Los Angeles Times
Game is jewel but not ultimate prize
Jackie Robinson, Rachel Robinson, Mookie Betts, Clayton Kershaw and Shohei Ohtani, all before the second pitch of the All-Star Game.
Jewels of the diamond, all.
The All-Star Game is what Major League Baseball likes to call one of its “jewel events.” In too many cities, the All-Star Game celebration marks an unofficial end to the season.
It has been 11 years since the team that played host to the All-Star Game advanced to the playoffs.
The Dodgers, of course, advance to the playoffs every year. This year should be no different. The World Series is a “jewel event” too, and it just might be here, for what would be the fourth time in six years.
As Garrett Cooper looked around the National League clubhouse Tuesday at Dodger Stadium, he glanced at the lockers of all the Dodgers.
“They’ve got, what, nine All-Stars in that lineup over there?” Cooper asked.
Six, but point taken. The All-Star Game here is a pleasant summer diversion along the road to October. If a Dodgers fan forgets to take a moment to appreciate a run of what should be 10 consecutive postseason appearances, the nonDodger All-Stars are happy to remind you.
Cooper plays for the Miami Marlins, but he grew up here. He went to Loyola High, 10 minutes from Dodger Stadium.
“I don’t really look at it as, ‘Oh man, L.A. is in it again, or New York is in it again, or Boston is in it again,’ ” Cooper said. “You spend some money and you sign some guys, that’s the expectation in those big markets.”
The Marlins have advanced to the playoffs once in the last 10 years. The Dodgers could go 10 for 10, and then what?
“L.A. is probably going to
be in the playoffs for the next five to 10 years,” Cooper said.
This, to quote our dearly beloved Tommy Lasorda, “is not that [bleeping] easy.”
The Chicago Cubs were supposed to do this. The Cubs were terrible. They made four consecutive playoff appearances, including the 2016 World Series championship. Now they are terrible again.
“Not to knock anything, but it’s hard to win a World Series,” Kyle Schwarber told me. “You’ve been covering the Dodgers forever. It took how long until 2020?”
Point taken, and 32 years. Schwarber, an AllStar for the Philadelphia Phillies this year, played on those Cubs playoff teams. What does he see the Dodgers doing so right?
“You look at the players they have in the room every single year,” he said. “It’s good players. They develop well, too. The market is great. The market is huge out here. They are able to go out and do some things that maybe some other teams are not able to do.
“That is what you want as a player. You want an ownership that’s going to go out there and want you to win.”
It is money, sure, but it is not just money. The batting order the Dodgers have used most often this season includes three players acquired in the draft, three acquired in minor league deals and three stars imported from elsewhere. When mlb.com ranked the game’s top 100 prospects this month, the Dodgers had six, more than any other NL team.
“You can relate it to whatever you want,” San Diego Padres All-Star Joe Musgrove said. “You can say, the more money you spend, the better performance. You can say, the more money you spend, the better players you get, the better product you have on the field.
“It’s ultimately performance.”
The Arizona Diamondbacks finished 55 games out of first place last season. They are 21 games out at the break this season. They have one postseason appearance in the last 10 years; the Dodgers swept them out of the playoffs.
The Diamondbacks’ All-Star representative, Joe Mantiply, does not mind what the Dodgers have done, and continue to do.
“I think it sets a good standard,” he said. “They lay the groundwork for what it takes to compete.”
And, apparently, to expand the geographical horizons of their fan base.
The Diamondbacks’ average attendance has fallen 27% since 2018. Since the Dodgers rule the National League West, does everyone in Arizona despise the Dodgers?
Well, no. When the Dodgers play there, Mantiply said with a laugh, they are not booed by the fans in attendance.
“They’re mostly Dodgers fans,” he said.