It’s no longer the baseball preseason. Time to get your ass fired up for the regular fall season of America’s Pastime. Read all our playoff team previews here. Today, you’re getting to know … THE LOS ANGELES DODGERS.
Congratulations to humanity! The San Francisco Giants—or, as I like to call them, “The Google Cardinals”—will not be in the playoffs this year. This is a biennial occurrence, following a gruesome pattern. In the even-numbered years, they win the World Series, but these odd-numbered years, man—when cornpone Roy Hobbs Madison Bumgarner skedaddles on back t’ Hickory in time fer the dangon Halloween Hotfoot down t’ yon holler, ’n dadgum if some other team don’t git to borrer the ring fer a spell—it’s like Demeter celebrating Persephone’s return, all the more desperately wonderful and sweet for the bitter knowledge that it is temporary. Next fall, sure as you are born, he will deliver another World Series championship to the most annoying fanbase outside of Missouri—by which I mean my colleague, Kevin Draper—and all of humanity will mourn.
In the meantime, though, hey! The Los Angeles Dodgers are not the San Francisco Giants. They also are not the St. Louis Cardinals or the Chicago Cubs or the New York Mets. This makes them God’s Team.
Who are the Dodgers?
Not the fuckin’ Giants, that’s for sure! But also, hilarious and weirdly charming. The Magic Johnson-fronted ownership group that bought the club in 2012 has been pretty open about its intention to make the Dodgers into Yankees West—to use the club’s vast resources to hoover up as many of baseball’s good players as possible—and their joyous heedlessness in going about it has yielded a really, really goofy roster headed into the playoffs.
Look at these old fuckers! Chase Utley! Carl Crawford! Howie Kendrick! Jimmy fucking Rollins! This isn’t baseball’s All-Star team; it’s baseball’s friggin’ lint screen. Those aren’t flashy star acquisitions; they’re plague corpses catapulted over the city walls. And they’re paying $307 million in payroll for it, just this season! It’s like Dad took his holiday bonus to town and came home with a bunch of Ernest Goes to... VHS cassettes to show for it. And they won the NL West! I just love it so much. God bless this ridiculous team.
What guys should you know?
Old-ass Adrian Gonzalez is still good. Third baseman Justin Turner, a random utility type for the Mets in a previous life, has inexplicably hit like Adrian Beltre since coming to Los Angeles two years ago. Yung cock Joc Pederson jacked 20 dingers in the first half of the season and was sensational in the Home Run Derby, but then he turned into Peter Bergeron and doesn’t even play that much anymore; still, he’s out there, rubbery and fast and strong and with a hole in his swing you could fit Richie Sexson through, and he’ll get a chance to do something at some point and it will be fun to watch. If Yasiel Puig can recover from a hamstring injury that has had him on the “15-day” DL since, uh, August 27th, he’s always great television.
Ignore that this play didn’t produce an out at third (it was a tag-up, not a first-to-third, so the odds were remote anyway) and just look at the goddamn throw:
Vladimir Guerrero would have nailed him, and also cured leprosy with his touch. But still: What a hose! Here’s one where he caught Pittsburgh’s Gregory Polanco trying to go first-to-second on a base hit.
Really, though, your guys are the Dodgers’ pair of ace pitchers, lefty Clayton Kershaw and righty Zack Greinke. I love a good curveball, and these two are curveball artists. Kershaw throws a downright sickening 12-to-6 number and will do a really cruel thing in two-strike counts where, instead of burying the curve in the dirt like pitchers do, he’ll throw it up high; because his delivery looks exactly the same no matter what he’s throwing, the batter will see a high fastball and reflexively bend his knees to frame it as a ball, then freeze and slump like his strings got cut an instant later as the pitch dives back into the strike zone. Here, watch him make a statue out of poor Brett Gardner in the All-Star Game:
Mean. That is just mean.
Greinke, for his part, throws two curves, one noticeably slower and loopier than the other. He’s got a handful of other nasty pitches—he’ll trash a righty with a two-strike slider—but the curves are where it’s at, man. This video is one of my favorite baseball videos, both because of all the curves, and because the batters blowing the backs out of their pants at the sight of them are St. Louis Cardinals:
Both have been great this year. Kershaw hasn’t been quite as dominant as he was in 2014, when he won the NL Cy Young Award and was the first pitcher named that league’s Most Valuable Player since 1968, but still, c’mon. Dude deals, man. He struggled a bit in the postseason last year, leading to a certain amount of smarming about how Madison Bumgarner does it when it counts, man, which is another reason to root for the Dodgers this year. A pitcher as good as Kershaw—he’s historically good!—doesn’t deserve to be used by shithead hot-takers to buttress some other guy’s Magical Baseball Unicorn credentials. Plus he looks like a guileless Amish lad out on rumspringa, and I want to send him back to the gmay feeling good about himself.
Also, you should know about Vin Scully, the national treasure who has been calling Dodgers home games since their home was in Brooklyn. Probably you already know about Vin Scully. I don’t know how this shit works, and am guessing we probably won’t get to hear him call Dodgers games in the playoffs—but, if the Dodgers win the World Series, it will make this wonderful old dude very happy, here in the closing years of the long life he has spent making baseball more enjoyable for people. Rooting against that is objectively evil.
A GIF of a Dodgers fan
Can they beat the Cardinals?
Somebody fucking better.
Who has the best baseball chin?
Justin Turner has the best baseball chin.
Get a load of that chin! So orange! So bushy! It’s like a thicket of julienned carrots. God, I could lose my fucking lunch just looking at it. That is a great baseball chin.
The scary thing is, it’s not even a playoff beard—that’s his regular beard. If the Dodgers make it all the way to the World Series, he’ll come up to bat looking like Cousin It. That is another reason to root for the Dodgers.
Why you should root for the Dodgers
You should root for the Dodgers because their best path to a World Series championship involves Kershaw and Greinke pitching out of their minds, Puig returning to health and becoming the Puig of 2013 again, the middle infield of the 2005 Phillies getting a last moment in the sun, a guy named Joc maybe doing some fun shit, and Turner having to tie his repulsive beard around his torso like a bandolier so he won’t trip over it. You should root for the Dodgers because the most ridiculous possible outcome is always the most fun one, and the Dodgers winning the World Series would be incredibly ridiculous. And you should root for the Dodgers because it will force Kevin Draper to do the gross Bay Area passive-aggressive thing where he takes solace in the cold mathematical comprehensibility of it and pretends it isn’t burning him up inside.
You should root for the Dodgers.
Photos via AP