So this is what a Dodgers World Series team looks like.
A couple of dozen players are climbing on each other in a tiny concrete bunker under ancient Wrigley Field, clutching with hugs and headlocks, spraying reddened faces with champagne and beer, drinking from a glittering trophy like it was a mug.
So this is what a Dodgers World Series team sounds like.
The players begin chanting, not about the title, but about each other, like children in a circle on a playground, chants recognizing everyone from the stars to the scrubs, each name resounding like royalty.
"Ker-shaw, Ker-shaw … Bel-ly, Bel-ly … Puig-Puig-Puig!"
So this is what happens when a group of locals finally reaches baseball's biggest stage after 28 years of wandering around its darkened back hallways.
It's cool. It's fun. It's soaked in relief, seeping with redemption, and awash in awe.
"It's like I blacked out," said Enrique Hernandez. "It's awesome. It's unreal."
On a cool Thursday night that will be forever frozen in Los Angeles sports history, Hernandez danced around the bases with three home runs, Clayton Kershaw threw down for six powerful innings, and the Dodgers defeated the defending champion Chicago Cubs 11-1 to win the National League Championship Series, four games to one.
Pop a cork with them, Los Angeles. Chant your own names, all you folks who have spent 28 years pleading from the pavilions, languishing in the loge, or just stuck in that damn parking lot. All together now, let's wrap ourselves in a sentence that has taken nearly three decades to unfurl.
The Dodgers will host Game 1 of the World Series at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday.
Should we go over it again? For those who understandably still don't believe?
The Dodgers will host GAME 1 of the WORLD SERIES at DODGER STADIUM on Tuesday!
"Here we are," said Andre Ethier, finally making the World Series in his 12th year as a Dodger. "L. A. deserves this."
Their opponent will be either the New York Yankees or Houston Astros but, really, does it matter? Those two teams will play Game 6 of the American League Championship Series on Friday night with the Yankees leading three games to two.
Lots of folks will be cheering for the appearance of the Yankees, for a revival of the most frequent rivalry in World Series history. Dating back to Brooklyn, it would be the 12th time these teams have met for the title, with the Yankees having won eight of the previous 11.
But, again, right now, who cares? What happened Thursday was not about anybody but the Dodgers and their fans and the 28 years of frustration that stood between the 1988 World Series and this walloping at Wrigley.
"This is like a dream, it's like winning an Academy Award times five," said Hollywood's Peter Guber, a Dodgers co-owner. "L.A. is going to go crazy. We have waited so long."
This was for the previous 28 seasons of swings and misses. This is for all the times greatness eluded their grasp, sometimes barely, other times distantly, but always in frustation over all that talent denied baseball's biggest stage.
They couldn't get there with future Hall of Fame players Eddie Murray, Greg Maddux or Mike Piazza. They couldn't get there with future Hall of Fame manager Joe Torre.
They couldn't get there when Kershaw won three Cy Young Awards and an MVP. They couldn't get there when Eric Gagne won one Cy Young Award and outfitted Dodger Stadium in googles and goatees.
They couldn't get there with five straight rookie-of-the-year winners, not with Eric Karros nor Mike Piazza nor Raul Mondesi nor Hideo Nomo nor Todd Hollandsworth.
They couldn't get there when Darryl Strawberry was stirring the drink, when Gary Sheffield was running his mouth, or when Manny Ramirez was being Manny.
In 28 years, they buckled under the retirement of Tommy Lasorda, the sale by Peter O'Malley, the trading of Piazza, the ownership of Frank McCourt.
This team, this time, they did not break. This time, for the first time following five consecutive West Division championships, they lunged and leaped and dove through the dirt of desert and lakeshore until they came up with a pennant.
"This is one of the most unbelievable teams I've ever been part of," said Justin Turner, the Game 2 home-run hero and series co-MVP with teammate Chris Taylor. "Every night, it's somebody different, something special. You never know what you're going to see, maybe even somebody hit three home runs in a series-clinching game."
That would be Hernandez, one of the Dodgers' several jack-of-all-positions who homered in the second, third and ninth innings against three different Cubs pitchers while driving in seven runs, a championship-series record.
With each homer, he ran faster around the bases as if being chased, even staring wide-eyed into the dugout after his final blast.
He is not a star. This was the first time he had batted more than three times in any of the seven postseason games. It didn't matter. He is a powerful part of the team. They chanted his name.
"This whole game is a blur," Hernandez said. "I never dreamed of doing something like this."
The other Game 5 star was Kershaw, who will be appearing in his first World Series after nine years as a Dodger. Like Ethier, this one is even more special for him, as he will finally be able to show his greatness in baseball's biggest moment.
"Up there with getting married and having kids, it's right up there with one of the best days of my life," he said.
The final leg of this journey began with one of the worst days for all the Dodgers, last October, when they lost the NLCS in six games in Wrigley Field, then were forced to sit in their clubhouse for more than an hour while partiers blocked the streets outside.
During those despairing moments, they looked at each other, realized how close they had come, and vowed to come back together for one more shot.
So free agent Turner returned. And free agent Rich Hill returned. And free agent Kenley Jansen returned even though he had two other similar offers.
Then, in April, while sitting through the Cubs' World Series Championship ring ceremony, fortified by their faith in each other, they vowed that this year would be different.
"I remember being here for the Cubs home opener, with their ring ceremony, talking to guys about how they'll handle that night," said Andrew Friedman, president of baseball operations. "Everyone had a slightly different answer, but what was unanimous was how important it was to them for some team that we open with at home next year to sit and watch while we get our rings, that was a pretty consistent theme."
Pretty strong words for a roster on which only one guy — Chase Utley — has a World Series ring. But belief is a powerful thing, especially when it's backed up by grinding plate appearances and cutting 98-mph fastballs.
The belief was especially evident in the Dodgers fans, who deserve a nice champagne bath for helping make this happen. The same loyal fan base that ran McCourt out of town several years ago used this same power of persuasion to push these Dodgers toward greatness.
For the last three years, their unabashed, sometimes critical passion prodded the new executives to mix their renowned brains with schoolyard assertiveness.
While still building for the future, Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi and their group chased hard after the present — like trading for Yu Darvish — and now they are headed to the deepest part of October.
"I don't think until you can appreciate their passion until you are living it every day … going to get a cup of coffee, running into somebody there, at every turn, then looking out every night at the 50,000 people who are there so consistently,'' Friedman said of Dodgers fans.
"It fuels us. …When we're on the fence of being aggressive, I think that contributes in a really positive way to doing everything we can to bring them a championship team."
So this is what a Dodgers World Series team looks like.