The Los Angeles Dodgers clinched the National League West Friday Night and we were there to witness the perfect night of baseball, and a second chance for the streaking Dodgers. It was one of those nights where if we told the story to somebody, they would think we made it all up.
After parking our car in the front row (doesn't get better than that), we took to the field at 1pm before one of the biggest rivalries in sports began between the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers. On the field at Dodger Stadium, we knocked out a photoshoot with Dodgers players, Alex Wood and Kyle Farmer, to prep for a t-shirt that they designed together with Athletes Brand in honor of their friend Chance Veazey to benefit the 501(c)3 Shepherd Center.
After the shoot we took in batting practice where a number of players were wearing their "Second Chance" shirts Wood and Farmer designed. While watching bp, we quickly realized tonight wasn't just a normal night of baseball. The Dodgers needed to win 1 game to clinch the NL West... but more importantly, it was baseball legend, Tommy LaSorda's, 90th birthday. Both of these happenings landing on game 1 of one of the biggest rivalries in sports at home in LA for the Dodgers, while they're going through their biggest skid of the season having lost 16 of their last 21 games.
A sold out crowd, a perfect 75 degrees in the City of Angels, and thanks to a good friend we somehow landed some of the best seats in Dodger Stadium. We sat in the front row behind the Dodgers on deck circle with all you can eat food and the best food in the park. The Friday night was already perfect.
The game was full of drama, but ended with a 4-2 win on a strikeout for the Dodgers, clinching their 5th consecutive NL West title. The families took the field, the celebration began, and we got to take in part of the champagne showers before the Dodgers hit the locker room.
For a non-baseball fan, it sounds like a fun night at a baseball game... and possibly even a very long and tiring day being at the park from 1pm - 11pm. For a die-hard Dodgers fan, it was one of those nights that can only be dreamed up. To go on the field with the players before the game, take in batting practice from the dugout, sit in the front row next to an owner of the team, watch the biggest rivalry the team has, watch the Dodgers win the NL West, sing happy birthday to Tommy LaSorda, and be a part of the champagne (or apple cider) celebration with the team to close out the night. A better script couldn't have been written for a Dodgers fan... or as we realized ourselves, for any baseball fan. A night that sounds simply too good to be true. However, this fairy tale night of baseball from the fans perspective could just very well have been the beginning of a fairy tale ending for the players.
The Dodgers started off as the hottest team in baseball and looked to be the first to clinch a playoff spot. They were on pace for a record-breaking season when they reached a season high 55 games above the .500 mark (91-36) on August 25th and became the clear favorites to win the World Series.
Then, it began. They lost the next 16 of 17 games, including an 11 game losing streak. The Dodgers went into the night that they clinched having lost 4 of their last 5 games, and the fans and media had changed their dialogue about the team. The Dodgers went from being widely accepted as the best team in baseball and World Series favorites, to a scary possibility of there being a legendary flop to lose home field advantage in the Playoffs and continue their skid into the postseason.
As we approach October, the Dodgers have once again changed the dialogue since they clinched the NL West having won 5 of their last 6 games with only four games remaining in the regular season. It's almost as if the win on that fairy tale night was the beginning of a second chance for the team to prove that they are the best team in baseball, and end any debate about it. A second chance to go down as one of the best teams in the history of the game. A second chance that can only be fulfilled now with a 7th World Championship at the end of this 2017 season. To prevail with their second chance that they've earned however, they have a tough road ahead through some of the hottest teams in the game. That road begins with finding out who will win the NL WildCard between the Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
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