Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Dodgers Return Home 2-0, That Distraction Wasn't So Bad After All

They whined about the schedules.  They complained about the long flights.  They quietly cried about how their timing and how this 8,000 mile trip would throw everything out of whack.  It might as well have been 8 million miles.  It didn't matter that space lights were installed in their hotel rooms and methods were introduced to reduce jet lag by the team officials.  No cute kangaroos and koalas were going to make these malcontents happy.  This trip was supposed to be a nightmare.  Australia is supposed to be an offseason 2 and a half week vacation, not a two game series to start the season.

Pitchers expressed concern about having to speed up their routines to be ready for the series.  Some actually developed minor injuries that pulled them out of the series, to their great dismay, I am sure. Once the players arrived, they weren't real vocal about it, but some hinted the the venue played too fast and that outfielders would have to play anything hit on the ground to them very carefully.

Game One's 3-1 victory is in the books as Dodgers congratulate themselves. (photo by Rick Rycroft/AP)
Baseball players are slaves to routine.  They need repetition more than any other athletes on the planet.  Add to that the superstitions and crazy beliefs that they develop over the years and these guys can be mental messes.  With 162 games to play in a season, that routine of theirs becomes strict and rudimentary.  Any deviance from it can mess with their mindset and confidence.  Any departure from what is they are comfortable with can distract a player from performing.

Australia was nothing routine.  It was "distraction" from the word "go."  But something happened in the course of that distraction.  they are called victories.  The Dodgers return from "Distraction 101" undefeated and maybe, just maybe, they are thinking, "Hey, this Australian thing wasn't too bad."  Maybe they want to continue on this road trip juggernaut.  Take that charter to India and play a few.  They have cricket grounds out there too.  Swing by the Kalahari Desert on the way back for a couple more.  Kershaw has friends out there.  Maybe fly to South America and play a game in Rio's Maracana Stadium.  I'm sure they can reconfigure that 100,000+ capacity World Cup Final venue and there will be plenty of beaches for Drew Butera to pose with lifeguards too.

Playing games at Sydney Cricket Grounds, a 160 year old venue, had a certain charm and appeal.  The Members boxes in the background gave the place a mystique that few locations could produce. (AP photo)

"Undefeated" has a way of healing ballplayers who are forced to deviate from "routine."  Winning goes a long way in baseball.  As Kevin Costner said in the motion picture Bull Durham, "You don't mess with a winning streak," and this folks is a winning streak.  Australia was a success.  The flight home will be filled with players feeling good about themselves.  First place, mate.  How 'bout that?  

1 comment:

  1. So much for the winning streak!! I think this trip took more out of them then appears on the surface. Kershaw goes down and Wilson looked liked crap !! What worried me the most was not the trip in itself but the distraction of everything around them. Too much of a vacation atmosphere. Not so much them not doing what they are supposed to do but more of the surroundings taking up too much of their attention. Plus the game was not played the way it’s played here. Example was the playing surface. No MLB ballpark has as fast a surface as what they played on there. And it just seemed like they had too many special conditions to deal with. Then you add in the reduced number of ST games, the additional days off for adjusting to the travel and you have what we saw against SD, a team out of sync. It’s going to take time for these guys to settle into the season the right way.