LOS ANGELES -- For Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, the season began with personal heartache and it ended on Wednesday night with professional heartache, as they lost Game 7 of the World Series to the Astros.
The 5-1 loss at Dodger Stadium is something Roberts will ultimately deal with as he moves forward toward next season. But the death of his father, Waymon, in March, is still a matter in which he has to cope.
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"I think, yeah, losing my father early and still kind of having dealt with that, I'm sure I'll take some time to go through that," Roberts said after Wednesday's loss. "But when you're in the middle of a season, it's really hard. I guess you compartmentalize it, but it's definitely in my heart, for sure."
Roberts' dad was diagnosed earlier this year with multiple myeloma, a cancer that plagues the bone marrow. The disease has a mean shelf life of about five years and claimed baseball great Don Baylor this past summer. But before Waymon Roberts could even begin treatment, he had a heart attack and passed away. He was 68.
Roberts, 45, left the team at Camelback Ranch during Spring Training in mid-March to be with his family in San Diego, but he returned after only a couple days to continue a quest that resulted in the Dodgers winning a Major League-best 104 games and the club's first National League pennant in 29 years.
When the team was on its first road trip through Chicago about a month later, Roberts found himself sitting alone in a hotel room thinking about his dad. Roberts wanted to hear that familiar voice, so he punched up the number of his dad's cellphone. Fortunately, the voice message was still active.
"Yeah, it's not been an easy year for him, on and off the field," said Astros manager A.J. Hinch, who developed a great friendship with Roberts when the two were with the Padres, Hinch in the front office, Roberts as a coach. "We never really share our personal sides [with the public]. We're people, too. We battle on and off the field."
Roberts' battles included his own bout with cancer of the blood system called Hodgkin lymphoma. He was diagnosed in 2010 when he was with the Padres, and after several rounds of chemotherapy, he was declared clean of the disease. Seven years later, Roberts is still cancer free.
Fresh from winning the Astros' first World Series title in their history, Hinch sought out Roberts to share a moment. The two dear friends met in the hallway that leads from the Dodgers' clubhouse to the interview room.
"Obviously, one man's celebration is going to be another man's demise," Hinch said about the brief meeting. "It's terrible to watch him in pain. Before I walked in here, I had a private moment with him. And as always, he was full of class and appreciation for the moment."
Roberts has had two seasons as the Dodgers' manager, his first job leading a Major League team. And those two years can only be considered a success despite Wednesday's loss. With him, they have won two NL West titles, an NL pennant and 195 games for .602 winning percentage.
Last year, Roberts won the NL Manager of the Year Award as voted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. And this year, he should again be a top candidate. Roberts has set a tone in the clubhouse and is beloved by his players.
"He's been unbelievable," said first baseman Cody Bellinger, who came up from the Minors in late April and had a NL Rookie of the Year Award-caliber season. "His communication has been unbelievable. He lets you be yourself and I think that's why I was so successful this year. Even when I struggled, he was patting me on the back."
Success is fleeting, of course, and Roberts didn't let a moment pass after Game 7 ended to address the team. The Astros were still celebrating on the Dodgers' home turf when the group gathered in the clubhouse.
"It was just a little reflection on the season, and I told them how much there is to be proud of," Roberts said. "We fell short, but we accomplished a lot this season. It was great to see our guys come together as a team, as a special group of men. There's no reason to hang your heads. One team can only win this. That's a great ballclub over there."
The offseason is short and time can be condensed. There won't be much time for Roberts to digest the events of this year, but digest he will, he promises.
"You really don't give it as much of your heart and mind, because you've got to move forward," he said. "And that's what my dad would've wanted me to do, I'm sure."