Six years ago, I did a Yankees-Dodgers email exchange with my then-girlfriend Brittni Michaelis. The teams played a pair of two-games series in the Bronx and Los Angeles and we attended the entire four-game season series. The last time the two teams met in Los Angeles, the Yankees’ lineup included Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano and Alfonso Soriano as well as Vernon Wells, Brent Lillibridge, Jayson Nix and Chris Stewart.
A lot has changed since my first trip to Dodger Stadium in August 2013, including my then-girlfriend Brittni Michaelis becoming my now-wife and Brittni Keefe this June in New York City. But one thing hasn’t changed: neither team has won a championship.
For the third straight season, there’s a very real possibility the Yankees and Dodgers could meet in the World Series. The Yankees failed to hold up their end of the bargain the last two seasons, while the Dodgers ended up losing both World Series. This past weekend in Los Angeles, we got somewhat of a preview of what a World Series between the two teams would look like.
Brittni and I traveled back to her native Los Angeles for the first West Coast meeting between the teams since our last email exchange. Because of the momentous occasion and their possible postseason reunion, it only made sense to recap the Yankees’ series win in another email exchange.
Neil: Who knew all it would take for Aaron Judge to come out of his slump was a weekend against the team with the best record in baseball, and a couple of games against the National League All-Star Game starting pitcher and the best pitcher of his generation and possibly the best pitcher of all time? I would like to thank the Dodgers for turning Judge back into Judge for the final 30 games of the season leading into the postseason.
And who knew all it would take for James Paxton to realize his potential and find himself for the first time in more than four months would be a game against the NL’s top run-scoring offense and the best home team in the majors? I would also like to thank the Dodgers for potentially turning Paxton’s season around and giving the Yankees a comfort and confidence boost for their postseason rotation.
Despite winning two out of three (and what might have been a sweep if not for the most egregious umpiring decision of the season), the Yankees getting their 2-hitter back on track for the final the month of the season and getting a dominant performance from their potential Game 1, 2 or 3 postseason starter was just as important as trimming the Dodgers’ home-field advantage lead to one game. Thank you, Dodgers. After taking on all the Red Sox’ bad contracts seven years ago and then putting together an embarrassing performance against the Red Sox in the World Series last year, you have finally done something to help the Yankees.
It was a near-perfect weekend in Los Angeles. The only things that prevented it from being perfect were the Players Weekend uniforms and the ninth-inning umpiring on Saturday.
Brittni: I only wish the Dodgers could have played the Yankees when they didn’t have a 20-game division lead and didn’t have a significant lead for the best record in the National League. Maybe then Dave Roberts would have managed to win and the series could have had a different outcome. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough In-N-Out or Micheladas to cure my baseball hangover from the weekend.
Hyun-jin Ryu’s performance on Friday was the real Ryu that Dodgers fans have come to know. The second you expect greatness from him, he lets you down. Fatigue is being cited as the reason for his performance on Friday night, but what do you expect? It’s late August and he’s pitched more innings this season than he has in any season in five years.
As for Kershaw, I can’t say enough about him and won’t say anything bad about him. He is the Dodgers. He pitched well and more than good enough to win on Sunday (7 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 12 K, 3 HR), but he got beat by three solo home runs because his offense didn’t show up, which pretty much summarizes his entire career. Everyone expects a complete-game shutout from him when he starts because he’s set the bar so high over the last decade, and when he doesn’t, he gets unfairly criticized. Kershaw has had to be near-perfect to win for most of his Dodgers career and Sunday was another example of that.
Neil: I have been fearful of the Yankees and Dodgers meeting in the World Series this season and the Dodgers ending their 30-year championship drought and you getting the first Dodgers championship of your lifetime at my expense. Not only that, but after losing to the Astros and Red Sox in back-to-back World Series, it’s supposed to be the Yankees’ turn of the AL powerhouses to win a championship against the Dodgers, so it would be more than painful if they lose to the Dodgers. I have been fearful of that possible outcome because of the Dodgers’ dominant starting pitching, but after this weekend, I’m no longer fearful. Starting pitching is all the Dodgers have going for them and with the now right-handed heavy Yankees lineup, left-handed starting pitching no longer matches up well against them in the postseason.
When it comes to the Dodgers’ offense, I laugh at those who think it’s top-notch because of the numbers they see on paper and the stats they have padded against the crappy NL West where the second-best team is the .500 Giants. As someone who stays up late each night watching the Dodgers with you, and someone who has lost many, many times on inflated Dodgers money lines, I know the real Dodgers offense and it sucks.
