Saturday, April 19, 2003
Reader Poll Results
The overwhelming winner of the past week's reader poll, asking for your favorite Dodger memory since November 1988, was October 3, 1993, when the Dodgers beat the San Francisco Giants, 12-1, to eliminate the Giants from playoff contention on the final day of the season.
As a "favorite memory," it is a bittersweet one of course, because the Dodgers themselves finished 81-81 that season, 23 games behind division champion Atlanta. As one respondent wrote, "I'd say it's pretty sad that my favorite Dodger moment since Gibby's home run has more to do with the Giants' failure than it does with the Dodgers' success. Sigh."
Still, besides knocking out the Giants, that game simply featured the Dodgers at their best. The Dodgers led, 3-1, going into the bottom of the fifth, then broke the game open when soon-to-be Rookie of the Year Mike Piazza hit the first of two home runs. Pre-rookie Raul Mondesi also homered. Ten different Dodgers in all had hits, none made errors, and Kevin Gross pitched a complete game. And after 162 games, the Dodgers left the field feeling great - and had every reason to be optimistic about the future.
Oh yeah, and Barry Bonds went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts and no walks.
As for my favorite moment, believe it or not, Dodger fortunes were at an even lower ebb. It came on July 3, 1992, with the team was thick in the middle of its worse season in eight decades, as a fly ball from the bat of Philadelphia shortstop Mariano Duncan rose through the air.
On the mound, Dodger pitcher Pedro Astacio, about to complete a three-hit, 10-strikeout, 2-0 shutout in his major league debut, began jumping up and down like he was about to win the World Series. As it was, he was winning a meaningless game for a last place team. To this day, however, it remains the purest piece of exuberance I have ever seen on a baseball field, and reminded me that even in down times, wonderful things can happen.
Something to keep in mind these days, to be sure.
Thanks to all who participated in the poll.
Observations Down at the 7-11
1) Andy Ashby certainly pitched the best first inning the Dodgers - if not the major leagues - have seen all season. In fact, after only eight pitches, Ashby had retired three batters and had Barry Bonds down 0-2 in the top of the second. And then, it just spiraled out.
2) Tried the new burrito being offered this year. It was transcendently bad. Fortunately, I got a dog to back it up.
3) Jolbert Cabrera blasted a home run in the second inning, but kept his modesty. He raced around those bases.
4) I could see on the left-field fence scoreboard that the Angels were down early, 6-1. I never doubted that the Angels could come back. Meanwhile, as the Dodgers fell behind in front of me ... different story.
5) There are holes in the roof above us in the Loge Level - that roof actually being the bottom of the Club Level. I've looked up at them for years; never known why they were there. Anyway, inside those holes are birds' nests. During the game, birds come and go in and out of them as they please. Paging Hitchcock.
6) I was prepared to research whether runners had trouble stealing on Damian Moss, because Dave Roberts twice led off innings and didn't run on him. But then, finally, Roberts went and stole second.
7) The pitch tracker beneath the left-field scoreboard spells fastball as "FAST BALL." With a space. Guys - it's not 1895.
8) In a sixth-inning double-switch, the Dodgers removed Brian Jordan and left in Fred McGriff, indicating that they were giving up on the game right then.
9) My wife thinks the Dodgers should add fresh hot cookies and candy bars to the menu. I have no objections.
10) Okay, I admit it - still having issues. Ron Coomer hit a long fly ball to right field in his second at-bat, and I rooted for it to stay in the park. Not to worry - it did.
11) With no fresh hot cookies or candy bars to purchase, my wife went up and got some cotton candy. Now, some people are nauseated by cotton candy. I don't happen to be one of them. But this cotton candy was nothing less than defective. It tasted like burnt Diet Coke. Something seriously went wrong with it. I actually told my wife she had to return it - and I never do things like that. It was, unbelievably, worse than the burrito.
