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A Crosstown Lesson for the 2013 Los Angeles Dodgers

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COMMENTARY | It's safe to say that fans of the Los Angeles Dodgers are brimming with excitement at the prospect of what the 2013 season has in store for their team. But if those who follow sports in the City of Angels have learned anything over the past few months, it's that assembling a juggernaut on paper does not automatically translate to success on the field.

Just ask the Los Angeles Lakers.

The similarities between the two L.A. sports franchises are striking, and the basketball team has written a cautionary tale that all Dodgers fans must acknowledge before placing lofty expectations on the Boys in Blue in 2013. Sure, franchise cornerstone Matt Kemp is finally healthy again after injuries last season derailed what was shaping up to be another MVP-type campaign. And, yes, last year's late-season acquisitions, Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez, have been able to get spring training games under their belts, no doubt improving the overall team chemistry that may have been lacking during the Dodgers' mediocre finish last fall. And, of course, as if those two pickups weren't enough to inspire confidence for this season, Dodgers ownership, ironically headed by former Lakers great Magic Johnson, was able to reach into its deep pockets and come out with prized free-agent starter Zack Greinke.

All of these moves have the Dodgers primed for what not only seems to be an epic summer at Chavez Ravine but also a sweet opportunity to dethrone the defending champion and hated rival San Francisco Giants. Taking a look at the Dodgers' offense, management has acquired the services of All-Star-caliber players Ramirez and Gonzalez to mesh with mainstays Kemp and Andre Ethier. This all sounds great, but tell me these moves are not eerily similar to what the Lakers did just last summer when they brought in Steve Nash and Dwight Howard to team up with tenured stars Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.

When those deals went down, all of the talking heads were predicting the Lakers to steamroll through the league en route to a glorious championship in June. Nobody, and I mean nobody, could have expected the "mighty" Lakers to be desperately fighting for their playoff lives with less than a month to go in the season. But that's what has happened. So for the Dodgers and their fans, despite the additions of Greinke, a former Cy Young Award winner, and highly regarded Korean import Hyun-Jin Ryu to bolster a rotation led by another former Cy Young winner in Clayton Kershaw, the fact of the matter is that baseball games aren't won on paper and they aren't won with dollar signs.

World Series champions are teams that feature a combination of great pitching, solid defense and a balanced lineup. But, most important, the best teams develop chemistry that allows them to win enough games to qualify for the postseason and to rally through October adversity (see 2012 Giants). On paper, it seems as though the Dodgers have more than enough pitching, defense and hitting. What they clearly don't have is the experience of playing together for an extended period of time, something that has severely crippled their star-studded basketball counterparts across town.

If the 2013 Dodgers can take anything away from the 2013 Lakers besides Magic Johnson, it's that big moves made with big bucks do not always guarantee magic in October.

Nick Ostiller was born and raised in Los Angeles and currently lives in Santa Clara. He is a sports reporter at The Santa Clara and has also worked for Outlook Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @nicko229.

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