Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Friday, June 29, 2012

Yes, Another Scoreless Streak Starts Up Again

I always wondered what it would be like to write about a team that is a cellar dweller.  Like the Kansas City Royals or the Pittsburgh Pirates.  How difficult would it be to keep a positive spin on things?  There are bloggers that do such a thing.  I seriously don’t think I can, and that questions my loyalty as a fan.

Mets celebrate (photo by Reed Saxon/AP)
Writing on the Dodgers now isn’t fun.   Frankly, it can become a chore.  Posting a player of the game in the right corner is an exercise in futility because nobody is having good games. I don’t like to be negative, I really don’t, but I have to keep things real.  The guys are embarrassing themselves.  They are putrid.  They stink to high heaven.  
You can’t sugarcoat fertilizer.  Fertilizer is what it is.  Every time I think the Dodgers have hit rock bottom, they prove me wrong and show that it is possible for things to get worse.  Tonight’s 9-0 win is proof of that.  And the Dodgers have now started another scoreless innings string.  They have scored in one inning over the last 48 or so.  (I’m not sure what the number is and I’m disgusted enough to not even look it up).
The Puig signing raised my spirits yesterday, even if scouts from other teams and pundits from several publications (i.e. Baseball America, ESPN), bashed the move and said we overpaid and over estimated the kid’s talents.  I’ll keep my trust in Logan White and his track record.  If Logan says Puig is a 5 tool guy, I believe it.  If White scouted and interviewed the kid and walked away impressed, that’s fine.  

Speaking of hefty first year player signings, the Dodgers announced that they paid about $300K over slot it ink first round pick Corey Seager today.  The high schooler will probably be reporting to Rookie ball in Ogden, UT after appearing at Dodger Stadium tomorrow for a visit to the big club and a photo op.
Rumors are circulating that Garrett Gould is on the block and will be traded to Houston for Carlos Lee.  Lee, with only 4 homers this year, all in that bandbox known as Minute Maid Park, has more homers than Uribe and Loney combined.  On a normal year that would be impressive, but this isn’t a normal year and Lee’s pop may be a thing of the past.   “El Caballo” is 36 years old and his defense has made him destined for a DH role in the American League.  Lee may turn down the deal and if he is undecided, that’s enough for me.,  We don’t need players that don’t want to be Dodgers.  We have been down that road before and it’s not pretty.  With about 25-30% of the league from the southland, you would think we could acquire someone that wants to be a Dodger and contend for post season play.  Meanwhile this club trudges on and some players appear to be on the mend.

Mark Ellis upended in collision with Tyler Greene, that caused his current leg injury. (photo by Harry Howe/Getty Images)
Mark Ellis will begin a 4-5 game rehab stint starting tomorrow, and that’s a good thing.  Ellis has been missed and his return will make a difference.  Not only with his quality play but his leadership and calming influence.  It can be argued that Ellis is the 2nd most valuable Dodger.
As for the most valuable Dodgers, why the Dodgers keep discussing Kemp and his participation in the All Star game Home Run Derby is disturbing to me.  I addressed it in a www.ThinkBlueLA.com post I had a few weeks back.  Mattingly commented today that the HR Derby has been worked into Kemp’s workout regimen.  The event must be important to Kemp, and that’s fine that he takes pride in being the team captain and all, but please, it is what it is.  A showcase to see who can hit the most lolly-pop BP pitches into the seats.

Well, as I write this from a flea bag hotel in Eureka, CA on another remote work assignment, I'll revert to the old cliche that "Tomorrow's another day," and perhaps the fortunes of the blue crew will change.  The current 6 game losing skid is a season worst and Nathan Eovaldi is due to get a win.  Never mind that the Dodgers face Mets ace Johan Santana.  Ugh!  It is possible for this thing to get uglier isn't it?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Yasiel Puig a Dodger!

Cuban defector Yasiel Puig, in Cuban Premier League "Cienfuegos" uniform.  Puig has been suspended from the Cuban league for attempting to defect on previous occasions.

The signing of Yasiel Puig has made the Dodger doldrums less painful today.  Inking a 5-tool player who will be a fixture in the outfield for years sort of does that to you.  I’m so ecstatic over the signing that I won't even throw a fit over the fact that Mattingly is starting Loney and batting him cleanup tonight.

