Introducing the 2008 National League Western Division champions

That would be your Dodgers. The clincher wasn’t that exciting, no walkoff grand slam by Steve Finley or anything like that. It happened just now, when the Diamondbacks lost to the Cardinals. Dodgers won’t even take the field for almost five hours. It will be interesting to see what kind of lineup Joe sends up against Jake Peavy tonight. But it really doesn’t matter how the Dodgers did it. The fact is, they did it, for the first time in four years and for the 10th time since the inception of divisional play in 1969, and it can be argued that none of the previous nine were as tough as this one. It was less than a month ago, after all, that the Dodgers were all but written off. They had lost eight in a row, including the first game of a critical, three-game series at Arizona, and they were 65-70 and going nowhere. And now, here they are, ready to douse each other with champagne after tonight’s game, win or lose. Joe Torre has now won 12 of these things as a manager (10 with the Yankees, one with the Braves and one here), and I can’t imagine any of the previous 11 were as challenging or as gratifying as this one will be. It’s anyone’s guess at this point how long the Dodgers will last in the playoffs. At this point, it’s anyone’s guess, who they’ll play in the first round. But considering where they came from, the simple fact that they have gotten here makes this a season no one will forget anytime soon.

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  • rjthrelkeld

    Shouldn’t they play their A-Team? They’ve been beating up on poor pitching so tonite’ll be a good test. After all, they won’t be facing Shawn Estes and Kevin Correia (or whoever) come October, they’ll actually have to play a good team for the first time in weeks.

  • Harpo JB

    What a joke Bob Melvin is … sending up minor-league scrubs to pinch hit for Dunn and Reynolds in the ninth inning with his team trailing by only nine runs.

    It’s downright criminal. Melvin has no respect for the game, and ought to be suspended for the entire 2009 season!

  • TeamHasHoles

    Great! Winning a division is always a nice accomplishment, but clinching a division with 87 wins and 4 games left while facing exactly NO teams with better than a .500 record since August should pretty much subdue any crazy celebrations… ..tack on the Dodgers lack of success the last 20 years in the playoffs… It’s hard for me to get all riled up. But it is better than not making the playoffs I suppose.

    Point being: They shouldn’t just be happy to have barely won a weak division. Nothing to go crazy about… Start getting focused, situate your rotation, and see if Furcal and Kuo have anything in the tank.

  • TeamHasHoles

    I mean 83 wins… :(

  • Mario DiLeo

    83 wins…Yikes! Can you say “’73 Mets”?

  • bryboiblue

    Wow, the defeatism before the playoffs even start is just sad.

    Is this the best team in baseball? No. Are they playing well at the moment and is their confidence high? Yes. Who cares that their recent run came against bad teams? Momentum translates.

    Look at what they have going for them by clinching with four days remaining in the season:

    –They can get Kent and Furcal at-bats without having to worry about their rust costing the team games.
    –Torre can go into the five-game Divisional series with the optimal rotation, assumptively Lowe, Billingsley, Kuroda and then either Lowe or Maddux, depending on the timing.
    –The bullpen will be well rested — and clearly Park, Beimel and Broxton look like they need a couple of games off — and with a plethora of guys who can go 2-3 innings if necessary.
    –Torre will get more time to evaluate Kuo and Saito with nothing on the line.
    –If the Mets of Phils win the wild card, then the Dodgers will be facing an NL East winner that likely had to play everyone over the weekend just to get to the playoffs and would not have been able to rest its regulars or set its rotation.

    I’m not predicting the Dodgers will break their streak of playoff failures over the past 20 years, but they’ve got their fair share of battle-tested veterans who’ve been there and done that — and one thing this team hasn’t had before: Manny.

    Remember, it wasn’t that long ago an 86-win Cardinals team won the World Series.

  • Dave R.

    2006 Cardinals had 83 wins…

    “What a joke Bob Melvin is … sending up minor-league scrubs to pinch hit for Dunn and Reynolds in the ninth inning with his team trailing by only nine runs.

    It’s downright criminal. Melvin has no respect for the game, and ought to be suspended for the entire 2009 season!”

    Harpo – can we suspend you instead?

  • TeamHasHoles

    defeatism? if I said I don’t think they have a chance, THAT would be defeatism. I’m just saying that if this team thinks it’s better than an 83-87 win team, they have to show it on the field. Don’t just be happy to be in the playoffs… Go prove that you can win this.

    I actually think they can but they have to go out and prove it!

    That’s not defeatism.

    And by the way… momentum shmomentum… when the playoffs start you’re only as good as your next night’s starter.

  • ABQDodger

    Jake Peavy is precisely the type of pitcher the Dodgers will see in the playoffs, so Torre should put in the guys who are going to play against the Cubs or the Phillies/Mets. These players can get a day or rest during the weekend games in San Francisco. (Unless they get another chance to “practice” against a playoff-type pitcher in Tim Lincecum).

  • max_power

    Tony, do you know if they are going to rest Derek Lowe? I don’t think that would do him any good. Sinker ballers tend to pitch worse with more rest. Or maybe they would push his start back until tomorrow or Saturday and only have him pitch 2 or 3 innings. Make it his bullpen session between starts.

  • cheba63

    I believe that Lowe’s start was moved to Saturday in order to give him the regular 5 day rest to start game 1 in the playoffs. I heard that Billingsley is going to start Sunday regardless if the game has any meaning (which it now doesn’t) and pitch for a few innings, so I would think they’ll treat Lowe in a similar fashion.

  • neoncactus

    Would they be any better if they played the Pirates, Padres and Giants earlier in the season and closed against the Cards and still won the division with the same record? They fought hard and won the division and it’s great. This is a much better team than the one that struggled the first part, a lot of veteran presence and some of the younger hitters are stepping it up. As for the playoffs, if they play well, they will win. If they play terribly, they will lose. I’ll have to see, but don’t the Dodgers usually beat Zambrano up pretty well?

    The other thing about starting against Peavy, forget about the records of the pitchers they’re against lately. Four of their biggest victories during this great stretch game against Haren and Webb, two of the best pitchers in the league. At least they have the opportunity to advance in the playoffs.