12) Guillermo Mota looks great on the mound. Clearly, the Piazza incident has done little to stunt his development. But when he almost hit Andres Gallaraga with a pitch, I wondered how the opposition is going to react the first time Mota hits a batter - however unintentional. I hope people cut him some slack.
13) A guy and a gal stood in aisle 112 for the better part of an inning, hitting on each other like this was a pickup scene - but no one complained about them blocking the view. Guess they were more interesting. The girl looked sort of hot, and sort of drunk. Fair enough.
14) Moss didn't even look that good on the mound, but the Dodgers barely touched him. They just don't hit very many line drives. Everyone needs glasses.
15) Is this Adrian Beltre's future? Raul Mondesi has found himself - with the Yankees. He's got 20 hits, five home runs, six doubles and seven walks in 16 games. His OPS is 1.088. The Yankees, by the way, have outhomered their opponents, 33-4!
16) Dodger starters went the entire week without hitting a home run. Reserves Cabrera and Todd Hundley were the only ones to do it.
17) Beltre was double-switched out of the game in the middle of the fifth inning, and frankly, the situation and his downcast look led me to believe for the first time that the Dodgers may be ready to, at a minimum, send him to Las Vegas.
18) Arizona is breathing down our necks for fourth place now. However, Curt Schilling had an appendectomy, of all things. I remember a few years ago, Brady Anderson was diagnosed with appendecitis. He declined to have surgery, which stunned me - because I thought that at the time that appendecitis was fatally toxic if not treated. Frankly, what happened with Beltre didn't dissuade me of that. But I never heard of Anderson having anything done, or running into any problems about it.
19) A 7-11 record isn't the end of the world - but the Dodgers really just looked like an inferior team all the way around Saturday night. My thoughts did turn to 2004, and the thought of unloading some of our few marketable players for the future. I guess I have to keep in mind that right now, almost everyone but our spectacular bullpen is performing so below their capabilities, that the Dodgers aren't dead yet. But they looked like my C-league softball team from a few years back. We were bad.
20) Angels win, 7-6. There you go. L.A. needs a rally animal.
If you are seeing any garble in the text on this site, please e-mail ShiftyJ@aol.com.
Friday, April 18, 2003
Todd Hundley, Hero
What can you say? Boy, did we need that one.
For whatever reason, Hundley has been to the plate 19 times this year and only been retired nine of those times.
Thursday night's game was the first the Dodgers really stole this year. It's their third come-from-behind victory of the season, but in their previous two, their biggest deficit had been one run.
Down three with two out in the eighth inning - that's a real deal steal.
What's interesting is that the Dodgers have been a dominant team in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings of a ballgame this season.
Here is the year-to-date score-by-innings:
Opponents ..... 463 988 320 203 0 - 48
Dodgers.......... 657 227 6(11)6 100 1 - 54
Thanks mainly to the bullpen (against Eric Gagne, batters are hitting .065 with an OPS of .207!), and despite their pinch-hitting woes, the Dodgers have outscored opponents in the seventh, eighth and ninth, 23-5.
The Dodgers' problem has been in the middle innings - innings usually pitched by the Dodger starters. The Dodgers have been outscored, 25-11, which means they are allowing more than 0.5 runs per inning in the middle of the game. Out of 48 possible middle innings, opponents have pushed across runs on 16 different occaisons - twice as often as the Dodgers.
I actually had told myself last night that I wasn't going to talk about the starting pitching again today, much less make any complaints when by and large, it has been very good. So this is not a complaint - just a point of emphasis.
If I'm a pitching coach with the Dodgers, I want to pay special attention to my pitchers as they pass into the middle innings. You don't want to strain the bullpen, but you don't want to get in the habit of leaving the starters in for one hitter too long.
See, you can complain all you want about the poor offense, but it's a reality. The Dodgers haven't won a game this season when they've allowed more than three runs. So just because allowing three runs in six innings may be considered a quality start by the rest of baseball, that standard simply doesn't apply to the Dodgers. They need to hold the opposition to less. They need to hold the opposition to three runs over nine innings - and you can't expect the bullpen to pitch shutout ball the entire season.
