James Loney is now a former Dodger and he’ll probably be remembered by most as a solid Dodger, but one that never lived up to expectations. We all thought James would develop some pop and become a formidable middle of the order power guy. That never panned out and his career in blue is now done. There were a few accomplishments that come to mind though of his Dodger days.
There was a September game against the Rockies in Colorado where he hit 3 homers and had a ton of RBIs. That was the time when many of us thought he had arrived as a major leaguer. He always had a steady glove and I thought he deserved gold glove consideration, but was ignored.
|The biggest hit in James Loney's life, Oct. 1, 2008.|
Loney’s crown jewel of accomplishments was a game for the ages in the post season: October 1, 2008. For one day he lived up to that “Big Game James” moniker that former Laker forward James Worthy was so often called.
It was Game One of the 2008 National League Division Series against the favored Chicago Cubs in Wrigley Field. The Cubs finished that regular season with the best record in the National League and were seen as a very worthy opponent. Many felt that Lou Piniella would be the manager to get the hapless Cubs over the hump and into the World Series. The Dodgers had not won a post season series since their championship 1988 season.
|Jon Soo Hoo photo/Los Angeles Dodgers|
After having spotted the Cubs and Ryan Dempster a 2-0 lead, Loney stepped up to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded after the Cub starter battled with some wildness. Dempster had walked the bases full and had Loney on the ropes with a 1-2 count. It was at that time that I believe our magic Robert Redford “The Natural” moment happened. Maybe it was lightning striking the transformers, or cracking open an old ash tree on the Loney family farm in Houston. Whatever it was, James blasted that 1-2 pitch into the Center Field Bleachers at Wrigley for a grand slam homer.
|Andre Ethier, James Loney and Rafael Furcal celebrate the 2008 NLDS Slam.|
It was the catalyst that sent the Dodgers into a winning frenzy in that series. They finished off the Cubs that day 7-2 and followed up the following day with a 10-3 win. The series sweep was finished off two days later with a 3-1 win in Los Angeles.
Loney didn’t do anything else spectacular in the series and only hit .214 overall (3 for 14), but the grand slam homer was by far the biggest hit in his career. What few remember though was that James is the guy that started it of. That post season series win was the first the Dodgers had experienced in 20 years.
Best of luck to you James. I’ve been mighty critical of you and called for your removal from the lineup, but I’m not forgetful of your accomplishments over the years. I only wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.
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