Dave Roberts: Dodgers Must ‘Embrace’ Challenge Of Ending World Series Drought
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers begin a fifth consecutive playoff run Friday night with Game 1 of the National League Division Series in what’s been one of the most successful stretches in franchise history. Yet, for their string of NL West titles, the ultimate prize has continued to elude the Dodgers.

Not since 1988 has the team won — or reached — the World Series. The lack of an appearance in the Fall Classic is currently the sixth-longest drought in baseball. Also on the list are the Baltimore Orioles (1983), Milwaukee Brewers (1982) and Pittsburgh Pirates (1979), while the Seattle Mariners and Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals have yet to reach the World Series in their existence.

“I don’t know if failure is the word, but I think extreme disappointment,” answered Dodgers manager Dave Roberts when asked if the 2017 season needed to conclude with his team crowned champions.

“Seven other teams when it’s all said and done, can look at it as a disappointment. The ultimate goal is to win a championship. We understand that it’s been almost three decades since the Dodgers have won a World Series.”

Aside from the inherent pressure that is already placed on the team, the Dodgers compounded that with a wildly successful season. Even with a historic losing skid, they finished with the best record in the Majors.

A 43-7 stretch was the first since the 1912 New York Giants had such a run. The Dodgers were also the first team this season to 90 wins, then 100. At 104-52, they finished with the best record in Los Angeles history and won the most games at Dodger Stadium (56) in franchise history.

“When you play for the Dodgers and you’ve won the division five years in a row but haven’t gotten the ring, [pressure is] part of it,” Roberts said.

“It’s a challenge that we all have to embrace. You can’t run from it. Up to this point we’ve done everything we can do to put ourselves in the best position to accomplish that goal. Now it’s up to us to finish it.”

The Dodgers returned the same core from the 2016 club that fell two wins shy of reaching the World Series. It’s the furthest the Dodgers have advanced since the 2013 team was eliminated by the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series.

“I would say there’s a good, positive energy and focus,” Roberts said of this year’s team. “Maybe a little more, I don’t want to say chip on our shoulders, but it’s a confident group. It’s a very confident team.”

The next three-plus weeks will tell if that confidence is enough to erase the sting from the past 28 years.