Commentary: Remembering 1988, the last time the Dodgers and Lakers both won titles

Commentary: Remembering 1988, the last time the Dodgers and Lakers both won titles

10/20/2020 2:55:00 AM

Commentary: Remembering 1988, the last time the Dodgers and Lakers both won titles

The Showtime Lakers wowed L.A. at the Fabulous Forum, and the fall produced indelible memories of Kirk Gibson's fist pump and the Dodgers winning a World Series.

But that series is best remembered for somebody else.AdvertisementIn Game 1 at Dodger Stadium, with the Dodgers trailing, 4-3, a runner on first base and down to their last out, Lasorda sent in his injured power hitter, Kirk Gibson, to pinch hit. Gibson mostly limped from the dugout to the batter’s box. The likelihood that Gibson would not play was a big topic of discussion leading into the series, and when he tried to warm up in the batting cages under the stadium, he listened to the broadcast. As the ninth inning carried on, legendary broadcaster Vin Scully told the audience that Gibson would not play. Gibson later acknowledged he heard that and his stubborn side took over, telling Lasorda he was ready.

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The rest is baseball legend. Gibson somehow leaned into a pitch from Oakland’s ace reliever, Dennis Eckersley, and smacked a game-winning home run. The images of him limping around the bases and pumping his first in celebration will long be part of baseball lore.

That series is also remembered for how much the Dodgers did with so little.Kirk Gibson’s game-winning home run from Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.AdvertisementThe 2020 Dodgers have a three-time Cy Young award winner in Clayton Kershaw, a legendary closer in Kenley Jansen, an ace in Walker Buehler and a batting lineup that, while it may not be the Babe Ruth-Lou Gehrig Murderers’ Row of the 1920s, is a threat in every spot. Kiké Hernandez, not even an everyday player, got them tied with the Atlanta Braves on Sunday night with his homer, and then it was just a matter of waiting until somebody finished the job. Cody Bellinger did, but it just as easily could have been Max Muncy or Mookie Betts or Justin Turner.

Or young catcher Will Smith. Yes, the Dodgers even have a catcher who can hit, unheard of in baseball these days. If you are an opposing pitcher, this isn’t a baseball lineup, it’s a nightmare.The 1988 Dodgers were quite the opposite. Times columnist Scott Ostler summarized the team’s offense when he wrote: “They manufactured runs like Stradivarius manufactures violins — slowly and carefully.”

They started that series with Mike Davis batting cleanup. He had hit .197 and had 17 RBIs all season. Their best power hitter, with Gibson out, was journeyman Mickey Hatcher. Besides Davis and Hatcher, their lineup usually featured the likes of Franklin Stubbs, John Shelby and Danny Heep. All were decent big leaguers, but none brought much fear to the hearts of pitchers.

Read more: Los Angeles Times »

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