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What Black Magic Can the Dodgers’ Hot Stove Conjure Up?

November 7, 2016 Leave a comment

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The World Series is over; the clocks have changed and now baseball diehards get to await the Hot Stove league. It used to be my favorite time of the year but under Andrew Friedman, Farhan Zaidi and the rest, it’s less than thrilling if you are looking forward to your Dodgers making a big splash. The new normal seems to be to remain content with getting to the playoffs, not really making a push. Mark Walter confirmed this recently with his comments about ten years of getting to the playoffs being more prudent than making a big push for a go year. Sigh.

Fans of this group of executives crow that hey, even with a record amount of disabled list visits, the combined geniuses of the Dodgers front office made 2016 a pretty successful season. Of course, no thought goes into the obvious – the injuries were all inevitable since the front office invested in risky, often injured players, mostly pitchers. Whatever magic that happened in 2016, one must remember that it was indeed magic. To assume, for instance, that a team can be constructed of suspect innings in the rotation and that the pen can compensate once more, is foolish. It’s not a repeatable formula to have relievers and minor league journeymen fill in the innings left by management constructing a rotation of question marks.

We shall see, I suppose, what cards Friedman and Zaidi play. And if, more importantly, the Diamondbacks, with a new general manager and new manager, and Giants, in search of bullpen help, decide to make an effort in 2017. The division is weak and winnable. I’m sure Friedman and Zaidi, and the Dodgers ownership group, understands this. Of course, it’s possible that the two other teams who usually are in the thick of things, will make an effort in the coming season. If so, will whatever Friedman and Zaidi do this winter be enough? And what will they do? What can they do? Well, let’s consider a few things.

I would say the most obvious way to improve the rotation is by adding Zack Greinke via a big trade with Arizona, or someone similar in another deal. But, given the fact Friedman and Zaidi allowed Greinke to leave, would they even feel it necessary to go this route? After all, when Greinke left, they made no effort to add anyone of that talent level and only moved on to Scott Kazmir and Kenta Maeda once most every other option was off the table. But assuming rumors are true and Friedman and Zaidi would like Greinke back, or some other solid ace-type pitcher, that would certainly be the easiest way to add quality behind Clayton Kershaw, who has now shown besides being vulnerable in Oct play, is not super human and can end up on the disabled list. Again, repeating the magic that occurred once Kershaw hit the injured list, seems a poor strategy.

Assuming Friedman and Zaidi stick to their guns, however, and don’t believe Greinke is worth the investment, or even that another pitcher of that cost (think bottom line, we are talking about owners who are a large investment firm, after all), then what? Well, it would mean more of the same. The same being a rotation that likely looks identical to 2016’s – Kershaw, Kazmir, Maeda, and probably youngsters Julio Urias and Jose De Leon. The thought here, of course, everyone remains healthy and that Urias and De Leon make like the Braves young arms of the 80s and become top tier hurlers in no time at all. Seems like a stretch to me. One, that the kids can take on the additional innings workload so quickly and develop that fast vs. big league hitting, and two, that the walking wounded all stay healthy.

The word “depth” has been bandied around a lot by Friedman cultists. It’s to imply in its use that Friedman is a sorcerer, like Dr. Strange, and he has an ability to make the lower reaches of his 25-man roster that much more special than those of the other 29 teams in league. In other words, everything he touches turns to gold. It’s to assume that every other general manager has no concept of backups, on the major league roster or in the minors. It’s ridiculous and in reality, means not acquiring talent and relying on plans B, C and D.

Friedman devotees will point, as Mark Walter seemed to recently, that you just need to get to the playoffs and then “depth” and the dark arts take over and through luck and prayer you are as apt to win as a “better” team. Well, there have been cases where wild card teams have won, but I’d say most teams that have are fundamentally good teams and it’s not an accident they did well. I’d also say, as this year’s post season attests, that the Chicago Cubs were picked by Vegas and others to win the World Series in 2016. They had the most wins and they won, even when down 3 games to 1. Was it luck? No, it was an incredibly talented roster put together and masterfully played by Theo Epstein, who had done it before – in Boston, and a very solid manager in Joe Maddon. Luck? Perhaps a smidge, but while Friedman and Zaidi loaded up on players like Brandon McCarthy, Brent Anderson Chris Hatcher, Kike Hernandez, Kazmir, etc., Theo loaded up with Jon Lester, Ben Zobrist, Aroldis Chapman, etc. Luck didn’t have anything to do with it – understanding which players are great and collecting as many as possible, did.