Take a look at this You Tube clip and tell me that you aren't excited after watching it.  This guy is Vlad Guerrero when he was 21 years old.   Great job Stan!  The new ownership group keeps it Promise to fans and the Dodgers are spending in the foreign markets. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

More Torture in S.F.

I didn’t want to go.  I knew it was gonna happen.  But I showed up anyway.  I could have sold my ducats on Stub Hub for over $200.  I messed up big on that one.  I spent most of the game texting messages to Ron from Think Blue LA.com where we each mutually agreed about how sucky the Dodgers are.

Chad Billingsley attempted to score on a wild pitch, Tim Lincecum applies the tag for the out. (photo by Jeff Chiu/AP)
Let me just say this.  When the Dodgers are winning in San Francisco, there is almost nothing more enjoyable in life.   I have experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in both Frisco ballparks.  So there is no explanation necessary when I say that losing in S.F. is about as awful an experience that there is.  Today was awful.  Heck, the last two weeks have been equal to the misery Kathy Bates inflicted on James Caan.
I got out of there in the bottom of the 7th.  There was no point of sitting there watching Giant fans rub this in my face.  I went almost incognito.  The only Dodger paraphernalia I wore was a grey hat with a Brooklyn Dodgers logo.  Going with the traditional LA logo hat is an invitation for punishment.  Plus, Gint fans are so clueless about baseball history that they don’t know the Brooklyn “B” from the Boston Red Sox “B.”
“How are the Sox doing this year?” said a friendly Giants usher as I walked by.  “I wouldn’t know, but the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to LA in 1958,” I mumbled back.  He didn't get it.  I didn't stop to explain.  I just wanted to get to my seat and let the agony begin.   Yes, a small part of me hoped for a miracle, but it wasn't to be.
So the game started.  The boys in blue left runners on base inning after inning.   Except for the first when they pulled the old GIDP that they are so skilled at in this recent road trip.  Just as they did at the game I attended in Oakland last week, the runs were not going to come.  When Billingley failed to score on a wild pitch from third, I knew this wasn’t going to end well.  

Ron kept texting me the number of consecutive innings without a run. “25” after the 5th, “26” after the 6th.  When  “25” flashed on my I-phone, at first I thought he was telling me that Ethier was on the 25 day DL, which is probably true.  Now with an oblique injury added to this Dodger MASH unit, they can say that their two best offensive threats are out.
When Uribe stepped up to the plate in the 7th with two on and two out, the Dodgers were as good as done.  The euphoria of Gint fans around me was almost comedic.  I mean really, striking out Uribe was not to be expected?  I would gripe that Mattingly didn't pinch hit for him, but who could he use?  This offense is putrid.  

So the boys fly home after losing 8 of 9 on the roadie to face a New York Mets team that scored more runs today than the Dodgers have in their last eleven games.  Look it up, that fact is absolutely the truth.  What a sad commentary on this team.  Easily the worst offensive Dodger team I have ever seen.  And let me add, as Vinny did a few years ago under different circumstances... "the Dodgers are in first place."  (Well for another day they are at least).  It was fun while it lasted.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Lowest of the Low

When the Giants scored 4 in the first, we all knew the game was over after they had talied 2 runs earlier in that half frame.  The Dodger offense is punchless, inept and not of major league caliber.  Boy am I going to hear it tomorrow at work.  I can hardly wait to come in.

A.J. Ellis and Nathan Eovaldi discuss things during the Giant 4-run first inning (Getty Images)
We have hit the lowest of the low.  Had you told me in March that the Dodgers would have a 2 game lead on the division on June 25th, I probably would have been doing cart wheels.  But none of us can possibly believe that this is going to continue.  I don’t think there has ever been a season anywhere similar to this one.  This team is in first place, barely, but in first place.  It sure doesn't feel like it.   I can easily argue that the entire starting lineup needs to be turned upside down.   Blow the whole thing up.  This group isn't working.

