Dodgers' Cody Bellinger on World Series win, Lakers co-celebration and appearance in the new Assassin's Creed

ESPN logo
Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Four years into Cody Bellinger's nascent MLB career, the Dodgers first baseman'srésumé already rivals those of veterans of the game: 2017 Rookie of the Year, two-time All-Star, 2018 NLCS MVP, 2019 NL MVP, 2019 Gold Glove winner and, as of last Tuesday, 2020 World Series champ.

His Q Score will get a turbo boost on Tuesday -- Nov. 10 is the release date for the video game Assassin's Creed Valhalla, in which Bellinger's likeness will appear.

Before retreating to his native Arizona after bringing home the Commissioner's Trophy, the man they call Belli dished to ESPN over Zoom about his insane 2020, the Dodgers' secret weapon (the Jonas Brothers), his badass Viking alter ego and why he always looks like he just swallowed a joint.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

ESPN: Los Angeles Dodgers, 2020 World Series champions. How does it feel?

Cody Bellinger: When you say it, it hits me right in the heart again. It's crazy, man. We've been through a lot as a team. We've had the same core group, for the most part, since I've been up in the big leagues. We're so close as a group, and it's such a good feeling to finally close it out with these guys.

ESPN: On behalf of all of Los Angeles, thank you for bringing a title home to our city. It's been a long two and a half weeks since the last one.

Bellinger: [Laughs] Y'all needed it. Big drought. Two and a half weeks in COVID times is a long time.

ESPN: What are some highlights or lowlights from the celebration since the final out?

Bellinger: The lowlight was we didn't get a champagne shower. We didn't have the ideal World Series celebration, but we made the most of it. We went back to the bubble and found a place to hang out, drank some beers, hung out by a fire. It was 30 degrees outside in Texas, freezing. But it was such a good feeling. My mom, dad, sister, her husband and my brother Cole were in the first rows, but they couldn't come on the field, so I didn't get to celebrate with them. But they were right in the first rows, and it was so cool seeing them.

ESPN: Not your typical celebration, in part due to Justin Turner, who got pulled late in the game for a COVID-19 positive test. What's it like to avoid a teammate in that situation, like he's some bearded hot potato?

Bellinger: Weirdest situation we've ever been in. Still doesn't make any sense. We were in the bubble the whole time. No one was in and out. We went to the bus and the field. I didn't even know about Justin's positive test -- I found out in the top of the ninth, or bottom of the eighth, whatever inning we were hitting. The next pitch, Mookie Betts hit a home run, and then at that point it's like, "Oh, man, we're about to win a championship, let's go, let's go!" That's the only thing on your mind. But that situation was so 2020. That's all you can say: 2020, man. And everyone who's living in this moment understands.

ESPN: Did you see that a Jonas brother shouted you out? Nick pointed out that you, Patrick Mahomes and Lewis Hamilton all won after attending a concert, so they want some credit.

Bellinger: They're the lucky charm. Yeah, I went to a Jonas Brothers concert -- man, it feels like two years ago, but it was early this year -- and I know Mahomes and Hamilton are champions, so maybe they are lucky. I like the Jonas Brothers. I think they got great music. They're catchy. When you're on a golf course, you want Jonas Brothers and country music. They're great people too.

ESPN: If we're handing out credit now, I want some credit because you began the season with me, Christian Yelich and ESPN's cameras at a bar chugging beers.

Bellinger: You're hitting a thousand, 1-for-1. You're a Hall of Famer. We'll have to do that every year in March.

ESPN: You're welcome. That day you all but predicted a World Series win, citing the addition of Mookie Betts. Did he measure up to what you expected?

Bellinger: And more. When you watch from a distance, you realize Mookie's a superstar talent, but watching him work is special. You can learn a lot from him. Mookie does all the little things and works his tail off to be one of the best players in the game, and he's an unbelievable teammate as well. He makes you want to work, man. It's very impressive.

