Dodgers pitcher Kenley Jansen, left, and utility player Jerry Hairston… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)
Well, that was one lousy idea. I mean, come on, these are the Dodgers. The Los Angeles Dodgers. One of baseball’s most storied teams. Their standards are supposed to be higher than those of the Padres.
Yet there they were Friday night, unveiling a sign across the center-field wall that proclaimed:
LA 2013 NL-West Division Champions.
Really? This is what they do now at Dodger Stadium? Hang signs announcing a division title?
I don’t think so. At Dodger Stadium they hang World Series banners. And whether it’s been 25 years or not, you don’t overreact to a division title. All that guarantees you is being invited to the first division series.
The Lakers hang NBA championship banners at Staples Center, not division titles. NCAA championship basketball banners are draped from the ceiling at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion, not conference championships. USC rings the Coliseum with NCAA championship football banners, not conference titles.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being proud of what this team has accomplished this year,” said Manager Don Mattingly. “But it’s not where we want to end up.”
They should be proud, but a pregame ceremony to unfurl a new outfield sign proclaiming them division champions seems a bit much. Ambitions run higher here. The Dodgers have been to nine World Series and won it five times since moving to Los Angeles in 1958.
Back at the beginning of the year, one of the Dodgers owners sat in his office and said:
“We want to go to the World Series. If we don't accomplish that, yes, it is not a good season for us. Guys should be saying that. As the ownership group, that is what we are saying.”
It was Magic Johnson, owner of five NBA titles. It was an audacious but true statement. And it's what they should still be saying now, not getting all giddy over a division title that sends you to the postseason dance.
The real challenge starts Thursday. And the reward is a World Series banner. The kind they hang at Dodger Stadium.