Los Angeles Dodgers: The Roberts Lament


above caption:  Roberts pulling Hill.  Digital First Media.

LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 28: A view of the World Series Trophy after the Boston Red Sox defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-1 in Game Five of the 2018 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 28, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

[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!

MLB Players from CUBA: v2018


Now that Major League Baseball  (MLB) just completed its 89th All Star Game (#ASG) and players have a day or two off before the second half of the season resumes, we thought it would be a good opportunity to update those players who are from Cuba and play on one of the thirty MLB teams (active roster).

This is the legendary Estado Latinoamericano located in Havana. Interestingly it is about as large as Dodger stadium but is located right in the heart of the community

Why the interest?

Baseball is the national sport of CUBA.  Their players have been known for their talent which is why it was remarkable to see defections.  Now that MLB has solid policies and agreements are in place, teams have shown a healthy appetite in adding those players to their roster.

Currently there are 20 Cuban players on the MLB rosters.  That number represents about three percent of the total 750 players as each active roster is comprised of twenty-five players.  The number is down by one, as last year there were twenty-one.  However, one must keep in mind there are many more Cuban players making their way through the rigorous process of making the active twenty-five player roster (there is single A, double A, triple A, etc.)


Here is a peek of this years crop of Cuban born players in MLB.


Jose Abreu
Yoan Moncada
Raisel Iglesias
Yandy Diaz
Yonder Alonso
Jose Iglesias
Cionel Perez
Yulieski Gurriel
Jose Fernandez
Yasiel Puig
Yasmani Grandal
Odrisamer Despaigne
Yoenis Cespedes
Aroldis Chapman

 

Roenis Elias
Guillermo Heredia
Adeiny Hechavarria
Aledmys Diaz
Lordes Yuneiklkl
Kendrys Morales

Teams 2018 2017 Change
TOTALS>>> 20 21
Arizona Diamondbacks 0 1 -1
Atlanta Braves 0 2 -2
Baltimore Orioles 0 0 0
Boston Red Sox 0 1 -1
Chicago Cubs 0 0 0
Chicago White Sox 2 2 0
Cincinatti Reds 1 1 0
Cleveland Indians 2 1 1
Colorado Rockies 0 0 0
Detriot Tigers 1 1 0
Houston Astros 2 0 -1
Kansas City Royals 0 1 -1
Los Angeles Angels 1 1 0
Los Angeles Dodgers 2 2 0
Miami Marlins 1 1 0
Milwaukee Brewers 0 0 0
Minnesota Twins 0 0 0
New York Mets 1 1 0
New York Yankees 1 1 0
Oakland Athletics 0 1 -1
Philadelphia Phillies 0 0 0
Pittsburgh Pirates 0 0 0
San Diego Padres 0 0 0
San Francisco Giants 0 0 0
Seattle Mariners 2 2 0
St. Louis Cardinals 0 1 -1
Tampa Bay Devil Rays 1 1 0
Texas Rangers 0 0 0
Toronto Blue Jays 3 0 3
Washington Nationals 0 0 0

Justin Turner 29 Years to the date


[Chavez Ravine]   Unless you were in a coma, don’t read/view/listen to the news or just can’t stand the game of baseball or you are shaking your head in disbelief that people would waste valuable time to attend/view a game which took nearly 4 hours…………you missed the Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner hitting a walk-off (the home team’s last at-bat) hitting a historic home run off Chicago Cubs and well-traveled reliever John Lackey to win the game.

The game is still just a game but the surreal comparison when analyzing Turner’s home run is it just so happened to be 29 years to the date when Kirk Gibson marched into the annals of sports history with his monumental blast which led the Dodgers to their World Series Crown.  Coincidently, that is why Dodger fans are thirsty and hopeful that Turner’s home run is a sign that they may finally claim another World Series trophy.

To keep Turner’s feat into perspective, yes it was a blast but this is just the second round of the playoffs or the NLCS (the National League Champion Series) and the win put the Dodgers up two games to none.  However, they must win four games to claim the seven game series and the defending World Series champs, the Cubs could still rally and knock the Dodgers out?

