This is “Next Year”
The Dodgers won tonight.
In fact, they swept the reigning world champs, to maintain the best record in the MLB, closing in on an astonishing .700. They’ve won 19 of 23 at home, and are seven games above the second-place Giants in the NL West. Heck, the Giant are closer to the basement-dwelling .375 Rockies than they are to the Dodgers.
And all this while half the starting line-up is on the DL. Tonight, a rook they brought up from AA two weeks ago hit his first major league homer, to drive in three runs and put the team up and over in the bottom of the seventh.
First place! With stars on the bench! You cannot beat the goddamned Dodgers. Who would have imagined something like that a year ago?
But what a year it’s been. Matt Kemp, robbed of last year’s MVP, was on pace to indisputably earn the trophy this time before going on the DL. Andre Ethier leads the MLB in RBIs. Clayton Kershaw, the 2011 Cy Young winner, could very well claim the award again.
And the very worst thing to ever happen to the team — the dim-eyed toad, Frank McCourt — pocketed his billions and was tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail. Yes, “tarred and featured” is the name of a really expensive suit maker and a “rail” is a private plane. But he’s gone… replaced by Magic Johnson. Magic Johnson. That’s like rebuilding your church after a tornado and having Jesus show up as one of the carpenters. Movies that end that way aren’t believable, much less real life. Hell, the new owners even dropped the price of parking at Dodger Stadium! It’s like Frodo destroying the One Ring and then picking up donuts for everybody on the way back to the Shire.
But the Dodger’s new golden age is only part of what’s happening in Los Angeles. Everybody is feeling it.
The Galaxy are the defending MLS champs. (MLS is a soccer league. Yes, professional. Soccer. No, I didn’t believe it either, but you can look it up on Wikipedia.)
The Kings — the Kings! — entered the NHL playoffs a forgettable eight seed and have rolled over every opponent they’ve come across. Brown time, indeed. They are now the odds-on favorite to win the Stanley Cup. It’s almost enough to make you care about hockey. Almost.
The Clippers — the Clippers! — have achieved new heights simply by not completely sucking. Yes, they lost tonight, to end their play-off run. But they had a play-off run! They’re usually back working at Wal-Mart by this time of year.
And though the Lakers are being beaten up by the Thunder, they’re still in it. A second-round exit would be considered a disappointment for LA’s, y’know, real basketball team, but the compressed season has really hurt a squad composed almost entirely of geezers. That they can hobble onto the court at all is a moral victory.
Think about that: the Dodgers, the Galaxy, the Kings, the Clippers, the Lakers — champions or pending champions or moral champions or simply not losers anymore. Los Angeles sports is undergoing an unprecedented renaissance. It’s amazing to watch, to feel, to be a part of. There’s a frisson in the city, and no matter where you look, there’s something you can be a part of that’s winning, however unexpectedly.
Don’t count us out of the Superbowl just yet.
No matter who the Kings play in the finals (I am already assuming they’ll win the one more game needed) it will be a great series and you should watch it. Because the Kings are going to win it all.