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May 2, 2012
More Blue, less blues

Yesterday, just 3,016 horrible days after he took control of the Dodgers, Frank McCourt’s ownership reign came to an end (sort of). I suppose that if I wasn’t to commemorate this occasion with a few words, what’s the point of keeping this site alive, right?  

I watched bits of today’s press conference introducing the new ownership group—forwarding past Antonio Villaraigosa’s bullshit (after all, he was nice and cozy in Frank’s seats just a couple short years ago)—and have basically come to one conclusion: press conferences are boring. Sure, you’ve got Vin Scully, Magic Johnson, and a crapload of former Dodgers (no Jeromy Burnitz, sadly), but it’s still a press conference. Here are some positives to take away, though:

  • The new ownership team seemed enthusiastic and down-to-earth enough, and Mark Walter’s knock on McCourt’s collection of homes during the Q&A was fantastic.
  • Parking will be reduced to $10, although I’ll still park outside the stadium on Boylston and risk getting hit by cars as I walk along the 18-inch wide sidewalk on Stadium Way.
  • Ned Colletti’s name was mentioned a few times in a complimentary way—which means he’ll be gone by December.
  • Stan Kasten said he’ll spend the bulk of games walking around the concourses to interact with fans—which is his way to avoid watching Juan Uribe.
  • Vinny introduced me to the word ‘indefatigable’ (which I'll never use but remember for the next 3 days, at least).

I’m certainly not sold on this whole arrangement with Frank McCourt, mainly because it’s still unclear to me, but I’m doing my best to put baseball first. And putting baseball first, this is definitely a good day for Dodger fans. The team is now being run by people with deep-seated connections to baseball and Los Angeles—people who stand to lose their reputations if things go awry. I can root for these people to succeed, and with them in charge, I can root for the Dodgers again. Isn’t that the end game? As Dodgers fans, we were distracted by divorce, bankruptcy, and greed for so long that we’ve forgotten what it’s like to be baseball fans. We’ve spend so much time directing negative energy toward ownership that we’ve forgotten where negative energy should really be directed: to the players. Here’s hoping that the new ownership does its job, fades into the background, and frees me rip James Loney a new one.




March 27, 2012
Changing of the guard

It was early 1992 and I was standing behind the counter at Penguin’s Yogurt on the corner of Westwood and Olympic. All the cool kids frequented the Bigg Chill across the street, which made working at Penguin’s a bit depressing, and this particular afternoon was no different. A few old women, the dude from the Subway next door, and a homeless guy asking for money. But then, as I was deciding whether to refill the gummy bears or put a bullet in my head, Magic Johnson walked in the door.

Fast forward 20 years, and Magic Johnson walks in the door again. This time, it isn’t to rescue a 17-year-old who’s bored at work—it’s to rescue an entire city that’s been witness to the destruction of perhaps its most cherished asset. Magic Johnson isn’t buying the Dodgers alone, but alone he’s suddenly made us all Dodger fans again. Who else could have done that with just a smile?

It’s been about an hour and a half since I first heard the announcement tonight, and to be honest, I still don’t fully understand the deal. I want to jump up and down in my own pool of urine (yes, and a little blood), but by all accounts Frank McCourt isn’t exactly going away. Or is he? Along with "certain affiliates of the purchasers," McCourt is acquiring the land around Dodger Stadium (from himself?) for $150 million—or so I’ve read. That’s a far cry from Dickless being completely out of the picture, and unless I’m missing something, the future of the parking lots will be partially in his hands—those slimy, little, mousey hands. But then Bill Shaikin tweets the sweetest eight words I've ever read: "Parking lots will be controlled by Magic’s group." So unless Magic’s group is now run by Frank McCourt, Jamie McCourt, or Shea Hillenbrand, um… victory?

I don’t even care that McCourt comes away from this deal with tons of cash. If all he has is a minority stake in future parking lot development, I can live with that. I’d rather live knowing that he's rotting in hell (or in Diamond Bar, at the very least), but as long as he’s not in sole possession of anything in Chavez Ravine other than a bad case of herpes or the autographed Greg Brock baseball card I lost in 1984, I think I've got my Dodgers back. I'm still cautious—I mean, this is Frank McCourt we’re talking about, and we’re literally only a couple hours into this thing—but holy shit, man. Magic? Magic! Oh wait, I just realized that Mark Ellis is still the second baseman.

November 2, 2011
He is... gone!

Baseball players talk often about victory being a team effort. Never has there been more of a team effort than in our impending victory over LA's favorite tyrant, Frank McCourt. The team, in this case, includes pretty much everyone on the planet who isn’t named Frank McCourt. Between Dodgers fans, other team owners, the commissioner, the media, the courts, bloggers, agents, players, and political and civic figures, the effort to oust McCourt grew to be so strong that the slimy prick finally had no choice but to throw in the towel. His last hurrah came just a couple of days ago, with his lawyer arguing that Bryan Stow was partially responsible for his own beating. More than anything, that was confirmation that Frank still doesn’t get it. Never did, never will. Peace out, Dickwad.

Now comes the fun. Assuming that the bankruptcy court promptly approves the auctioning of the team, the stadium, and the land, Los Angeles Dodgers fans could go from completely disillusioned to completely re-energized in a matter of months. Already, things feel different. Birds around Chavez Ravine are chirping again, the infield grass is suddenly greener, and Walter O’Malley has rolled back over in his grave (facing up). Is there anyone happier than Vin Scully? Of course he would never say anything, but as the Dodger with the longest tenure and deepest love of baseball, these last few years must have been so painful—especially with the fear that he’d never again broadcast for a decent organization. I can hear Vinny’s call now: “He is……. gone!”

I don’t know who’ll end up owning the Dodgers, but I know that Major League Baseball won’t make the same mistake again. This is a huge opportunity for MLB and the City of Los Angeles to get it right. Considering, however, that the likely asking price is $1 billion or more—along with the obvious pressure to invest in the team and stadium—there probably aren’t as many potential buyers as some people think. A group led by Orel Hershiser and Steve Garvey? I don’t see it. Mark Cuban? Only if he got a great deal. Dennis Gilbert and friends? Perhaps. Eli Broad? He has the money, but he swings toward art and culture. A corporation like Fox would make sense financially, but haven’t we been there and done that?  Anyway, I could name twenty other parties, but there’s only one party that matters right now: the celebration of freedom from Frank.  So pour yourself a beer, raise your glass… and toast to Juan Rivera’s new contract.

October 30, 2011
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you...

Ten years ago, Eugenio Velez had just signed his first professional contract and the whole world was for his taking. Ten years ago, the only Frank McCourt anyone knew was a guy who wrote books (you know, those things made of paper that people used to read). And ten years ago today, I turned on my computer, watched some internet porn, and launched Dodger Blues.

The Dodgers were fresh off a 3rd place finish in 2001, a season that saw guys like Jeff Reboulet, Tim Bogar, and Mike Trombley don the Dodgers uniform. I had just started graduate school, and somehow found myself with an abundance of time. So obviously Jeff Reboulet + free time = Dodger Blues. If I recall correctly, I had registered the domain name about a year earlier, not exactly sure what my plans were. Even once I started building the site, I don’t think I knew what my plans were. But up it went, the first post a horribly boring five-sentence blurb about Gary Sheffield wanting to stay with the Dodgers. The posts quickly heated up in the weeks following, with some genuine anger toward Craig Counsell, Dan Evans, and Omar Daal. I was finding my zone. And people were starting to find my site.

Among those was Ben Platt, who at the time was the Dodgers.com moderator… or writer… I don’t really remember who he was, but he sent me an email telling me to stop stealing photos from Dodgers.com.  So I started drawing pictures instead. While I produced a couple of masterpieces, including this Kim Ng classic, the sketching wasn’t for me. And so began the Photoshopped accompaniments to each post. To be honest, the Photoshopping ended up taking its toll on me. It was one thing to spend three hours watching a game and another hour commenting on it, but trying to conceive and create a new graphic each night became a pain in my ass. But I did it anyway because I love you. (Not you with the tattoos on your gut—I’m talking about you with the awesome rack and fantastic legs… because in my mind everyone who read Dodger Blues was a hot model.)

So the years went by, the Dodgers failed season after season, and the site thrived… as long as I was willing to watch every game, immediately summarize it, filter the fan forum, maintain features such as look-alikes and quotes, create polls, send out t-shirts, answer emails, and spend increasingly more money to boost the site’s bandwidth. Eventually, with a demanding day job and family commitments, I wasn’t willing nor able to do all of those things. So I stopped writing after every game. Then I stopped updating the look-alikes. Then I closed the fan forum. Then I stopped selling shirts. And by then the buzz about the Dodgers had nothing to do with the Dodgers—only the McCourts. Not interested in blogging about divorce or bankruptcy, I basically let the site go. It’s like a dog you don’t feed. You still see it around, and it looks like shit, and occasionally you think about how cool the dog was when you fed it, but it’s a bad economy and you’ve had to stop buying dog food, and you’ve realized that if you don’t feed it, it doesn’t poop, and that gives you more time to poop yourself, or to watch Hangover for the thirtieth time. Where the fuck was I going with that? Oh, who cares.

Anyway, I figured I’d hit the site’s highlights over the last ten years. And by highlights I mean lowlights. And by lowlights I mean whatever happens to come to mind in the next ten minutes as I write this. 

The Gibson clock. The site’s hallmark right from the start, the Gibson clock keeps ticking away. Every time something positive would happen (Gagne’s save streak, Finley’s grand slam, Eric Karros getting a haircut), people would call for the clock to be reset. Right now, I think we all know what the next great Dodger moment will be.

The first Cease and Desist. In 2002 I was sent a Cease and Desist order from the lawyers for Major League Baseball, telling me that my logo (which at the time featured an LA hat) created “consumer confusion.” Yes, I can see how a picture of Jim Tracy with a cock on his head would make it seem like this was the official Dodgers web site. Fuckholes.

The early shirts. After the Cease and Desist, I changed the logo and designed shirts—produced and sold on CafePress.com.  After about six months I couldn’t log in to my account. Turns out it was MLB again, this time the organization that monitors trademark infringement. I was selling shirts that used the name “Dodger”. Frankly, I think that’s a word in the dictionary, but apparently there was no room for debate. Upon request from MLB, CafePress put the kibosh on my shirts, and that was that until I eventually changed the logo again.

The assholes. Of the moment, to be exact. If you’re ever looking for a great trivia question, go with this one: Who was the very first Dodger Blues Asshole of the Moment? Answer: Hiram Bocachica. (And you can be sure it wasn’t Hiram’s only appearance as Asshole of the Moment.) Used as a quick way to humiliate someone for any sort of mistake or offense, the feature was a fan favorite—to the point where I'd get emails from people begging to be the Asshole of the Moment. More than 1,100 assholes were named over the last ten years. Some of the most frequent assholes: Jim Tracy, Frank McCourt, J.D. Drew, Joe Morgan, Kevin Malone, and Bill Plaschke. (If you ever have about 4 hours to blow, the Assholes are actually a great read. Hint: switch from year to year at the bottom of the page.)

The pink shirt. When Dan Evans was fired in 2004—shortly after a guy named Matt Kemp was drafted—he wrote an open letter to Dodgers fans. His letter ended with this:  "I never realized that one pink shirt would cause so much discussion!" Yes, you can credit Dodger Blues for that discussion.

The Fan Forum. If you were a rapist, murderer, idiot, or San Francisco Giants fan—or if you wanted to interact with one—the Dodger Blues Fan Forum was the place to be. Initially I wanted to prove that Dodger fans could behave themselves if left unattended with a keyboard, but I was quickly proven wrong. A few moderators eventually helped to weed out the spam and death threats, and for awhile it became the pre-Twitter outlet for fans during games. It even got MLB's attention after someone posted a screen shot from a TV broadcast showing something suspicious on Jake Peavy’s pitching hand.

The Fear of Frank. Right from the start, it was clear that Frank McCourt was bad news. Here’s an abridged version of my post the day Frank McCourt officially took ownership:

Today is January 29, 2004. Dodger fans, however, will come to know it as 1/29. On 1/29, things will change forever. On 1/29, Frank McCourt's purchase of the Los Angeles Dodgers will be approved by Major League Baseball owners, who are being led to their decision by a jackass commissioner. Bud Selig isn't the only jackass, however. There are lots of them in LA, a city whose futile attempt to stop the sale has come far too slowly and far too late. It was painfully clear from day one what the Boston developer's intentions were (despite what he might say today), yet everyone continued to work toward finalizing the deal. Only in the past week or two have anti-McCourt efforts begun to materialize—far too late to have any impact. The only impact there'll be now is the impact of the top deck collapsing onto the reserved level below. And the reserved level collapsing onto the loge level. And the loge level collapsing onto the yellow seats. And an organization that was once a treasure collapsing into a big fucking dust cloud that's going to kill us all.

Sure, it's been no picnic the last few years under Fox, and even during O'Malley's final years, but we're entering new territory now. Enemy territory. Hard-core Dodger fans have cursed and despised the team in recent years, but there's one reason for that: we care. After 1/29, however, it's going to be very tough to care. That's what's sad. When we know the owner has no aspirations to win, when we know the castle we call Dodger Stadium isn't long for this world, when we know even the guys on the team are dejected and uninspired... it's going to be very tough to care. Should we at least give McCourt a chance? Judging by the look of his weasel-like face, no.

The second Cease and Desist. This one is fantastic, and I don't think anyone really knows about it. In 2006 or so, I purchased olmedosaenz.com to give as a joke to my brother-in-law, whose favorite player was Olmedo Saenz (also as a joke). Before I could do anything with the domain, though, I get a Cease and Desist letter from Olmedo's agents/lawyers accusing me of trying to profit off his name. In the letter, they repeatedly refer to Olmedo as "athlete." Ha! Here was my response.

