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Torre wants you to know, just in case it occurs to you: No stigma to these Dodgers

March 1, 2010 |  7:07 am
Torre Here come the new Dodgers, looking a lot like the old Dodgers. Looking almost exactly like the old Dodgers.

For two consecutive seasons the Dodgers have advanced to the National League Championship Series, only to be turned away by the Phillies.

Now the Dodgers return nearly intact, their faithful wondering what’s required for this mostly young group to take that last step.

No one I know has suggested there is some mental barrier preventing the Dodgers from rising to championship level. No one, that is, until Joe Torre did Sunday.

When I asked him about the Dodgers advancing from near greatness to a World Series team, he gave the mostly expected answer about learning from past experience and honing motivation.

And then added, without being asked, that people should not label the Dodgers as some team unable to make the mental breakthrough.

"I think it’s too early to say there’s some kind of stigma involved here, because I don’t think they’ve been at that level where they can only go so far and they can’t do this," Torre said.

"I don’t think they have that kind of experience yet, to say that it’s a bad omen. I think we have to get a little more time for that."
Stigma? Bad omen?

That Torre sure knows had to head off a question, or a doubt, before it’s voiced. Joe Torre, a man ahead of his time.

I think most people simply figured the Phillies were better, had a deeper lineup and rotation, not that the Dodgers lacked self-belief.

It’s one thing to get beaten by a better team, and something else for a great team that proves unable to reach its potential, that begins to believe it’s jinxed and just can’t break through.

There should be more left in the Dodgers’ tank, more to come from maturity and experience.

If the Dodgers don’t evolve, don’t break through, then their run will have had a disappointing finale. And then, as Torre well knows, will come the label.

The team that wasn’t quite good enough.

There’s plenty of time for that. As Torre wants you to know, before you even think it.

-- Steve Dilbeck, in Phoenix

Photo: Joe Torre. Credit: Jed Jacobsohn / Getty Images