Rating things in today’s environment of immediate reaction, then reaction to the reaction, which is followed, of course, by blowback to whatever the popular sentiment might be is (like this sentence) complicated.
Artists, athletes and, in this case, sports teams go from unknown to overrated in the matter of a flash. The question bears asking: How are these decisions made regarding who stands where at any given moment? That’s probably a question for another day altogether, but an interesting study in this experiment are our Los Angeles Dodgers.
It’s pretty incredible to think a team coming off of a season in which they paid their roster more than any other professional team in the history of American sport might be underrated, but here we are. Again, though, I can’t help but wonder why and/or how this might’ve come about.
Well, these things obviously start with relativity. Clayton Kershaw’s postseason record could obviously be better, but he’s seen as a choker because of the incredible regular season performances we’re used to seeing anytime he steps on the rubber. It’s all a matter of relativity. If any Joe Blow pitcher carried a 1.160 WHIP with 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings, no one would bat an eye. When that pitcher is arguably one the greatest ever to do so, they become open to allegations of not being ready for big moments.
Fair or not, this is simply how these things work, but back to this Dodgers roster.
We polled fans both on Facebook and on Twitter whether the narrative this offseason has made these Dodgers appear underrated. The response was overwhelming in favor of the aforementioned narrative getting out of hand. Here are the results from Twitter:
Has the narrative this offseason made the Dodgers underrated?
— Dodgers Nation (@DodgersNation) February 8, 2016
Those are some nice results from some even-keeled fans if you ask me.
So, what did that long rant about relativity have to do with any of this? Well, it’s pretty simple, really.
Remember that crazy payroll from earlier? Well, nothing raises expectations like a 300 million dollars. After spending that much, of course fans and national media expected the trend to continue. Those closer to the team had something different in mind, but regardless of how much people were preaching that possibility, the idea the Dodgers would be Yankees West was just too enticing.
Still, multiple things can be true. The Dodgers could possibly have had an underwhelming offseason but still remain competitive. Neither of those statements take anything away from the other. This stance seems to be the one those roughly 550 people are taking in the above poll.
Somehow, in the matter of a month, the Dodgers went from perennial World Series favorite to third-best team in their division. As great as Zack Greinke has been, when you take into account the potential steps forward Corey Seager and Joc Pederson might take, as well as what a bounce-back year might mean from Yasiel Puig and Greinke’s absence might actually be slightly overstated.
Damn, it. Did I just do that again? Another article for another time, I guess.