The Dodgers have made a point of stockpiling pitching - both in quality and in quantity (12 on the roster as we speak). The pitchers must carry the load. Just like in the 1960s, if need be.
Maybe it's just the contrarian in me, that has to talk about pitching when all the sane people are talking about hitting. But at the risk of hammering this point ad nauseum, all I'm saying is, set a high standard. Just because we are need to squeeze out a lot more offense doesn't necessarily mean that our pitching is as good as it can be.
I tend to doubt that we can continue relying on Todd Hundley to save the day.
It sure would be nice if the Dodgers could get some hitting, though. Hundley's home run was the Dodgers' first in 39 innings.
Thursday, April 17, 2003
The Dodgers let Ishii bat in the bottom of the seventh, then did not send him out to the mound for the top of the eighth. No explanation has been given. ...
Until the ninth inning, the intrepid Dodger Stadium scoreboard operators had the seventh and eighth spots in the Padre lineup flip-flopped. ...
Bonds to Rest
From The Associated Press:
Barry Bonds will get two days off before playing on Friday in Los Angeles. "He's sore,'' Giants manager Felipe Alou said. "I think he needs the days off. A couple times last night, I noticed that he was limping around in the dugout. He's been on the bases a lot and all that running that will really take it out of you.''
Other Giants news:
Alou's biggest concern during the Giants 13-1 start has been overworking the bullpen. Only Kurt Ainsworth has pitched eight innings since the beginning of the season. (JW note - guess who that was against.) "I'm worried that I may be using the bullpen too much. I want my starters to go much longer than they're averaging. ... RHP Jason Schmidt is still back in Washington visiting with his ailing mother. He'll rejoin the team in Los Angeles in time to make his scheduled start on Friday. ... Ray Durham returned to the starting lineup (Wednesday) for the first time since straining his groin on Sunday.
Reader Poll Deadline
I'm going to close submissions to the first Dodger Thoughts Reader Poll on Friday night, with plans to announce the results over the weekend. Once more, that question is:
What is your favorite Dodger memory since November 1988?
E-mail your replies to DodThoughtsPoll@aol.com.
The Good Humor People
I've been planning on making this entry for a few days now, but worried all the while that once I do, you will all abandon me.
But in the spirit of "the more, the merrier" ...
Sometimes I try to be funny or clever on this site. While this is going on, there are other sites that actually are funny and clever.
1) The Humbug Journal - Blog of the Score Bard (http://www.humbug.com). All I can say is, I wish I had thought of it first, and that if I had thought of it first, could do it half as well.
(And by the way, if you like the Score Bard, then you absolutely must purchase O Holy Cow!: The Selected Verse of Phil Rizzuto.)
2) The Spitter (http://www.spitter.com/index.htm). What won me over was their new top story, "Griffey Sealed in Plastic Bubble."
3) DodgerBlues.com (http://www.dodgerblues.com). Though I consider myself plenty cynical, every once in a while I think they're too cynical over there. But I quibble - and more often, I'm jealous of what they do. Very often, they are dead on, not to mention dead-on hilarious, such as the picture they put up after Tuesday's loss to the Padres - priceless. (It's still up there as I write this, along with their latest poll in which you can vote for the crappiest Chad ever to play for the Dodgers: Kreuter, Fonville, Curtis or Hermansen. You also shouldn't miss "The Crappy Brother.")
Okay, hope you enjoy these sites. And you all come back now, y'hear?
Call the Department of Transportation ...
... because there's a missing stop sign at Elysian Park and Stadium Way.
Glenn Hoffman - Glenn, Glenny - you know I've defended you before. And yes, the Dodgers are struggling to score runs. But part of the reason they are struggling to score runs is we keep having runners thrown out on the bases. Do you even notice that there are people in the outfield who can throw the ball with speed and accuracy?
