As a Dodger fan, I must admit it. The NLDS with the Padres was bad for my team, but great for baseball. It was the type of series that builds lore and wins fans. Nail-biting games. The bottom of the Padres batting order catching fire and driving in runs. The drone. The downpour. The goose. That stupid goose! The Angels still promote their Rally Monkey 20 years after it propelled them to a World Series win. Rest assured you’ll be able to buy a Rally Goose at Petco Park for decades to come.
More than the games and the lore was the unbridled joy from Padres fans when their team secured the win over their hated rivals. Gold-and-brown clad fans who fretted as their team fell behind, sang and danced in the rain when the Padres took the lead, and exploded in joy with the final victorious pitch. You can’t get mad at such happiness. Even the “Beat LA” chants. This fan base has suffered for years. They lost their beloved football team because they were considered “small market.” Along with their equally victorious Phillies in equally joyful Citizens Bank Park, they showed underdogs can have their day. Big city teams can’t just buy championships. In baseball, it’s never too late and anyone can be a hero.
We Dodger fans also get something out of this. We get to engage in one of baseball’s favorite off-season pastimes: blame. We’ll blame Dave Roberts. We’ll blame the bullpen. We’ll blame Trea Turner, Justin Turner, Timmy Turner from The Fairly OddParents because he clearly made a wish that Cosmo and Wanda screwed up. We all get to play general manager and decide which players we can trade or convince to retire. But we’ll forget that it doesn’t matter how many superstars you have or how many regular season wins you get, no one is entitled to a championship. You must earn it by performing your best at every game.
That’s what baseball does best. It offers us life lessons, whether we play on the field or watch from the stands or at home. We may have seen the Dodgers at their worst, but we saw baseball at its best.
So, good luck to the Padres and the other teams moving on in the postseason.