We shouldn’t have been reminded that this won’t be easy for the Dodgers.
All the “best team in baseball” talk? The suggestions that the defending champions might be the twenty-first century Yankees equivalent? That basically shakes a finger at fate and dares to act on it. What it did on Thursday afternoon.
A wise retired college baseball coach I know likes to put it this way: “I don’t care about the game.” It doesn’t matter what you did last year or what you want to do this season. It didn’t matter on Thursday what PECOTA, the baseball prospectus algorithm, planned for the Dodgers (104.0 projected 2021 wins) or the Colorado Rockies (61.4).
The bad news? Thursday’s Dodgers looked more like the ’62 Mets than the ’27 Yankees, given the mistakes, wild pitches and mistakes in their 5-8 loss to the Rockies. The good news? If the pandemic allows it, there are 161 games left. Don’t panic, even if your Padre fan friends brag about loudly for a day.
Admit it. It’s wonderful to be able to say again that it’s a long season and not having to multiply everything by 2.7 like a year ago.
But before they said baseball was back to normal – and the crowd at Coors Field that announced 20,570 in a 50,398-seat park seemed to be providing an energy that was lacking last season – the news from Washington, DC was sobering. The Nationals opener against the New York Mets has been postponed and the second game of the season on Friday will appear to take place as well, as three Nats tested positive and a fourth, as general manager Mike Rizzo was quoted as saying, was “likely positive”.
So the logs persist for a reason. Teams still have taxi commands when it comes to health issues, there are still restrictions on what players can do on the street, and although vaccinations are not required, players and other team staff are urged to receive them.
“The flight (from LA to Denver) was pretty similar to our flights last year,” said third baseman Justin Turner. “Everyone is masked and spread across the entire plane. We had flight attendants, but it was basically helping yourself on the plane. ”
When they checked into the hotel, he said, “I don’t think we can go out. But the Dodgers are doing a great job. They provide food and we can order room service and the like. So it’s not a total lockdown. We are allowed to leave our rooms as long as we are wearing masks. ”
It’s easy to let go of the guard. Many people have in all walks of life. But it’s not over yet. The Nats’ positive tests were just another reminder, and maybe this is another way baseball can play a part in the common good.
“I think baseball has already taken a step forward in terms of … I don’t know if there are incentives for people to get the vaccine or just to let staff and players know what could possibly happen,” said Manager Dave Roberts on Thursday.
“I think education is important to educate people about the game. But a lot of it is that we need to monitor ourselves internally. I can only speak for the Dodgers, but I think we did a good job. Ron Porterfield (the organization’s player health director) has been very hardworking and a tireless worker.
“I think baseball does what it can.”
I can’t say for sure, but I suspect Roberts has told his team more about how to stay diligent in the fight against COVID-19 than about the prospect of two consecutive championships and what his team has to do to achieve that He said he hadn’t had team meetings on the subject and numbers that he really didn’t need.
Players should understand the challenge and the opportunity. No one has won consecutive World Series titles since the 1998-99-2000 Yankees. No National League team has competed against each other since the Reds of Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench and Tony Perez from 1975 to 1976.
It’s tough. It’s incredibly rare. But if you won one and didn’t get a parade or champagne at all (as far as we know), this should mitigate talk of a hangover.
Roberts said he didn’t have a team meeting on Thursday.
“I don’t feel the need to speak to the team before opening day,” he said. “Every manager has different approaches, but we’ve had the same crew for a while. I think we are emotionally and mentally ready and I don’t like holding meetings just to be some kind of grandstand. ”
Of course, he said this before his team left 14 men on the base, serving three wild seats and an overtaken ball in the seventh inning, and obliterating a home run in the third when confusion resulted in Cody Bellinger overtaking Justin Turner on the base paths. Perhaps instead of the ’62 Mets, the 1926 Brooklyn Robins, the ancestors of the current Dodgers, and the team that put us three men in third place at once could be a better comparison.
But that too will pass, just as Clayton Kershaw’s slider should be far better the next time he takes off at sea level. One day there is no need to worry …
… As long as everyone wears their mask, takes the pictures and observes the protocols.
@ Jim_Alexander on Twitter