By AHLORA SMITH
Both 2017 and 2018 were quite the times to be a fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers. After a dynamic season in 2017, leading the western National League by 11.0 wins, the Dodgers rallied but fell short of a World Series win at home in a gut-wrenching 5-1 Game 7 loss to the Houston Astros in Los Angeles.
In the Redlands Unified School District, fans at all different levels reflect on the successful regular season and react in a variety of ways to the World Series, with the “die hard” fans being a bit more devastated than moderate followers.
Citrus Valley High School teacher Steven Lozano said that the loss resulted in the “slow and painful death of [his] soul,” whereas Citrus Valley junior Joseph Quesada “felt more bad for all [his] Dodger friends.”
The words that Dodgers fans expressed for 2017 could easily be mistaken for 2018. “Could not believe. Still can’t,” said Scott Washburn, Redlands East Valley High School teacher, of the 2017 World Series results, “To come so close and to still fall short.”
Citrus Valley counselor Wendy Caress said she was “disappointed because the Dodgers were better than their performance that night.”
After the 2017 postseason, manager Dave Roberts and the team were already looking forward to 2018 spring training, and many, like Kurt Clements, REV teacher, had high hopes for this year.
2018 Regular Season
The transition to 2018 came and went, and, in the blink of an eye, February 13 came upon Los Angeles.
Spring training kicked off the second year in a row of hard grind and an eventual heartbreak. Throughout the regular season, the team went through slumps and triumphs that were nonexistent in the 2017 season. This is primarily due to a majority of the roster being put on the Disabled List, which players are put on when they are injured and cannot play, and coming back up to season games.
Caress admits that she would lose hope “every time the Dodgers went on a losing streak.”
Perhaps the most notable injury of the year was when third baseman Justin Turner broke his wrist during preseason.
Clements never lost hope. He said, “I always believed we were in a position to win the west, even when things appeared bleak in April and at the very end of the season.”
Others admitted there was pause for concern. “So many losses at the beginning of the year after Justin Turner broke his wrist in Spring Training,” Washburn said.
When Turner was finally able to be put back on regular team roster, the Dodgers took off. Notable moments include “The Bellinger catch,” Pena said, “when he looked like he was flying was cool. As well at CT3 crazy catch. . . There were just so many outstanding plays this year.”
The fight to the end of the season resulted in a tie breaker game for the National League West Division Championship, where the Dodgers beat the Colorado Rockies, 5-2.
After that win, the Dodgers were in the postseason for the 6th year in a row: the third highest streak in Major League Baseball history. The only thing keeping the Dodgers from a second year appearance in the World Series was the Milwaukee Brewers.
Manager Craig Counsell and his team did not go down without a fight, as the series went all the way to seven games, with Dodgers winning four of the seven. Many notable moments stand out to fans from this series.
“In my mind, Chris Taylor’s catch in Game 7 sealed the series win,” Clements said, “in addition to being one of the greatest catches I’ve ever seen. Cody Bellinger’s key plays in game 4 were also key to swinging the series in favor of the Dodgers.”
Washburn remembers, “Yasiel Puig’s 3 run home-run in Game 7 with the Brewers that gave them the lead 4-1.”
For Caress, it was “Bellinger’s walk off single in game 7 against the Brewers” that stood out most.
2018 World Series
The Dodgers clinched with a strong 5-2 win, leading to high expectations for a World Series victory. Fans had specific hopes for the potential World Champions.
Washburn looked forward to seeing “Clayton Kershaw pitching a ‘no hitter‘ and a walk off home-run in any game from either Cody Bellanger, Manny Machado, Yasiel Puig, or Justin Turner.”
Others saw the 2018 World Series as an opportunity for the Dodgers to demonstrate their strength and resilience.
Lozano wanted the Dodgers to “show the world they are so secure in their identity as the best team in baseball that they overcome the most dire circumstances the Red Sox challenge them with.”
Clements felt that in 2018 the Dodgers had “a real chance. The Red Sox are much better than the Braves or Brewers, but they are not unbeatable, especially if our starting pitching performs their best.”
Unfortunately, the win over the Rockies turned out to be the end of euphoria for Los Angeles. Despite a remarkable Game 3, which went 18 innings, concluding as the longest in World Series history and a 3-2 win for the Dodgers, the Dodgers fell short in Game 5.
The Boston Red Sox won the championship title on the Dodgers home field: the second year in a row that the fans experienced a World Series loss on their own turf.
Looking towards the future
Even weeks after the loss, fans are still grieving; however, it has been confirmed recently that some players and staff are remaining with the Dodgers, while others have been traded away. The most controversial aspect of the team that will remain is manager Dave Roberts, who is in an ongoing agreement with the Dodgers for contract extension. This agreement, no matter what it will result in, has fans at odds with each other. Yes, he got the team to back-to-back World Series appearances, but he made questionable player decisions that played a role in the loss of both of these series.
Ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw has been confirmed to remain a Dodger for the next three seasons, and first baseman David Freese, who was added late in the season, has also been confirmed to stay in Los Angeles. So far, hitting coach Turner Ward has been confirmed to become the official Reds hitting coach, leaving a new opening in the coaching staff. General Manager, Farhan Zaidi, has also been confirmed to be moving to the Dodgers rival team, the San Francisco Giants, in the 2019 season.
Other players’ and coaches’ career futures will be confirmed over the next few weeks.
True Blue fans
Despite the World Series loss and uncertainty for the future, Dodgers fans can agree that this does not erase other great baseball moments the season.
While many express fondness at the tradition and comradery of attending games with their families, others like Caress recall “Kike Hernandez and The Case of the Extra Tight Pants” as their favorite moment.
Citrus Valley sophomore Gabriel Stanfield doesn’t cite scores, wins, or even incredible acts of athleticism, but remembers when Alika Mallett, a 9-year-old pediatric cancer patient, threw out the first pitch on Aug. 5, 2018 versus the Astros, “When Puig walked out with a girl who had cancer and let her throw the opening pitch.”
Perhaps Fashempour sums up both 2017 and 2018 seasons best, when he simply said, “Go Dodgers!”
Who do you believe was this year’s MVP?
“Jason Turner” – Scott Washburn, Redlands East Valley teacher
“Walker Buehler” – Kurt Clements, Redlands East Valley teacher
“Kike Hernandez” – Wendy Caress, Citrus Valley counselor
“Oh man, so many great plays by multiple players. JT was/is always good in a stress situation, same with CT3, but also Kemp. I’d love to see Mattie be recognized somehow.” – Mary Pena, Citrus Valley Career Readiness Specialist
“Clayton Kershaw…hard call” – Steven Lozano, Citrus Valley teacher