 James Loney?  Gotta go, can’t hit (unless it’s into a DP), fails repeatedly in the clutch.  Juan  Uribe?  Useless, punchless, lost at the plate. Adam Kennedy? A waste of roster space, not only is he not hitting, he’s not catching the ball either. Chad Billingsley? A complete mental case that is as inconsistent as any starting pitcher that I can remember.  Nathan  Eovaldi? A hard luck pitcher that doesn’t have a chance.   Learning to pitch in the big leagues on the big stage without any help.  Tony Gwynn, Juan Rivera, Jerry Hairston?  All should be part-time player reserves that are being forced to play day in and day out.  Andre Either? A good offensive player without any protection in the lineup.  Dee Gordon?  Trying to learn to play major league ball at the major league level.  Matt Kemp, Mark Ellis, Matt Guerrier, Javy Guerra, Blake Hawksworth, Justin Sellers?  All D.L. fodder.
The roster could easily be blown up and replaced with AAA players and I don’t see them doing any worse than they are right now.  Can we honestly say that Loney will do better than Sands or Van Slyke at first base?  Or that DeJesus won't perform better than Uribe?  Jon Ely is having a great year in Albuquerque, do you think, unlike Billingsley, that he could have held that  5-0 lead last Friday?
This team is bad.  They’ve been bad for a while but were held together by smoke, mirrors, chewing gum and spit.  Don Mattingly and his coaching staff did a heck of a job keeping this unit winning, but he's no miracle worker.  Also, the Giants weren't really playing very good ball either, so the lead held longer than expected.  Ned Colletti has given his manager nothing to work with.  Now I fear he'll deplete what little is left in the farm system for a Carlos Lee (who is 36 and only has 4 homers in that bandbox in Houston).
Pablo Sandoval in Monday nights action (Getty Photo)

Barry Zito throwing a 3 hit shutout through 7 innings is an embarrassment.  Having 8 hits over three games in Oakland against a weak A's squad is shameful.  Being no-hit by the lowly Mariners is pathetic.  For heaven's sake, the Padres are playing better than the Dodgers at this point of the season.
The Dodgers are slump busters.  You want to get out of a funk, play the Dodgers.  if you’re 2-8 with a 6.02 ERA, (like Lincecum), a dose of Dodger baseball is all you need to get on the right track.

And if I haven't depressed you enough, the Diamondbacks are 5 games out of first place now.    It was an ugly night in Frisco...a very ugly night.    

73 Games in, and Finally a Trip to San Francisco

We are about to witness the Dodgers 74th game of the year, but it's the first one in San Francisco.   This always brings an air of anticipation to the Bay Area.  No matter how competitive each team is, the Dodgers-Giants bring on an exciting atmosphere.  This year, with both team 1-2 in the divison lead, separated by only 3 games in the standings, the buzz is even more palpable.

The Dodgers will dodge a couple of bullets in Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner.  The Giants are fortunate that Chris Capuano doesn’t face them.  The Dodgers come in reeling after losing 5 of 6 to the A’s and Angels while the Giants enter after losing a shocker in Oakland yesterday, just as they thought they would be closing in to within two games of the lead.  If either team sweeps this series, a strong message is sent.  Zito, Vogelsong and Lincecum face Eovaldi, Kershaw and Billingsley in that order.
As the Dodgers enter this series, they reach a crucial part of their schedule that can absolutely bury them if they lose their focus.  Three in SF, four at home against the Mets followed by a visit from the Reds for three.  Then they have a 4 game set in Arizona just before the All Star break.  These fourteen games can make or break the fast start this team had that has placed them in the division lead since the fourth game of the season.
Seventy-three games into the season the Giants and Dodgers must feel like they're in two different leagues, they've barely had a glimpse of each other.  Only three times in Dodger Stadium earlier this month, (a series where the Dodgers won 2 of 3).  Clayton Kershaw summed things up to Steve Dilbek of the Los Angeles Times yesterday saying “I feel like we haven’t seen them.”
Newcomers Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan have made an impact in San Francisco (Photo by Matt York/AP)
As Dodger fans,  few of us have seen the changes to the Giant roster that should be noted.  This isn't the same team as last year.  First, their middle of the order is much better than last year.  Melky Cabrera (.351 BA, .388 OBP, 6 HR, 35 RBI), Buster Posey (.295 BA, .358 OBP, 10 HR, 40 RBI) and Pablo Sandoval (.301 BA, .363 OBP, 5 HR, 19 RBI) usually hit consecutively, making up a formidable three-some to face.  The Giants score runs now.  Not a ton of them, but much more than last season.  They also have 16 comeback wins.
They’ve added a 28 year old outfielder, Gregor Blanco, that is decent defensively who possesses speed and gets the occasional clutch hit.  His addition has been key to shoring up the outfield defense in the vast acreage of AT&T Park.  The acquisition of Angel Pagan (.296 BA, .339 OBP, 5 HR, 25 RBI) is also a significant improvement over last year.  The point being made is that this team isn’t the offensively inept Giants that couldn’t score runs last year.   They rank 11th in runs scored, much better than their last place finish in runs scored in 2011, (by comparison, the Dodgers rank 10th in runs scored).  Brandon Belt has recently found his stride and he’s hitting the long ball now. A few weeks ago, he was on the verge of being sent back down or out of town altogether.
We all know about San Francisco's pitching prowess, but surprisingly, the Dodgers as a team have a lower ERA than San Francisco thus far in 2012.  It can be argued that the Dodger staff is actually better as Barry Zito falls back to earth and Tim Lincecum continues to struggle with a 2-8 record and 6.02 ERA.
Weaknesses?  On defense the Giants 60 errors leads the league.  They are dead last in fielding percentage and their outfield range needs to be exploited.  They don’t turn a lot of double plays.  The defensive range factors of Theriot, Pagan, Sandoval and several others are all in the negative.  You want to hit the ball to Crawford, an erratic shortstop that makes an occasional highlight reel play, but is prone to mistakes.  They don't turn a lot of double plays, something that should be a comfort to the Dodgers unless James Loney strides to the plate.  It should be noted that the Giant defense has improved significantly over the last few weeks though.
Another notable weakness is the Giants bench.  There is no real pinch hitting threat as their only real power threat off the bench, Brett Pill, was sent down to Fresno last week.  Arias (.250 BA, .285 OBP), Schierholz (.246 BA, .314 OBP), Burriss (.212 BA, .274 OBP), and Justin Christian a lifetime .246 are the first players off the bench.   Aubrey Huff is out with injury, probably good news to the Giants.  Freddie Sanchez still hasn’t come back from last years shoulder injury and may never return this season.