Here is the extended clip of Justin Turner’s blast which starts with Chris Taylor’s at-bat


Ekersley, shocked to his toes!! Vin Scully

This is the comparison clip and features the full footage of Kirk Gibson’s home start.  The footage starts with Mike Davis’ at-bat

MLB’s interest in baseball players from Cuba


Fred at the Cuba's famous Latinoamericano Estado
Fred at the Cuba’s famous Estadio Latinoamericano (c) Fred Thomas, III

It has been no secret that Major League Baseball may have finally found the combination to the vault!  Inside the vault was the treasure trove of players who hail from the Caribbean’s largest country known as CUBA.

Contrary to some who are just discovering or re-discovering this “forbidden” country, baseball has long been a trademark of the island.  Competition dates back to December 27, 1874.  Even as the Negro Leagues were building legendary status; due to legalized segregation practiced in the United States players were forbidden to join Major League teams.  It was during their heyday they found a welcomed ally and a fan base in Cuba who appreciated their style of play.  Those who remember the movie 42 may recall the scene when the Los Angeles Dodgers were trying to transition Jackie Robinson to first base?  It actually took place during a time when some of the Dodgers trained in Cuba.

 

“I have found memories of Cuba.  While with the Dodgers I pitched down there about six years.  I don’t like the government but I love the game of baseball.”  Tommy Lasorda, Los Angeles Dodgers

Once the Cuban revolutionist took place, baseball was banned, although temporarily.  The new regime understood the impact sport plays in our society, thus the Cuban national team took on a new dimension.  They became a powerhouse and a powerful tool for the country.  The fact players were paid a pittance (in capitalist terms) is important, but not as important as the pride players took in being a part of the team.

Defections

During the last 15 years or so there has been an escalation of baseball players from Cuba who had the aspiration to play in the Major Leagues.  Those who arrived, although through very dangerous circumstances were welcomed.  Some eventually achieved success, but many more did not.

Major League’s interest in Cuban players is somewhat of an unknown topic.  However, those familiar with the sport simply know those players who are part of Cuba’s national baseball program are better trained and ready to transition at a quicker rate than other countries.  Thus, the floodgates have been cracked open so expect this number to increase, especially with Major League Baseball’s strategy to internationalize the sport.

Current Lineup

Currently, or as of this writing there are 21 players who are playing in Major League Baseball.  While 25 players make up the official roster, teams are allowed to stretch that number to 40 representing its active roster, so for the sake of argument of the 1,200 players, 22 or less than two percent are from Cuba.


Adeiny Hechavarria
Adeiny Hechavarria Tampa Bay Rays
Adonis Garcia
Adonis Garcia

Atlanta Braves

Aledmys Diaz
Aledmys Diaz

St. Louis Cardinals

Ariel Miranda
Ariel Miranda

Seattle Mariners

Armando Rivero
Armando Rivero

Atlanta Braves

aroldis-chapman
Albertin Aroldis Chapman

New York Yankees

Guillermo Heredia
Guillermo Heredia

Seattle Mariners

Jorge Carlos Soler
Jorge Carlos Soler

Kansas City Royals

Jose Antonio Iglesias
Jose Antonio Iglesias

Detriot Tigers

José Dariel Abreu
José Dariel Abreu

Chicago White Sox

Odrisamer Despaigne
Odrisamer Despaigne

Miami Marlins

Raisel Iglesias
Raisel Iglesias

Cincinnati Reds

Roenis Elias
Roenis Elias

Boston Red Sox

Yandy Diaz
Yandy Diaz

Cleveland Indians

Yasiel Puig
Yasiel Puig

Los Angeles Dodgers

Yasmani Grandal
Yasmani Grandal

Los Angeles Dodgers

Yasmany Tomás
Yasmany Tomás

Arizona Diamondbacks

Yoan Moncada
Yoan Moncada

Chicago White Sox

Yoenis Céspedes
Yoenis Céspedes

New York Mets

Yonder Alonso
Yonder Alonso

Oakland Athletics

Yunel Almenares Escobar
Yunel Almenares Escobar

Los Angeles Angeles


Major League Baseball returns to Cuba as part of Goodwill Tour