Shaikin: Winning a division might be routine for Dodgers, but it should still be treasured

Among the salty pearls of wisdom left us by the late great Tommy Lasorda: “This [bleeping] It’s not work [bleeping] easy.”

We would do well to remember Lasorda’s words today. The Dodgers have won the National League West again, and Los Angeles greets the news with a shrug. The Dodgers were so relentlessly successful that the grind was popularly reduced from 162 games to something like six months preseason.

Your team could start their season in April. Our team starts the season in October.

“I think people who don’t deal with it every day think it’s a rite of passage,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “There’s a lot of work to be done on all fronts to get that kind of consistency. But like anything, if you’re consistent, it becomes redundant and people expect it.”

Roberts isn’t complaining. It’s better to manage a team that is expected to win every year than a team that never expected to win.

In A League of Their Own, Tom Hanks described baseball, “It’s supposed to be tough. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The difficult makes it great.”

Winning a division shouldn’t be easy.

“I think it’s really tough,” Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw said. “Not many teams can do that.”

Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw takes on the San Francisco Giants September 7 at Dodger Stadium.

Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, who worked against the Giants last Wednesday, says of winning a division title, “You can party one night and then focus on the bigger picture.”

(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

For the Dodgers, that means nine division titles in 10 years. No other team has won more than five in that span, although the Atlanta Braves would hit six if they won the NL East this season.

In the same decade, eight teams have played 0 for 10. By the end of this season, it’s quite possible that half of the 30 major league teams wouldn’t have won more than one division title in those 10 years.

The Dodgers are on track to win 113 games this season. They have won 106 in each of the last two full seasons.

Only once has a team won at least 106 games three times: the New York Yankees. The Yankees are on their own for another week or so.

“I think it’s really hard. Not many teams can do that.”

— Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw on winning a division title

In 147 years of major league history, the Dodgers are on track to become the first team to win at least 106 games in three consecutive full seasons.

Factor in the 2020 season shortened by the pandemic, and the Dodgers’ winning percentage over the past four seasons is .672 – so an average of 108 wins per season. The last NL team to win 108 games one Season? The New York Mets in 1986.

Winning all those games is great, but in the postseason, the Dodgers could be knocked out in just three games and…

“And it’s seen as a lost season,” Roberts said.

The hot attitude, already warmed up: If the Dodgers lose in their first postseason series, blame the week off — a reward for winning so many games but a disruption to their rhythm and routine.

The Dodgers won’t play their first postseason game for another four weeks. Now take a deep breath and appreciate this standard of excellence. These are the glory days of the Dodgers.

“I think we’re here for a reason and that’s to win the World Series,” Kershaw said. “But at the same time I think there are certain things you don’t take for granted and that includes celebrating with your teammates. It’s special for people who are doing this for the first time. This is something special for me.

The Dodgers' Justin Turner, right, is congratulated by Will Smith after hitting a grand slam against the Padres.

The Dodgers’ Justin Turner, right, is congratulated by Will Smith after hitting a grand slam against the Padres in San Diego on Sunday.

(Derrick Tuskan/Associated Press)

“You may never do it again. That’s what I always tell people: You never know if it’s the last time you do something like this. You just have to enjoy it. You can party one night and then focus on the big picture.”

Josh Bard, the Dodgers’ bullpen coach, played in the major leagues for 10 years. His teams won a division title. He guided me through the lost years of his career: “Missed from a game…play-in game…we stank…we stank….500.”

Bard won his only division championship with San Diego as a catcher for the Padres in 2006. Roberts was the leadoff batter for that team.

“I used to love beating the Dodgers,” Roberts said.

The Padres have not won an NL West title since. For Dodgers fans, this could be just another summer of getting the job done. But the friar could tell you what Lasorda said: This [bleeping] It’s not work [bleeping] easy.

https://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/story/2022-09-13/column-dodgers-nl-west-champions-standard-of-excellence-dave-roberts Shaikin: Winning a division might be routine for Dodgers, but it should still be treasured

Emma Bowman

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