The Los Angeles Dodgers failed in the postseason again. For the seventh straight season the Dodgers reached the playoffs and didn't walk away World Series champions. This time, after winning a franchise-record 106 games, they failed to even win a series. It was a shocking result that left the organization reeling.
The Dodgers were coming off back-to-back World Series defeats, had been to the National League Championship Series in three straight years and they have won seven consecutive National League West crowns. Despite all that, there's absolutely no way to look at what happened this season as anything but an abject failure. It was championship or bust for Los Angeles this year and the team fell short, far short, of expectations.
Clayton Kershaw, Dave Roberts and Joe Kelly combined to take a 3-1 lead over the Nationals in an elimination game and turn it into a 7-3 defeat. The loss sent shockwaves through Major League Baseball, as the Dodgers had been the favorite to win the National League since last season.
The Dodgers do seem to be built for long-term success, with Walker Buehler, Cody Bellinger and Corey Seager at the center of a core that should be competitive for years. But the old guard is crumbling. That group -- with Clayton Kershaw, Kenley Jansen and Justin Turner at its center -- is likely past its prime. When led by that trio, the Dodgers failed to reach their goal.
When Kershaw and company blew it against Washington Wednesday night, it was just the latest in a long line of playoff failures. Something dramatic has to change for the Dodgers. They will almost certainly enter next season as one of the favorites in the National League, but can they be trusted? Do they have what it takes to actually hoist the Commissioner's Trophy?
Changes have to be made in LA. The team's bullpen must be revamped, Roberts probably has to go after bungling his bullpen use so badly in Game 5 Wednesday night and another starting pitcher will likely need to be added. Despite those flaws there's no excuse for the Dodgers to be going home after one round of the playoffs.
For years, the Dodgers have been at or near the top of Major League Baseball during the regular season. But time and again they've found ways to lose in the postseason. Wednesday night's meltdown was no exception.
Like the Buffalo Bills of the early 1990s, the Dodgers can never quite get it right when it matters. Something needs to change.