Thursday, May 31, 2007

Read This

Domestic Violence in Baseball

I don't like that the male athlete is stereotypically known as the type to cheat on his wife at every turn, but it's not something that I think the MLB needs to be involved with. It's not against the law. Beating your wife and/or girlfriend, however, is another story altogether.

I don't know how much media coverage this Dukes story is getting, but it's a shame that I haven't yet seen a male sportswriter (the gender that is, obviously, the majority in the profession) write a column on this issue. If there is one out there, I'd love to know about it, so send me the link.

It shouldn't matter, though. Everyone should be on Ms. Kinkhabwala's side on this issue. No debate, really.



COMMENTS:

AUTHOR: kingman
DATE: 06/01/2007 09:31:40 AM

Sadly, Dukes is still playing because he has 10 HR's and is averaging a home run for every 14.8 at bats, 4th best in the AL. Bud Selig and MLB usually leave their moral compass at home, especially when it comes to good players.

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Game 52: Dodgers 5, Nationals 0

For the second night in a row, the Dodgers pinned the Nationals down and refused to let them cross home plate. It's been a pleasure to watch, even if it is against a team that shouldn't even qualify for the major leagues.

The Nationals have managed nine hits against Dodger pitching in the last two games, so if they follow that pattern, they'll get four and a half hits tonight. Hendrickson is on the mound, and even with his recent troubles, he is expected (at least by me) to get a win tonight, if not another shutout.

Wednesday night belonged to Derek Lowe. It was his second consecutive good start, after the Dodgers' bullpen cost him a win on Friday against the Cubs. He allowed three hits over seven innings, with two walks and five strikeouts. No extra base hits allowed. Lowe followed Brad Penny's lead at the plate, and went 1-1 with 2 walks. Beimel pitched a perfect eighth, and Seanez allowed a hit in the ninth, but that was it.

The killer for the Nationals came when Cristian Guzman's error allowed Kent to get on base with two outs. Martin came up with two outs and hit a home run. That made it 4-0, and basically secured the game.

The Nationals last scored a run on Sunday in St. Louis. I'm looking for the drought to continue until at least Friday.

Have you voted for Russell Martin yet?


Pierre Watch: 0-4 (left four men on base! Nicely done!)

Player of the Game: Russell Martin (1-4, 2 RBI, with a game-changing home run)


Record: 31-21

Why Aren't You Voting for Russell Martin? Part II

Okay, so Depressed Fan agrees with me that Russell is worthy of a vote, but I'm going to do the offensive category comparison anyway. The statistics don't include Wednesday's games, but I'll have you know that Russell hit a two-run home run in the Dodgers' second consecutive shutout on Wednesday, while LoDuca went 2-4 in a Mets' loss.

On to the statistics. Eight pretty self explanatory categories. Here you go.


Batting Average

Russell Martin: .304

Paul LoDuca: .322


RBI

Russell Martin: 34

Paul LoDuca: 14


Runs Scored

Russell Martin: 31

Paul LoDuca: 18


Extra Base Hits

Russell Martin: 17

Paul LoDuca: 7


Stolen Bases

Russell Martin: 8

Paul LoDuca: 2


OBP

Russell Martin: .382

Paul LoDuca: .376


Slugging Percentage

Russell Martin: .444

Paul LoDuca: .395


And my favorite statistic of all when it comes to evaluating Russell...


BA w/ RISP

Russell Martin: .417 (good for 13th in the majors--this one is through Wed. because I forgot to do it Tuesday)

Paul LoDuca: (can't find it, but he's not in the top 40)


So, if you'll recall, Russell went 5-2 in the defensive categories, and he's 7-1 in the offensive stats. That makes him 12-3 overall. That's a .750 winning percentage.

Case closed. Vote for Russell Martin.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Why Aren't You Voting for Russell Martin? Part I

I'll tell you right now that I am not much of a fan of the All-Star Game. In fact, I very rarely watch any of the hubbub (except sometimes the Home Run Derby), and I mostly just bemoan the fact that it means way too many days without any real baseball being played. I did fill out fifty ballots at the Diamondbacks' game last week, but that was only so that I could get a free Orlando Hudson bobblehead (which my girlfriend wanted for some reason, and then promptly gave away--I don't know why either).

