For many Dodgers fans, the indelible moment from the 2017 postseason is Justin Turner’s walk-off home run against John Lackey and the Chicago Cubs.
It was the first postseason walk-off homer since Kirk Gibson’s famous game-winner off of Dennis Eckersley and the Oakland A’s in the 1988 World Series. But sadly, the Dodgers were unable to finish the 2017 season like the ‘88 Dodgers, falling one game short of the championship.
Now, 30 years later, the Dodgers have set their sights on the crown once more, determined to succeed. Determined. Determined to turn the page. Determined to return to the Fall Classic. Determined to exorcise the ghosts of their Game 7 nightmare. Determined to bring home the trophy. And no Dodger seems to drip more determination from his pores than third baseman Justin Turner.
Turner’s story of rags to riches is well-known. Drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in 2006, Turner bounced from team to team trying to find a home until the Dodgers took a chance on him, and we have been privileged to watch his meteoric rise. It would be easy for Turner’s recent successes to get to his head, but he has remained humble through it all, mentoring his younger teammates, recognizing how precious a gift his career has been, and he has never stopped giving back.
More from LA Dodgers News
- Former Astro seemingly takes uncalled for shot at Cody Bellinger after Cubs deal
- Dodgers’ 2023 lineup without Trea Turner isn’t as impressive as it should be
- Recapping who Dodgers gained and lost in Rule 5 Draft
- Dodgers ironically sign former all-star to potentially replace Cody Bellinger
- Padres-Xander Bogaerts contract feels like Manny Machado desperation
He is the consummate professional, always willing to “take one for the team” as evidenced by an uncanny ability to reach base via hit by pitch. Last year, Turner was hit 19 times during the regular season in just 130 games, one shy of the franchise record. Perhaps he has been in part influenced by another team mentor, Chase Utley, who has been hit an alarming 199 times in his career, good for 8th place in the history of major league baseball. When a player is hit by a pitch this often, it sends a message to his team and to his opponent, that he will not be intimidated.
Not one to back down, with a limited amount of armor protecting him from the pitch, Turner stands close to the plate, raises his bat like a sword in the hands of a medieval knight, wears the trademark pine tar smudge across the letters on his back, dares the pitcher to come inside with a fastball, punishes whatever pitch strays too close to the plate.
His willingness to put his body in harm’s way has not been without injury, and the Dodgers have suffered without his bat in the lineup and his gold glove caliber defense on the field, but it is that same selfless approach to the game that has endeared him to fans across the nation, best evidenced when he broke the record for most votes received in the All-Star Game’s Final vote last summer.
But Turner and Dodgers fans everywhere would gladly trade all of that for a World Series victory this year, and he and his teammates are more determined than ever to make it so, to frame their own indelible, magical moment in time.