The readers. I honestly kept the site going for so long for one reason only: my readers. You're a freaky bunch, but you've been loyal, supportive, and appreciative. At the height of DB, the site had about 4,000 readers a day, and even though only a few dozen of you ever bought t-shirts, I really was humbled by the following.

The unforgettables. The Dodgers have had some amazing talent over the last ten years—from Sheffield to Green to Gagne to Lowe to Manny to Kershaw and Kemp—but it’s names like this that stick with me: Paul Shuey, Terry Mulholland, Chad Hermansen, Ron Coomer, Jason Grabowski, Brent Mayne, Duaner Sanchez, Ricky Ledee, Paul Bako, Hee-Seop Choi, D.J. Houlton, Kelly Wunsch, Oscar Robles, Lance Carter, Shea Hillenbrand, Brett Tomko, Mark Hendrickson, Brian Falkenborg, Gary Bennett, Will Ohman, Jason Repko, Ryan Theriot, Octavio Dotel, Jay Gibbons, and Marcus Thames. Quite a group.

The press. In its heyday, DB was mentioned in the LA Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Daily News, and Los Angeles Magazine, among other places. I also did a few spots on various radio shows, including appearances on the Kevin & Bean Show around opening day for a couple of seasons. We’re talking about a couple of douchebags who know very little about sports, yet I’d get sick to my stomach before these appearances. So I decided to stick to what I was comfortable with: not talking to people.

The tweets. Just typing the word ‘tweet’ a year or two ago would have sent me into convulsions, but I have to admit that Twitter has allowed me to keep the DB identity somewhat alive without having to waste hours of my life. Don’t get me wrong, I still think Twitter will lead to the implosion of the planet, but for the time being it’s a savior.

So what does the future hold for Dodger Blues? Probably not much. Frustrated Dodger fans can get their fix from dozens of blogs now, so even if it were revived, DB doesn’t serve the need that it once did. I’ll continue with my twice-a-week tweets, and eventually I’ll summon the energy to officially retire the site and archive its content. Thanks to all for helping to make these last ten years enjoyable (well, occasionally enjoyable).

July 10, 2011
Half full or half empty? Actually, three-quarters empty

If the Dodgers win on a walk-off hit and there’s no one there to see it, was there actually a game? That has to be the question being asked after Saturday’s game in which the Dodgers hammered out two hits—one for each fan in attendance.

Saturday was Boycott Day, of course, and Dodger fans seemed to eat it up—surprisingly not swayed by the $1 Dodger Dogs that they otherwise would eat up. True, it was a battle of terrible teams, it was a warm day, and the game time had recently been moved up, apparently confusing some ticketholders. Nonetheless, despite a 29,744 announced attendance, there couldn’t have been more than 15,000 people at Dodger Stadium. I consider that a huge success. When the “pathetic” attendance is mentioned by Fox broadcasters, gets attention in the LA Times, and is clearly felt by the Dodgers, it means one thing: Dodger fans are capable of standing up for the team they love and the organization they don’t.  When a player like Andre Ethier is receiving bankruptcy paperwork in the locker room at Dodger Stadium, enough is enough. Fans want resolution to this mess, and it has to involve new ownership.

I want to thank everyone who took part in the boycott, everyone who helped spread the word, savethedodgers.com (who initially set the boycott and rally), and of course those who contributed to the ‘Dough for Stow’ campaign. Over $600 was raised for Bryan Stow, and I’ll continue accepting donations this week before turning over the money to the Stow Family.

July 4, 2011
Spank Frank / Dough for Stow

I'll get right to the point since I know only a few of you have the patience to read anything over 140 charcters long. I was thinking about planning a 1-day Dodger boycott later this month, but now seeing that a few are already being organized, there's no sense diluting the energy. It seems like the one planned for Saturday, July 9th (by the 'Mark Cuban Saves the Dodgers' blog) has the most traction, so let's go with that date—although what's more important than the rally being planned in front of the stadium is that you simply don't go to the game—even if you already have tickets. Yes, they'll announce the attendance as "tickets sold", but the image of an empty stadium on a national Fox broadcast is far more powerful than whatever numbers are thrown around and whatever demonstrations happen that day.

And the best part of a boycott is that you do NOTHING. That's the whole point. On Saturday, July 9th you can make your opinion of Frank McCourt known by sitting at home on your ass. Doesn't get any better than that, right?

I'm only asking three simple things:

  1. That you don't go to the game on July 9th.
  2. That you help to spread the word to anyone and everyone who might otherwise go to the game on July 9th, and...
  3. That you donate a few dollars—if you have the financial means—to the 'Dough for Stow' fundraising campaign that I've started as a way of turning a negative boycott into something positive. Since you won't be buying beer at the stadium on July 9th, consider donating just $12 to the Stow family. (While there are ways to contribute to the Stow family directly, I'd ask that you go through the 'Dough for Stow' campaign so we can measure the benefit of the boycott.)

If you're not a big fans of boycotting a sports team, I get it, but you have to look at this as a boycott of Frank McCourt, not a boycott of the guys on the field. A prolonged boycott stings the players, but a 1-day boycott just makes a statement. Fans have obviously been showing their disgust all season, as evidenced by the general decline in attendance, but I think it's hugely important to show that Dodgers fans have the wherewithal to unite. (By the way, that's definietly the first time I've ever used the word 'wherewithal'—and hopefully the last.)

As for Bryan Stow, anyone who's had family or friends require long term medical care knows how the bills add up—even with good medical insurance. If we can contribute just a little bit, it helps to put a positive spin on the boycott.

The way I figure it, if social media can help to spark a revolution in Egypt, it can sure as hell be a vehicle for promoting this boycott. Please help spread the word about July 9th.

We all want to see the Dodger organization return to glory and become something that Los Angeles (and the baseball world) can be proud of once again.

Donate Now! 

April 20, 2011
This Bud's for you!

First of all, before I get into the situation at hand, let me say this to all those who've tweeted me today asking why I haven't updated the site yet: SUCK MY BALLS. It's Wednesday, and I think I've already worked about 45 hours this week. It's 10pm and I just had a bowl of cereal—the first fucking thing I've eaten since about 11am. It's fantastic that a lot of you spend your days facebooking with people who really don't give a shit about you, tweeting about your hemorrhoids, and researching the little league stats of Jerry Sands (who, until today, I thought was black), but unfortunately I'm not in the same position. I'm not writing this to say woe is me—I'm writing it to say fuck you.

Now that I got that off my chest, let's quickly talk business. It was seven years ago that Major League Baseball made a colossal mistake by allowing Frank McCourt and his lovely wife to purchase the Dodgers. On Wednesday, Bud Selig took a huge step to correct that mistake by taking McCourt's hands off the Dodgers' steering wheel. Must have been a real shocker to Frank considering that he just installed 25 new lights in the parking lot. I mean, what more can an owner do to show his committment to Major League Baseball?

You certainly have to applaud Selig's actions, even if it means even more legal action in the coming weeks and months. Things will get worse before they get better, but there's now no mistaking: things will get better. Let's face it, the Dodgers blow anyway, so big deal if this takeover fucks up the season. It's a complete embarrassment to Frank, and there's nothing that makes me happier to see him humiliated in front of the baseball world. His pants are down and he has a little weenie.

March 31, 2011 - Dodgers 2, Giants 1
Open and close (well, barely close)

Well, it's been seven months so let's see if I even remember how to do this. Oh yeah, I remember. I watch the Dodgers strand guys on base, I watch Clayton Kershaw dominate, I watch Rafael Furcal resemble nothing of the player he was a few years ago, I watch Jonathan Broxton self-destruct, and then I write a couple paragraphs about how the Dodgers suck—even when they win. It's all coming back to me now.

To be honest, I'm surprised that I'm doing this. As recently as this morning I was still debating the possibility of letting the site fade into oblivion. (Well, fade further into oblivion.) Even now, I can't promise that I'll write anything again before June. Other than the fact that it's Opening Day, I don't have much motivation to watch the Dodgers, let alone waste an hour of my night summarizing a game for the twenty people who—for some reason—may still check out Dodger Blues. Nothing has changed in the last seven months as far as I'm concerned. The ownership situation is still bleak, the team doesn't have a reliable player at half the positions, and Don Mattingly inspires about as much confidence as the dudes directing traffic in the stadium parking lot. Meanwhile, Andre Ethier says a bunch of douchey stuff the day before the season starts, Juan Castro doesn't make the major league roster, and it's way too hot outside for the end of March.

But back to Thursday's game (which I fast-forwarded through in about 45 minutes). As far as Opening Days go, it was actually a good game. Pitcher's duel, some aggressive baserunning, and probably some other stuff that I'd know about if I actually watched the whole thing. All I really want to say is that Jonathan Broxton is done. Dude is screwed up in the head after the last couple seasons, and starting 2011 by allowing a home run to the second hitter isn't going to help. I'm not sure what Plan B is for the Dodgers, but they best start figuring it out pretty quickly.

Ok, until next time... whenever that happens to be...

August 29, 2010
Manny gone, but the dread remains

Hearing that Manny Ramirez is officially headed to the White Sox on Monday, I figured it’s my duty as a bi-monthly blogger to say something about it. So here’s what I have to say: I don’t give a fuck. For the first time in my life, I honestly have NO desire to watch Dodger games, read the sports section, or waste my time blogging. With or without Manny, with or without Matt Kemp, with or without Joe Torre—I just can’t bring myself to care. (Hell, the half-assed Photoshop job to the right is proof of that.)

It’s not that the Dodgers are bad. I mean, yes, they’re bad, but that’s not the reason I’m turned off. They’ve been bad plenty of times in my life, and I’ve always kept watching, kept attending, and kept a big place in my stupid little heart for them. They’ve had underachieving prospects, mentally unstable veterans, and questionable broadcasters. They’ve made changes to the stadium, changes to the uniforms, and changes to the coaching staff. They traded Pedro Martinez for Delino DeShields, they traded Mike Piazza in the prime of his career, and they traded for Elmer Dessens—twice. They spent too much on Darren Dreifort, wouldn’t spend enough on Adrian Beltre, and were shocked when Andruw Jones turned out to be a catastrophe. Through all of the changes, all of the mistakes, and all of the mediocrity, I hung in there. That’s what fans do.I can’t do it anymore—not as long as Frank and Jamie McCourt have any connection to the Dodgers organization.

I know that ‘hate’ is a strong word, so believe me when I tell you that it’s not strong enough to describe the way I feel about those two scumbags. If the judge presiding over their divorce case is as hard-nosed as I’ve read, then hopefully he’ll begin the trail on Monday by spitting in both of their faces on behalf of the citizens of Los Angeles. Frank and Jamie McCourt took an L.A. treasure and anally raped it. I get it, baseball is a business and they’re in it to make money. I don’t have a problem with that. But with every little bit of information about them that seems to come out almost daily, it’s clear that they’re not just businessmen—they’re shady businessmen. They’re shady together, and they’re shady individually. They want to rule the world, and they don’t give a shit who they step on, who they deceive, and who they abuse in the process—even if it’s each other. I guarantee you that on their list of concerns, the Dodger fan is at the bottom. Not surprisingly, the McCourts rank in the same position on my list of favorite people—right below Hitler and meteorologists.

So farewell to Manny and his 1-pitch “F-You to the Dodgers” at-bat today. The $4 million in savings should afford Jamie a few haircuts.

August 10, 2010 - Dodgers 15, Phillies 9
The unsinkable Juan Castro

Juan Castro obviously owns one of three things: Photos of Vin Scully snorting coke; Proof that JFK was actually assasinated by Tommy Lasorda; or Kim Ng's virginity. There's no other way to explain how this man—one of the worst hitters to ever play the game of baseball professionally—is joining the Dodgers this week... for the third time.

Juan Castro has almost 600 hits in the big leagues. That may sound like a lot... until you realize that he's had about 50,000 at-bats. Doing some quick math, I think that works out to an .020 average. (To be fair, his OBP is about .035.) He's been granted free agency three times, traded three times, and released twice (which actually seems low). His first year with the Dodgers was 1995, when apparently he took hitting tips from Tom Prince and Billy Ashley. it was all downhill from there. Fourteen years and six RBI later, Castro returned to the Dodgers in 2009. He began 2010 with the Phillies, but they soon realized that good defense was overrated. Enter Ned Colletti. Enter Rafael Furcal's back. Re-enter Juan (for six) Castro.

In other news, Jay Gibbons looks like a guy who's been dating a girl for three months, not getting any action, and then when she finally gives it up, he blows a hole through her cooch. Only instead of a girl, it's the minor leagues. And instead of three months, it's three years. And instead of her giving it up, it's the Dodgers calling him up from Albuquerque. And instead of him blowing a hole through her cooch, he goes four for his first five, including a home run and four RBI. In a matter of about 24 hours, Gibbons equaled Garret Anderson's total production over the past 2 months. Yeah, no reason to have made that move any sooner.

July 31, 2010
Ted Lilly, savior

Cliff Lee, yeah.  Roy Oswalt, yeah.  Dan Haren, yeah. Ted Lilly? Uh…. eh.

The Dodgers needed pitching, so Lilly certainly fits the bill. He’s a middle of the rotation kind of guy, he’ll give the Dodgers innings, and he’ll pick up a few wins. Will he carry the Dodgers through the playoffs, though? Not a chance. So even if Lilly helps the Dodgers reach the playoffs (which he won’t), he won’t help them get past the first round. That said, I could still support the acquisition—if it didn’t mean downgrading second base and losing two minor league pitchers. That’s where I’m totally lost.

