These days, we have more time on our hands than usual. I have been spending some of it watching old Dodgers games on TV, which recently there have been quite a few. Mostly they have centered around games played on Jackie Robinson Day, with Vin Scully narrating and the Dodgers winning. Even though it’s a minor substitute for what we’re currently missing, it does somewhat scratch the baseball itch.
I also have spent time listening to various Dodger themed podcasts. As previously mentioned, Ross Stripling and his buddy Cooper Surles have one that touches on a wide range of subjects, and players from other teams as well as the Dodgers and how they are dealing with this time in limbo. Broadcasters Joe Davis and Orel Hershiser have a brand new one called Off Air with Joe and Orel.
Today, they touched on the 2017 World Series, and how Orel really felt about all of it. He got quite emotional talking about how his whole life changed, for the better, because of the Dodgers winning in 1988. Barely a day goes by that he doesn’t reap some benefits from it. He muses that he wouldn’t have the job that he has now, if they had lost that series. One poignant line struck me—Orel thinks that if the Oakland Athletics had known what pitches were coming, he’d be known as the Chihuahua instead of the Bulldog.
In the same way that the outcome of the 2017 World Series changed so many people’s histories and legacies, so will this long break in baseball.
There is a huge push to at least get part of the season played, in whatever way that that could be achieved. The most popular one at the moment is basically keeping all players and coaches in one cordoned off area, like Arizona, and have them play against each other in ball parks with no fans. There are many issues that go along with this, of course, from players being away from their families for months at a time, to what happens if God forbid someone gets sick.
I don’t know how I feel about this. I would much rather have all the players safe and be able to play with fans in the stands. Still, I understand that this may not be possible for awhile, and that sports play a vital role in the recovery and overall attitude of the country.
What I do know, when baseball does come back, is that the Dodgers will be able to handle it better than most other teams. If the scenario is that it’s an abbreviated season, with seven inning games and double headers, who has more pitchers ready to start games than the Dodgers? They have eight starting pitchers on their staff. That would solve the ‘problem’ of where to start Dustin May, Stripling, and Tony Gonsolin. A quick tick through other teams’ starting rotations, and no one comes close to having eight starting pitchers that already have big game experience. More pitchers able to pitch five or six innings then reduces the need to overuse the bullpen. Not over using all of the arms then leads to fresher arms in the playoffs.
The Dodgers already had one of the deepest benches in all of baseball, and they have the best farm systems in all of baseball. Once again, should they need to call on more players if rosters expand for these games, the players coming up in Edwin Rios, who has big league experience, and could give Luke Raley and Zach McKinstry time to shine after their hot spring training showings.
If the Dodgers don’t end up playing until next spring, they still have one of the best major league rosters, even if they end up not being able to sign Mookie Betts. They are also set up for the long run to be one of the top teams for the foreseeable future. So, whenever baseball finally does return, the Dodgers will be able to finally avenge that 2017 season and get the players the rings they deserve.