- It's been a long haul for the Dodgers since their last World Series appearance in 1988. These were the highs (and many lows) of one of baseball's iconic franchises since they last won it all.
It's been 29 years since Orel Hershiser fanned Oakland's Tony Phillips swinging, delivering the Dodgers to their sixth world championship in franchise history. "Like the 1969 Mets, it's the impossible dream revisited," said announcer Vin Scully of the significantly undermanned squad's upset victory over the brash and brawny A's, who were just beginning a run of three straight pennants.
Though they've made 11 trips to the postseason since 1988 and advanced to the National League Championship Series five times, the Dodgers hadn't punched their tickets back to the World Series until last Thursday, when Kiké Hernandez's three home runs and Clayton Kershaw's six strong innings keyed an 11–1 romp over the defending world champion Cubs at Wrigley Field. What follows here is a more or less chronological trip through 29 highs and lows in Dodger history, on the field and off—thrills, heartbreak, money flushed down the drain, and public relations disasters—over the past 29 seasons.
1. Hershiser's sneaky-great follow-up (1989)
Hershiser's 1988 season was one for the ages: a 23–8 record with a 2.26 ERA, 15 complete games and eight shutouts, five of them in the service of setting a still-standing record of 59 consecutive scoreless innings. That garnered him a unanimous NL Cy Young award, while his 3–0, 1.05 ERA postseason run (with one crucial save) earned him LCS and World Series MVP honors; at the end of the year, he won the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year award. On the surface, his 15–15 record in 1989 appeared to be just another disappointment in a 77–83 follow-up season, but a closer look shows that the Bulldog was every bit as good, with a 2.31 ERA and league bests of 7.0 WAR (a whisker off the previous year's 7.2) and 149 ERA+. The difference was run support; in an NL that featured just 3.9 runs per game, the Dodgers, who got just 71 games from 1998 NL MVP and World Series hero Kirk Gibson due to continued hamstring woes, gave Hershiser a modest 3.2, down from 4.1 the year before.
2. Strawberry and a near-miss (1991)
After winning NL Rookie of the Year honors and making seven All-Star teams in eight seasons with the Mets—but also getting arrested for allegedly assaulting his wife and threatening her with a pistol, an incident that sent him into substance-abuse rehab—Los Angeles native Darryl Strawberry signed a five-year, $20.25 million deal to become the Dodgers' new marquee player in November 1990. Driven by his team-high 28 homers, the 1991 Dodgers went 93–69, spending 135 days in first place in the NL West and going 22–9 after August 31. Unfortunately, they lost three of their final four games to the Padres and Giants, which allowed the upstart Braves—97-loss doormats the year before—to edge them by a game, kick-starting their dynasty.
3. Ninety-nine losses and rock bottom (1992)
With Strawberry limited to 43 games by a back injury that required surgery (not to mention further drug and alcohol problems), the Dodgers lost 99 games in 1992, their highest total since 1908, and finished last for the first time since 1905. First baseman Eric Karros, who won NL Rookie of the Year honors, was the only Dodger to hit more than six home runs, while Hershiser and knuckleballer Tom Candiotti were the only pitchers to win more than eight games.
4. Piazza and the run of five straight Rookies of the Year (1992–96)
A 62nd round draft pick in 1988, chosen as a personal favor to his father, a childhood friend of Lasorda, Mike Piazza took the rare step of going to the Dodgers' academy in the Dominican Republic to facilitate his conversion to catcher. After debuting in September 1992, he hit .318/.370/.561 with 35 homers—a Dodgers rookie record that would stand until Cody Bellinger's 39 homers this year—and 112 RBI in '93. A unanimous choice for NL Rookie of the Year honors, he followed Karros and was part of a record run of five straight winners for the franchise, with rightfielder Raul Mondesi (1994), starter Hideo Nomo (1995) and outfielder Todd Hollandsworth (1996) following.
5. The Shot Delivered 42 Years Later (1993)
The Dodgers improved to 81–81 in 1993, and no victory was bigger than their final one, a 12–1 romp over the rival Giants, who were eliminated after entering the day tied with the Braves atop the NL West at 103–58. Driven by a pair of homers from Piazza, the victory came 42 years to the day after Bobby Thomson's “Shot Heard 'Round the World” sent the Giants to a pennant at the Dodgers' expense. Prior to the game, Thomson had autographed a baseball for manager Tommy Lasorda, writing "Oct. 3, 1951" as well. The Dodger skipper used it as a prop to rally his troops, telling them "Win, and this will make my year."