Blake DeWitt is no Ryne Sandberg, but what exactly was so bad about him? He played hard, had bouts of power, and was young.  Ryan Theriot is older, not a second baseman, has a weird T at the end of his name, and recently had the longest extra base hit drought of any Cub in the last 20 years.  I’m not going to pretend like I know anything about the two minor leaguers the Dodgers also gave up, but considering the state of their system, are they really in a position to be giving up young talent? I was all over a possible Manny Ramirez deal that would have brought in a couple of prospects, but to lose your second baseman AND prospects? All for show. The Dodgers want to prove that McCourt’s divorce isn’t stopping them from improving the team, so Ned gets a pitcher—at the expense of another position. Maybe Ned figures that Scott Podsednik can convert to second base if Theriot doesn’t work out. What a fucking joke.

Update: Ned Colletti just got raped again. Octavio Dotel (age 37)to Dodgers for James McDonald (age 25) and Andrew Lambo (age 21). I'll see you all again in 2018 when the farm system has been replenished.

June 27, 2010 - Yankees 8, Dodgers 6
Dodgers Yank their own chain

Let’s forget about the game-winning homer to that George Sherrill gave up to Robinson Cano in the 10th inning. Sherrill’s a piece of crap, sure, but there shouldn’t have been a 10th inning. No goddamn way.

The Dodgers were up 6-2 going into the 9th inning. They probably shouldn’t have been up by four runs—after all, the Yankees basically handed them three runs in the third—but there they were, actually an inning away from actually winning a series… against the AL… against the Yankees. But three things worked against them. Those things are named Joe Torre, James Loney, and Chris Guccione.

First, Joe Torre. I think a lot of people have been willing to overlook the fact that he’s not a great game manager because of what he brings to a clubhouse. From the Dodgers’ lack of energy this season, though, it’s clear he’s not bringing anything to the clubhouse. So that leaves his game managing. Let the last week prove that not only is he not a great game manager, he’s a terrible game manager. Torre had Jonathan Broxton pitch an inning against the Angels on Wednesday—in a non-save situation. Did it again the next day, knowing full well that the Yankees were on their way to town. So the Yankees arrive, and Torre puts in Broxton on Saturday night—with the Dodgers up by five runs. Then, when he’s truly needed on Sunday to secure a series win, he’s fucking exhausted and breaks down in a big way. You can’t really fault Broxton. Dude is a beast, but he’s shown before that he’s not at his best when he’s tired. Honestly, who the fuck is?

Next, home plate umpire Chris Guccione. With the game rapidly slipping away from the Dodgers, Broxton threw an 0-2 pitch to rookie Colin Curtis that undoubtedly caught the bottom of the strike zone—basically the same spot that James Loney took for strike three on Friday night to end the game. Ball one, says Guccione. Curtis, of course, goes on to have something like a 40-pitch at-bat, and then grounds to first, driving in the tying run. Guccione would later make another questionable call on Garrett Anderson, but let’s get back to Curtis’s grounder… which brings up the third problem for the Dodgers…

James Loney. I hate to bash Loney, who’s typically a solid first baseman and basically carried the Dodgers on Saturday, but how the hell does a major league infielder decide that it’s better to take an out at first than, oh, stop the tying run from scoring? Loney fielded Curtis’s grounder, took a couple steps to hit the bag, and THEN threw home—wide and late. No doubt that an immediate throw home would have kept it a 6-5 game. But that out at first, apparently that was the important one.

So I really don’t have anything else to say. If there’s any silver lining, I guess, at least the Dodgers are showing some frustration. Maybe that’s the first step to recovery… or to complete self-destruction.

June 23, 2010 - Angels 2, Dodgers 1
Walk-off? Try jackoffs.

Wednesday night's game has been over for almost an hour now, and I'm still not quite sure that I just saw. I would go back and replay it, but I'm honestly afraid to watch it again. I've seen thousands and thousands of Dodger games over the years—a good number of them pathetic—but this may be the topper. Forget about the Dodgers' horrific clutch hitting, or the fact that Manny Ramirez couldn't score from second on a double to center, or the Dodgers' error that led to the Angels' second run. It all pales in comparison to the last two outs of the game—outs so nauseating that much of Los Angeles must smell like vomit right now.

First, we'll start with Matt Kemp. Look, Kemp is clearly a terrible baserunner. We all know that. He gets picked off more than a nerdy 4th grader gets picked on, he gets thrown out stealing half the time despite the fact that he can move 90 feet in about three strides, and he looks confused more often than he looks engaged. But none of that makes what he did with one out in the ninth inning of a one-run game acceptable. A pitch away from having the bases loaded, the Dodgers watched as Kemp strayed too far from second and was easily picked off by Brian Fuentes. What the hell? He's not stealing third, and he's got the speed to easily make it home on a base hit, so what's the point of dancing 20 feet off the bag? No point, just a douche.

So Kemp's gone, and then (of course) Russell Martin walks. Oh, sorry… Russell J. Martin. Moments later Jamie Carroll bloops a single to left, and around third comes Reed Johnson with the tying run. Short of Johnson being taken down by a sniper, what could possibly go wrong? Well, 27 years ago Russell Martin was born—that's what went wrong. Martin rounds second base too far, the throw goes in behind him, and he's tagged out… before Johnson crosses the plate. Forget about the fact that Johnson eased up a bit—he probably got no sign to push it from the on-deck batter and had no reason to think it wasn't an easy run. And forget about the fact the second base umpire may have made a bad call. The fucking umpire shouldn't even be making a call at all because Martin has no goddamn business being halfway around second. Holy Christ, man, are Martin and Kemp coaching each other? Maybe the bigger question: Do the Dodgers even want to win?

Right now, it doesn't look like it. Actually, it hasn't looked like it all season. Or for a couple of seasons, honestly. They play good ball for periods at a time, and yeah, even make the playoffs, but they're missing the fire that a perennial winner needs to have. They always look a little lethargic, a little uninterested, a little disconnected. Sure, when they get a walk-off home run they pile on top of each other like they're at a West Hollywood bath house, but you can't wait for heroics to show some goddamn emotion.

If Joe Torre doesn't lay into the team after this loss, he should be out on the street. I know he's in his late 80s, but he had better summon the energy to shake these fuckers up a bit. Kick a chair, scream, jiggle the loose skin under the neck… do something. The Dodger organization has been marketing the upcoming Yankee series like it's the biggest thing to hit LA since the Northridge quake. If the Dodgers float through it like assholes, well… I may have to start watching the World Cup.

June 20, 2010 - Red Sox 2, Dodgers 0
Dodgers learn who's boss in Boston

Well, I'm just thankful that I didn’t travel 3,000 miles to see that pathetic display of feces and ballsack. One of these days I’ll get to Fenway Park, but I think I’ll enjoy it a hell of a lot more if the Dodgers aren’t playing. Finishing the series against the Red Sox with a 2-0 loss Sunday, the Dodgers dropped to third place in the West and showed a national audience what they’re capable of: absolutely nothing.

In the three game series, Andre Ethier went 0-for-12, Russell Martin, Casey Blake, and James Loney each went 1-for -11, and Matt Kemp went 2-for-13. Gee, can’t imagine why they were swept. Way to step it up for a big series. Aside from maybe Hong Chih Kuo’s nice inning on Saturday, the Dodgers looked totally overmatched all weekend—like a bunch of amateurs facing a real major league team. The kicker came in the third inning Sunday when the Dodgers put the infield shift on for David Ortiz. Dustin Pedroia stole second… and then, seeing no Dodger within 100 feet of third, just kept going. Sexy defensive play, guys.

Really, there’s no sense even winning the division when they’d be knocked out in the playoffs faster than you can say Ned Colletti has man boobs.

June 7, 2010 - Dodgers 12, Cardinals 4
DeWitt holds the Cards

I’m fairly sure that no one reads this site anymore (and I can’t blame them considering I write once every three weeks), but it’s not too often the Dodgers pound the Cardinals, so I figured I’d say something about it.

Using fourteen hits—including three doubles and a home run—the Dodgers ripped the Cardinals, 12-4. The home run was Blake DeWitt’s first of the season, a cheap shot off the right field foul pole. DeWitt knocked in five runs, a career high, and just missed hitting a grand slam in the bottom of the seventh. He’s also a day closer to a Casey Blake beard. Meanwhile, even Garrett Anderson got a hit, raising his average to within 100 points of being somewhat respectable.

Two other very important things to point out: (1) Jon Link frightens me—looks like the kind of guy that would break your windshield with a crow bar if you parked too close to his Dodge Ram, and (2) I put Brendan Ryan in the same category as Craig Counsell and David Eckstein—guys who seem to have ticks and probably aren’t big fans of Hanukah.

May 22, 2010 - Dodgers 6, Tigers 4
Ox survives Tiger attack

The Dodgers beat the Tigers 6-4 on Saturday night, and you can thank John Ely, Matt Kemp, Casey Blake, Blake DeWitt, and James Loney. You cannot, however, thank Ramon Troncoso or Jonathan Broxton. Officially Troncoso only gave up a run, and officially Broxton got the save… but unofficially they both sucked sweaty ballsack.

Honestly, what the hell is going on with Ramon Troncoso? On Wednesday he gave up two home runs in a matter of about 30 seconds, and the first batter he faces Saturday—boom, home run. He then proceeds to throw the ball all over the fucking place until he beans Austin Jackson right in the head. Dude has completely lost it. Maybe the hair is throwing him off balance, maybe the 54 games he pitched in over the first two weeks of the season have taken their toll, or maybe he had some bad tacos earlier in the week—whatever it is, I’m scared to watch him pitch.

As for Broxton, who did his best to blow a 3-run lead in the ninth, I'm pretty sure it’s all in his head. Maybe he and Chad Billingsley can get a 2-for-1 deal from a shrink. There are times when the big boy looks determined, and other times when it looks like he just woke up and isn’t sure where he is. From his first pitch on Saturday, I had the feeling disaster was looming. Thankfully, the biggest disaster was in my pants, and the Dodgers hung on to win.

Had the Tigers come from behind, the story would have been Tigers rookie Brennan Boesch. This is a kid who grew up in LA as a huge Dodger fan and here he is as a major leaguer, playing in front of his family and friends for the first time at Dodger Stadium. Then the eighth inning comes, and the kid crushes it over the wall in center (granted it was off of Troncoso, who gives up home runs to everyone these days). It was actually cool to watch, seeing his family go nuts in the stands. I was really happy for the guy, Detroit Tiger or not. It reminded me that Major League Baseball can be special, meaningful, and even heartwarming.  After Boesch doubled in the ninth to put the tying run on second base, however, I had seen enough of the kid. Fucker can go to hell.

May 17, 2010 - Dodgers 6, Astros 2
Ely not smelly (I mean he doesn't stink)

When it was announced a few weeks ago that someone named John Ely would be making a start for the Dodgers out of desperation, I wrote something to the effect of you and your mom being next on the Dodgers’ list.  Well, if your mom can face 84 consecutive batters without walking anyone, that bitch can pitch.

Ely, making his fourth career start, pitched seven innings and allowed just five hits while striking out eight (granted, eight Astros).  And most impressively, of course, Ely walked no one.  All told, he’s walked just three in 25 innings. (To compare, Clayton Kershaw has walked 213 guys in 45 innings.)

The Dodgers had an equally tough time against Wandy Rodriguez. Thanks only to a lousy call from the second base umpire, the Dodgers scored three in the first inning and went on to beat Houston, 6-2. Casey Blake had a clutch (accidental) double, and Blake DeWitt tripled twice off the glove of Astros right fielder Hunter Pence (who frankly should have caught both balls).

The victory is the Dodgers’ eighth in a row and keeps them two games back of the inevitably-soon-to-self-destruct San Diego Padres. Love the Padres fans who think they’re the best team to ever play the game. Give it another month and they’ll all be wearing Dodger hats again. Idiots.

(By the way, I think just spent a half hour searching Google for the perfect picture of soap. And you wonder why I don't write more often?)

May 4, 2010 - Brewers 11, Dodgers 6
Dodgers can't overcome Kershaw spanking

The thousands of fans who were at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday evening to see the Dodger debut of journeyman utility infielder Nick Green didn’t have to wait long. Green, taking Rafael Furcal’s spot on the roster, pinch hit for the Dodgers’ pitcher in the bottom of the third inning. Their second pitcher, that is. Their first, Clayton Kershaw, well… he didn’t do so well. One and a third innings, seven earned runs, two walks, and two hit batters. Ramon Ortiz picked up right where Kershaw left off (and right where you’d expect Ortiz to pick up), immediately giving up a base hit and 2-run homer. End of the second inning, 9-0 Brewers.

Down 10-0 in the fifth, the Dodgers decided it was time to play good fundamental baseball, using two sacrifices flies to cut the Brewers’ lead to eight. Over the first month of the season, the Dodgers had a total of nine sac flies. Down by ten runs, they get two.

Thanks to four late-inning RBIs from James Loney the game ended with a somewhat less embarrassing 11-6 score, and if you look at the bright side, at least Ramon Troncoso got the night off.

April 24, 2010 - Dodgers 4, Nationals 3
Monasterios answers Dodgers' prayers

Having a Dodger reliever pitch three scoreless innings would seem like an impossibility these days—especially if that reliever is a kid only on the roster because the Dodgers don’t want to give him back to the Phillies. (Ok, that wasn’t the prettiest grammar, but after blowing more than four hours of my Saturday, I could give two shits.) Carlos Monasterios, seldom used despite the bullpen’s frequent work in April, became the Dodgers’ seventh pitcher on Saturday afternoon in Washington DC… and if the game had gone 23 innings, you got the feeling he would have still been out there. Monasterios, brought into the game in a questionable two-for-one switch in the 11th inning that saw Matt Kemp taken out, ended up getting eight outs and escaped a nasty jam in the 13th to pick up a well-deserved win.

