Come October, all baseball fans – including Cubs faithful – are quick to judge.
Chicago Cubs fans aren’t strangers to managers facing harsh criticism in October. Former manager Joe Maddon took plenty of heat during his tenure on the North Side, especially for his bullpen decisions during the 2016 World Series. Such criticism isn’t unique to Cubs fans, of course – as we’re seeing once again with Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts .
The former big league outfielder has taken a ton of heat from Dodger fans. He took his team to the NLCS in his first season, reached Game 7 of the World Series in 2017, returned to the World Series again in 2018 and, lastly, hit the NLCS in 2019 and has them just one win away from winning it all this year. Somehow, Roberts has received heavy scrutiny from Dodger fans despite the successes and we see how managers are the ones that are quick to blame.
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It started in Game 7 of the 2017 World Series when Roberts gave the ball to Yu Darvish. Darvish was their big trade deadline acquisition and with Clayton Kershaw on two days rest, Roberts gave the ball to his next-most talented arm. Darvish was rocked for five runs in 1 2/3 innings and the Astros proceeded to infamously win 5-1.
Some fans were so disgusted they were even calling for Roberts’ head after that Game 7 loss. He came under fire again in Game 4 of this year’s Fall Classic when he pulled Julio Urias and Blake Treinen early which set the stage for a Kenley Jansen collapse in the ninth. The Dodgers had control late with a 7-6 lead and a chance to go up 3-1 in the series but a two-run hit by the Rays with two outs in the bottom of the ninth flipped everything on its head.
Roberts was under fire for the loss but on the final play we watched Chris Taylor muff an easy ground ball, Will Smith drop the throw at the plate and Jansen fail to back up his catcher which caused two Rays to score to win the game.
Fans and the media are so quick to turn to the manager, who arguably could have prevented his team from getting into such messy situations, but at the end of the day it’s up to the men on the field to take advantage of opportunities that are theirs for the taking.
Roberts has been exceptional since taking the role in LA and owns a career win percentage of .615 in his time at the helm the Dodgers. He’s not perfect all the time, but has consistently put his team into position to win championships and they are finally on the brink of doing so.
David Ross is in a similar spot with this Cubs team. He came in as a first-time manager and took a team with glaring issues to a division title. He may not be the ‘answer’ but has helped get the best out of this group. He may make every right move as his tenure moves forward but just like Roberts, he will put this team in position to win.