Zoom out. Be realistic. The Los Angeles Dodgers are a great team and organization, but they are playoff failures. There's not much to dispute that status, either. The undisputed most successful regular-season team since 2013 has one World Series, and it came during a 60-game campaign because of a global pandemic.
The problems for the Dodgers run much deeper than what some might suggest. Last year, it was the LA Times (subscription required) claiming the historic 111-win team should be handed the World Series trophy because they were that much better than everyone else, in a clear attempt to cope after being eliminated in the NLDS by the inferior Padres.
This year, we have a new proposal, as fans and some media members have tried to pin the five-day layoff (for the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds who get the first-round bye) as the problem. Like Braves manager Brian Snitker said, the Houston Astros didn't seem to have a problem the last two years.
If you're a good and prepared team, you're a good and prepared team. Plain and simple. The NFL has featured a first-round bye for the conference's top teams. Have the Kansas City Chiefs had a problem? How about the dynastic New England Patriots?
We're all for creative solutions, but the Dodgers must search from within to disagnose the varying degrees of failure since 2013. We do not need "practice games" in between the Wild Card and Division Series to solve LA's problems.
More Dodgers writers are trying to defend team's postseason incompetence
The Padres were an 89-win team. The Diamondbacks were an 84-win team. The 2019 Nationals might've been a team of destiny, but they were a Wild Card team, too. Not only that, but in 2019 the playoff structure was different! There wasn't that long a layoff, and the Dodgers still failed.
Same goes for 2013-2018. Different types of failure under the old playoff structure. Two NLDS losses, two NLCS losses, and two gut-wrenching World Series losses. What were the excuses for those?
Clayton Kershaw's long track record of stumbling in October was a major factor. As was, at times, the offense's disappearing act (they scored 16 total runs in five World Series games in the loss to the Boston Red Sox and lost two of those four games at home).
This year marked the franchise's first series getting swept in the postseason since 2006. Part of that can be attributed to the front office getting rid of the clubhouse's most influential voices and presences, ranging from Joc Pederson to Corey Seager to Justin Turner to Cody Bellinger in consecutive seasons.
Not only that, but their franchise face in Betts is the position player version of Kershaw. His failures in the postseason predate his arrival in Los Angeles, and there's no defending a .251 average and .710 OPS with four homers and 18 RBI in 58 career postseason games, with almost all of that success coming during the fan-less 2020 playoff run.
We don't need to crowdsource new ideas to fix the playoff structure. The Dodgers need to fix a much deeper issue that fans have been complaining about for about eight years now.