Four straight years they've watched October opponents go dog-pile-silly celebrating on the field. Then they trudge to the clubhouse, empty their lockers and pack their bags for a grim flight home and the start of another offseason of anguish. This time it resulted from Saturday night's 5-0 Game 6 loss to the Cubs and elimination from the National League Championship Series.
Needing two wins to reach the World Series, the Dodgers instead find themselves 28 years and counting since their last appearance, wondering, if they can't get there with a rested Clayton Kershaw on the mound, how can they?
"They got hot, they played great. But we definitely helped them," said first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. "We didn't play good baseball the last three games, our brand of baseball. We beat ourselves a little bit. It just happens, I guess. You still have to tip your hat and give them credit, for sure, no doubt about it. But we definitely didn't play the kind of baseball we're accustomed to playing. They did everything they needed to do. Played unbelievable defense. They pitched. They did everything."
And with everything on the line, the Dodgers did everything wrong. After leading the best-of-seven series, 2-1, they lost three straight as the offense went cold, the defense got sloppy and the starting pitchers couldn't keep the Cubs bats' from finally breaking out.
"You're up in the series, and with two games at home, you think you're in a really good spot, but it didn't go the way we thought it would go," said Joc Pederson. "We didn't take care of business. We made mistakes, and that's baseball. I don't think it's hit us yet that the season's over. When we wake up tomorrow and don't have to go to the field, tomorrow will be interesting."
The Dodgers couldn't even get out of Wrigley Field on Saturday night, having to shelter in place in the clubhouse for an extra hour while local officials devised an escape route through Wrigleyville, which was overrun with Cubs fans celebrating their team's first World Series appearance since 1945.
"You know what, I think that they beat us," said rookie manager Dave Roberts. "We made mistakes. And you hate to have sour grapes, but the better team won the series. That's why you play seven-game series, and they showed it."
The Cubs won 103 games in the regular season and the Dodgers 91, so maybe it shouldn't have been a total surprise at the numbers that follow: The Dodgers hit .210 with a .593 OPS in the series; were outscored, 30-17 (and 23-6 in the last three games); hit four homers to Chicago's seven; and committed seven errors against three for the Cubs.
"It's just one of those things where the postseason, you're going to run into some great pitching, ones, twos and threes," said Roberts. "And the execution is a lot more -- there's a higher percentage of execution. And yeah, we didn't swing the bats great in the Division Series but found a way to win games.
"This series, those guys, you've got to tip your hat, they pitched well. And even that first game against Kyle Hendricks that we won, it was a 1-0 game. So this kid went out there and threw the baseball really well against us. And their whole staff, they did a great job keeping us at bay."
With the Dodgers' offense a no-show against Hendricks on Saturday, Kershaw could have pitched a perfect game and still not won.
"Hendricks was really good and executed extremely well," said Friedman. "But tonight was probably the first time we had a really hard time putting things together. Tonight certainly was not the prototypical 2016 Dodgers game. It happens."
And it wasn't the prototypical Kershaw, more like the guy with a bad back than the one who helped get the club into the postseason and past the Nationals in the NL Division Series.
Counted on for so much, Kershaw allowed two first-inning runs for the first time this season and fell to 1-3 with a 6.28 ERA in five career elimination starts. In his postseason career, he's 4-7 with a 4.55 ERA.
"This day is never fun, the ending of a season," said Kershaw, who held the Cubs scoreless over seven innings in Game 2 but allowed all five runs (four earned) on seven hits in five innings in Game 6. "You look back, think about the season as a whole, it's tough to swallow tonight, obviously, but I'd much rather be in this situation and fail than not be in this situation at all.
"As much as this does hurt and as much as I would have liked to win tonight, I'm really thankful to be on a team that got to be in the postseason four years in a row and really thankful for that group in the clubhouse that has your back in these situations and thankful I get to come back next year and try again."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.