Good thing Los Angeles is a hockey town. Otherwise more might be noticing the continued disintegration of those “cruddy” Dodgers.
I was standing in the clubhouse after yet another Dodgers’ home loss this week and a player walked up to me and said quietly, “This is hard to watch.”
Hard to watch if you’re part of it, hard to watch if you’re paid to do it, hard if you’re a fan, and apparently particularly hard if you’re their manager.
Manager Don Mattingly had himself an interesting day in that homestand finale Wednesday. He is understandably frustrated by the team’s continued display of disappointing mediocrity.
And he let that be known before the game, when asked how Carl Crawford's return from the disabled list would affect Matt Kemp's playing time:
“I'm not thinking about any of that right now. Honestly, so tired of talking about individual guys instead of talking about us as a club and how we are going to win games. There's so much focus on individual guys that we've gotten away from, 'What's the team doing? How are we going to win games?'”
Then the Dodgers went out and managed two entire Dee Gordon hits in a 2-1 loss to the White Sox, and in the postgame interview he let loose an expletive and said:
“Basically, we're [cruddy]. We're just not that good.”
Not that Mattingly is letting the Dodgers’ underwhelming performance get to him. The Dodgers finished their homestand 4-6, fell to 31-30 overall and, after the Giants’ 6-1 victory over the Reds on Thursday, are now a season-high 8½ games back in the National League West.
That does sound an awful lot like a cruddy team.
How could this be? How could this talent-laden offense just not seem to get going? Their numbers don’t look so awful. In May they were first in the National League in runs, total bases and RBIs, and second in slugging and on-base percentages. And they went 15-15.
They’re tied for fourth in the league when it comes to hitting with runners in scoring position. Their starting rotation has a 3.27 ERA. And yet they plod along, common as a pigeon when they were built to soar like an eagle.
If this is just some passing slump -- they’ve lost six of eight -- then things could turn at any time. They open a three-game series in Colorado on Friday and the Rockies have lost seven consecutive games and 11 of 13, so there’s that.
But if this current uninspired play continues much longer, bet that fingers will start to point. Build the most expensive team in baseball history and expectations tend to rise -- and with them, corresponding pressure.
The Dodgers are a collection of talent that has yet to become a team. They have no particular identity beyond their talent. If they don’t start playing as a common group with a sense of purpose soon, they could be looking at the most disappointing Dodgers season ever.