Fourteen members of the Dodgers’ 2018 World Series team participated in the World Series this year, so familiarity among players and coaches ran high long before anyone reported to spring training in February, or summer camp in July.
Still, the 60-game regular season did not allow Manager Dave Roberts as much time as usual to get to learn his new players’ capabilities – or for the players to get to know each other in a socially distanced world.
Game 6 of the World Series was the Dodgers’ 18th postseason game together, and a critical time for team bonding at the end of an unusual season.
“I think this group has really come together,” Roberts said. “This is as close a group as any I’ve ever been around. I think the bubble circumstance has kind of aided that.”
“I didn’t know how guys were going to respond to the stop-start, abbreviated-season protocols we had to follow,” he added. “Routines that guys are used to, whether it be in-game video, outside off-the-field stuff we had to adhere to – you just don’t know until you know.”
Utility player Kiké Hernandez, part of the Dodgers’ last six playoff teams, said weathering the inconveniences of the 2020 season together goes a long way.
“We’ve been through a lot as a team,” he said, “especially the guys that have been here as long as and even longer than me.”
CLOSE THE ROOF
Asked about the Dodgers’ off-day chatter, Hernandez had a modest answer: “that we hope the roof is closed because it’s freezing.”
Just as it was for Games 3 and 5, the roof above Globe Life Field was indeed closed for Game 6. By the middle innings, temperatures had dipped below 40 degrees in Arlington, Texas.
In 26 games with the roof closed this year, teams have scored 8.1 runs per game and hit 48 home runs at the Rangers’ home ballpark. In 19 games with the roof open, teams have scored 11.1 runs per game and hit 65 home runs.
According to ESPN Stats and Info, the Dodgers have faced the two heaviest leadoff hitters in postseason history this year.
Avisail Garcia, listed at 250 pounds, batted leadoff for the Milwaukee Brewers in the Wild Card round. He was the heavyweight champion of the world until 260-pound Ji-Man Choi led off for the Rays in Game 6.
HOME SWEET HOME
The Dodgers were designated as the “home” team in Game 6, after playing Games 3, 4 and 5 as the “road” team.
Besides batting in the bottom of each inning and wearing their home white uniforms, the Dodgers brought some familiar pregame accouterments to Globe Life Field. Dodger Stadium favorite Keith Williams Jr. performed the National Anthem, and members of Los Angeles Fire Department Station 20 announced “Play Ball” on the videoboard.