In the beginning, the clamoring crowds wanted Gerrit Cole, but he said no to the most expensive contract the Dodgers have ever offered a free agent and went to the NYY. Then, it was Rendon, but the Dodgers never even offered him a contract after he let the front office know that he and his family wanted no part of the “Hollywood Lifestyle” that permeates the Dodger culture. Instead, Rendon signed with the Angels who just last year lost a player who overdosed on drugs so you can understand why Dodger fans were a bit confused by his comment. Since the Rendon signing, the smooth fielding Franciso Lindor has been on the Dodger radar but the news today is that the Dodgers might be moving on from Lindor and pivoting toward Mookie Betts.
This is a pivot I have been asking for all along.
If you have any belief in Zips, it seems to me the LAD should be targeting Betts/Price not Lindor. Using the Zips projections, the worst everyday player is Alex Verdugo and he happens to play the exact same position as Betts. You keep Lux and May, you land the 2020 NL MVP. Win
— Phil Gurnee (@meercatjohn) December 17, 2019
The backstory on why the 2018 AL MVP is available is that the Red Sox are in cost-cutting mode, and Mookie is headed into his final season before becoming a free agent. Normally the price for Mookie would be pretty high, but the kicker here is that if the Red Sox attach David Price to the deal, the cost in prospects will go down, while the Dodger payroll goes significantly up.
Price is still due $96 Million over the next three years and he’s a far cry from the guy who signed his 7/217 deal back in 2016 when he was 30 years old. Fangraphs posted an article talking about the value of David Price and as you can see he’s an albatross for the Red Sox right now.
If we assume Price’s value is around $30 million, it creates a $60 million gap between his value and his contract.
I’d expect the Red Sox to throw in some money in any deal, and the Dodgers to throw in some players and prospects to make it worthwhile. The Red Sox are in a tough spot. They were barely mediocre last year, the Yankee’s just signed Cole, and Tampa Bay is probably still a better team. The chances of them making the postseason aren’t good for 2020. In a perfect world, the Red Sox unload Price and sign Mookie to an extension but I don’t see that happening. Price is simply too pricey and to move that contract they have to attach a player so they might as well attach the guy who is going to be a free agent at the end of next year.
Before we look at how the Dodgers can acquire Betts and Price how about we look at the team. Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projection is out and the first thing you might notice is that the lowest fWAR is in right field, a spot currently allocated to Alex Verdugo even though it sounds like his back injury was much more serious than we thought. Mookie Betts is arguably the best right fielder in baseball. In 2018 Yelich won the NL MVP and Mookie the AL MVP as right fielders. Cody Bellinger won his 2019 MVP playing most of the time as a RF where he won his gold glove. You don’t want the worst player on your team to be your right fielder.
So, how about a lineup of:
Joc Pederson / Chris Taylor
You don’t see AJ Pollock in this lineup for a reason. The rotation now features
Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, David Price, Kenta Maeda, Julio Urias or Dustin May
How can we make this happen?
Who the Dodgers would send out is the question, but I think it starts with D.J. Peters, Josiah Gray, and Jeter Downs along with some major league talent like potentially A.J. Pollock and Ross Stripling.
My guess is that AJ Pollock has to be going back to help mitigate the contract of David Price. Ross Stripling to replace David Price in the rotation. Some prospects from a pool of DJ Peters, Edwin Rios, Mitch White, Dennis Santana, Leo Crawford, and Zach McKinstry. Not sure how much money would be coming back to the Dodgers if the Red Sox take Pollock. I’m flying blind.
Yeah, the payroll balloons in 2020 but you fill two needs in 2020, you now have two possible MVP candidates in Bellinger and Betts, one hits left-handed, one hits right-handed, and you didn’t have to deal any of Lux/May/Ruiz/Gonsolin/J Downs/Gray. It isn’t a big haul for Boston, but given the contract of Price, it shouldn’t be. This gives the Red Sox some major flexibility next offseason just as it did back in 2012 when the Dodgers loaded up on Red Sox bad contracts. That didn’t work out for the Dodgers as it was the Red Sox who ended up using that deal to springboard to a World Championship in 2013.
I just want Mookie Betts playing RF for the Dodgers in 2020. If things work out, they can take that money they were willing to play Cole, and give it to Betts after 2020.
