Fans Don’t Exactly Appreciate Dodgers
As I return yet another strip of playoff tickets, the Dodgers led us to believe that the reason they didn’t make the playoffs was because of the onset of injuries to the starting pitching. Because a healthy Kaz Ishii won fewer games than Kevin Beirne in the last two months and a healthy Andy Ashby was stuck on nine wins for the last two months, this is utterly absurd.
The reason is simple: The Dodgers led the league in grounding into double plays, they left the most runners on base and they were shut out 13 times ... 10 at home. The bottom line is the Dodgers weren’t very good and they were boring.
So here it is, one day after the regular season, and already Ross Newhan is on Page 1 with a column declaring that it is the Dodgers’ responsibility to spend more money on a power-hitting RBI player. Farther back in the same section, it is forecast that Adrian Beltre and Odalis Perez will receive big raises from an arbitrator.
Imagine being an owner and having the L.A. Times call you out to spend even more money or risk the indignation of the community, knowing that some other third party is about to volunteer you to give your employees big raises based primarily on what goes on everywhere else.
Let us all remember those two factoids the next time you hear players or agents or columnists declaring that the owners have only themselves to blame for rising salaries in baseball.
It’s only fitting that one of the reasons the Giants are in the postseason is because Tom Goodwin, who is still being paid by the Dodgers after they released him this spring, has been somewhat of a catalyst for the Giants’ offense, and an even bigger nemesis to the Dodgers. That being said, it would only seem even more fitting if the Dodgers were smart to realize the impact of current Giant-free-agent-to-be Jeff Kent’s bat in their lineup next season.
Sunday’s Fan Appreciation Day at Dodger Stadium was a disappointing bust to this fan. Courtesy appearances by Paul Lo Duca, Dave Hansen and Shawn Green notwithstanding, I endured a perfunctory nongame by players I never knew existed. And the giveaways were embarrassing. Gas fireplace logs, indeed.
I don’t think I’m alone in feeling the fans were not appreciated. Insulted was more like it.
What do you think the Dodger brass is going to talk about during the off-season?
“I’m satisfied with a third-place finish, that’s where we finished last year.”
“It’s not as if we’re the only team in baseball that hasn’t won a playoff game in 14 ... er, 15 years.”
“We still pack ‘em in the park, even when we lose on a consistent basis, so what’s the problem?”
“I’m hearing some rumors that, because we have the third-highest payroll in baseball, a few bobblehead fanatics expect us to get beyond third place in a five-team division.”
“I think the media is responsible for setting expectations too high for our fans in April, and they begin to think we can really compete with Arizona and San Francisco.”
It’s unarguable: The 2002 Dodgers fell short. Their offense was frequently less productive than the given situation required, leaving too many men stranded on base, and the pitching, while strong at the start, took enough blows that titanic efforts by Hideo Nomo, Odalis Perez and Eric Gagne were, in the end, simply not enough. These facts are obvious to anyone who even casually follows the game, though professional sneerers like T.J. Simers get paid--and I’ll wager far more handsomely than I do at my trade--to point them out well past the point of tedium.
What Simers and his ilk miss about the Dodgers can be found on the face of my 2 1/2-year-old daughter whenever she steps into Dodger Stadium, or sees the Dodger logo, or hears Vin Scully’s voice on TV.
Those moments are more valuable to me than the opportunity to righteously condemn a team that struggled in 2002 through injuries and ever-shifting lineups--while improving their record yet again. Despite their shortcomings, my daughter and I will be back in 2003 to enjoy a hopefully even more successful Dodger summer. I’ll withdraw my support only when Jim Tracy’s team starts phoning in their performances on the field the way Simers does with his knee-jerk vomitus in the sports section.