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Sports Authority

Mulvena: Honeycutt, Los Angeles should take cues from Boston fans

| Friday, October 26, 2018

After game one of the 2018 World Series at Fenway Park, when left-hander Clayton Kershaw looked like a shadow of his regular season self, Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt had some issues with the Fenway bullpens.

“Brutal. Pretty brutal,” Honeycutt said of the bullpens. “What I don’t understand is why baseball allows it. You’ve got the rubber right there and people literally standing over you.”

Clearly Honeycutt was not pleased with what I can imagine were some choice words Red Sox fans had for the star national league pitcher prior to the start of the game. Plus, Fenway ringed with chants of “Keeeer-shaw” as the 2014 National League MVP tried to get out of a jam in the first and third innings.

Not only do these comments strip Honeycutt of a credibility I previously accredited him with, but they make the Dodgers franchise, on the whole, appear weak and unprepared.

Honeycutt himself played in the league for over 20 years, a veteran pitcher with spurts of excellence, like his 2.42 ERA for the Rangers in 1983. Honeycutt played in the league for so long that he was the oldest player in Major League Baseball in 1996 and 1997. And of those 21 seasons of play, Honeycutt pitched for an American League team in 17, so it’s certainly not as if this is the first time he has stepped through the walls of Fenway Park. And if you know anything about the history of baseball, you know that Fenway is the oldest stadium in Major League Baseball, packed with a rich history. And places like that don’t really change very often.

The last time Honeycutt was at Fenway was in 2010, and nothing significant about the bullpen has changed since then. The rubber is approximately three feet from the stands.

So I just don’t understand this, at all. After a game one loss, in which we all saw that the Dodgers probably don’t have enough to give this Red Sox team a run for its money, it’s the 20 year MLB veteran who complains about how close the bullpen is to the stands? It’s the 20 year veteran pitcher who thinks to say this to a reporter in the wake of a loss where his best starting pitcher got absolutely lit up?

It just doesn’t make sense. But it does make Honeycutt look immature, which I’m sure he’s not because you don’t go 20 years in the MLB without a few hecklers or rough outings when the fans weren’t on your side. Even more concerning, it makes the Dodgers look whiny and weak. Going into the series, it was no secret the Red Sox were the better team, having won 108 games in the regular season and handling the 2017 World Series champion Astros with ease. But certainly there lingered a general hope that the underdog could buckle down and make the series interesting. Now it just looks like their only recourse is to complain about the bullpens at the most storied field in MLB history.

Plus, what do we think of when LA sports comes to mind? Beyond the Lakers of old, we don’t think much, especially as far as fans go. Let’s be honest, Los Angeles sports fans aren’t the most loyal, or the most passionate — take a look at the stands in Dodger Stadium when the Dodgers go down more than four runs on a hot dreary Sunday afternoon in August. We tend to think of a fanbase highlighted by celebrity appearances and famous franchises that hang onto glare and relinquish substance. Whereas Boston, as of the past two decades, has taken on an aura of the grind, of passionate fans who stick with their teams. Frankly, Boston fanbases call to mind the opposite characteristics of LA fanbases — they care, they take pride in victory, and they stick with their guys when they lose. Honeycutt’s comments made a distinction — which we all knew was already there — seem worlds larger, and it certainly doesn’t help the Dodgers’ legacy as of the last 20 years.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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