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Preview: Dodger Blue

Dodger Blue



The random musings of a Dodgers and Orioles fan from Baltimore, transplanted to Anchorage, Alaska.



Updated: 2015-09-16T23:41:45.042-08:00

 



Reflections

2004-10-14T02:15:25.443-08:00

Well, give the Dodgers credit. They did manage to pull one game out of this season. Fitting that the Jose Lima reclamation project provided the only spark of the all too short series.

It didn't save the Dodgers. It merely prolonged the inevitable. The Dodgers were rolled over 3-1 by the St. Louis Cardinals. At the least, the Dodgers gave their fans something they hadn't in 16 years: a playoff win. Besides that, the Dodgers lost to a team that I firmly believe will keep the World Series Championship trophy in the National League.

It's obvious to me the Dodgers have a lot of work ahead of them. If they honestly believe that they can keep the exact same team together next season and take home another division title, they're going to be in for a shocking disappointment. You can't expect dream seasons by an entire rotation two years in a row. That just doesn't happen in baseball. Lima's going to have a hard time pulling out 14 wins again. Wilson Alvarez is better served coming out of the pen. Jeff Weaver can be brought back, but someone needs to do some work with him. Ditto for Odalis Perez. Ishii needs to discover some consistancy. A healthy Brad Penny will help, but he's not an ace. Unfortunately for the Dodgers, they're going to have a hard time finding an ace out there. Carl Pavano's a free agent, but the Yankees figure to be hot on his trail. Pedro Martinez may be a free agent as well, but he's falling apart. Derek Lowe's a possibility, but again, he's not an ace.

Priority one for the Dodgers has to be resigning Adrian Beltre. Without Beltre, the Dodgers have no hope for competeing next season and beyond. An upgrade needs to happen at catcher. Perhaps the Dodgers might try to talk to Florida and attempt to get LoDuca back. They're also going to need another power bat, particularly in the outfield. Bradley needs to play better, and you know you're going to get a solid season out of Finley. But Finley is, after all, 40. He doesn't have a world of baseball left in him. The Dodgers could go after Carlos Delgado and push Shawn Green back to the outfield, which is a more natural position for him. That would give the Dodgers another big bat in the middle of the order and provide Beltre with a little protection. Seems to me the one area that's solid for the Dodgers going into next season is the bullpen. Beyond that, the Dodgers need to open their wallets. If they don't, the surprise season they enjoyed this year is going to be the exception, rather than the rule.




St. Louis Cardinals 8, Los Angeles Dodgers 3

2004-10-05T23:39:27.080-08:00

One team certainly looked like a World Series contender on Tuesday afternoon.

Unfortunately, it wasn't the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Dodgers laid an egg in game one of the NLDS, getting absolutely hammered by the Cardinals in Busch Stadium. Obviously, not playing a meaningful game since July certainly didn't bother them. The Dodgers, on the other hand, showed all of their flaws that made them the long shots in these playoffs. Odalis Perez didn't have control early, and the Cardinals amazing lineup capitalized early and often. The Dodgers didn't contribute any offense until the game had gotten way out of hand. One thing was made abudantly clear in the wake of game one's disaster. Three runs aren't going to beat the St. Louis Cardinals, especially with the kind of pitching the Dodgers offer. The offense absolutely has to step up, because that's where the talent in this group lays. The pitching needs to do a better job of keeping LA in the game to begin with, but the Dodgers, regardless of how good at it they may be, cannot play from behind and hope to beat the Cardinals. While St. Louis' bullpen is far from lights out, scoring five runs on most bullpens around baseball is hard enough, let enough the bullpen for a 105 game winner.