ESPN: Let's imagine, years from now, your future kids ask you to describe this Dodgers team. What do you tell them?

Bellinger: I'll tell them what resilience is, how our backs were against the wall and it made us stronger. Down 3-1 [in the NLCS] and we're like, "Well, why not? We got the best team. We had it all year. Let's go out and prove it." And we proved it, man. Then, in Game 4 of the World Series, that slap in the face, that crazy game [when the Rays rallied to win in the bottom of the ninth inning]. What happened? We get in the locker room, and guys are like, "We gotta let that go." The group we had, the positivity we had was special.

ESPN: So many great storylines with this World Series. Do you have a favorite?

Bellinger: By far, Clayton Kershaw. He is so good, so talented. He's an unbelievable guy, unbelievable teammate, unbelievable dad. For him to finally close it out, man -- I hugged him after we won, and it was just the best, the best feeling in the world. He deserves it more than anybody.

ESPN: Here's an underrated storyline: World Series Game 6, you step to the plate in the bottom of the fifth, and well before the pitch, you start swinging your bat like a wild man. There appears to be some confusion on whether that was a nasty wasp attack or just a gentle moth fluttering about.

Bellinger: It was a wasp. I will go to my grave thinking it was a wasp. [Laughs] I heard a buzz, and as I'm locking on the pitcher, a bee dang near almost hits my eye, and it startled me. I was like, "I'm gonna try to hit it." But if I hit it, he might've tried to attack me, and I was 0-for-3 that day. I wasn't hitting anything, so I missed the bee. It was a good time to miss it.

ESPN: Take me back to Game 7 of the NLCS. Score is 3-3 in the seventh inning, you're at the plate. You connect on a go-ahead solo home run. What happens next?

Bellinger: I was battling hard, the count was 2-2, and I knew if the next pitch was a heater, I'd try to get to it, and it felt flush. It's that moment when you know, man, and then you black out. I didn't mean to walk [to first]; it just kind of happens. It was just a cool moment. It was awesome.

ESPN: Continue with this highlight, if you can call it that: You're rounding third, coming home and ...

Bellinger: So I dislocated my shoulder in 2014, and it's not the strongest anymore. It's come out a few times, and it's never a pleasant thing. Usually we celebrate with [a forearm bash], and Kike [Enrique Hernandez], he gave me one really hard, and my shoulder pops out. I knew it was out right away. I said, "Damn, this is it." I tried to avoid everyone touching it, went down to the training room. I was like, "You got to pop my shoulder back in right now." They popped it right back in, and I went back out on defense. We had an off-day the next day, which was much needed.

ESPN: What did we learn from this?

Bellinger: For celebrating, foot tap is the play. No elbow bangs.

Now take me back to the division series, Game 2. The catch of the season, the type of play that puts you in Dodgers folklore. Where will that rank among your career accomplishments?

Bellinger: I got goose bumps right now thinking about it. It's up there. Was that Game 2? To win the series? Yeah, yeah, yeah, that was Game 2. The Texas field is a huge center field, so it's fun to play defense out there and just run around.

ESPN: And how about the World Series game: You hit a home run and LeBron tweets about you, even jokes about your leg tap. Did you see that?

Bellinger: Yeah, I saw it right after the game. All my boys sent it to me, like, "Yo, you got LeBron to tweet at you!" Even if you're an athlete, LeBron James is LeBron James, the GOAT of everything, so it was cool. The Lakers definitely motivated us. When we saw them win, we were like, "What we got in this locker room, we can do the same thing. We're so talented."

ESPN: Inevitably, there'll be some people -- those who probably aren't a lot of fun to hang out with -- who will say that there's an asterisk next to this title. To them, you say what.

Bellinger: I mean, if you watched the playoffs, it was about as real as playoff baseball gets. And us and the Rays were the two No. 1 seeds in the regular season, deservingly so. No, it's earned. It is so earned. It was a challenging year, and it's earned.