In the sixth inning of Wednesday's then-scoreless game, Dave Roberts was on second base with one out. Shawn Green hit a line drive to right field. For better or worse, Roberts hesitated to see if the ball would drop. But as he approached third, Hoffman waved Roberts in. The throw beat Roberts to the plate. But catcher Gary Bennett couldn't hang on, and Roberts scored.
Do you wave someone in hoping that the catcher will drop a near-perfect throw?
Two batters later - still only one out - with Green and Brian Jordan on base, Fred McGriff doubled. Jordan came around third. Hoffman waved him in. The throw beat Jordan to the plate. Jordan knocks Bennett into Chinatown.
Do you wave someone in hoping that the collision at the plate will score him?
I'm not going to argue with results. (And yes, Jordan's hit had every bit of the cathartic effect he said it did.) But I am going to ask whether we can start to see just a little more restraint from Coach Hoffman.
Psychological Dilemma P.S.
When backup third baseman Ron Coomer came up each of the past two nights, I had twinges of not wanting him to do well and create a third-base controversy. But ultimately, by the time the pitch came, I was rooting for him, on the theory that good things will come from good things. And on the additional theory that there was no need to worry that he would do well.
Coomer did have the Dodgers' hardest-hit ball of the first five innings Wednesday, but grounded out with one out, the infield in and a runner on third in the sixth, on his way to an 0-for-4 night and a .100 season average.
Well, he tried. So did I.
Ishii Success Plays Head Games on Writer
I worry about losing my credibility.
When a pitcher throws seven shutout innings, allowing three hits and three walks, I should be able to praise him, shouldn't I?
How can I defend .204-hitting Adrian Beltre one day, and in the same week, still raise questions about Kazuhisa Ishii after Wednesday night's winning performance?
Ishii only had to face 24 batters in his seven innings (thanks to three double plays). Ishii was even ahead of most of the hitters he faced, getting first-pitch strikes on 15.
Yet from my seat at the stadium, Ishii just didn't look that good to me. He doesn't have exceptional speed on his fastball, and I don't detect any remarkable movement on most of his pitches, either. But even if that's true, and not merely guesswork from an observer who is by no stretch a pitching expert, however bad Ishii may have looked, Beltre has looked just as bad.
And yet Beltre's the one I defend. Why?
Perhaps it's that by comparison, I see other Dodger pitchers doing so well, whereas I see so few hitters doing much of anything, so I don't see how you can't be more hopeful for Beltre.
Perhaps it's because I feel Ishii has gotten lots of slack during his 1 1/6 seasons with the Dodgers. No one seemed to notice that his ERA was high despite a winning record last season, and everyone seems to think that placement in the bullpen is out of the question for him. Whereas Beltre seems to have been on the hot seat ever since sympathy for his near-death appendecitis faded into the Chavez Ravine gloaming.
Maybe it's nothing more than rooting for the underdog.
Ultimately, I believe that both Ishii and Beltre can be assets for the Dodgers. But in this head of mine, I have much more patience for Beltre. Ishii falls behind a hitter, and I slump in my seat, cringing. Beltre falls behind a pitcher, and I lean forward in my seat, hoping.
Like it says on the upper-right-hand corner of this page, some of these issues may be psychological. I'm always trying to see my way clear in writing objectively about the Dodgers, but it's an ongoing process.
Anyway, it was a fun game last night and I'm glad that Ishii did well.
Wednesday, April 16, 2003
More Great Pitching?
Hideo Nomo is again largely being portrayed as the victim of poor run support. But after the second inning, he did not pitch well.
In the third, Nomo allowed two hits and a walk but was saved when Jake Peavy bunted into a double play.
In the fourth, Nomo allowed a home run and a double, forcing Jim Tracy to have him intentionally walk the No. 8 hitter on the Padres, Gary Bennett, to get out of the inning.