6. Nomomania (1995)
After starring in Japan from 1990–94, righty Hideo Nomo and his agent, Don Nomura, decided to test a contractual loophole. By retiring, he could become a free agent, depart Nippon Professional Baseball and head stateside without restriction, thus becoming the majors' first Japanese-born pitcher since Masanori Murakami in 1965. While his early results were mixed, Nomo soon reeled off a 13-start span with a 1.31 ERA and 119 strikeouts as Japanese media and fans flocked to wherever he pitched; "Nomomania" brought back reminders of Fernando Valenzuela's ascent and landed the 25-year-old righty with the corkscrew windup and the bedeviling forkball on the cover of Sports Illustrated the same week that he started the All-Star Game.
Nomo finished the year 13–6, with a 2.54 ERA and an NL-high 236 strikeouts while helping the Dodgers win the NL West for the first time since 1988. He beat out the Braves' Chipper Jones for NL Rookie of the Year honors, and his arrival opened the door to a wave of Japanese players that included Hideki Irabu, Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui.
7. The United Nations Rotation (1996)
With the majors' first South Korea-born player, Chan Ho Park, finally sticking after brief cameos in 1994 and '95, the Dodgers could boast of a rotation with members of five different countries, as Park and Nomo were joined by Dominican Ramon Martinez, Mexican Ismael Valdes, and American Tom Candiotti—the United Nations Rotation heralded by Nomo's signing the year before. All but Candiotti had strong seasons, Nomo pitched the (and to date only) no-hitter in Coors Field history on September 17, and the Dodgers won 90 games and the NL Wild Card. They did that only after dropping their final four games to the division-winning Padres, pulling Martinez after one inning to set him up for the Division Series opener against the Braves, who swept them nonetheless.
8. Tommy Lasorda retires (1996)
At the helm of the Dodgers since the final weekend of the 1976 season—when he took over for Walter Alston, who first manned the dugout in 1954—the 68-year-old Lasorda suffered a minor heart attack in late June 1996. He underwent surgery and a month later, announced his retirement. During a span in which other teams changed managers a total of 185 times, Lasorda compiled 1,599 wins (now 20th all-time) and a .526 winning percentage while guiding the Dodgers to seven division titles, four pennants and two championships. He was succeeded on an interim basis by Bill Russell, the Dodgers' shortstop from the Longest Running Infield that existed when Lasorda took over as manager.
9. Peter O'Malley sells Dodgers to Fox Group (1998)
In 1979, Peter O’Malley took over as the Dodgers’ chairman of the board upon the death of father Walter, who had taken control of the franchise in late 1950, infamously moved them from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1958, and nonetheless presided over a golden age that included four championships. The younger
O'Malley, who presided over the Dodgers' championships in 1981 and '88, put the franchise, Dodger Stadium, Dodgertown in Vero Beach, the team's single A franchise and their Dominican Republic academy up for sale in January 1997. Fox Group, a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., bought the whole thing for $311 million, taking control in March 1998 and ushering in an era of corporatized mediocrity. The Dodgers finished in second or third place in each of the six seasons under Fox's control, never making the playoffs.
10. The Piazza trade (1998)
Rebuffed in his attempt to secure Piazza a six-year, $60 million extension due to the team’s search for a buyer, agent Dan Lozano secured his client a two-year, $15 million deal to cover the remainder of his pre-free agency years. After a monster 1997 season (.362/.431/.638 with 40 homers, all career bests), Lozano proposed a seven-year, $100 million deal (the sport's first) and gave the Dodgers a February 15 deadline to secure him before the catcher tested free agency. With the ownership transfer still ongoing, the deadline passed; Piazza complained about feeling “underappreciated” despite his team-record $8 million salary, and soon rejected a six-year, $80 million offer.
Fox television chairman/CEO Chase Carey and team president Bob Graziano went over the head of longtime general manager Fred Claire to engineer a seven-player blockbuster that sent Piazza to the Marlins—defending champions in the midst of a teardown—and brought back Gary Sheffield and Bobby Bonilla as the key returns. Eight days later, Piazza was flipped to the Mets, where he continued a career that earned him a claim as the best-hitting catcher of all time and landed him in Cooperstown.