I should probably mention that Mookie Betts is my favorite player in baseball. The last time my favorite player in baseball was traded to the Dodgers was back in 1974 when Jimmy Wynn helped lead the young 1974 team to the World Series. Mookie Betts is not Jimmy Wynn. He’s much younger, and much better. He’s what we thought Matt Kemp was going to be.
Well, the Dodgers didn’t get Cole. They now have to figure out a way to take a 106 win regular-season team, that took the eventual World Champions to extra innings in the deciding 5th game, and did so despite one of the worst postseason managing decisions in LAD history to win a few extra games in October.
Oh such a task
How do you take a team that has a projected infield of Max Muncy, Gavin Lux, Corey Seager, Justin Turner and make that infield better?
How do you take a team that has a projected outfield of Alex Verdugo / MVP Bellinger / Joc Pederson_AJ Pollock and make that outfield better?
How do you take a team that has a projected bench of Chris Taylor, Hernandez, Beaty, Barnes and make it better?
How do you take a rotation of Buehler / Kershaw / Kenta / Urias / May / Stripling / Gonsolin and make it better?
How do you take a bullpen of Jansen / Kelly / Baez / Ferguson / Kolarek and make it better?
Seems pretty clear to me that of the above options, the best deal the Dodgers have going right now is the infield. They could really use another starter to replace Ryu, at least two bullpen pieces and I don’t think anything else.
Anthony Rendon is a free agent, and Justin Turner has said he’d switch positions, so improving the infield is what Dodger Twitter wants us to do.
Yesterday I said the Dodgers needed to be “all-in” on Gerrit Cole.
Well, they weren’t.
Now, it’s time to shift the attention towards someone else, and really be “all-in” on Anthony Rendon.
— Blake Harris (@BlakeHarrisTBLA) December 11, 2019
Announce Rendon today, @Dodgers. Please.
— Dustin Nosler (@DustinNosler) December 11, 2019
The moving chess pieces are easy in the beginning. You simply insert Rendon at 3rd base, move Turner to 1st base. The next step isn’t so easy.
- Do you put the Minor League Player of the Year in Gavin Lux back in AAA and move Muncy to 2nd base for 2020? That doesn’t seem ideal. And while in AAA is he learning how to become an outfielder?
- Do you trade Corey Seager and move Lux to Shortstop? Maybe, but you’d be hard-pressed to convince me that an infield of Turner/Muncy/Lux/Rendon is better than an infield of Muncy/Lux/Seager/Rendon.
- Do you trade Joc Pederson and install Gavin Lux as your everyday Left-Fielder? I can live with that. Not every infielder can become an elite outfielder, but maybe Lux can, and he can go back to being a SS either in 2021 or 2022.
As you might realize by now I’m not really a fan of any of those options but when you look at the possible infield timeline:
2020 1st Muncy / 2nd Lux / SS Seager / 3rd Turner
2021 1st Muncy / ??? / SS Lux / 3rd Seager
2022 1st Muncy / ??? /SS Lux / ???
You can see why adding Rendon now makes perfect sense even if it causes all sorts of Dodger dominos to fall in the current season because when the timeline changes to this:
2020 1st Turner / 2nd Muncy / SS Seager / 3rd Rendon
2021 1st Muncy / 2nd Lux / SS Seager / 3rd Rendon
2022 1st Muncy / ??? / SS Lux / 3rd Rendon
You only have one hole to fill and that hole is only if you don’t resign Corey Seager.
So yeah, I’m all in on Anthony Rendon even though the bullpen and rotation still need some work.
Last night the Dodgers missed out on Gerrit Cole when the front office refused to give Cole the largest pitching contract in baseball history and Dodger Twitter exploded in indignation as they watched their perceived best chance at winning a World Championship go down the drain.
Not that Gerrit Cole won a World Championship with Houston. Even as his teammates tried their best to trash can themselves to the Championship, they came up short. I understand that Cole is “currently” the best pitcher in baseball, but baseball is about the future and the odds are good that Gerrit Cole just had his best season at exactly the right time.
Much like CC Sabathia had his best season at age 27 just before hitting free agency and being signed by the Yankees to his historic deal in the winter of 2008, Gerrit Cole has cashed in. Sabathia had some great seasons early on for the Yankees but just four years into the contract he became a below-average pitcher putting up a 95 ERA+ from 2013 – 2017. During that final four year run CC was paid $98 Million and hampered the Yankee’s ability to compete.
