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McCourt has sights set on loftier goal

McCourt has sights set on loftier goal

LOS ANGELES -- With the division title in hand, Dodgers' chairman Frank McCourt set his sights on a loftier goal, that of bringing a world championship to the city.

"It's a nice day to pause and have a measured celebration," McCourt said after watching the final inning of Arizona's loss in manager Joe Torre's office Thursday. "I'm happy for Joe, I'm happy for Ned (general manager Ned Colletti) and their staffs.

"We had some bumps in the road, but at the end of the day, the team came through and pulled it off and I'm very pleased with that and that we're playing our best baseball of the year right now. We won it in very definitive fashion.

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"The accomplishment is acknowledged, but we have more work to do. It's very clear to me that nobody thinks this is the end of the road. We've taken a step. We haven't won a championship. This is part of returning a winning culture to the franchise."

McCourt's Dodgers have reached the postseason three of the five years of his ownership, the first time that's happened for the Dodgers since 1981-85. But since the 1988 World Series championship, the Dodgers have won one postseason game.

When he hired a manager with four World Series rings, it wasn't just to put his face on billboards all over town. He turned to Torre to win a fifth.

"I felt frustrated with how last season ended," McCourt said. "The brass ring was in our grasp and it slipped away. But I think we benefited from last year. The experience helped through crunch time this year because the team had seen how easily it can slip away.

"We're playing for a world championship, that's what it's all about. It's time to get to the next level, to win a playoff series and to win a world championship. That's something to celebrate.

"We've accomplished something, now there's another step to take. Of course, I'd be disappointed if we lose. But we're making progress, no question, and we're getting back to the point where the culture of winning is returning."

McCourt was asked about the status of Colletti, who has one year left on his contract but was rumored on the hot seat while the club struggled through a difficult first half. But Colletti acquired Casey Blake to take over third base, then landed Manny Ramirez in what has arguably become the biggest trade acquisition in Dodgers history.

McCourt said the timing was wrong to discuss Colletti, that it would take away from the club's achievement.

"We're all on the same page and we keep marching forward," he said. "There's no reason to talk about it. Winning is what matters. It's totally off the point and distracting and I won't grandstand. I think he's doing a fine job. Our focus is on winning the world championship."

Colletti said he took satisfaction in the team's comeback over the past month, accomplished in large part through the contributions of in-season acquisitions -- Ramirez, Blake, Angel Berroa and Greg Maddux.

"I'm relaxed and ecstatic and at the same time proud of the team and the way they came together," Colletti said. "I've got confidence in what I do. I know what my relationship is with the McCourts. I don't need to feel vindicated."

Colletti echoed McCourt's sentiment about work still to be done and said he believes this year's team is better than the one that was swept by the Mets two years ago.

"We're more experienced and in some ways younger and fresher," Colletti said. "We'll have four games, and not one, to prepare and we'll benefit from that. Once you've played in the postseason, you understand the dynamics. For those that have been here the three years, they saw a run at it, then saw it's not that easy and have less reason to take it for granted. And there's a chance we'll get a touch healthier if we stay in the postseason."

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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