Deep Thought: How the fans of playoff teams feel at the moment

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With no games on last night I spent most of the evening screwin’ around on the Internet, trying to start fights on message boards and that sort of thing.  In the course of my virtual travels, I spoke (more or less) with fans of every playoff team.  Based on these conversations, I’ve figured something out:

Fans of every playoff team think that their team sucks. Except for the Phillies, whose fans think they’ve already won the World Series.

It’s pretty uniform, actually. Even Yankees fans, who don’t lack for confidence, are hyper-aware of their team’s flaws at the moment, so much so that they’re bordering on pessimism. Well, that may be putting it too strongly, but the bravado you’ve heard for years from these guys has been infused with an unusually clear-eyed assessment of their team’s strengths and weaknesses.

Same goes for every team, really. For a rare year in which every playoff team is above 90 wins, there just seems to be a lot more pessimism — or is it just realism? — than we’re used to seeing as the playoffs get going.

Except, like I said, for the Phillies crowd. They seem to spending most of their time wondering why everyone isn’t congratulating them for their awesomeness yet.

We’ll be previewing the playoffs later today and into tomorrow. We’ll likely end up agreeing that the Phillies are awesome, but really, this year has more uncertainty to it than any year in recent memory. And that’s a wonderful thing, no?

Dodgers top Giants, clinch fifth straight NL West title

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The Dodgers are NL West champions for the fifth time in a row. They clinched with a 4-2 win over the Giants on Friday night, taking their first and only lead on a mammoth record-breaking home run from Cody Bellinger in the third inning.

Rich Hill turned in another quality start, going six innings with five hits, a run and nine strikeouts to keep the Giants at bay. He tacked on an RBI hit of his own, too, lashing a double to left field for his first extra-base hit since 2007.

The Giants, meanwhile, deployed Jeff Samardzija and his 4.42 ERA for 4 1/3 innings. Samardzija was on the hook for the Dodgers’ four-run spread in the third and took his 15th loss of the season. Pablo Sandoval came through with a solo home run in the ninth, but the rest of San Francisco’s offense wasn’t so lucky against Kenley Jansen, who struck out the side to clinch the game — and the division.

After Friday’s showstopper, the Dodgers are just two wins away from their first 100-win season since 1974. If they win the remaining eight games of the season, they’ll beat out the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers for the most wins in franchise history.

Watch: Cody Bellinger breaks NL rookie home run record

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Cody Bellinger helped the Dodgers to their first lead on Friday night, going deep for his 39th home run of the season and setting a new National League rookie home run record in the process. With two on and two out in the third inning, the Dodgers’ slugger launched a 2-1 pitch from the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija, skimming the right field fence to give the team a three-run cushion:

The three-run bomb was Bellinger’s sixth of the season. In what is undoubtedly a Rookie of the Year award-worthy campaign, he’s logged 21 solo shots, 11 two-run blasts and a single grand slam. His historic home run topped former NL rookie leaders Frank Robinson and Wally Berger, at 38 homers apiece.

The Dodgers need to stay on top of the Giants to clinch the NL West or, barring that, have the Marlins pull off a win over the Diamondbacks. They currently lead the Giants 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Marlins, meanwhile, are staying just ahead of the D-backs with a 9-7 lead in the top of the sixth.