Now, with that out of the way, I am determined to correct an injustice in the All-Star voting. As it stands right now, Russell Martin is fourth in votes for catcher, with Paul LoDuca maintaining a comfortable lead. Last night, the Dodgers' TV guys attributed that to the fact that no one on the east coast watches the Dodgers play, but now that they're on a road trip out that way, maybe things will change.

Since I know a lot of folks who write on and/or read this Blogs by Fans Network are east coast people, I'm going to do my best to argue Martin's case. I'll just do it the old-fashioned way, with some nice statistics.

Through Tuesday's games, both men play for first place teams. Good for them. So which one of them might have more to do with his team's success? Let's find out.

We'll do defensive statistics in this post. While researching this, I learned a little about some statistics I'd never heard of before, so that's just a bonus. I'm just going to make a list here, and I'll be helpful and put the guy with the better stat in bold (blue if it's Martin, black if it's LoDuca). I picked these categories at random, so forgive me if there is one missing that is vitally important.


Fielding Percentage

Russell Martin: .987

Paul LoDuca: .993


Errors:

Russell Martin: 5

Paul LoDuca: 2


Okay, with those two stats, it looks like LoDuca is the better of the two, barely. But Martin has had 387 chances this year, compared to LoDuca's 267. Martin has also caught 16.7% more innings than LoDuca so far this year (412.2 versus 343). Durability should definitely be a factor. Also, consider these...


Caught Stealing:

Russell Martin: 15 (he's thrown out 34% this year)



Paul LoDuca: 11


Here's a new one I learned today, Catcher's Earned Run Average. I don't know what it really means in terms of judging effectiveness (I guess it's all about how much you think a catcher affects a pitcher), but it seems interesting.


CERA

Russell Martin: 3.37

Paul LoDuca: 3.49


And one more I've never heard about, which might not be so important in judging catchers, but I'm including it anyway.


Range Factor

Russell Martin: 8.35

Paul LoDuca: 6.95


This is already too long, so the offensive categories will have to be in the next post. But, for the record, in the defensive catoegories, Russell is 5-2, winning Range Factor, CERA, Caught Stealing, chances, and innings caught.


COMMENTS:

AUTHOR: Brian
DATE: 05/30/2007 06:01:40 PM

Martin will get my votes. He might actually get my MVP vote (If I had one) if the Dodgers win the West.
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AUTHOR: El Lefty Malo
DATE: 05/31/2007 01:02:06 PM

>Why Aren't You Voting for Russell Martin?


Because he's a Dodger.
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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Game 51: Dodgers 10, Nationals 0

Juan Pierre has been a little more involved with his baseball team lately, but don't think that one or two games with a little success will get me off his case. So, to end any suspense you may have, I will tell you right now that Pierre is not my player of the game.

That said, he did have a good one. He ended up with only one RBI, but two of his doubles came with Brad Penny ahead of him on base. If it were anyone else, Pierre would have three RBI. But no one was willing to risk a close play at the plate with the ace of the staff. So, Pierre ends up 4-5 with a triple and three doubles. It was a career night for Juan, for sure, but I'm going to need to see a few more of those.

The real story of the night, for me, was Brad Penny. Here's the deal on Penny: this was his eleventh start of the year. The Dodgers have won nine of those starts, with Penny getting the decision in eight of them. In those starts, he has given up a total of 16 runs. Eight of those runs came in one terrible game against the Angels (which is his only loss on the year). His ERA now stands at 2.06, but if you take of that Angels' game, his ERA is 1.11 (I hope my math is correct there). He has yet to give up a home run this year, in 70 innings (the only pitcher with 40+ innings pitched this season who can claim such a stat). That's insane.

The Dodgers backed him like crazy tonight, to the tune of ten runs on sixteen hits. Five Dodgers had a multi-hit game, including Penny, who went 2-2 with a sacrifice bunt. Gonzalez had a three-run home run, Garciaparra was 3-5 with two RBI. Even the new guy, Tony Abreu, had two hits. The offense was clicking, which is exactly what it should have done against the Nationals. Anything short of a sweep in this series is a true disappointment.

This win, combined with the Padres' loss to the Pirates, puts the Dodgers in the NL West lead. When the Dodgers finish with the Nationals, they move on to Pittsburgh, then back to the west coast to play San Diego. The Nationals and Pirates are teams the Dodgers should easily beat, so this east coast swing could prove important when it comes time to face the Padres. With good results in the next few games, the Dodgers could come back with a little bit more breathing room over the Padres.


