I’m sitting here stunned, listening to David Vassegh offer earthquake insurance. I finally decide that it’s time to turn off the postgame show. It’s nearly 2 AM here in Ohio, and the Los Angeles Dodgers have just lost at home to the worst team in the National League. I know this, because I get to watch the Reds each night before the Dodgers play.
The Dodgers have just dropped a 4-1 game to the Cincinnati Reds. It was a game that will be a footnote in your memories. Unremarkable, not particularly memorable, and blends in all too much with the rest of the 2018 season. But something tonight feels different.
It could have been the fact that the Dodgers wasted what was a dominant start by Walker Buehler – who at one point retired 14 Reds batters in order. In my soul, when I look at Buehler’s astonishing line in the box score; I know he doesn’t deserve that ‘L’ next to his name. But Buehler will be fine, he has big things in store. This is more about the current state of the 2018 Dodgers.
I escaped Vassegh and the postgame show. But I forget that I’m trying to forget, and I get on twitter. I see that the man who is our supposed leader, the manager; is at a loss for answers. Dave Roberts is just like me.
Doc said “I don’t know. I usually have an answer, but I don’t know. This has been a trend all year.” — about hitting with runners in scoring position #Dodgers
— Michael J. Duarte (@michaeljduarte) May 11, 2018
How can he be at a loss for answers, I wonder. Continuing to scroll through tweets about the Dodgers, I simply cannot unplug. My mind won’t allow it. There are more tweets with quotes about Roberts, and golf clubs, and things which make me question everything I’ve known about baseball for a quarter century.
“You have to have a lot of clubs in the bag. You can’t play golf with just one club, and right now we’re a one club team.” — Doc’s analogy on the #Dodgers
— Michael J. Duarte (@michaeljduarte) May 11, 2018
I know things are not well, and potentially headed down a dark path. They may already be well down that dark path. The urge I have to flee the situation and sit on my porch for some fresh air quickly goes away. For the first time ever, I’m sitting around thinking strange thoughts. How can I help the Dodgers get out of this funk? I can’t. Like the rest of the fans who follow this team night by night, I’m helpless. No amount of wishing or hoping can do this for them.
Maybe if we start to steal or bases, or play small ball; I think to myself. That’s the answer: small ball. Certainly Friedman, and Roberts and other bright minds in the front office realize this team doesn’t hit for power. Our home run leader is at a paltry five. There are reserve players and platoon players around baseball who sit on that number. Small ball is the way to go, I tell myself.
As I shake my head – I realize we cannot transform our identity overnight. It’s unlikely. What is our identity anyway? That’s what we need, an identity. Teams that have that have foundation. They avoid losing 11 of 16, and they find a way to play .500 baseball in their home park. I come to the realization that we cannot form this overnight, and tomorrow could be more of the same. If it is, I will find a way to enjoy it.
This is baseball. Baseball has always been good, in some small way in my life.
A team meeting can cure all if they don’t want to play small ball and manufacture runs. The disengaged players I watched for nine innings will take it upon themselves to correct whatever lapses in play we’re seeing. After all, this was the ‘get healthy’ series with the lowly Reds coming to town. The problem is, the Reds brought the fire with them on the long cross-country flight. They brought it right down to Chavez Ravine, front and center.
Unfathomable it is that; a 10-27 team with an interim manager and nothing to play for crawled out of the grave tonight to beat Walker Buehler on top of his game. Or maybe the Dodgers just found a way not to win it.
I go into my basement and cannot stop thinking about what has just happened. There is a feeling of shock -but after engaging with the many fans of our official Dodgers Nation twitter account for three hours – I wonder why I feel this way. The large group of friends I’ve never met ask me if I have seen this team play this year. And if they’re not shocked, then why are they upset like me?
They’re just like me, I realize. All 150,000 of them are upset. They’re justified in being upset, because Dodger baseball doesn’t unfold this way. That is not to be say in condescending fashion. Games are played for a reason, and the outcome is never determined or reached without being earned. It’s about competing. The Dodgers have to fight to find a reason to want to compete, day in and day out. That’s the only way that this will get better.
As I turn out the lights and try to pretend that I’m going to go to bed, I begin to make excuses for the 2018 squad in my head. No one is to blame for losing Justin Turner in a meaningless March exhibition. Clayton Kershaw is on the shelf – and they didn’t deserve that. Corey Seager is lost for the season. These poor guys – I continue to feel sorry for them inside.
I begin to pen this post, and wonder if I should react at all. Tonight was just another night, right? There are a lot of ballgames left to be played. The story of the 2018 Dodgers is not yet fully written. We are in the blog business – maybe someone out there reading this is feeling the same way. Perhaps they can offer some clarity. Does clarity exist for this current group? The questions keep rolling through my mind.
But something about what I am telling myself begins to feel like a lie. Why would a man lie to himself, after all? And why can’t I reach apathy when it comes to this team? I reside to one singular thought. Even if something about this feels very strange and different than anything I can remember. It’s then that I realize that I’m going down with this ship. Every last one of them on board. We have reached the point of no return, together. The point of the journey where it’s more difficult to go back to the beginning. Where did this all begin, anyways – as shades of that last October night of 2017 race through my brain.
The one truth that has always kept me loving baseball, is there’s always tomorrow. Redemption – washing out these thoughts and feelings – is but a wake up away. On Friday the Dodgers will wake in their beds, and I will do the same; hoping for the best. Sometime this weekend, Dave Roberts will reach for the right club in his golf bag of players. Cody Bellinger will connect on that fastball down the middle, and the ball will be in the seats. The greatest fans in the world will be rewarded and see the guys wearing the perfect home whites slap hands at the end. And then we will wake up and do it again.
This is the greatest organization in baseball, playing in the greatest city in the world. If I can have pride in that – I know the players can too. Suddenly I have enough optimism that I may be able to sleep.
Baseball is like life. You play the hand you’re dealt, even if you don’t like the cards. So tomorrow we begin again. You, myself, and the Dodgers. Like boats against the current we will beat on, borne ceaselessly against the past. Certainly now, the worst is over. Or so I hope.
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