The Yankees did win a World Championship in the very first year of CC’s contract and maybe that is all it takes to justify the contract.
The World Championship.
That is after all the holy grail.
Expectations were huge on Wednesday night as the Clippers finally had the dynamite duo of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard playing together for the first time. Even though both players would be playing limited minutes it would be the first time fans of the Clippers and basketball fans around the world would see what got the NBA world buzzing this past summer. Besides the unveiling of the dynamic duo, the Clippers were playing the Boston Celtics who came into the game with the best record in the Eastern Conference.
As a Clipper fan, one of the things I’ve taken for granted is that when the Clippers host a team with a large following such as the Lakers, Bulls, Knicks, and Celtics the game will be filled with at least 50% of the visiting team fans and Wednesday Night was no different as Staples was filled with Celtic Green.
This can be deflating for Clipper fans but it has a silver lining in going to a Clipper / Celtic game at Staples. It becomes an experience I wish all fans could enjoy because it is so different than the norm. When each play results in cheers a fan rivalry grows as each base wants to show who can be loudest. At an NBA game, the fans cheer throughout the first three quarters but those cheers are muted compared to what will happen in the 4th if the game is closely contested. Last night the game went into overtime and was eventually decided on the last play when Kawhi blocked what could have been the tying three-point shot from the corner. The final ten minutes of the game were played in front of a standing crowd with each team’s fans either cheering or groaning with each play.
At one point last night the Celtics were up by 10 points late in the 4th quarter. Their fans were going crazy with good reason, their team had made all the good plays while the Clippers couldn’t hit shots and were sloppy with the basketball. Kawhi didn’t look anything like an NBA Finals MVP but Jason Tatum sure did firing in threes from all over the court. And just like that, the game turned but it was the Clippers heart (Lou Williams) and soul (Pat Beverly) who led the comeback not the vaunted duo of Kawhi/George. The Celtics were 8 – 0 with at least a 10 point lead in the 4th quarter so far in 2019 but by the end of the game, they were 8 – 1 as Pat Beverly grabbed rebound after rebound and hit three key three-point shots in overtime. Sweet Lou was why they got to overtime, scoring 13 points in the 4th quarter.
Only three guards in 2019 had grabbed at least 15 rebounds in a game and Pat Beverly is one of them. He was also the only one of the three to win the game.
Player Pos Date MP ORB DRB TRB GmSc Russell Westbrook G 2019-10-24 L 33 4 12 16 23.1 Patrick Beverley G 2019-11-20 W 41 4 12 16 20.4 Josh Hart G 2019-11-02 L 30 3 12 15 14.0
The Celtic fans who had been loud and crazy for all 53 minutes left Staples with a loss but they got their money’s worth. Their team didn’t win but for these fans who are 3,111 miles away from their hometown they had plenty to cheer about, and as we all ambled out of Staples, all I heard from the Celtic Green fans was mad respect for Pat Beverly.
Staples is a strange environment for Clipper fans as they have to share it with the visiting team fans but it is an environment that I’m finally becoming at peace with, as I realized Wed Night how much I enjoy the back and forth cheering that happens at Clipper games.
There is room for everyone.
- Possibly the most annoying player in the NBA on your team in Pat Beverly. The player you love to hate, unless he’s on your team, in which case he’s the player you love the most.
- Possibly the best postseason player in the NBA on your team in Kawhi who just might be in his prime.The best 6th man in Lou Williams who someday might see the 6th man award actually named after him. If you thought he might slow down you didn’t watch the first two games of the year.
- If there is one player who can wrest the 6th man award away from Lou Williams it might be his teammate Montrezl Harrell.
- The best 8th man in Mo Harkless.
- The best 9th man in JaMychal Green
- Are you getting the gist of this? The Clipper 2nd team will outscore the starting five of not only the Clippers but of most teams they play this season. When a game starts the Clippers starting five simply need to keep the game even because the 2nd unit will do the damage.
- The Best Laker center in Zubak. The gift that keeps on giving was on full display last night against the Warriors. They only thing keeping him from a more dominating performance was that you can only keep Montrezl Harrell on the bench for so long.