Adding a clean inning and a third from George Sherrill, it was nice to see the bullpen finally come through… especially since the Troncoso/Broxton combo failed the Dodgers in the eighth inning. Can’t imagine why Ramon Troncoso doesn’t have much in his arm these days. Oh, that’s right, maybe it has something to do with the fact that he’s been in every game.

Anyway, the win gets the Dodgers to within a game of .500, a place they should become very familiar with this season.

April 18, 2010 - Dodgers 2, Giants 1
Manny pops Zito's gem

It’s late in the game and the Dodgers need right-handed power off the bench. Who do they turn to? Well, it’s slim pickings this season… that is, unless Manny Ramirez happens to be sitting there with a tight calf. He loosened it in a hurry Sunday, depositing a pinch homer into the left field pavilion and lifting the Dodgers to a 2-1 victory over San Francisco.

Until the eighth inning Sunday, the Dodgers looked much like they did on Saturday—shitty. Dodger hitters made Barry Zito look like the Barry Zito of old (like Oakland A’s old), getting just three hits off the lefty for the first seven innings. Clayton Kershaw matched him, though, until Juan Uribe went yard in the seventh. (Kershaw ended up striking out nine—just shy of the seventeen I predicted in the first inning).

Down 1-0 in the eighth, Garret Anderson worked a one-out walk, marking the end for Barry Zito and setting the stage for Manny. Sadly for Joe Torre he couldn’t turn to Russ Ortiz in the ninth, so he was forced to go with Jonathan Broxton, who retired the Giants in order for the victory. The win evens the Dodgers’ record at 6-6 and was enjoyable enough that I might actually watch another game this week.

April 12, 2010
Ned's dyslexic twin running for office

A week into the season, there haven't been too many surprises for the Dodgers. Their pitching sucks, they're fundementally challenged, and Brad Ausmus is really old. Perhaps the only surprise is the one that my wife stumbled upon near the 10 Freeway and Overland: Ned Colletti's dyslexic twin is running for California State Assembly. While Ed Nicoletti's web site makes no mention of his brother Ned, Ed's campaign issues do include "jobs" (like giving ones to Vicente Padilla and Russ Ortiz), "balancing the budget" (letting Randy Wolf go elsewhere) and "illegal immigration" (Kim Ng).

Ned's secret twin aside, the Dodgers home opener is Tuesday. Andre Ethier will pretend like he's healthy, Manny Ramirez will act like he's excited to be in LA, and Clayton Kershaw will try to prove that he's more like Sandy Koufax and less like Sandy Duncan—no relation to Mariano, kids. More importantly, the Dodgers and Levy Restaurants will be unveiling a new menu—which includes a 12-pound pretzel.

April 5, 2010 - Pirates 11, Dodgers 5
Beginning of the end

I remember the days when I’d record the Dodgers' opening game, rush home in the afternoon, watch the whole pregame show, never fast-forward a second of the game (in fact, rewinding it occasionally)...

Well, those days are long gone. After taking a leisurely dump and taking my time making dinner (ok, watching my wife make dinner) I think I blew through today's game in about an hour—long enough, though, to already be annoyed by Eric Collins and completely disgusted by the Dodgers. They actually led for a couple minutes, but of course that was before Vicente Padilla took the mound. As soon as Garrett Jones went river on Padilla, I went to 2x fast-forward. After watching Russell Martin make an error and then trying to advance to third with a ground ball hit in front of him, I went to 3x fast-forward. I’ve got to say, at that speed Blake DeWitt didn't look so bad overrunning a pop fly by twenty feet. By the time George Sherrill gave up a 3-run bomb in the bottom of the eighth, I was speeding by so quickly that I thought David Wells was back with the Dodgers.

Pirates 11, Dodgers 5. Fantastic.

April 4, 2010
2010 Predictions

April 8 – Jamey Carroll gets punched in the face by Ramon Troncoso after calling him Ortiz. “Let's be honest, I had like a 50% chance of being right,” Carroll would later explain… while icing his lip.

April 12 – Jonathan Broxton blows his fourth save in a row, offering this explanation afterwards: “I really never expected us to be ahead in the ninth inning… especially four days in a row.”

April 14 – Brad Ausmus turns 60.

May 1 – Garrett Anderson retires after going hitless in April.

May 2 – Garrett Anderson comes out of retirement to sign with the Angels.

May 16 – Manny Ramirez hits his first home run of the season (if you count the inside-the-park version as an actual home run).

May 29 – The Dodgers win their third game in a row, a nice change after losing the previous twelve.

June 4 – In court papers, Jamie McCourt claims she owns the 110 Freeway.

June 5 – Frank McCourt issues a statement surmising that Jamie’s claim of freeway ownership is based solely on the fact that she once got double-teamed in the back of a van parked on the Sunset Boulevard off-ramp.

June 6 – “Actually, it was twice,” says Jamie.

June 25 – Manny Ramirez hits his second home run of the season.  “Locked in now,” he tells reporters.

June 29 –Rafael Furcal is arrested after leaving the scene of an accident in Silverlake. “I’m confused,” he tells officers, “They always tell me to hit and run, and now no?”

July 13 – On behalf of angry Dodger fans who haven’t had an All-Star game in 30 years but get to watch that shithole in Anaheim host its second game in 20 years, Blake DeWitt, the team’s sole representative for the 2010 game, boycotts pre-game festivities.

July 29 – Ned Colletti acquires George Sherrill just before the trading deadline. When told that Sherrill is already on the team, Colletti scratches his head and mumbles something about having already promised Matt Kemp to Baltimore.

August 11 – Brad Ausmus turns 61.

August 19 – After Hiroki Kuroda is left in to give up 13 runs, Dodger coaches discover that Joe Torre is nowhere to be found. “Actually, haven’t seen him since the All-Star break,” says Larry Bowa.

September 2 – Having made it to September without tipping the scales above 230, Ronnie Belliard celebrates with a hot fudge intravenous drip.  

September 10 – Manny Ramirez hits his third home run of the year. The fan in Mannywood cheers.

September 22 – With the Dodgers mathematically eliminated from postseason play, Chad Billingsley lets out a sigh of relief.

September 29 – Randy Wolf leads the Brewers to a 6-0 victory over the Mets, ending the season with a 23-5 record.

October 3 – During the top of the ninth inning, Vin Scully announces his retirement. Three million gunshots immediately follow.

April 1, 2010
Dodger Blues is evolving...

Turns out I have something in common with Ned Colletti: we each put very little effort into the offseason.  And the reason is pretty much the same, too: the McCourt’s fiasco. Of course, the fact that I’ve been working ridiculous hours also probably has a little to do with my absence.  And I don’t see it getting much better. When it comes down to it, I just don’t have the time anymore to spend three hours a day watching a game, another hour writing about it, and another half hour Photoshopping something that’s only going be up there for a day—especially when I don’t make a cent off the site.

So here’s my plan (and it's not an April Fools joke): Twitter. As much as the whole concept of Twitter makes me kind of ill (ok, very ill), I think it’s my ticket to keeping the site alive—and keeping my sanity. I figure I’ll post some comments during a game, or while I’m in a meeting, or when I’m at Baja Fresh and Ronald Belisario hands me my Burrito Ultimo. If something inspires me to write more than 140 characters, I’ll post it on DB like I’ve been doing for the last eight years. And who knows, maybe I’ll actually have the time to revive dead features like Look-Alikes—or actually open an email.

I want to thank everyone who has religiously (or occasionally) read DB over the years, and hopefully the new format—however it ends up evolving—will continue to serve up some laughs. If not, you can kiss my ass.

March 14, 2010
You ever hang around a gymnasium?

So, three weeks to go until Opening Day… and I’m still locked in my winter slumber. I don’t know what to say—I guess the competition between Charlie Haeger and Russ Ortiz just isn’t enough to stimulate me. Go figure.

Truth be told, the only reason I’m writing tonight is because Peter Graves died. What that has to do with the Dodgers (other than Graves living in LA) I have no idea, but I figure I should at least give the guy as much ink as Ronald Belisario—God knows, he’s brought me much more joy. I was five years old when Airplane! hit the theaters, although I’m guessing I probably didn’t see it until I was eight or nine. By the time I was in junior high, I had probably spent more time watching Airplane! then I had spent doing homework. Many of the jokes were probably lost on me for awhile (the girl who takes her coffee black, like her men… I thought her men took their coffee black, too) but I could certainly appreciate “We have clearance Clarence,”  “Roger,  Roger.  What’s our vector, Victor?” and “Give me Hamm on 5, hold the Mayo.” Still goddamn funny.

Of course, you can’t talk about Captain Clarence Oveur without thinking of the Four Questions—no, not the Jewish ones asked at a Passover seder. I’m talking about the Four Questions that Captain Oveur asked Joey in the cockpit:

  • Have you ever seen a grown man naked?
  • You ever hang around a gymnasium?
  • Do you like movies about gladiators?
  • You ever been in a Turkish prison?

I guess you can’t give Peter Graves credit for the script, but Christ man, the guy spoke those lines with fucking perfection. Let’s just hope that on his last night, Peter Graves didn’t have fish for dinner.

Speaking of obituaries, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention a couple of other passings: Willie Davis and Brian Giles. (For Giles, of course, it was only his career that passed.) And speaking of careers passing, Eric Gagne has allowed eight hits and struck out one in 2 2/3 innings. Au revoir, Monsieur Gagne.

February 20, 2010
Keeping up with the Colletti

Rumor has it that pitchers and catchers report to camp this weekend. Well isn’t that special.

(Note: After a couple months of hibernation, I decided to test myself and see if my interest in the Dodgers had returned. Since that’s what came out in the first two sentences, I’m guessing the answer is no… but I’ll continue anyway.)

While it doesn’t seem like I’ve missed much, allow me to summarize the last few months of Dodger news (mainly for my own benefit—after all, if I’m going to act like I know what the fuck is going on, I suppose I should know what the fuck is going on).

  • Mark Loretta retired. Heartbreaking.
  • In a series of ‘F you’s’ to Blake DeWitt, the Dodgers signed free agent second baseman Jamey Carroll, resigned Ronnie Belliard (to a deal that includes a fatty clause), and signed Alfredo Amezaga to a minor league deal.
  • Apparently trying to light a fire under Rafael Furcal’s ass—with a couple of twigs and a wet match—the Dodgers signed shortstops Angel Berroa and Nick Green to minor league deals.
  • The Dodgers will pay Juan Pierre $10 million over the next two years—not to play for them. (Hopefully for Juan, he’ll be throwing the ball into the Chicago wind.)
  • Replacing Pierre as the Dodgers’ fourth outfielder is Reed Johnson, who signed a one-year deal. Huge difference maker.
  • Should Johnson not live up to his enormous potential, the Dodgers can turn to Brian Giles, who they’ve invited to spring training—as a coach, perhaps?
  • Vicente Padilla, with his shotgun wound fully healed, will be returning to the Dodgers for $5 million plus incentives.  (It’s not incentive enough to know that some team is stupid enough to pay you $5 million?)
  • The Dodgers avoided arbitration with Andre Ethier, Jonathan Broxton, and Matt Kemp, signing each to 2-year deals. (By the way, do you realize that Broxton is still just 25 years old? Can you imagine the size of him at 38?)
  • J.D. Closser fans had better make plans to see him in Arizona. The backup catcher signed a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training—but apparently he’ll be backing up the backup: Brad Ausmus, who also signed a new contract.
  • Greg Gagne, who graced the City of Los Angeles with his presence at shortstop for two seasons in the 90s, was elected to the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame.
  • Apparently pinched because Frank McCourt is still paying his sons—who don’t even work for the team—a combined $600,000, Ned Colletti has “improved” the Dodgers pitching staff by inviting Jeff Weaver, Luis Ayala, Josh Towers, Ramon Ortiz, Russ Ortiz, and probably a few other Ortizes to spring training.
  • Doug Mientkiewicz was also invited to spring training, and he probably has about as much chance of being the Dodgers’ fifth starter as anyone else.
  • Casey Blake shaved his beard.
  • Hoping to make a good impression this spring, Jason Repko reported to spring training on New Years Day.
  • Hoping to offend the last few people on Earth who she hasn’t offended yet, Jamie McCourt has filed papers requesting that her monthly support from Frank be increased to $988,845.
  • Joe Torre wants to manage the Dodgers through the 2011 season.
  • Oh, and Eric Gagne has been invited to spring training so he can relive the glory. (Hopefully he has a dealer in Glendale, Arizona, because I'd love to see him succeed.)

December 4, 2009
For me, it's check-out time

The last time I wrote anything here was in late October, almost a month and a half ago. The Dodgers had just been dismissed by the Phillies and the McCourt’s saga had just publicly begun. The next day it was revealed that Jamie McCourt was having an affair with her driver, soon after Jamie filed paperwork requesting $467,634 a month in spousal support, and a couple weeks after that Frank announced that his personal bank account was down to a measly $167,000. In between, Matt Kemp and Orlando Hudson won Gold Gloves, Vicente Padilla shot himself while "hunting," the prices of some tickets were raised, Manny Ramirez decided not to exercise the escape clause in his contract (surprise), and the Dodgers decided not to offer arbitration to any of their free agents—meaning they get no draft picks should those free agents sign elsewhere.