St. Louis has to feel fantastic after their performance. The Dodgers have to hope that the Cards feel so proud of themselves after their performance that they try to sleepwalk through the game tomorrow. Marquis is pitching, and he's very hittable. Weaver is pitching for the Dodgers, and he arguably has the most talent of any of the Dodgers' pitchers. He certainly has the most and recent postseason experience, though that experience wasn't necessarily positive. Still, bad experiences are better than no experience at all. If the Dodgers are going to steal a game in St. Louis, it absolutely has to be tomorrow. They have to prove to themselves that they can win in St. Louis, something they haven't done all season. Otherwise, even if the Dodgers sweep the Cards in LA, they'll have zero chance of winning game five in St. Louis.

Tomorrow night's game, a prime time game on Fox, is the Dodgers' most important game of the season. More important than any of the late season Giants games. Those games are ancient history now. Luckily for LA fans, the Dodgers have shown resilliancy all season. Everytime they're left for dead, they manage to prove people wrong. They were wrote off after they made the Penny trade, and they showed people how wrong they were. They were down and out of 52 games this season, including the game that catapulted them into the post season, and they managed to win those games. Tomorrow night is do-or-die time. If they can win tomorrow night, last night's game is forgotten. If St. Louis rolls over them again, it makes no difference how many games the Dodgers manage to pull out in LA, if they can pull any out at all. They stand no chance back in St. Louis.

As great as last week against the Giants was, it's meaningless if LA doesn't win tomorrow night. The goal for every team isn't to make it to the playoffs, it's to win the World Series. The Dodgers have one last shot of making this a series. One last chance to give the Dodgers nation hope.

One last chance to make some magic.



What to do?

2004-10-04T22:48:26.526-08:00

So, what do you do when you still have a full 12 hours before your team's first playoff game in 9 years? You read a LOT of articles. I don't mean just casual reading, either. You pour through everything you can get your hands on, from latimes.com to ESPN. You talk to other friends and sports fans online. You chat around your office. You look for reasons why your team can win the World Series. You do anything but be patient. I'd like to take a moment to thank ESPN, by the way, for putting the Dodgers-Cardinals game on first tomorrow morning. Sure, it's coming on while I should be asleep, since I'll just be coming off of a 12 hour night shift. But still, it's first. I don't have to wait. I don't have to pace. I don't have to watch other playoff games I'm less interested in, getting myself more nervous and more pumped up. I can settle in on my couch, grab some popcorn and a beer, and watch my Dodgers without suffering a pre-game nervous breakdown (this is not ruling out any during or post-game nervous breakdowns, mind you). I did find some interesting things while I was pouring through articles and through my random chats. ESPNews, handy and well timed as they are, posted the odds for each post season team winning the World Series, just as I was justifying to my friend from Maryland why the Dodgers had even a shot of beating the Cardinals. The Cards are, oddly enough, favored at 11-5 odds. The Dodgers? You guessed it. 18-1 longshots. The bright side to that? The last two World Series champs were, you guessed it, the longshots. Secondly, how did I miss that Chris Carpenter wouldn't be pitching against the Dodgers? How does something this important slip by me? Why didn't the LA Times jump ALL over this and make that a prominent story. Carpenter's been the Cardinals' ace this season. He's 15-8. He had a 3.46 ERA. Sure, his 152 K's are modest, but you'll be hard pressed to find anyone within the Los Angeles city limits with those numbers. Am I the only one asking this? So, Woody Williams is going to start in his place. Williams went 11-8, the worst won-loss record amongst Cardinals starters, with a 4.18 ERA, 131 K's, and 20 homers allowed. Then the Cards will roll out Jason Marquis, Matt Morris, and Jeff Suppan. My friend and I were a little shocked at the odds laid out on the Dodgers. Sure, they may not have the best pitching. But do odds makers even take into account the intangibles? I mean, Atlanta hasn't made a World Series since 1999, even though they've made the playoffs each year since. They're the ultimate post-season choakers. Doesn't that count for anything? The Dodgers keep looking more and more each time I look at things like the Marlins of last year and the Angels of two years ago. They're not going to overwhelm you with their stats, but they get just enough pitching, just enough hitting, and let their bullpen close games out. Why does Vegas not take this into account? It's like they're begging to lose money. Williams, by the way, pitched against the Dodgers twice this year, and the Cards went 1-1 in his starts, both being no decisions. He allowed 2 runs in each game and carried an ERA close to 4.00. Morris? 1-0 against LA, absolutely dominating them with an 11 K performance in St. Louis, allowing no runs. Marquis beat the Cardinals and posted a no decision, dominating them in St. Louis, but getting shelled at Chavez Ravine. That second game he allowed 5 runs and 3 home runs. Suppan managed to miss the Dodgers in both series this season. The Cards boast a 4-2 record against LA this season, sweeping them in St. Louis, but dropping 2 of 3 in LA. If the Dodgers can take care of business at home, stealing a game in St. Louis isn't out of the question. Thus, after a full day of doing nothing but being a geek, I'm ammeding yesterday's gloom and doom prediction. Dodgers in 5. While I'm ranting, poor choice of words by Odalis Perez yesterday, who proclaimed for all to hear that, "If we beat St. Louis, we're going to win the World Series." I don't have a problem[...]



