Scouts: Well ladies, gentleman and our soon to be robotic overloards, we finally have a conclusion to the 2020 season. We have a new champion, the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Rays put up a heck of a fight, but ultimately the Dodgers were just too dominant, too relentless.
Rays 1, Dodgers 3
I’m sure MLB fans will debate the wisdom of Kevin Cash pulling Blake Snell from the game in the 6th for a long time. Snell was holding on to a 1-0 lead, and just allowed a 1 out single to Austin Barnes with Mookie Betts coming to the dish. Cash placed a call to the bullpen, and brought in Nick Anderson, who promptly gave up a double to Betts. Then with men on at third and second, Anderson threw the ball away allowing the game tying run and Betts to move up to third. Corey Seager then plated Betts on a fielders choice, and just like that the Dodgers had all the runs they would need. The solo homer Betts hit in the 8th was just icing on the cake at that point.
Cash’s decision to yank Snell was immediately criticized online by many fans, players, and former executives. Snell, would end up the game with 5.1 innings pitched, 2 hits, 1 run (thanks to Nick Anderson’s meltdown), and 9 strikeouts. It’s further reinvigorated the debate between coaching by your gut and coaching by the analytics.
Ultimately, though, one single decision didn’t sway the entire series. The Rays put up one hell of a fight, but the Dodgers were simply too much to handle. Clayton Kershaw can finally rest now that he’s no longer in the list of greatest’s pitchers never to have won a World Series. Cody Bellinger gets to take home some extra hardware after being named World Series MVP. In the 2020 Post Season, Seager absolutely mashed the ball, hitting 8 home runs (2nd all time), 20 RBI’s (2nd), scored 20 runs (2nd), totaled 50 bases (tied for 2nd), and slugged .746 (15th).
In many ways it’s fortunate the Dodgers won this one, as after the game it was announced that Justin Turner, who was pulled prior to the 8th inning had tested positive for COVID-19 midgame. Turner, who was supposed to be in isolation returned to the field for the post game celebration in yet another stunning display of one person’s lack of common decency towards the safety and health of those around them. Had the Rays won and tied the series, who knows what nightmare would have occurred for game 7. Now players on both sides have to go home and isolate as they have all potentially been infected. What a fitting end to a miserable 2020 season.
And finally, we have one final footnote on the 2020 season. Rob Manfred was very loudly boo’d during his post game remarks by those remaining from the 11,437 fans who were allowed to attend the game. Manfred was very visible shook by the loud show of displeasure, one that quite a few of us would concur. Fans have a lot to be upset about, with Manfred’s push to rapidly change so many rules such as the expansion of the playoffs allowing losing teams to enter, the botched negotiations with the MLBPA leading up to the 60 game season, the cutthroat decision to eliminate so much of the minor leagues, and his entire botched handling of the COVID-19 mired 2020 season. Not to mention how horribly he botched the Astros and Redsox cheating sandal.
So with that, 2020 is finally on the books, and we can all collectively drink to forget that any of it ever happened. While I’m happy for many players like Kershaw to finally get the ring he so much deserved, I never felt right with the season, and I know many others felt the same way. The shortened season, the planned 7 inning double headers, the bonus runner on second in extras, the expanded bullpens and rosters, and the general inability to sacrifice money for the health of those around us, to put all our efforts towards fighting against a devastating disease, instead choosing to turn a blind eye and hope if you just pretend it isn’t there, it will just go away by magic. It all just leaves a giant hole in my heart, and in the end, I just don’t feel it was worth it all.
I don’t know what 2021 has in store for us. Personally I’m looking forward to the break and am very hopeful that next year things will be different and we can get back to baseball as we know and love it.
10 thoughts on “He Said, She Said – We Have A Champion Edition”
First, congrats to the Dodgers. They earned it. They were the best team in baseball and defeated the best team in the AL. Their title is just as legit as any other WS champ, more so than some we could name.
I watched the postgame stuff up through Corey Seager being awarded the MVP for the series. I did not see Turner come back on the field. Indeed it was announced he was already being isolated. If he did, bad on him although I felt bad for him not being there, being able to celebrate with his teammates.
It is only fair to point out Turner’s positive test is the first for MLB in over 7 weeks. Good thing the Dodgers won it last night, though—it could have made a mess of getting game 7 done if one had been needed.
I’m very happy for Kershaw. I always thought the “choker” narrative was stupid. His primary issue in previous postseasons was not enough depth in the pen. He got overused as a starter and got pressed into service as a reliever and got lit up when he got tired. This postseason, bullpen depth was not a problem, and voila: 4-1, 2.93 ERA.
Best pitchers without WS fun: Fergie Jenkins, Gaylord Perry, Phil Niekro, Jim Bunning.
Also happy for Dave Roberts. Every year I’d read pundits’ opinions that he was underachieving even though his team won its division every year he’s been on the team and won two NL pennants. Now he has his ring, so the complaining pundits can go sit quietly in a corner.