- The best player not yet playing in the NBA, Paul George. Every time the Clippers win, no one can use their own injured players as an excuse. The Lakers tried using the Kuzma line but were laughed out of the internet sphere. The Warriors didn’t even try using Klay being out because they knew Paul George was wearing a suit on the Clipper bench.
- We haven’t had to see what happens in a close 4th quarter. Last year it was Lou Williams who was one of the top scorers in the 4th quarter. This year the options could be anyone on the floor in the final two minutes. Lou Williams. Kawhi Leonard. Paul George. Montrezl Harrell if they over cover on any of those three will simply bull his way to the rim. I can’t wait to see a close game to see how it gets closed.
- Jerry West may not be making all the decisions in the Clipper front office, and he doesn’t need to because Ballmer has built the best front office in basketball where Jerry West simply needs to give his advice.
Corey Seager led the Dodgers in doubles in 2019 with 44 and hit his 44 doubles in only 541 plate appearances while Shawn Green hit his LAD best 49 doubles in 691 plate appearances.
The best double per plate appearance for a LAD seasonal leader is Corey Seager in 2019 at 12.3 doubles per plate appearance so I’m fairly confident in saying that if Corey hadn’t missed time in 2019 he would have broken the record and probably hit over 50 doubles.
Other Double Notes:
Wes Parker deserves special merit for his 47 doubles in 1970. Before Parker hit his 47 doubles the most any Los Angeles Dodger had hit was 31 by Willie Davis in 1966. Even after Parker hit those 47 doubles it wasn’t until Steve Sax hit 43 in 1986 that any Dodger ever crossed the 40 double threshold again.
Steve Garvey is the doubles king. Garvey led the Dodgers in doubles eight years from 1974 thru 1982 missing only 1977 when Bill Russell nudged him off the leaderboard.
Willie Davis did it six times from 1966 – 1973, missing only 1968 when Tom Haller did it, and 1970 when Wes Parker hit his 47 doubles. That 47 doubles by Wes Parker held up until Shawn Green hit his 49 doubles in 2003.
Andre Ethier led the Dodgers in doubles four years, doing it twice back to back in 2008/2009 and 2012/2013.
Raul Mondesi also led the Dodgers in doubles four times from 1994 – 1998 missing only 1995 when Eric Karros got back on top of the LAD double leaderboard.
Speaking of Karros he led the team in doubles three times 1992 (30), 1995(29), and 1999(40).
Continuing with Raul Mondesi, the player he was traded for Shawn Green, led the Dodgers in doubles three times with some hefty numbers. In 2000 he hit 44 doubles which at the time was the 2nd most doubles every hit by a LAD, a mere 31 in 2001, and the team-leading 49 in 2003.
Junior Jim Gilliam led the team in doubles in 1958 with 25 in the inaugural Los Angeles Dodger season. He would lead the team in doubles in 1961 with 26, and keeping with the trend would lead the team in doubles in 1963 with 27.
Tommie Davis led the team in doubles the first year Dodger Stadium was put into play with 27.
The lowest LAD seasonal double leader was Willie Davis with 22 in 1972 followed by Eddie Murray with 23 in 1991, and Steve Garvey with 23 in the strike-shortened season of 1981.
Multiple members of the 1981 World Championship team and 1988 World Championship team lead the team in doubles. Garvey, Russell, and Pedro Guerrero from the 1981 Championship team. Mike Marshall, John Shelby, Kirk Gibson, and my favorite oddity Jeff Hamilton. Steve Sax and Mike Scioscia were on both teams, Sax lead the team in 1986 and Scioscia in 1987.
Names you don’t see often on LAD leaderboards, Cory Snyder in 1993 (33), Hubie Brooks in 1990 (28), John Shelby in 1987 (26), Norm Larke in 1960 (26), and Tom Haller in 1968 (27).
|Paul Lo Duca||2002||38||99||30||632||16.63|
I spent some time trying to figure out how the Dodgers could get Anthony Rendon when it dawned on me that I’m just wasting my time. The Nationals are going to the World Series and Anthony Rendon is going to stay in Washington.
Gerritt Cole is probably going to the World Series and while he may not stay in Houston, he’s not coming to the Dodgers either.