In the fifth, Nomo allowed three consecutive singles for a run, and would have allowed more if not for his unbelievable catch of a scorching line drive by Rondell White. To be fair, Nomo should get credit for that catch, but still, it's hard to praise the pitching.
In the sixth, Nomo allowed a walk and single. He had Ramon Vasquez down 0-2, nearly struck him out at 2-2, but ended up walking him and then Mark Loretta to force in the Padres' third run.
Totals for the game: 29 batters faced by Nomo, 15 baserunners allowed.
I'll make the same point today that I made Saturday. No, the offense isn't good, but the pitching isn't so flawless either. Everyone has room for improvement (except, so far, most of the bullpen) and it won't help the Dodgers if all the pressure comes down on the batters.
Doing worse than any Dodger batter: Mike Piazza.
Piazza is 5 for 34 this season with three walks, no extra-base hits and no RBI. His OPS is .363. And that's with a 2-for-7 hot streak in his past two games. Following his season-opening suspension, Piazza was Motavated to start the season 2 for 27.
The New York Times has an informative feature today on Piazza's struggles, and Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News writes about him as well, asking the Mets the same question that Dodger fans with good memories may recall from early 1998: "Can they still expect to ever build a championship team around Piazza?"
Carded at the Concession Stand
Last night at the game, I got popcorn to go with my hot dog. On the bag were the words, "Free Baseball Card Inside."
What I expected to find was the baseball card equivialent of a Cracker Jack toy surprise, like a washable butterfly tattoo.
Instead, I found a Fleer 1985 Jesse Orosco, and a Topps 1987 Randy Niemann.
I mean, isn't this pretty random?
For a moment, I thought that the value of the cards might exceed the price I paid for the popcorn. Of course, food is so expensive at Dodger Stadium that I'd probably have to find a Mickey Mantle for that to happen. Still, as surprises go, this perhaps was the most pleasant one of the night.
Randy Niemann, by the way, I have no recollection of. But on this card, he was coming off a 1986 World Championshp season with the Mets in which he went 2-3 with a 3.79 ERA. He only played one more season, appearing in six games with Minnesota, finishing his career 16 years ago.
Niemann is 17 months and six days older than Orosco.
Section H. Foul Shoe
Apparently, this is the rulebook the Dodgers have been using this season.
Better headlines for this item would probably be:
Close Only Counts In ...
In the Pits
You Call This Pitching?
- but somehow, Foul Shoe struck me just the right way.
I could go on and on, but I'll try to stop with this: Check out Rule 11, Section B. Did you know that heckling can get you a year's suspension from the National Horseshoes Pitchers Association? None of that "We want a pitcher, not a belly-itcher" on the horseshoe court.
Tuesday, April 15, 2003
Adrian Beltre Isn't the Problem
Teeth bared, eyes flaring, nostrils quivering, claws pincing, elbows doing that funky chicken thing, the wolves are out for Adrian Beltre.
Two weeks into the season, Beltre is batting .204 with a team-high four errors. In this lousy economy, you could call him a walking Nasdaq, except Beltre's stopped walking. With only two free passes in 13 games, his on-base percentage is .245.
You don't need any more of the backstory from me. Everyone knows he's still only 24. Everyone is tired of waiting for him to improve. Everyone looks at him and sees regression. You don't need stats for that latter observation - almost every time I've seen him at the plate this year, he's looked out of his element - unless that element is Flailium.
Beltre calls to mind a weaker Raul Mondesi, a gifted but flawed player who seemed to give up on mitigating those flaws - the difference being that Mondesi's plateau was much higher than Beltre's. Admittedly, we're not talking Everest here in either case.
I understand the frustration with Beltre. But I don't see the point of fans or the media knocking him without offering proposals - reasonable, considered proposals - about what to do about him.
The first option is - swallow hard - continue waiting.
As I illustrated on February 25, it is not unusual for a player on Beltre's career path to regress after a promising start, and still turn things around in time to have a lengthy All-Star career.