Pierre Watch: 4-5, 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 RBI


Player of the Game: Brad Penny (6.1 IP, 4H, 1BB, 4 Ks; 2-2 at the plate, 1 run scored)


Record: 30-21



COMMENTS:

AUTHOR: Jack Cobra
DATE: 05/29/2007 11:29:46 PM

Take it from me, Pierre will continue to frustrate you all season long. Sorry I had to break that news to you. There is a club for people who's spirits he's broken over the years.
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Games 49 & 50: Series Win for the Dodgers

I know I've shirked my duties a little bit lately, but I'm back from my little vacation, and though I am dog tired, I am here for you. There are plenty of places for you to get your Dodger updates, but I know you have been waiting patiently for my unique analysis. Thus, you have absolutely no idea how the team has done in the last three games. So I'll tell you.


Game 49: Cubs 4, Dodgers 2

I missed pretty much all of this one, except for the few minutes I heard on the radio while in Phoenix. I heard back-to-back home runs off Hendrickson in the second inning, and when I came out of a movie, the game was already over and the Dodgers had lost.

Hendrickson was apparently not as his best on Saturday, and though the Dodgers made a late rally with a home run by Betemit in the seventh and a couple of hits in the eighth, the magic of the previous game was missing and the Dodgers lost.

I can't really analyze this one, so we'll move on.


Pierre Watch: 2-4, no runs, no RBI, no steals


Player of the Game: Wilson Betemit (1-4, 1 HR)


Record: 28-21


Game 50: Dodgers 2, Cubs 1

I heard the beginning of this one while driving to Vegas, and then watched the bottom of the 11th in the Paris casino. Kind of a weird ending to this game.

Wolf pitched very well, giving up zero runs through six innings, but he didn't factor in the decision. The Cubs' pitcher, Hill, was equally effective. Both pitcher gave up the same number of hits (3) and walks (2). So it came down to the bullpens. Luckily for the Dodgers, they have one of the best bullpens in baseball.

Seanez went 1.2 innings and gave up the Cubs' only run in the eighth inning. But Andre Ethier, pinch hitting in the bottom of the eighth, was the first Dodger to break through against the Cubs. He laced a home run over the right field wall, and it was a tie game.

Cut to the bottom of the eleventh inning (after good appearances by Beimel, Broxton and, shockingly, Chad Billingsley). Ramon Martinez hit for Billingsley and worked a walk. Betemit followed and also walked, and Martinez stole third. The Cubs brought in a new pitcher, who intentionally walked Furcal.

Pierre came up to the plate, and I was trying to figure out ways that he could hit into a triple play and end the inning. It just would have seemed fitting. But he surprised me. On a 1-2, he was hit on his back foot by the pitch. The Cubs argued that Pierre offered at the pitch, but the umpires disagreed, and the winning run crossed the plate. It was confusing for a few seconds, and no one (including the fans) seemed to really know what was going on. But in the end, the Dodgers won it on a walk-off HBP.


Pierre Watch: 0-4, 1 RBI, 1 HBP


Player of the Game: Andre Ethier (1-2, 1 HR)


Record: 29-21

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Game 48: Dodgers 9, Cubs 8

This game ended up being a lot closer than I thought it would be when I stopped listening to it. I was visiting the Body Worlds 3 exhibit at the Arizona Science Center, and when I left the Dodgers, they were up 5-1. Jeff Kent was already the hero of the game, since he had hit a home run and a double, and driven in four of the five Dodgers' runs.

Turns out, Derek Lowe left after six innings of one-run baseball, and the bullpen fell apart, allowing seven runs in the seventh inning. Grady was forced to use Beimel, Brazoban and Broxton, who each sucked maybe a little more than his predecessor. Rudy Seanez finally came in and gave the team 1.1 scoreless innings.

So, if history (at least this season) is any indication, the Dodgers being down 8-5 going into the bottom of the seventh inning was not a good sign. They're great when they have the lead after six, and terrible when they don't have it. That's normally an indication of their strong bullpen, but I guess all bets were off last night.

Martin, Gonzalez, Tony Abreu (just called up from Vegas; guess we're going for an all third baseman infield) and Saenz hit consecutive singles to make the score 8-6. The Cubs' pitcher threw a wild pitch to score Gonzalez, and then LaRoche walked to reload the bases. Furcal came threw with a single, and the game was tied.

Pierre got incredibly lucky with a sac fly to center field to score the game-winning run. Please don't think that there was any skill level involved in what Pierre did. He's been flying out all year; he's just lucky that this time it actually accomplished something.

