(Facebook/Los Angeles Dodgers)

(Facebook/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Dodgers punch ticket to World Series

This will be the first time the Los Angles Dodgers have made it to the World Series since 1988.

Justin Turner and Chris Taylor shared MVP honours in the NL Championship Series, repaying a Dodgers organization willing to roll the dice on players whose big league careers were stalled.

In Turner’s case, it was then-bench coach Tim Wallach who rediscovered him playing in a Cal State-Fullerton alumni baseball game four years ago, after his career appeared all but over.

In Taylor’s case, it was Los Angeles’ willingness to gamble that an off-season of grueling workouts would enable the young utilityman to rebuild his swing in a matter of months.

The co-MVPs turned up in the interview room together after the Dodgers eliminated the reigning World Series champion Chicago Cubs 11-1 in Game 5. They were champagne-soaked with hats turned backward, a pair of goggles still perched on Turner’s head. Fittingly, they doused each other with praise.

“He’s a dynamic player and a table setter,” said Turner, who hit .333 for the series, with two home runs and seven RBIs. “When he goes, we usually go as a team.”

“I talk to him as much as I can. He’s one of the reasons I decided to make the changes I did,” said Taylor, who finished at .316 with two homers and three RBIs. Both men also walked five times, as many as the entire Cubs roster.

Before Los Angeles punched its first World Series ticket since 1988, manager Dave Roberts said Taylor had been a “fringy, 4-A player” with his old swing — good enough to play comfortably in Triple A, but too often overmatched in the major leagues.

With a new look at the plate, the 27-year-old was part of the most valuable duo on the field throughout this series.

“To really try to shoot the moon as far as committing to a swing change, he did that,” Robert said. “And it really paid off.”

Turner, meanwhile, had already established himself in three previous playoff appearances as one of the most dangerous hitters in the post-season. Then he served notice in Game 2 that he’d be a similar force against the Cubs.

His walk-off home run in that one was the Dodgers’ first in the post-season since Kirk Gibson in 1988, a feat he remembered watching as a 4-year-old at his grandmother’s house in Southern California.

“One of my first baseball memories,” Turner said.

Now he’s returning the favour for a few youngsters in search of some inspiration.

“People were talking about the J.T. homer,” Roberts said, “and it’s up to us to make that an iconic moment as well.”

Taylor’s highlights included momentum-swinging home runs in both Games 1 and 3. The first came in the sixth inning, when reliever Hector Rondon tried to throw a 97 mph fastball and watched Taylor deposit it over the wall in right-centre for a 3-2 lead.

The second came in Game 3, when Chicago starter Kyle Hendricks tried to sneak an 88 mph sinker past him. Taylor drove that one into the seats as well, tying it 1-1 and helping LA’s offence get on track in a 6-1 win.

The most inspirational part of Turner’s story stretches much further back.

He broke into the big leagues with Baltimore at the end of the 2009 season but was designated for reassignment to the minors the following spring. Claimed off waivers by the Mets, Turner lasted three seasons playing all around the infield, but the Mets let him leave as a free agent in 2013.

Later that off-season, Wallach saw Turner playing in a Cal State-Fullerton alumni game, and the organization signed him to a minor league deal. His versatility earned him playing time when infielders Hanley Ramirez and Juan Uribe went down with injuries, and the third baseman has been tough to keep off the lineup card since.

After that breakout year, Turner began establishing his post-season bona fides against his old team, the Mets, in the 2015 NLDS with a .526 average. After tearing through the 2016 NLDS, though, Turner stumbled against the Cubs in the NLCS a season ago.

But he more than made up for that this time around.

Just Posted

Filming of The Baker’s Son in Chemainus. (File photo by Don Bodger)
Bread-making brilliance and mediocrity the recipe for movie ingredients

Willow Street on the map as a prominent location in The Baker’s Son

The return of Community Policing will be a welcome addition by residents. (File photo by Don Bodger)
Return of Community Policing in the works

Volunteers being sought and coordinators to be announced soon

Sonia Furstenau, MLA
Proposed Health Professions Act would eliminate barriers, guide regulations

Is your doctor a member of good standing with the BC College… Continue reading

These Douglas fir logs were found poached in April on Stoney Hill in North Cowichan’s forest reserve. (Larry Pynn/sixmountains.ca)
Fines in forest reserve could increase significantly after illegal logging

North Cowichan considering fines of up to $50,000

North Cowichan’s senior environment specialist Dr. Dave Preikshot (pictured) said there’s a wide spectrum of views on carbon credits. (File photo)
Carbon credits expected to be part of discussions around forest reserve

North Cowichan acknowledges wide range of views on issue

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Gabriola Island artist Sheila Norgate is promoting the Digital Innovation Group’s art impact survey. (File photo)
Vancouver Island artists get behind regional arts impact study

Artists urged to use their stature to help put arts and culture super-region on the map

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Neighbours on edge of Nanaimo city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Vancouver Island Good Samaritan’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Most Read