The Los Angeles Dodgers finally won a World Series for the first time since 1988, beating the Rays 3-1 in Game 6 tonight. The Tampa Bay starter Blake Snell was absolutely stellar, going 5 1/3 innings and allowing only one run. His night was cut short by a questionable decision to pull him with one out in the sixth. It was a decision that potentially cost the Rays a World Series and may have tarnished the resume of Rays Manager Kevin Cash for the rest of his career.
THE LOS ANGELES DODGERS ARE WORLD CHAMPIONS. pic.twitter.com/rlvVkSwXhp— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) October 28, 2020
Blake Snell was in control of the game, striking out nine batters and giving up only two hits. What was Kevin Cash thinking?
Perhaps the simplest explanation is that Cash wasn’t actually the one making pitching decisions, that Tampa Bay management instead trusted analytics to make decisions for them. Such blind faith in analytics has proven costly for other teams and in other postseason situations, yet the Tampa Bay Rays placed their trust in analytics once again. Last night on the big stage, Snell gave one of the best performances of his career, only to be yanked because a spreadsheet said so.
The Dodgers, on the other hand, have finally delivered the goods. It’s about damn time. Mookie Betts had another tremendous game with an enormous one-out double in the sixth that put the Rays on the ropes after Snell was pulled. He again cashed in for a big insurance run, going deep in the bottom of the eighth.
Red Sox fans have to be ripping their hair out. They traded away a generational talent in Betts, then watched him sign a 12-year, $365 million deal and win a World Series.
MOOKIE OF THE YEAR. pic.twitter.com/J7P8MPfMUo— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) October 28, 2020
When people claim stars are rarely worth their salaries, they’re usually right. But Mookie Betts is worth every penny to the Dodgers. The 4-time All-Star came through with his bat and his speed in some clutch moments, and his experience and confidence brought a steadiness to his teammates that this Dodgers team once lacked. In failed trips to the World Series in 2017 and 2018, guys like Cody Bellinger struggled to produce. They also weren’t having any fun. They spoke of pressure and making adjustments, sounding worried and uncomfortable.
Mookie Betts showed the Dodgers how to win with style and swagger, and the rest of the roster followed his lead. The Dodgers finally looked like Champions.
Unlike Kevin Cash, Dave Roberts ditched analytics and won his ball club a championship. Science and statistical have a role to play in baseball, but they shouldn’t supersede the instincts of experienced managers. Instead of leaning on the numbers, Roberts leaned on the hot hand of left-hander Julio Urias, and the decision paid dividends this year. If Roberts decided to live and die on the hill of Kenley Jansen as analytics told him he should, the Dodgers wouldn’t have won tonight. Dodger fans should be grateful that Dave Roberts grew a pair and told the analytics department to kick rocks.
Clayton Kershaw is also a World Champion now, and the ring might be enough to consider him among the greatest lefties of all time. He always performed well during the regular season, but he had a streak of postseason collapses, most recently against the Braves in the 2020 ALCS, that left people scratching their heads. Not this round. He has two clutch World Series performances to hang his hat on, and his team honestly couldn’t have won it all without him.
To fully address the incompetence of Kevin Cash, I had to give him his own paragraph. His frustrating decision to pull Blake Snell isn’t entirely his fault. Part of the reason he was hired is because he is willing to bend the knee to the analytical department who now get to make the tough calls. An organization that pays millions of dollars in management salaries has thrown all its eggs in the basket of a spreadsheet.
It doesn’t take a wizard to realize Snell should have stayed in the game, but the Rays don’t trust the managers they’ve hired. They trust graphs and charts to decide who should start, come in relief, and close. Hopefully the unfortunate case of Kevin Cash and Blake Snell will be a warning to MLB organizations everywhere: a strong reliance on analytics just makes a mess.
World Series MVP
Corey Seager earned the MVP honor, and now he gets the last laugh. The Dodgers almost traded him in the off-season. They tried to send him to Cleveland for Francisco Lindor, but the deal fell through. It’s a good thing it did. Both Seager and the Dodgers won in the end.
Congratulations to Corey Seager on being named the World Series MVP! pic.twitter.com/MCRBQYlkDs— Dodger Yard (@DodgerYard) October 28, 2020
Justin Turner COVID
Rob Manfred gonna Rob Manfred. Major League Baseball apparently waited until the eighth inning of Game 6 to alert the Dodgers that Justin Turner tested positive for COVID, and he was immediately pulled off the field. How did LA allow a player on the field that hadn’t yet passed his test? Turner hugged and high-fived his teammates for three hours before any action was taken. He also hugged and high-fived them after they won. But that’s another story.
These athletes will be just fine, but Manfred looks out of his league. We would reach out for comment, but Manfred looked like he was having a stroke during the post-game ceremony. MLB will probably pander to the outraged and insist that everyone “did everything they could” to enforce COVID protocol, while the rest of us are just glad it didn’t change the outcome.
Can someone check on Rob Manfred? 😳 pic.twitter.com/R6BgOekf9Z— Prime Time Sports Talk (@TalkPrimeTime) October 28, 2020
Congratulations to the Los Angeles Dodgers for winning the 2020 World Series. We hope someday to share that feeling of euphoria when we’re allowed back in the stadium.