It’s too early to predict what will happen in the Hot Stove this winter but I will say it would take a lot of good baseball work to improve the Dodgers more than hoping Ned Colletti and Logan White’s farm fills in the gaps. Last winter’s shopping season, which went largely ignored by Friedman and Zaidi, was so important because this winter the cupboard is bare. I believe the best free-agent pitcher available is Jeremy Hellickson, if that tells you something. I know Moneyball fans turn their noses up at anything that resembles the old way of doing things, but there’s a reason why most teams look to the winter meetings as the time to fill needs. It’s how business is done.

Say Friedman and Zaidi realize they better add reliable innings behind Kershaw, and they might. The cost will be more than dollars; it will be in the prize prospects so many baseball fans covet. Personally, I have no problem dealing young players, if it makes sense and if it fills needs for a chance to win now. After all, while the Dodgers have spent almost 3 decades doing it in a less than aggressive fashion, winning is what it’s all about. It’s why the Cubs and Indians both dealt huge chips in their farm system for a chance to play in this year’s World Series. It’s almost once in a lifetime – in fact, for the Cubs fans, it was once in several lifetimes. Do you think Theo regrets trading for Chapman? The Indians for Andrew Miller?

It would be curious to me to see Friedman and Zaidi, however, deal blue chips for pitching when said pitching was available this time last year for cash. I know, I know – the Sabermetrics lovers will say, but it costs a draft pick! Who cares? The way Friedman drafts, it’s inconsequential anyway. And what draft pick will undoubtedly become as good as an ace the team could have signed? It’s a one in a thousand shot (I didn’t use a Moneyball calculator, I just used that figure for dramatic effect, so don’t have an aneurysm trying to fathom that).

I would say, without knowing the war room plans of Friedman, Zaidi, the genius of Gabe Kapler and Josh Byrnes, etc. that more than likely the 2017 team will more or less resemble the 2016 bunch, except with more emphasis on Ned’s kids and less pixie dust. As I said, to bank on magic to be as plentiful next year as it was this, probably isn’t the best plan in the world. But, we shall see, we shall see. Fire up the Hot Stove, it will be a trade heavy winter as the shopping isn’t there. Let’s see what Friedman and his merry men can conjure up.

Told Ya So. Now What?

October 27, 2016 6 comments

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As the playoffs approached I started to feel bad for long-suffering Dodgers fans, and even some of the young, naive and snarky ones. Maybe especially them. Anyone, really, who believed that this ownership group, this front office, and many of the players on this year’s roster, would undo nearly three decades of pain and suffering. I tried to warn them – anyone who reads my tweets or articles here knows this to be true. I did my best, but sometimes, well… a fan is short for fanatic, and the definition of is a person filled with excessive and single-minded zeal.

I saw the fervor building and deep hopes that this year it would be different. Admittedly, as a person who has spent wayyyy too much time analyzing Dodgers minutia over the past several decades, I knew it would not be. Again, feel free to look up my points of view from articles past to tweets long ago – it’s all there for the record. Andrew Friedman, and his boy troll Farhan Zaidi, were never going to do the impossible – not now, not with what they put together. When your front office is boasting never before has the disabled list been used so intensely, you know as a fan you are in deep doo doo.

I’ve chatted with friends and friends of friends who had one foot on the bandwagon themselves – these, people who should know better. Sort of like Trump Mania, they got swept away with the less experienced, believing a cake walk through a listless NL West meant things were different. I tried using reason – but they have no rotation! When would a team with no rotation – the only top tier pitcher coming off a serious back ailment and October yips – be enough to go to or win a World Series? But what of that tired, generic looking bullpen that logged wayyyy too many innings, covering for said lack of starting pitching? What of the team that also set another record – lowest batting average ever of a post season team vs. left-handed pitching? Last of 30 teams vs. left-handed pitching. No speed. Relying too heavily on a 22-year-old rookie, especially curious given the highest payroll in organized sports. No, you don’t understand, the chemistry – this year will be different! Ok. You can only argue so much, and who am I to piss on everyone’s shoes?