A recently struggling Barry Zito takes the mound tonight.
In the pitching department, Barry Zito, tonight's starter is 0-3 with a 10.67 ERA in his last three starts.  Santiago Casilla, the San Francisco closer, has struggled in his last two outings also, giving up 5 hits, 4 earned runs and a walk, while only recording two outs.

We all know of the Dodgers recent struggles, particularly on the offensive end, but the Giants haven't been world beaters either the last week or so.  Something has got to give though in this series.  Barry Zito has had recent success against the Dodgers, adn that may be the incentive he needs to right his ship.  Sam can be said for Linceum.  With the Dodgers recent offensive woes, they are prime targets for those two hurlers.  

It'll be an interesting set of three in the bay city.  The buzz is in the air.  First place is on the line.  One thing that neither team should forget though:  The Arizona Diamondbacks are sneaking back into this thing.  They're only 5.5 games behind the lead now.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Losing Streak is Over, Offensive Woes Continue

Chris Capuano is now 9-2 on the season. (photo by Chris Carlson/AP)
The Dodgers broke their 4 game losing skid with a 3-1 win over the Angels today.  Dee Gordon singled, tripled, stole a key base and score 2 of their 3 runs on the day.  Chris Capuano won his ninth game and increased his chances to be named to the N.L. All Star squad.  Kenley Jansen retired the side in order in his first action of the seek, recording his 12th save on the year.
Once again, the Dodger offense was practically non-existent.  It’s a concern and something that won’t be remedied anytime soon.  
The Juan Uribe experiment should be over.  Facts are facts.  This guy shouldn’t be a major league player anymore.  He can’t hit, simple as that.  He bails out on every pitch.    You used to be able to live with the poor average and awful on base percentage because he’d provide an occasional home run.  Now the power is gone.  If you want to speed up the game, just start Uribe with an 0-2 count because that’s where he’ll be after two pitches.
The Adam Kennedy experiment should also be over.  Aside from three consecutive games this year where he had a bunch of knocks, he has been awful.  His uppercut swing is like fishing for hits in the dark.  His better days are behind him.  You plug that name in a lineup and you might as well throw an automatic 0 for 4 in there.
With rumors abound of a possible Kevin Youkilis grab, or a Carlos Lee acquisition.  Either player would be an improvement to this anemic Dodger offense.  James Loney’s career in a Dodger uniform should be over.  I have always been in James’ corner throughout his career, but I’m convinced he’ll never become the hitter we hoped he would become.  At best, he is Mark Grace in a poor Mark Grace season.   There is no pop in his bat.  Even his line drives die in the infield.  Too many times we see him bang into a double play in a key moment.  Do you ever remember James with a game winning hit?  I never ever recall the team pummeling him into submission after a game winning at bat, that’s because it has never happened.  A change of scenery might do Loney some good, especially if it’s to his hometown in Houston.
I know many are clamoring for Chad Billingley to be dealt, but he is what he is right now, a 5th starter.  With his current salary, there is no dealing him without eating most of his contract.  New ownership may be able to do that, but let’s not forget that Chad has pitched well as little as a few starts ago.   He’s probably the most frustrating pitcher they’ve had in quite some time.  The sinker needs to be abandoned and he needs to trust his other stuff.  Unfortunately, I don’t see it happening.  Yesterday was a first for a while in not holding a lead.  Usually he’s working from behind.  Regardless, Bills is suffering from a crisis of confidence and his problem continues to be between the ears. 