That reality will upset many fans who feel the way to solve the Dodger problems are to spend their way out of it. To be clear the Dodger problem is not winning, they do that just fine, possibly better than any Dodger team ever, the problem is not winning the last game of the season.
I don’t know how to solve that. The Dodgers tried to solve it this past winter when they inexplicably signed A.J. Pollock to be their CF for the next for years. He was supposed to be a difference-maker in October when tough lefties were thrown at the Dodgers. Pollock couldn’t even man CF for one season, much less four and by August had simply become the LF against LHP. The only reason he played against RHP in October was that Alex Verdugo ended up missing Sept and Oct. It only took three games in October before A.J. Pollock was sitting on the bench in October leaving me to wonder exactly what I wondered when they signed him, what does A.J. Pollock have that Chris Taylor does not? Not exactly how the Dodger brass expected their big signing of 2019 to play out but it wasn’t exactly unpredictable.
The other big signing was Joe Kelly who picked the wrong time to start Howie Kendrick on a roll that still hasn’t finished.
I don’t know what the Dodgers will do this winter. The team is still loaded with veterans and youth. You still have the starting lineups of Muncy/Lux/Seager/Turner/Smith/Pederson/Bellinger/Verdugo against RHP and Muncy/Lux/Seager/Turner/Smith/Verdugo/Bellinger/Pollock against LHP assuming that Lux becomes the starting everyday 2nd baseman and Verdugo an everyday OF.
When healthy, that is probably a better starting lineup than the group that won 106 games. Lux should be an improvement at 2nd, Seager should improve, Smith over a full season should give the team more than Barnes did the first three months. Having Bellinger in CF for a full season is going to help the defense. We can’t forget how good Alex Verdugo was when he was healthy. Joc was Joc, but with even more Joc Jack than ever before.
The rotation may lose Ryu and Hill but that still leaves Walker / Kershaw / Kenta / May / Urias / Stripling / Gonsolin and possibly Josiah Gray. Going forward Walker is probably going to be the running for some Cy Young Awards. Kershaw may have found a nice level as a mid-rotation starter. Kenta is Kenta. A perfectly decent rotation piece who will head to the bullpen in Sept. I don’t know what May is, but he’s ready for his rotation piece. Ross Stripling is perfectly serviceable in a rotation. Urias should finally be ready for his spot in a rotation. Once again, I have no idea what to expect from him but it is time we find out what he is. That is a solid rotation but probably not a rotation that you’d bet on to win the last game of the season unless one of May or Urias becomes a genuine 2nd option come October. Not a bet I’d make. Even if Rich Hill comes back for another season, the spot you can see the Dodgers trying to upgrade is the rotation.
As always, the bullpen clearly needs another big piece, maybe two.
Anyway, last year the Dodgers shocked us by trading Puig/Wood for two prospects who both blossomed. They also shocked us by signing A.J. Pollock and you’d be hard-pressed to say that was a good deal. Now that Cody Bellinger is the CF going forward that is a lot of money for a right-handed hitting left fielder who is probably 4th on the outfield depth chart behind Cody/Pederson/Verdugo and maybe should be fifth behind Chris Taylor.
Joe Kelly was a good signing, I’m not blaming him for the 10th inning of game 5 and for most of the summer was the best relief option in the bullpen.
Every winter over the past six years has had the same question. How do you improve a team that keeps playing in October but never long enough? Once again the Dodgers will try to answer that question, maybe this time they will get it right.
Has there ever been a more complicated relationship in Los Angeles sports than what Dodger fans and future HOF Clayton Kershaw are going through right now? How many times can the Dodgers be knocking on the door only to have the guy with the biggest knockers be the one who doesn’t knock the hardest when they need it the most?
After the latest Dave Roberts enabled debacle on Wednesday Night when Clayton gave up a two-run lead in the 8th on two pitches you had Kershaw fans throwing their Kershaw jersey onto the field, and crowds erupting into Kershaw sucks. Can you imagine that? After everything Kershaw has done in this town that is what was happening. I can’t talk about what was happening on Twitter because I don’t follow that kind of Dodger fans but I understand it got twitter nasty. His defenders will say these are lousy fans but are they? Yes, some are, but the majority are just frustrated fans acting out because once again they feel let down by the greatest Dodger of the 21st century. I could understand the need for them to vent.
In the aftermath of all this Kershaw nonsense, this tweet showed up yesterday.