As for the Dodgers’ bullpen, unless Kenley Jansen finds his cutter, who is getting important outs for them in October? Joe Kelly?! Pedro Baez?! Yimi Garcia?!
How could you or any Dodgers fan feel good about this roster?
Brittni: It was three games and the smallest of sample sizes. You aren’t scared of the best starting pitching in baseball? You’re taking crazy pills. You should be petrified. The Yankees’ bats will be silenced this October like they were last October and in Games 6 and 7 the previous October when they were one win away from playing the Dodgers in the World Series.
I’m not the biggest fan of this roster, but I don’t have a choice. The front office refused to make any moves at the deadline, so this is what I’m stuck with. I’m not sure this roster has what it takes to finally win the World Series, though if they get a couple of breaks in the postseason, like the one in the ninth inning on Saturday, they could.
The Dodgers are going to be able to coast through September, rest their everyday players and allow their pitchers to get their work in as needed. You might not be scared of the Dodgers’ starting pitching in a potential World Series matchup, but you should be scared of the Yankees’ starting pitching for the entire postseason. Even with Paxton and Domingo German shutting down the Dodgers and giving you comfort and confidence, do you really trust them? Or Masahiro Tanaka or CC Sabathia or J.A. Happ? If Luis Severino doesn’t come back and come back as his usual self, you better stock up on your lifetime “Ladies and gentleman” immunity passes for Twitter. You’re going to need them.
Neil: I don’t feel good about the rotation, but I don’t need them to pitch seven-plus innings in the postseason like you need Kershaw, Ryu and Walker Buehler to. I just need them to get through four innings and get 12 outs with either a lead or a close game. Then it’s 15 outs from Chad Green, Tommy Kahnle, Adam Ottavino, Zack Britton, Aroldis Chapman, and hopefully the best reliever in baseball: Dellin Betances.
Unfortunately, the Dodgers are probably going to have the best record in baseball this season and have home-field advantage for a potential World Series meeting. Aside from five games against the Rays and Mets, the Dodgers don’t have another game against a team with a winning record this season. Ladies and gentlemen, the NL West! So if the Yankees and Dodgers do meet again, it will be on Tuesday, Oct. 22 in Los Angeles for Game 1 of the World Series.
Don’t worry, if the Yankees end up winning the World Series, whether it’s against the Dodgers or another team, I will still let you have some champagne since I will need someone to celebrate with, and you can still attend the parade with me, since I will need someone to take pictures.
I would say I would do the same for you if the Dodgers win the World Series, but we’re talking about a team whose manager batted a career .242 hitter third in the World Series, didn’t start Cody Bellinger or Max Muncy in postseason games because of left-handed starters and kept using the same middle reliever in high-leverage situations in the World Series even though he allowed every inherited runner to score in the series. As long as Roberts is the manager of the Dodgers, I don’t think I have to worry about them ending their World Series drought.
If there’s no World Series meeting between the Yankees and Dodgers, we’ll have to do this in 2022 when the teams meet again. Maybe by then Andrew Friedman will have built a bullpen for you and Brian Cashman will have built a rotation for me.
Brittni: Roberts might be the only thing we have ever agreed on regarding the Dodgers. As long as he’s in charge, my path and the Dodgers’ path to a championship is impeded.
Roberts is a very zen, Cali-forn-i-a-style manager. He isn’t scary, he never gets upset and it’s very “Yeah, bro … life is good … I live in sunny SoCal where it’s always 70 degrees” with him. I need heat, I need passion, I need a manager who is fearful. I need this because in the last two years I’ve watched the Dodgers lose back-to-back World Series and it a lot of it had to with Roberts’ in-game decisions and his nonchalant demeanor after the losses.
We may be getting ahead of ourselves when it comes to a Dodgers-Yankees World Series meeting. I know you don’t believe in jinxes, but they do exist. A Dodgers-Yankees World Series didn’t work out the last two years and the Astros and Braves could easily prevent it from happening again. It would be great to finally get this matchup and it would be even greater to have it go seven games, it’s just that a lot of things need to happen to get there.
I’d like to think we are older and wiser now since our last email exchange six years ago, but we placed a bet in which the loser of the weekend series has to eat two Dodger dogs from the ampm store. It makes me wonder what our bet will be if our teams do end up playing each other in the World Series.
But the more and more I think about it, I’m not sure I want a World Series against you, let alone one that goes seven games. If the Dodgers were to lose, you would hang that over my head for our entire marriage. I thought the rides home from Dodger Stadium on Friday and Sunday nights were bad enough, I don’t know how I would handle a Yankees championship at the expense of the Dodgers and a championship for you at the expense of me.
My book The Next Yankees Era: My Transition from the Core Four to the Baby Bombers is available!