I didn’t write about any of that because frankly, I just don’t give a shit. The team’s loss to Philadelphia in the NLCS, coupled with the obnoxious and juvenile behavior of the McCourts, has completely sapped me of my interest in the Dodgers. Maybe I just need a break, and maybe I’ll get into it again as Spring Training approaches… or maybe not. I don’t know, something feels different this winter. Maybe it’s knowing that the Dodgers aren’t putting any money into the team, maybe it’s the realization that you can’t believe a goddamn thing coming out of anyone’s mouth in the front office, or maybe I just have other things in my life that are more meaningful—like mopping the floor.

The Dodgers will pretty much be the same team in 2010 that they were in 2009—but with an even more random patchwork of starting pitchers—so it’s not as if they’ll be terrible. Which is exactly the problem. When the season doesn’t start for another four months and the best you can say is, “well, they probably won’t be awful,” that’s pretty fucking depressing. At least in offseasons past you’d have some hope that they’d make a key signing or two that would put them over the top. This year, not only is there no hope of that, but there’s barely any hope that the focus will even be on baseball. The McCourt’s divorce has crippled the organization, and what happens in the courtroom is now more important to those in the front office than what happens on the field. Until the focus is back on the field, I’m not interested.

October 22, 2009 - Frank 1, Jamie 0
And the gloves are off...

After a long season and an emotionally draining October, I was excited to spend a few days away from my keyboard. No such luck. Less than 24 hours after I finished writing about the final nail in the Dodgers’ coffin, I see this news: Jamie McCourt has been fired—by her husband. I swear to God, only the fucking Dodgers.

The firing, of course, is just the beginning. Jamie McCourt isn’t going away. She was the highest ranking woman in baseball, she’s lovey-dovey with the mayor of Los Angeles, and now she has the most important thing: motivation. According to the LA Times, she’s searching for investors in an effort to buy out the old man, and if that doesn’t work, don’t be surprised if she leaks photos of him in compromising positions with Roger the Peanut Man. You know some shit is going to come out, and you know it’s not going to be pretty. The pink slip given to Jamie? Let’s just say it’s probably not the only “pink slip” that’s been exchanged, if you know what I mean.

Then there’s the Dodgers—you know, the team on the field? Frank McCourt insists that the uncertainty of his personal situation isn’t going to affect the team’s direction this offseason, but if you believe that, I have Loge Level tickets to Game 4 of the World Series I’d like to sell you. What’s sad about the timing of all this is that the Dodgers really aren’t missing a whole lot as a team. If they only added a #1 starter this offseason, how much better would they suddenly become? Instead, though, Ned will be bargain hunting and Frank will be hoping someone else gets busted for steroid use so he can save a few million… while he buys another beach house.

October 21, 2009 - Phillies 10, Dodgers 4 (NLCS Game 5)
10-4, over and out

I suppose it’s apropos that in the city known for the Liberty Bell, the Dodgers finally granted their fans independence. Dodger fans are now free to go out to dinner on a Saturday evening, free to get a good night’s sleep, free to actually smile.

If you’re one of those Dodger fans who was hoping the series came back to LA, let me let you in on something: the Dodgers just did you a huge favor. You think watching the Dodgers blow a bases loaded opportunity in the eighth inning of Game Five down by six runs in Philadelphia was hard? Try a one-run game at Dodger Stadium on Friday with thoughts of a Game Seven dancing in your little head. We don’t need that. We don’t need to be strung along any further. (Further or farther? Ah, who gives a F?)

We also definitely don’t need to see any more of Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino. Werth had three hits, including two home runs, and knocked in 4 RBIs. Victornio went 2-for-4, including a home run and 3 RBIs. Dodger pitching was horrendous, giving up eight hits, walking four, and hitting three batters. Vicente Padilla’s run of luck came to an end abruptly in the first inning, and Clayton Kershaw, Hong Chih Kuo, and Ronald Belisario all gave up runs in relief.

The blame, of course, is kindly shared by the offense. Rafael Furcal hit .143 in the NLCS. Casey Blake, .105 with two total bases. Russell Martin and Matt Kemp hit .250, Kemp striking out 8 times. Manny Ramirez had a sorry OBP of .300… although I guess that’s not terrible considering he spent much of the series in the shower.

The Dodgers had the best record in baseball for most of the season, but for the second year in a row a sweep in the NLDS led to just a single victory in the League Championship Series. As far as I’m concerned, that’s failure. The Dodgers can trot out their Division Champion banners or whatever next season, but you’ll have to forgive me if I don’t wet my underpants.

On a personal note, thanks for reading the site this season. I was hoping it would be my last, but the Dodgers didn't want to cooperate. Oh well, at least I can make another $17 in advertising revenue again next year. That should cover the cost of my subscription to the Rick Honeycutt Quarterly.

October 19, 2009 - Phillies 5, Dodgers 4 (NLCS Game 4)
Déjà blue: Broxton melts under pressure

That’s it. I’m pretty sure I’m done. I’ve been a Dodger fan for 34 ½ years, but I don’t think I can take anymore of this shit. I understand that no team out there wins all the time, but there’s got to be a team out there that won’t skull fuck me every season. If the Dodgers want to lose like little pussies, fine, but don’t dangle a nice cold In-N-Out chocolate milkshake in front of me and then spill it over the ground as soon as I reach out for it. I don’t even know what the fuck that means—I'm irate. Here’s what I do know: Jonathan Broxton had better learn how to throw 150 miles an hour because that’s the only way he’s going to get a fastball right down the fucking middle past a major league hitter.

After yesterday’s blowout and a Philadelphia two-run first inning on Monday, I had readily accepted a series defeat. I wasn’t happy about it, but I could handle it. Then a terrible thing happened: the Dodgers took a 4-2 lead. Soon, that became a one-run lead, and then came three nail-biting innings—along with a bizarre strike zone. When Jonathan Broxton walked Matt Stairs on four pitches in the ninth, though, I should have just turned off the TV. Or just smashed it with a goddamn crow bar. I’d much rather have been pulling shards of glass out of my bloody neck than watching what was about to unfold on the field. A hit batter, a bloop out, and then Jimmy Rollins. Within seconds, the game went from being a nail-biter to me wanting to bite off my finger, feed it to a lion, and then find a way to give myself mercury poisoning. I want to cry. I want to throw up. I want a goddamn lap dance. I want something to make the pain go away. I want to go camping in the middle of the fucking desert, ignore Game 5, and then return home to a life without baseball, without Matt Stairs, and without Pinkberry.

Let’s face it, the Phillies are a superior team. And the Dodgers completely failed themselves. What were the Dodgers’ strengths during the season? Their offense and relief pitching. What failed them in the series? Their offense and relief pitching. Well, and their starting pitching, too, with the exception of Vicente Padilla (who should just be pitching all nine innings of every game). Frankly, I'm not too hot on Joe Torre right now either. Against the potent Phillies' lineup, you leave Randy Wolf in the game to bat for himself with runners in scoring position and two outs in the top of the 6th?

Seriously, though, how in the name of Broxton's fastball is it friggin’ possible for the Dodgers to lose Game 4 of the NLCS two consecutive years in almost the same way with almost the same cast of characters with the same series scenario? Well, I’m not falling for this shit again. I’m not a young boy anymore. This isn’t good for my health. It’s not good for the health of everyone around me. It’s not good for the dude across the street whose windshield I just smashed with my penis.

Is it really too much to ask to have a good thing happen to the Dodgers occasionally? I mean, the people of L.A. turn out in record numbers to watch the team, the stadium is beautiful, the payroll is pretty plump. Why not the Dodgers?

I don't know the answer to that.... but I'm done. Until Wednesday. And then I'm really done. Until spring. (What, am I going to miss Vinny's last season?)

October 18, 2009 - Phillies 11, Dodgers 0 (NLCS Game 3)
Dodgers get their Phil—anally

Well, not sure what there is to say about that one. Hiroki Kuroda didn't make it out of the second inning, Cliff Lee gave up just three hits, and the Phillies humiliated the Dodgers, 11-0. Chad Billingsley and Ronald Belisario each gave up runs in relief, but by that time it didn't matter. The damage was done long before Chip Caray could make love on the air to Carlos Ruiz. Kuroda, making his first appearance in 20 days, wasn't sharp. (Gee, go figure.) After retiring Jimmy Rollins to start the first inning, Kuroda gave up two singles, a triple, and a home run. In the second inning, Kuroda gave up two doubles before being pulled.

Were it not for a Philadelphia error on Friday, the Phillies would be going for the series sweep on Monday. The Dodgers have managed just eight hits and two runs over the last two games, and apparently can't win without gifts from their opponent. Maybe the Dodgers can figure out how to hit more balls to Chase Utley.

October 16, 2009 - Dodgers 2, Phillies 1 (NLCS Game 2)
Dodgers get by with a little help from their friends

Just the sight of The Backstreet Boys walking onto the field to sing the national anthem Friday afternoon was enough to make me regurgitate a little bit of my first Dodger Dog. Watching Pedro Martinez for the next seven innings didn’t improve my digestive system. In what seemed like a final “f you” to the Dodgers, Pedro threw seven shutout innings, allowing just two hits and making the Dodgers look foolish. The only action came in the fourth inning when Kobe Bryant joined Frank McCourt and Tommy Lasorda behind home plate. Despite being given a towel, a bottle of water, and a Dodgers cap, Kobe started profusely sweating. No word on whether it was the scorching sun, the importance of the game, or the heat emanating from Tommy’s belly.

As Pedro blanked the Dodgers, Vicente Padilla matched him—aside from a bad pitch to Ryan Howard. Hey, if Padilla can just keep the Dodgers within a run, I said at the time, anything can happen. (I didn’t actually believe myself.) But then it happened.

The Phillies, of course, did the Dodgers three huge favors. The first came in the top of the eighth when Charlie Manuel pinch hit for Pedro Martinez. The second came in the bottom of the eighth when Chan Ho Park and Ryan Howard were unable to reach a bunt from Ronnie Belliard, putting Dodgers on first and second with nobody out. The third favor came out of Chase Utley’s hand and landed against the stands, allowing pinch-runner Juan Pierre to score and Russell Martin to reach first. After a Jim Thome single, a Rafael Furcal walk, about a dozen pitching changes, and a great at-bat by Andre Ethier, the Dodgers were suddenly up 2-1. In came Broxton, down went the top of the Philadelphia lineup, and the series was tied.

Obviously, the Phillies’ mistakes opened the door for the Dodgers, but I suppose you have to give the Dodgers credit for taking advantage of the opportunities. They did it in the ninth inning of NLDS Game 2, they did it yesterday (to no avail), and they did it again Friday. And if I'm giving credit where credit is due, how about Padilla? Dude pitched his ass off. To all those Texas Rangers fans who’ve been rubbing in Andruw Jones’ 17 home runs: How you like them apples? (I actually don't know any Texas Rangers fans, and I'm pretty sure they don't eat apples in Texas, but whatever.) Huge game.

October 15, 2009 - Phillies 8, Dodgers 6 (NLCS Game 1)
Nine innings, four hours, one big mistake

When a nine inning game takes four hours to play, you know it was interesting. Too bad we’re not going for interesting. In a game that saw the Dodgers get fourteen hits and have their best showing against Cole Hamels, there were two failures on the field that certainly contributed to the Phillies’ victory: (1) the failure of the Dodgers’ offense to get the big hit, and (2) the failure of the Dodgers’ pitching staff to keep the game within reach. That was on the field. In the dugout there was another failure—an even bigger one.

We can talk about how the Dodgers left guys on base (ten, to be exact) or about how George Sherrill picked a fine time to have the worst game of his Dodger career (two walks, and then a home run), but the game was lost in the fifth inning when Joe Torre mistook Clayton Kershaw for Sandy Koufax. The Phillies had just scored three runs—on a single, walk, and home run—and then Kershaw lost it. He walked the pitcher Hamels, threw two wild pitches (making it three for the inning—an NLCS record), and walked Chase Utley. Up steps Ryan Howard. And Joe Torre stands still in the dugout. Look, I’m totally on board with starting a 21-year-old who’s coming off a great game, but if you’re going to do that, you had better be ready to pull the kid when he loses it. Torre wasn’t. And Howard doubled in two runs. If you're the manager, there's a lot you can't control. But you can control who pitches and when it's time for them not to pitch anymore. Instead of a 3-1 defecit, it was a 5-1 deficit. That was the game right there.

The Dodgers rallied back in the fifth and in the eighth, but both efforts came up short. In the fifth, the Dodgers made the most of two Philadelphia mistakes—a botched double-play ball and one too many breaking balls to Manny—and in the eighth put together a few hits and a sac fly to score two, but the inning ending on a ground out by Manny.

In between those rallies, the Dodgers loaded the bases in the sixth inning with two outs. And apparently Torre was still out to lunch. As a crippled Jim Thome stood at first with a walk, Torre looked around the dugout as if he had just been told for the first time that Thome can’t run. Finally, with time called, Randy Wolf ran back to the clubhouse to put his spikes on. Holy fucking Christ, man—it’s Game 1 of the friggin’ NLCS, you’ve got an invalid pinch-hitter (who shouldn’t be on the roster, but that’s another conversation), and you never considered telling your potential pinch-runner to, oh, maybe have some goddamn shoes in the dugout? Wow.
 
So the Dodgers leave the stadium with their heads down, while former Dodgers Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth, Chan Ho Park, and Pedro Martinez are partying it up. Ok, maybe not Pedro, who‘s getting his beauty sleep in preparation for his inevitable shutout against the Dodgers on Friday. And maybe not Victorino, who's probably sitting at his locker attacking his Russell Martin voodoo doll. And maybe not Chan Ho, who’s busy growing the thickest beard I’ve ever seen on an Asian. But Werth, definitely partying it up. Terrific.

