“I’m taking a ride with my best friend
I hope he never lets me down again
He knows where he’s taking me
Taking me where I want to be
I’m taking a ride with my best friend…”
– Depeche Mode, “Never Let Me Down”
So I know one thing from watching the Dodgers nearly come back from a 6-1 deficit against Bud’s Anointed Brewers last night: The Dodgers are NEVER out of a game. Sure, the end result was disappointing, but I’d rather them lose an August game fighting the whole way, and learn from it, than to have this happen in the playoffs.
Of course, it’s tough to look at last night’s game and not notice that with 2 outs bases loaded, the bat was in Manny Ramirez’s hands. Mr. Bobblebomb couldn’t produce this time, and I understand he’s human. Still, tough seeing as how the Dodgers’ marketing is holding the man to an image he can’t live up to, a promise he can’t keep, and a standard seemingly impossible to hold for someone who took an involuntary 50 day vacation at the beginning of the season (and knew it was probably coming since being notified of the investigation during Spring Training).
And yeah, I know Orlando Hudson’s just as blameable, not running on contact during Rafael Furcal’s bunt single. I also know that I’m sitting behind a keyboard, and am not a sharp enough baseball mind to be on any team’s payroll. But this is the double edged sword of image, with it comes expectation, and with expectation comes disappointment.
And as the Dodgers falter a bit in most Power Rankings, I smile, just a little. I know that the team with the most wins outright in baseball has only won once since the beginning of the Wild Card format in ’95, and that the best record in the league has only won twice (check http://www.baseball-reference.com if you don’t believe me). Yet, numbers tell you whatever you want them to say, and I also happy spin my hopes knowing that 2 of those 3 times the trend was bucked, Joe Torre was at the helm of the Championship team. Yet I wonder if those teams’ bullpens still had arms attatched (j/k Joe, can’t argue with results).
“See the stars, they’re shining bright
Everything’s alright tonight”
(Artwork is not mine, it’s Depeche Mode’s, with addition of Dodger Stadium’s speaker. Please don’t sue me, will take down if asked)
For what it’s worth, talking about the Dodgers clinching the West might be a day late and a dollar short, with all eyes on what’s going on with the Phils, Brewers and Mets. But this drawing took me a while to get where I wanted it to be. I feel this image perfectly captures the feeling of the Dodgers in 2008. Seeing our younger players get onto the October stage, of course with help from Manny. The oddity of clinching the division while driving to the ballpark. And the milk, well, I’m not sure what that’s about, but it evokes the Indy 500 winner’s circle in a strange way.
But getting there is only the beginning, we’ll see what happens once things get rolling. One thing I can say, though, is I think these guys aren’t carrying the 20-year old monkey-on-the-back that has haunted the franchise. And with legitimate offensive threats in our lineup, as well as an awesome pitching staff and great bullpen, the Dodgers have the chance to do some long-term damage, not the limping-into-the-playoffs performance we had in ’06.
Now it’s just the Giants, then waiting to see who we face. With all the rain back east, I heard on the radio that the Dodgers might fall into a scenario where they take to the air not knowing what city their flight will end up. If deciding games go into extra innings, that means the Dodgers will have a layover at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago until the game’s been decided. Strange for sure.
But (and here comes the Great Cliche) October 1st, it’s a new season, and all eight teams are equal. I’m ready, but I think the fans in San Francisco want two more chances to get the last digs at their “hated Dodgers” before it’s all done. Me, I’ll be working during the first half of the game, so I guess I might be missing out on the fun. Those Dodgers-Giants games are almost always worth the price of admission.