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Dodgers Dugout: Will a World Series title mean as much this season?

Tommy Lasorda and Fred Claire hoist the World Series trophy in 1988.
Tommy Lasorda, right, and Fred Claire hoist the World Series trophy in 1988.
(Associated Press)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell and no, I’m not concerned that the Dodgers have lost two in a row. They will make the playoffs, and then we’ll see what happens.

I remember 1981. I was 14, and had not seen the Dodgers win a World Series. They had lost three times that I could remember (1974, 1977, 1978) and had come inches away from winning the division the previous year (Dave Goltz gets the start? Really? Dave Goltz?)

But, finally, in 1981, victory. And, just before I could fully enjoy it, my brother, being the tormentor all older brothers are supposed to be, reminded me the title was tainted because it was during a strike season and the Cincinnati Reds actually had the best NL West record and the Dodgers shouldn’t have even been in the playoffs and yada, yada, yada. Of course, my brother is an Angels fan, and at that point he didn’t even know what it was like to have a team in the World Series, so what did he know?

Which brings us to this year.

A 60-game season. Only playing teams in your own division or the opposite division in the other league. Twenty-eight man rosters. No fans in the stadium. Runner starts at second base in extra innings (though not in the playoffs). Designated hitter in the NL (I predict this rule sticks around beyond this season). Seven-inning games during doubleheaders. And 16 teams make the playoffs, meaning there will probably be a team or two with a losing record in the playoffs.

Will this season’s World Series title mean the same, no matter who wins it?

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For me, it won’t mean the same. I don’t diminish the fact that it will take extraordinary effort and a bit of luck to win the title this season. That first-round, best-of-three series could end up with all the best teams going home. And, whoever wins this season will indeed be champions of this wacky year.

But, speaking as a fan, it’s not the same as going through a grueling, 162-game season. Playing 60 games doesn’t give a chance for the full depth, injuries and other factors to come fully into play. Let’s take a look at who the NL playoff teams would have been last season after the Dodgers had played 60 games.

NL East winner: Philadelphia
NL Central winner: Milwaukee
NL West winner: Dodgers
Wild-cards: Chicago, Atlanta

Notice which team is missing? The Washington Nationals, who were 26-33, but ended up with 93 wins and the World Series title. Philadelphia didn’t make the playoffs, nor did the Cubs, as St. Louis ended up winning the NL Central, with Milwaukee the wild card.

MLB and the players decided on this season’s format. And it’s much nicer having baseball around compared to the season being shut down. But, there will be no pennant race with the crowd on its feet in the ninth inning. There will be no sports bars crowded with fans cheering on their team. It’s hard to imagine there being a downtown parade. So, no, this World Series title, for whomever wins, won’t really be the same.

But what do you think? Vote in our poll by clicking here. We’ll have the results next week.

Who’s in the playoffs?

Remember, this season 16 teams make the postseason, eight in each league. The three division winners, the three second-place teams and the remaining two teams with the best record make the playoffs in each league. They are seeded as follows: 1-3 (division winners in order of best record); 4-6 (second-place teams in order of best record); 7-8 (remaining two teams in order of best record). No. 1 will play No. 8 in the first round, No. 2 vs. No. 7, etc. First round is best of three, with all three games played at the home stadium of the team with the better seeding. As of Monday, here are the NL seedings:

1. Dodgers, 30-12
2. Atlanta, 24-17
3. Chicago, 24-18
4. San Diego, 26-17
5. Philadelphia, 20-17
6. St. Louis, 17-16
7. San Francisco, 21-21
8. Miami, 18-18

The first tiebreaker is head-to-head record (if applicable). The next tiebreaker is intra-division record. The next is record in the final 20 division games (plus one until the tie is broken).

Your first Dodgers memory

I have thousands of responses, so if I don’t get to yours right away, don’t worry, I will eventually. If you haven’t already, I’d still love for you to send me your first Dodgers memory, and it may run in an upcoming Dodgers Dugout. Include your name. And don’t send only a sentence, tell why that memory sticks out in your mind. You can email me your memory at houston.mitchell@latimes.com. And remember, it’s first Dodgers memory, not favorite Dodgers memory. Thanks.

Lewis Leader of Carmel Valley : It was early summer of 1955, I was 7 1/2. We were shortly about to move from Brooklyn, where I was born, to Los Angeles. My parents had countless things to take care of before our departure. Cross-country drives were not that common then.

