On October 20, 1988, the Dodgers won their last World Series.
Almost six years later, on Sunday, August 7, 1994, Orel Hershiser, the last remaining player from that Dodgers World Series winning roster, for the last time in a Dodgers uniform (his later return in 2000 doesn’t count–at that point he no longer pitched like Orel Hershiser) pitched a game for the last time, due to the strike shortened season. That very same day, I was born.
The Dodgers went to the NLDS in 1995, and were swept.
The Dodgers went to the NLDS in 1996, and were swept.
The Dodgers went to the NLDS in 2004, and were eliminated by the Cardinals in game 4.
The Dodgers went to the NLDS in 2006, and were swept by the Mets.
The Dodgers swept the Cubs in the 2008 NLDS, but lost to the Phillies in 5 games in the NLCS. The Phillies won the World Series.
The Dodgers swept the Cardinals in the 2009 NLDS, but lost to the Phillies in 5 games in the NLCS. Even worse, the Yankees won the World Series.
The Dodgers beat the Braves in 4 games in the 2013 NLDS, but lost to the Cardinals in 6 games in the NLCS.
The Dodgers lost to the Cardinals in 4 games in the 2014 NLDS to the Cardinals, losing game 4 3-2, on a heart breaking 3 run home run by Matt Adams off of Clayton Kershaw in the 7th inning. The Giants won the World Series.
The Dodgers lost to the Mets in game 5 of the 2015 NLDS. Zack Greinke was not good enough, nor was the offense.
The Dodgers beat the Nationals in heart attack inducing Games 4 and 5 of the 2016 NLDS, with Clayton Kershaw getting a save in the final game. But they lost to the Cubs in 6 after leading the NLCS 2-1. The Cubs broke their 108 year World Series drought.
The Dodgers swept the Diamondbacks in the 2017 NLDS. The Dodgers blasted the Cubs in 4-1 in the 2017 NLCS. The Dodgers lost Game 7 of the 2017 World Series.
In 2010, the Giants won the World Series.
In 2012, the Giants won the World Series.
In 2014, the Giants won the World Series.
I have three goals in life:
- Get married
- Faithfully serve the Lord through a career in full time ministry
- Watch the Dodgers win a world series
I know I’m a spoiled baseball fan. I’ve watched some pretty talented and successful teams. I’ve seen easily one of the top 10 pitchers in baseball history work out his career playing for the Dodgers. I saw a no hitter in 2014 (should have been a perfect game), Gagne’s streak of saves, Shawn Green and Yasiel Puig, Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp, and 11 postseason appearances in my lifetime (nine that I actually remember, and the last five in vivid detail). Many teams have had very long postseason droughts. But with these expectations and standards, the disappointment of each postseason elimination has become ever more bittersweet and agonizing.
Each postseason I spend hours with my fingers crossed, unable to sit down, heart skipping beats, waiting for imminent calamity. Every time I see the best pitcher in baseball get the ball, I get visions of disaster, of seeing eye singles and hung sliders, of .234 hitters knocking it out of the park. While 97 times out of 100 hearing “California Love” means that the game is about to be locked down, even Kenley Jansen blows saves on the biggest of stages. After repeated failures, even special seasons like 2017 seem destined to end in failure. There is an intense agony in being a Dodgers fan.
Each postseason I spend hours jumping up and down excited and screaming. Someone hits a home run. Someone hits a walk off. Kershaw does something amazing. Rich Hill steps up. Kenta Maeda turns into a bullpen weapon. This year, for the first time since 1988, THE DODGERS WON THE PENNANT! THE DODGERS WON THE PENNANT! There is an intense joy in being a Dodgers fan.
God gave us baseball to enjoy. God gave us the Giants to remind us that on earth, the wicked frequently triumph. He gave us the Dodgers to remind us that sometimes, good can prevail, even if it doesn’t seem to matter much. God gave us baseball to refresh us through a time of enjoyment and rest so we can go out and better serve Him. And in doing so He teaches us.
Baseball is an analogy for life. It never waits for you. You have to be ready to fight every day. You win some, you lose some. Hot streaks and flashes of greatness are helpful, but consistency produces true success. Average times innings equals value. Unforced errors can quickly lead to uncontrollable situations. Rest is important, but very hard to maintain without strict discipline.
Baseball is an analogy for ministry. It doesn’t matter how well things start. It doesn’t matter how well things go in the middle. No matter how many successes you have along the way, what matters is how it ends. And if you fail at the end, the whole thing is pretty much a failure. Faithfulness requires consistency to the very end. Small mistakes and set backs can be made–losing streaks during the season, games 2 and 3, etc. But not when it matters most. Without repentance before the end, the whole record of faithfulness is tarnished.
Baseball is an analogy for love. “How can you not be romantic about baseball?” You can come agonizingly close without achieving that final, ecstatic realization of joy. But here there are differences: The Dodgers will never lie to you. The joy and agony is shared with an enormous community of likeminded people. And there’s always next year.
The Dodgers winning the World Series is an eschatological hope. But each time it fails to come, the loss of potential joy, particularly in this magnificent first Game 7 hosted by Dodger Stadium, is enough to bring one to tears. Why don’t I cry when I realize that Christ still hasn’t returned? That too is worthy of sorrow; assuredly the creation feels this agony. My only real participation in such groaning came watching the most talented Dodger team since the 1960s turn twelve baserunners into only one run, when it matter most. Baseball is an analogy for eschatology.
The 2017 World Series ended at 11:59 PM EST on November 1, 2017.
But this post doesn’t end, because the Dodgers have yet to win a world series, and because I have yet to check a life goal off my list. While we have a certainty of final and ultimate bliss in the Christ, the Son of God, I will carry on in this uncertain hope of the Dodgers one day winning the World Series.