Also, as difficult as it is to keep in mind, we are only two weeks into the season. People need to chill out. This is too soon to give up on a player, even one you're most impatient with. One year ago today, Shawn Green was batting .229 with two home runs, two doubles and four walks. At the plate, he looked like Mr. Magoo. (What's eerie is, he talked like him, too...)
You want to bench Beltre for a couple of days and try to get him settled, focused, scared, energized, lobotomized? Fine.
However, if you're going to give up on him, you had better have either:
-a better replacement in mind and, and, and the means to get him.
-or, the willingness to give up on the season.
A better replacement, as if I need to say it, does not mean Ron Coomer - and it didn't mean Tyler Houston in 2002. To replace Beltre with a better player would almost certainly require the Dodgers to trade one of their good starting pitchers. No, not Andy Ashby. You have to be willing to give up Hideo Nomo or Odalis Perez along with Beltre to get that new third baseman. I might give up Nomo, just because he's further along in his career, for an exceptional player. In which case, Ashby becomes your fifth starter, and you move on. That's risky business.
The other alternative is to trade Beltre for good prospects, move Alex Cora to share third base with Coomer and bring up Joe Thurston to play second base. Sacrifice this season to build for the future. I'm willing to do this too, but somehow, I don't suspect those who have been unable to endure the needlepricks of the first two weeks will endorse this kind of open-heart surgery.
Look, the Dodgers don't have a good offense. They just don't. They didn't have one in March when guys like Coomer and Terry Shumpert and Calvin Murray batted .350, and they probably won't have one in September. Beltre and Fred McGriff will certainly improve over the course of the season, but at the same time, Paul Lo Duca ain't gonna hit .364 all year. Everyone will find their level, more or less. And that level, collectively, is somewhere around Death Valley. Badwater Basin.
These are the Los Angeles Dodgers. We can cry all we want about not increasing the payroll to sign Jim Thome, but the fact is, it's not unreasonable for a team that has allocated $117 million on a year's worth of salaries, for good or for ill, to want to draw the line somewhere.
I still believe in Adrian Beltre. I don't see how you can't. He might never become Mike Schmidt, but I look at him and I still see a 24-year-old with potential, and who even now is, at worst, the fourth-best hitter on this entire team.
Beltre isn't the problem. Beltre is a symptom of the 2 Million Leagues Under the Sea that the Dodgers sunk as an organization and how protracted the surfacing process is. If the Dodgers could do better than Beltre, they would. But they mortgaged their future several years ago with ill-fated trades and salary commitments - Kevin Malone and others driving the team off a cliff like James Dean - and this is the picture of a team paying that debt.
Any winning that comes during this period will be an unexpected dividend. It could happen - you can't name four other teams that are guaranteed to take all four National League playoff spots. But it's just not going to be that easy, or likely.
Sure, be upset when Beltre dives like Mondesi at a 3-2 pitch a foot off the plate with the tying runs on base. But don't let it take you off the cliff - and hope that it doesn't take Dan Evans off the cliff either.
Monday, April 14, 2003
Too Good to be True?
A hot start over the first two weeks of the season is no more a guarantee for the big prize than winning the New Hampshire primary, but you have to admit, these are pretty heady times to be a Dodger fan.
Honestly, even though some people thought that this would be the year the Dodgers finally put it all together, how many thought that Los Angeles would start the season with an 11-2 record?
Here’s a quick look back at how it all happened:
3/31 Dodgers 8, Diamondbacks 0
4/01 Dodgers 5, Diamondbacks 4
4/02 Dodgers 5, Diamondbacks 0
The opening series against Arizona was stunning. A solid rout of Randy Johnson in the opener, then a shocking eighth-inning comeback from a 4-0 deficit against Curt Schilling in the second game (thank goodness coach Glenn Hoffman held baserunner Shawn Green at third base on Fred McGriff’s double, allowing Brian Jordan’s sacrifice fly to bring home the winning run). The Dodgers capped their season-opening sweep with the best of omens: a strong season debut by Kevin Brown.
