For most baseball teams, the 2020 season was a strange, short, fanless diversion–but not in Los Angeles. After years of frustrating playoff runs, they finally reclaimed the World Series trophy after more than 30 years, led by their star pitcher, Clayton Kershaw, their electric new outfielder, Mookie Betts, and a bevy of impressive young players assembled by their hard-charging, ingenious team President, Andrew Friedman. The collection of talent that took the field in 2020, and again in 2021, was nothing short of a superteam, on a par with the dynastic Yankees of the 1990s.
Yet winning at modern baseball is nothing like it was even 20 years ago. In the years since Billy Beane’s famous Moneyball teams, baseball has grown to look less like a sport and more like a Wall Street firm that traded its boiler room for a field. Teams relentlessly exploit inefficiencies, new innovations, and tiny advantages–sometimes without regard for the rules of the game. The result is a sport that has never been played at a higher level, yet has seen its TV ratings and attendance numbers in long, slow decline. And with the league’s collective bargaining agreement set to expire at the end of 2021, a labor crisis looms.
This fascinating book not only examines the remarkable Dodgers team that won it all, but offers a unique view inside a sport that can’t seem to break its addiction to winning at all costs–even when those costs might be the future of the game. From Kershaw’s late-career breakthrough to Friedman’s machinations, it shows what it takes to win, and what it will take to save the sport.