LOS ANGELES -- If you're looking for that one moment the Dodgers turned their season around. That one trade, that one signing that one managerial decision that transformed this bunch from playoff outsiders to the first team to advance to the Championship Series you won't find it.
"Its right here, no question," says
As Mattingly closed his eyes and bent his knees to the rhythm of M.I.A.'s
Dodgers third baseman
"When you hear this song it's a good thing," said Blake as the song blasted in the clubhouse for the umpteenth time on a loop. "That mean's we're about to go win a game or we've won a game."
As the Dodgers cheered wildly every time the song was played, manager
Torre got a big hug from
In many ways, the Dodgers' 20-year playoff series winning drought has been more surprising than the Cubs' 100-year World Series drought. The Cubs, after all, have always been known as the "Lovable Losers." "The Curse of the Billy Goat" is as synonymous with Chicago as the Sears Tower and
The Dodgers spent much of their time away from the postseason watching teams like the Yankees, Red Sox and Braves with familiar faces Joe Torre,
Ramirez has exceeded even the most optimistic fan's wildest expectations since arriving in L.A. Before joining the Dodgers, Ramirez was hitting .299 with 20 home runs and 68 RBIs in 100 games for the Red Sox and was thought to be a dreadlocked clubhouse cancer. In 53 games with the Dodgers, Ramirez, with his neatly trimmed mane, is hitting .396 with 17 HRs and 53 RBIs while leading the Dodgers to only their third NL West title since '88. Much like he did in Boston when he helped the Red Sox to two World Series titles, Ramirez has only gotten better in the playoffs. He hit two home runs in Chicago to add to his major league-record 26 career postseason home runs and forced Cubs manager
Prior to the game as Torre sat in his office, he smiled as he told reporters that he had a good feeling about the game. Not because of any on-field strategy, but because his 2-year-old colt, Vineyard Haven, won the Grade I $400,000 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park, earning an automatic berth into the $2-million Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita on Oct. 25. "Hopefully, it's a good sign," said Torre.
He would later get several early on-field signs that the Dodgers would be having a champagne celebration outside of his office by the end of the night.
While the scoring output wasn't what it was in Chicago, it didn't need to be as veteran right-hander
After the game, while
"Look everyone, it's Big Joe," he said, pointing at Torre talking to the crowd. "Look at Big Joe out there talking to everyone."
As Torre spoke to the crowd, Lowe said, "He's a true leader and he's turned this franchise back where it should be. He might not say it publicly, but I know he feels a lot of gratification to come here in one year and do what he's done and ..." Before Lowe could finish his answer, he and his teammates were once again distracted by the squad's new theme song as they jumped up and down.
"I don't think we'll ever get tired of this song," he said. "Hopefully we can hear it eight more times."