|Richie Allen at 3B for the Dodgers in 1971 made Pedro Guerrero look like a gold glover.|
Friday, July 3, 2015
It's Time to Take Over the Division...A Look Back In History
Everything is lining up in order. The Giants are slumping on the road and now they head to D.C. to face a tough Nationals team. The Dodgers are coming off their first off day in over a month as well their first winning road trip of the season. They have a homestand coming up in which the schedule favors them with inferior teams, (Mets, Phillies and Brewers) and to top it off...Kershaw and Greinke start the first two games.
There comes a time in a season when you simply have to step on the gas and cushion that lead. NOW IS THAT TIME!
As much as the Dodgers have pretty much led the division from the get go, it's safe to say that this team hasn't dominated by any stretch of the imagination. If you want to see what this team is truly made of, I say this is the week we'll find out. The Dodgers need to enter the All Star break with a 6 or 7 game lead in the West.
This has been a strange year. With the Giants owning the Dodgers in head to head play, it reminds me of a similar situation of Dodger-Giant lore, but things were the exact opposite in 1971.
This was a Dodger team of Richie Allen, Willie Davis, Wes Parker and Maury Wills' last good season. Al Downing won 20 games and Don Sutton 17. Jim Brewer in the pen sported a 1.88 ERA.
The Dodgers absolutely owned the Giants that year, but San Francisco started out hot and they were in first place for 147 days of the season, almost from start to finish. L.A. had a 12-6 record against the Giants that season, including winning their final eight contests with their hated rivals. We all knew who the better team was. It just seemed inevitable that San Francisco would cough up that 10 game lead they had as the Dodgers whittled away at it to move within one game of first place on September 14th.
Unfortunately, the Dodger schedule against San Francisco was done by then. A four game losing streak to hapless San Diego and Atlanta set them back. Even winning five of their final six wasn't enough as the Giants held their own and won the division by one game, depriving us of what would have been a classic NLCS with Roberto Clemente's Pittsburgh Pirates.
So my point is this:
It doesn't matter who the wins and losses come against. The big picture right now is the overall record, and as things stand right now, the Dodgers beat the teams they should beat, much better than the Giants do.
We know the Giants and Cardinals have owned us this year, but those were just blips on the whole schedule. The '88 Dodgers were 1-10 against the Mets in the regular season, but that didn't matter when the NLCS rolled around. The '83 Phillies were 1-11 against the Dodgers, but when the playoffs came around, and they took the Dodgers out in 4 games.
We express concerns with the way this team holds up against those NL rivals, but it's a clean slate in October. There's a lot of time left. There is a trade deadline looming and some exciting call ups coming for the September run. This ball club will be a completely different animal in September. And so will the Giants. For that reason, getting a cushion at the All Star break is very important. Not crucial, but certainly important.