LOS ANGELES — The 2021 season for the Los Angeles Dodgers could easily be a reality television series that gives fans every emotion and feeling possible.
From dealing with injuries throughout the lineup, to the saga of pitcher Trevor Bauer that has more drama than a General Hospital episode, and battling to claim the NL West while falling short by one game to their hated rival San Francisco Giants made this season a challenging one to say the least.
Manager Dave Roberts has seen and experienced it all, from his time as a player winning a World Series championship with the 2004 Boston Red Sox to becoming the franchise’s first minority manager being of Black and Japanese heritage.
Despite the criticisms over the years, Roberts has guided the Dodgers to multiple World Series appearances, battling against cheating scandals surrounding the Houston Astros in 2017 and Red Sox in 2018 and he’s always stood tall on his focus.
His determination and tremendous baseball knowledge finally guided the Dodgers to their first championship in 32 years in 2020. Unfortunately, it happened during one of the most deadly global pandemics our generation has experienced.
It didn’t happen at Dodger Stadium, therefore, there were limited fans attending the World Series in Texas. It came down to a sixth game and on the arm of a young phenom in lefty Julio Urias to secure the final three outs.
His young stable of hitters led by Corey Seager became the World Series MVP, acquiring one of the greatest talents in the game in Mookie Betts paid dividends especially defensively, and we saw the emergence of players like Walker Buehler, Cody Bellinger and Kike Hernandez under Roberts’ tutelage.
The 2021 season saw his Dodgers with their backs against the wall against a feisty and successful St. Louis Cardinals team that had won 17 consecutive games in September and won 19 out of their last 20.
Was Roberts unfazed by his opponent? You better believe it. Though he respected his opponent, he knew the type of talent and the attitude of his players who can play with a chip on their shoulder the size of Frito-Lay most times.
Only in Los Angeles where a team could win in dramatic fashion in the bottom of the ninth inning in a winner-take-all Wild Card game against the Cardinals at Dodger Stadium. Roberts continued to smile in the faces of his critics, and focused on his team defeating his NL West rival Giants in the NLDS.
This was a tall task seeing how the Giants clinched the division with a franchise-record 107-win season. Ultimately it came down to a do-or-die Game 5 at Oracle Park in San Francisco. Of course, Roberts’ methods would come into question again, as in the eleventh hour the probable starter Urias was changed to Corey Kneble. This decision came after Roberts proclaimed Urias would be starting Game 5.
Again, he managed his team out of NLDS and into the NLCS in a rematch against the Atlanta Braves. The Dodgers overcame a 3-1 deficit to win that series last year.
It’s time to put some serious respect on Roberts’ name and trust his decision- making more, especially with the proven track record he’s laid down. I often wonder if Roberts didn’t have the appearance he has, would he be questioned as much as he is.
He’s won a championship as a Black manager in a league that has just eight percent Black American baseball players on the field. There is a serious need for not only more Black players but more Black managers in positions to lead MLB teams.
Roberts is like Tom Cruise, no mission is impossible and could be well on his way to capturing another World Series title in 2021. The Roberts hire also shows when given an opportunity to manage with the proper personnel, anything is possible!
Wades’ defense is only one of the reasons he was able to help his team gain one step closer to advances to the National League Championship Series as he was one of two current Giants to have faced Scherzer, as mentioned earlier.
Wade’s knowledge of the newly acquired Dodger pitcher led to the lone run of the game by Evan Longoria who went yard in the top of the fifth.
Wade Jr. said he remembers Scherzer very well in their match-up when he pitched for the Washington Nationals. He emphasized how he challenged him with heater after heater in his at-bats.
Per KNBR.com, Wade said, “Now that I think about it, he was attacking the whole time with the heater.”
He recounted the 12 pitch at-bat as the first pitch was 94 mph, then 89, 93, and 94 mph with a cuter and a curveball to keep him honest at the plate, which like Monday, led to another pop-out.
From the performance, which ultimately bled into Tuesday morning, it was evident that the Giants did their due diligence in preparing for the Cy Young winner as they’re one win away from advancing to the next round.
And speaking of putting the work in, a video surfaced of manager Gabe Kapler witnessing the power of Wade Jr. as he launched long ball after long ball into the stratosphere Sunday night ahead of game three inside Dodger Stadium.
There is a reason that Kapler keeps inserting Wade into the starting lineup. He knows that bad times don’t last, and hopefully, LaMonte will show why he received the moniker “Late Night” sooner rather than later.
Look for Wade to shake away from the dismal slump in Game 4 on Tuesday night, with first pitch slated for 9:07 p.m. EST on TBS.
Mookie Betts is getting ready for his fifth postseason appearance and second straight appearance with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Over the past few years, Betts has become a prominent player in the league and someone who a lot of people respect on and off the field.
It’s very hard not to like Betts. You can always catch him with a smile on his face whether he’s playing or doing something outside of baseball. Betts recently did something that just made him more likable throughout all of sports.The Dodgers were playing the Cincinnati Reds on September 19th and as usual, Betts was starting that game playing right field.
That day was a special moment for one of the Reds’ players. Reds rookie TJ Friedl hit his first big league home run during the game. It was a blast to right field and we all know when a rookie gets his first hit or home run, you want to get that ball.
“I remember running at third and heading home to really live in that moment and just embrace everything going on. That’s a one-time thing,” Friedl said. “You’ll never get that back. You never get your first hit back. For that hit to be a home run, it’s so meaningful. I didn’t black out. I remember all of it. I tried to take it in as much as possible.”
Without any hesitation, Betts jogged to the outfield and asked the fan for the ball.
The fan gave the ball to Betts and he threw it into the Reds dugout.
“I just asked him for the ball. I just told him kind of through sign language,” Betts said after the game. “I just said, ‘I’ll throw it back?’ He didn’t hesitate. He threw it right away.”
That’s not all the five-time All-Star did. When the inning was over, he went back out and gave the fan one of his bats.
Now Betts did not have to do that, but he wanted to thank the fan for agreeing to give the ball to Friedl. That fan had no idea he would receive a bat from Betts, but when he did, he was all smiles.
“That’s just first class. It’s incredible,” Freidl said. “For him to do something like that, it’s definitely just world-class out of him. I want to go over there and just say thank you in person. Thank you is all I can really say because it means so much. Just to get that ball back, for it to be my first home run, just for him to know that and turn around to the fan.”
Betts always shows professionalism when he steps on that field. He’s that player who enjoys interacting with fans whether he’s playing at Dodgers Stadium or at a different park. Our MLBbro shows respect on and off the field and he always carries himself well.
Betts is someone who the younger generation looks up to and he will continue to be that guy throughout the remainder of his career.