One win away from a World Series championship, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts is trying not to think about the stakes.
“When it does enter [my mind], I quickly dismiss it,” he said on Monday. “I’m kind of -- it’s human nature, but I don’t let my mind go there. Kind of just taking today as its own day. As the day goes on, I’ll start thinking about Game 6, and that’s all I’m thinking about. Realistically, obviously, it would mean a lot. I hope we’re having this conversation tomorrow night.”
But just like everybody else in Los Angeles, it’s impossible for the Dodgers not to think about what it would be like to bring a World Series trophy home for the first time in 32 years. Clearly, it would be uniquely satisfying for those on the team who have been hearing about this drought since they first put on the uniform.
“We’ve heard it a lot and we’ve seen it a lot, the highlights [of past championships], and it’s fantastic,” said Roberts, under whom the Dodgers have won three National League pennants in five seasons. “But I think that we want to make our own mark on Dodgers history. The thing about that is, Tommy [Lasorda], Gibby [Kirk Gibson] and Orel [Hershiser] are all rooting like crazy for us in 2020. But we’re focused on making our own mark.”
Smith was the much better hitter and Barnes the better receiver during the regular season. In the World Series, Smith is 3-for-21 (.143) with one homer and nine strikeouts, while Barnes is 1-for-10 (.100) with one home run and a safety squeeze bunt. Smith has started behind the plate in two of the five Fall Classic games thus far, and Barnes received the assignment in the Game 5 win on Sunday night.
“It just does not happen, especially when you’re talking about the character of the person, and everything that comes with Mookie Betts. When [team president] Andrew [Friedman] brought it to me that it could happen, I just couldn’t believe it. I was trying to not get too excited. As it happened, the player, what he expects, it’s just exponentially -- we got a steal. I’m just so grateful that the deal got done.
“It’s not just going to help us this year, but for the next wave of young players and really enhance what we have as a culture. It’s going to affect players that haven’t even been drafted by the Dodgers yet. That’s what I’m excited about as well.” -- Roberts, offering more glowing comments on the acquisition of Betts in his prime