That is the place you discover out that I’ve by no means seen “The Godfather” collection — don’t even know its quotable characters or the phrases that made them well-known. So when Los Angeles Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman stated, with credit score to Hyman Roth, “That is the life we’ve chosen,” I didn’t notice till later that he had made the sentiment greater than it initially was.
In line with a 24-second clip on YouTube, Roth truly stated, “That is the enterprise we’ve chosen.” However, I assume, what’s working within the baseball enterprise if not an all-consuming lifestyle? Particularly in case you’re Andrew Friedman.
5 months faraway from his Dodgers beating the Tampa Bay Rays on a area in Texas to shut out the strangest season within the sport’s historical past as surprisingly predictable victors, I requested Friedman the way it feels to be again at sq. one — citing a conundrum that’s not particular to the Dodgers or perhaps a time beset by COVID-19. Throughout sports activities, the purpose is all the time to win a championship — one reward for which is just the prospect to strive once more. However Friedman and his workforce know maybe higher than anybody else you can construct a championship-worthy workforce 12 months after 12 months for practically a decade and solely take residence the trophy as soon as, full with an asterisk you in all probability don’t deserve.
And now, staring down one other six-month climb merely to get again to the postseason — a berth that’s about as guaranteed as anything can be in sports, which is to say it’s not, and moreover, have you ever seen the Padres roster recently? — individuals name you as much as ask concerning the final purpose for 2021. The reply is apparent: One other trophy, one other championship — this time with all of the pomp and circumstance that usually goes together with it. Consecutive World Collection wins, as robust as that’s. A championship that he truly will get to get pleasure from.
However lest you suppose the primary one made Friedman jaded, he laughs a bit ruefully and says of that form of success: “It’s fleeting, it’s treasured. We now have to deal with it with care.”
All through the condensed coronavirus season that all the time felt another outbreak away from whole collapse, the Dodgers had inspired one another to attempt to make “COVID lemonade” out of no matter unprecedented weirdness they encountered.
“And we made the last word COVID lemonade by profitable the World Collection,” he stated.
However there wasn’t a lot of a celebration as soon as he obtained out of the Texas postseason bubble.
“Zero,” Friedman says. “However I did get to expertise numerous aid, which is nice.”
For one factor, final fall and into winter wasn’t a really celebratory time on this nation, with the pandemic reaching new heights and dying tolls ticking steadily upwards.
“So many terrible issues occurred to so many individuals all over the place,” Friedman says, “And I’ve a tough time reconciling that that occurred whereas however, I achieved my final skilled dream.”
And for Friedman particularly there was additionally the burden of so a few years of arising brief in October. The Dodgers have been already NL West winners when he obtained there forward of the 2015 season, however beneath Friedman the workforce turned a big-spending, star-studded, perennial powerhouse with an enviable stability between a homegrown core and headline-worthy acquisitions. The mannequin franchise that might tout sustainability with out it trying like a euphemism for merely sustaining mediocrity. However even a 106-win workforce might be booted again to the sofa within the first spherical as soon as the stakes of each collection are ratcheted up. To know the latest historical past of Main League Baseball is to check your sympathies for Sisyphus in fashionable Dodger blue.
“I feel the stress to win was overwhelming,” Friedman says. “When we’ve misplaced within the World Collection, within the CS or DS, that night time and the following morning, it feels so daunting, to consider getting again to the precise place you have been 24 hours prior. All that goes into that.”
So what does it really feel prefer to lastly break by?
“I all the time questioned what the breakdown can be between aid and pleasure after we received,” Friedman says. “And I feel it was like, 99 % aid and 1 % pleasure. So I’m hopeful the following time is the inverse of that.”
Subsequent time: Which brings us again to spring coaching. AKA Sq. One.
Friedman says that in prior years he’d been champing on the bit to get again to Camelback Ranch, as a result of it meant the season was simply across the nook. The workforce would get one other shot to not fall brief.
“Whereas after we received, I used to be like, ‘Eh, if the season is delayed, that is nice. No downside. At any time when it begins is ok.’”
Which is why Friedman doesn’t shrink back from the query about complacency, or no matter it’s that makes it so exhausting to repeat. Simply ask the 2019 Boston Crimson Sox or 2020 Washington Nationals.
What Friedman known as the cautionary tales of latest victors have been “entrance of thoughts for us this offseason.” And so the Dodgers went and made themselves higher over the winter, took their laurels and turned them into kindling to construct a fair greater bonfire, attracting the expertise of reigning NL Cy Younger Award winner Trevor Bauer and bolstering their bullpen.
Moreover, there’s nonetheless that elusive pleasure.
“I do not suppose that they’ve of their DNA taking their foot off the pedal, and I have not seen it in any respect this spring coaching when it comes to complacency,” Friedman says of his workforce. “It is one thing that we’re all actually conscious of, however I feel not getting an opportunity to rejoice and have the parade and do it in entrance of our followers helps them in that respect.”
And the one solution to get that’s to push the boulder again up the mountain, beginning on the solely place they’ll: the very backside. Understanding full effectively what it’ll really feel like in the event that they slip simply wanting the summit and, lastly, having as soon as earned however not skilled all that’s ready in the event that they don’t.
In not-quite phrases of Hyman Roth: It’s the life they’ve chosen.
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