The 2023 Los Angeles Dodgers, a team etching its own chapter in baseball history, may invoke nostalgic memories of the revered 1988 ballclub. Following Saturday’s resounding defeat, Dodger faithfuls are reminded that the 1988 Dodgers too stumbled in Game 1 of the NLCS before going on to capture the series.
While Clayton Kershaw may have endured a challenging outing, it is imperative not to lay the blame squarely on his shoulders. Much like Tommy Lasorda cherished the 1988 squad, today’s Dodgers find their hearts intertwined with the 2023 roster, as expressed by Dave Roberts.
In 1988, the Dodgers weathered the loss of stars like Fernando Valenzuela and Hall of Famer Don Sutton to injuries. Orel Hershiser, Tim Leary, and rookie Tim Belcher stepped up admirably to fill the void left by their injured comrades. Though the addition of veteran lefty starter John Tudor from the Saint Louis Cardinals by General Manager Fred Clare did not yield substantial returns, the team persevered.
Fast forward to 2023, and injuries and legal issues have taken their toll on the Dodgers’ starting rotation. With Julio Urías, Dustin May, Walker Buehler, and Tony Gonsolin sidelined, Clayton Kershaw found himself in the role of Game 1 starter for the NLDS. A season that hinges on the success of rookies Bobby Miller, Emmet Sheehan, and Ryan Pepiot.
In the 1988 season, the Dodgers possessed a veteran bench affectionately termed the “Stunt Men,” pivotal in securing their World Series victory. In the present, the 2023 Dodgers too credit their postseason berth to a seasoned bench. Miguel Rojas, replacing the injured Gavin Lux, exhibited stellar defense at shortstop. Jason Heyward and David Peralta brought invaluable veteran leadership.
Kirk Gibson, the iconic MVP of the 1988 Dodgers, finds his modern-day counterparts in the form of Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman, who both shine as the team’s MVPs.
Notably, the baseball pundits had counted out the 1988 Dodgers entirely. This spring training, a similar sentiment prevailed as few believed the Dodgers could clinch their division, especially after the San Diego Padres made significant offseason moves.
However, as history would have it, the Padres did not secure a playoff berth.
As Monday beckons, the 2023 Dodgers stand at a crossroads, poised to defy the expectations of the so-called “experts” and continue tracing the parallel to the ’88 legends.
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