October 14, 2009
Separation anxiety

As if there wasn’t enough for a Dodger fan to think about on the eve of the NLCS, there was this news late Wednesday night: the McCourts are separating. Want more? How about this: If the Dodgers win the World Series, I’m retiring Dodger Blues.

Ok, one thing at a time. The separation. While it comes as a shock, I guess maybe it shouldn’t be as they haven’t been seen together too often this season. I chalked that up to disagreements over Juan Castro’s playing time, but apparently there’s more to it than that. I think the timing of the announcement is peculiar, but I’m willing to respect their privacy and not speculate about who will live in which Malibu beach house. Like any couple, they have the right to privacy—that is, until their situation starts interfering with the relative stability of the Dodgers organization, and there’s only a matter of time before that happens.

In the more immediate future, another marriage may come to an end—that between DB and me. Eight more victories this postseason and I’m calling it quits. Seriously. I’ve put eight years into the site, given it my all, and if the Dodgers give it their all, I’m more than willing to trade the fruits of my labor for a World Championship. Because Dodger Blues has always been an outlet for my frustration—the Gibson counter documenting the duration of that frustration—I think it would be disingenuous to keep the site alive with the Dodgers on top of the baseball world.

Now that I’ve said that, of course, they’ll probably get swept by the Phillies in four games and I’ll be stuck doing this fucking site for another decade.

October 10, 2009 - Dodgers 5, Cardinals 1 (NLDS Game 3)
We've got Busch!

A week ago, we were all talking about the Dodgers’ collapse—their lack of energy, their failure to hit in the clutch, their inability to clinch the West. Now, we’re talking about a sweep of the Cardinals in the NLDS. Bizarre.

Even more bizarre is the fact that the guy who led them to their Game 3 win was released by another team just two months ago—and had swine flu. Making Ned Colletti look like a genius (obviously a difficult task), Vicente Padilla pitched seven innings, giving up just four hits and a walk. After escaping a bases loaded jam in the first inning, Padilla completely shut down the Cardinals, allowing only a couple of baserunners and keeping the normally high-spirited fans in St. Louis sitting on their freezing cold hands. With a run in the first (driven in by Manny?), two more in the third (another HR from Andre Ethier—one of his three extra base hits), a run in the fourth (on a two-out hit by Rafael Furcal), and one more in the seventh (Manny again, really?), the Dodgers’ five-spot was more than enough for Padilla, George Sherrill, and Jonathan Broxton.

Even already leading the series by two games, winning Game 3 was big for the Dodgers. First, it means they don’t have to see Chris Carpenter or Adam Wainwright again. Second, they don’t have to risk disaster with Chad Billingsley or John Garland. And third, I don’t have to listen to Dick Stockton anymore.
 
It’s no secret the Dodgers haven’t played well against the Cardinals in, oh, about fifteen years, so the sweep should also build their confidence. Only problem is they don’t play again for five days—plenty of time to lose their confidence. It’s also plenty of time for Clayton Kershaw to tear a ligament playing a video game, for Andre Ethier to discover ticks in his hair, or for Mark Loretta to realize that he actually sucks. See you on the 15th.

October 8, 2009 - Dodgers 3, Cardinals 2 (NLDS Game 2)
Holliday season comes early in L.A.

There are two reasons why I’m writing this almost five hours after Game Two ended on Thursday evening. The first reason is that I recorded the game at home and somehow managed to get through the afternoon at work without knowing the score (probably because I threatened the lives of my co-workers). The second reason is that right now, about a half hour after I finished watching the game, I’m still not quite sure I believe what I saw.

Did Matt Holliday really try to catch a game-ending fly ball in the ninth inning with his vagina? Was that James Loney who was actually running it out and ended up on second base? Did Casey Blake manage to shake off a terrible strike call and then foul off about four pitches before eventually walking? Did Ronnie Belliard—who earlier in the game was swinging like a blindfolded kid trying to bust open a piñata—get a base hit to tie the game? Did Russell J. Martin walk on four pitches? And did Mark Loretta—who was 0-for15 against Ryan Franklin—really manage to fist an 0-1 pitch into centerfield to win the goddamn game? Oh, and did I mention that the rally started with two outs, nobody on, and the Cardinals one strike away from heading to St. Louis with the series tied?

Until the Cardinals’ defense broke down in the bottom of the ninth, the game was entirely on the mound. Adam Wainwright didn’t allow a baserunner until Andre Ethier homered in the fourth inning, and Clatyon Kershaw proved that he belongs on the hill in a big game, working out of a couple jams to limit St. Louis to two runs over 6-2/3 innings. The Dodger bullpen—helped in the eighth inning by an inning-ending catch in the gap from Matt Kemp—was flawless again.

Before the miracle ninth inning, the Dodgers really only had one look at the game, and that was with two outs in the eighth and the bases loaded. Kemp got jammed, however, and that was that—the Dodgers continued their lousy hitting in the clutch (a pattern that was soon to end).

I’ve neglected to mention one thing, though: Manny Ramirez. That’s because once again, he contributed absolutely nothing… which should make the win even more satisfying for the Dodgers. They seem to be at their best when they can win without Manny, and so far, that’s what they’ve done. Of course, a little Holliday spirit hasn’t hurt either.

> If you only watched the TBS broadcast, it's worth hearing Scully call the ninth inning. Watch it here. I can't stop watching it.

October 7, 2009 - Dodgers 5, Cardinals 3 (NLDS Game 1)
Waste isn't toxic for Dodgers

As Matt Holliday walked to the plate with the bases loaded and nobody out in the top of the first inning on Wednesday night, I had already seen enough. I had yet to even bite into the disgusting Western Bacon Cheeseburger sitting on my lap, but I couldn’t stomach the thought of witnessing the Dodgers’ playoff hopes dashed in an instant. So I got up and went to the bathroom. With Vin Scully talking me through my pee, I heard Holliday strike out looking. As I struggled to pull a paper towel from a dispenser clearly infected with swine flu, I wondered what the hell I was doing in the bathroom during the first inning of the playoffs. I rushed back to my seat, vowed to myself that I wouldn’t get up for the next nine innings, and then watched Matt Kemp stare at Ryan Ludwick’s pop fly to shallow center as if was a little flaming meteor that shouldn’t be touched. The ball dropped in front of Kemp despite hanging in the air for, oh, about a minute and a half, and the Cardinals were up 1-0.

As I was busy cursing Kemp under my breath, however, Ronnie Belliard started a 4-6-3 double play and Randy Wolf was out of the inning. Officially, two Cardinals were left on base—setting the stage for the most wasteful NLDS game in history. In fact, we shouldn’t even be talking about guys left on base. It’s easier to tally the bases that were empty when an inning ended. For the Dodgers, this number was eight. That’s just a base per inning that the Dodgers left empty—a pretty gruesome stat. Which makes it all the more impressive that they actually came away with the victory.

Of course, it was Kemp’s home run in the bottom of the first that really turned the tables. After Rafael Furcal led off with a base hit, Kemp crushed Chris Carpenter’s third pitch of the game over the fence in center to give the Dodgers a 2-1 lead. Those were the only runs the Dodgers would actually score on a hit, the other three coming later on a sacrifice fly, an error, and a hit batter. The Dodgers thoughts on that? “We’ll take it!”

Between Kemp’s defense (including a ninth-inning blunder), Wolf’s pitching, the lack of clutch hitting, a rapidly declining Manny Ramirez, and a somewhat shaky ninth from Jonathan Broxton, the game certainly wasn’t pretty—but it was huge. The Dodgers hit Carpenter for the first time in his career, the Dodgers' bullpen picked up a struggling Randy Wolf, and Jim Thome actually worked a full count before striking out with the bases loaded.

More good news: It seemed like there were about a dozen arrests at the stadium during the game, so that’s twelve fewer fucks to ruin Thursday’s experience.

October 4, 2009 - Dodgers 5, Rockies 0
What do they want—a cookie?

So the Dodgers finally did it on Saturday night. A week into their quest to win a single game, to put a couple hits together, to avoid making any embarrassing mistakes on the bases, to not blow a ninth-inning lead, they did it. They beat Colorado 5-0, are officially best in the West, and will end the season with the best record in the National League.

Forgive me if I’m not getting the warm and fuzzies. For almost two weeks, the Dodgers have looked like shit. For four innings on Saturday, they didn’t have a baserunner. For six innings, they had just three hits. In the bottom of the seventh, they finally put it all together—and by “all together,” we’re talking about two walks, a misplayed grounder, and a couple of dunkers. And that was it. Obviously, it was enough to easily beat the Rockies, but it’s not enough to forget about how crappy they’ve been playing.  

I’m not saying the victory isn’t without merit. Manny Ramirez finally made contact (a couple innings after striking out looking with two guys on base), Clayton Kershaw had an impressive outing (striking out 10, including the first five batters of the game), and the win gives the Dodgers home field advantage in the playoffs (for whatever that’s worth). If Saturday’s victory (combined with a great first inning on Sunday) is enough to jumpstart the Dodgers, then great—but I’m hardly sold. I hope I’m wrong, but let’s face it, how often am I wrong?

October 2, 2009 - Rockies 4, Dodgers 3
Dodgers gone wild (card)

Sometimes you can blame a team’s collapse on inexperience. Sometimes you can blame a team’s collapse on off-the-field distractions. Sometimes you can blame a team’s collapse on injuries. In the case of the Dodgers, you can’t blame their collapse on any of those three things. Instead, you can blame it on these eight things: Rafael Furcal, Andre Ethier, Manny Ramirez, Matt Kemp, Casey Blake, Russell Martin, and Orlando Hudson. They’re not inexperienced, they’re not distracted, and they’re not hurt. They just suck balls at the moment—a very bad moment to suck balls. Together, they certainly form an intimidating lineup, one that carried the team much of the season. Unfortunately, though, the season isn’t 150 games long.

For much of Friday night’s game, the story was sadly the same as it’s been for almost two weeks: no offense. Through the first six innings, the Dodgers had just two hits. They loaded the bases in the third inning, and actually scored a run—on a wild pitch, of course. Manny Ramirez and Matt Kemp were no help, both striking out. It was Manny’s second strikeout of the game. It wasn’t his last. In fact, he’d strike out two more times, including in the bottom of the seventh with the Dodgers down by one and runners on first and second. When you see Manny swing through an 85-mph fastball down the middle, you know he’s got problems. Earlier in the game, he even forgot how many strikes he had. (How can he forget how many strikes he has when there are always two?) Way to get it together for a big game, Manny.

Meanwhile, you can’t be too happy with Ronald Belisario, who inherited a one-run deficit in the top of the seventh and proceeded to throw an 0-2 fastball down the middle to Troy Tulowitzki. I’ve never mentioned this, but doesn’t it kind of look like Belisario has a lot of teeth in his mouth—and they’re all a little too small?

Honestly, I don’t even know what to say anymore. Clearly the Rockies are going to win the West, and clearly the Dodgers won’t even know what hit them. By the time they realize, they’ll be eliminated from the first round of the playoffs… while Jim Tracy walks around Denver getting free BJs from Rockies fans.


September 30, 2009 - Padres 5, Dodgers 0
Totally flat, just like their champagne

With the Dodgers behind 4-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning Wednesday night, Joe Torre slowly made his way out to the mound. Instead of pulling Jon Garland from the game, though, would anyone have been surprised if Torre just pulled out a gun and shot himself in the head instead? If he had, maybe the game would have been cancelled on account of suicide and we wouldn’t have had to witness the Dodgers’ next play: a botched rundown. Actually, calling it a botched rundown makes it sound like there was just a dropped ball or a bad throw or something. I guess I called it a botched rundown because I’m not sure what to call it when your uber-Catholic third baseman locks his legs around the baserunner like a 3-year-old who doesn’t want his daddy to leave him alone with the housekeeper. Honestly, how the fuck do the Dodgers come up with this shit?

Each day, the Dodgers need just a win to clinch the Western Division. Each day, the Dodgers look worse than the day before.

In the first inning on Wednesday, the Dodgers left two guys on base. In the second inning, they went down on seven pitches. In the third inning, Orlando Hudson hit into a double play. In the fouth, Kemp hit into one. In the eighth and ninth, the final five Dodgers struck out—a replay of Tuesday night. All told, the Dodgers had a hit. One hit. Meanwhile, the mighty Padres scored five runs over the first four innings and made it look easy. It used to be easy for the Dodgers as well, but that was before they decided that they’re too talented, too good, and too cool to actually show any sense of urgency. Hell, forget about urgency—how about just looking like you fucking care?

The Dodgers now have three games left in the regular season—but only one chance to win the West. That chance is on Thursday when the Dodgers don’t play. That chance lies solely on the shoulders of the Milwaukee Brewers, who could beat the Rockies and hand the division to the Dodgers. If the Rockies win on Thursday, though, they sweep the Dodgers this weekend—guaranteed. And once that happens, the Dodgers lose home field advantage in the playoffs, lose whatever remnant of self confidence they still may have, and lose the right to ever, ever think that the goddamn world revolves around their swollen 0-for-4 heads.

September 27, 2009 - Pirates 6, Dodgers 5
Choking their way into the postseason

The Dodgers would like to tell you that Sunday’s loss didn’t mean anything… that they’ve already clinched a playoff spot… that there’s still a week of baseball to clinch the Western Division… that there’s no reason to get worked up. They’d like to tell you all this, but if they do, they’re full of shit. Sunday’s ninth-inning collapse to the hapless Pittsburgh Pirates is a killer. On top of some pathetic games against the Pirates and Nationals over the past week, Sunday’s loss is proof that the Dodgers’ tank has hit empty. Forget about having the best record in the league—If you can’t convincingly beat the Nationals and Pirates, what’s going to happen in the postseason? True, anything can happen in a five game series—which is exactly why having momentum going into the playoffs is hugely important. Unless the Dodgers find a way to wake themselves up over the next few days, they’re going into the postseason with NOmenutm.

