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Season's End

October 08, 1985

To the pleasant surprise of many fans, the Dodgers won the National League West. They will open the playoffs against the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday at their playground in Chavez Ravine. The winner goes to the World Series.

The Dodgers played better than many expected. Pedro Guerrero, Mike Marshall and Mike Scioscia had excellent years at the plate, while Orel Hershiser paced the starting pitchers with a 19-3 record. The key to the season was switching Guerrero from third base, where he was disgruntled, back to the outfield, where he was gruntled and resumed his home-run-hitting ways. The trade for Bill Madlock solved the third-base problem, at least for now.

In Anaheim, the Angels gave their fans something to cheer about as they held first place or flirted with it for most of the season until finally losing out to the Royals on the final weekend of play. Gene Mauch, the manager, deserves much credit for the team's success. If the Angels had gotten a few more breaks, the possibility of a Freeway Series would still be alive today.

Wait till next year.

The Dodgers drew 3.2 million fans, and the Angels attracted 2.5 million, both league-leading figures. But players and teams from other cities provided much of the excitement of this baseball season, which was as thrilling as any.

Pete Rose broke Ty Cobb's career record for hits. Tom Seaver and Phil Niekro recorded their 300th career victories, Niekro on the final day of the season. Dwight Gooden at 20 became the youngest pitcher ever to win 20 games, and he swept most National League pitching categories in the bargain. Another record was set when the first 458 games of the season were played without a rain out. And then there was that 19-inning game between the Mets and the Braves that started on July 4 and ended, 16-13, on July 5, the Braves having tied the contest twice with two-out home runs in the bottom of extra innings.

Yes, there was a two-day strike and a cocaine trial, but the doings between the foul lines more than made up for those unhappy events. And the playoffs and series are still ahead.

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