NEW YORK — His start against the New York Mets Sunday was rained out, so Dodger pitcher Orel Hershiser changed from his uniform and hung the shingle above his locker to become the designated clubhouse psychologist.
The subject Sunday, as in previous days, was the Mets' domination of the Dodgers. Because Sunday's rainout will not be replayed unless it will be a determining factor in either of the National League divisional races, the Mets ended the season series with a 10-1 record against the Dodgers.
What effect this will have over the Dodgers is not known, of course. But Hershiser says that it might even help the Dodgers if the teams meet in the playoffs.
"I'm just trying to pick out the positive perspectives," said Hershiser, who is expected to start tonight in Atlanta against the Braves. "I'm just like those clubhouse psychologists in the Mets side. They think they've got the edge.
"We all need a way to motivate ourselves, lower our fears and move to a higher ground. In my opinion, the future has nothing to do with the past. We just have to look to the future."
Yet, even Hershiser could not completely shut out the past.
"Even if we had won today, people still would've said the Mets had dominated us," Hershiser said. "I don't think one game would have erased it.
"If this team could get anything out of the past it's two things: One, it'll make us bear down if we get to the playoffs; And two, to forget about the past and think about the job at hand. If we execute the fundamentals, reduce the game to its simplest form, escape all the hype that will be there, the game will be easier."
Except for the Dodgers' lone victory on June 1 at Shea Stadium, the Mets have been dominant because of outstanding pitching, the ability to take advantage of Dodger mistakes and, in Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda's estimation, a certain amount of luck.
"In our hearts, we feel we can beat them," Lasorda said. "There were games we could have won, but either we didn't get the breaks or they did. The Mets are the kind of ball club where you can't give them the fourth or fifth out. They'll take advantage of anything you give them. And we've given them the chances."
"But we don't fear any team. We respect them all. But we don't fear them. The only thing I can say is that we'll have to see what happens if we both make the playoffs."
The rainout came at an opportune time for the Dodgers, who had three straight losses and were without Kirk Gibson (strained right buttock) and Mike Marshall (strained right thigh muscle). Neither were in Sunday's lineup. Hershiser said he did not approach this game with added motivation or with a desire to be a Met-buster. In fact, when the game was called after nearly a 2-hour delay, Hershiser seemed relieved.
"I didn't want to pitch after waiting around about three hours and not leaving the clubhouse," he said.