There are moments in sports when you realize that a team is just about finished.
Wednesday night at Chavez Ravine was one of those moments.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have been remarkable all season long, winning 106-games just one year removed from a World Series title. But quietly, injuries, trades, and the many deep postseason runs have taken their toll.
They were dealt a major blow in their regular-season finale when first baseman Max Muncy suffered a dislocated left elbow, forcing him to miss the entirety of the postseason. The Dodgers — as talent-rich as any team in baseball — were able to plug and play without Muncy, beating the St. Louis Cardinals in the Wild Card Game and beating the 107-win San Francisco Giants in a five-game NLDS classic.
But Muncy’s injury came on top of pitcher Clayton Kershaw’s season-ending arm injury in early October and Dustin May’s season-ending Tommy John surgery in May. Not to mention the loss of Trevor Bauer to sexual assault allegations starting in June.
In game three on Tuesday, the Dodgers managed to come back from a three-run deficit in the eighth inning, crossing the plate four times on a three-run bomb from Cody Bellinger and an RBI double by Mookie Betts.
It very well may have been the last gasp of an organization that has been to the World Series three of the last four years.
Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium, the Atlanta Braves hammered the nail deeper into the Dodgers coffin with a dominant 9-2 victory, moving the Braves one win away from their first World Series since 1999.
The Braves chipped away at starting pitching Julio Urias, tacking on runs in the second, third, and fifth innings. It was a slow death for LA, with three solo home runs for the Braves inflicting the majority of the damage.
“I feel like everyone has really hunkered down and dug their heels in and everyone is really focused,” left fielder Eddie Rosario said. “That’s something that I’m really proud to be a part of.”
Now, the Dodgers have been here before — down three games to one in the NLCS. Just last season, the Dodgers were able to climb back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Braves and eventually win their first World Series since 1988.
But this one feels different.
In the seventh inning of game four, All-Star Justin Turner attempted to leg out a grounder and came up gimpy, aggravating his already injured hamstring. After the game, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts alluded to the injury as the end of Turner’s season, saying “I think that’ll be it for him.”
“I feel bad for Justin,” Dodgers outfielder AJ Pollock said. “JT, he’s a warrior. You could see him walking off the field. It’s a hamstring. I’ll let him talk to you about that, but you never want to see your teammate go down.”
In order for the Dodgers to do what no team has ever accomplished — no team has ever come back from a 3-1 series deficit in back-to-back postseasons — they’ll have to do so without the services of their postseason leader in home runs and RBIs.
Roberts will also be tasked with managing his pitching staff perfectly as the Dodgers attempt to win a “bullpen game” against Atlanta ace Max Fried.
All great dynasties come to an end, and we very well may be watching the end of the Dodgers as currently constructed.
Shortstop Corey Seager will be a free agent after the season and will demand top money, Kershaw will be an unrestricted free agent, as will outfielder Chris Taylor and closer Kenley Jansen.
I’m reminded of the 2019 Golden State Warriors. Years of dominance and postseason basketball eventually wore them down, culminating in devastating injuries to Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson. Golden State has retooled, and so will the Dodgers.
But all good things do come to an end, especially in sports.
The Dodgers are one game away from their 106-win season-ending disappointing fashion, and an offseason of uncertainty awaits.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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