The life of a manager or head coach of a professional sports team is never an easy one. You have to deal with a multitude of egos and personalities from superstar athletes. Then, field a barrage of questions from fans and media after every game, and you’re often the one to shoulder the blame when the team plays poorly – and that’s just the off-the-field stuff.
It is especially difficult for a first time manager, asked to captain the ship of the team with Major League Baseball’s highest payroll, whose expectations are World Series or bust. So when Dave Roberts was hired this offseason to become the Dodgers new manager he was immediately greeted with some lofty expectations.
Roberts had never managed anywhere prior to 2016. Most recently he was the bench coach to Bud Black for the San Diego Padres. When the managerial position for our neighbors to the south became available, Robert was passed up for Arizona Diamondbacks first base coach, Andy Green.
This left the door wide open for him to explore other opportunities. Considered a long shot to become the Dodgers new manager, Roberts impressed in his interview with upper management and landed the position.
Naturally, Roberts was extremely grateful and excited for the chance to prove he was the man for the job.
“It’s hard for me to put into words what it means to be named manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers,” Roberts said immediately after his hiring. “This is truly the opportunity of a lifetime.”
Roberts has taken full advantage of that opportunity, guiding the team to in arms reach of first place in the NL West.
To have steered the Dodgers ship to where it is now in the standings, despite all the obstacles the team has been forced to overcome throughout this season, places Roberts right up there with the top managers in all of baseball.
In my mind, he is the clear front-runner for NL Manager of the Year.
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— Dodgers Nation (@DodgersNation) August 11, 2016
The former Dodger centerfielder has brought an energy and youthful exuberance, which had been sorely lacking with previous Dodger managers. He has done a fantastic job meshing the team’s crop of talented young prospects with the proven veterans. And most importantly, he has handled the team’s litany of injuries as well as any seasoned manager.
— J.P. Hoornstra (@jphoornstra) August 10, 2016
The injuries began early in spring training, and when the season started the LA Dodgers placed ten players from their projected roster on the disabled list. That is the most of any team since Major League Baseball began keeping DL records. The injuries have continued to pile up, with the Dodgers now holding the all-time record for most players in one season on the DL.
On June 27th the heart and soul of the club was added to that list when CY Young and MVP candidate Clayton Kershaw went down with a lower back injury. Dodger fans and baseball writers immediately called to waive the white flag on the season if Kershaw was forced to spend any significant amount of time off the field. Our boys in blue have done wonderfully in his absence, erasing a seven game deficit to the division leading San Francisco Giants by going 22-13 in that stretch.
The injury decimated Dodgers catching the Giants is amazing. LA hasn't gotten six innings from a starting pitcher yet this month.
— Molly Knight (@molly_knight) August 10, 2016
Roberts deserves a lot of the praise for the team performing at such a high level despite its myriad of significant injuries and constant lineup changes.
He has never had his “A” roster at his disposal at any point this season, and he has dealt with sub-par performances from players who were expected to be major contributors. Yet through it all, he has his team right there at the top of the division.
With all the additions the Dodger brass has made in the last year, perhaps the biggest and most important acquisition is Roberts as manager. For more Dodgers news check back to Dodgers Nation!
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