The Los Angeles Dodgers were isolated for a long time when they were last in North Texas — and won the World Series in the most unusual postseason.
For the first time since those neutral-site 2020 playoffs during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dodgers return this weekend to Globe Life Field, where they also won the NL Division Series and NL Championship Series that October. They were also at the same hotel they will stay in for a much shorter trip this time.
“Staying at the hotel where we were on lockdown, for what seemed like a month, playing in that ballpark, that stadium, certainly a lot of great memories,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.
“The whole group got really close during that whole time,” third baseman Max Muncy said. “By the end of it, we were definitely tired of the hotel and the same food every day. We were ready to go somewhere different, but I just remember the whole thing being a ton of fun.”
Especially after winning the Dodgers’ first World Series title since 1998, in six games over the Tampa Bay Rays.
NL West leader Los Angeles, which has won eight of its last 10 games, opens a three-game series against Texas on Friday night. The AL West-leading Rangers have a six-game winning streak and are the only team without a loss since last week’s All-Star break.
During the 2020 postseason, the Dodgers occupied Globe Life’s home clubhouse, where their former shortstop Corey Seager is now in the second season of a US$325 million, 10-year contract he got in free agency after leaving Los Angeles. Seager has the same locker he had when he was the MVP in both the NLCS and World Series.
Muncy is among only eight players on the Dodgers’ current 26-man roster who appeared in the 2020 World Series. There are four pitchers from that series now on LA’s injured list, including three-time NL Cy Young Award winner and Dallas native Clayton Kershaw.
Seager was a first-round pick by the Dodgers in the 2012 amateur draft, made his big league debut late in the 2015 season and was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2016. He was twice an All-Star in Los Angeles.
Even though he missed 31 games this season, Seager was the AL’s starting shortstop in last week’s All-Star Game. He is hitting .346 — which would be his career high, and lead the AL if he qualified — with 14 homers and 57 RBIs in 65 games. He hit a career-low .245 in his Rangers debut last season.
“Knowing everybody now and not being the new guy, that’s a big thing for me,” Seager said.
As for facing his old team, Seager said it would be exciting to see some guys, but that the weekend was still just about winning the series. That approach certainly doesn’t surprise first-year Rangers manager Bruce Bochy, who faced the Dodgers plenty in his 25 seasons managing in the NL West with the San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres.
“I appreciate watching great players and what makes them good at what they do. And that’s part of his success, I think, is an even keel that he has,” Bochy said.
The visit to Globe Life by the Dodgers comes after the Rays were just swept in a three-game series. That was Tampa Bay’s third trip there since the World Series played before a limited capacity in the stadium that holds about 40,000 spectators. There was an announced crowd of 31,591 for the Wednesday afternoon series finale against the Rays, and sellout crowds are expected for all three games this weekend.
“They might have a little different perspective,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said of the Dodgers returning there. “But, you know, it was a great environment. I thought Major League Baseball did a tremendous job of promoting the World Series. … And to see all these fans now that are coming, it’s a fun place to play baseball.”