The Dodgers did as well as could be expected – not buoyed by greatness from the ownership group and front office, but more the soft Western division (the only other good team was the worst in baseball after the All-Star break) and bloat of payroll. Kids finally ripe, or nearly ripe, helped out immensely. The fans cheered the kids that the owners and front office executives provided, ignoring completely, or rewriting history, that the previous regimes did all the heavy lifting – scouting, drafting, signing almost anyone on the roster who had a good season, this includes Justin Turner and Clayton Kershaw. In fact, it’d be hard to find plus players the current group of geniuses found. Andrew Toles is the one that comes to mind, but like Kike Hernandez the previous year, too small a sample size, may still be exposed.

The fact of the matter is a lot of money was saved not signing Zack Greinke, not going after the free-agent arms like Johnny Cueto, David Price, Jordan Zimmerman, trade options like Cole Hamels, etc. but any savings were offset by overspending (again) on the walking wounded and never weres – Scott Kazmir, Brent Anderson, Brandon McCarthy, and so many “toolsy” Cubans we have not seen and likely never will. As I’ve stated before – an interesting high wire act of being cheap and being irresponsible with the wallet at the same time.

In reality, as I said last winter and this spring and many, many times (too many for most) during the year, the Dodgers could have fixed their 2015 playoff problems by addressing the issue that haunted them. The issue was starting pitching – rather than go it again with the lefty/righty ace combo of Kershaw and Greinke, and add more behind that, they instead subtracted. The sycophants wallet watching and saying how Greinke’s years 6-8 would bankrupt the team are the same types who don’t get how after trading top minor league talent for Andrew Miller, the Cleveland Indians are in the World Series. The illness that has taken over baseball fans where they feel compelled to be guardians of billionaire owners’ bottom line, as opposed to fans who deserve a title in their town, is impossible to argue with – believe me, I have tried. Whatever Greinke’s cost might be when he is older and less amazing means nothing if along the way you win a title, or perhaps more. The Indians understand this, and they are still playing today.

Kershaw and Greinke are a lot better than the alternatives, especially those brought in by Friedman, Zaidi and their gang of numbers crunching simpletons. What the Dodgers needed was to keep Greinke and add another arm of quality besides. Or – part with Greinke and sign two arms of quality. The problem last Oct was Anderson and the rest, not Kershaw and Greinke. The irony now that Greinke might be on the Dodgers radar as a winter trade target (the free-agent crop last winter was so vital as this year’s is non-existent) is humorous. Friedman lovers will hail a reunion as genius, even after saying how brilliant it was to let Greinke go. When you subtract your #2 starter and fill the void with a slew of question marks and DL cases, you’re just not bright. Innings, quality, healthy innings, are very key to constructing your pitching staff. The Dodgers had a big problem there from winter through spring into summer and fall. Micro-managing, using 7 pitchers per night since the starter could only go 2-4 innings, worked in the short term vs. very bad competition, but there is a massive difference between facing San Diego pitching and the Chicago Cubs.

I am curious to see if the administration learned this, or if they are going to go back to the same type of ineffectiveness that got them where they ended up. Part of the problem is the logjam of contracts and possible slots players like Kazmir and McCarthy take up. Not to mention Hyun-Jin Ryu, who was a warrior – until injuries made him unable to make the bell. The only way out of the situation is sucking up more salary, padding offers with desirable prospects and going for impact starting pitching via trade such as Greinke, Chris Sale or perhaps Justin Verlander, etc. Counting on sudden health and greatness from the guys Friedman did this year no doubt means the same problems in 2017 as 2016. And remember, Kershaw’s injury I warned you about in the past – occurred and could flare up again. Would you feel comfortable with Kenta Maeda as your ace and a group of young pitchers who are nowhere near ready for a 200-innings workload?

The rosy prospects of 2017 rely on one of two things happening – the Guggenheim ownership throwing out the current group or the current group suddenly learning from reality and making adjustments. I assume the second is more realistic as while I’d love for the Moneyball experiment to end in Los Angeles (again), more than likely it will be spun – we got to the championship series! Of course, when Ned Colletti did that two years in a row under Botox loving, penny pinching Frank McCourt, it was argued as not enough.