11. Brown breaks the $100 million barrier (1998)
After helping the Marlins and Padres to the World Series in back-to-back seasons—with the former winning in 1997, the latter losing in '98—Kevin Brown hit free agency at just the right time. Nonetheless, it rated as quite a surprise when the Dodgers signed the gruff righty to a record-setting, seven-year, $105 million contract given that he was about to turn 34. The total far surpassed Piazza’s seven-year, $91 million deal with the Mets as well as the $13.3 million average of Mo Vaughn's deal with the Angels. Due to elbow and back injuries that both required surgery, Brown gave the Dodgers just three good seasons out of five, none of them resulting in playoff berths, before being dealt to the Yankees in December 2003.
12. The Sheriff exits (2001)
In late 1998, the Dodgers hired former Expos GM Kevin Malone, who quickly declared, "There's a new sheriff in town." The brash Malone continued to talk his way into trouble, comparing Brown to Jackie Robinson and Sheffield to Bill Clinton, tampering with Giants manager Dusty Baker, picking fights with manager Davey Johnson, Padres GM Kevin Towers, and finally, a Padres season-ticket holder before resigning in April 2001.
13. Green's four-homer game (2002)
After Mondesi clashed with Johnson and Malone in mid-1999, he asked for a trade and in November, the Dodgers obliged, sending him to Toronto in exchange for rightfielder Shawn Green, with whom they worked out a six-year, $84 million extension. After slipping to 24 homers in his first year with the Dodgers (from 42 in 1999), Green hit a club record 49 in 2001, and amid a 42-homer season follow-up the next year, put together one of the greatest single-game offensive performances in history. On May 23, 2002 in Milwaukee, he became the first Dodger and the 14th player in major league history to homer four times in a game, adding a single and a double as well for a record 19 total bases.
14. Gagne and Game Over (2002–04)
A Montreal native whom the Dodgers signed as an amateur free agent in 1995, Eric Gagne failed to distinguish himself in the big league rotation in 2000 and '01, but upon moving to the bullpen, he became the team's closer and was lights out. With his prescription Oakley goggles, his goatee, his "Welcome to the Jungle" entry music and his 95–98 mph heat, he became a sensation, with the team marketing "Game Over" memorabilia. After saving 52 games with a 1.97 ERA and 130 strikeouts in 2002, Gagne saved a league-high 55 games with a 1.20 ERA and 137 strikeouts in '03; what's more, he didn't blow a single save. He won the NL Cy Young award that year, the first reliever to do so since Dennis Eckersley in 1992; none has won it since. From July 2002 to August 2004, he saved a record 84 consecutive games while making three straight NL All-Star squads.
15. Sale to Frank McCourt costs Dodgers Vlad Guerrero (2004)
The Fox Group never could get the hang of running a franchise, and in 2003, they put the team up for sale. In January 2004, Boston parking lot magnate Frank McCourt purchased the Dodgers and their properties in a highly leveraged $430 million deal. Alas, the process of selling thwarted the team's attempt to sign free agent Vladimir Guerrero—whom they had worked out in the Dominican Republic before he originally signed with the Expos—to a heavily backloaded five-year, $70 million deal. Guerrero ended up signing with the Angels and winning AL MVP honors in his first year.
16. DePodesta's deals help Dodgers back to playoffs (2004)
In his first major move as owner, McCourt hired the analytically-minded Paul DePodesta—an assistant general manager under Billy Beane in Oakland at the time that Moneyball polarized the baseball industry—to be GM. Los Angeles Times columnists quickly nicknamed him "Google Boy" and "Computer Boy" while recycling an endless variety of nerd-based insults. Building on the talent base assembled by predecessor Dan Evans, DePodesta nonetheless shook up the roster and the fan base at the trade deadline with a six-player swap that sent popular catcher Paul Lo Duca to the Marlins and brought back pitcher Brad Penny and first baseman Hee-Seop Choi. Injuries turned that deal into a short-term disaster, but DePodesta's acquisition of Steve Finley from the Diamondbacks in a separate trade the next day paid off. The centerfielder’s walkoff grand slam against the Giants on the season's penultimate day clinched the team's first NL West title in nine years.
