So the Dodgers blew it.
How many years does this make? And all we have to show for it is that 2020 World Series that, when I look back on it, really wasn’t the same thing as winning it all after a normal season. Yeah, I’ll still say that winning in 2020 was a big achievement, given how crazy everything was…but it’s never going to feel like a ‘real’ World Series win. No matter what I wrote at the time.
I’ve been so pissed off that I haven’t been able to write about it until now. At least now I at least know that the Padres won’t be in the World Series.
And I’m still pissed off that the so-called Best Team in Baseball got knocked out of the playoffs in the Division Series by losing to a team that they repeatedly beat during the regular season. Every Dodger fan under the sun must be as pissed off as I am. Or should be. It’s just plain old ridiculous that a team that won 111 games in the regular season couldn’t put two (let alone three) wins together in the NLDS.
And then there was Andrew Friedman’s super smug press conference where he sat there and told us that everything was great because we won those 111 games in the regular season and led the League in most metrics. The dude should have been apologizing to the fans, but I reckon “never apologize” applies to baseball general mangers as much as it does to politicians. It made me want to knock him out of the chair he was lounging back in.
Ok, Andrew Friedman isn’t the real problem. Yeah, he did put together a team that won 111 games this season, and you certainly got a good feeling following the team from April to September. There’s more to baseball than the postseason, except that there’s nothing more important than the postseason and possibly winning a World Series. Yeah, I’m afraid you can win all 162 games in a regular season and it won’t mean anything if you get bounced out of the Division Series.
Friedman said that the best team doesn’t necessarily win the World Series; the “hottest” team does. That’s fishing for excuses, of course, and it’s a pretty lame one. Yeah, sure, being hot at the right moment helps, but a team being hot – and this is a pretty superstitious ball player talking – is still the result of a team being good. It’s not like you can have a bunch of second-rate players suddenly get hot at the end of September and suddenly win the World Series. Is luck a factor in winning the World Series? I reckon it is, but luck (whatever it is) is a factor in just about anything you do. The way you counteract the effects of luck is by practicing hard and being good at what you do.
(I reckon you can say that I lucked into my job on At Home with Maya, but I also got it because I was good at teaching Matteo and Jacob how to play ball.)
Back to the Dodgers and my expert analysis of what happened…
While I don’t believe that the Padres being hot was a factor, I think it was a very important factor that the Padres were hungry. That does affect the way a team plays, and it’s pretty clear that the Padres wanted to beat the Dodgers and wanted it bad. As for the Dodgers…were they taking it for granted that they’d beat San Diego? With 111 wins behind them and a record of something like 14 and 5 in the regular season against the Padres, yep, I think that’s a piece of the puzzle. It’s as though they were thinking ‘we’re the best team in baseball and a team whose ass we kicked in the regular season is going to be a walkover for us in October.’ And we know where that gets you. I’ve written about pissing the baseball gods off by that kind of thinking, and, sure enough, the baseball gods made sure that the little things they influence didn’t go the Dodgers’ way.
Not only were the Dodgers not hungry, they were also coming back from a month of playing meaningless games…and something like ten days of not playing at all while the Wild Cards were being settled. That’s not going to keep a team on its toes, and, again sure enough, they weren’t on their toes with the NLDS started.
I’m not going to go down the roster and point out who failed the team the most, although the fact is that the best players weren’t delivering and the runners in scoring position situation was an outright disaster, a sure sign that the team’s not firing on all cylinders. It’s not anyone’s fault that they lost the series – it’s everyone’s fault. The fact is the team didn’t play well enough to win.
And I’m sorry Mr. Friedman, but that’s not baseball – that’s your players not delivering, no matter how good they are.
Okay, I am gonna blame someone, at least partly. It should have been obvious in 2017 (even with the Astros cheating) that – I’m gonna say this real slow: Dave. Roberts. Can’t. Manage. In. The. Postseason.
I’m not really sure why that is, but, again, holding up the regular season record when the team chokes in the first playoff series they have to play isn’t an excuse. Yeah, fine, he piloted an extremely strong team to 111 wins. That was very nice all summer long. But this isn’t the first time he’s fucked up in the postseason. It’s been time for a new manager for a long time, but, if this year didn’t make that totally obvious, I don’t know what will. It’s time to seriously consider getting in some new blood.
And, oh yeah, Mr. Friedman: you let Seager walk…don’t make that mistake with Trea Turner. Take it from another shortstop: you need someone good at that position if you’re gonna stand any chance of winning in the playoffs next year. (And, baseball gods please listen, I’m not taking that for granted…although I’ll bet that Andrew Friedman already is.)