Last night was a playoff game and the Dodgers didn’t get the memo
Long-form, no tweet edition of Dodger Therapy…
Last night was a playoff game. When I look at the National League landscape, I still think the Giants are the team to beat. They are peaking at the right time and have a good mix of selfless players who are mostly fundamentally sound (outside of Busty Posey’s cowardly defense). The advantage the Dodgers had was they have 3 aces vs. the Giants 1. Now, with Ryu getting hurt (the state of that still up in the air as of this writing), that may come down to 2 aces. That gives the Dodgers a 1 ace advantage essentially but the Giants an advantage in most other areas. I could see the Dodgers doing what they have been – eeking out wins in unimpressive fashion and winning the West, but I can also see them miss the playoffs entirely. As I said, last night was a playoff game. The Dodgers and Don Mattingly didn’t get the memo.
Many fans gravitate toward bench players. It happens every year. Last year everyone was in love with Punto and even Schumaker. I argued they were just guys. Schumaker actually had an interesting pedigree with the Cardinals and in my opinion, flopped in blue. This year’s bench hero has been Turner, and it’s not right to criticize a guy they picked up off the waiver wire and has hit over .300. Turner is a good bat off the bench, but when starting, you quickly understand why he is a bench player. Don playing Turner last night over Dee, who is the spark of the Dodgers tepid offense, not only was foolish for that reason, but opting for lesser defense up the middle. Continuing to play Puig in key spots in the lineup also doesn’t help. The talented Cuban could pop out of his several month tailspin, I suppose, but reality suggests it isn’t happening anytime soon.
I am a lifelong Dodgers fan but disturbed after many years of abuse. I have said it all before. The end of the O’Malley era wasn’t as great as some would like to remember it. The Fox era with The Sheriff’s mad spending and Hitler-esque mustache left me cold. The McCourt situation made us all ill. Things are on the upward climb I believe if only because Stan Kasten, who hasn’t done much to improve the current team, at least had the foresight not to panic and deal the top kids in July. Staying the course, adding International signs, etc., tells me he is not to be carefully judged yet. I nitpick because as an Internet pundit and armchair GM, I have that right. My thought is the big picture of infusing the organization with young bodies and foreign talent is ideal, letting a $235M “win-now” type of club wither without tweaking around the margins is both stupid and irresponsible. And then there is the fact I, along with many other fans, feel completely disconnected from this expensive, not so touchy feely group due to not being able to watch a crucial September series in San Francisco on television. Guggenheim feels they have done no wrong, but I would argue they’ve perpetuated the abuse, just in a more loving way (“Come on, baby, it won’t happen again”).
Baseball due to the come down of the PED era, and the continued usage of select players that it would appear are on the don’t ask, don’t tell list, along with wild cards and parity in general, have made for a weird time in baseball. The most dominant team most of the year was the Oakland As and now they are a laughingstock due to uber genius Billy Beane’s overreaction to what Anaheim’s GM was up to. As I look around now, I have to think (unless something changes the last several weeks of the season), the most likely champion for 2014 will come from the American League. I like the Halos, Orioles, Royals and even Mariners. I am not sure how a seemingly unremarkable Matt Williams has turned things around in DC to where the Nationals may be the best chance for the NL to win. I can’t sign off yet on Williams as a great manager, so that leaves the Giants. They are doing so much right, and have been there before, it would seem possible they could do it again. As much as I dislike them, Bochy and company are smart and grind, whereas the Dodgers brain trust isn’t so smart and the players do not grind.
I’m hoping for leadership and clutch performances from Dee, Uribe, A-Gone and good pitching to make the difference. I just think if they go down an ace, and given the up and down state of the bullpen, the comic defense (3 errors on one play the other night was the highlight of the season), and the surprisingly bad hitting by so many millionaires. That Kasten and Donnie keep trotting out the same bunch, with very little thought of adjustment, is pretty amazing. Stubbornness is the rule of law in LA. And if the Dodgers lose the West lead and either have to resort to a wildcard situation or heaven forbid, miss the Oct dance altogether, it would be apropos. This placeholder team could easily have been reconstructed just a bit and made better. I would still have understood this was not THE team but I could have embraced it more. It seems as if Guggenheim and Kasten are rubbing it in our faces. The complete disregard for trying anything different has confounded me.
Anyway, let’s hope for the best. Going into the weekend Giants series I thought the Dodgers could win one game – probably the Kershaw game on Sunday. Ryu, even before getting hurt, would seem the sacrificial lamb vs. Bumgarner. Greinke has been good but in my opinion has not been the guy he was early in the season. The Giants are hungry, the Giants are hot, the Giants are passionate about embarrassing the Dodgers. I just don’t see how a lackluster, unmotivated Dodgers team could rise to the occasion. Last night, they clearly did not. We shall see what happens next.