The Los Angeles Dodgers have far-and-away been the best team in Major League Baseball this season.
At an incredible 85-34, the Dodgers are on pace to contend with the MLB single-season record of 116 wins, set by both the 1906 Chicago Cubs and 2001 Seattle Mariners. Although it will be tough, Los Angeles has 43 games left and must go 31-12 over that span to tie the mark, which is very realistic considering the fact that they have gone 50-9 since June 7.
Despite the fact that one of the most incredible team MLB records is in reach, the Dodgers seem to be dismissive of it, instead placing their focus on winning the World Series.
"We're not looking back right now, we're looking forward,” star closer Kenley Jansen told ESPN’s David Schoenfield last week. "To be honest, when [Justin Turner] and I signed, we knew what kind of group of guys we had and wanted to come back here. We had unfinished business, we saw how far we got last year and we're playing for that one goal: To win a championship.”
Starting pitcher Rich Hill echoed Jansen’s remarks.
"I don't even like talking about wins and losses, because that's not really what it is for us at the end of the day," he said. "It's really about the effort we give out on the field and the consistency of that effort. If you look at this team, there is something different, and it's that intensity all 25 guys bring every single night.”
Perhaps their thinking is by design. After all, the Mariners famously lost in the playoffs after dominating the 2001 season, and part of the reason why could have been their undying attention to the single-season record.
Retired second baseman Brett Boone played on that team and confirmed that all of their attention was on getting to 116.
"For the last month and a half, the chase was for the record," Boone told Art Thiel in his book titled "Out of Left Field."
“The worldwide media coverage was intense in the countdown,” he continued. “Once we [tied the MLB mark], it was kind of a relief: 'Oh, it's over -- no, wait a minute, next is the playoffs.' Not to use that as an excuse, but the grind and the scrutiny kind of beat us down.”
Therefore, the Dodgers are taking a day-by-day approach, expecting to win every night with their main goal being hoisting the World Series trophy after the last out of the year.
"That's the mindset we have," Jansen said, "thinking of that one goal every day, just being in that moment and coming to the ballpark and expecting to win every day.”
"The mixture of the ages that is in here is great for a club to come together," Hill explained. "Nobody treats anybody different. That's something that's very unique in this clubhouse that you might not necessarily see everywhere. It's a cool thing because it cultivates a learning environment, it cultivates creativity. That's the other side of it, that guys are allowed to be themselves. That starts at the top with Dave." The Dave he mentioned is manager Dave Roberts, who is proving to be a valuable asset in the dugout.
Since Clayton Kershaw is set to return soon, the Dodgers are poised to get even stronger heading into the final weeks of the season, which should make them even more dangerous in October. That's bad news for the rest of the league.
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