Dodgers' World Series Dreams Burst Like So Many Balloons

"It feel like somebody shoot me when he hit it."

--Pedro Guerrero's reaction to Jack Clark's home run.

The Dodger clubhouse was a quiet mess. The wreckage of a baseball season was scattered about, but somebody had been thoughtful enough to throw away the balloons.

It was a bouquet of festive helium balloons, each printed with "CONGRATULATIONS!"

Somebody jammed them down into the trash can, but the balloons popped their heads out of the can and waved in the breeze, a taunting symbol of what might have been.

In the manager's office, after most of the crowd had gone, Tom Lasorda and Orel Hershiser embraced like father and son, the kid pitcher whispering some words to the old skipper.

When Hershiser left, Lasorda slumped down in his desk chair and put his head in his hands. When he tried to talk, his voice cracked, and he was crying.

There is no graceful way to lose a championship playoff. The other team can make silly plays and get a star caught in a tarp roller and have pitchers act a little wacko. But they win, and all is forgiven.

The losers, however . . .

"They won, OK, that's fine," Pedro Guerrero said. "But I look back, I think we should have won the first game, and this one. I guess they were luckier than we were. I think we have a lot better team than they do . . .

"One thing that bothered me, in some situations, they walked me. If they think the only reason we were in the playoffs is our pitching (as Cardinal Manager Whitey Herzog reportedly said), why didn't they pitch to me?

"I think he (Herzog) was wrong, full of bleep, and we have a much better team."

Most of the Dodgers were more contrite. More sad than angry.

"I tell you what, we had a lot of fun for six games," said Mike Marshall, who hit what would have been the game-winning homer if Jack Clark hadn't come along an inning later and stolen Marshall's glory.

Marshall wouldn't second-guess Lasorda for pitching to the dangerous Clark with first base open and two out in the ninth. But Marshall knows how those power hitters are. Dangerous fellows.

"It was kind of like he (Clark) was due to break out," Marshall said. "You can only keep the power hitters down for so long. It was just like me. They held me down for five games (then Marshall's homer broke a 4-4 tie in the bottom of the eighth). You can shut a power hitter down for four or five games, but sooner or later they're gonna . . .

His voice drifted off.

Marshall said he doesn't have much interest in seeing this year's World Series.

"I probably won't watch," he said. "I'll always feel, every time I watch, that we should be there, and that's taking nothing away from the Cardinals. I think I'm gonna go somewhere where there aren't any TVs for a while."

Mariano Duncan won't be watching the Series, either.

"No, no, no, I don't want to watch," Duncan said. "No way, Jose. I feel really bad about the World Series."

Duncan, too, was almost a hero Wednesday. Here's a kid who became an overnight sensation as a major league shortstop this year. Singlehandedly, Duncan changed the character and the reputation of the Dodger defense.

Wednesday, he made two sensational defensive plays and had a single, double, triple and stolen base.

"My mother called me about seven o'clock this morning (from the Dominican Republic)," Duncan said. "She asked me, 'Mariano, are you ready to play?' I said, 'Yeah, I want to win today.' My mother and my family were all watching me on TV.' "

Imagine how proud they must be of Mariano, the rookie who would have played Double-A ball this season if Bobby Grich hadn't sat on Steve Sax in the Freeway Series, setting off the chain of events that put Duncan at shortstop for the Dodgers.

What does Duncan remember most vividly about the season?

"Nothing," he said. "Right now, I forget everything about this year."

A minute later, someone asked him the same question.

"What do I remember? Everything."

The Dodger clubhouse will be quiet today. A few of the players will stop by to clean out their lockers.

Most of them, though, will wait until Friday to do their end-of-season housecleaning. For most of them, it's too soon to return to the clubhouse they figured they'd be using for the World Series.

This morning, the place will be quiet. The buffalo-head hat will hang over Tom (Buff) Niedenfuer's locker. Bill Madlock's locker will still say "Twinkletoes" up by his nameplate.

In Guerrero's locker, the religious statues and the bottle labeled "HolyWater" will wait. All the silly signs and postcards and nicknames that hang on the locker stalls, all the shoes and bats and gloves, will wait.

And in the middle of the clubhouse, the balloons will wave in the breeze, until the janitors come through and haul out what's left of the 1985 baseball season for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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