above caption: Roberts pulling Hill. Digital First Media.
[Chavez Ravine] Many die-hard Los Angeles Dodgers fans, like myself are finally awakening from the nightmare of losing games four and five of the 2018 World Series, resulting in the Boston Red Sox achieving the championship. As tough as it is, most will salute the Red Sox for executing when they had too. At the same time, they applaud the effort of the Dodgers for making the tough journey through the regular season and going through the gauntlet of the playoffs to be in a position to play in the coveted World Series. But the facts are the facts, even in Little League if you only get three hits, more than likely you will be on the losing end, as was the case in game five. Unfortunately that was the case in games two and five.
“Today is the first day I am able to talk about it. I have been upset since Sunday” A. Tillman, Dodger fan
It seems longer, but Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts just finished his third year. In all of those years his team has made the playoffs. Remarkable, the last two years he took his team to the World Series. As impressive of what he has achieved, including the admiration of most fans, many will still hold his decision in game four of pulling Rich Hill as the death knell of the series, thus ending our season.
Baseball – a game of failure!
Baseball is an interesting game. Those who are not diehards define the game as boring, too long to complete a game, on and on. It’s a very technical game which is why some make comments, having very little understanding of the nuances. It is a game of failure! Most hitters hit between .250 – .300, which translates if you have ten at-bats, you can rest assured you will make an out in seven or even eight times! Unlike other sports such as basketball where you can score quite frequently, games are long due to commercial breaks versus length of actual play. The 18 inning game the other night will be noted in years to come. As was the case in that game, runs or a score can be tough to come by, and the only way a team can be victorious is to outscore the opponent, yet in many innings, like the 18th inning doozy, no runs might be scored at all!
The Wild Horse strikes again
The decision to pull Hill will go down in history as a key point in the 2018 World Series. Just minutes earlier, Yasiel Puig sent Dodger fans into a frenzy by blasting a three-run home run making the score 4 – 0. Surely the Dodgers could secure nine outs and snag a win? In doing so it was a sure bet they would even the series at 2 wins a piece, giving the team the much-needed momentum, they were seeking?
The baseball god’s thought otherwise. While Roberts decision has been the focal point and much consternation of the fans, those who truly understand the game know better. Baseball is a game of statistics and super-charged analysis. In 2018 in the games Rich Hill pitched he normally lasted 5.2 innings. No doubt, in game four he was exceptional and at times appeared ready to break Don Newcombe’s record of pitching complete games of a double-header, on the same day!! He breezed through the sixth inning BUT his pitch count was near a record high of 91. In the bottom of the sixth he told Roberts to “keep an eye on him.” Again, just nine outs to secure a win. He started the seventh inning and walked Aruban sensation Xander Boegerts. Roberts still did not pull the plug. The next batter was the pesky Eduardo Nunez. Hill blew him away with three pitches to strike him out. Apparently, it was at that point that Roberts felt Hill had given his all and wanted him to go out on a high note. In comes Scott Alexander and to the surprise of the nearly 55,000 who were packed in the Ravine, as well as the millions who were watching on television, he walked the next batter on four straight pitches!!! Ouch!
World Series 2018: Dave Roberts on the Dodgers losing Game 4
The rest is history as even though the Red Sox put up nine runs in three innings, there was still hope. Team leader Justin Turner led off the ninth with a hit. The next batter, Kiki Hernandez blasted one of Craig Kimbrell’s pitches into the left field pavilion for a home run, and there were no outs! The enthusiasm quickly dampened as Cody Bellinger meekly flied out to end the game.
Yes, in his usual professional and political demeanor Dave Roberts accepted the blame for the loss, even while trying to explain why he pulled Hill. As mentioned in a game of statistics he had no idea Alexander would walk Benintendi on four straight pitches. Surely, he may have thought about it but he figured the odds were long that recently acquired Ryan Madsen would offer up one of his coveted home run pitches. Worse, perhaps trying to assuage Kenley Jansen’s ego, Roberts called on him in the eighth. Clinging on to a one run lead, many felt it was a likely possibility but Roberts went with his gut which was torn apart as Jensen’s cutter didn’t cut and professional hitters like Steve Pearce earn their millions by being able to handle mistakes, or a pitch which doesn’t cut, instead transforming it to a basic fastball – waist high. Many could hear the great Jim McKay of Wide World of States belting out his famous quote, “the thrill of victory….the agony of defeat.”
“Jansen hasn’t been the same since his heart ailment. These games are too much pressure for him!” JLT, Dodger fan
“What was Robert’s thinking? He knew Jansen hasn’t been doing nothing but giving up homeruns!!! I’m done! A millennial
So, for Dodger fans 2018 is history. Most will recover from their wounds. While some still want Roberts head on a platter, they also realize like the players, managers are not robots and after a couple of months of rehab they, like the other 29 teams who didn’t win the championship will give it another shot in 2019. Go Dodgers!