This tweet broke me as no tweet related to sports ever has. As mad as you might have been at Clayton before you saw this tweet, you probably had tears in your eyes after you read it. I sure did.
“I love you,” said Rick Honeycutt, the pitching coach for Clayton Kershaw’s entire career. “You always give everything you’ve got. Sometimes it don’t work out.”
Kershaw burst into tears. https://t.co/DkhinPhurP
— Stephanie Apstein (@stephapstein) October 10, 2019
In the past, Clayton has been stoic about his failures in October, but this time, this time he couldn’t hold back the pain. I hurt for Clayton Kershaw. His pain is our pain but damn, he also delivers pain.
It made me think of his career and how maddening it has been for me, for Dodger fans.
I love that Clayton was the most consistent greatest regular-season pitcher I ever saw.
I love that he was so dominant in the minors that while still a teenager he got his own nickname.
I love that when he made his debut for the Dodgers, my niece was visiting and staying at my house (the only time) so we got to watch his debut together.
I love that at just age 21 in 2009 he was already one of the best pitchers in baseball.
I love that on April 17th, 2009 he gave me the game that enabled me to write one of my saddest and favorite articles for TBLA.
I hated that he would get crushed by the Phillies in the first game of the 2009 NLCS paving the way for the Phillies to win 4 games to 1.
I loved that at age 23 in 2011 he would win his first CYA, lead the league in Wins, ERA, Strikeouts, WHIP, and Hits per Nine Innings.
I loved that at age 24 in 2012 he would finish 2nd in CYA voting
I love that Clayton would give me the best opening day ever when in 2013 he broke up a 0 – 0 game with a home run and tossed a four-hit shutout.
I loved that at age 25 in 2013 he would win his 2nd CYA with a crazy 1.83 ERA
I love that in 2013, Clayton gave up just one run in nineteen innings in his first three postseason starts.
I hate that in a game the Dodgers had to win, Clayton got drubbed for seven runs in only four innings by the Cardinals in game six of the 2013 NLCS making his first three starts of that postseason a distant memory. Clayton would lose the last game the Dodgers played in 2013 and it would become a pattern.
I loved that at age 26 in 2014 Clayton would win his 3rd CYA, and also be the MVP by having one of the greatest pitching seasons in baseball history.
I hated that the best pitcher in baseball would give up eight runs in the first game of the NLDS against the Cardinals. He would also lose game four and once again pitched the last game of the year for the Dodgers.
I loved that in 2015 Clayton struck out 301 hitters. 301 hitters!!!
I loved that with the Dodgers down 2 games to 1 he beat the Met’s 3 -1 in the 2015 NLDS and for once, did not pitch and lose the last game of the Dodgers season.
I loved that in 2016 Clayton would work his way back from his back injury and be the best pitcher in baseball when he was able to pitch. Limited to only 144 9 innings he still put up an ERA of 1.80 marking the 3rd time in three years he had a sub 2.00 ERA.
I hate that in 2016, once again, Clayton pitched the last game of the Dodger season, and it was a loss and it wasn’t close.
I hate that five days later Clayton would pitch three shutout innings and then give up a four-run and three-run lead in back to back innings. This was the game that Clayton had to win, and if he had, all of this nonsense would be no more.
I loved that Clayton was able to prove the naysayers wrong by having a remarkably strong season in 2019 at the age of 31 and made the most starts he’d made since 2015.
I hated how the 2019 season ended. For him. I don’t really care so much about myself anymore. At this point, I’m rooting for the players. For Clayton most of all.
Most of all I have loved that Clayton Kershaw the baseball player might even be a better person.
It is possible that much like Dan Marino and Miami that Clayton and Los Angeles simply don’t get that final celebration, and if that ends up the case, Clayton will have to accept some of the blame, but never all the blame, and so what.
Yeah, so what.
Is it possible to have a good time at a game that ends a team’s season?
When you go to a game by yourself you don’t have the luxury of picking who you hang out with, you get the luck of the draw.
