The Los Angeles Dodgers finished off a series win over the Philadelphia Phillies Sunday afternoon and completed a 50-game stretch on Saturday with a record of 42-8. No team in MLB has posted a better record over 50 games than the Dodgers since the 1906 Cubs went 45-5. In the last 116 years, there have been two other teams to go 42-8 (1897 Boston Beaneaters and 1941 New York Yankees) as the Dodgers join an elite club of historically hot teams.
Does it matter?
Critics have already been asking this question and it is an important question with which Dodgers fans need to wrestle. During the “honeymoon phase” of the amazing Dodgers stretch, fans can get caught up in the beauty and passion their team is radiating. Just like any relationship, fans need to think about how the Dodgers are going to look 40 games from now. Will the Dodgers still be taut with chiseled ABs, or will their ERAs be bloated and batting averages sagging?
The remarkable run is nothing to be scoffed at or taken for granted, but if the Dodgers lost every game to finish the regular season and missed the playoffs, the 2013 season would go down in history not for the awesome stretch but for the colossal collapse. So the question remains, in order for the Dodgers’ 50-game historical run to not be considered a waste, how well do the Dodgers need to finish the season?
Extremists will tell you it does not matter unless the Dodgers win the World Series – these are the same people who will tell you every season is pointless without a championship. Conservatives will tell you to appreciate every season, good or bad, and to find the silver lining in even the poor outcomes.
I will take a stance somewhere in the middle. In order for this great season to matter, the Dodgers need to finish the regular season well and make the playoffs. More than that, I believe the Boys in Blue need to make a fairly deep playoff run. Even before the great stretch, the Dodgers were expected to be in this situation: leading the NL West, holding one of the best records in baseball and primed to make a run toward the World Series.
With a huge payroll and talented stars all over the field, the Dodgers were predictably going to be one of the best teams in MLB. Now that they have met that expectation, anything less than an NLCS appearance would be disappointing and would make the historic run quickly forgotten. The two previous teams with a 42-8 stretch both made the championship series and one of them won. If the Dodgers mean to appease fans and expectations, they will need produce a similar result.