When the shortened MLB season started back in late July the Los Angles Dodgers were a clear-cut runner to represent the National League in the Fall Classic. Coming off two World Series losses in the past three seasons the team is no stranger to Postseason baseball. LA had lost to the cheating Houston Astros in 2017 and the historically good Red Sox of 2018 and they had no better luck in 2019 after being knocked out by the eventual champion Washington Nationals in the NLDS. Going into this past offseason, the management knew they were one piece away after making so many deep postseason runs in the past handful of season but they needed to make one move to get them to win that final game of the season.
In February, the Dodgers traded for one of the best players in baseball in Mookie Betts as they struck a deal with the Red Sox. Boston could not agree to terms on a long-term deal for Betts as his value rose with other superstars setting the market with recent offseason deals like Mike Trout of the Angles and Bryce Harper of the Phillies. It had been rumored Boston and Betts had tried to get something done before 2018 but Betts went on to win AL MVP and his value grew higher and higher. Boston had to get under the luxury tax after the 2019 season, and Betts had one year remaining on his current contract with Boston for the 2020 season. Knowing the two wouldn’t agree to terms on anything, new Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom wanted to get something in return for the superstar instead of letting him walk for nothing after 2020 as the team wasn’t going to be as competitive. In return from LA , Boston got two stud prospects in Connor Wong and Jeter Downs as well as stud right fielder Alex Verdugo who showed out in the 60 game season as he was in the top five for hitting in the AL. Boston’s plan for the future was a tough pill for us fans to swallow as they also gave up David Price in the deal but he opted out of the season due to COVID and the birth of his son. Betts went on to shine in LA this year and so did the Dodgers finish the season 43-17. Boston missed the playoffs as they head into an interesting offseason and a cold winter remembering Mookie winning it all in October out west. 162 game season or 60 game season this LA team would have been a favorite to be playing in the Fall regardless led by there incredible depth in the lineup and in the pitching rotation. After the trade Betts and the Dodgers agreed to a 12-year $365 Million dollar contract that starts after the 2020 season. This was heartbreaking for Sox fans as he showed how much he loved LA despite even playing a game and it showed how easy it was for them to strike a deal after Boston could not.
After the announcement of the expanded playoffs for the shortened season and bubbles for the later rounds as well as a neutral site World Series, LA ended the season as the 1 seed. After sweeping the Milwaukee Brewers in the new best of Wild Card round it was off to brand new Globe Life Field in Arlington Texas as this would be the site of one of the rounds of NL playoffs with the other being in Houston. The other two bubbles for the AL playoffs were in San Diego and LA.
The San Diego Padres were next in line for the Dodgers from Arlington. LA was able to slow down the hot bats of new breakout star Fernando Tatis Jr. and stud Manny Machado as LA went on to sweep the best of five series. With a dramatic catch from former MVP Cody Bellinger in center to rob a Machado homer, the two teams developed a little bit of bad blood in the quick but interesting sweep from the Dodgers.
It was onto the NL East champion Braves and the two would battle it out in a very back and forth and entertaining seven game clash. The Braves hoped out to a two nothing series lead in Texas and the Dodgers found themselves in need of a quick response and man did they deliver. The team of the regular season showed up after the first two losses and went on to smash Atlanta 15-3 after a 11 run first inning. Julio Urias who was great all year behind Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buhler shut the door on the Braves and LA won a critical game three. The celebrating did not last long as the next night the Braves bounced back with a blowout of their own 10-2. Kershaw was roughed up in the sixth and so was the Dodger bullpen as fell into a 3-1 deficit in the series.
With a great bullpen night from the Dodgers in Game 5, Walker Buhler took the ball in Game 6 and he went 6 solid innings giving up no runs and quieting Acuna and the most likely MVP of the season Freddie Freeman. LA rode a hot first inning and that would be all they needed as they had tied the series after winning 3-1 to force a winner take all Game 7… the best words in sports. After another rotation of pitchers picking up innings from the bullpen the two teams had gone back and forth to make it 3-3 in the bottom of the seventh. Cody Bellinger came up and put his stamp on the series and hit a moonshot into the stands and the Dodgers went on to win it after being down in the series 3-1. With flashy defense from Mookie and great hitting from all nine guys the Dodgers had won the NL pennant.
Before the NLCS had ended in Texas, the ALCS was wrapping up in the bubble out west in San Diego. The Astros who had finished under .500 in the regular season had snuck into the expanded playoffs and forced a game 7 after being down 3-0 to the Tampa Bay Rays. The historic stretch of rookie Randy Arozarena lived on in Game 7 as he mashed a 2-run homer to help the Rays win it 4-2 and advance to the World Series. It was great to see Tampa bounce back after loosing Game 6 on a walk off homer by Carlos Correa as Tampa won the AL pennant and bounced back the following day.