17. “Lima Time” ends playoff drought (2004)
When the Dodgers entered the 2004 playoffs, they hadn't won a postseason game since the 1988 World Series clincher, having been swept out of both the 1995 and '96 Division Series. After dropping the first two games of the 2004 series to St. Louis, another sweep appeared to be in the cards, but junkballing indie-league refugee Jose Lima—better known for his animated antics on the mound than his skill—tossed a complete-game, five-hit shutout in Game 3, electrifying Dodger Stadium for one night before the team was finally ousted from the playoffs. The colorful and well-liked Lima, who once sang the national anthem before a Dodger game, tragically died in 2010 at age 37.
18. Beltré's big walk year (2004)
Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 1994 —illegally, it turned out, as he was only 15—third baseman Adrián Beltré reached the majors in June 1998 and became a staple at the hot corner. While his offense was uneven, his raw numbers suppressed by pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium, his excellent defense more than made up for it. In his final year before free agency, he broke out, bashing 48 homers, driving in 121 runs and hitting .334/.388/.629 while helping the Dodgers win the NL West. McCourt and DePodesta expressed a desire to retain the 25-year-old breakout star, but the Dodgers slow-walked and then lowballed him with a last-minute, six-year, $60 million offer well short of the five-year, $64 million deal that he accepted from the Mariners. While Beltré's time in Seattle wasn't a great success, the Dodgers lost out on yet another future Hall of Famer.
19. The Ned Zone and the Logan White boom (2006–09)
After a 71–91 2005 season, DePodesta was practically run out of town on a rail, replaced by former Giants assistant GM Ned Colletti, who quickly remade the roster by signing free agents Bill Mueller, Rafael Furcal, Nomar Garciaparra and Kenny Lofton and trading outfielder Milton Bradley—whose LA tenure was marred by ugly incidents involving teammates, fans, media, and his pregnant spouse, who filed three domestic violence complaints—to the A's for outfield prospect Andre Ethier. While many of his future transactions —the free agent signings of Jason Schmidt, Andruw Jones and Juan Pierre, the trade of prospect Carlos Santana for Casey Blake—turned into disasters, the first set of moves helped the Dodgers back to the playoffs via a Wild Card berth… and the short end of another Division Series sweep, this one at the hands of the Mets.
While the money the Dodgers spent on free agents during the Colletti years often went to waste, the team enjoyed a bounty of homegrown talent that continues to this day thanks to scouting director (and later assistant general manager) Logan White. From 2002–14, White ran the Dodgers' drafts, selecting and signing Russell Martin, Jonathan Broxton, James Loney, Matt Kemp, Chad Billingsley, A.J Ellis, Clayton Kershaw, Dee Gordon, Joc Pederson, Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger, all of whom had significant impact on contending teams.
20. The 4+1 Game (2006)
The Dodgers entered their September 18, 2006 game half a game behind the Padres, whom they hosted at Chavez Ravine that night. They fell behind 4–0 in the first as the Padres beat up on Penny, clawed their way back to tie the game against San Diego ace Jake Peavy but trailed 9–5 going into the ninth inning. Over a span of eight pitches, the last two from closer Trevor Hoffman, four Dodgers—Jeff Kent, J.D. Drew, Russell Martin and Marlon Anderson— hit consecutive home runs to tie the game, a feat not seen in the majors since 1964. The Padres scored once in the top of the 10th, but Garciaparra's two-run homer carried the Dodgers to victory. "Oh, and I forgot to mention" said Scully after a minute or so of pandemonium, "The Dodgers are in first place!”
21. Mannywood (2008-09)
On July 31, 2008, a Dodger team that began the day one game above .500 (54–53) swung a three-way deal with the Pirates and Red Sox, giving up nothing much in exchange for Manny Ramirez, who had finally worn out his welcome in Boston. Wearing number 99, the dreadlocked 36-year-old slugger took Tinseltown by storm, igniting a merchandising craze and terrorizing opposing pitchers by hitting .396/.489/.743 with 17 homers in 53 games.
The Dodgers, in their first year under ex-Yankees manager Joe Torre, won the division with a meager 84–78 record, then knocked of the 97-win Cubs in the Division Series before falling to the Phillies in the NLCS. After the Dodgers re-signed Ramirez to a two-year, $45 million deal, Dodger Stadium introduced a special "Mannywood section" in leftfield, but soon afterwards, Ramirez drew a 50-game suspension for taking a banned medication typically used by steroid users to restore testosterone production. Still productive, if not quite as popular upon returning, the slugger and the homegrown kids won the NL West, swept the Cardinals in the Division Series but again fell to the Phillies.
