It was the third home run of the World Series for Pederson, demoted to the minors from mid-August until early September, then left off the NL Division Series roster. He had hit just one previous opposite-field homer in the big leagues this season, and teammates offered to pay him to go the other way.
“People are trying to get me encouraged to using the whole field,” he said. “I’m not very good at it.”
Yu Darvish starts Wednesday for the Dodgers, trying to win their first title since 1988, and Los Angeles ace Clayton Kershaw will be ready in the bullpen after getting knocked out in the fifth inning of Game 5.
“He probably couldn’t sleep the last two or three nights.” Actually, Ball napped Thursday afternoon and then ate his traditional pre-game lunch, a Spicy Italian sandwich with extra lettuce and mayonnaise from Subway. He slipped on a Dodgers jersey and left his home in Marina del Rey early, at 3 p.m. so he could get treatment on his sprained left ankle.
Wherever Ball goes, he will face some degree of resentment, if not from the Currys then certainly the Beverleys. “With his stardom, much is given and much is required,” Beverley said. “He’s a great talent. Don’t get me mistaken. In a couple years, he’s going to be a really, really, really, really good talent. He has a good feel for the game. But due to a lot of extra stuff outside basketball, it’s a lot of pressure.”
Not every opponent employs a pest like Patrick Beverley, and Friday night in Phoenix, openings will be much easier to find. Eventually, the Lakers will turn Ball’s telepathic passes into points. But he will never forget the 2017 opener. When Magic thinks of his debut, he thinks of Kareem. When Ball thinks of his, he will think of Pat Bev. “He’ll appreciate this,” Beverley said, “when he looks back on it.”