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Dodgers’ Historic Burden: They Aren’t Very Good at Winning a World Series

October 26th, 2020 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi, Angels, Baseball, Dodgers, Uncategorized

Honestly, I do not enjoy dwelling on the failures of the Los Angeles Dodgers. They were the first sports team I followed, as a first- or second-grader. I have been watching them ever since, even from my six years in Abu Dhabi and our five years in France.

That devotion may stem from growing up during a seven-year period (1959 through 1965) when the Dodgers experienced much of their success, winning the World Series three times in that seven-year span.

So, in my little brain, back during that stretch, it seemed to me it was fairly easy to win a World Series. The Dodgers had done it three times in my limited experience, so how tricky could it be to project that level of success into the future?

Looked easy, from where we sat in the general admission seats at Chavez Ravine, eating Carnation Frozen Malts and Dodger Dogs.

You get a couple of great pitchers named Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale, some productive outfielders in Tommy Davis and Willie Davis, and a solid double-play combination, featuring Maury Wills and Jim Gilliam.

How hard can it be?

This hard: It has been 32 years since the Dodgers won a World Series.

Turns out that, as a franchise, the Dodgers are not so good at this World Series thing.

No Major League Baseball franchise has lost more World Series than the Dodgers. Sure, they have won six, but they have lost 14.

In 14 of 20 World Series, the Dodgers lose.

If I tell you that the Yankees are the second-biggest World Series losers, would it make you, a Dodgers fan, more likely to say, “Well, the Yankees have lost almost as often as we have, so it can’t be so bad.”?

Yes, the Yankees have lost in the World Series 13 times. But that is out of 40 trips to the Fall Classic. They have won 27 editions of it, including eight over the Dodgers in 11 meetings — 1941, 1947, 1949, 1952, 1953, 1956, 1977, 1978.

It went the Dodgers’ way over the Yankees only three times — 1955 (the Dodgers’ first World Series championship); 1963, when maybe the greatest Dodgers team swept the Yankees; and 1981, the Year of Fernando.

The Dodgers’ other six WS defeats? To the Boston Red Sox in 1916, to the Cleveland Indians in 1920, to the Baltimore Orioles in 1966, to the Oakland Athletics in 1974, to the Houston Astros in 2017, and to Boston again in 2018.

Dodgers fans have memorized the six times when their team won: three times over the Yankees (1955, 1963, 1981), once over the Chicago White Sox (1959), once over the Minnesota Twins (1965), and once over the Oakland A’s (1988), the most recent, which happened just the other day — 32 years ago.

Several franchises can make a case that their World Series history is much more fun than that of the Dodgers. Like, more likely to produce a winner.

That would include the San Francisco Giants, who have won eight of 20 World Series, including those of 2010, 2012 and 2014. Recent, that is, championships anyone over the age of six would be likely to remember.

Then there are the St. Louis Cardinals, the club with the second-highest Series victory total, 11 (from 19), including two victories in this century.

And the Oakland Athletics, who have played in 14 and won nine of them.

And the Boston Red Sox, who have played in 13 and won nine, four of them in this century.

Even the typically uncompetitive Angels, just down the road from Dodger Stadium, have something to hang their caps on — their only World Series, in 2002, produced a seven-game championship. (I covered every game of it, and I can tell you winning is a lot of fun.)

And way more than half of baseball fans are still alive to tell us about it. The Angels get extra credit for “recency”.

So, here we are, with the 2020 Dodgers one victory away from securing a championship, the first since ’88. They are that close despite the tragicomic final inning of Game 4, which the Dodgers contrived to give away. However, they showed a bit of backbone last night when they got a crafty outing from Clayton Kershaw and a home run from Max Muncy to win 4-2.

One more win! That’s all! It’s that close!!

All I can say is “good luck to us all” and remind Dodgers fans that when it comes to the World Series, things tend to go wrong for the boys in blue. Forewarned, forearmed, all that.


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