Nice trades, but Dodgers, Angels are dead at deadline
Goodbye to Thunderstix in the stands, Tommy Lasorda on the mound, bunting on the facades, fireworks in the chill.
The Rally Monkey doesn’t have the bounce to beat it. The Don’t-Stop-Believin’ Guy doesn’t know the words to fix it.
The two best managers in baseball aren’t smart enough. Two of the most loyal fan bases aren’t loud enough. Less than a year after being on the verge of a Freeway World Series, that freeway suddenly isn’t long enough.
Baseball’s non-waiver trading deadline passed Saturday for our local teams with emphasis on the “dead.”
I’m not saying the Dodgers and Angels are done. I’m just saying they’re, well, done.
Paralyzed by their owners’ broken marriage, the Dodgers were unable to get the giant arm or bat they needed to pull themselves out of mediocrity. Paralyzed by their best hitter’s broken leg, the Angels were unable to scour up the strength to maintain their step.
I watched the Dodgers lead into the eighth inning in San Francisco on Saturday afternoon, then weary Jonathan Broxton blew it again, and I realized there’s no way Ryan Theriot or Deney Terrio — who is that new second baseman again? — can put any glitter on this.
I then visited the Big A for another Angels showdown with the Texas Rangers, and I watched new pitcher Dan Haren throw gas, and new infielder Alberto Callaspo glove fire, and I promised to give Manager Mike Scioscia an ink-stained pep talk.
Then Vladdy came up.
While I don’t blame the Angels for letting Vladimir Guerrero walk last winter after the guy stumbled through most of his big moments here, the entire American League West has since swung on his swing. In the fourth inning, Guerrero blasted Haren’s first pitch on to the Scotts lawn in left-center field to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead in an eventual 2-1 victory. Perhaps not coincidentally, Hideki Matsui ended the bottom of the inning with a runner on second by striking out on an equally hard swing that missed.
No blame for Guerrero, but immense blame for Matsui.
Anyway, it all added up to the end of the pep talk and the beginning of a eulogy. I can’t see the Angels making up nine games on a Texas team that has added enough pieces to make two teams, a nice trick considering the Rangers are supposedly in bankruptcy? I also can’t see the Dodgers having enough hitting to overcome their seven-game deficit to a terrific San Diego pitching staff, including a handy bullpen filled with five Rollie Fingers.
“No way the Angels win, the Rangers are just a better team,” said one veteran scout Saturday. “I wouldn’t bet on the Dodgers either.”
He paused. “Weird, huh? No baseball in Los Angeles in October.”
Weird, but in a bad way. Our town’s two stadiums haven’t been dark in October in seven years, since 2003, the year that the Angels suffered from a World Series championship hangover while the Dodgers collapsed after drinking too many shots of Andy Ashby and Fred McGriff.
After that, both teams started winning, and winning, and creeping neatly toward last year’s dream postseason, a wonderful three-week ride that veered into a ditch when Brian Fuentes couldn’t stare down Alex Rodriguez and Broxton couldn’t stomach Matt Stairs.
A lot of folks will blame this year’s underachievement on human failings, but I prefer to think of it as human nature.
The Angels lost because they loved each other too much. The Dodgers lost because their owners disliked each other too much.
Even in the illustrious baseball history of muscles pulled while putting on socks, has any team suffered an injury filled with more freakish and damaging consequences than Kendry Morales’ broken leg? You lose a 34-homer, 108-RBI guy for two-thirds of your season on a walk-off homer celebration?
The Dodgers, of course, can top that, with the tribute to teamwork that was last season’s National League Championship Series appearance followed by the announcement of the McCourts’ divorce, which has basically shut down everything since.
Give General Manager Ned Colletti credit for working the numbers enough to acquire the likes of pitcher Ted Lilly and reliever Octavio Dotel and even that second baseman with the funny name. Colletti is trying to make spaghetti sauce with ketchup packets, people, and I’m surprised he was able to acquire any player not currently serving an unpaid summer internship.
Of course, that strange collection of dudes isn’t enough. The Dodgers haven’t had enough since spring training, except for Matt Kemp, who has suffered from too much . . . too much Rihanna, too much Hollywood, too much him.
Anyway , it’s over now, two months left and nothing left, folks in town now free to concentrate on preparing for a different sort of fall classic.
Dog pile on Lane Kiffin. Watch your legs.