“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)
I wish I could be happy to see that Manny Ramirez is getting a second Bobblehead night, and a poster to commemorate the first one (one of the most exciting nights in recent regular-season Dodger Stadium history for sure). But I can’t be happy. Not when the Dodgers’ good standing is due not to a guy who took a 50-day vacation at the beginning of the year, but to a team coming together. The “kids”, Jacksonville 5 and others, finally growing to fruition. The supposedly shoddy pitching staff and bullpen becoming one of the best of baseball (due to other teams’ staffs being shoddier, I guess). Juan Pierre stopped sulking about his place on the team and came up big when we needed him to.
But my feelings on Manny are complicated. I described them best in a post I meant to put up at the beginning of last month, but didn’t, saving it to the computer instead. But since I feel I need to explain why I would feel conflicted about speaking ill of Manny, I’ll post it now. Then off to work for me, and maybe something posted later.
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been a long three months since I last posted.
A whirlwind, actually, with the semester, commencement, and just the
usual stuff life throws at you from day to day (and quite a bit of unusual
stuff as well). But, if one thing is
certain, it’s that I have a funny way of keeping a blog going, which is strung
with long periods of inactivity.
what’s new? Well, the Dodgers aren’t
playing like bums, and it’s weird to consistently see them on top of the
standings of not only the division, or the league, but all of baseball. Being 7 years old the last time the Dodgers
won the World Series, this is definitely a welcome change of pace. It’s not one person doing well, it’s the team
running on all cylinders, with slumps few and far between.
somewhat used to failure (if not expectant), I don’t know how to handle
this. It’s good to be on top, and yet I
remember the 100-win ’04 Cardinals, and of course the 100-win ’88 A’s, knowing
that the regular season is just a prelude, and it seems the best teams during
the year burn themselves out by October, while the winning teams are the ones
that are playing to get into October at the end of September. Plus, our pitching situation isn’t looking
really good at the moment, but then again, whose does? Gotta give props to the Giants’ staff, but
their offense is terrible, reminding me of the ’05 Dodgers, one of the best
pitching staffs in history, but an anemic offense couldn’t get them to October.
yeah, and that other thing happened. It
was devastating to me, because he had been one of my favorite outfielders this
decade. I loved his attitude (well,
except for the sulky, Clubhouse-attendant-pushing antics last summer), the way
he was like water, and everything that came his way, criticism, jeers from fans
of other teams, anything. He took to the
field in MP3 sunglasses, disappeared into the Green Monster between innings,
high-fived fans in the middle of game-busting plays, and was charismatic. I knew if he had ever made it to L.A., the
fans would eat him up like 3-for-$2.70 Taco Nite at Del Taco. The dude was so Hollywood, he’d be the
biggest thing to happen to L.A. since Shaq.
we know what happened, so not much for me to say except I support him as
wholeheartedly and knowingly as Yankees fans accept A-Rod, Phillies fans accept
J.C. Romero, Giants fans accepted Bonds, and whatever else. Except for Romero, the thing Manny has on
most players connected with PED’s is that he has actually been punished for it
by baseball (and his body will be punished for it over time, if he used certain
PED’s). And he still wears the jersey of
my team, so I’ll support him, just as I’m sure that any fan would support an
iconic player of their team once they’ve had 50 days to run the gamut of
emotions associated with that betrayal, a betrayal of the fans, of the sport,
and of the athlete themselves.
accusing anyone, but imagine what would happen if a player as iconic to their
team as Derek Jeter or Albert Pujols was connected to PED’s… wow. It’d be tough to deal with. It would be easier for a fan to leave the
game than to deal with it, and consider taking the player back (if the owner
gives them that option). You’d look over
the course of that players’ tenure, and wonder how you should look at it
now. For Red Sox fans, perhaps this is a
reality, since they’ve won their two recent “curse”-busting championships with
the slugger as a major part of it. Sure,
he wasn’t caught then, but if the sport went out of their way to not test a
perceived jerk like Bonds, they weren’t going to touch the enigmatic star of
one of Baseball’s beloved franchises.
Dodgers fans, we look back at the Game Over era of Eric Gagne, and the
once-proclaimed “heart and soul” of the team, Paul Lo Duca, who we now know was
a PED ringleader since his AAA days. You
look at the names in the Mitchell Report, you realize there’s a list of 104
names of players who did test positive (not just the top 10 power sluggers in
baseball), and see that it’s not a case of a few bullies picking on the game,
but a culture of cheating that threatens the pastoral sanctity people associate
with the National Pastime.
me, I’ll take this season with a grain of salt.
It was a little easier dealing with this when we couldn’t be bothered
with considering why Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa looked like they could
double-team Superman and the Incredible Hulk… and win. They said they were just lifting weights, but
I had been lifting weights for 5 years at that point, and I didn’t look
anything like that. I’m sure it was
easier for Oakland to remember 1988-1990, before Canseco became the
Bulked-Up-Bouton of our era, and not think about where all that Bash-ing came
from. It was easier to look back at the
1960’s era of the Pitcher, and not think about whether the baseballs were
scuffed or how many players were on greenies.
And I’m sure it was easier for kids to love the Babe without wondering
how he could run in straight lines after hitting up Happy Hour before many a
gameday. You look at the past, and with
all that tobacco they were chewing, and wonder what pills and supplements they
might’ve been hiding in there for that extra edge.
survived worse, and will see better days once again (just ask Terrance
Mann). For the time being, I’ll still be
watching, cheering and booing. And if I
was at a game, I wouldn’t boo him, I’ve spent 50 days booing his decision in my
heart. A decision I’m beyond certain
that he regrets. He’s been punished, he
wants to move on, and I can feel that, since I wouldn’t want cameras and mics
in my face every time I screw up in life.