Deflating the Optimism

2004-10-03T20:05:23.893-08:00

Okay, so we've established that I'm fairly new to the baseball playoff excitement scene. My last two baseball playoff experiences, the 1996 and 1997 Baltimore Orioles, were laregly disappointing. In 1996, we had Jeffrey Friggin Maier. In 1997, we lost to the Cleveland Indians because Tony Fernandez, who'd hit one home run all damn year, hit a homer in the 10th to beat us. We went wire to wire that year and should've won it all, but it didn't happen. So, pardon me for looking at the state of things a little less rosy today. I went home last night still high about things. I woke up my wife to proclaim to her that Steve Finley was my new hero. When I woke up, the doubts started trickling through. Are we going to have enough pitching to beat anybody? Is our middle relief going to hold up long enough to get to Gagne? Is anybody other than Beltre and Finley going to hit? Will anyone keep Milton Bradley away from bottled water?

Then I turned on ESPN and saw the score... Giants 10, Dodgers 0.

It was as if all of my questions were answered at once, minus the Milton Bradley conundrum. Starting pitching got smacked around. We didn't hit. We looked... well... awful. Not the kind of momentum a team needs going into the playoffs. Sure, it was great when they flashed the Astros-Rockies score on the scoreboard, so the Giants could be rightly ridiculed for missing the playoffs and letting the Astros sneak in. Even with the loss, things still had to have held a general optimism.

Not for me.

The Dodgers visit St. Louis for game one of the NLDS. St. Louis, who has managed to assemble one of the greatest offenses in the history of the game, against the Dodgers, who are rolling out Odalis Perez for game one.

Tell me why I should feel confident about this. Please? I really want to feel upbeat about our chances.

Sure, St. Louis isn't exactly throwing Cy Young winners at us. They're going to counter Perez with Chris Carpenter, a Blue Jays reject (which, by the way, is never good for the career). St. Louis will probably pitch Jason Marquis, who I still argue is nothing better than a Braves middle reliever, and Jeff Suppan, who obviously has forgotten this season that he's not a very good pitcher. Their bullpen is shaky. Their closer has a history of losing big games. To say there's NO shot would be an obvious stretch. Crazy things happen in post season baseball, and the Dodgers look very much like a team of destiny. Just ask the 53,000 who saw Finley's homer at the stadium. What frightens me is the fact that the Dodgers pitching has been considerably worse than St. Louis'. Talent wise, our best pitcher is Brad Penny, and he's hurt. Talent level plummets after that. Perez, sure. Lima? Kansas City had to be convinced to offer him the minimum in the off season. How confident does that make you? Weaver? Sure, he'd be great if his talent and his body would play on the same planet now and then. Against the Braves, we could've out hit them. We're not going to outhit the Cardinals. We have to pray, and I mean pray, for St. Louis' pitching to not show up, and us to hit out of our minds. If that can happen, we stand a legitimate shot. Otherwise, it's going to be a very very fast series. I'm predicting 3-1 St. Louis.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm as excited as the next person about this series. I'm especially excited because my superintendant here at the weather station is a HUGE Cards fan. But I'm going to realistic about it. I can be excited for a series and still be realistic about our shot. We're the underdogs, for sure, but it wouldn't be the first time a huge underdog moved on. After all, the Marlins beat the Yankees last season.