I guess it’s possible even a math crunching geek like Friedman could understand that his pitch and ditch fantasy approach to getting innings out of his overachieving and no name bullpen wasn’t ideal. But even if that happens, the market is pretty dry. It would indeed mean eating more bad contracts and trading parts many don’t want the team to trade. Them’s the breaks, as they say. Conventional baseball guys know that winter shopping is the easiest and most tried and true time to acquire assets. The July trading deadline is the other. Last winter, seemingly either out of Guggenheim trying not to spend or the executives’ need to look brighter than old school baseball guys, the Dodgers waited the shopping frenzy out. Only after almost every name was taken off the board, did Friedman move. In July, top teams loaded up, Friedman waited till the last hours and traded three prospects for two walk free-agents. It seems the pattern is Friedman always waits, and ultimately is left out in the cold.

His supporters will deny this and argue but the fact is that teams who want to win get the parts they require and do so aggressively. You don’t watch the Red Sox, for example, sit on their hands as the best players are looking for homes. The Cubs loaded up as soon as Theo arrived and are playing in the World Series because of it. For the Dodgers, there’s always an excuse why this player or that didn’t come to LA. Too expensive, a risk, or just plain not interested. The fans, sadly, in a large part have come to not only accept these excuses, but parrot them back as a sort of gang standing behind the bully’s back in support. Stockholm Syndrome – the fans oftentimes are more in support of geeks than they are their own self-interest. Shouldn’t fans of a baseball team be looking after themselves? A team like the Dodgers has gone through multiple ownership changes over the past three decades and so much money has come in via record attendance, increased parking, concessions and merchandise fees, massive TV deals that don’t allow the games to be televised to the majority of the market and any savings planned by playing inexpensive prospects (from previous regimes). As a fan, when I yell out the window like that guy in the movie Network, that I’m as mad as hell… I believe it’s my right as a fan. I would never consider, for example, screaming how awesome a polo shirt wearing dork from Tampa or Oakland is. Yet, the game has changed, and many do just that.

Again, it’s not just the uninformed, there are some real fans swept up in this. Longtime fans – fans over 40 years old – fans who actually witnessed Dodgers greatness in their lifetime and know all too much about the roots dating back to Flatbush. Fans by their very nature, I guess, want to believe. You can’t fault them for that. I do fault them for supporting sleazy executives however over their own best interests.

It’s too early to say what will happen in 2017. It depends, as I noted, whether the front office is sent packing (won’t happen) or they learned from the past. If neither of those things happen, 2017 will be less successful than 2016 just based on the unlikelihood of the entire division phoning it in again. If the Giants add Kenley Jansen, or if the Boston exec who is taking over the Diamondbacks does anything, that alone would make it harder to repeat the success of this year. I have hinted what should have been done and what needs to be done – innings need to be added to the rotation. Reliable, solid innings. It will require bold moves and trades, since signing good pitchers to free-agent contracts apparently escaped the draft pick hoarding dummies the Dodgers employ. It will require finally getting that Ryan Braun for Yasiel Puig (and of course more, Puig has proven he needs to be gone) deal or something like it, so a big right handed presence is added to the lefty heavy lineup. It will mean adding some youth and speed to the top of the order, probably at second base (oh for Dee Gordon or Jose Peraza, huh?). It will mean lopping off frequent DL guys who almost never are healthy and on the active roster.

The Dodgers, we are told, have all the financial wherewithal in the world and want to win. I see cheapness, I see intensely stupid spending. I would like to see that turn into smarter spending, healthier bodies, more positive results and less of the magic potion Friedman and Zaidi and Josh Byrnes and Gabe Kapler and all the rest of them giggle feverishly and try to concoct in their nerd lab. There’s a reason the game was largely unchanged for more than a century, the formula is pretty simple. The tinkering, looking sideways, squinting and trying to be overly clever was devised for teams with no other possible option. A team, going through a near 30-year drought without a championship, with the highest payroll in sports, and more money in the kitty than anyone, should not be building this way. The experiment in Los Angeles is frustrating and ugly. Let’s use some smarts. “Moneyballer” Theo Epstein was wise enough to understand this – turning impossible situations in Boston and now in Chicago around. I guess the question is, how smart (stubborn) are Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi? Or the Guggenheim Group, for that matter.

The Cavalry is Coming?