High fives in the dugout for Gordon after he triples and scores on Jerry Hairston single in the sixth inning. (Photo by Chris Carlson/AP)
Those are the four that are really struggling and possibly should be jettisoned from this team.  Uribe and Kennedy are untradeable, both release material.  Loney and Bills could be trade fodder though we’re probably looking at eating some salary in the Billingsley case.  I was hopeful that this club would remain in first place until Kemp returns from the D.L., but Frisco is playing well now and the Dodgers happen to be heading into Phone Bill Park on Monday.  A win in the final game at Anaheim would do wonders for the team’s confidence.  This is a big start for Aaron Harang.

The Infield Foursome Got Their Start 39 Years Ago Today

Thirty-nine years ago today, June 23, 1973, Walter Alston put the following players on the lineup card together for the first time:
Steve Garvey 1B
Davey Lopes 2B
Bill Russell SS
Ron Cey 3B

It was the second game of a double header against Cincinnati at Dodger Stadium.  The Dodgers had lost game one of the double dip and Alston plugged in the final cog of the legendary infield foursome for the second game of the day.  He gave first baseman Bill Buckner the rest of the day off and Steve Garvey started at first.  
It would be cool to say that the change was a success with an immediate impact, but that wouldn’t quite be the truth.  The Dodgers did win the game, thanks to Ken McMullen’s homer after he replaced Cey, who was injured while plating a run on a scoring fly ball hit by Dodger backup catcher Chris Canizzaro.   McMullen hit a three run homer in the 6th to break the game open as the Dodgers won 5 to 1.  By the days end, the Dodgers were in first place and 7 games up on the Reds.
Batting       AB R H RBI BB SO
Rose LF 4 1 1 0 0 0      0
Morgan 2B 4 0 1 0 0 0
Bench C 4 0 0 1 0 0      0
Perez 1B 3 0 0 0 1 0
Concpcn SS 3 0 0 0 0 0
Kosco RF 3 0 1 0 0 0
Tolan CF 3 0 0 0 0 1
Menke 3B 3 0 0 0 0 1
Hall P 2 0 0 0 0 0
Borbon P 0 0 0 0 0 0
Gagliano PH 1 0 0 0 0 1
McGlothlin P 0 0 0 0 0 0
Batting      AB R H RBI BB SO
Lopes 2B 3 2 1 0 1
Mota LF         4 1 3 1 0 1
WDavis CF 4 0 1 0 0 0
Cey 3B         1 1 0 0 1 0
McMullen 3B 2 1 1 3 0 0
Garvey 1B 4 0 2 0 0 1
Paciorek RF 3 0 0 0 1 2
Russell SS 3 0 0 0 1 0
Canizzaro C 3 0 0 1 0 1
John P         3 0 0 0 0 1
Reds 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0   1 3 0
Dodgers         0 0 0 0 1 3 1 0 X   5 8 0
Due to Cey’s injury, it took another seven games before Alston wrote another lineup card with that quartet in the infield.  This time it was against the Braves in Atlanta, a 12-9 Dodger win in a 12 inning affair.  Garvey was able to handle the 1st base bag and his batting average raised sixty-five points over  an 8 game stretch.  It appeared to Alston that he had found a successful combination.  Additionally, Buckner could play a solid left field, which would put Mota in the pinch hitting role, something he thrived at.  It was a winning combination all the way around.

