ATLANTA — It was close to midnight Saturday when Atlanta erupted. A sellout crowd erupted. Fireworks erupted. The players erupted, tossing off their caps and hopping madly around the infield. The mascot charged onto the field, waving an enormous red flag with the words “NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPS.”
But, as the Dodgers left the field for the last time this season, I was not thinking of the Braves. I was thinking of the New York Yankees. I could not help but think of what Aaron Boone, the manager of the Yankees, said after his team was eliminated in the playoffs this year.
“The league has closed the gap on us,” Boone said.
The Yankees did not fire Boone for saying that. They just signed him for another three years.
It is where the Yankees are, in a sport where financial might alone no longer guarantees success. It might be where the Dodgers are, at the end of the most glorious run in the history of a proud franchise.
After seven years of winning division championships and rebuilding an organization, the Dodgers and their owners went all in for the 2020 and 2021 seasons, committing half a billion dollars to Mookie Betts last year and Trevor Bauer this year, combined.
The Dodgers won the World Series last year. Flags fly forever.
They did not even get to the World Series this year — and, no, it was not Bauer’s fault. The Dodgers replaced him with someone even better: Max Scherzer.
And they got pretty close: within two games of a repeat appearance in the World Series, even as they lost Max Muncy to injury on the last day of the regular season, too late to acquire a replacement, and they lost a player a day to injury in the NLCS on three consecutive days: Justin Turner, Joe Kelly and Scherzer.
Now the bills come due.