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How the Dodgers are losing a generation of fans

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My friend Bob Timmermann is a longtime Dodgers fan. But he lives in Los Angeles so, like a lot of Dodgers fans, he can’t see the Dodgers on TV due to the carriage dispute between Spectrum/Time Warner, which owns Dodgers broadcasts, and the other carriers which will not pay the exorbitant fees Spectrum/Time Warner is demanding.

We hear about all of this mostly when some new court case pops up. I personally hear about this most loudly from intense, diehard Dodgers fans, angry about not being able to see their team through normal channels. They beef a lot about the shady, sometimes expensive lengths they have to go to in order to see their team.

The folks we don’t hear much from, however, are people like Bob. We don’t hear much because, as he describes, he’s not angry, as such. He was mildly bummed, but since 2014 life has gone on and he simply hasn’t watched the Dodgers. Now they’re just a thing to which he’s mildly and tenuously attached:

The biggest difference between being a Dodgers fan now and one from just five years ago is intensity. When I could easily see the Dodgers on TV, I would be thinking about the team a lot. I would be very much invested in the daily ups and downs of the team. I would block out time at home to make sure to watch a game. Now, the Dodgers are something I can just check in on to see how they’re doing without investing as much mental energy. Over time, the Dodgers may end up meaning as much to me as any of L.A.’s other pro sports teams. Which doesn’t bode well for the Dodgers as I am hard pressed to name more than 3 or 4 members of teams like the Lakers, Clippers, or Rams.

The Dodgers have made a lot of money due to their massive TV deal with Spectrum/Time Warner. But that will end one day. And when it does, they will have sacrificed an entire generation of fans, like Bob, who were devoted to the team when they were actually able to be but who mostly moved on when the team made it all but impossible for people to enjoy their games.

It may very well prove to have been a shortsighted play.

 

In the playoffs, the Yankees’ weakness has become their strength

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Two weeks ago, when the playoffs began, the idea of “bullpenning” once again surfaced, this time with the Yankees as a focus. Because their starting pitching was believed to be a weakness — they had no obvious ace like a Dallas Keuchel or Corey Kluber — and their bullpen was a major strength, the idea of chaining relievers together starting from the first inning gained traction. The likes of Luis Severino, who struggled mightily in the AL Wild Card game, or Masahiro Tanaka (4.79 regular season ERA) couldn’t be relied upon in the postseason, the thought went.

That idea is no longer necessary for the Yankees because the starting rotation has become the club’s greatest strength. Tanaka fired seven shutout innings to help push the Yankees ahead of the Astros in the ALCS, three games to two. They are now one win away from reaching the World Series for the first time since 2009.

It hasn’t just been Tanaka. Since Game 3 of the ALDS, Yankees pitchers have made eight starts spanning 46 1/3 innings. They have allowed 10 runs (nine earned) on 25 hits and 12 walks with 45 strikeouts. That’s a 1.75 ERA with an 8.74 K/9 and 2.33 BB/9. In five of those eight starts, the starter went at least six innings, which has helped preserve the freshness and longevity of the bullpen.

Here’s the full list of performances for Yankee starters this postseason:

Game Starter IP H R ER BB SO HR
AL WC Luis Severino 1/3 4 3 3 1 0 2
ALDS 1 Sonny Gray 3 1/3 3 3 3 4 2 1
ALDS 2 CC Sabathia 5 1/3 3 4 2 3 5 0
ALDS 3 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 7 0
ALDS 4 Luis Severino 7 4 3 3 1 9 2
ALDS 5 CC Sabathia 4 1/3 5 2 2 0 9 0
ALCS 1 Masahiro Tanaka 6 4 2 2 1 3 0
ALCS 2 Luis Severino 4 2 1 1 2 0 1
ALCS 3 CC Sabathia 6 3 0 0 4 5 0
ALCS 4 Sonny Gray 5 1 2 1 2 4 0
ALCS 5 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 8 0
TOTAL 55 1/3 35 20 17 20 52 6

In particular, if you hone in on the ALCS starts specifically, Yankee starters have pitched 28 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on 13 hits and 10 walks with 20 strikeouts. That’s a 1.61 ERA.

While the Yankees’ biggest weakness has become a strength, the Astros’ biggest weakness — the bullpen — has become an even bigger weakness. This is why the Yankees, who won 10 fewer games than the Astros during the regular season, are one win away from reaching the World Series and the Astros are not.