Sometimes you get lucky and find yourself enveloped around good fun Dodger fans or loud obnoxious Dodger fans. It is a fine line between the two. When I left for the game the plan was to park at Pierce and take the Orange/Red/Gold line to Chinatown and walk but when I realized that traffic was easy peasy I decided to head for the Ravine and see if I could get there early enough to snag some decent off-street parking since I hadn’t purchased parking beforehand. I did, and instead of getting to the game around 04:30 I was there at 03:00 with nothing to do but stand in line which got me to the gate before everyone but one person. In all the years I’ve been going I’ve never been there before the gate opened unless I was covering a game for TrueBlueLA and entering with the credentialed press at the top deck.
I realized I was so early that once I got in I could either use my single ticket which was in Loge 165 or head for the drinking wells behind home plate which would give me an excellent view of the game but meant standing for about five hours. I choose the latter and found that Dodger Services had a little trick where they would save spots at the drinking wells for their friends, but since I was the 3rd person to show up I was still able to get a nice spot. To my left was Dodger Twitter Celebrity @dodgers_randi and to my right was a lady dressed not in Dodger blue but in Cub blue which easily started a conversation. She was a Cub fan and a baseball fan and was at the game simply to watch baseball. I loved this so much. So we didn’t talk Dodger baseball, we talked baseball.
That is how you pass time before a game. Before long the throng of Dodger fans the Dodger Services had saved spots showed up. I didn’t recognize anyone from Dodger Twitter but I’m sure they were. To be honest many of the Dodger Twitter group look the same based on their avatar. The leader of the group of mostly women and a bazillion kids noticed the Cub fan and I wondered how that would go since Dodger fans have been known to be a tad unfriendly to those who don’t sport the proper blue. She told her that since she is with them she was part of the family and was true to her words. As the game went on, the Cub fan had been fully integrated into their group. I was pretty sure a new friend had been added to the club.
To my left, a new addition had shown up, an elderly Dodger fan that Randi had saved the space for, she had as much enthusiasm as any Dodger fan in the park. She became my first high five partner when Joc almost hit a Joc Jack and collected high fives in droves from everyone around her.
As the old white male, I was just kind of watching all of this unfold. I was an active spectator for what the Dodgers were doing and simply a bemused spectator of the fan dynamics going on around me. Everyone was having fun, and while much of it was the beer, the Dodgers early lead, a big part I felt was simply the comradery that Dodger Twitter has created. I’m not part of the comradery but it is fascinating to watch it happen.
Throughout the game, Dodger Twitter folk would show up to get a selfie with @dodgers_randi and chat her up. You could tell this was a daily experience for her and she made it possible leaving her season seats in the top deck to be accessible in the loge at the drinking wells for her legion of Twitter fans. To do this she has to be there before anyone else, not an easy trick to accomplish.
Eventually, I stepped back from the table to let two young girls have a place to put their beer and food. I didn’t need the table and just by stepping back the two spaces I found a nice pole to lean back against and that was where I stayed. It was a small price to pay because I had beer bought for me by a very incessant girl which made her happy for reasons I don’t fathom. As more beer was poured the happier the group to my right was getting. They were in full-blown party mode which you do better from the standing room only drinking spots behind the seats. If you didn’t collect half a dozen high fives for anything remotely successful by the Dodgers you weren’t trying.
Everything was going right until it wasn’t. Kershaw killed the mood but it would have taken one key clutch hit to undo the damage but the offense couldn’t do it. Instead of the anticipation of celebration, there was now dread that this was the last game of the season. Howie turned that dread into reality. The group’s fun dynamic was gone but they just hugged each other instead of dancing. The Dodger season was over, but their friendships would endure beyond the Dodger season.
I left with the chants of Roberts Sucks and Kershaw Sucks echoing around the stadium. I could understand the frustration but I’d never vocalize it. Once again the Dodgers had failed to win at home the sudden death game. This loss now made me 1 -3 in those games.
You can tell by age how I’ve progressed with these games.
In 1980 I was so pissed off. So so pissed off. I didn’t know 1981 was in my future and felt that was the last shot for the Garvey/Lopes/Russel/Yeager/Smith/Baker/Monday group to win a ring. At that time I wanted that ring as much for myself as a Dodger fan as I did for the players.
In 2017 Yu Darvish made me mad and Kershaw even made me madder by how well he pitched in relief of Darvish. Where was that stuff in Game 5? I was mad for him. His legacy deserves a ring, but he had to pitch better if he wanted to get one. Two out of three doesn’t cut when you are hunting a World Series. I left that game annoyed that it was over before it even started. At least be competitive.
