Good Luck With That

If there's one organization that understands bulletin board fodder, it's the Dodgers. They used it to barrel their way into the 1988 World Series. And they may use it to barrel their way into the World Series to come.

In 1988, Mets pitcher David Cone thought aloud that facing Dodgers closer Jay Howell's repertoire of breaking balls equaled facing a high school pitcher after the Mets won Game 1 of that National League Championship Series. All that did was get Cone battered for 5 runs in two innings and an early exit as the Dodgers in Game 2 evened the set they'd eventually win.

On Saturday, after the Dodgers won Game 2 of this year's NLCS, Brewers closer Jeremy Jeffress — who surrendered the 3 runs that made the difference — decided Dodger catcher Austin Barnes got "lucky" when he worked his way to a bases-loaded walk that pulled the Dodgers to within a run.

Jeffress also decided and expressed on the record that Joc Pederson's dying quail single into right that loaded them up for Barnes in the first place, and Chris Taylor's dribble single up the third base line, were cheap hits. And he decided at first that Justin Turner turning on a splitter in on his hands with Taylor aboard, sending a 2-run homer down the left field line, was likewise just getting "lucky."

"You seen the hits," he said after the 4-3 Brewers loss. "I ain't gotta tell nobody. If I say it's lucky, it's lucky. Everybody sees the hits."

He couldn't walk it back somewhat fast enough the following day, tweeting that there was nothing lucky about a 2-run homer, but that he was really referring to "the cheap hits before." That won't stop the Dodgers from using him as motivational material once the set picks up in Los Angeles Monday.

You get the frustration over a couple of soft hits such as Pederson's and Taylor's. But you wonder about a closer who'd been as lights out as Jeffress on the season and especially in his previous 11 appearances before Game 1. Barnes didn't get "lucky" drawing the bases-loaded pass; Jeffress simply didn't execute his curve ball.

No Dodger worth his uniform suggested the Brewers got "lucky" winning Game 1, after Brewers reliever Brandon Workman, of all people, hit one out against Clayton Kershaw to open but the Dodgers found a way to pinprick the Brewers' bullpen invincibility enough to make it a 1-run Brewers win Friday night.

"I knew he could swing the bat a little bit, for sure," said Kershaw, who had the shortest outing of his postseason life, a life that's too often belied his in-season virtuosity. "I didn't know he could do that, but I knew he could hit a little bit." But he never once thought the Brewers were merely "lucky" to get rid of him in that big a hurry.

Someone needs to instruct Jeffress against giving the other guys ammunition, even psychological, especially after two straight shaky NLCS outings. Did he think Manny Machado's 2-run single and Matt Kemp's 1-run single in the eighth against him on Friday night were "lucky?" Did he think Taylor was "lucky" to strafe an RBI triple off Corey Knabel in the ninth to make it a 1-run Brewers win?

There's no lack of evidence to show what happens when the overconfident blow their horns without a mute.

In 1958, Lew Burdette of the Milwaukee Braves beat the Yankees in Game 2 of that World Series, a year after he'd waxed them three times en route the Braves' 1957 Series conquest. After Game 2, the puckish Burdette shot his mouth off saying he wished the Yankees were in the National League "because they'd be lucky enough to finish second."

The Yankees went on to win the '58 set after being down 3-1, and it was only that much sweeter when they beat Burdette twice along the way, including the deciding seventh game.

"I will master the Mets," chirped the Red Sox's Oil Can Boyd before he started Game 3 of the 1986 Series. Then Lenny Dykstra opened the game with a home run down the right field line, Hall of Famer Gary Carter smacked an RBI double, Danny Heep dunked an RBI single into center, and Boyd and the Red Sox found themselves in a 4-0 hole en route a 7-1 loss.

Boyd wasn't seen on the mound the rest of the set as the Mets went on to win a Series they nearly lost in Game 6. It wasn't Boyd's fault the Red Sox lost the set, but commentators made considerable play out of Boyd's originally scheduled Game 7 start pushed back a day due to rain and Bruce Hurst, the left-hander who'd been the Red Sox's postseason ace to that point, getting the call instead.

And just last weekend, Yankee right fielder Aaron Judge just couldn't resist strolling out of the Fenway Park clubhouse, after the Yankees evened the division series at a game each, by blasting "New York, New York" from his boom box. A 16-1 Game 3 demolition and a Game 4 ninth-inning hair raiser, which the Red Sox held on to win 4-3, sent the Yankees home for the winter with the Red Sox blaring "New York, New York" from their clubhouse in sweet revenge.

"He awoke the sleeping giant," said former Yankee Mark Teixiera of Judge's Fenway-parting shot.

Conversely, the Astros out-lasted the Red Sox in a very shakily played and umpired Game 1 of their American League Championship Series, enough to put the game out of reach at almost the last minute when Josh Reddick (a leadoff solo shot into the bullpens) and Yuli Gurriel (a 3-run homer curling just inside the Pesky Pole in Fenway Park) went deep for the 7-2 win.

No Red Sox called any Astro "lucky." No Astro said the Red Sox weren't all that hot after all. And someone might care to read to Jeffress from any available volume of quotations from Branch Rickey: "Luck is the residue of design." The Dodgers would be only too happy to teach Jeffress the lesson their ancient mastermind taught.

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