May 10, 2016 3 comments

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A friend of mine shared one of the well-known Dodgers pundits on social media slamming fans for getting too high over Dodgers wins and too low over their losses. I agree with that; it’s something I have commented on for years. Baseball is a slow moving game, a 6-month marathon, in the midst of a culture of quick-fix personalities. Football is 16 games and hyped to the max, so fans feel a need to live and die for their team every Sunday. They bring that mentality to baseball, which lends itself to sitting in the sun, chewing sunflower seeds and talking about everything in the world but the game. Social media has easily exacerbated the problem.

 

Where this beloved pundit and I disagree is his next line that the Dodgers will be fine because they have all this great help coming. He points out to the rehab of guys like Hyun-Jin Ryu, Brandon McCarthy and Mike Bolsinger and the bullpen arm of Frankie Montas. To assume all of these guys will come back, without a hitch, and buoy the Dodgers sagging pitching rotation and bullpen is wishful thinking at best. Just to believe they will all make it back and contribute in any meaningful way is fairly ridiculous.

 

Of the four, Ryu is the best but let’s face it; damaged shoulders (as I’ve told you countless times in previous articles) are career killers. That his year off has been pushed to May or June is not a good sign. I love Ryu and would love to see him defeat the odds, but believing the current pitching woes of the Dodgers will be fixed immediately by Ryu isn’t likely.

 

McCarthy wasn’t very good when he was healthy, and if the other Brandon’s (Beachy) rehab is any yardstick, the Dodgers will be lucky to get anything serviceable out of McCarthy in 2016.

 

Bolsinger? A nice story last year (his upside apparently was a .500 record and ERA pushing 4) but he’s a career 7-12 with 4.23 ERA. Maybe an improvement over Alex Wood and Ross Stripling, perhaps even “#2 starter” Scott Kazmir and his near 6 ERA, but none of this is saying a lot.

 

That leaves Montas – a big hard thrower that of course could be intriguing, but he’s done nothing in the bigs and has trouble throwing strikes. Coming off an injury doesn’t help. To think a $236M Dodgers team is pinning its hopes on an unproven like Montas and the aforementioned injured starters is just sad.

 

Could some of these guys surprise and improve the team’s sorry pitching? I guess so. I love Ryu, like I said, so if anyone could, perhaps he might. But to think a badly damaged shoulder will just miraculously be healed and he will step in without question and dominate, well, that’s not likely. I wouldn’t bet on McCarthy being worth the $48M braindead Andrew Friedman gave him either and well, Bolsinger is just a guy.

 

It’s time to be honest and admit the Dodgers are not a very good team. I agree with this pundit – you shouldn’t get overly excited when they win and pull your hair out when they lose. Baseball runs from spring training in mid-February to the post-season in October. That is a long time. In a time of social media instant gratification and having access to ways to get your every thought out doesn’t help. Patience, grasshopper, patience.

 

The Dodgers will excite one night, look miserable the next and that bullpen will drive you to drink. The games are not on TV for most of the city and Vin Scully’s swan song is going unheard. If you are over the moon excited about this and the prospect that Brandon McCarthy will beat the odds Brandon Beachy did not, all the more power to you. I’d say you would be better off focusing on finals, getting ready for summer barbecues and beach outings, Marvel superhero movies and perhaps picking up a good book. This Dodgers team is mediocre. The brain trust, and I use that term ironically, concocted a roster full of garbage and extra pieces. The cavalry isn’t going to ride in and save the day. Rather than waiting for that to happen, pray for a mid-season trade, or, wait out this regime’s dying breaths. As Richard Crenna said in the first Rambo movie, “It’s over, Johnny. It’s over!”

Zack Greinke Isn’t Sold Either

February 1, 2015 Leave a comment

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The overhyped football game goes on today with needless analysis of cheats, deflated balls and over inflated balls on Katy Perry’s chest. It makes me realize as soon as this dumb game is over, baseball fans can completely focus on the start of spring training, which begins in just a few short weeks.

