Dodgers Sink to New Depths in Mile High City, Turn to Rookie for a Hand Up
The 2013 Los Angeles Dodgers are a monumental flop. They're a steaming-on-the-asphalt big fat flop. In fact, there's so much flopping going on here that if this were basketball, L.A.'s club would be fined out of existence by the NBA.
But no such luck. This is baseball, and our team has laid a dud, a complete bomb. They're the most highly-anticipated no-expense-spared production to come out of Tinsel Town since, well -- they're Heaven's Gate is what they are. Except the analogy falls apart when you consider that while Michael Cimino at least had the Academy Award winning classic The Deer Hunter as a legacy, Don Mattingly has the 2011 and 2012 Dodgers.
The team went to Denver for the weekend after losing back-to-back nights to the Angels in Anaheim Wednesday and Thursday, with players dropping like second-place finishers in a game of Russian Roulette. I'll spare you the blow-by-blow and sum up with the usual liberal-use-of-training-table-bullpen-disappointments-crappy-hitting-team-loses-two-out-of-three you might have expected.
With the series loss L.A. has reached new depths in some rather important categories. The club's 23-32 record puts them a season-low nine games under .500 and a season-low 8 ½ games out of first place. They are also buried a season-low 2 ½ games in last place, behind the fourth place San Diego Padres, whom they face in a three-game series beginning tonight at 7:10 p.m. at Chavez Ravine.
The Pads' coming to town presents more problems than the mere fact that they're the stronger team, and one that swept the Dodgers the last time they were here even minus the suspended Carlos Quentin. Quentin will be with his mates this time around, making his first appearance in enemy territory since the April brawl with Zack Greinke in San Diego.
Whether payback comes tonight, tomorrow night, Wednesday or at some time in the future is anyone's guess, but with few Dodgers left to be injured in an ensuing fight (please God, let it not be Clayton Kershaw), they might as well get it out of the way as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, with Mattingly still at the helm, the Dodgers turn to 22-year-old Cuban defector Yasiel Puig, fresh up from Double-A Chattanooga, to help turn things around. Pick any term you like to describe the new Dodger -- phenom, wunderkind, savior, green-as-hell-rookie, last-hope-to-save-the-season -- they've all been applied in abundance, and you won't hear a peep out of me knocking the club for trying.
As in often the case, the LA Times' Bill Shaikin has the savviest take around, with his suggestion that it would be a mistake to expect Puig to be the 2013 L.A. version of Mike Trout, circa 2012. Similarities between the two young players exist, however, it might just work out, and the Dodgers have absolutely nothing to lose at this point in time.
If Puig provides some excitement while the team continues to lose, at least there's that excitement. If he contributes to a handful of wins while adding a much-needed spark, all the better. If he's manages save-the-day heroism, ala Robert DeNiro leading an escape from a Vietnamese POW camp, what more could we possibly ask for?
Or maybe Puig's being here will simply serve as a distraction from this flop of a baseball season barely one-third completed. That'll work too.
Adam Thomas has a new Dodger blog called Beachball Delay that's worth a look-see. Check out this piece on the excitability of Dodgers part-time broadcaster, Eric Collins.
Andre Ethier, pre-Mattingly grit discussion: .264/.353/.405 with four homers and 15 RBIs. Andre Ethier, post-Mattingly grit discussion: 5-35, .143, with zero homers and zero RBIs.
The Dodgers are 4-6 since Mattingly's May 22 call for a more spirited style of play in his postgame comments at Milwaukee. The team is home for 10 games versus the Padres, Atlanta Braves and Arizona Diamondbacks before their next day off, the dreaded Thursday before the beginning or end of a road trip. Will he need a 7-3 homestand to be on that flight to Pittsburgh June 15, or will 6-4 be sufficient? And what happens if he goes 4-6 or 3-7?
Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers
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