Tommy Lasorda: ‘You Don’t Manage For The Fans’

The Los Angeles Dodgers have won a lot of games in each of the last two regular seasons. They went 92-70 in 2013 and 94-68 in 2014.

Unfortunately for them, all of those regular season wins haven’t translated to postseason success. In fact, the Dodgers lost to St. Louis in the LDS last year and haven’t made it to the World Series since 1988.

What’s the answer? Should the Dodgers maybe try resting their players toward the end of the regular season to make sure they’re fresh for October?

Tommy Lasorda doesn’t think so.

“Why? Why should they have to be rested when they get to the postseason?” the Hall of Fame manager said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “I’ve never rested my pitchers unless we had a big (lead or) we cinched the division. It was always getting ready for the playoffs and getting (the players) ready by making them play.”

But what about Clayton Kershaw? This is a three-time Cy Young Award winner. This is the NL MVP. This is a 27-year-old southpaw who is already one of the most dominant pitchers we’ve seen in the last half century. He’s been utterly sensational.

But in the postseason, he hasn’t been. He went 0-2 last year, allowing 11 earned runs in 12.2 innings against the Cardinals.

“You can’t just judge a person by one playoff or two,” Lasorda said. “Playoffs are where you’ve got to give it everything you have. You don’t say, ‘Wait until tomorrow.’ You think about winning today. You got to win today to get to tomorrow.”

Still, Kirk Gibson and Reggie Jackson were good players, but they’re revered for what they did in the postseason. How do you explain to the average fan what happened to Kershaw last year in the playoffs?

“You don’t manage for the fans,” Lasorda said. “I said this a lot of times. If I managed for what the fans want, I would be sitting up there with them real quick. You got to prepare yourself. Every game is the game. You can’t be thinking about tomorrow. You got to win now. That’s what we’ve done. Now, we’ve gone a long, long time and we haven’t won. We haven’t won the right to go to the World Series or anything. So I’m hoping this year will be the year.”

Lasorda believes the Dodgers’ bullpen will be better, and he expects big things out of Yasiel Puig, who took the league by storm in 2013 but had an up-and-down go of it in 2014. Puig, 24, hit .296 with 16 home runs, 69 RBIs and 11 steals in 148 games last season.

“He looks great so far,” Lasorda said. “He’s playing real good, hitting the ball real hard and we expect big things from this guy.”

Lasorda, 87, also discussed his new book, Tommy Lasorda: My Way, which chronicles his life in and out of baseball. Gottlieb asked Lasorda what he wants his lasting legacy to be.

“l loved the game of baseball,” Lasorda said. “I love the Dodgers, and I loved trying to help people. I tried to make ball players better. So I just want to be known as a guy who really loved what he was doing.”

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