ESPN: You've had a memorable year, to say the least, and we haven't even gotten to this bit of breaking news: You're a character in the new Assassin's Creed Valhalla.

Bellinger: I'm excited. I love video games, so when I heard I had the opportunity to be a character in a big video game, I was excited, I really was. I'm kind of a video game nerd. My brother and I played Assassin's Creed back in the day and used to love it. The graphics are so realistic. It's a game that will take up a lot of your time.

ESPN: Where can we find your character?

Bellinger: You can find me in story mode. You got to beat me in the challenge to advance to the next place. My name is Otta Sluggasson -- it translates to something like "power hitter" or "big hitter" or something like that. It was super exciting when I was doing the filming for it, and I got to swing a bat or a stick or an ax, so it was super natural to me.

ESPN: Does Otta wield a bat in the game?

Bellinger: I got a big ol' tree trunk. Like probably what they swung in the 1920s, Babe Ruth and them, just like a big ol' wooden thing. It's cool. The character looks just like me. My voice is my voice. It's crazy.

ESPN: What was the motion-capture process like?

Bellinger: Cool. The only time I've ever seen it was, like, behind the scenes when they're making action movies. You got a bunch of balls on you, motion sensors, and a tight suit. And I had to shave my whole face -- I looked like a little kid. As I'm moving, I could see my character, my Viking, on the screen. I would swing and walk like a Viking would, with his muscles out, all big. I'm 190 pounds. It felt pretty cool to be a Viking. I got to make Viking moves and added a baseball swing to it. You can't fight me, but Otta Sluggasson would win if there were fighting.

ESPN: How do you plan to spend the rest of your abridged offseason?

Bellinger: I just moved into a house in Arizona. I'm here with my brother and my boy [his friend] and my girlfriend. My parents and friends live close. I'm going to buy a TV today so that I can watch football. I'm excited to hang out, relax and soak it all in for a little bit.

ESPN: You'd be the first to admit that you personally didn't have your best season.

Bellinger: Definitely not, no.

ESPN: To what do you attribute that, and how can you turn it around?

Bellinger: There's no excuse for it, but I'm almost glad it happened because I became a better player toward the end of the season. We played 60 out of 162 games -- like, I had 120 games left to go. It's a different mindset when you're at 50 games, like, "Damn, we have 10 games left?" Normally when you're at 50, you have a hundred and something games left. But I felt really good in the playoffs and toward the end of the season and felt consistent, and I'm just going to take it from there.

ESPN: You've accomplished so much in your short career, All-Star, MVP, Gold Glove, Rookie of the Year, World Series champ. What's left, as for your goals?

Bellinger: Best feeling in the world is winning a World Series championship. It feels so good, and it makes you hungrier. It beats everything else by a million -- it's not even close -- so what I'm going to do is continue to have fun with the game, trust in myself and bring more rings home. You don't want to be one and done. You're like, "Why would we not want this feeling every year?" We've been on the other side, where you go home without the ring. It sucks. Yeah, we're not one and done.

ESPN: Both LeBron and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti have stated their desire to see a celebration for the two teams. The mayor said he's open to suggestions. I guess what I'm saying is, would you mind hosting a kegger for us?

Bellinger: Those are coming. I want to celebrate with the city of L.A. for sure. I wish we could have a parade. That's everyone's dream. Maybe one day we'll have a joint parade or something. I think the city of L.A. deserves that.

ESPN: Speaking of "joint parade," everybody in L.A. wants to know why you always look high.

Bellinger: [Laughs] It's my face! I probably look high right now, don't I?

ESPN: Yeah, but hey, at least you sound sharp.

Bellinger: It's funny, man. I see all the memes on Instagram and Twitter and everything. I'm obviously not high. I might look it, but that's just how I look. Like, there's a picture of me in the Little League World Series where I look like this too -- that's just how I've always looked. I promise to everyone I am not stoned. Come on. You can't play baseball like that. It's impossible.

Related Video