“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).
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)”
It’s been a while, but no more classes means a bit more free time, which means more time for the blog.
I’m stoked to see Rafael Furcal back in blue. When this guy is on it, the whole team benefits. It took Manny to fill the void Furcal’s injury created, as far as the role of catalyst is concerned. If we had both, we’d be going places more often (C’mon Frank, let’s get this deal done already!).
If you like the pic, feel free to show some love in the comments section. And feel free to borrow the images for fansites, etc., provided that you give me credit, as I’ll be giving credit for the images that have inspired me. This particular one was based on a pic from Chris Carlson of the Associated Press ( http://www.latimes.com/media/photo/2008-12/44000484.gif ). One day, who knows, I might even draw backgrounds.
Anyway, hope everyone’s having a great holiday season!
Haven’t done much drawing lately, school and work have taken my time up lately (two upper-division literature classes will do that to you). Hope to start drawing again soon, but I won’t make any empty promises as to when.
As for the last season, it was a fun ride, and I’m glad to have seen them go that far, a good touchstone for upcoming seasons. Hope Manny chooses to stay, the ball’s in his court.
Personally, I would hope he would take a 2-3 year contract, and head to the AL after that for the remainder of his career (and hopefully his Dodgers years will help him to get that killer contract). Of course, I’m no GM, but there’s a lot of value in not being tied up for too long. he’ll make his money now, Boras will make his money, and in two years, they can do this again.
Whatever happens, I don’t have much of an NFL team at the moment, so the HSL (Hot Stove League) will more than suffice. My favorite time of the offseason, the baseball equivalent of gawking at tabloid headlines while in line at the grocery store. Let the games begin.
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.