This was not a “Wally Pipp” type of story though.  Alston mixed and matched lineups, starting Buckner at first base quite often during the next few weeks, but by mid July, the foursome was completely entrenched into their starting infield spots.  That Dodger team won 95 games in ’73, but the Big Red Machine was too tough, digging deep and overcoming a ten game deficit to finish with 99 wins.  The Reds ebded the regular season 3.5 ahead of that young Dodger team.
It was a bitter sweet finish because the Dodgers actually finished 12 games higher in the standings over the N.L. East champion New York Mets.  That said,  Dodger infield accomplished quite a bit in ’73.  At 95-66, they had the third best record in all of Major League Baseball.  Had the current post season format been in place, who knows how far they could have gone?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

...and things get worse

Coco Crisp scores in today's Action.  A's won 4-1 on a Yoenis Cespedes walk off homer.

The Dodgers offense took it on the chin today from a pitcher that has a career chronology that goes like this:
October 29, 2000: Signed by the  Seattle Mariners as an amateur free agent.
April 1, 2007: Traded by the Seattle Mariners to the San Francisco Giants for Jason Ellison.
December 6, 2007: Drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies from the San Francisco Giants in the 2007 rule 5 draft.
October 14, 2008: Granted Free Agency.
December 19, 2008: Signed as a Free Agent with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
October 5, 2009: Granted Free Agency.
January 29, 2010: Signed as a Free Agent with the New York Mets.
May 2, 2010: Released by the New York Mets.
May 13, 2010: Signed as a Free Agent with the Oakland A's.
December 14, 2010: Released by the Oakland A's.
February 16, 2012: Signed as a Free Agent with the San Francisco Giants.
May 15, 2012: Selected off waivers by the Oakland A's from the San Francisco Giants.

This isn’t even factoring in stints to Taiwan, Korea and Mexico.  Travis Blackley is the definition of “journeyman pitcher.”  He’s been released from more organizations than I knew existed.  His career against the Dodgers (before today) showed a stat line of 2 IP, 5 H, 4ER, .500 OBP against.
If the Dodgers were ever due to win a game, it would have been today with Kershaw going and Blackley on the mound against them.  Yeah, what is it they say about best laid plans?

This ball club is in deep trouble.  2 runs in three games at Oakland against a mediocre pitching staff and poor team is not a good sign.  The A's suddenly got good, having won 7 of 8, thanks in part to the Dodgers.
Can someone teach Juan Uribe that if you fly open and step away from a pitch while swinging, you have a pretty good chance that you aren’t going to hit it?  It almost looks like he’s afraid he’ll be hit and he steps in the bucket each time to get a split second to move out of the way.  I’ve noticed it all season and I’m just Joe Blow watching the game from my couch.  I can’t understand why Dave Hansen, Tim Wallach, Don Mattingly, all experienced hitting coaches, can’t see it and try to correct this flaw.  He’s flying open on every pitch.  It’s a miracle that he gets a hit now and then.
Don’t tell A’s commentator Ray Fosse though.  He raved about Uribe. Said that he’s a dangerous hitter.  Just before Uribe helplessly flailed away at a pitch in the dirt for strike three.
Fosse also spoke highly of Loney and specifically addressed him as a power threat.  Perhaps the A’s can be a future trade partner if they think so highly of those guys.
It’s not a good time to be slumping.  With a key series coming up against second place San Francisco approaching three games from now, the Dodgers really need to rally and not arrive up there in an offensive funk.  After three awful games in Oakland, that appears to be happening precisely.  With the Dodger track record in Anaheim, we may be in for a long weekend.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Oakland Turned Blue

It was an Oakland invasion of Blue last night.  In my lifetime, I have seen the Dodgers in visiting venues in Phoenix, Denver, New York, Florida, San Diego, Houston, San Francisco, Anaheim, and Oakland.  I’ve attending Dodger visiting games more than 250 times.  Never have I ever seen the Dodger fan take over the visiting ball park like last night. Maybe recent invasions of Petco were similar, as I must admit I haven’t been there for several years.

 The most impressive thing that impressed me about last nights crowd made up of Dodger fans is that the had next to nothing to cheer about, and they STILL made their presence known.  Several chants of “Let’s Go Dodgers” started up and they dominated the entore stadium. In my section ”Let’s Go Dodgers,” changed to “Throw a Strike,” afger Harang threw about 11 conseutive pitches out of the strike zone.

