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Dave Roberts Calling

“Hello, may I speak to Luis Rojas please?”
“This is Luis.”
“Luis, my name is Dave Roberts, manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers.”
“Hi, Dave. No need to be so formal. I know who you are.”
“I wasn’t sure, seeing as how our teams have never played one another while we’ve each been in our present positions.”
“Dave, I was a coach on Mickey Callaway’s staff in 2019, and my dad is Felipe Alou. Our paths have crossed.”
“My apologies, Luis. You meet so many people in this job that you don’t always remember everybody.”
“No worries, Dave.”

“The reason for my call, Luis, is — and I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but my team, the Dodgers, won the World Series last year.”
“Of course I’m aware, Dave. I planned to congratulate you in person when you guys come to New York in August.”
“Well, as manager of the defending world champions — really, even if we’d lost the World Series…just being in the World Series means you manage the All-Star Game the next year.”
“Dave, I’ve been around baseball all my life. I know how All-Star managerial assignments work.”
“You do? Oh, OK. So anyway, in that capacity as All-Star manager for the National League, I’m calling to inform you I’d like to replace Jacob deGrom on the All-Star roster with Taijuan Walker [1].”
“Hey, that’s great! I was hoping Tai would make it regardless of Jake’s decision to go or not go. I know he was a little disappointed to not make it initially, just like he was disappointed he couldn’t give us more than five pretty gutty innings Friday.”

“As you may know, Luis, as manager of an All-Star team, I have many tough decisions on who to put on, who to leave off.”
“I can imagine.”
“The easiest was taking Jacob.”
“I’ll bet.”
“Yeah…hey, any chance you can get him to reconsider?”
“I don’t think so, Dave. Jake’s been a little banged up, and with the wonky schedule we’ve played, he could use the extra rest.”
“I was afraid you’d say that.”
“No, that’s OK.”
“Jake’s really good. Best pitcher there is.”
“No doubt.”
“A real shame to have an All-Star Game without the best pitcher there is.”
“Yup, it is too bad. But Jake’s gotta take care of Jake first.”
“Either way, we’re thrilled to have Taijuan join us in Denver.”
“I know Taijuan will be thrilled to get the news. It’s his first time being picked. Thanks for letting me know.”
“Hey, listen, Luis?”
“Yeah, Dave?”
“As long as I have you on the phone here, maybe I could ask you a favor?”
“Sure, Dave. Anything for a fellow National League manager.”

“I’m kind of feeling the heat after managing losing All-Star Games the last couple of times I’ve had the honor. We lost in 2019. We lost in 2018.”
“Yeah, Dave, I’ve noticed. The National League’s been kind in a rut. Not like when we were kids.”
“Tell me about it. That relates to the favor I need.”
“What’s that?”
“See, I’ve been watching your club a lot lately. With the time difference between L.A. and New York, I come into the office early and tune in the Mets games. You’ve got some really good players there.”
“Thanks, Dave. They’re good guys, too.”
“So maybe you can help me make some changes to the NL All-Star roster.”
“How so?”

“I was watching your Friday night game against the Pirates, and you guys were smoking. I need some of that at Coors Field Tuesday.”
“I’d love to have more Mets representing the league, Dave. I mean we’re in first place, we get one selection, and we don’t get a second until the first one says he isn’t going.”
“Great, great. So here’s what I need. I need Pete Alonso [2].”
“Pete? Really?”
“I figure he’s gonna be in town for the Home Run Derby and on Friday he got a heckuva head start with that three-run opposite field bomb versus the Pirates. The Polar Bear is heating up!”
“Well, I’m sure Pete would be honored.”
“And Francisco Lindor [3]. Ask him for me, would ya, Luis?”
“Lindor? Really? I mean, Dave, I love him, and we think the world of him, but I’m surprised after the rough start he got off to.”
“Luis, did you see that grand slam he hit? He’s breaking out of that slump. His defense, his leadership and now some power…I gotta have that to beat the American League.”
“If you think so, Dave.”

“Oh, and Jonathan Villar [4].”
“JV — an All-Star?”
“Luis, that guy is fire! A home run from the left side. A home run from the right side. It’s like you don’t even remember he didn’t start the season as a starter. You don’t think that’ll play in Denver?”
“No, I’m sure.”
“Listen, while I have ya on the line, get Brandon Nimmo for me, too, would ya?”
“Brandon? He’s been out a whole bunch this season.”
“Luis, do you realize what a sparkplug that guy is? I know it’s a relatively small sample size, but between the way he hits, the way he runs, the fact that he’s from Wyoming which is next to Colorado — people won’t care about the All-Star Game unless we make them care about the All-Star Game, and who better to show enthusiasm for the ‘Midsummer Classic’ than Brandon Nimmo?”
“I’ll add him to the list of guys I need to share good news with.”

“And Luis?”
“Yes, Dave?”
“James McCann’s a real good catcher.”
“You have good catchers, Dave. It’s an All-Star team.”
“Yeah, but James has handled your pitchers so well and he’s started to get big hits.”
“He could probably use the rest, but McCann’s a gamer, so I doubt he’d turn it down.”
“As long as you’re sending us your catcher, maybe a couple more pitchers?”
“Who’d ya have in mind, Dave?”
“Stroman would be great on the big stage. And Megill would represent fresh blood.”
“Tylor’s had three starts, Dave.”
“Three good starts, Luis. I can see him shining.”
“OK, lemme just start a new page.”

“Luis, I really appreciate this — oh, damn.”
“What’s wrong, Dave?”
“I almost forgot to ask you for relievers.”
“Diaz? Oh, absolutely. He drives some of our fans crazy, but he’s been stellar this year.”
“Yeah, we’d like to add Edwin. And can we have Loup, too?”
“Aaron Loup? I guess so.”
“And Trevor May?”
“And Kevin Pillar?”
“Kevin Pillar’s not a reliever, Dave.”
“I know, Luis, but he’s such an inspiration, the way he recovered from that pitch to the face and how all the guys in your clubhouse look up to him. The National League has been missing that kind of presence. I gotta have Kevin Pillar on the All-Star team — I gotta!”
“Dave, on behalf of the New York Mets, I’m honored you suddenly want so many of my players.”

“Luis, the National League has gotta go with the best we can get. One more thing.”
“Yes, Dave?”
“That tarp you use at Citi Field is clearly one of the strongest they make. It withstands all that rain, and your grounds crew removes it, and you play right away. Seven-inning games, nine-inning games…and the weather can be so unpredictable in Denver this time of year.”
“Dave, you want to name the Citi Field tarp to the National League All-Star team?”
“Luis, there’s a lot of pressure on me. I’m 0-2 in All-Star Games.”
“What pressure? It’s an exhibition fewer and fewer people watch. Players switch leagues all the time. The uniforms are an abomination [5]. We don’t even have actual league presidents anymore.”
“The ghost of Warren Giles visits me in my sleep, Luis. He wants to know how come I haven’t used Clemente.”
“That’s tough, Dave.”

“Yeah, so how about it, Luis? Maybe you can you just send me your whole team — and the tarp — and we can beat the American League at last. I mean look at the way you throttled Pittsburgh, 13-4 [6], especially that ten-run sixth!”
“How about this, Dave: we’ll keep playing the Pirates at Citi Field until the break, we’ll keep the tarp on the field until it’s time to take it off, and I’ll give Taijuan Walker the good news he made the All-Star team [7].”
“OK, Luis. I figured it was worth a try to ask for more.”
“See you in August, Dave.”
“And maybe October?”
“Goodbye for now, Dave.”