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The complete Justin Turner: A 2021 #SaveEli postmortem

Or “Life Imitates Art with the Dodgers’ version of Roy Kent” Or “In Search of Joe Davis”

The Michael dodged a Tropical Storm game for this?!? game.
Justin Turner up to bat in Miami. July 5, 2021.
Michael Elizondo

As #JuniorCircuit has a signature GIF, whenever I return to the past of #SaveEli, I shall draw upon the meme I’ve adopted for my own. I feel that it’s important to lean into your eccentricities. Plus, the GIF really does sum up that first trip.

“Life Imitates Art with the Dodgers’ version of Roy Kent”

Before I begin, I feel compelled to supplement Eric’s official record:

On June 9 in Pittsburgh, the middle game of a three-game series against the Pirates, Turner homered against Tyler Anderson in both the first and third innings, providing all the Dodgers offense in a 2-1 win.

It’s not like I was there in Pittsburgh or anything.

Oh wait – yes, I was. I was there. That’s the theme of this past season: Odds are if things went down; I was there to bear witness. (See also Pujols, Albert; Kershaw, Clayton; Buehler, Walker.)

Turner dodging a pitch on June 10, 2021 in Pittsburgh.
Michael Elizondo

When I started researching, writing, and organizing these postmortems, after I sifted through the statistical oddities, including:

A single question rises to the top of the cream, something that really is quite obvious in retrospect: how the hell were the Dodgers winning so many games to end up at .500 when starting 1-8, going 14-7 the rest of the way when I was around?!?!

Oh. Right.

The Michael dodged a Tropical Storm game for this?!? game.
Justin Turner up to bat at loanDepot Park in Miami on July 5, 2021.
Michael Elizondo / TrueBlueLA

And in case, anyone was keeping score, 30 regular-season games are about 18.5% of the overall 162-game regular season.

Put another way: Justin Turner is the only Dodger to appear in every. single. solitary. #SaveEli. game. All 30 of them. He was only a pinch-hitter three times. Every day was #TurnerDay.

Fruity language aside, he’s the Dodgers’ version of Roy Kent. Wherever I went, so did Justin Turner. He went 0 for 5 with a K in NLDS Game 2.

Turner’s offensive stats speak for themselves.

Justin Turner in 2021 #SaveEli Games

Games (out of 30) Hits At Bats BA R HR RBI 2B 3B BB K HBP GIDP SB OBP SLG
Games (out of 30) Hits At Bats BA R HR RBI 2B 3B BB K HBP GIDP SB OBP SLG
30 34 109 .312 19 8 20 5 0 14 21 1 1 1 .395 .578

The home runs, RBIs, OBP, and SLG should scream out at you. They were eye-popping to me when I finally got around to adding things up.

The usual things I did were selfies with Adric, buying a plastic souvenir cup for use as a water cup later (except when they weren’t available looking at you San Francisco and Arizona!). Justin Turner doing stuff.

These were the constants of the 2021 season. Whenever you go or turn, there he is.

To put everything in perspective, I’m only three years older than Turner – wait that can’t be right (November 1984 vs. January 1983.) That’s almost two years. Folks literally near my age shouldn’t be hitting at levels of prime MLB players entering their 30s. Father Time is waiting in the wings with a belt and a stepfather’s scowl – that’s less than ideal.

Turner and mates before the game in Milwaukee on May 1, 2021.
Michael Elizondo

It is a literal cornucopia of offensive highlights to show.

If Will Smith was literally the best catcher in all of the MLB and arguably the best overall player on the Dodgers in 2021 when I was around (by a fairly comfortable margin). This postmortem argues that Justin Matthew Turner* was still the offensive heart of the Dodgers in 2021. *Yes, that’s his actual name.

(The chant. Fruity language and all. Spoilers for Season 2 of Ted Lasso.)

But I haven’t watched Ted Lasso yet because … reasons.

I don’t know what to tell you at this point. You literally get a free week with a trial. Again, that’s not an endorsement. Season 1 is a tightly woven romp that greatly soothed my spirits after those games in Milwaukee…and Chicago. I think I would have been a lot grumpier about the whole affair without Ted Lasso. Season 2 is…well, did I mention how great Season 1 is? Season 2 isn’t bad per se, but it’s a vastly inferior sequel to the original (think Ghostbusters 2 - not terrible, but man, COVID did a number on this show.)

Plus, you also get access to a terribly campy Jennifer Aniston-Reese Witherspoon vehicle and alternate space race show, which kind of goes off the rails. Good for a weekend watch though.

Justin Turner warming up his arm prior to his two home run game in Pittsburgh.
Michael Elizondo

What about Turner’s defense?

I said I had a literal cornucopia of offensive highlights to show. Justin “JT” Turner has made me infinitely more comfortable with the prospect of going to easy-mode baseball, better known as the universal DH. Yes, I know that’s not his name but in video highlights, I tend to get excited and call him that. I’m not sure why.

Come rain or shine, Turner was there, being the beating heart of the Dodgers’ offense…until he wasn’t. But that was a story for the playoffs. That said, the story of what happens to Justin Turner next is an open one and another story for another day.

“In Search of Joe Davis”

(Spoiler alert, I guess, for a 50-plus-year old Japanese manga.)

At the time of the original publication, this essay was my swan song for the 2021 season. I am not ashamed to admit at the time that writing this postmortem up that I felt a sense of catharsis that I had been missing from the ignominious conclusion to the 2021 season.

I’m in the process of working on three different leads for stories apart from what I have already generated. I’m not prepared to share anything as to two of them, because I’d feel silly if they didn’t pan out. I did announce the Mickey Jannis interview, which should be coming out in the next couple of weeks. But what you will likely notice from the official postmortem compared to the amateur ones is the upgrade from the homemade GIFs to the hosted video feed.

One of the lingering disappointments of 2021 is the fact that I never had the chance to run into the Dodgers’ announcer, Joe Davis. During the original trip, I got into my head that I would have a chance to meet with both him and Mr. Orel Hershiser, which would have five-year-old me keel over dead with elation and thirty-eight-year-old me attempt to control my lifelong stutter.

Instead, I just kept running into Walker Buehler, which is fine...I’m not complaining at all, it’s just not the same thing though. It’s a fun sentence to write. Plus, I’d have nothing to talk about with Walker Buehler if the opportunity arose:

MJE: So, uh, you like, stuff?

WB: [awkward silence]

I shouldn’t admit this belief, but I am going to: baseball can get dull. I appreciate that baseball has ebbs and flows because that allows me to pose a stuffed animal that my sister made for me in amusing, and arguably childish, ways.

Case in point. At some point in Miami on July 5, 2021.
Michael Elizondo

But you likely notice that over time, I started doing calls of plays if only because my iPhone XS sometimes took a video that made it look like I was recording from a microwave. I am not sure if the latest model will fix that problem and I am dubious whether Eric will approve that expense report [Editor’s note: it was denied], but it’s worth admitting that calling the games, while trying to pay attention, while people stare at you while trying to keep your hands steady is hard.

If I had a dollar for every time someone asked if I was a blogger, I’d have enough for a value meal at McDonald’s. One of the cruddier ones, but still technically true. The fact that Joe and Orel are able to do such a good job while juggling fewer balls than I do (ha.) is a testament to their craft.

If it seems like I’m looking for Joe, I am. But in my mind, the search for Joe and Justin Turner’s brilliance in 2021 goes hand-in-hand.