It's October. Anything can happen.



What a Day for a First Post!

2004-10-03T05:33:01.143-08:00

I'm still feeling the rush. It's a solid 13 hours later, and yet here I sit, still feeling the rush. Those of you that stumbled upon my humble Dodger blog know exactly what that "rush" is, and why I feel the need to comment on it. It's like friggin Christmas for me. I'm going to bed with visions of Finley's slam dancing in my head. This is what baseball is all about. It's about rivalries, dramatic home runs, 39 year old guys running like they're 20 all over again... this is why baseball is and will always be our nation's pasttime. Name another sport that has SO many dramatic images forever burned into our psyches. Go ahead. Football will fall short, and that's the only one playing on the same field. Finley's slam may not be Gibson's homer, or Mays' catch, but for someone who hasn't had a team they support within sniffing distance of the playoffs since 1997, this is as good as it gets. Even if the Dodgers get swept... that moment, against the damn Giants, I'll never forget it. It's playoff time. Check your pulse. That said, I should provide some sort of introduction. I'm Joe. Jackson. No, not that one. I'm 21 and married to a beautiful and wonderful woman, Erna. I'm from Baltimore, Maryland, where I lived for 19 years. After a failed attempt at financing my OWN way through college, I dropped out and joined the military. That took me from Baltimore to San Antonio to Biloxi, and now here to Anchorage, Alaska. I forecast the weather up here for the state, which may not seem like much... but if you consider that Alaska, counting the Aleutians, covers an area roughly 2/3 the size of the continental US, then you realize that my job is anything but easy. And I have to admit, while I enjoy my job, I was going to college to be a journalist. That's what I want to do. That's what I've ALWAYS wanted to do. Blogging was an idea that, to be honest, hit me tonight. So, here I sit, rambling about Steve Finley's home run while I should be monitoring the weather. God, I hope it doesn't snow tonight. I'm not exclusively a baseball fan. To be honest, I follow baseball, football, hockey, and basketball passionately. To give you an idea of how rabid I am, while basketball is probably my least favorite sport, I could still give you most of the NBA teams' starting lineups last year, and most of their offseason moves. I've always had a passion for it. My mother gave it to me while I was young. She took me to a baseball game before I turned one. She kept stats for her high school football team. I'm a sports lunatic, and I blame it on her. I actually have THREE teams I follow in baseball... the Orioles, Dodgers, and Reds. The Orioles I've always loved. As a kid growing up in Baltimore, watching Cal Ripken every day of your natural life, you can't help it. I started following the Dodgers in 1988. I got to watch Gibson's home run on TV, and that was it for me. If you watched that game, and you weren't from San Francisco, how could you not pull for the Dodgers that series? And if you're 5, how can you not be a lifer? My love of the Reds came much later, in 1998, for no particular reason. They were God-awful in 1998. The next year they teased me by forcing a playoff with the Mets, but they haven't been competitive since. Needless to say, the last few years have been... well, painful. Not this year, though. I can finally root for a team other than "Wait, who are the Yankees playing?" It's almost indescribable. The 13 year old kid who's baseball passion was killed by Jeffrey Maier is starting to wake from his coma. He wiggled his thumb last week during the first Dodgers-Giants series. Tonight, his eyes opened again. He's trying to regain his senses. Everything feels funny. And for some reason, the world is this pretty blue blue color. So, this is my offer. I'm going to do my best to post intelligently. I'm going to eventually mention the other teams that I like, and I may ramble a bit about how badly I loathe the Yankees, but this is primarily[...]