Today is the first day that all Dodgers players are to report to camp. All players have reported, with the exception of Andrew Toles. The team told reporters this morning that he was dealing with a personal issue, has been in contact with the team, and has the team’s full support. We’re hoping whatever it is, Tolesy will be back with the team soon, and that everything is all right.
Andy McCullough from The Los Angeles Times put out an excellent article this morning that focused on Justin Turner and how he has dealt with the last two off-seasons, particularly with the back to back World Series losses. JT talks a lot about last season, and that the team definitely suffered a hangover from the 2017 season.
One of the most interesting tidbits to me is how Turner talks about all the platooning the Dodgers did last year.
“There was all this noise about the platoons,” Turner said. “We won the division. We went to the World Series. You can’t say that it didn’t work. Because we lost in the World Series, people were saying ‘Oh, it’s because you platooned.’ What? How did we get there?That was our identity last year. That’s not an organizational philosophy. It’s just what we had to do to adapt to survive.”
We all know how last year was the antithesis of 2017, even if the outcome of the season was the same. The Dodgers stumbled out of gates, fell flat on their faces, dealt with way too many injuries to too many important players, and had to take the season to 163 games just to win the division.
I’m going to propose something radical, so stay with me here—what if the last two seasons are what the Dodgers need to finally win the World Series?
Andy, you’re nuts, you say. Why on earth would that be true? Well, let’s talk about it. Much has been made, rightly or wrongly so, about what the front office has or hasn’t done to make this team a world championship caliber team. The last two years would point to the fact that they’ve done their job. They put a team on the field that made it to back-to-back World Series.
Much also has been made about manager Dave Roberts, and if he is a good enough manager to lead a team to a world championship. What Roberts has had to deal with in his three previous seasons in Los Angeles would be tough for any manager. Big city, big scrutiny of a historic team with some of this generation’s best players. An incredible losing skid in 2017 where everyone doubted the team. And then last season, keeping all those egos and personalities working and playing together as a unit, when the whole year was a complete slog, and not many players saw their typical day to day roles of years past.
So, basically, the front office and the manger did their jobs. (Save your pitching decision comments for another day). Who didn’t produce when the time came? The players. In 2017, the Dodgers made every game close, and fought and fought, until Game 7, when they didn’t. In 2018, maybe it was too much to deal with during the season, but the lack of hitting with runners in scoring position was still there, and even though the Boston Red Sox were a buzzsaw, as Turner put it, there really wasn’t too much fight in the World Series either.
Having endured all of that, the players now know exactly what it takes to win a World Series. Some circumstances were out of their control, but they’ve experienced two different teams celebrating World Series wins on their home field. They know what an offseason is like after having gone that deep into the playoffs. The pain now only runs hotter and deeper, and it’s time for the players themselves to step up and get it done.
“Do we believe we’re a good team? Absolutely. Every guy in here, to a man, thinks we’re a really, really good team, and have a chance to do something special. At the same time, that doesn’t count for a run. You don’t score runs because you’re supposed to be good. You still have to figure out ways to score runs and throw strikes and play defense. That’s what we have to do.”
Maybe the third time is a charm.