So… Sunday’s game. First of all, the Pirates have the third highest team ERA in the league—and the Dodgers score just twice over the first eight innings. Scored twice, got picked off twice. Nice work. Apparently the Dodgers were waiting for the Pirates to break down and give them a few charity runs. To the Dodgers satisfaction this finally happened in the ninth inning. On three hits, a stupid throw to the plate, and an error, the Dodgers scored three. And then, with guys on second and third, Andre Ethier struck out on a pitch that bounced about three times before it got to the plate. Oh well, Dodgers are up by three, no worries.

Wrong. Many worries. From the first pitch Jonathan Broxton made, it was obvious he didn’t have it. He was taking too much time, wasn’t throwing strikes, and could barely even hit Russell Martin on an intentional walk pitch-out. A fielding mistake and throwing error from Rafael Furcal didn’t help matters, and suddenly the Pirates were down by two with the bases loaded. Enter Andre Ethier, fresh off his sexy strikeout. Base hit to right center, ball goes under Ethier’s glove, game over. Another walk-off for Andre. Oh, and did I mention that two of the Pirates’ hits in the ninth came off the bat of former Dodgers Delwyn Young and Andy LaRoche? For the Pirates, it was just their fifth win in the last twenty-nine games. For the Dodgers, well... eat me, you bastards.

September 23, 2009 - Nationals 5, Dodgers 4
Nats inspire Dodgers... to play like crap

Wait a second—which is the team with 99 losses? A day after pummeling the Nationals 14-2, the Dodgers turned around on Wednesday to lose sloppily to Washington, 5-4. Chad Billingsley failed to cover first (a mistake that would lead to three runs), Matt Kemp and Manny Ramirez let a ball drop between them in the eighth inning (leading to a run), the heart of the Dodgers left the bases loaded in the ninth, and Andre Ethier botched a fly ball to let the winning run score. I guess you watch a shitty team long enough and you forget how to play baseball.

For five innings, though, Billingsley remembered how to pitch. Trying to snap out of his well-documented funk, Billingsley didn’t allow a hit through the first 5-2/3 innings, striking out nine and walking four. Then came the pitch to Ryan Zimmerman. Three runs, tie game. I suppose it still has to be considered a success for Billingsley, who proved that he’s totally capable of pitching a few innings in the playoffs—if the Dodgers happen to face the Nationals, that is.

September 20, 2009 - Dodgers 6, Giants 2
Lincecum looks like a girl—and pitched like one on Sunday

If the Giants were going to make a last-minute run at the Wild Card, their hope certainly rested on the skinny shoulders of Tim Lincecum. The reigning Cy Young winner took the mound against the Dodgers on Sunday—and left the mound four innings later. Clearly distracted by little girls in the stands who looked just like him, Lincecum struck out only three and walked four—with two of the walks leading to runs. Andre Ethier hit a 2-run homer in the third inning, giving him 101 RBI, and the Dodgers got two more runs in the fourth on a single from Ronnie Belliard (who just happens to be playing in place of a guy who’s due to earn 10,000 for each plate appearance the rest of the season). After two walks to start the fifth inning, Lincecum was gone and the Dodgers were well on their way to their 90th victory.

The win puts the Dodgers 30 games above .500 for the first time in 24 years. That’s pee-in-my-pants exciting, but let’s flash back to that 1985 team with the 95-67 record. What happened in the NLCS? Yeah, Jack Clark happened. (Although at least the Dodgers had the starting pitching to keep them in the game until Tom Niedenfuer blew it, which is more than we can probably say for the Dodgers of today.) In all honesty, I’d really like to believe that the ’09 Dodgers can beat the Phillies or Cardinals... but I don’t believe it. I don’t know, maybe it has something to do with the fact that Clayton Kershaw is hurting, Hiroki Kuroda could faint at any minute, Chad Billingsley looks more like Chad Hermansen, Vicente Padilla looks like… well… Vicente Padilla, and knowing the Dodgers’ luck, Randy Wolf sprains his ankle this week while getting into the shower.

September 14, 2009 - Dodgers 6, Pirates 2
Some kids put on big league uniforms, lose to Dodgers

Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, Dave Parker, Kent Tekulve, Barry Bonds, Daniel McCutchen. Ok, maybe not. But how about Andrew McCutchen? Yeah, probably not him either. The McCutchen Brothers—about as close to being brothers as Bill Gates and  Fernando Valenzuela—didn’t quite have enough on Monday, as the Dodgers beat the Pirates, 6-2. Daniel (the white McCutchen) went five innings, giving up four runs on seven hits.

Jon Garland, meanwhile, escaped a jam in the first inning and then gave up two runs over the next five for his second win as a Dodger. Everyone in the Dodgers lineup had at least a hit, and everyone after the fifth spot had at least two—including two doubles from Orlando Hudson. Andre Ethier had the big blow, breaking a 2-2 tie with a 2-run homer in the bottom of the fifth. Maybe he’ll celebrate after the game by getting his hair cut. Or maybe the rest of the Dodgers will celebrate by tying him to a chair and slicing off those girly locks.

Monday’s win, coupled with Colorado’s loss, puts the Dodgers four games up in the West… which is just the right lead for Chad Billingsley to singlehandedly give away.

September 7, 2009 - Dodgers 7, Diamondbacks 2
Whaddya know—Dodgers have a pulse

After a putrid month of August and a completely uninspired series against the mighty Padres, the Dodgers certainly had something to prove on Monday: that they’re actually alive. Their 7-2 victory over Arizona was a step toward proving that—and a couple emotional outbursts were even more telling. After striking out on three pitches in the third inning, Manny Ramirez tossed his bat and helmet and had words for plate umpire Doug Eddings. Unless those words were, “Hey Doug, just play along so everyone thinks I actually care,” Ramirez’ frustration is actually a good thing.

So, too, is Russell Martin’s anger. Five months into the season, Martin is hitting .257 with just 4 home runs—a fifth of what he had two seasons ago. In the fourth inning on Monday, Martin was hit in the left shoulder with a pitch by Max Scherzer—two batters after Ronnie Belliard hit a home run. Martin stared at Scherzer (who probably wasn't throwing at him) as he walked toward first and then had words with the Diamondbacks’ pitcher after Vicente Padilla flied out to end the inning. Two innings later, Andre Ethier sent his own “F you” to Scherzer by trying to nail the pitcher at first base on a single to right.

Amazing what ten hits, three home runs, and some emotion will do for a team that’s down in the dumps. I don’t really understand why it’s taken them this long to show a little life, but with the Rockies on their ass, they’d best channel this energy into a sweep of Arizona. Anything less, and the Dodgers come away thinking that they can’t even beat last place teams. (Between you and me, they generally can’t beat last place teams, but at least they shouldn’t believe that.)

September 3, 2009 - Dodgers 4, Diamondbacks 2
Dodgers go nuts, score four

Always thinking of the fans, the Dodgers did something special for them on Thursday night: they scored four runs. In thirteen of the last twenty games, the Dodgers had scored three runs of fewer and bore little resemblance to the offensive powerhouse that they were during the first half of the season. On Thursday, though, they unleashed fury on the Diamondbacks, scoring one runs in the second inning and two more in the fourth. But they weren’t done there—they added another run in the sixth. Ronnie Belliard knocked in three and Manny Ramirez even joined the fun, hitting one over the centerfield fence.

In his first start as a Dodger, Jon Garland pitched seven innings to get the win. Facing his old teammates, Garland was a little shaky at the start, but settled down to retire the last 14 batters he faced. Must have been the good luck provided by Jeromy Burnitz’s old #21 jersey. Really can’t believe that hasn’t been retired by now.

The win extends the Dodgers’ lead over the Rockies to 5-1/2 and their lead over the Giants to 6-1/2. If they could just get the lead to seven games, they can stop caring again.

August 31, 2009 - Diamondbacks 4, Dodgers 3
Dodgers gain Jim and Jon, but George and James get jacked

I’ve been pretty busy the last few days, so maybe I missed something. Did the National League add the designated hitter? I can’t find anything on the internet about it, but how else would you explain the Dodgers getting a guy who hasn’t put on a glove in two seasons? That guy, of course, is Jim Thome. The 39-year-old designated hitter was acquired on Monday in exchange for minor league infielder Justin Fuller. I suppose it can’t hurt to have Thome’s bat coming off of the bench, and it should be nice for Manny Ramirez to know that there’s someone on the team who’s more inept with the glove and strikes out more often than him. Ned Colletti must have wet his friggin’ pants when he saw the memo from the White Sox announcing their garage sale.

The acquisition of Thome wasn’t the Dodgers’ only move. Pitcher Jon Garland, who entered the visitor’s clubhouse at Dodger Stadium on Monday afternoon, will leave through the Dodgers’ clubhouse Monday night. Garland was 8-11 with a 4.29 ERA, which ranks him… well… toward the bottom of the Dodgers’ staff. I guess I’d rather have Jon Garland on the mound instead of Charlie Haeger, but is Garland really the guy who’s going to make a difference in a five or seven game series? No, he’s not. And I guarantee you that whoever the Player to be Named Later is, he’ll burn the Dodgers in a couple years.

Actually, if the Player to be Named Later turns out to be James McDonald, any chance the league would rescind the home run he gave up in the 10th inning on Monday (after the trade was made)? The home run—coming on the heels of George Sherrill’s meat ball in the eighth inning—gave the Diamondbacks a 4-3 lead and the eventual win. Meanwhile, the Dodgers got a whopping five hits to support another strong start from Randy Wolf. Oh well, at least Jim Thome and Jon Garland should feel right at home since the Dodgers have all the energy of a fourth-place team.

August 27, 2009 - Dodgers 3, Rockies 2
Dodgers to Rockies: not so fast

The Dodgers may very well implode and before it’s all said and done, but apparently it won’t be this week. After seeing their lead in the West cut to two games on Tuesday, the Dodgers rebounded to win Wednesday and Thursday.

Thursday’s win was hardly convincing, but it was enough to keep Jim Tracy in his place (which is second place or preferably lower). Vicente Padilla made his Dodger debut, going five innings and giving up two earned runs. He didn’t hit anyone in the head, didn’t get in a fight, and didn’t infect any of his teammates with Swine Flu, so you’ve got to consider the day a success. It also means that the Dodgers probably won’t be picking up Brad Penny, who was released by the Red Sox on Thursday and continues the biggest career nosedive since Axel Rose. Hmmm… I wonder if Alyssa Milano dated Axel too.

Anyway, the day probably belonged to Rafael Furcal, who finally came through with a clutch hit in the sixth inning… and then missed a tag in the bottom of the ninth that allowed the potential winning run to reach base. Jonathan Broxton struck out Eric Young and Seth Smith to end it, however, so Furcal can sleep well knowing that he actually contributed in a positive way to the Dodgers’ season.

August 25, 2009 - Rockies 5, Dodgers 4
Rock bottom, coming soon

First off all, I’m somewhat inebriated so I can’t promise that any of what I’m about to write will make any sense. Hell, I couldn’t even spell the word ‘inebriated’ without using spellcheck. Anyway, my current state of sobriety make Tuesday’s extra-inning loss a lot more bearable. And by more bearable, I mean that instead of wanting to throw my body in front of a train, I’m only considering cutting off my own arms.

First of all, the Dodger offense is fucking putrid. Second, Joe Torre is a douche. Third, the fact that Jim Tracy, Joe Beimel, Matt Herges, and Eric Young’s son are just two games back of the Dodgers makes me want to throw up in a tortilla and eat it… which, of course, makes me want to throw up even more. Look, I don’t have a lot of patience right now to write about the fucking catastrophe that is the Dodgers, so I’ll just say is this: I told you so. When the Dodgers had the best record in baseball… when they had a nine game lead… when every hop and drop was going their way… I told you not to get cocky. But you did. And so did the Dodgers. They got complacent once Manny came back, they didn’t improve their pitching staff at the trading deadline, and they haven’t taken the rest of the NL West seriously.

Excuse my while I go find a tortilla.

August 23, 2009 - Cubs 3, Dodgers 1
Dodgers flat as a 9-year-old girl

After winning three in a row against the Cubs, the Dodgers apparently decided they were worthy of an off day on Sunday. They had just three hits—none coming from the heart of the order—and lost to Chicago, 3-1. Rafael Furcal, Manny Ramirez, Casey Blake, Matt Kemp, Russell Martin, and Mark Loretta all went hitless, with Ramirez striking out looking to end the game.

Ramirez has just 6 hits in his last 34 at-bats and has only one home run in his last eighteen games. He also looked inept in the outfield on Sunday, although that’s nothing new. Ramirez seemed to have problems getting to balls in both the fourth inning and the sixth inning, and that’s putting it nicely. It would probably be more accurate to say he looked like a goddamn idiot. "I think he's trying to carry everybody on his shoulders," Joe Torre said of Manny—not wanting to say what he really thinks: that Manny has checked out and doesn’t give a flying shit. I sure as hell hope that’s not the case, but the dude doesn’t look focused, doesn’t look interested, and doesn’t even look particularly coordinated.

The Dodgers are off on Monday and then begin a three game series in Colorado, where Jim Tracy would like nothing more than to see the Dodgers crash and burn—and then watch their charred bodies get eaten by vultures. I’d like to make a simple request to the producers of the Dodgers’ TV broadcasts this week: If the Dodgers are losing, for the love of God please keep the cameras off of Tracy. I’m not sure I can stomach the smug grin or his giant chin.

