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!
A debate ensued with the San Francisco Giants about which outfielder would play in Game of the NLDS as LaMonte Wades’ struggles were louder than his play.
Reports indicated that it came down to Wade Jr. and fellow outfielder Steven Duggar, who made plays while starting Game 3. But Wade got the start, and it paid off.
Wade Jr. got his first postseason hit as he turned on an inside pitch which dropped in front of fellow MLBbro Mookie Betts for a single to right-center in the top of the second.
Trailing 0-1 in the top of the second with Kris Bryant on first base, LaMonte Wade Jr got his first postseason hit as he turned on an inside pitch which dropped in front of fellow MLBbro Mookie Betts for a single to right-center. pic.twitter.com/BmVYzgEJau
This hit broke an unwanted playoff slump for the young sensation who was 2-34 at the plate and hitless in seven NLDS at bats.
After building his confidence at the plate, Wade Jr put on his PF Flyers, turned on the jets, and produced a game-saving catch with men on base, while crashing into the wall to end the third inning.
After building his confidence at the plate, LaMonte Wade Jr put on his PF Flyers and turned on the jets to stop a bases clearing game saving catch while crashing into the wall to end the third inning. pic.twitter.com/vbP6Cs7gvY
The top of the fourth saw Wade get showered with boos as he once again steps to the plate with Bryant on base, but he grounded out to second to end the inning.
With runners in scoring position, he has eight game-tying or go-ahead hits in the ninth inning or better, which is the most in the MLB this season; hence the later the game, the more efficient he hits.
A double switch ended Wades’ night early as he was replaced in the bottom of the fourth. The Dodgers went on to route the Giants 7-2 to force a winner take all Game 5:
Hitting is magnetic, and since Wade has found his stroke look for him to continue turning those negative plate appearances into a positive Thursday night in front of a ruckus crowd back at Oracle park.
First pitch of the NLDS is slated for 9:07 p.m. EST on TBS.
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.
The veteran went full speed trying to catch a ball hit off of Adam Duvall’s bat. Cain was able to catch the ball but as he collided into the fence the ball popped out of his glove.
Though he wasn’t able to come up with the catch, just the effort alone is what you love to see from Cain.
For a brief moment, it looked as if Cain may have injured himself, but he knew in his mind that he was not coming out of the game.
This is how he plays day in and day out.
There’s a reason why he’s a Gold Glove Award winner. This brother is not afraid to go all out and make a big time play.
This is what the Brewers have been missing during the regular season, but now they don’t have to worry about that, since Cain is back.
And this brother is glad to be back in the playoffs.
“This year has been a tough year for me,” Cain told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “A lot of injuries, starting in spring training. A quad injury and a hamstring injury. So, yeah, it’s been a tough season. But I worked my butt off to get back on the field – just in time for the playoffs, I guess.”
“Just going out there, grinding with the boys and just trying to produce and contribute to this team.”
During the NLDS, Cain has only one hit in nine at bats, but he continues to provide that spark out in the field.
That’s one thing you won’t have to worry about getting from him.
The 77-year-old Tony Larussa has been outmatched by 72-year-old Dusty Baker so far. The Hall of Fame manager needs to figure out a way to get his team back in the series.
Lacking Clutch Hits
Despite scoring four runs in Game 2, the White Sox were a woeful 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position, stranding nine in the process.
This has led to their eventual downfall in each game, but even more so in Game 2.
The White Sox had multiple opportunities to put the game out of reach, but simply didn’t capitalize.
The series now shifts to Guaranteed Rate Field, where the White Sox had the best home record in baseball during the regular season.
After failing to secure a much-needed split in the first two games, any idea of a World Series for Anderson and the White Sox must be put on hold for now. It’s officially win or go home everyday from here on out.