FOX Sports MLB Analyst
Before I begin, let me say this: I really, really like Mookie Betts. I love watching him play and love the way that he plays.
With that said, Betts’ statement that “every game [against the Dodgers] is going to be the other team’s World Series” is a ridiculous statement. MLB isn’t like the NFL, where there are only 17 games. It isn’t like the NBA or NHL, which both have 82 regular-season games. This is baseball. There are 162 games.
Let’s say the Colorado Rockies are going to Los Angeles to face the Dodgers for a weekend series in late July, and it’s 95 degrees on kids’ day at Chavez Ravine. Do you think the Rockies are going to get up for that game because it’s their World Series? Or that every Rockies game versus the Dodgers will be their World Series?
That’s a ridiculous remark from Betts. This is baseball. For half of the regular season, you just want to get the game over with as quickly as possible because they go long enough as is. That’s obviously not how you handle the playoffs, let alone the World Series.
Betts’ comment sounds even more ridiculous after Dave Roberts guaranteed a World Series. This is a team that hasn’t won a playoff series in three years. Why is every team going to play a regular-season game like it’s their World Series against you?
The Dodgers had a great offseason. They have a great team and they’re the World Series favorites. All of that can be true. But not every game of a 162-game schedule is going to be treated like a World Series game. That’s preposterous!
Did Mookie Betts put an extra target on the Dodgers’ back?
Now, maybe the Dodgers need 162 World Series games this year because they haven’t played in one in a while, relatively speaking. They can’t get out of the first round.
OK, maybe that’s a little mean, but you get the point. What teams are actually pissed off at the Dodgers? What do they have to be upset about?
The natural pushback would be that players are upset with the Dodgers for loading up their roster by identifying loopholes with the payroll to defer a tremendous amount of money owed to Shohei Ohtani and others. But I think you’d also be overestimating how many players care about that, as well.
I’m not pissed about Betts’ comment. It just seems like a ridiculous thing to say considering the nature of the sport.
The Dodgers, of course, are serious contenders every year. Sure, this year is slightly different from others, considering that they spent $1 billion. With the exception of last year, we’ve gone into almost every season singing the Dodgers’ praises and how unbelievable they are. Outside of 2020, though, the Dodgers have routinely fallen short.
If the Dodgers were reigning champions or won two of the past three World Series, that comment would hold a little bit more weight. When you win only one playoff game over two seasons after winning at least 100 games each year, that comment is lacking substance.
With the Dodgers’ recent track record, teams aren’t thinking, “This is our World Series.” They’re more likely to think, “I hope we face the Dodgers in the first round of the playoffs — because that’s when they lose.”
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Ben Verlander is an MLB Analyst for FOX Sports and the host of the “Flippin’ Bats” podcast. Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, Verlander was an All-American at Old Dominion University before he joined his brother, Justin, in Detroit as a 14th-round pick of the Tigers in 2013. He spent five years in the Tigers organization. Follow him on Twitter @BenVerlander.
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