ST. LOUIS — That's 54 Dodger comebacks. Everybody missed one. Maybe the biggest one.
The comeback by the guy who didn't see Saturday's celebration because he was driving his daughter to a soccer game.
The comeback by the guy who spent spring training on high school bleachers and the summer pennant race in Rancho Cucamonga.
Remember Dan Evans?
Last winter, during the dark chaos that enveloped the lame-duck Dodger front office, he was the subject of an embarrassing question.
What good was a general manager with no budget, no credibility and no hope of saving his job?
Now we know.
During the most humiliating three months of his career, Dan Evans was championship good.
He stole Jeff Weaver and Yhency Brazoban from the New York Yankees.
He pulled Jose Lima from an obscure alley.
He dragged Jose Hernandez back from a career cliff.
He picked Olmedo Saenz off the scrap heap.
He yanked Duaner Sanchez off waivers.
When he was finished, his reward?
Folks in the new Frank McCourt regime interviewed candidates to replace him while he was still at his desk. They talked to potential free agents without ever calling him to the phone. They turned his office into a national laughingstock.
Only when Paul DePodesta was hired in February did Evans finally, mercifully disappear.
But this week, he'll be back, the unlikeliest of symbols for old fashioned Dodger ingenuity, acclaimed on national television broadcasts he will only watch during breaks in his work as a scout for the Seattle Mariners.
"Of course I'm rooting for the Dodgers," he said last weekend from his Los Angeles-area home. "How could I not root for a bunch of guys who were there with me?"
Although last winter's take is the most inspirational part of Evans' resume, nearly every important part of the Dodger team fits there.
He is responsible for the entire first-round playoff rotation, he was the boss when Eric Gagne became a closer, he was the one who acquired Cesar Izturis from Toronto for Luke Prokopec and Chad Ricketts.
However, he was so intent on protecting his creation, he failed to acquire the power hitter that could have put the Dodgers in the playoffs during the previous couple of seasons, and this ultimately cost him his job.
Only now, perhaps, can folks understand what he was talking about.
"I was trying to build the team in the image of the old Dodgers, with pitching and defense, and I wasn't going to stray from that path," Evans said. "Everybody wanted me to get the power hitter, but I would have to give up Odalis Perez and Guillermo Mota, and I wasn't going to do it."
Sound words now. Foolish words then.
Entering last winter's transition, Evans was either being criticized or ignored -- this space did both -- while seemingly everyone in town was waiting for him to leave.
Turns out, he had an interesting way of saying goodbye.
"It was very hard, there were people in our offices who were looking out for No. 1, and you couldn't blame them, but I couldn't do it," Evans said. "If I wasn't a team player, I couldn't respect myself. I had to keep working."
His first goal was to dump Kevin Brown's salary for Weaver, a sensitive pitcher who Evans figured would relax with Dodger fans and Jim Colborn.
Through the work of assistant Mark Weidemaier and scouts Bill Pleis and Vance Lovelace, Evans was also alerted to an obscure but hard-throwing former outfielder who ended the year at Class A.
Meet Yhency Brazoban.
"Our guys said we had to have him, so we made it clear, the deal would be broken without him," said Evans.
The best part of that deal, of course, never happened. By clearing Brown's salary, Evans was able to work out a deal to sign Vladimir Guerrero, even high-fiving folks in the office when it was done.
But major league officials reportedly told prospective owner McCourt that he couldn't afford to add Guerrero's $70 million to his debt-laden Dodger offer.
Guerrero signed with the Angels for a similar offer.
"I really had no money to work with, so I had to get creative," Evans remembers, refusing to comment specifically on Guerrero. "There was only a certain kind of player I could get."
Those players were all either minor-league free agents or big-league castoffs. By then, Evans knew the feeling.
"Some of these guys were different, but our clubhouse needed different," he said.
Not once during this time did he take any vacation days. Not once was he given the promise of anything other than a pink slip.
Eventually Evans became so perplexed about his situation that he joined an early-morning exercise boot camp, reporting daily at 5:30 a.m. to work out his frustrations.
"The stress was immense, but I had to try to be a leader, I didn't want anybody in our office to feel like we were rudderless," he said. "But to be honest, it was really hard."
He is still attending that boot camp today, having lost 18 pounds, although he is still recognized around town.
Dodger fans approach him these days, shake his hand, and say the one word he rarely heard while building this team they will not forget.