It’s interesting the Dodgers TV deal is not resolved – not surprising, just interesting. So it’s hard for me, and many Dodgers fans I know, to get overly excited about Andrew Friedman and company’s non-descript team. If we can’t see it, who cares? Guggenheim, Stan Kasten and the many levels of executives (and perhaps soon a Korean interest?) don’t seem to get that in their de-scumming of the organization post-Frank McCourt, they’ve made the team very user unfriendly and perhaps more bleh than the Grey Poupon poster boy did. Hell, at least we could watch the empty seats at the stadium from the comfort of our living rooms. Now – nothing. Vin Scully’s precious last days speaking into a microphone have been squandered. Stars, for better or worse, pushed out while AAAA guys and injury projects fill the roster. Zack Greinke had the audacity to echo (in Bill Shaikin’s LA Times article) – “Is the team better now than it was last year?” Want to bet he may be the next veteran sent bye-bye? If one thing is certain, Friedman and team don’t like veteran players questioning them. It’s an ego-fest, friends, pure and simple. You question the geniuses, you’re gone. It would be wonderful if Greinke’s last year in the Dodgers rotation was instead pitching for another team, with the Dodgers boldly eating much – or all – of the contract. As far as I can determine, that is the Dodgers way nowadays. Pay for players to play elsewhere while the executives rub their hands together from a job well done.

I am more looking forward to the start of the college baseball season than MLB spring training, truth be told. A lifetime Dodgers fan, I am so confused over what is happening, what may happen, that I don’t even know what team to follow this year. I’m leaning to the Miami Marlins, which I dislike on principle, but am fascinated by the exciting roster they’re putting together down there. Giancarlo Stanton will have a lot of guys to knock in, especially Dee Gordon, former Dodgers second baseman and All-Star. I imagine Dee will run wild in Florida and I will take glee in it as a fan of the player, but also as a fuck you to the Sabermetrics brain trust who stupidly lumped Dee in with the guys they viewed as problem children. Oh, the Fish won’t pay a penny for all of Dee’s bunts, steals and thrills either – the Dodgers will. Yes, this was a crazy winter all right.

I can’t imagine what the Dodgers rotation will ultimately look like, or more, the pen. If they ship Greinke out, would they sign James Shields or deal for Cole Hamels? If not, that’s a lot of potentially injured pitchers in one rotation. MLB Network said the Dodgers rotation is second overall, but I have reservations about that. From where I sit, its two guys and about four injury suspects, and now one of the two healthy ones dared to pop off about management’s wheeling and dealing frenzy. Imagine a rotation that included Brandon McCarthy, Brett Anderson and Erik Bedard? Eek!

I also find it humorous how the Dodgers have mostly addressed last year’s bullpen issues by compiling other teams’ garbage. A large collection of AAAA players have been brought in to address the deficiency. I would hope last year’s whipping boy Paco Rodriguez would immediately be inserted into his old role as valuable MLB bullpen arm, but you never know. Paul DePodesta loved to show that his assembly of trash was better than what was laying around before, mostly because it was his idea. What transpired under DePodesta was one of the most embarrassing Dodger teams ever assembled. The new brains might be smarter – or not – but they’re really showing the same trend – if we thought of it, it’s brilliant. If it was here before, it was shit.

The optimist in me says that by copying the Giants’ blueprint of fewer stars and a couple smart veterans, the team should be better. That said, Don Mattingly is no Bruce Bochy. It’s hard to fathom that dim bulb Donnie could manage even the best collection of players very far. While the plan was to remove some problems and spread the offense around, while adding defense, it’s hard to say definitively the team is better now than it was. Zack Greinke said as much, and he’s right. No one knows. I can’t point to one spot and say, “There, that’s definitely a big upgrade!” Time will tell how good the Dodgers of 2015 are. They will either need to win more than 94 regular season games (I doubt that’s possible, guessing more about 88 or so) or better, advance deeper into the post-season. Ironically, the Moneyball magic is made for the regular season – Billy Beane has repeatedly stated that. He says he can guarantee his odd mix of players will win X amount of games and therefore have a chance to compete in Oct, after that, it’s a crap shoot with the hottest teams usually going to the Fall Classic. Friedman and team’s data plan is to hopefully achieve the post-season part of the equation – even Billy Beane isn’t that big a brain.

I would say I’ll see how it goes, but since most of LA won’t be seeing anything when it comes to Dodgers baseball, I won’t. I’ll follow the best I can, especially if Joc Pederson gets a real chance in center field, and if Corey Seager pushes the issue and shows up in LA sometime this summer, but mostly I will check in to see if a train wreck ensues. All I know is none of this is very fun to loyal fans, and it would appear not so fun for players who chose to come here. Ask Dan Haran and Brian Wilson.