Do I like having the advantage last year that the PED use gave us? Well, I don’t like knowing about it. Knowledge is sorrow, Ignorance is bliss. Because once I know, I can’t condone it, and
last year became too good to be true.
this year will be different, if we made it.
A team with a known ex (I hope) user against teams that perhaps have
unknown users, players who feel invincible and above the rules.
this year will be different, because we have a recognizance of the problem now
before us. A recognizance that this
isn’t an epidemic exclusive to one team or player, but one that is rampant within
the sport (unless EVERYBODY stopped. You
can laugh, it’s funny).
I did this one the night that Jason Schmidt had his stellar showing in Atlanta Friday night (as well as the next drawing I’ll post, which I worked on first, but figured I’d do this one first, since it was timely to the current situation). I was glad to see Schmidt doing well in Blue, throwing 9 scoreless innings in three starts, though the other innings weren’t exactly the best, but I can look past that, especially if we see more of the Schmidt of Friday.
So I didn’t post anything yesterday, since they were losing. I figured I’d post it today, and just as I put the pen to the paper to trace this drawing pre-scanning, Chad Billingsley hyperextends his knee, and the coaches and training staff surround the mound.
Figuring I was due to jinx the team, I wanted to stop, but figured what’s wrong with inking a few lines and letting it go until tomorrow. Bills gets out of the inning, I ink through the commercial, and when the game comes back on, I see the image of Jason Schmidt in the dugout, wearing a batting helmet.
I chuckled, thinking that Bills might talk Joe out of sitting out the game, or anything would happen to prevent Schmidt coming up (though he’s always been a decent hitting pitcher). But, to my curious joy, Schmidt stepped up to the plate, and knocked a grounder through the second baseman and shortstop, scoring a single. Later, he crossed the plate, collecting a run. Not bad for someone who’s been on the shelf for two years, working his way through pain and setback after setback.
We all should hope to have the work ethic of Jason Schmidt in his attempt at a Major League comeback. Time will tell whether we’ll see more good starts (or at bats) from him, but for now, I’m glad to have him in a Dodger uniform. Anything helps at this point of the year, and I’m definitely not going to turn my nose up at someone who shuts out the Braves in Atlanta for 5 innings.
Good to get the season started on the right foot (or the left foot, depending on how you think), as the Los Angeles Dodgers get a win against San Diego, 4-1. Great game by Hiroki Kuroda (黒戸ーさん), and Big Jon Broxton got the Save. Loney was the catalyst, but the Dodgers got some bang for their buck by a booming straightaway centerfield HR (in Petco Park, nonetheless) by their star OFer… Matt “The Bison” Kemp!
Kemp might be making it on Bristol’s Top 10 tonight, as he had a stellar catch in centerfield that helped seal the game for the Blue at a critical juncture. I could tell it was a stellar catch, because Charley Steiner was yelling at the top of his lungs. I’m a Steiner fan, definitely snaps me back in the game if I start getting distracted. You know, by schoolwork, drawing, or anything else I should be ignoring on Opening Day.
Now a puzzling day off, then the SoCal chapter of Baseball’s Senior Circuit go at it again. After this long offseason, though, I’m sure I can find it in me to make it though this oddly-placed day off.
(picture based on a photograph by the AP’s Lenny Ignelzi)
We have a new toy, a drawing pad. Trying to get better with it. The two images are kinda similar, James Loney and Manny Ramirez leaning on the dugout rail. That’s how I felt when I was drawing them… like leaning on a rail, waiting for what feels like forever. Then when it starts up again, it feels like it was never gone in the first place.
Opening Day has finally come. Good to hear Vin Scully’s voice again, the Dodgers finally breaking into the 2009 season against the Padres. Peavy usually gives the team fits, but this is 2009, and he hasn’t done good against them this season.
It’s a good feeling getting to watch games that count again.
“I’m disconnected by your smile
I disconnect a million miles
And what you promised me I hope will set you free
I’m disconnected by your smile…”
– The Smashing Pumpkins, “The Aeroplane Flies High (Turns Left, Looks Right)“
As I am about to trudge off to my slightly-more-than-minimum-wage job to put in a lot less than a full day’s work in a place like much of the businesses in America is seeing dwindling business lately, please excuse me if I feel a little out of touch right now.
At least it’s spring training, but I feel like I had to get this one off my chest (photoshopped, heheh). I’m sure many feel the same way. We love you Manny, but you’re playing with our emotions. Take the money and run. Please. We want you back.
My spirit has not been broken, but I’m flabbergasted.
NorthStateBlues is @ Twitter now.
“And in my heart I know you’re there…
And in my heart I know you care…
And in my heart I know you’re gone”
– TSP, “TAFH (TLLR)”
“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball.
America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers.
It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again.
But baseball has marked the time.
This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray.
It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again.
Oh people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come”
-Terrence Mann – “Field of Dreams”
They say a picture says 1,000 words. I burnt the midnight oil doing this one, so for now, the picture will have to say most of what I wanted.
Don Newcombe once commented on Martin Luther King Jr. thanking him for what him, Campy and Jackie did in Brooklyn, saying they made the road that much easier for him to follow. What Jackie, Newk, Campy and Larry Doby did in the late 40’s didn’t just affect baseball, it affected the nation for decades to come.
Regardless of politics, today we enter a new era in this country, an era where our country is beginning to make good on MLK’s dream in a big way. May better times follow in the days to come.
I’ll try to update this more elequently by the end of the day. As for now, I’m beat.