I remember the first time I played softball in the throes of a terrible hangover. Many of us on the field were likely still drunk from the night before. I don’t remember much about the game itself, except for standing out in left field still laughing from the night’s antics and riding that adrenaline high until I could find a nap somewhere before doing it all again
Ah, the good ol’ days.
Coming off of a World Series win, the Dodgers can say all they want that they are just as motivated to do it again, and I have no doubt the desire is there. But much of this performance lull is likely subconscious, and I suspect we as fans are feeling something similar…
A drop in adrenaline?
A reluctance to expend too much mental energy so early on?
… even if we can’t quite put a finger on it.
Well, guess what, friends. I think we’re all a little hungover. From the sheer adrenaline rush of it all, from the pure, unadulterated joy we felt last October 27 and all off-season as we revelled in the glow of our team having won it all.
You see, this was the first off-season as a fan that I didn’t spend cursing the baseball Gods. The Dodgers had treated us to some October drama the likes of which, if I’m being honest, I didn’t think they had in them. It had finally happened, and the relief was palpable.
After spending the off-season smiling every time I thought of the Dodgers, I went into this season with my only goal being that I wouldn’t refer to World Series Champion Clayton Kershaw as anything but World Series Champion Clayton Kershaw until the end of the season. I aimed to do nothing but sit back and smile, knowing the weight had been lifted.
World Series Champion Clayton Kershaw. pic.twitter.com/5KQqfGA95y
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) April 9, 2021
Now, for the first time ever, the very worst “baseball” thing that can happen is no longer World Series Champion Clayton Kershaw going home to Texas and having to spend another off-season not knowing what it’s like to be World Series Champion Clayton Kershaw.
As much as we say this is a new season and it’s time to leave the championship season behind us, our emotions and adrenaline levels need time to recover and shift back into the reality of the rollercoaster ride that is a 162-game baseball season.
Getting Back on the Horse
So where does this leave us in 2021? With the Dodgers in dire need of a major reboot, sure, but in this fan’s opinion they are far from being dead, for 3 reasons in particular:
1 – Starting pitching
A starting staff that includes the likes of Walker Buehler, Julio Urias, Trevor Bauer, and the aforementioned World Series Champion Clayton Kershaw simply does not pitch for a losing team. It just doesn’t.
2 – Offense
The offensive woes over the last few weeks have been puzzling, to say the least, but any lineup capable of scoring 14 and then 16 runs in a game in the same week will not be held down for long. It just won’t.
3 – “85%, baby”
We saw a few signs this week that the Dodgers have reached at least the required 85% vaccinated threshold that they were required by MLB to attain before certain restrictions were lifted. This wasn’t officially acknowledged by the team until Wednesday afternoon, but many a Twitter detective saw the signs before that, and in many ways, I personally consider it one of the more significant shifts in the season so far.
Due to the loosening of these restrictions, there was a change this week in the number of people in the dugout, without masks, sitting on the bench together, and I argue that these little things can add up to something big in the long run. A game-changing moment Gavin Lux telling a bench devoid of all non-starters and IL dwellers to “LFG” and then returning to high fives from a more than half-empty dugout just wouldn’t have had the same impact.
— Doug McKain (@DMAC_LA) May 12, 2021
Even the previously familiar sight of Dave greeting one of his players from the top step with a smile on his face – a smile we can now SEE without a mask hiding what lies beyond – just hits a little differently now.
The Dodgers needed this change in energy levels to start the turnaround…and it starts now.
You know what the best part of a hangover is? It means you very likely had a heck of a lot of fun the night before. And once you’re recovered, you’re ready to take on the world again. So do all the things that help you recover, like taking Advil to ease the pain, drinking lots of water and getting plenty of rest.
We’re going to need you back in tip-top shape for October.