Unlike the novel by Charles Dickens, “A Tale of Two Cities” (1859), that illustrates the difference between the peasantry in Paris, France before and during the French Revolution, and the grandeur in London, England, the set of consecutive baseball series played in San Diego and San Francisco by the Dodgers is not a call for similar alarm, but there is a call for some comparisons.
A quote from the beginning of the novel illustrates the seriousness of that time period well:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.” (“A Tale of Two Cities,” by Charles Dickens, 1859.)
We can see some similarities between the Los Angeles Dodgers series in San Diego and San Francisco and the Dickens novel in some ways. Specifically, the references to hope and despair, darkness and light, and foolishness and wisdom. Let us explain.
- Your Opponent Matters.
The novel and the baseball series were played in two cities among different circumstances—and it highlights the point that your opponent matters. The San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants are two completely different baseball clubs. Padres Manager Andy Green, talented in his own right, is a rookie manager with a young team that lacks the talent of a contender like the Giants. Giants Manager Bruce Bochy is a veteran of the West Division (formerly the manager of the Padres) and a wonderful tactician.
Winning three World Series in the last five years is a great accomplishment for the organization considering that the Giants had not been crowned champion of the Fall Classic since their days in New York prior to Bochy’s arrival. Give credit where credit is due and let it serve as motivation for the Dodgers to learn and do better.
- Comparison without Context and a Sense of History can become the Downfall of Us All.
As of today, Monday, April 11, 2016, the Dodgers are one game back of the San Francisco Giants, with a winning record for the opening week at 4-3, and the team still has 155 games to play. Stay calm and have some faith in your ball club.
The Dodgers played well in San Diego against the Padres. However, the Padres, as discussed, lack the talent overall and did not play well in the series. This combination meant a 25-0 start in runs versus runs allowed for the Dodgers and a 3-0 start to the 2016 season. There is a reason the St. Louis Cardinals 1963 record of consecutive scoreless innings pitched still stands. It is very difficult and circumstantial.
Conversely, the Giants have one of the better starting pitcher rotations in baseball. In case you were wondering, the Dodgers have the third ranked starting rotation and this was before rookie Ross Stripling just no-hit the Giants for 7 1/3 innings on Friday. Stripling was not expected to dominate as he did highlighting his potential strength and a perceived weakness in the Giants’ offense, which was seemingly secondary to the financial resources spent on their offseason pitching spending spree in Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto, whom we wrote about previously.
For good measure, two of the games went into extra innings. These teams may be testing each other all season. This is not front-page news, however, they have been doing this since May 3, 1890.
The Dodgers have put up respectable pitching numbers through the first seven games. Their offense has dominated and leaves little for concern. The injuries continue to mount, especially in the outfield, as the Dodgers moved Andre Ethier to the 60-day disabled list and placed Carl Crawford on the 15-day disabled list. Scott Van Slyke has also been sidelined with an expected minor back soreness. More time for Trayce Thompson, we guess. Although the Dodgers just picked up two more players.
- Overreaction never helps.
The emotions of a highly anticipated baseball season is challenging, we know. However, be wise and take note. Baseball players and coaches alike will be the first to tell you that patience, endurance, and change are the keys to success. Patience in seeing results. Endurance through the long season of the game and of life. Changes to your approach at the plate, on the mound, and in the field of play.
Be a student of the game, not a follower of the tides of change, ups and downs, mountains and valleys. We just left the station. In the words of poet Robert Frost, with a little added commentary:
“The woods are lovely, dark and deep [the baseball season is long],
But I have promises to keep [the Dodgers have promises to keep],
And miles to go before I sleep [you have a lot more games to watch and listen to],
And miles to go before I sleep [the Giants might be sleepers, but the Dodgers have the will to win now and in the future].” (“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” by Robert Frost, 1923.)
- A Quote from one of America’s most beloved Presidents that may put into context Manager Dave Roberts’ Decision to Remove Rookie Pitcher Ross Stripling in the 7th inning:
“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” –President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States
By the time Ross Stripling had reached 100 pitches, he already walked four batters. One was on base when reliever Chris Hatcher gave up the two-run homerun. Had Stripling had a perfect game in tact, it is certain that the front office and Roberts would have let Stripling go for it. However, we are talking about the first major league start of a Tommy John recovering pitcher that was showing in the late innings as he struggled with his control. He still has, hopefully, 31 more starts to make this season should his recent performance be any indication of what is to come. Be happy that Stripling out performed every pitcher not named Clayton Kershaw in the series.
Let us not be armchair quarterbacks and managers. Roberts won the confidence of the front office for a reason. The front office won the confidence of ownership for a reason. Ownership won the confidence of the Commissioner and Major League Baseball’s owners for a reason.
In the words of Teddy: “Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.” –President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States
Let us be excited for the season, the players on the field, and the coaches in dugout.