect the health of Stephen Strasburg? How'd that work out? Still bitter? Root against them. If the Giants somehow manage to sneak into the NLCS, do we really want a second-place finisher going to the World Series? Root against them!
Do you really want to root for the overwhelming favorite and have the Cubs waltz to the World Series when they faced absolutely no adversity this season? A World Series win is supposed to come with absurd and painful heartache before you win the big one – just ask Red Sox fans about 2003. That suffering begat the 2004 championship, and the champagne tasted that much sweeter. It wouldn't be right for the Cubs to just... win. Who does that leave for you to root for? The Dodgers!
For me, I want more Clayton Kershaw, more Rich Hill, and more Yasiel Puig. The Dodgers are fun, flashy, and have managed to overtake the even-year darling Giants to actually win their respective division. I implore you, root for LA. Be the wind beneath their wings; after all, who can would want to deny this man a chance to really go out on a high-note.
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Root against the Dodgers
Oh ho, goodness no. We are not rooting for the Los Angeles Dodgers, folks. This one's an easy call my friends, and the biggest reason why is obvious: it's all about the money.
For years – decades even – the New York Yankees were the foremost symbol of on-field opulence. In a sport unbridled by the forced fairness of a salary cap, the Yankees were the league's top spenders, often by a rather large margin, for 15 straight years. Unsurprisingly, their financial dominance manifested in on-field success: they won 11 division titles; played in the World Series five times, winning twice; missed the postseason just two times and never won less than 85 games. That seems really fun for Yankees fans. Screw Yankees fans.
In 2014, a great power rose in the West to challenge the evil in the Northeast. An ownership group headed by Magic Johnson shelled out $2 billion to purchase the Dodgers, saving the franchise and its fans from the McCourts and their ugly divorce. They signed an $8.3 billion television deal that effectively allowed them to spend money without restraint, and spend they did, immediately wresting the title of "most $$$$ team" from New York. They became the first $300 million team in 2015, including nearly $90 million they were paying players to play for other teams.
Everyone loves a rags-to-riches story. The Dodgers are a riches-to-more-riches story. This isn't little orphan Annie finding her forever home with Daddy Warbucks, this is Donald Trump being propped up by "small loans" from his father. The Dodgers have never been far from the league's top spenders, even while McCourt was having trouble writing paychecks. They've had something of a championship drought, but it's not the kind you ostracize and banish an innocent, souvenir-seeking, headphones-wearing fan for – their last World Series appearance was their 1988 championship. In the interim, they've had 10 postseason appearances, including four straight National League West titles. Wah.
We're running out of time here folks! Let's go to the Lightning Round:
- Win it for Vin? Pfft. Scully's enjoying a well earned retirement now, after spending over half a century being employed by a team he's always hated; now that he's unaffiliated, he is free to once again root for his beloved Giants. Boom, roasted!
- Los Angeles still employs Chase Utley, who a year ago injured an opponent so gravely they had to invent a rule banning his reckless slide. Should he have been suspended? No, he should be in superjail forever. Boom, roasted!
- Their stadium's signature food item is literally just a slightly longer version of a hot dog which they shoved into a regular sized bun for no reason. It's like trying to stick a half-pound burger on a saltine cracker. Boom, roasted!
- Trayce Thompson's brother lost a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals with the unanimous MVP but Trayce is still the worse brother. Boom, roasted!
That's my time folks, I've been great. Go Giants!