This is Dave Roberts’ managerial record with the Dodgers through 162 x 5 games: 2016: 91-71 (.562), NL West champion 2017: 104-58 (.642), NL champion 2018: 92-71 (.564), NL champion 2019: 106-56 (.654), NL West champion 2020-21: 104-57 (.646), World Series champion in 2020 Total: 497-313 (.614), five division titles, three pennants, one World Series Since 2019, Roberts has essentially produced back-to-back seasons of more than 100 wins, including a World Series title. He has won at least 100 games three times in the equivalent of five seasons. At present, he ranks seventh in major-league history in winning percentage. This week, he will likely win his 500th game, all before turning 50. The Irony Committee-approved irony about publishing a story about Roberts’ record today is that he would have already hit the impressive 500-win milestone, if not for last week’s unfortunate Dodger meltdowns. In this year’s new edition of 100 Things Dodgers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die, you won’t find very many hot takes. Depending on how you feel about things, you might not find any. But maybe the closest that I come to offering one is in the book’s new chapter on Roberts, when I make the case that the Dodger manager is on an early path to reach the Baseball Hall of Fame. Yeah, that’s right. Let me qualify things in a hurry. First of all, “early” is “early.” Roberts still has a lot to do before he would even be considered for Cooperstown. For all I know, his managerial career could end in three months, and this discussion becomes a speck of dust on the basepath of life. Second, whether Roberts would be elected is a separate question from whether he is deserving. He could be elected without being deserving, and he could be deserving without being elected. Nevertheless, it actually seems pretty obvious to me that on his current trajectory, Roberts would be enshrined in the Hall, and the only controversy inherent in this news is that it will come as a shock to a number of fans — perhaps Dodger fans more than any others. And maybe, just maybe, that means there’s more to Roberts than the managerial decisions that infuriate so many. To back up my belief, here’s what I wrote about Roberts in 100 Things Dodgers before the season began. I’ll add more thoughts after this excerpt.
Category: Hall of Fame
Last weekend brought me to the wilds of New York for family reasons, on a trip that had been planned for months but near the last minute unexpectedly left me with a free day. Staying only 90 minutes from the National Baseball Hall of Fame, I rose at 6:30 a.m. Sunday, on four hours sleep after having traveled all Saturday from home, and made the drive to a little slice of baseball heaven.
At age 51, this was my second trip to the Hall — my first came when I was 14. People have asked me if the Hall seemed different, but so much time has passed that the biggest compare and contrast I can make is doing the trip with my dad vs. doing it solo.
That said, another major difference was having a cellphone, as opposed to only memories that would fade over time. I took more than 200 photos, and with this year’s annual induction ceremony only days away, there seems to be no better time for me to share some of them with you (with apologies for the quality). I’m going to divide them into multiple posts, starting with this one centered on the Brooklyn Dodgers.
This piece below on Mike Mussina has previously run on Dodger Thoughts …
As I heard reports that the career of New York Yankee pitcher Mike Mussina, who has 215 victories and a 3.59 ERA, might be fast approaching the end — though things have been looking better lately — I went looking for a feature I wrote about the righthander in 1988, while he was a freshman at Stanford and I was a junior.
I was fortunate enough to cover the Cardinal’s College World Series championship in Omaha, Nebraska for The Stanford Daily that June — during a week which found Mussina and I both taking final exams (same time, different tests) in a small Holiday Inn or Marriott conference room. But the first time I sat down with the future Oriole and Yankee was in his dorm room two months earlier.
The following article ran in the Daily on April 14, 1988. I thought it would be fun to revisit it here, a meeting between a young ballplayer and a young (and somewhat boosterish) writer …
The Hall of Nearly Great, a collection of essays about memorable major-league players who weren’t considered worth of the Hall of Fame, came out in 2012. I contributed the following chapter about Reggie Smith.
As an adult, maybe even as a teenager, you see the complete arc of a major-leaguer’s career. You’re there for the beginning – or, depending on your level of dedication, the pre-beginning: the minors, the run-up to the draft, college or high-school ball.
But when you’re a kid, you encounter ballplayers in media res. They arrive in your consciousness fully formed. Past is the opposite of prologue – past is epilogue.
Reggie Smith landed in my world in the middle of the 1976 season, the first full season that, at age 8, I became invested in the Los Angeles Dodgers as a fan. Speaking of fully formed: He joined a team that had that infield: Steve Garvey at first base, Davey Lopes at second, Bill Russell at short, Ron Cey at third. These were the people in our neighborhood.
Smith dropped in out of nowhere, by way of St. Louis. What was supposed to happen? It couldn’t have been that he would become the favorite player in the lineup for a kid fan birthed on Garvey, Lopes, Russell and Cey. That he would be the gateway to a life of challenging the conventional wisdom of who was most valuable.