It was fun to see the Rays get their second AL pennant. That happiness trumps the disappointment of not winning the whole thing. Yet. I fully expect the Rays to remain contenders for at least the next few seasons. No guarantees of course, but their core—including Kiermaier—is locked up through the next three years.
Note about Kiermaier—he will have 9 years of service time in 2023, when his contract is up. He needs to be sure to have no-trade protection on the next deal with the Rays if he extends again if he’s to be the first ever career Ray.
The Rays’ biggest staff question is if Charlie Morton will return for 2021. Hope so, but I’m not counting on it.
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Just saw the team picture with the trophy—and there was Turner next to Roberts. So clearly he did go back on the field. My understanding is some team members went and got him, so I guess that’s then on them collectively.
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Good point about Roberts. Baseball, unlike football, is not a game that players are coached through. How many decisions does an average manager make during a game? Add to that the simple truth that baseball, with long seasons, is much more likely to have waves of performance ups and downs throughout the team, throughout the season. That very long wave pattern is what we did not see in this shortened season, which delegitimizes the Dodger’s pennant, at least to some extent. But to your point, I think baseball managers are charged with bringing together disparate individuals and training them into a team. We credit managers with “winning” but they are not deciding factors in terms of individual wins. Roberts has done a good job with the great talent he’s been given. He may, in true Lasorda fashion, display overdependence on certain players. Yet he consistently helps put his team in position to win, which is the role of a baseball manager.
Regarding the Rays pulling Snell, in many ways analytics, are a solution in search of a problem. They’re a black and white solution in a game full of many shades of gray. If all your moves are predetermined you can miss opportunities that unexpectedly present themselves. If analytics existed in the 80s & 90s, Jack Morris wouldn’t have sniffed the 7th inning let alone throw 10 innings of shutout ball in game 7 of the 91 series.
I understood the decision although I wouldn’t have pulled Snell. Even without getting into the analytics of third time through the order or whatever, Snell had been running into trouble right about that part of the game all season. Thus at that point he was on a short leash. (Not that I disagree with your point about over-reliance on analytics. I don’t.)
The real issue last night was how well the Dodgers BP performed. My Rays got one run in the first. Gonsolin got pulled because he was clearly laboring despite only letting in the one run through the first five outs. Then the relievers came in and that was that. Cap tip to them.
No doubt analytics dictates managerial moves, but having a game planned out isn’t something that’s come about solely because of analytics.
I can’t find the passage online, but I remember reading one of former umpire Ron Luciano’s books, which were heavy on stories about his interactions with players and managers, and he told a story about Dick Williams coming to the plate mid-game and reading out some lineup changes he wanted to make. Luciano listened to him, consulted his own lineup card, and said something like “You already took that guy out two innings ago, and this guy pinch hit last inning, etc.”
Williams’ response was basically “Shit. I was looking at the gameplan I had if we were winning, not losing; here are the moves I’m making instead.”
This season for me was a badly needed and greatly enjoyable distraction.
It wound up with the best two teams playing a very solid World Series, with the best team eventually winning. Albeit against the smartest and poorest team in baseball. Such is the real life justice of baseball.
I enjoyed the seven innings double headers, because I think that during the course of a season, perversely, a 9th inning loss is less bad than a 15 inning win
Which is also why I favor the continuation of starting extra innings with a runner on second.
Baseball has learned in positive ways from this pandemic distorted season. In spite of the obviously self interested financial concerns of the parties the shit got eventually worked out reasonably well and a 60 game season was mostly well executed. And that is what life is all about. We all try to grub and steal, play chicken with each other but in the end, we, mostly, work the shit out.
The heartbeat of my boyhood years and of my dying years:
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I didn’t bother to watch the series, except for replays of that wild Game 4 conclusion. In fact, I don’t think I watched one single designatedhitterball game in its entirety all season long, such as it was. After a few innings of the one or two-tool mammoth hunters lumbering up to the plate, a heavy headedness set in and I switched to River Monsters.
I think of the 2020 season as a kind of hyperpineal exhibition season (and come to think of it, if not for the stench of the incurable DH emanating from both sides, wouldn’t mind seeing a one-game exhibition season playoff between the two teams with the best record – it’s beat those horrible games against college teams, anyway). The loss of tension and strategy notwithstanding, as a Feesh fan the sight of windrows of empty seats had long since ceased to seem odd but the sight of all those ridiculous cutout figures (in Korea some teams actually bought up surplus vinyl sex dolls and stuck them in the seats) became unbearable very early on.
I kinda liked the cardboard cutouts in the seats. I especially liked what my Jays did for their fans, and I understand other teams did similar things.
The team solicited fans to submit photos of themselves — for a fee which mostly went to the Jays Care Foundation — and the team enlarged them to cutout size and stuck them in the seats at Sahlen Field. As the season went on, the stands in Buffalo got more and more full of actual Blue Jay fans from all across the country, sporting their best team laundry. Then at the end of the season, the plan was to ship all the cutouts back to the photo submitters. In a very nice final gesture towards the end of the season, the players went around and signed as many of the cutouts as they could.
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Some of those fans would probably have been happier to receive a vinyl sex doll – especially during the winter.