Some Perspective After First Two Games of 2020 World Series
Things went swimmingly for the Dodgers who won Game 1 and the Rays took Game 2 as the ball bounced more their way. Nobody was injured, especially overworked or psychologically damaged and fans of both franchises will all live. I’m certain of it.
This is exactly how a World Series between the two best teams in baseball is supposed to go. And here’s what I’ve learned from from life and after watching the great game baseball in 2020: If the Dodgers take turns winning and losing games in this manner, since there are seven of them and they have home field advantage, they’re going to be crowned World Champions. Win, loss, win, loss, win, loss, win. Brilliant, huh?
The point is, expectations of a sweep were fun to entertain but not particularly reasonable. Fans, and more importantly players get a much needed day off today, can step back to reflect, apply perspective as they see fit and prepare for Friday as best as they can.
Look at Dave Roberts in the video after Game 2 above. Does he look confused, frightened or anything less than confident about his club's standing after two games?
At first I thought the skipper’s reaction was a little weird, but I don’t anymore. He’s got Walker Buehler, Julio Urias and Clayton Kershaw lined up for Friday, Saturday and Sunday versus Tampa Bay’s Charlie Morton, Undecided and Undecided. Why wouldn’t he be confident? And if there is a reason why that confidence wouldn’t rub off on his players, who are a confident bunch just plain generally, I can’t think of it.
Below are a few observations, with my real-time thoughts as they occurred to me during the first two games of the World Series, complemented with a handful of tweets.
I didn't like L.A.'s Game 2 pitching plan as it was unfolding any more than you did, and I don't think Roberts has handled Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May particularly well in the past week. But as Roberts and others have pointed out, if Kiké Hernandez handles that easy inning-ending double-play ball like he does 99 times out of 100, May escapes the fourth inning Thursday without allowing Brandon Lowe's second home run of the game, gets a fresh fifth inning with which to work and it's an entirely different contest. On the other hand, as Roberts also mentions in the video above, his guys have to make pitches. And he believes they will going forward.
On the other hand to the other hand, see tweet below. Roberts greatest failure, Rich Hill, the cheating Astros, that whole thing if we really want to dredge it up one more time, which I just did and I'm sorry.
Pivoting to the good stuff, Will Smith continues to grow by leaps and bounds, blossoming before our eyes in the postseason. You wouldn't know it by looking at the .207 October batting average, but most of his 12 postseason hits, including three doubles and two homers have come in huge moments. The same can be said for almost every one of his 13 RBIs to date.
The tweet above refers to Roberts' getting Dylan Floro back on the hill after watching him allow two runs while retiring a single batter in the seventh inning of Game 1, following Clayton Kershaw with a seven-run lead in the seventh inning. Given a second chance, Floro pitched 1 1/3 without allowing a thing in relief of Gonsolin to keep the game close at 1-0 Rays.
Kershaw was great in Game 1, providing his team with six strong innings on two hits, one run, a walk and eight strikeouts. And if we're going to criticize the manager when his early or late-inning hooks cost the Dodgers a game, we ought to praise him when he gets it right. He handled Kershaw perfectly in the Series opener. And of course we know now what we didn't know then, that the veteran left-hander will pitch again in the series. In Game 5.
Joe Buck and John Smoltz were discussing Mookie Betts' god-like performance in Game 1 and the Red Sox decision to trade him to Los Angeles rather than pay the price to re-sign him. Boston's loss is the Dodgers' gain, and everyone in L.A. is forever grateful.
Enough of my tweets. Here are some others, which should be self-explanatory:
Conclusion: The Rays and Dodgers each have something to feel good about after two games of the Fall Classic. Los Angeles is better set up for the next three. But there's no predicting in baseball, I have no idea what will happen and I wouldn't have it any other way.
And remember, glove conquers all.
Howard Cole has been writing about baseball on the internet since Y2K. Follow him on Twitter.
Video courtesy of Spectrum SportsNetLA/Los Angeles Dodgers.