Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Best Day of the Year (so far)...

I was thinking back to three months ago, trying to get my mindset at the time about the Dodger season.  There was no giving up, and it was fun seeing Puig getting some playing time, but a division title seemed to be an absolutely unrealistic expectation.  We were just hoping they could string three consecutive wins together.  The thought of the Dodgers being the first team to win the division in the majors?  Well that would have been a pipe dream.  Not a chance that would ever happen. 

Dodgers celebrate after Jansen records that final out to clinch the division title. (photo by Matt York/AP)

What a difference three months make.

This Dodger season has been like no other.  This winning run they went on starting on June 22nd was not only unexpected, but historic.  We were thinking that they’d get a top ten draft pick for next year at the time.  Now there’s a possibility that they’ll get the last selection in next year’s first year player draft.  We would have done cartwheels had they reached the post-season with a wildcard birth.  Now we have aspirations of advancing far and some prognosticators have actually placed the Dodgers as favorites to win the World Series.

There are individual awards coming their way too.  Kershaw is a favorite to win the Cy Young and a possible winner of the MVP award.  Puig and Ryu are in the running for Rookie of the Year.  Mattingly is a candidate for Manager of the Year.  

2013 looked like it was going to be an unlucky ’13.  Instead, it may prove to be the L.A. Dodgers most memorable season on record with the earliest clinching (by calendar day) to date.  That 42-8 run over a fifty game stretch surpassed winning stretches by teams dating back to World War II.  Nobody wins at that clip these days.  At least that’s what we thought anyway.

Then there were the unlikely contributors.  I’ll mention a few.

Hanley Ramirez looks back to the dugout after hitting a 3-run homer in the 3rd inning today.  (photo by Matt York/AP)

Hanley Ramirez, who started the year on the D.L., would be an MVP candidate had he been able to play more games and be healthier.  Still, with all his absenteeism from the lineup, he still carried this club.  A true major league hitter that pounds the ball harder than anyone in the game, Ramirez has recovered his hitting stroke that had been absent for a few years due to shoulder surgery.  He has played with renewed vigor this year and most of all, he’s simply a happy player.  Is he a possible Comback Player of the Year Award winner?  He certainly should be considered.

Kenley Jansen has proved that last year was no fluke.  He’s a true closer and amongst the best in the game.  Off season heart surgery has increased his stamina and strength.  This guy is a lights out closer who will make an impact in the post-season.  He’s not an easy pitcher to hit off of, and the league is respecting him more and more.

(photo by Matt York/AP)

Yasiel Puig is the most polarizing player in the majors.  He is so raw.  He makes mistakes of enthusiasm in one moment and then a mistake out of inattention to detail the next.  Then he’ll do something “highlight reel” worthy and his bonehead mistake is momentarily forgotten.  When Puig gains “baseball smarts” he’ll be the best in the game.  Now, while making common errors made at the lowest levels of the minors, he’s still a dominant player.  Let’s be fair to the kid.  He had less than two and a half months of minor league seasoning.  One thing is certain though.  You want to put off heading to the fridge for a snack when this guy is coming up.  Admit it, you have caught yourself counting how many batters have to get through the lineup before he bats again.  You know you have.

Chris Withrow was that guy we drafted years ago that never panned out.  A wasted choice by Logan White we thought.  Then he reinvents himself as a reliever and motors up 97 MPH fastballs time and time again.  Remember that game where he pitched 4 or 5 innings in extras?  Yes, it’s guys like Withrow that emerged out of nowhere to provide the bullpen another stabilizing force.

And speaking of stability in the bullpen, Paco Rodriguez, who was attending the University of Florida a year and a half ago, is now a vital cog in the bullpen.   The perfect lefty that sets the table for Jansen.    It would be foolish to not recognize Brian Wilson too.  Heck, he’s only pitched 10+ innings this season, but already he is recognized as another important table setter.  We’d be fine if he was called on to close too, though “lights out” Jansen hasn’t faltered, so the opportunity hasn’t emerged.

There are so many others that could be mentioned, but I pointed out some of the unexpected ones because on this clinching celebration day, they seem to stand out in my memory bank.

Pool party for the Dodgers in Arizona (photo by Ross D. Franklin /AP)
So anyway, that's my division clinching day post.  It has been a long exhaustive run, and an extremely satisfying one at that.  So pop a cork.  Scream out loud in jubilation.  Dance around the living room.  Give your wife or girlfriend a passionate kiss.  Heck, go make a celebratory dive into a pool, (even if it's the neighbors pool with a Diamondback logo in it).  This is a day to cherish.  After all, it isn't everyday that the Dodgers clinch a playoff spot and expectations are so high.  It's time to take a moment of reflection and enjoy it.  Everything is looking up on this day, September 19, 2013.  Life is good.

No comments:

Post a Comment