Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

BASEBALL PLAYOFFS

Southland might get a classic fall

October 01, 2008|BILL PLASCHKE

The distance is only 30.92 miles.

The waiting has been forever.

How long have we wondered? How long have we hoped?

For the 48 seasons that the Dodgers and Angels shared Southern California, all we've wanted is one chance to watch them compete for a championship in something other than our imaginations.

From 1000 Elysian Park Ave. in Los Angeles to 2000 Gene Autry Way in Anaheim, it is a simple drive.

But from the National League to the American League, the chasm has seemed endless.

The teams tried to satisfy us with a spring training competition called the Freeway Series. It has become meaningless.

Baseball officials tried to satisfy with interleague play, also calling it the Freeway Series. It has grown dull.

We want a Freeway World Series, a celebration of our greatest homegrown sport, two weeks in October that belong only to us; how hard can that be?

The New York Yankees and New York Mets have done it. The San Francisco Giants and Oakland A's have done it.

We haven't even gotten close.

This fall is only the second time in those 48 seasons that both of our teams have made the postseason in the same year.

Yet this fall is the first time that our dreams have a real chance.

Beginning the postseason today as respective division champions, the Dodgers and Angels have baseball's two best managers, two of its most dangerous sluggers, two of its best pressure starting pitchers, and two of its best bullpens.

The Dodgers will be fighting against the vagaries of youth. The Angels will be fighting against the perils of rust.

But if there was ever a moment in their history that they could both turn this fall into a true Southern California classic, it is now.

Here are 30.92 reasons it could happen, one for every mile:

* Mile 1: The Dodgers open against a Chicago Cubs team that hasn't won a World Series in 100 years and will mess it up again. You know it, I know it, and, most important, they know it.

* Mile 2: The Angels open against a Boston Red Sox team that they have beaten six straight times.

* Mile 3: After the first round, the Dodgers would play either the Philadelphia Phillies or Milwaukee Brewers, two teams against which they had a combined winning record.

* Mile 4: After the first round, the Angels would play, well, um, nobody.

* Mile 5: Joe Torre's three consecutive first-round exits with the Yankees still burn.

* Mile 6: Mike Scioscia's seven consecutive playoff losses still burn.

* Mike 7: Derek Lowe was the winning pitcher in the clinching games of all three postseason series during the historic 2004 Red Sox title run.

* Mile 8: John Lackey was the winning pitcher during the last World Series clinching victory in this town.

* Mile 9: Manny Ramirez standing at home plate with his arms raised at midnight.

* Mile 10: Vladimir Guerrero finally getting the first big postseason hit since his career's dawn.

* Mile 11: When I thought the Dodgers would disappear after losing eight straight games, they won 19 of their last 27.

* Mile 12: When I thought the Angels would get bored after clinching the division in early September, they won 12 of their last 17.

* Mile 13: The Dodgers will finally figure out a way to get Kirk Gibson and Orel Hershiser on the same field at the same time to throw out a ceremonial first pitch, and if that's not worth at least one win, what is?

* Mile 14: The Angels will bring back Scott Spiezio, same reason, same results.

* Mile 15: Rafael Furcal is back and rested and ready to fly.

* Mile 16: So is Howie Kendrick.

* Mile 17: Call me crazy, but I think Nomar Garciaparra still has one game-winning hit left in him.

* Mile 18: Call me crazier, but I believe the same about Gary Matthews Jr.

* Mile 19: Chad Billingsley could claim a prize corner of the national baseball stage.

* Mile 20: But only if Joe Saunders doesn't get there first.

* Mile 21: A big welcome to October to Andre Ethier, who had a 1.249 OPS in September.

* Mile 22: Keep that mat down for Mark Teixeira, who has a 1.120 OPS since the All-Star break.

* Mile 23: Joe Beimel, who missed the last Dodgers postseason after cutting his hand on a beer glass, has something to prove.

* Mile 24: Scot Shields, who wants to be next year's Angels closer, has something to earn.

* Mile 25: Between Jonathan Broxton and Takashi Saito, somebody should be able to get three outs.

* Mile 26: Francisco Rodriguez has already done that 62 times this year, more than any other major league team.

* Mile 27: Surely destiny still holds one nice goodbye moment for Jeff Kent.

* Mile 28: It will be matched only by the one for Garret Anderson.

* Mile 29: Doesn't Matt Kemp somehow seem made for these moments?

* Mile 30: Torii Hunter too?

* Mile .92: Juan Pierre pinch-runs, steals second and scores on a Russell Martin single to put the Dodgers into the World Series.

Reggie Willits pinch-runs, steals second, and scores on a Chone Figgins single as the Angels join them.

--

Bill Plaschke can be reached at bill.plaschke@latimes.com. To read previous columns by Plaschke, go to latimes.com/plaschke.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|