I was talking to the night shift maintenance man at work last night. We were discussing the World Series opponents and how each of them hadn't won a Series in a looong time, how the two teams had waited a combined 176 years to win a World Series. Then he dropped a heavy thought on me.
"I just feel sorry for whoever is going to lose," he said.
I hadn't even thought of that. Wow, that's devastating. Somebody is going to this Series after such a long wait and -- dammit -- they're going to wait even longer. I will never be one of those people who says, "it's a shame someone had to lose" but it's a shame someone is going to have to lose.
Perhaps I'm feeling so connected to this future loser because my team just lost.
It's been pretty difficult I am surprised to admit. It isn't difficult in a "real world" sort of way, but in terms of the teams that I root for and the severity of heartbreak when they do eventually lose, I would put the Dodgers' loss in the NLCS right up with "wide right" and "Jack Clark."
I'll use some cards sent to me from Brad at Red Sox Fan In Nebraska to illustrate what I've been feeling for the past week. With each card I'll list each player's postseason appearances with the Dodgers and the outcome.
1947 World Series: Loss; 1949 World Series: Loss; 1952 World Series: Loss; 1953 World Series: Loss; 1955 World Series: Win; 1956 World Series: Loss
I had a good feeling about this Dodgers team. That's saying something because if you know me, I never have a good feeling about a Dodger team in terms of their postseason or championship chances. You'd have to go back to maybe the early '80s for when I had any degree of confidence. That's what happens when the Yankees beat you down at the age of 11 and 12. And then the Astros, Phillies and Cardinals remind you of why you're down there.
I don't suppose that is much different from the way most fans feel about their teams' histories. But let's face it, the Dodgers have one of the best resumes when it comes to getting to the big stage and failing.
2013 NLDS: Win; 2013 NLCS: Loss; 2014 NLDS: Loss; 2015 NLDS: Loss
However, the Dodgers have gotten to enough postseasons in my lifetime where I've been able to gauge teams and compare them to past teams. And, to me, this team reminded me more of the 1988 World Series champion team more than any other Dodger team since.
This team hit better than the '88 team. There's no way the 2016 team would be starting Franklin Stubbs. But both teams overcame obvious holes in their roster and not merely dealt with problems but overcame them so well that as a fan you began to have confidence in any situation. The team would find a way to overcome it because they always did. They made up 8 games on the Giants without knowing who was going to start on the mound from day to day.
2004 NLDS: Loss
So the Dodgers get to the postseason, outlast the Nationals and land the top team in the league, the Cubs, in the NLCS.
I was actually pleased that the Dodgers would play the Cubs and not the Giants. I don't think I could handle the Giants beating the Dodgers in the NLCS.
So I got my wish. And for three games, everything was working out OK. It was a very stressful three games, and, of course, Joe Blanton has to give up a grand slam from one of my least favorite people from 2013, Miguel Montero, but a 2-1 lead can diffuse a lot of hatred and concern.
1995 NLDS: Loss; 1996 NLDS: Loss
Then the series started to turn in the Cubs' favor. Game 4 was the game that the Dodgers needed and they didn't get it. It started with every single play going the Cubs' way. The play at the plate (I'm one of the few Dodger fans who think Adrian Gonzalez was out), balls barely eluding fielders, stuff like that.
Then the roof fell in, and the Cubs cruised through the rest of the series. The Dodgers' starting pitching problems, an issue all season, proved to be the team's demise. The bullpen, while solid since May, always had holes and they were uncovered in this series.
2006 NLDS: Loss; 2008 NLDS: Win; 2008 NLCS: Loss
One of the worst parts of Game 4 was that I was assured of watching the rest of the series from work. This is particularly painful for several reasons.
The first is there is a large TV above my work station. It sounds heavenly, I know. Most of the time I'm too busy to even look up. But during times when I have a vested rooting interest, it's brutal to watch a game with co-workers who have no opinion on who wins. Gah! Can't you see I'm about to die here????
1995 NLDS: Loss; 1996 NLDS: Loss
Even worse, one of my coworkers is a Cubs fan.
He's a young Cubs fan. Corey Seager's age. So even though he'd like to tell you about all of the heartbreak with his team, he has only read about it in most cases. He wasn't even born the last time the Dodgers won the World Series. I myself have experienced more Cubs heartbreak than he has and I don't even like the Cubs.
But he's a good kid and a decent worker and a baseball fan. So I tried to be easy on him.
But let me tell you, it is so difficult to sympathize with someone who is rooting against your team.
Zach Lee: None
Gil Hodges: 1947 World Series: Loss; 1949 World Series: Loss; 1952 World Series: Loss; 1953 World Series: Loss; 1955 World Series: Win; 1956 World Series: Loss; 1959 World Series: Win
Corey Seager: 2015 NLDS: Loss; 2016 NLDS: Win; 2016 NLCS: Loss
And this is life from the other side.
This is what nobody else is paying attention to when they are celebrating the Cubs, and how they have made it to the World Series after 71 years away. Yeah, yeah, the Dodgers, that team that was in the way.
I was in the awkward position of not being happy when everyone else -- many of whom weren't Cubs fans or even baseball fans -- was happy.
It's not a fun place to be. You almost have to keep your mouth shut for fear of how you'll sound. And the loss was too painful -- still is, really -- to say, "congratulations, Cubs".
Joc Pederson: 2015 NLDS: Loss; 2016 NLDS: Win; 2016 NLCS: Loss
Adrian Gonzalez: 2013 NLDS: Win; 2013 NLCS: Loss; 2014 NLDS: Loss; 2015 NLCS: Loss; 2016 NLDS: Win; 2016 NLCS: Loss
Kenley Jansen: 2013 NLDS: Win; 2013 NLCS: Loss; 2014 NLDS: Loss; 2015 NLCS: Loss; 2016 NLDS: Win; 2016 NLCS: Loss
Ross Stripling: 2016 NLDS: Win; 2016 NLCS: Loss
Joe Blanton: 2016 NLDS: Win; 2016 NLCS: Loss
No matter what I said, no matter how lousy I felt, it could never match the pain and misery that the Cubs have felt over the last 100 years.
Haven't been to a World Series in 28 years? Try 71 years, pal. Spent a ton of money year after year but never get the title? Try having your owners completely dump on the fan base for decades, buddy.
So I just scrolled through Facebook posts (I have four or five Facebook friends who are Cubs fans and none who are Dodger fans) and blog posts (many, many Cubs bloggers) and stayed quiet.
This will be the last time I write about the Dodgers' loss (Yay! They were No. 3!) on this blog. Because who wants to read about that?
Nobody wants to talk about the loser right now.
Until your team loses.
The maintenance man is right: I wouldn't want to be that team on Nov. 3.