CHICAGO -- It was nothing more than coincidence that the Dodgers happened to be at Wrigley Field on April 10, the quirk of a schedule printed long before any October storylines came to be. It was nonetheless uncomfortable. The Dodgers watched as the Cubs raised their 2016 World Series championship
CHICAGO -- It was nothing more than coincidence that the Dodgers happened to be at Wrigley Field on April 10, the quirk of a schedule printed long before any October storylines came to be. It was nonetheless uncomfortable. The Dodgers watched as the Cubs raised their 2016 World Series championship flag, knowing they stood on the same field six months earlier with a chance to prevent it.
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Justin Turner bellowed late Thursday that "it didn't matter where" the Dodgers vanquished their 29-year pennant drought, clinching a World Series berth with an 11-1 win over the Cubs in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series presented by Camping World. But other Dodgers found it appropriate that their road to the World Series presented by YouTube TV went through Chicago, through the defending champions, at the site of their final 2016 defeat.
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"Obviously they're an incredibly talented team, a great organization, extremely well-run," Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. "From our standpoint, we wanted nothing more than to play them again this October. They're the world champions. And when we stand here next year, we're certainly hoping that we're the defending world champions."
Since 2015, the Cubs and Dodgers have been twin models of excellence, the only two Major League teams to lose fewer than 200 games over that stretch. Although October's annual tournament is unpredictable, the Dodgers knew there was a strong chance they would need to upend the Cubs if they wished to win the pennant.
"We watched their ring ceremony, their banner raising," Friedman said. "It was universally talked about how much they wanted to experience the same thing."
The Dodgers did so in dominant fashion, using their bullpen advantage to tear down a rival still fatigued from its five-game win over the Nationals in the NL Division Series presented by T-Mobile. The Dodgers outhit the Cubs, .258 to .156, in the NLCS. Their 1.64 team ERA was more than three times better than Chicago's 5.26 mark.
But the Dodgers also understand how easily things could have gone the other way -- had Jacob Arrieta been available to pitch Game 1, for example, or had Wade Davis been more rested out of the bullpen, or had NL MVP Award candidates Kristopher Bryant and Anthony Rizzo found their grooves. After all, they had seen that sort of thing before.
Most vividly, Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen recalled the aftermath of last year's NLCS, when celebratory crowds around Wrigley Field delayed their bus ride to the airport. The Dodgers experienced no such problems Thursday, conducting their own celebration deep into the night.
"It's awesome to win it here," Jansen said. "We knew how it was last year and it stunk, man. It stunk to lose anyway in the postseason. So we wanted it bad. We want to win a championship, so we've worked hard for it."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com.