Ladies and gentlemen, the Boys in Blue have stalled. Or as Vin Scully has so eloquently described the state of affairs, the team is “on a treadmill to oblivion.”
The Dodgers have dropped four of five series and three out of their last four games. In a three-day span they used backup catcher Drew Butera to mop up lopsided contests twice, they sport a thoroughly-disappointing 23-22 record, and we are oh-so-close to the dreaded “it's only May” excuse.
This L.A. club will have none of that, however, not when there are ever-better excuses to be created. According to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, pitcher Dan Haren posited this doozy: “We're so talented and I think sometimes we expect the talent to just take over sometimes.”
Not to pick on Sunday's loser, but Haren's idea is a bit like saying, “I'm just so good looking, I can't understand why no one will date me.” Or, perhaps more aptly for the very-average Dodgers, in response to a straight-C report card, “I don't need to study because I'm just so smart I expect A's every time out.”
The most common causes for L.A.'s problems being offered around town include the following: the fielding is awful, too many walks from the bullpen (and they say there is no walking in L.A.), the situational hitting is non-existent, Don Mattingly can't motivate, Mattingly doesn't get late-game managing, and the bench is weak.
No fire, no heart, blah, blah, bleech. The “sense of urgency” line is all the rage.
Some of this is intellectually lazy, while the rest is precisely on point. What it comes down to rather simply is that the Dodgers just aren't a very good baseball team. (Sh)it happens. They are not particularly well-led and the front office is either mistake-prone, distracted or has a brilliant plain about to be hatched. More will be revealed, undoubtedly.
I am not going to the “fire Mattingly” card at this time. But clearly, I didn't want him hired in the first place, and I most certainly did not want his contract extended after that ridiculous ultimatum-filled press conference last October.
But at the very least, let's finally put the “he's loved to a man” theory to bed now, shall we? Because, really, not even the most curious of baseball writers was actually going to poll the clubhouse. Imagine a guy with a note pad walking up to each man, posing the “do you love Don Mattingly?” question and getting a nod of the head before moving onto the next. “It's unanimous, they all love the skipper!” C'mon.
No doubt some of the 25 current Dodgers love Don Mattingly. And some players like him. Some think the boss is OK, others think he's a blithering idiot, and some just want to get back to work. Just like any group of employees in any workplace. Because that's normal.
The Dodgers just lost a series to the basement-dwelling Dbacks in Arizona. Next is a trip to New York to play the 20-23 Mets followed by a weekend series at Philadelphia with the equally-pedestrian Phils.
Perhaps the team turnaround begins immediately. Because if not, look for a trotting out of these beauties: “anything can happen in a short series,” “intestinal fortitude,” we all have to be on the same page,” and most annoyingly, “there's no crying in baseball.”
Sure, the “those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones” warning comes to mind here. But since the hurling of a round object in the vicinity of these Dodgers only leads to an error by an infielder, or even two, it hardly applies.
And remember, glove conquers all.