After years of loss and unfairness, the Commissioner’s Trophy is finally within reach for the Dodgers. With two outs and no one on, Julio Urias winds up, and Dodger fans across the country hold their breath. The pitch flies in at 97 miles per hour, right down the middle, and the stadium erupts into screams. The Dodgers have won their first World Series since 1988.
It is a well-deserved moment. The Dodgers have been so close to victory for years now, winning eight straight divisional titles and making it to the World Series three times in the past four years. After losing the Series twice, once to a team exposed as cheaters, they are undoubtedly worthy of winning the title this year.
It wasn’t an easy win for them either. In Game 6 of the World Series, the Dodgers were down 1 run until the 6th inning. The starting pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays, Blake Snell, had managed to strike out nearly every Dodgers’ player twice, including their biggest hitters: Mookie Betts, Justin Turner and Cory Seager. Then came the call that changed everything. After Austin Barnes of the Dodgers hit a single off of Snell, the Rays’ manager Kevin Cash pulled him out and replaced him with Nick Anderson.
Betts was up and easily hit a double off of Anderson, and it was like a fire was lit beneath the Dodgers. Their energy bounced back, and as Betts scored due to Seager’s ground ball, the team was on their feet.
This energy carried through the rest of the game, and in the final inning, it came down to the last batter, Willy Adames of the Rays. The stadium was abuzz with cheers and whistles, and the Dodgers seemed to feel how close they were to the title. As Urias pitched the winning strike, he and Barnes embraced as the rest of the team leapt out of the dugout. It was impossible not to smile as the Dodgers celebrated their first World Series win in 32 years.
One of the biggest smiles came from Clayton Kershaw, who’s been with the Dodgers since 2008. This is his first World Series win.
It’s been a huge year for L.A. with the Lakers winning the NBA championship against the Heat, followed by the Dodgers’ win. L.A. hasn’t won this big since 1988, when both teams won their respective championships.
There’s a slight bittersweet feeling about it. The loss of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gigi in January of this year rocked L.A. and the sports’ community. After the teams’ wins, there is happiness but also a sense of solemnity.
“Ever since the tragedy, all we wanted to do is do it for him, and we didn’t let him down,” Anthony Davis, a player on the Lakers, said after the championship game.
The Lakers wore ‘Black Mamba’ jerseys throughout the season that Bryant helped to design to commemorate him, as well as his daughter.
The Dodgers also showed their support for Bryant, with Mookie Betts, the Dodgers’ right fielder, sharing a video on Twitter narrated by Bryant that is celebrating the World Series win.
This isn’t the only loss that has impacted sports teams. When Coronavirus reared its head in the U.S. back in March, the future of professional sports was uncertain. Most sports made tentative plans to restart, provided they follow strict guidelines and undergo constant COVID tests. However, fans weren’t allowed back (in most places). For the first time ever, teams began playing in front of empty stadiums. At first, it was unclear how this would impact players, but many people believed it would have a negative impact. The energy that fans bring to games is a huge motivation for the players.
“There are plenty of pitchers that leave the bullpen throwing 89 to 90 miles an hour, but their first pitch in front of the fans, in front of the opponent, is 95,” Orel Hershiser, former pitcher on the Dodgers, said in a New York Times article.
However, both the Lakers and the Dodgers knew their fans would never stop supporting them, even if they couldn’t be at the games. At the World Series, which took place in Texas where there are lighter COVID restrictions, fans were able to come to the games. In fact, so many Dodger fans came to the games that the neutral stadium didn’t seem so neutral anymore.
“It’s a home game,” Harry Bawann, a Dodger fan who was at Game 5, said to ESPN. “If it wasn’t for all the sound effects trying to help Tampa out, this would be a home game.”
The support of fans brought the teams together and after these huge wins, L.A. seems invigorated. Minutes after the Dodgers’ win, fireworks were exploding all over the city. Nearly 950 cars filled with fans parked outside Dodger Stadium erupted into celebration. Many began calling for a championship parade, including Laker LeBron James.
In a tweet, he wrote “Man can we PLEASE have a parade!!! I know I know we can’t but DAMN I want to celebrate with our @Lakers & @Dodgers fans!!! LA is the city of CHAMPIONS”.
In response, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti told the Los Angeles Times that there will definitely be a celebration when it’s safe to do so.
“I definitely intend to have the opportunity for Angelenos to celebrate the Lakers and, on their own day, the Dodgers,” he said.
After what feels like several years of losses and unfairness, the Dodgers have finally won and earned what they so rightfully deserve. It’s such a bright spot of hope for L.A. that goes beyond the sports community. After almost a year full of bad news, this is exactly what the city needed to bring some life back into it.
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