The Los Angeles Dodgers clinching the National League West for an eighth consecutive year was bet by a muted celebration on the field as commemorative t-shirts and caps were distributed to players and coaches.
There were high-fives, some hugs and a team photo in front of the pitcher’s mound. Excluding the photograph, it appeared to be simply another win for the Dodgers, who also will head into the postseason with the best record in the NL.
Only Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen have been with the team for all eight division titles. Justin Turner — scratched from the lineup due to left hamstring tightness — has been part of seven. So too has Pedro Baez.
Nevertheless, by now winning the NL West has become an expectation as the Dodgers remain in search of their first World Series title since 1988. However, players were quick to point out wrapping up the division is a first step worth recognizing.
“They all count. You can’t take it for granted, you can’t assume this every year. We’ve been on a pretty special run. It’s been really fun to be a part of,” Corey Seager said. “You just never know. You have injuries, you have this and that. It’s not guaranteed. You have to play well for a really long time.
“This one, we had to turn it on right away. You have one bad week and it sets you back. It’s still baseball at the end of the day and you never know what’s going to happen. To do it eight in a row is pretty cool.”
Chris Taylor largely echoed that sentiment, adding, “They all feel good, but this one is a little different. We’ve got a special group here and we all realize that. I think probably the most complete team I’ve ever been on. We’re just excited going forward.
“We’re happy to clinch the division, for sure, but we know we have more in store. We’re going to enjoy this but this isn’t it for us. We’ve got some work to do.”
For Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, clinching the NL West in a season that has been played under a pandemic made it all the more special. “I recall a time a few months ago where I didn’t know if we were even going to have a season this year,” he said.
“To now fast forward, to be crowned NL West champs again, it’s a credit to everybody in that clubhouse and organization. Really proud of these guys. It’s something a lot of people expect, but it should never be taken for granted.”
Speeches over showers
Unable to celebrate by splashing beer and champagne on one another because of guidelines implemented by MLB, the Dodgers went down a bit of a sentimental path in the clubhouse.
“We gave some speeches, had a glass of champagne individually and kind of just celebrated that way. You talk about it instead of being able to dump stuff on people. It was definitely different,” Seager said.
“It’s a moment you need to celebrate, and we did. We talked about it, you enjoyed the ride and stuff. To be able to champagne shower and beer shower and stuff like that, it is fun. So it sucks to not be able to do it.
“There’s some young guys in there that haven’t really been able to have that experience, and if they have, it’s only been once. You feel for those guys.”
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