You won’t have Dodger Therapy to kick around anymore…

September 11, 2014 4 comments

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Long form, here I come!

I have decided that the world isn’t ready for my honesty. That is to say the Dodger fans that proliferate the Internet and stands, rooting for players to dance in the clubhouse and on the field, cheer for bubble machines and bobble heads, take selfies at games rather than pay attention to the action in front of them, etc., do not appreciate what I have to say. The ones that get it, get me, and do appreciate frank honesty and hopefully a dose of common sense, are the minority. Nowadays intelligent conversation – baseball, politics, or other – is a lost art. Clueless ranting, everyone marching to the beat of the same drummer, affirmation, etc. is all that matters today. You can thank the Internet for this.

Anyway, it seems pointless to upset people who go to Twitter and other places to have likeminded people line up in agreement with them and try to change the way they consider things. It’s taxing for me and angering to others. I don’t mind getting slammed – I actually look at it as a badge of honor. If I can make some moron upset, I’ve done good. That said, it’s not a positive experience saying pretty obvious things and being questioned as to why I think that way every other tweet – or perhaps every single tweet.

For old-timers like myself, there used to be a time when baseball message boards were a way to meet fellow baseball and Dodgers fans and analyze and discuss viewpoints about the game, the structure of the team, individual players and more. That became the land of trolls, however, and Moneyball egotists who naturally assumed they knew more than everyone else because well, it was in the book! took over. Those back and forth flame wars grew wearisome and then Twitter emerged. Imagine, a place where you had to get your idea across in 140 characters – brilliant! But… it’s awfully hard to make well thought out points in such few words, not to mention context – a new follower doesn’t get sarcasm or have frame of reference for past points.

All season long – even before – last season, all winter – I mentioned what I see as obvious deficiencies with the Dodgers. Those of you who have read my posts here and on Twitter understand, whether you agree or not. In a nutshell, this is a stopgap team meant to ingratiate the new owners to long-suffering Dodgers fans. More, it’s a star-studded assembly of known names and faces, not so much a team. The idea was to spend, oh sure, to buy time for the farm, but also to ensure fans came back to the park and spent their hard earned dollars. Well, by that measurement, Stan Kasten did well. Fans come for every giveaway and cream their jeans over the latest bobble head – who wouldn’t want Magic Johnson playing basketball as a Dodgers bobble head? Or Babe Ruth as a Brooklyn coach? (cue eye rolling)

Whether you agree or not, the Dodgers are a ragtag collection of highly paid mercenaries that don’t fit well together, due to their individual skills not complementing one another’s, or their egos not all fitting into Dodger Stadium at the same time. The only thing that works is the three highly paid starting pitchers who have made the record better than it should be, and a few misc. parts – Dee Gordon, A-Gone, Kenley at times, Uribe, etc. Mostly this mess isn’t that great and yet the fans all cheer wildly and hiss anyone not in love with this placeholder group. Anyway, good luck in October with a troubling, inconsistent offense and horrendous defense as well as fundamentals. Remember Game Six in St. Louis? Yes, that meltdown. Well, you may see it again.

Mine is not to upset, my purpose with Dodger Therapy was a place for fellow abused fans to commiserate and talk shop. I think the idea is right, but the forum is wrong. Too many idiots are on Twitter, at best not smart baseball fans. That’s ok, the idiots are the majority in all walks of American life now, so I just had to realize I was the square peg that didn’t fit. I wish all of you much happiness, with selfies, photos of some pseudo celebrity making a face with your not so witty “I’m like all…” and in your mind you’re laughing, but trust me, we’re not. Enjoy the Dodgers as they are, win or lose. Get giddy and jump up and down on the furniture over Puig and Hanley dancing to the bubble machine, or Kemp flexing his tatted up arms as he collects another $20M plus. We are all fans of the Dodgers, we just have different ideas of what that means and how baseball should be played.

I will probably use my blog from time to time to comment on things comment-worthy, but I am going to par down the Twitter chatter. Just not worth muting and blocking people I find to be as dumb as anyone on a reality show. And likewise, I wouldn’t want to have to make morons like that think, because that’s not what the Internet and their cellphones are for. As I end here, imagine your favorite (or least favorite) Viennese doctor looking constipated and me commenting… “I’m like all…”

Have a great rest of your summer, fall and winter.