The 1996 season saw the Dodgers remain atop the standings most of the season. However, long time manager Tommy Lasorda suffered a heart attack in mid-season and had to step down. Bill Russell, Lasorda's bench coach and a former Dodger player, was chosen to manage the rest of the season.
The Dodgers went into the final weekend of the season with a two game lead on the San Diego Padres, needing only to win one of the final three games with the Padres to clinch the National League Western Division crown. However, the Padres swept the Dodgers and they limped into the playoffs as a Wild Card team.