After 8 consecutive NL West titles, multiple postseason collapses as the best team in baseball, and two crushing World Series defeats, the Dodgers finally cast off their demons and won the World Series for the first time since 1988 in the absolutely crazy 60 game season in 2020.

Clayton Kershaw will officially go down as a champion, pretty much the only thing that was lacking from his MVP-winning, Hall of Fame resumé.

Mookie Betts helped bring them glory in his first year thereafter the Red Sox didn’t want to pay their MVP and dip into the luxury tax. All is right in the city of Angels.

On top of that, they’re running it back, looking to be the first repeat champion since the Yankees won three in a row from 1998-2000. Despite losing Joc Pederson and Kike Hernandez, they brought back Justin Turner on a two-year deal, they’ll be getting back former Cy Young winner David Price, who opted out of last year’s season, and they just signed reigning NL Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer to the richest annual deal in MLB history, paying him $40 million for next season alone. That’s 3 Cy Young winners in their rotation (not even counting Walker Buehler, who could just as easily win one) along with 3 former MVPs on their lineup with by far the highest payroll in the league.

Guess what? We get to go back to hating them again and not feeling guilty about it!

During their historic run of NL West titles, they were essentially a Shakespearian tragedy in sports. They would often win 100 games during the regular season with Kershaw as a god-like figure, then he would lose his powers in the postseason in a soul-crushing fashion. He could not escape the narrative. We all wondered how someone with once-in-a-lifetime level pitching talent could wither away when it mattered the most, and we de-valued his regular-season performances because of it since there was nothing he could do until he got the ring.

While they were the powerhouse team in the league, they were somehow at the same time the sympathetic underdog.

But here we are going into 2021, and Kershaw has replaced the monkey on his back with a World Series ring on his finger. They no longer get the sympathy card from us that made us forget that they’re the rich, big-market powerhouse in a beautiful city where everyone is better than you, and each day it’s 70 degrees and sunny.

Morally, it still felt rooting for them to fail until Kershaw was redeemed. Now, morals are out the window.

Photo: Jon Soohoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

They’re the ones with the targets on their back. It’s odd because, in terms of team-building, the Dodgers don’t traditionally go about the highly-criticized route of “buying” their way into a superteam despite their excessively high payroll; the majority of their impact players, like Kershaw, Cody Bellinger, Walker Buehler, or Corey Seager, are homegrown talents that have come up with the organization as developmental treasures. With the deal for Mookie and David Price and now the Bauer signing, that narrative is long-gone too. They’re spending money just as well as anyone else is.

They could also come out as a heel to the public with some of their personalities as well. Justin Turner is considered to be a great guy and teammate in the locker room which was a big reason they brought him back, but to the collective public, he’s going to be known as, “that guy who tested positive for COVID during the World Series and celebrated near all of his teammates without a mask.” Bauer is also one of the most polarizing figures in the sport; he’s outspoken, attacking the Astros for their cheating scandal and the league offices on any decision ever made, he struts around after making strikeouts, he announced his signing at the complete expense of the New York Mets in a video production where there were shot of a Bauer Mets jersey and a Bauer Dodgers jersey (even as he was selling Bauer Mets merchandise on his website), and he’s also the guy that got so angry he was being taken out of a game in Cleveland that he took the ball and chucked it as hard as he could from the mound to the outfield He’s quite the figure, and he’s now a Dodger.

They also are now facing “Goliath syndrome” in that they’re standing in the way of the new, exciting, darling David’s of the league: the San Diego Padres. With flamboyant young talents like Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, and their acquisitions of Blake Snell and Yu Darvish this offseason, they’re the new faces of the league as the former plucky underdogs are trying to slay their LA dragon in the NL West.

With no World Series titles, one playoff birth last year for the first time since 2006, and the youngest team in the league, they’re what’s hot in the streets. The Dodgers’ continuous streak of being the big bad wolf is just going to be what’s standing in the way of the next big thing as this looks like a rivalry that could last for years to come.

So, it is with a heavy heart that I say so long to the darling Dodgers of Los Angeles; it was nerve-racking hoping for them to not blow it for the sake of the players’ sanity year after year, but they are finally out of the purgatory of the cursed franchise and into the new powerhouse tier amongst the Yankees (and the Astros, for different reasons) as super-villains of Major League Baseball.

As the great Vin Scully always said, it’s time for Dodger baseball, except this time, the rest of the league has their scopes aimed promptly at their heads.

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