“‘55, ‘59, ‘63, ‘65, ’81, 88, and now 2020. What a year. What a season. What a team. Congratulations @Dodgers.”
—Retired Dodger Broadcaster Vin Scully on Twitter
In the oddest of years, with no fans in the stands during the regular season, the Los Angeles Dodgers played brilliantly through a worldwide pandemic and ended their 32-year World Series drought with a 3-1 Game Six victory over the Tampa Bay Rays at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas Tuesday.
The championship coincided with the Los Angeles Lakers’ 2020 NBA championship earlier this month, their first since 2010.
The last time both teams won championships, in 1988, William E. Thomson was the mayor of Pasadena, and Charmaine Beth Shryock, a 17-year-old senior at Westridge School, was the Rose Parade Queen. Many of the current Dodgers were not even born yet.
In Pasadena, a small but enthusiastic, socially-distanced group of fans at El Portal Restaurant watched anxiously as the Dodgers finally overcame a 0-1 deficit that loomed larger and larger as the game progressed.
“Tonight is the night. We’re going to win this. We’ve been waiting so long. Let’s just do it!,” said an eager Rossmery Gonzales early in the game, as Dodger bats seemed to go silent through the first five innings. Optimistic owner Abel Ramirez served Dodger peanuts to the tables, and offered free champagne and tequila toasts following the victory.
The Dodger victory was hard fought, as 2018 American League Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell kept the Dodgers dead silent for five innings, following a first inning home run by Tampa Bay’s hot hitter Randy Arozarena. The score remained locked at 1-0 until the sixth inning, when Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash pulled Snell after 78 pitches, and replaced him with reliever Nick Anderson, who had already allowed a run in six straight postseason appearances.
Right on cue, Mookie Betts sent a double banging off the left field corner fence, moving Austin Barnes to third. A wild pitch by Anderson then triggered Barnes to speed home to score the tying run, sending Betts to third. When Corey Seager knocked a grounder to first, it was Bett’s turn to jet, and he slid smoothly into home plate, giving the Dodgers the go-ahead run.
In a footnote to history, Dodger third baseman Justin Turner was pulled out of the game in the seventh inning, when it was revealed that he had just tested positive for Covid-19. He later appeared on the field for the post-game celebration.
Meanwhile, Betts homered into the stratosphere in the eighth inning to give the Dodgers a 3-1 lead, and homeboy reliever Julio Urias stopped the Bay Rays in their tracks through 2 ⅓ innings of perfect.
“I’m over the moon right now,” said oft-criticized Dodger manager Dave Roberts after the game, adding that he “wanted to congratulate everyone else first,” especially Clayton Kershaw, who delivered sparkling performances throughout the playoffs.
“Now when they speak of Clayton,” said Roberts, “they’ll say ‘World Series champion,’ and then eventually they will say ‘“Hall of Famer.’”