The Dodgers have sucked since 1988, but they may suck just a little less this season. Paul DePodesta’s love of Sabermetrics — which is baseball ruled by numbers and odd statistics — almost ruined our beloved team for good last year. There’s been a slight recovery recently, as general manager Ned Colletti, owner Frank McCourt and skipper Grady Little slowly righted a few of the many wrongs, but don’t get your hopes up too high: An ill wind still blows in Chavez Ravine.
Taking Out Contracts
Nomar Garciaparra, Kenny Lofton and Rafael Furcal were good additions. But what’s with the shorty deals? It just leads to disharmony. With Nomar and Lofton, one year is not enough to get them in the mix and start to generate a cohesive team. And if it’s true that the Blue are waiting for their farm prospects to mature, well, that’s just planned failure. To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, “You go to war with the team you have . . .”
Baseball Isn’t Like Fine Wine
And age doesn’t help. Half the Dodgers’ roster is long in the tooth. This year, Kenny Lofton will be 39, Sandy Alomar Jr. 40, Jeff Kent 38, Bill Muller 35, and the great hope, Mr. Mia Hamm, the pride of Whittier, Nomar Garciaparra, is already 33. Sounds like a great team to me, if this were a video game and you could turn off the stamina and injury settings. It’s a schande, as the old fans of the Brooklyn Dodgers still scream from their hospice beds. If you think the injury-depleted lineup was bad last year, wait for 2006, when the Dodgers’ main sponsors will be Metamucil, Viagra and Geritol. Forget the batboy, where’s the kid with the canes?
Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems
Watch out: Prices for tickets, parking and maybe even concessions are going up — again. That’s a nice reward for the more than 3 million faithful who went through the gates last season despite the fact that their team still sucks. Let’s see . . . an extra 5 or 6 bucks a person times 3 million — with that kind of dough, come April we should have Manny Ramirez playing in a park full of seats embroidered with gold filigree. And a whole new front office. Because a family business shouldn’t always be run by the family.
The actual new seats and other off-season fixes are just a start for the McCourts. I predict that in the next five years, you’ll be able to live in a Dodgertown Loft, connected to a pleasant pasteled outdoor shopping complex where you’ll be able to walk after the game for some dining at the Chavez Ravine location of Dave & Busters. The McCourts are developers, not baseball people, and there is a whole lot of wasted land up there.
“Project Five-Ton Gorilla”
Truth is stranger than satire. In breaking news, first reported by the Boston Herald and then by the L.A. Times, the McCourts held secret meetings with the NFL earlier this year to bring a team to a new facility they’d build next to the Dodger Stadium, replete with shopping, parking, etc. Councilman Ed Reyes, whose district includes Dodger Stadium, said McCourt promised to keep elected officials and community leaders aware of any potential development. His comment to the Times: “If he’s making these overtures, it’s a big blow to the folks who are building a level of trust with him. That’s important when you’re dealing with issues of that scale.” Write this down: The McCourt family’s days in L.A. are numbered. The team will be sold by the end of 2006.
If You Can’t Say Something Nice . . .
Admittedly, this team is an improvement over last year’s minor-league, AAA-ball stiffs. 2005 got off to a 18-5 start before tanking, and many observers are expecting another great start for this year, followed by a dive a month into the season. But not me. I love the Dodgers, and the Blue doesn’t need any more Weltschmerz. My prediction: The Dodgers win the division, then the pennant, go on to the World Series, where they take it in four. Then they win the Baseball World Classic, shut out the Venusians at their home stadium on Phobos, travel back in time to beat Abner Doubleday’s 19th-century Steam-Powered Baseball-Playing Robots, and return to the present day to crush the insurgency in Iraq. All by Tax Day, April 15, and without the aid of steroids.