Dave Roberts: Dodgers Learning Through Experience That Opponents Have More Intensity Against Defending World Series Champion
Dave Roberts
Kelvin Kuo/USA TODAY Sports

When the Los Angeles Dodgers won the 2020 World Series to end the franchise’s drought that spanned 32 years, they did more than earn a trophy and rings — they also put a target on their back for this season.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a bigger challenge, but you don’t know until you know,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of going through a season as a defending champion.

“I think you can talk to past World Series champion teams or championship teams in any sport, and the following year, kind of seeing the intensity and focus opponents have when they play you, you can expect it.”

Before the season, Mookie Betts said the Dodgers were going to embrace the bullseye on their back.

“I think we all have one goal in mind, and that’s to win again,” he said. “We know it’s going to take a lot of hard work, we know there’s a bullseye on our back. But I would rather be playing with a bullseye on my back than trying to chase to get to the top.”

So far the Dodgers have primarily lived up to the challenge in stretches. Coming into the season, they were expected to be the top team in baseball and favorites to win the 2021 World Series.

They currently remain in second place in the National League West and tied for the second-most wins overall.

After seven straight seasons falling short of their goal in the postseason, the Dodgers are finally experiencing life as the defending champions.

“Until you live it, you just don’t know the scope,” Roberts said. “I think we know now.”

Dodgers gift World Series ring to Joc and Champ

After presenting Joc Pederson with his World Series ring while the Chicago Cubs were in town, the Dodgers also gave one to his older brother, Champ Pederson.

Since Joc’s debut in 2014, Champ developed a close relationship with the team and gave multiple pregame speeches in the clubhouse.

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