By Danny Kohan
One announcer’s call, no matter how many times I’ve heard it, always gives me the chills. It’s a lock to make me misty eyed, to immediately bring a smile to my face.
Who delivered this momentously epic call destined to become my iPhone ringtone? Who else but the G.O.A.T. himself: one Mr. Vin Scully. You know the moment. Game one of the 1988 World Series, bottom of the 9th, two outs, Dodgers down one run to the completely loaded (yes, with both roids and talent), heavily favored Oakland A’s.
An injured Kirk Gibson limps off the bench and to the plate, reaches out and delivers a high fly ball into the deep right field bleachers to win it for the home team Dodgers. Kirk does that legendary Kirk-Gibson-closed-first-elbow-swinging celebration thing while he struggles to make it around the bases, finally getting mobbed by his teammates at home plate.
That’s when it happens. Vin “The God” allows the audience to soak up the moment, take in the pandemonium and fully appreciate the crowd’s roar. Then, and only then, does he go in for the kill: “In a year that has been SO IMPROBABLE the IMPOSSSSSIBLE has Happened!”
I was four years old when the “impossible” happened, but somehow I’ve convinced myself that I watched it live. That I remember what room I was in, where I was sitting, the T.V. I was watching it on and how my father reacted when Kirk rounded those bases.
Now, honestly, I’m 99% sure that I subconsciously re-created that initial viewing moment. That I conjured it up and placed it somewhere in the back of my mind, somewhere in the deepest recess of my being, in order to feel like I WAS there. To feel like I was a part of it, feel some level of significance.
Still, let me have it. Imagined or not, it’s the only memory of a Dodgers World Series I have.
Vin described that 88’ season as being “improbable” because that team, the last Dodgers squad to make the World Series, was far from being the franchise’s most talented group. This was not a murderer’s row of all-star level talent, it was a unit oozing with that one immeasurable mysterious quality sports pundits call “chemistry.”
They had “It.” Or, as Jennifer Lawrence’s character in Silver Linings Playbook would say, they simply had good “JuJu.”
Now, almost thirty years later, the Dodgers once again feel like they’re having one of those magical seasons’. The 2017 squad has made incredible comebacks an almost nightly occurrence (including in last night’s game vs. their bitter long-time rivals), consistently come up with that clutch two out hit, game saving defensive play, called third strike on the corner of the plate…shit, this team’s overflowing with good JuJu. They’ve got so much positive JuJu, they got JuJu falling out their pockets.
The 2017 Dodgers have the talent of the 88’ Oakland A’s with the grit, determination…dare I say “chemistry” of the 88’ Dodgers.
Thus, you couldn’t blame management if they sat this trade deadline out. After all, why mess with a good thing? With a 14 game division lead and a MLB best 74-31 record, you could forgive them for refusing to tinker.
Instead, the Dodgers said Eff’ it and went all in. Acquiring one of the top pitching talents available at the trade deadline, four time all-star right-hander Yu Darvish.
The addition of Darvish comes with some logical concerns beyond him simply being some kind of mystical mojo disruptor. Yu has thus far had the worse season of his five-year professional career, compiling a 6-9 record and an ERA of 4.01 and has especially struggled over his last eight starts, going 0-5 in that span with a 5.81 ERA. In fact, his last outing was perhaps the worst of his career, as he gave up 10 runs and was reportedly tipping his fastball.
Still, the fact that the Dodgers were able to acquire Darvish without giving up anyone on their current major league roster (instead dealing three minor-league players: shortstop Brendon Davis, second baseman Willie Calhoun and right-hander A.J. Alexy) and without giving up any of their top three prospects, according to MLB.com, made the move too attractive for Dodger’s management to pass up.
Darvish has the filthy stuff and electric upside that no other starting pitcher on the Dodgers roster (sans Mr. Kershaw) possesses. With Clayton currently on the disabled list with a back injury, Yu will be featured front and center, with many chances to prove his meddle and show himself worthy of those all important playoff starts. The Dodgers now boast an imposing potential playoff rotation, headlined by Kershaw (who should be healthy for the start of the playoffs) and followed by Darvish, Rich Hill and Alex Wood.
The 2017 Dodgers may be loaded with talent and JuJu through July, but that doesn’t mean they should have settled. This is baseball after all, where good vibes can turn into dark clouds at any time. Where something as inconsequential as say a fan in a green turtle neck,a black cat or a little roller up along first (another classic Scully call) can derail a season of supposed destiny.
By: Danny Kohan