22. Kershaw’s Cy Young run (2011-14)
Just under two years after Clayton Kershaw was chosen with the seventh pick of the 2006 draft out of a suburban Dallas high school, Scully put him on the map. On March 9, 2008, a 19-year-old Kershaw broke off a hellacious two-strike curveball to Boston’s Sean Casey, and even an 81-year-old announcer who had seen just about everything gasped in wonder: “Ohhh, what a curve ball! Holy mackerel! He just broke off Public Enemy No. 1. Look at this thing!"
By late May, Kershaw was in the majors, and by the next year, his starts were appointment viewing. In 2011, the 23-year-old southpaw won the Pitching Triple Crown with a 21 wins, a 2.28 ERA and 248 strikeouts, and took home his first NL Cy Young award. He won again in 2013, and '14, accompanying the latter with the NL MVP award (he also threw a no-hitter on June 19 of that year). To date he's won five ERA titles, secured a record-setting seven-year, $215 million contract, and made a reservation for Cooperstown, but the Dodgers' habit of pushing him too far in the postseason, attempting to wring every out from his valuable left arm, has led to a 4.40 ERA in October, playing a significant role in their early exits.
23. The McCourt era collapses (2011)
Though the Dodgers won four division titles on the McCourts’ watch, their tenure as owners turned out to be an embarrassment for the team. It began unraveling in late 2009, after the 30-year-marriage between Frank and Jamie McCourt, officially the Dodgers' chairman and chief executive, respectively, dissolved into a very public, expensive divorce with legal feeds alone estimated at upwards of $35 million. At the center of the divorce was a dispute as to Jamie's stake in the team, as one set of marital property agreements listing the team as his sole property differed from another set that included her, having been changed without her knowledge.
Court proceedings and dogged reporting exposed the couple’s lavish lifestyle and financial improprieties; MLB later accused Frank of siphoning $189 million out of the team. Affairs, slush funds, children on the payroll, a hairstylist paid $150,000 annually to make five house calls a week, a 71-year-old Russian physicist paid a six-figure bonus to send positive vibes to the team from Boston—“Tapping the V Energy", it was famously called —some of the ridiculousness had little bearing on the Dodgers, but the undercapitalized owner depleted the farm system and eventually took the team into bankruptcy in 2011, when he couldn't meet payroll. In March 2012, the Guggenheim Baseball Group paid an astounding $2.15 billion for the Dodgers and the land surrounding their stadium. McCourt made out like a bandit, but the team was in much better hands.
24. The Nick Punto Trade (2012)
The Guggenheim group began flexing its financial muscle by taking on nearly $260 million in salary via an August 29, 2012 trade between the Red Sox (who were in the midst of a dismal season) and Dodgers (contenders who would come up short), the largest waiver-period blockbuster in history. In the deal, the Dodgers acquired Boston's three highest-salaried players, starting pitcher Josh Beckett, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and left fielder Carl Crawford, plus infielder Nick Punto and a mere $12 million cash in exchange for first baseman James Loney, second baseman Ivan De Jesus Jr., outfielder Jerry Sands and pitchers Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster. Though the last two were promising prospects, none of the players amounted to much in the majors, and the primary outcome for the Dodgers was a string of $200 million-plus payrolls—the largest in the game every year since—and the solid play from Gonzalez, the deal's true centerpiece despite the facetious references the scrappy fan favorite, Punto. The injury-riddled Beckett gave the Dodgers just 35 starts spread over three years (including a 2014 no-hitter), while Crawford, traded just after he had undergone season-ending Tommy John surgery, played 320 games for them over four years before being released with $35 million remaining on a seven-year deal that’s about to end.
25. Puigmania (2013)
Signed to a seven-year, $42 million deal on June 29, 2012 after a harrowing defection from Cuba, Yasiel Puig arrived in the majors less than a year later and instantly began building his legend. Built like a linebacker at 6’ 2”, 240 lbs, he wasted no time in showing off his power, speed, and cannon-like arm, capping his June 3, 2013 debut by doubling a runner off first base from the warning track, homering twice the next night, and collecting 27 hits and 45 total bases in his first 15 games. The rookie hit .319/.391/.534 with 19 homers and 11 steals, sparking a team that was 23–32 when he arrived to a 92–70 record—including a 42–8 run, the majors’ best 50–game stretch since 1942—and an NL West title.