4/03 Dodgers 1, Padres 0
4/04 Padres 4, Dodgers 2
4/05 Padres 3, Dodgers 0
4/06 Dodgers 4, Padres 3 (13)
A bit of a reality check came in the series against San Diego. Kazuhisa Ishii struggled in his first start but managed to wriggle out of a rough fourth inning unscathed, and the bullpen held up the rest of the way. Two lackluster losses followed that game, followed by the evaporation of a three-run lead in the series finale. But the weary Dodgers pushed a run across in the fourth extra frame, and went back to Los Angeles with a 5-2 record. Still, at 1½ games behind the 6-0 Giants, you couldn’t get too excited.
4/07 Dodgers 3, Diamondbacks 2
4/08 Dodgers 5, Diamondbacks 3
4/09 Dodgers 5, Diamondbacks 2
Taking advantage of not having to face Johnson or Schilling a second time, the Dodgers swept the reeling Diamondbacks for a second time. They nearly blew a three-run lead for the second game in a row (at the home opener), but held on, before timely hitting and solid pitching gave them two more victories. Meanwhile, the Giants finally lost. Now, it was off to San Francisco: the 8-2 Dodgers against the 8-1 Giants.
4/10 Dodgers 2, Giants 1
4/11 Dodgers 2, Giants 1
4/12 Dodgers 5, Giants 4 (12)
Three exciting, energizing one-run victories – amazing! Marquis Grissom makes a bid to hurt his former teammates in the series opener, but his long fly ball is hauled in by Dave Roberts. Meanwhile, Adrian Beltre finally showed signs of disciplined hitting. His second-inning RBI single with two on gave the Dodgers an early lead in the first game – and though the Giants tied it in the bottom of the inning, Paul Lo Duca’s run on a Tim Worrell wild pitch won it. In the second game, after Odalis Perez left in the top of the sixth with an ankle injury, Beltre’s ninth-inning home run won it. And Sunday night, of course – following Saturday’s rainout - in the 12th inning, Todd Hundley raced from first to third on a LoDuca single and scored when Marvin Benard’s wild heave from right field went into the Dodger dugout. Eric Gagne stayed in to pitch his third inning of relief and seal the victory that put the Dodgers 2½ up on San Francisco, and if you can believe it, eight games up on the Diamondbacks.
Indeed, there’s much to celebrate with the Dodgers. The team ERA is 3.02, fourth in the major leagues. The starting rotation, Perez’ ankle injury aside, looks healthy, and the bullpen has been almost sensational. At the plate, the hitting has been timely.
But we shouldn’t let the fast start mask some real concerns with this team. The team still has trouble getting on base – only after Sunday’s game did the Dodger on-base percentage cross the .300 mark. Hundley, of all people, is second on the team in walks with seven, despite playing only five games. Power is sporadic, and there is a real lack of team speed. In short, the Dodgers’ margin for error has been razor-thin. A few inches here or there, and that sterling 11-2 record could just as easily be, say, 5-8.
Bottom line: the Dodgers should not get caught up in their record. Today is April 14. Kansas City is 9-1; Arizona is 2-10. Luck is gonna change. There are definite strengths to this team - you don't win seven games in a row by simple twists of fate - but yes indeed, there are weaknesses as well. As the Dodgers return home to face the Padres and Giants again this week, they just need to focus on trying to do better.
Sunday, April 13, 2003
Hey readers -
What is your favorite Dodger memory since November 1988?
E-mail your replies to DodThoughtsPoll@aol.com.
(Don't worry - this isn't an attempt to accumulate your e-mail addresses and sell them. They're safe with me.)
Those of you who read this site but aren't Dodger fans, at least try to keep your sarcastic remarks clever. In fact, maybe that guidance should go for everyone. :)
I'll publish the results soon...