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Easy as 1-2-3

Dave Randall

Posted on March 12, 2019 01:02

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The Los Angeles Dodgers face long odds in 2019--whether oddsmakers realize it or not.

I can unabashedly use this forum as a fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Unlike sportswriters, I don't have to futz around facts, play devil's advocate, or feel forced to make cogent predictions. Anything can happen in a baseball season, so predictions are meaningless. I want L.A. to win, but it's frustrating. In short, I can be honest with my fanaticism and all the superstition and anxiety that comes along with it. So here goes.

Beat writers and columnists are steamed the Blue didn't manage to sign Bryce Howard, as if his presence in the Dodger line up would insure a third straight National League pennant, and the World Series victory that's proved so elusive. On the MLB network, ex-player analysts assure us L.A. will win the National League West again, and with ease. To all this nonsense, I say, let's play the games and see what happens.

Already, we've seen management keep zip-locked lips about Clayton Kershaw's shoulder, and Walker Buehler's slow, steady, time-release advance through spring. This has been the new Dodger way. Preservation through conservation, and being cagey with the press. The handling of pitchers has a lot to do with both how they won two straight N.L. titles, and why they lost both World Series. Five or six good innings from a starter, a couple of set up guys, then the closer. It's dogma to them.

For fans not enamored of the analytics and non-traditional defensive shifts, it can drive you nuts. For example, what's the difference between the Red Sox lighting up a reliever in Game 4 of the 2019 Series, or leaving in Rich Hill to get at least three more outs? He was dealing. No manager wants to be Grady Little in the 2003 ALCS, allowing Pedro Martinez to stay in against the Yanks, when he'd had enough. To that extreme, it would be better to have had the Sox rock the reliever for a dinger. Right. Either way, it is painful to watch.

Since the end of World War II, only two franchises have been to three straight World Series: The Yankees and the Oakland A's. The last team to play the Fall Classic three straight and lose them all were the Detroit Tigers, 1907-1909. Predictions be damned, it will be difficult for the Dodgers to pull off the N.L. three-peat, on general purposes. The fates, the Baseball Gods, whatever serendipity descends upon a team will be needed.

1st baseman Max Muncy will have to prove 2018 was not a fluke. Newly signed, oft-injured A.J. Pollock must stay healthy. Catchers Austin Barnes and Russell Martin have to combine for the best of the young and the old, and as one come through from behind the plate. This is a team that relied on the long-ball, last season, and shed over 60 home runs getting rid of Puig, Kemp, and Yasmani Grandal.

In three weeks, it all starts. Let's see where the games take us.

Dave Randall

Posted on March 12, 2019 01:02

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