It's always fun striking up conversations with Dodger fans attending a game in the Bay Area.  Everyone has their stories.  There was the Steve, the guy I was standing in line with to enter the Stadium that moved from L.A. up to Morgan Hill about 35 years ago.  He talked of the old Candlestick days and the times that he had beer thrown at him and was beaten up in the restroom.  He said the trips were always worth it cause "We always beat their (expletives)."  Roy, the other Dodger fan in line said, "Yeah, at AT&T, it's their kids now that harass us, they aren't nearly as tough."

An A's fan sitting in front of me said over and over again, "I can't believe the Dodgers are here, this is so cool."  He reminisced about '88 and '74 World Series.  Claiming he attended both.  I kind of had my doubts, based on his age, but I wasn't about to argue with him.   "McCarthy is tough.  You guess are going to have problems with him," he said prophetically.

The Dodgers haven't faired well at the Oakland Coliseum since inter-league play began.  They're 2-10 in their brief history there.  I must say that I have been present for 4 of those contests now.  I seem to remember one where an unknown shortstop named Miguel Tejada hit three home runs against us.  Last night it was a trio of pitchers that tossed a 2-hit shutout.

It was rather helpless looking at the bottom of the Dodger line up with Kennedy and Uribe hitting consecutively and frustrating to again watch Loney deliver feeble at-bats.  Most notably his double-play nubber that closed out the only real rally the Dodgers had all game.
This was a contest where there never seemed to be an offensive threat on the Dodger side.  Where holes in the lineup would surface whenever the semblance of a rally was starting.  The Oakland A’s are not a good baseball team, but last night, that Dodger lineup actually looked worse than them.
Sometimes I look at the 9 guys that Mattingly puts on the lineup card and I wonder in amazement how this team has the best record in Major League baseball.  Hopefully the bats emerge tonight and make me forget that thought process.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Look at Some Results Statistics...A Lot of 1-Run Games

I always cringe when I check a Dodger final score of a game that I completely missed like I did today.  It’s childish, I know, but sometimes I cover my eyes and slowly peek through to see if they won.  It’s almost like I feel that I let the boys down when I have to miss a game.  I used to feel the same way when my son’s report card arrived in the mail.  I think I was more nervous for that, than I was for my own.
Some things you can control.  Watching the boys in blue is one of those uncontrolable things.  So today as I was doing everything I could to keep from pulling a tweaked hamstring in a softball tournament that we were eventually eliminated from, I was completely relieved see the 2-1 result this evening.  As I write this, I haven’t even checked the Giants score.  (Just checked, “Yes,” they lost).
Dee Gordon is about to get pummeled by his teammates after  singling in the winning run in the 10th inning of today's 2-1 result against the White Sox (photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
So the Dodgers squeaked out another exciting one-run win.  It think it’s time to call these guys the cardiac kids.   They have played in 31 one run contests.  That’s 46% of the games.  (By comparison, last year’s team played in 1 run games 27% of the time). With the lead back to 5 games, the team has never been more than a 1/2 game out of first this season, and that was back after game number 3 or 4 in April.  
Don Mattingly is ejected for the 4th time this season.  (photo by Gus Ruelas/AP)
2012 is proving to be different than past seasons as the Dodgers are holding their own against American League opponents.  Now 5-4 against the A.L., the Dodgers continue to dominate at home, with 24 wins and a .667 winning percentage.  They head back on the road to finish off their inter-league schedule.  Of course the schedule makers are once again playing a practical joke on them as the head off to the Bay Area for 3 against the A’s, only to return to the Southland for three against the Angels and then bouncing back to San Francisco for an all important series against the Giants.
All series are important with the precarious lead they have, but we’ll probably be real interested in the 3 game set at AT&T next week.  Without question, we're bound to see a bunch of one-run games.  Strap on your seat belts, these guys are sure to give us an "E" ticket ride for the remainder of the season.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Happy Father's Day - Link To My Father's Day Post Below

I apologize for this blogs recent neglect, but I'm in San Diego today participating in the U.S. Police and Fire Games, Softball Tournament.  We traveled here yesterday and started this morning at 8:00 and finished at 9:30 PM.  And there is a game first thing tomorrow at 8 in the morning.

