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Ownership marvels at how far Dodgers have come

LOS ANGELES -- They stayed on the sidelines, several steps away from where the tidal wave of champagne was soaking everything and everyone in sight. But still, they couldn't stay completely out of the spotlight. They did, after all, put the pieces in place to get the ball rolling on what ended up being a successful Dodgers season, and they deserved to relish this moment as much as anyone.

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A couple of key members of the ownership group converged in a happy home clubhouse at Dodger Stadium following the Dodgers' 4-3 series-clinching win over the Atlanta Braves in the National League Division Series on Monday. They weren't in the eye of the hurricane -- that's saved for the players, coaches and manager Don Mattingly -- but they celebrated on the outskirts, watching the scene unfold and embracing the team members and support staff who offered congratulations.

The overall sentiment? Thank you, Juan Uribe.

"It's so easy to love him, whether he hits the homer or not," majority owner Mark Walter said. "I'm so happy for him and for our fans."

When it became apparent to all involved in the eighth inning -- namely, Mattingly and Uribe -- that Uribe wasn't exactly up to the task to properly execute a bunt, the Dodgers third baseman instead swung away, sending a David Carpenter offering so far to the left-field home bullpen that it looked for a moment as if it might leave the ballpark.

"Thank God, he didn't get the bunt down," Walter said, laughing.

Another member of the ownership group, Bobby Patton, watching Uribe's at-bat noted the Dodgers' one-run deficit and wondered if they were headed to Atlanta for another cross-country trek, this time for Game 5.

"Nobody was happier to see that ball get mashed out of the yard," Patton said. "Juan Uribe is a monster. Everybody showed up tonight."

That includes the postgame celebration, too. Sandy Koufax, one of the most famous Dodger of all Dodgers legends, appeared to enjoy himself as he made his rounds, embracing Walter and congratulating Mattingly before moving on to Clayton Kershaw for a brief exchange and hug.

"It's a complete team," Koufax said. "Everybody's chipped in. They've had people hurt, they've liked each other, it's kind of fun to watch them.

"Success is success. Juan Uribe's been a professional all year. He's been great at third base. When he hit the home run, it was just exciting."

When the sale of the Dodgers to Guggenheim Baseball Management was finalized in March 2012, improvements were promised, and they were executed. Dodger Stadium was enhanced, as was the on-field product by way of several major trades and free-agent acquisitions.

Expectations were high -- off the charts, really -- and after a slow start in April and May, the Dodgers lived up to the hype that really began with the August 2012 blockbuster trade with the Red Sox that netted them, among others, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford -- major contributors so far in the early stages of the postseason.

Winning the NL Division Series is just step one, but it's proof that the big-picture plan put together all of those months ago is working.

"Going into it, it felt good knowing we, as an ownership group, did everything we could," Patton said. "At the end of the day, though, the players and the coaches are out there making it happen. It's kind of like we set the table, and they got it done."

Looking around the home clubhouse -- covered in plastic and drenched with champagne -- Patton marveled at the scene.

"Not to get lost in the moment, but I love the fact that we got to christen this locker room in the way it should be christened," he said. "It's great to see it used like this."

He's hoping to see this again in an NL Championship Series the Dodgers could host starting Friday, if the Cardinals fall to the Pirates in Game 5 at 8 p.m. PT on TBS on Wednesday.

"Right now, we have the opportunity to have home-field advantage, so I'm putting my Pittsburgh Pirate hat on and getting those guys to make that thing happen," Patton said. "I'd like to be back here on Friday and celebrate another win."

Added Walter: "We've won the division, and we've won this first step. There's a lot of work in front of us. The two teams that are still out there are really, really good. We have a lot to do, but I'm really happy we made it through this first round."

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.

Los Angeles Dodgers