August 22, 2009 - Dodgers 2, Cubs 0
Cubs gets a knuckle sandwich

For the third time in the last four games, the Dodgers only managed to score two runs on Saturday. Lucky for them, Charlie Haeger didn’t give up any. The knuckleballer went 7+ innings, striking out seven and giving up just three hits. It was Haeger’s second career win—his first coming three years ago.

After Haeger walked the leadoff man in the top of the 8th inning, Joe Torre opted for Jonathan Broxton. It’s obviously unconventional to have your closer come in with nobody out in the eighth, but if you break it down, Torre was pretty much going by the book. Broxton, a righty, kept Milton Bradley batting from the left side (his weaker side) and then two other righties followed: Derek Lee and Aramis Ramirez. All didn’t exactly go according to plan, however, when Matt Kemp lost a fly ball in the sun, putting runners at second and third with only one out. (Oh, did I mention that Kemp was playing right field? Yeah, a day game at Dodger Stadium—good time to randomly throw your centerfielder in right, Joe.) After the home plate umpire saved Broxton’s ass by accidentally blocking what would have been a wild pitch, Kosuke Fukudome struck out to end the game. No, wait, that was only the eighth. The ninth ended up being another adventure, with George Sherrill eventually picking up the save after walking two and thowing 31 pitches—probably half of which were strikes that the home plate umpire didn’t call.

Offensively, the Dodgers were carried by home runs from Matt Kemp and Casey Blake. Kemp’s shot practically hit the warming hut (a.k.a. the overpriced team store) beyond the Dodgers bullpen—a 449-foot shot that reminds us that the dude should be hitting 45 home runs a season.

August 19, 2009 - Cardinals 3, Dodgers 2
Pooholes steals one from Dodgers

If you’re planning on watching the first-place Dodgers play the Cubs this weekend, you may want to hit up the early part of the series—by the end, they may not be the first-place Dodgers anymore. Despite the Cardinals leaving a couple dozen guys on base, the Dodgers lost on Wednesday, 3-2. The loss shrinks their lead over Colorado to just 3.5 games, close enough for Rockies manager Jim Tracy to taste revenge (instead of just tasting the saliva in his oddly-shaped lower jaw).

Wednesday’s loss was not a pretty one for the Dodgers. They didn’t get a hit until the sixth inning, but then tied the game suddenly in the seventh with two solo homers. In the eighth the Dodgers (or Tony Abreu to be exact) failed to get a sacrifice bunt down, and in the ninth they (or  Casey Blake and James Loney to be exact) left the tying run at second base. It was the tying run at second because the Cardinals had taken the lead in the top of the inning—on an Albert Pooholes stolen base of all things. Broxton walked Pooholes to start the inning, and then focused on Matt Holliday… um, a little too much. Pooholes took off, and Russell Martin’s shitty throw ended up in short centerfield, with Pooholes taking third. Next pitch, sac fly to score Pooholes. Fantastic.

A few final observations from Wednesday’s game: (1) There will apparently be no Matt Kemp curtain call bobblehead night, as Kemp went 0-for-4; (2) Dennys Reyes has the widest face on the planet, and (3) St. Louis shortstop Brendan Ryan looks like a rapist.

August 18, 2009 - Dodgers 7, Cardinals 3
Dodgers quench their Thurston

Every now and then you watch outfielder Rick Ankiel and you’re reminded of something: he’s actually not an outfielder. Although he’s made the improbable transition from pitcher to position player with relative ease, it’s not always smooth sailing. It certainly wasn’t smooth on Tuesday, as the Dodgers took advantage of a misplay by Ankiel to score two runs in the fourth inning and go on to beat St. Louis, 7-3.

The game started on an ominous note for the Dodgers, as they left four guys on base through the first two innings. With one out in the fourth, though, Russell Martin lined one just over Ankiel’s head. Ankiel turned awkwardly, lunged, and ended up face down on the warning track. Orlando Hudson followed with a single, which Chad Billingsley followed with a single, which Rafael Furcal followed with a single. (I’m pretty sure it was Furcal’s first hit of the season.) The Dodgers pushed across three more runs in the fifth, and two more later in the game, making Chad Billingsley a winner—despite a pinch-hit double from one of my favorite "can't miss" Dodger prospects, Joe Thurston. The win snaps the Dodgers’ losing streak at home and keeps the Rockies four games back.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers announced that Jeff Weaver will start on Thursday in place of Hiroki Kuroda, who spent three hours being tested by a neurologist on Tuesday. Kuroda had been diagnosed with a mild concussion, but the Dodgers became concerned Monday night when they noticed Kuroda drinking pine tar and speaking perfect English.  

August 16, 2009 - Dodgers 9, Diamondbacks 3
Day off for Broxton, so Dodgers feeling Randy

Next time I go away for the weekend, I can promise you one thing: I won’t be turning on a Dodger game. I did it for five minutes on Friday—and watched Clayton Kershaw give up four runs (the only runs he’d give up). Then, on Saturday night, I turned on the game again—just in time to catch Jonathan Broxton facing Mark Reynolds with the Dodgers up 3-1. Oops, make that 3-2. No, wait, 3-3.

I’m not kidding you—I saw a total of about seven minutes of Dodger baseball, and it was enough to jinx the Dodgers and ruin my vacation. (Although, I can’t be blamed for Kuroda taking one off the dome—I had nothing to do with that.)

Disgusted by the previous two games and eager to somehow enjoy the final few hours of my weekend, I didn’t catch Sunday’s game… which explains why the Dodgers beat Arizona, 9-3. They knocked out fourteen hits, including home runs from Andre Ethier, Orlando Hudson, and Randy Wolf (one of Wolf’s three hits), and had a 7-0 lead by the fourth inning. Before hitting the wall in the eighth, Wolf struck out ten and retired twenty straight batters.

It was a big win for the Dodgers because, well, they’re in trouble. With Chad Billingsley and Hiroki Kuroda both question marks and Jonathan Broxton looking more and more like Jeff Shaw every day, a five-game lead is anything but comfortable. Neither the Rockies or the Giants are playing particularly good baseball, but even playing mediocre ball might be enough to catch the Dodgers. (And if that's the case, don’t count out the Padres, who’ve moved from 24 games out of first place just three weeks ago to 21 games out as of Sunday. Gutsy team, those Pads.)

August 11, 2009 - Dodgers 9, Giants 1
Dodgers getting back on track

Must be great to be a Giants fan. You watch your team intentionally walk Manny Ramirez twice… then give up a run-scoring double to him… then give up a 2-run bomb to him… and then you cheer like it’s the seventh game of the World Series when he strikes out looking in the eighth inning—with the Dodgers up by eight runs.

There was little else for Giants fans to cheer about Tuesday, as the Dodgers won their second in a row and increased their lead over the Giants to 7-1/2 games. Randy Wolf went eight innings, giving up just six hits and a run. A San Francisco error in the fifth set up a four-run inning for the Dodgers, and they added five more in the top of the seventh. All the while the Dodgers appeared to be having a great time in the dugout, well aware they’d better party it up while they can—before they face Tim Lincecum’s stringy hair on Wednesday.

August 9, 2009 - Braves 8, Dodgers 2
Dodgers can't hit ball, but hit the skids just fine

Just a couple of weeks ago, the questions about the Dodgers revolved around whether they had the pitching to carry them through a postseason series. The bigger question now, however, may be whether they even have what it takes to reach the postseason at all. After losing 8-2 on Sunday, they’ve now lost three in a row, six of the last nine, and eleven of the last seventeen. The Giants and Rockies are both just 5-1/2 games back—and playing much better baseball.

Were it not for Andre Ethier’s walk-off heroics on Thursday, the Dodgers would have lost all four games of the series to Atlanta—a team that was just a game over .500 when they came to town. On Friday, the Dodgers blew a ninth-inning lead and then blew multiple chances to win in extras, and they fell in extra innings again on Saturday (wasting seven shutout innings from Clayton Kershaw). They only needed nine innings to lose on Sunday, thanks to Ramon Troncoso and Guillermo Mota who made sure there wouldn’t be a ninth-inning comeback. Troncoso has now given up six earned runs over his last two outings (totaling 2/3 of an inning) and Guillermo Mota is having another touch stretch as well.

The bullpen isn’t alone, though, as every piece of the Dodger team appears to be broken. Starting pitching, not so good. Clutch hitting, not so good. Defense, been better. Even the coaching is questionable—did Larry Bowa mistake Manny Ramirez for Juan Pierre when he sent him home in the 4th inning on a pop fly that the shortstop caught?

No worries, though—the Dodgers have their eyes on John Smoltz. Yeah, better jump on that before a softball team in Bakersfield does.

August 6, 2009 - Dodgers 5, Braves 4
Andre likes it with Manny behind

On Monday night, Manny Ramirez had a chance to win the game in the ninth—but flied out. On Thursday night, Manny had a chance to give the Dodgers a lead in the seventh inning—but struck out. Finally, in the ninth inning Thursday night, Manny succeeded—by standing in the on-deck circle. With two on and the Dodgers down by two, Atlanta closer Rafael Soriano got behind Andre Ethier, two balls and no strikes. Soriano knew who was on deck, Ethier knew who was on deck, Soriano knew he needed to throw a strike, and Ethier knew Soriano needed to throw a strike. Sure enough, Soriano grooved one, and Ethier cleared the wall in right to give the Dodgers an improbable 5-4 victory. It was Ethier’s fifth walk-off hit of the season, and probably his biggest since it instantaneously turned a frustrating game into a dogpile at home plate.

For eight innings, it was another one of those wasteful games for the Dodgers. They had ten hits (eight off Derek Lowe), but had managed only two runs. They failed to capitalize on Randy Wolf’s first career stolen base, left two on in both the seventh and eighth innings, and couldn’t get a simple bunt down. None of it surprised me, of course, since I constantly prepare myself for the Dodgers’ failure. But then the bottom of the ninth came, and I decided to try a different approach. Listening to Journey blasting through the speakers, I decided not to stop believing. (Actually, I decided to start believing, but those aren’t the lyrics.) Anyway, thanks to Steve Perry’s song and my wife’s plea to stop being such a fucking drag, I started clapping. At first it hurt my hands, but I got the hang of it and suddenly the Dodgers had two on and nobody out. I clapped a little more, and Ethier hit one out. Hmmm… faith... a very interesting concept.

August 3, 2009 - Brewers 6, Dodgers 5
Well, that was unnecessary

I could have handled a 6-2 loss. They happen. Clayton Kershaw was all over the place, Jeff Weaver wasn’t much help, and the Dodgers offense was lousy—for eight innings at least. Had they gone down in order in the ninth inning, I would have quietly stood from my seat, taken the last watery sips of my Coke, and walked out to my car. I would have been fine.

Instead, I want to punch someone in the face. I want to find an innocent person, push them to the sidewalk, and throw dirt in their eyes. Goddamn Dodgers. Down four runs in the bottom of the ninth, the Dodgers started the inning with four consecutive hits. Suddenly, it was a 6-5 game and the Dodgers had the tying run on first—and the Brewers had the ghost of Trevor Hoffman on the mound. Two minutes earlier, I had accepted the loss. Now, somehow, a win was within reach. And then, just as quickly, came a series of mistakes that ruined my night. No wait, my life. First, with Juan Pierre at the plate, Orlando Hudson got an incredible jump at first. He probably would have stolen second without a throw—that is, if Pierre had pulled his bat back and taken a pitch. Instead, he bunted. It was a good bunt, but completely useless and goes down as Mistake #1. Then, after Russell Martin teased the Dodger world with a fly ball to the wall, up came Furcal with Hudson on third and two outs. And Furcal bunts. Bunts? Doesn’t make sense to me, so it’s Mistake #2, but even so, Hudson can’t just saunter down the line with a confused look on his face. Two outs and down by a run you’d better be hauling ass on contact—or at least take off for home after the throw is made to first. Hudson did neither (Mistake #3), remaining at third as Furcal beat the throw to first. Then, probably the worst thing to happen is Andre Ethier getting hit by a pitch…. which unfortunately brings up clean and sober Manny, who’s no fun at all. Manny flies weakly to right, and that’s that. What a crappy sport.

August 2, 2009 - Dodgers 9, Braves 1
Kemp cleans up, Dodgers polish off Braves

After a Saturday afternoon game packed with bad baserunning, bad fielding, and bad calls, things went a little more smoothly for the Dodgers on Sunday evening. Matt Kemp hit a monstrous home run and knocked in five, Andre Ethier and James Loney each had three hits, and Chad Billingsley struck out nine Braves in five innings before leaving with a cramp in his hamstring. Four relievers combined to stifle the Braves over the final four innings, and the Dodgers hung on to win, 9-1. Even Jason Schmidt joined in the fun, getting a pinch hit single in the sixth inning. (After Schmidt’s six scoreless innings on Friday, Joe Torre is obviously getting cocky—don’t be surprised if he starts Schmidt at second base on Monday.)

Meanwhile, despite Sunday’s win, the Dodgers have to be a little worried about two guys: Casey Blake and Manny Ramirez. Blake was held out of the lineup after hurting his wrist lifting weights on Saturday, and Manny… well… I guess the juice is finally out of his system. Since his bobble slam ten days ago, he’s 3-for-37. Sure, I suppose he’s entitled to go through a slump on occasion like everyone else, but it’s difficult to watch. It’s like seeing Lance Armstrong fall off a bike. Or Neil Diamond forget the lyrics to Sweet Caroline. Or Warren Buffet buying an overvalued stock. It's unsettling and it has to stop.
 

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