2019 I wasn’t mad last night, I was simply sad that it was Kershaw who couldn’t do what he needed to do. I was annoyed with Dave Roberts and feel he didn’t manage the team right, but it was still Kershaw who blew the 2-run lead in the 8th inning. This is like 1980 for me having watched the 74, 77, and 78 teams not win a World Series. I don’t know if there is a 1981 on the horizon for Kershaw/Turner/Kenley but unlike 1980 I don’t really care enough to be mad about it.
I walked away from a sudden death loss, and I still could say, I had a great time, and none of it was related to me, but to the people around me.
It isn’t that the Nationals aren’t a talented team, they are, but when you have a 3 – 1 lead in the 8th inning with your whole bullpen still at your disposal your expectations for victory are pretty damn high, so when the season goes to hell in a handbasket in a matter of seconds you feel the pain much more acutely.
The Dodgers don’t have to worry about making history by losing in the World Series three years in a row because they won’t even be showing up. Rarely has a 106 win season felt so hollow as it does right now.
I wanted to get a lousy night’s sleep before saying anything but I think any manager can take this talented team and win a Division Title, so what you want is a manager who can help the team win in October. Dave Roberts may not be that manager.
Jon Weisman posted this before the game and even as it rings true I don’t think Dave Roberts managed a very good end game last night.
Something I wrote last night:
— Jon Weisman (@jonweisman) October 9, 2019
When I heard everyone saying that Kershaw was going to pitch out of the bullpen I wondered why they were excited about that. Kershaw had a good to great season but he had one flaw that kept it from being a brilliant season. He really sucked at getting the first three outs just about every time he started. When he gave up three quick runs to the Nationals in Game Two, it was no surprise to anyone who has followed his season this year. So why is he even an option out of the bullpen unless you are desperate when you have Urias who was one of the best bullpen pieces in baseball this year? Clayton gave up 10 home runs in 28 innings in the first inning as a starter. That means before he gets out three outs in any game there is a 12% chance someone is going to hit a home run. Are those the odds you want to go with in a 3 – 1 game that sends you home if you make the wrong decision when you have your whole bullpen to use and you already in the 8th inning?
Split IP ER ERA HR 1st inning 28.0 18 5.79 10 2nd inning 28.0 4 1.29 2 3rd inning 28.0 10 3.21 6 4th inning 28.0 9 2.89 6 5th inning 28.0 8 2.57 2 6th inning 26.0 6 2.08 2 7th inning 12.1 5 3.65 0 Innings 1-3 84.0 32 3.43 18 Innings 4-6 82.0 23 2.52 10 Innings 7-9 12.1 5 3.65 0
Joe Kelly pitched a great 9th inning. He got his three outs. For some reason, Dave Roberts felt he could get three more. He couldn’t and there are no numbers to explain why Dave Roberts felt this was a good idea. Below are the game logs for every time Joe Kelly was asked to get more than three outs during the 162 game season. He only did it once before and that was in a blow out when Dave was making sure that Joe Kelly was back on track after his horrible start. Of the eight times, Joe Kelly was asked to get more than three outs in a game, he gave two or more runs three times. Are those the odds you want to work with in a tie game in the 10th inning when you still have most of your bullpen available?
Gtm Date Rslt Inngs IP H ER 75 Jun19 W9-2 8-GF 2.0 2 0 5 Apr1 L2-4 6-7 1.2 4 4 10 Apr7 W12-6 4-6 1.2 3 2 131 Aug24 W2-1 6-7 1.2 1 0 2 Mar29 L4-5 7-8 1.1 3 2 15 Apr12 L5-8 6-7 1.1 3 1 87 Jul2 W5-4 5-6 1.1 0 0 125 Aug17 L3-4 6-7 1.1 1 0 11 Apr8 L3-4 6-6 1.0 2 1
On the plus side for Dave Roberts he tabbed Enrique Hernandez to play LF instead of Pollock or Taylor, and that paid off handsomely with Hernandez hitting a key home run.
He is also the manager who decided to use Walker in game one so that he could also pitch a game 5. He could have gone with Ryu or Kershaw. He made the right decision. Many times he has made the right decision but many times he has not and the end result right now is that the Dodgers have had a historical run but the Holy Grail of baseball continues to elude them.