My father, also a Brooklyn native, had promised to take me to one game at Ebbets Field before we headed west, a long drive in those days. They had recently purchased their first car, a 1950 Hudson, and it would carry my parents, my older sister, our dog. me, a cooler and a few suitcases.

As the days to our impending move narrowed, my mother, Rita, gently asked me if perhaps we could instead go to a game on the way to California. I said no. My father, Leonard, who never broke his word to me, kept his promise.

We went to a Dodgers-Pirates doubleheader on July 3 at Ebbets Field. I remember the impressive rotunda with its ticket windows and doors. We brought a Scotch cooler filled with lemonade with us. Dad bought seats between home and first, and we sat in the bottom tier, until an usher informed us that our seats were actually on the second level. I was unfazed. We moved up a deck.

The Dodgers jumped out early. Gil Hodges doubled in two runs in the first and Carl Furillo followed with a two-run homer. Duke Snider singled in a run in the second. The Dodgers led 5-2 after two innings. And then there bats went silent. They lost 7-5. But the highlight was when Jackie Robinson, my hero, pinch hit in the seventh. The fact that he grounded out to first was only mildly disappointing.

We left after the first game, which was fine by me. I had seen my one (and only) game at Ebbets Field. And my parents had plenty of things to do, plenty of friends and relatives to say good-bye to.

We left for L.A. on July 12, arriving 17 days later, and we didn’t stop at any ballparks en route. But on our first day on the road, our family ate dinner at a bar/restaurant in western Pennsylvania. My parents positioned me at a table so I could see a black-and-white TV behind the bar that was broadcasting the All-Star game. It went into extra innings. Much to my delight, the National League won on a home run by Stan Musial in the bottom of the 12th.

Matt Ferrero of Orange: I grew up in Chino, which at that time was very rural, with not much traffic on the roads. At age 11, I was riding my bike to a friend’s house with plans to play ball. The Dodgers were playing a day game and I had my trusty transistor radio hanging from my bike’s handlebar, listening to Vinny describe the action.

Suddenly I felt a big thud. A car had rear-ended my bike which knocked me onto the car’s roof, rolling onto the trunk and finally landing on the side of the road. It was a miracle I was not killed or seriously injured, suffering only a bunch of bruises and a sprained right elbow. The bike and radio were in worse shape than me.

The driver and his wife drove me home. My mother answered the door, and after making sure I wasn’t seriously injured, she spied the damaged bike and mangled radio and said: “How many times have I told you not to listen to the Dodgers while you are riding your bike!”

It didn’t do any good. I saved some money, got another radio, and listened to the Dodgers faithfully, knowing that Vinny had been my Guardian Angel that day! 59 years later, still a loyal Dodgers fan, as are my wife and sons!

Joe Aparicio: In the summer of 1961 my family would often picnic at Elysian Park. Once after arriving at our picnic area my father and uncle asked us kids if we would like to see a big construction site nearby. After about a 10-minute hike we gazed upon an amazing view of the then under construction Dodger Stadium. A huge amphitheater filled with countless trucks and bulldozers was being dug into the adjoining hillside. To my then 7-year-old eyes it was unforgettable. Right then and there I became a Dodger fan.

These names look familiar

What players on the 2019 Dodgers are doing this season with other teams (through Sunday’s games):

Travis d’Arnaud, Atlanta, .320/.368/.557, 138 OPS+

Yimi Garcia, Miami, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 7.2 IP

Jedd Gyorko, Milwaukee, .265/.357/.592, 148 OPS+

Rich Hill, Minnesota, 1-1, 3.86 ERA

Kenta Maeda, Minnesota, 4-1, 2.77 ERA

Hyun-Jin Ryu, Toronto, 3-1, 2.51 ERA

Casey Sadler, Chicago Cubs, 0-0, 5.79 ERA (currently in alternate training camp)

Alex Verdugo, Boston, .311/.366/.507, 130 OPS+

Up next

Tuesday, Dodgers (Walker Buehler) at Arizona (Luke Weaver), 6:30 p.m., SportsNet LA, AM 570

Wednesday, Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw*) at Arizona (Taylor Clarke), 6:30 p.m., SportsNet LA, AM 570

Thursday, Dodgers (Dustin May) at Arizona (Madison Bumgarner*), 6:30 p.m., SportsNet LA, AM 570

*-Left-handed

And finally

In the movie “42", Pee Wee Reese puts his arm around Jackie Robinson. Watch it here.

Until next time...

Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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