I'm sore, tired and also ready to continue the tournament.  We're 1-2, though each game was competitive.  Double elimination tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I want to wish all the Dads out there a Happy Father's Day.  I ask you to click on the link below.  A Father's Day Post of mine that is up at www.ThinkBlueLA.com.  It's a personal piece on my son and I.

Have a great day.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

It'll Be Dodgers and Giants, 1 & 2

Dodgers   40-24
Giants      36-27
Once all this inter-league nonsense is over, we can get on with the task at hand.  That's beating the Giants for the division.   Last night wasn't a good night for us.  At the very moment that Aybar homered off of Jansen to give the Angels a 2-1 ninth inning lead, Matt Cain finished off pitching a perfect game in San Francisco.

Over the years I have been real quick to criticize the Giants.  It’s the team I love to loath.  I’ll admit, I’m biased.  I look for their weaknesses and keep things in my memory bank about them that I can use with the many I interact with at work.  It comes down to the fact that I live amongst the hated ones.  Sixteen unexpected years living in Giant country has convinced me that they are the most clueless and blind fan base in the country.  Then I married a Bay Area girl and I’m kinda stuck up here.  I never imagined that my life would take this turn.  I figured that I’d be living at the doorstep of Dodger Stadium and I’d have season tickets by now.

Instead Im near S.F., where I actually share season seats the Gnats games (that I sell at a hefty profit I must say).  I work amongst a gaggle of Giants fans and I have struck up a friendship with the 5 or 6 SoCal transpants here that also are Dodger fans.  There is a lot of fun banter between us and the Giant followers.  My office is a shrine to Dodger paraphernalia that has been redecorated in halloween colors more than once by practical jokers.  It doesn’t take much to shoot down a Giant fans logic.  It can usually be done with simple facts.  I must say though, the past decade or so this has been a tough run for us.  For a long while, Giant fans would usually brag about a few times when they knocked us out of a pennant race.  Now they have a championship to boast about.  Last night, they added a perfect game to their history.
Matt Cain and Buster Posey celebrate their perfect game (AP Photo, Jeff Chiu)
I must admit to something though.  The Giants are actually pretty good.  Sure they have their weakness on defense and holes on the offensive end, but their pitching is probably the best in the league.  Cain, Bumgarner and Vogelsong are quite a trio.  Barry Zito is pitching well.  If Lincecum straightens himself out, lookout.  There isn’t a night where they will be expected to lose.  Their bullpen is very good too.  Honestly they were worse when Wilson was closing.
The Giants are winning now.  They’re doing what the Dodgers were doing earlier: beating the inferior teams.  As they hovered just below .500 for much of the year, I saw this stretch of games against the likes of San Diego, Houston, Oakland, and the Cubs and realized that would be a good time for the Giants to pick up some wins.  To their credit, they did just that.   
The Giants offense doesn’t impress much, but it’s much better than last year’s major league worst in runs scored and on base percentage.  Melky Cabrera is having a career year and the Angel Pagan pickup has worked out.  Posey has rebounded from injury and let’s face it, with that pitching staff of theirs, they really don’t need a lot of offense.
Shierholtz, Theriot, Belt, Crawford, Huff, Pill and Burriss are doing next to nothing statistically, so there are a lot of holes in that lineup.  Certainly, very few bats to fear.  Deep down, we know we have the superior team, with the Dodgers superior offensive talent and better defense.
Defense is where these two teams separate.  The Giants by far have committed the most errors in the league (57) with the Dodgers having committed 40.  Posey has his issues behind the plate.  Pagan has difficulty patrolling the spacious outfield of AT&T Park and Crawford has been about as erratic as Dee Gordon at SS, though he doesn’t have Dee’s tools.  Lately though, the Giant defense has been slowly improving.

So I can argue each point to show that the Dodger club is better than San Francisco and even can show that the Dodger team ERA is superior to the Giants in this 2012 season.  Truth is though, these two teams have only played each other 3 times so far and the season in the balance may be decided in the crucial head to head matchups between them.
15 games remain between the Giants and Dodgers.  If one team dominates over the other, that will be the difference maker.  That’s the way things should be.  Dodgers-Giants head to head to decide the title.  I believe that when the smoke clears at the end of this season these two teams will be 1-2 for the best record in the National League.  Again, as it should be.  
The last three games of the year, (Oct. 1-3) are at Dodger Stadium with the Giants.  2012 has the makings of being a season that’ll be remembered for years.