Brian Golden

He was the Dodgers’ THIRD choice in 2015.

Did the Dodgers ever hit the trifecta when they hired Dave Roberts as their manager.

They’ve gone 393-256, a .600 winning percentage, with four division titles, two National League pennants and two World Series appearances these last four years.

Only Hall of Fame managers Walter Alston and Tom Lasorda can match that getaway in the three centuries of Dodger baseball.

Imagine — their first choice in 2015 was Gabe Kapler, who’s relocated his Philadelphia train wreck to San Francisco.

Bud Black was behind door No. 2. He’s done well in Colorado.

We’ll road-test JetHawks karma this season, when Buddy gets none. 

He’s on his own.

This delayed 2020 season will be different for Mr. Roberts.

He, not his team, has an I-owe-you-one unpaid debt.

Roberts very uncharacteristically mangled his bullpen in the decisive fifth game of the National League Division Series against the eventual World Champion Washington Nationals.

Bringing in ace Clayton Kershaw to blow away Adam Eaton in the seventh inning was genius.

Leaving Clayton in for a second frame, where he gave up titanic eighth inning  bombs to emerging superstar Juan Soto and MVP runner-up Anthony Rendon on successive pitches, got filed with similar brain locked managerial moves involving Dave Goltz (1980) and Tom Niedenfuer (1985).

If there was ever a manager you rooted for to overcome something like that, it’s Dave Roberts.

In the volcanically charged atmosphere of race relations Major League Baseball returns to, there is no better  equipped manager, or man,  to respond.

With players from Cuba, Korea, Japan, Canada,Curacao, Mexico and the USA in his clubhouse the last four years, Roberts has been a veritable UN Secretary General in stirrup socks in how he’s blended all his players and personalities to produce nearly 400 victories.

What’s so special about this man is how he is the same person today as he was when he was a Visalia Oaks farmhand playing in the first game in Lancaster Municipal Stadium history in April, 1996, when he spent eight years in the minor leagues, when he got his first shot to start in the big leagues from Jim Tracy with the Dodgers in 2002 and when he swiped the biggest stolen base ever at Fenway Park to kickstart the Boston Red Sox to the greatest playoff comeback in MLB history in 2004.

It was almost an afterthought at his introductory Dodger Stadium press conference that Doc (his initials are DR) was  the first African-American manager in Dodgers history; he was also the first Japanese-American  skipper, since his father met his mother while serving in the U.S. Military in Okinawa.

Dave Roberts is a man of such profound character  and dignity that he compels you to look past his skin color.

Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to work for all of us?

The Dodgers so richly deserved that Humanitarian Award they received at the ESPYs the other night.

Their trailblazing produced the major leagues’ first black player (Jackie Robinson), its first Korean player (Chan Ho Park), its first Taiwanese player (Chin Feng-Chen), the Japanese player that opened the floodgates from East Asia (Hideo Nomo), as well as the first female assistant general  manager (Kim Ng) and trainer (Sue Falsone)  in MLB history.

Two new challenges, like a sinister double play combination, now loom: the coronavirus that has wrecked an economy, and the riots in the streets that have threatened to burn down anything else.

After the Watts riots of 1965 and the Rodney King riots of 1992, and after the Northridge Quake of 1994, the Dodgers have always been there to help with the healing.

In the process this year, they may add a bonus.

Fast-forwarding through the first 100 games of the season, they’ll get us to that Groundhog Day of kicking down the door to the word championship.

That’s an entitlement that will bring us all together.

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