It was time for the final series in the new ballpark in Arlington as Tampa made its way to the mid-west to going LA in the bubble for the 2020 World Series. After allowing just under 12,000 fans inside for the NLCS, MLB decided to do the same for the neutral site bubble. This was the best plan MB could do as they created a bubble system like the NBA and still allowed fans in while showing off a new park at a neutral site.
Homeruns from Betts and Bellinger lead the way to a Dodgers win in Game 1 as Kershaw was filthy for 6 innings as he was chasing his coveted championship to complete his hall of fame resume. The Rays would bounce back in game two playing a solid all-around game and having a great game from the bullpen despite Blake Snell only going less than five innings. Tied at one the Dodgers came out and took a 2-1 series lead after six splendid innings from Walker Buhler. Randy Arozarena kept his amazing postseason run going as he tied the record for most homers in postseason with 8 and set the record for most hits in a single postseason with 23.
Game 4 would be one to remember with a chaotic ending. As the Rays smashed four homers and Corey Seager stayed blazing hot on his way to another great game with a homer. After the teams traded the lead with a Kevin Kiermaier solo shot and then it was Corey Seager again in the clutch as he drove home Chris Taylor to tie the game. In the bottom of the ninth, Brett Phillips a new acquisition from Kansas City at the most recent deadline would have a walk off hit for the ages. Philips would line a single to center of longtime Dodger close Kenley Jansen that would eat up Chris Taylor in center allowing Randy Arozarena to score after Kevin Kiermaier and win the Rays the game. Randy tripped coming around third and fell flat on the ground for a solid two or three seconds but a drop by catcher Will Smith on the relay throw allowed him to get up and score and he slid into home emphatically smacking the plate multiple times. Jansen was seen nowhere backing up the plate, but it didn’t matter as the Rays came back and tied the series in dramatic fashion.
It was onto game five with Clayton Kershaw taking the mound as he had a chance to put all the playoff doubters to bed with this big start against Tyler Glasnow who has been great for the Rays all year. The Dodgers attacked early and left it in the hands of the bullpen as Kershaw held the lead. After the save from Blake Treinen the Dodgers found themselves on the brink of a championship.
Game 6 was one to remember as Blake Snell took the ball versus an arsenal of pitchers from the Dodgers bullpen. Randy Arozarena had another homer to lead off the game for the Rays as he smacked his 10th homer of the postseason which was more than any other player as he also had the highest average at .377. Snell was cruising as he only allowed two hits and only gave up one run but was pulled by manager Kevin Cash in what was labeled a very controversial move for the 2018 Cy Young Award Winner. Cash insisted he did not want the Dodgers to see Snell for a third time as it was against “team analytics”. LA hopped on the move as it led to a Mookie Betts double that put runners in scoring position. and he then scored on a wild pitch to tie it up. Austin Barnes scored on a wild pitch to tie it and then Mookie Betts beat the throw home on a grounder from first and the Dodgers had the lead. Mookie came up again in the 8th and hit an absolute bomb to left to put the Rays away. Julio Urias came into get the save and sent down the side bring a title to LA for the first time since 1988 when Orel Hershiser and Kirk Gibson led the way. After Willy Adames was called out on strikes a dogpile ensured and the Dodgers were world champs just after the Lakers had won the NBA title after the death of Kobe Bryant.
Corey Seager was named World Series MVP after being great for the whole series and winning NLCS MVP, he also lead the postseason in RBI with 20. Clayton Kershaw is finally a champion after showing up and pitching great in the playoffs and helping the Dodgers win it all. When he is in Cooperstown it looks like Mookie Betts won’t be far behind him after playing spectacular defense, hitting for power, showing his speed and just absolutely proving he is a superstar as it broke us as Red Sox fans to see him show off on this stage and with the huge contract and how young he is, he wont be going anywhere anytime soon. In the 8th inning it was revealed that Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner had tested positive for COVID and was removed ASAP. The controversial thing talked about the next day was Turner being seen on the field celebrating with his teammates and family without a mask on and no social distancing. MLB is investing the incident with Tuner and we will see if a punishment is handed down.
The World Series was just as crazy as the shortened season. With limited fans, a neutral site series, and manager decisions that will be discussed for years it had a lot of great drama. Although it was quick, I was glad to watch baseball in these trying times and hope to be in the stands in 2021. For an MLB season that lasted only just over three months, there was absolutely no shortage of drama.