Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Fans Need to Back Off of Jamey Wright, The Dodgers Wouldn’t Have Been Where They Were Without Him

The Twitter venom expressed towards Jamey Wright on Tuesday was uncalled for.  Obscenities were rampant following his outing in which he surrendered two runs.  It is evidence that some so-called “fans” haven’t a clue about the game.  Jamey Wright was solid this entire season and a key component of the 2012 Los Angeles Dodgers.
Back in Spring Training, the thought of adding veteran pitcher Jamey Wright to the staff didn’t elicit a lot of excitement in most Dodger fans.  Here he was, another journeyman pitcher to add to the Dodger bullpen, and one with not the greatest track record either.  He was a long shot to break camp with the big club, but he did so after an impressive spring at Camelback Ranch.
(photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
A pitcher like Wright is a guy that every staff needs.  He’s someone that mops up when your starter gets drilled and is out of the game by the 2nd or 3rd inning.  He’s the middle inning guy that comes in when you club is down with the sole purpose of holding the opposition at bay while you try to get your offense in gear.    He’s the spot starter you throw out there when an unexpected injury sidelines one of the guys in your rotation.
Here was a guy that had been meandering around the Major Leagues since the Dodgers had a lineup made up of Tim Wallach, Mike Piazza and Delino DeShields.  Initially a journeyman starting pitcher that has since been relegated to the bullpen.  Wright has made stops in Colorado, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Kansas City, San Francisco, Texas, Cleveland and Seattle.  Never had he ever been in a prolonged pennant race in his 17 major league seasons.  That was until this year.
The excitement of the race brought out the kid in Wright,  He was giddy with the excitement of it all.  “I play for the opportunity to get champagne in my eyes.  I want it to burn.  I want to feel it for a lifetime,” he told Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times 16 days ago.  Here was a guy that desperately wanted a chance to play in meaningful playoff baseball.  He stood up in a crucial September team meeting and told the guys what he felt from the heart.  “I’ve had too many dreams about it.  Too many dreams about pitching in the World Series and the playoffs for it not to happen.  It’s not just the superstars-Kemp and Ethier and Beckett--us other guys have those dreams too, and I guarantee you I’ve had more than any of them.”
Wright’s team presence was felt by this club.  Not only had he pitched well. He was a key component and one of the reasons that the Dodgers were in position to make that post season run.  Wright had not given up a run in 16 of 17 appearances during the pennant stretch before his disappointing outing against the Giants on Tuesday, when the Dodgers were eliminated.
A.J. Ellis said it best : “During Spring Training you could just see what a clubhouse presence he had.  He brings a team together.  Just a solid, veteran guy who’s all about winning.  And when the season started you went, ‘Well, not only is he valuable in the clubhouse, he’s valuable on the field.’”
Jamey Wright is the first to congratulate Clayton Kershaw for his 4-0 shutout of the Giants in July at AT&T Park (photo by Tony Avelar/AP)
So it was no surprise to me to read that after Tuesday’s loss, nobody took it harder than Wright.  Maybe it’s because he sees his career coming to an end.  Perhaps it’s due to the fact that he was as close to the playoffs as he’s ever been.  There’s probably truth in both those statements.  Deep down though, he’s in pain because he feels he let his team down.  
“It hurts, hurts bad,” he said fighting back tears, after embracing all his teammates following the Tuesday elimination.
Wright is one of those guys that can’t throw a ball straight.There’s constant movement on his pitches.  Every pitch has hair on it.   When he got beat on Tuesday, it wasn’t due to his lack of “stuff.”  He was throwing well, as evidenced in his first inning of work when he retired a Giants 4th inning threat by striking out Pence and getting Nady to bounce into a double play.
Wright got beat the next inning when Marco Scutaro squirted a sinker that was low and away on down the first base line for a two run double.  It was a good pitch, but Scutaro is having one of those seasons where he’s even hitting the nasty stuff thrown his way.   Wright explained what happened to J.P Hoornstra after the game: “I guarantee you four or five, maybe six outs have come on that exact same pitch. It was away, a sinker away, and I just missed with the one right before that. I probably could've mixed it up and thrown another curveball, but that's why I'm still here. That's why I've been pitching as long as I have, because of that sinker.”
"I'd rather get beat with that than leave a curveball up, a slider up, whatever. I can live with that, getting beat with a sinker, a ball that he slaps the other way down the line. That's OK. He's a veteran hitter, just like I'm a veteran pitcher. He's hot, no doubt about it. Proved it tonight." 
Jamey stood before the cameras and took the heat on Tuesday.  It had to be difficult doing that after seeing your dreams shattered, and being the losing pitcher in that crucial game.  But he held his head high as took responsibility.  I have no complaints with Wright.  Yes, there was a throwing error and yes, the Scutaro double, but how many times had he pitched well throughout the year?  Nobody on the team was throwing stones his way, nor should they have.
“This team is gonna be a frickin monster next year,” he told Dilbeck following the season ending win on Wednesday.  “This team is going to be a beast.  It will be real exciting for Dodger fans.”

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