So talk about the 2009 Dodgers…
I suppose I feel a bit guilty for complaining.
Well perhaps guilty is the wrong word. I know I’m right to complain. I simply worry that other people won’t get where I’m coming from. They’ll point out that by any measure 2009 was a fantastic season. And they’d be right – if you exclude World Series victories as a metric. But my complaint isn’t simply about failing to win a championship – I get that only one team can win, and that a lot of really great teams fall short Fine. I accept that.
What I cannot except is failure to put in a truly meaningful effort. And when push comes to shove, I think Frank McCourt sat on his hands.
Think back to opening day. Did anybody feel like we had a championship-worthy rotation? Certainly nobody in the press did, and I don’t recall talking to a single Dodger fan who thought so. But we came out of the gate winning and thus it became easier to pretend everything would be okay. Still most fans were looking for a big move right up to the trading deadline.
But the big move never came. We settled for a good reliever and some help off of the bench. Then there was nothing to do but squint when we looked at Randy Wolf and tell ourselves we saw an ace.
Ask yourself this: Has any team ever won a World Series without having at least one starting pitcher exceed 12 wins? Okay – don’t go to the record books on that one. The point isn’t so much a matter of whether it has happened before or not, but rather that it was kind of obvious that it would be fairly noteworthy if it ever did.
If you happen to be reading this Mr. McCourt – please allow me to explain to you how the post season works. It isn’t the same as the regular season. You don’t get to fatten up your record by beating the weaker teams. Weaknesses are exposed in the big spotlight. If you find yourself praying for Vincente Padilla to stay hot long enough to beat the likes of the Yankees and Phillies, you have already lost.
The best franchises look to overwhelm the competition. They don’t hide behind a strong regular season record and stand pat. Sure there is always next year, but realistically there is really only a short window wherein any team will be in position to win it all unless a lot of moves are made to keep them in position. Most of our young players are coming up on their arbitration years, meaning it will be harder to keep them together, and harder to add any pieces to our nucleus should we manage to do so.
We had a shot this year – a really great one. And we pissed it away. Moments like these are finite. Let them pass and often you find they never come back again.
I hope the 2009 Dodgers haunt you Frank McCourt. I hope you wake up in the middle of the night with visions of Matt Stairs stalking you. Maybe that is what it will take to get you to understand what the folks who buy all the tickets, foam fingers and kool-a-coos have to endure. More importantly, maybe that is what it will take to get you off your hands for 2010.