Without “The Talk” there is no “The Steal.”
Right, Dave Roberts?
Roberts nods to affirm it, and why wouldn’t he?
Without “The Talk” Roberts doesn’t swipe second base for the Red Sox in the 2004 American League Championship Series. That helped Boston to its first World Series title since 1918 and Roberts hasn’t bought dinner in New England since.
These days Roberts runs the Dodgers, when he’s not bouncing around Cardiff, his residence, in the offseason. Roberts enters act two in L.A. next month with the 2016 manager of the year award to show for his rookie season.
But without “The Talk” Roberts isn’t the Dodgers’ first African American manager, leading them to within an eyelash of disposing the future world champion Chicago Cubs in the postseason.
Minus a certain chat, Roberts wouldn’t have carved out a 10-year career in the majors.
If not listening, just once, Roberts wouldn’t have worked his way through the Padres’ coaching ranks before landing with L.A.
Standing tall was never Roberts’ problem as an outfielder — his shoulders were always back, his head high. But even with a protruding chin, he was a generous 5-foot-10. He had an average arm. He looked like a ballplayer, but everyone wished there was more of him.
Roberts, the Detroit Tigers’ 28th-round pick in 1994, reported to camp believing he was a Single A All-Star.
The Tigers, eyeing his frame again, shrugged and suggested he play on a Single A co-op team.
An expressway to the majors? Not quite.
Roberts was crestfallen because, despite his size, he had produced. He realized solid numbers might not even eclipse his perceived physical limitations.
“I was constantly trying to prove myself,’’ Roberts said.
The Tigers tipped their hand on their calculations.
“That’s when I thought I probably wasn’t going to make it if they were sending me there,’’ Roberts said.
Poof went the dream, which started when he was as a three-sport star at Rancho Buena Vista High. He eventually concentrated on baseball, forsaking football and basketball.
Now the game Roberts’ couldn’t do without, was making noise it could get along without him.
Roberts got the message. Time to pack up his gear and pack in his hopes.
It was time for “The Talk” and Roberts might not have known it.
Then again, how couldn’t he?
Waymon Roberts, Dave’s father, absorbed his son’s reasoning on why he was surrendering. But Waymon Roberts suggested flipping the Tigers’ decision. Instead of making him disappointed, it should fuel his determination.
Think the elder Roberts ever wanted to quit while serving in the Marines for three decades? Probably, but he didn’t.
“My dad told me to stick it out,’’ Roberts said. “To give it another try.’’
Waymon Roberts urged his son to play baseball, not the pity card.
“You can’t feel sorry for yourself,’’ Roberts said. “I needed a wake-up call.’’
Roberts responded and was the Dodgers starting centerfielder by 2002. Fortified by his father’s support, Roberts’ fate changed in immeasurable ways.
Waymon Roberts, 68, was laid to rest on Thursday in Oceanside. He died on March 17.
“I think he has a legacy, in me and my sister and his grandkids,’’ Roberts said. “He served his country for 30 years. I have some big shoes to fill.’’
Follow Jay Paris on Twitter at jparis_sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sportswriter Jay Paris has written his “Sports Talk” column since joining the Coast News in 2013.
Paris, a Cardiff resident, is a longtime Southern California writer, getting his start with the Orange County Register before coming to San Diego in 1992 to cover the Chargers.
He had the Chargers beat for more than two decades with Oceanside Blade-Citizen, the North County Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, before being named a sports columnist with the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Paris has won numerous awards voted on by his peers in the Pro Football Writers of America. He has also been a staple on countless media platforms, everything from the KPBS to MLB Network and various radio outlets.
Paris is also the author of three books, with his latest one being, “Shohei Ohtani: The Amazing Story Of Baseball’s Two-Way Japanese Superstar.” He has also written “Game Of My Life Chargers” and “Game Of My Life Rams.”
He currently covers the NFL in Los Angeles for Forbes. com and is a contributor to USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow Jay on Twitter @jparis_sports