But while Puig punctuated his five-tool talent with flair, producing social media-ready bat flips and derring-do on the basepaths en route to becoming a human highlight reel, his occasional lapses in concentration and judgment, both on and off the field, drew the ire of manager Don Mattingly and his teammates, and polarized fans and media.
26. Five straight NL West titles (2013-17)
From 2013–17, the Dodgers became just the sixth team to win five straight division titles, joining the A's (1971–75), Braves (1995–2005), Indians (1995–99), Yankees (1998–2006) and Phillies (2007–11). They did it amid significant change, as the Guggenheim group put its stamp in the team hiring analytically inclined Andrew Friedman to replace Colletti (who was nudged into a senior advisor role) in October 2014; after running the Rays on a shoestring operation, suddenly he had the largest payroll in the game. After a whirlwind year in which he pulled off multiple blockbuster trades, including ones that sent away Kemp and Gordon, Friedman parted ways with Mattingly and hired first-time manager Dave Roberts, who spent 2½ seasons (2002-mid 2004) with the Dodgers. Alas, until this year, the team couldn’t get over the postseason hump, with NLCS losses in 2013 (Cardinals) and ’16 (Cubs) bracketed by Division Series disappointments in ’14 (Cardinals) and ’15 (Mets).
27. Charlie Culberson sends Vin Scully into retirement (2016)
Shortly after proclaiming his return to the Dodgers booth for a 67th season in 2016, Scully—on the mic for the team since 1950, recognized by the Hall of Fame with the Frick Award in 1982 and widely regarded as the best announcer in the game’s history—clarified that the season would be his final one. The soundtrack to several generations of baseball fans, inextricably linked to numerous highlights including the team’s first championship in 1955, Sandy Koufax’s perfect game in 1965 and Gibson’s home run in 1988, the beloved Scully received a slew of tributes from around the game.
His final call from Dodger Stadium came on September 25, 2016, when reserve shortstop Charlie Culberson, who hadn’t homered in the majors in over two years, belted a 10th-inning walkoff homer against the Rockies, thus clinching the Dodgers’ fourth straight NL West flag. The 88-year-old Scully’s remarkable career concluded with a trip to San Francisco to call the season’s final game between the Dodgers and Giants. The October 2 date held significance as the 80th anniversary of the day when an eight-year-old Scully fell in love with the game, having taken pity upon on a Giants team that had been thrashed by the Yankees 18–4 in that day’s World Series game.
28. A 43–7 run cues comparisons to the greatest teams (2017)
Forecast to be the league’s strongest team thanks to their incredible depth, the 2017 Dodgers stumbled out of the gate, losing 12 of their first 22 games, and they spent much of the season’s first half trying to catch up with the Diamondbacks and Rockies. Carried in part by surprise contributors such as superutilityman Chris Taylor and the rookie Bellinger, their 10-game winning streak from June 16–25 carried them into first place in the NL West, and an 11-game winning streak followed from July 4–19. By August 5, they had won 43 out of 50, the best 50-game run in the majors since the 1912 Giants, and by August 25, they had gone 56–11, giving them a 91–36 record—good for a .717 winning percentage, a 116-win pace—and a 21-game NL West lead. But shortly after a Sports Illustrated cover story asked if they were the “Best. Team. Ever?” the Dodgers bellyflopped into a 1–16 skid that included a 10-game losing streak. A patient Roberts and company righted the ship, and the team won 12 of its final 18 games to set a Los Angeles-era record with 104 wins, tops it the majors.
29. Kiké carries Dodgers to first pennant since 1988
After a Division Series sweep of a Diamondbacks team still spent from their NL Wild Card Game win over the Rockies, the Dodgers took a commanding three-games-to-none lead in the NLCS despite the absence of Seager due to a back sprain, with Taylor and Justin Turner—former castoffs whose career trajectories changed drastically with flyball-launching swing paths—hitting huge home runs. The latter’s walkoff shot off John Lackey, which carried the team to an NLCS Game 2 victory, came 29 years to the day after Gibson’s famous homer. After dropping Game 4, the Dodgers secured their first NL pennant since 1988 on the strength of Kershaw’s effort and a three-homer game by Hernandez, whose third-inning grand slam off Hector Rondon turned the game into a laugher.