Saito got his 15th save of the season, two behind the major league lead. He's been great this season.

While I hate that the bullpen blew a five-run lead, I do like to see the Dodgers actually able to complete a comeback. That's been rare this season, and maybe if they do it a few times, they'll understand that it is possible.

It's Hendrickson versus Zambrano today, in a day game. Surprisingly, it's on FOX here in Arizona, so maybe I'll be able to watch a little bit (though I think I'll be forced to go shopping this afternoon instead).

Tomorrow, it's off to Vegas.


Pierre Watch: 2-4, 1 RBI (the sac fly), 1 run scored, and caught stealing once


Player of the Game: Jeff Kent (2-3, 4 RBI, 1 HR, 1 2B)


Record: 28-20

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Game 47: Dodgers 5, Brewers 1

Well, at least Russell Martin keeps coming to the ballpark ready to play. The young Dodger catcher had a career night on Wednesday, going 1-2 with a walk, 4 RBI (!) and two runs scored. To top it off, an incident with his fifth inning at-bat was the catalyst for a bench-clearing brawl between the two teams.

In the fifth, Martin was up to bat with a 2-2 count. He ripped a ball down the line, and it was called a home run. Replays showed it was clearly foul, and the umps got together to reverse the call. No harm, right? Well, not according to Capuano, the Brewers' pitcher, who I guess took exception to the rules being properly enforced in his favor. On the next pitch, Capuano threw a fastball that went right over Martin's head. Martin ducked out of the way, then gave Capuano a staredown. The next pitch was a ball, and Martin watched Capuano all the way down to first base. He never said a word, though, to Capuano, preferring to save his comments for Prince Fielder at first.

Then Mariano Duncan, the Dodgers' first base coach, got in on the action, jawing with someone (or several someones) in the Brewers' dugout. Fielder held him back, and the benches cleared, but no punches were thrown, and cooler heads finally prevailed. Hard to see how the Brewers could consider themselves to be in the right on this one. Martin had every reason to be upset at being thrown out for doing nothing but hitting a long strike.

Brad Penny was pitching like himself again, and that was something good to see (or hear, actually, since I was listening on my XM at the Millennium High School graduation). Penny went seven scoreless innings, scattering six hits, and stranding six runners in scoring position.

Martin drove in three runs on a double, and then scored on a Gonzalez single to make it 4-0 in the first inning. He added a sac fly to score Juan Pierre in the seventh. Beimel allowed two hits and a run in the eighth, but that was all the Brewers would get. Yhency Brazoban, just called up from Triple-A Vegas, struck out the side in the ninth inning. Brad Penny improved to 6-1 on the season, with a very nice 2.26 ERA. Furcal got his ERA up over .300 (stands at .306), and he's still hitting the ball well. And the Dodgers took two of three in the series. Not much to complain about there.

Even Pierre had a decent night.

Pierre Watch: 2-4, 1BB, 2 runs scored, and 1 SB (raising his OBP to .303; Grady also moved him back the #2 slot)


Player of the Game: Russell Martin


Record: 27-20


P.S. I'm in Phoenix, so I'm headed to a Diamondbacks/Astros game tonight. If anything of note happens, I'll tell you about it. But don't expect it. I don't care about the outcome, but I guess I don't want the D-Backs to gain any ground while the Dodgers are off tonight (they're 4th in the NL West, 2.5 games behind the Dodgers), so I'll be an Astros' fan.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Game 46: Dodgers 3, Brewers 2

Well, it's nice to see a pitcher actually pitch well. Feels like it's been forever, and as I look at my notes, it appears that the last decent start by a Dodger starter was Wolf's last start, and that wasn't great. The last good start was from Brad Penny on Saturday, May 12. So it's been a while.

Wolf struggled a little bit in the first inning, but got out of it without a run. He gave up his first run in the third, and then retired nine batters in a row before allowing a walk and a double, which scored the second run. Wolf ended up going seven full innings, giving up three hits and three walks, while striking out four.

The Dodgers' offense, yet again, did not set the night on fire. Ben Sheets was just barely fallible, however, and the Dodgers managed to eke out three runs on four hits and a walk. Sheets had to leave in the seventh with a blister, and he got the loss.

The first run for the Dodgers came in the second, when Martin walked and stole second. Gonzalez hit a foul pop-up, but the Brewers' catcher, Estrada, dropped the ball. Gonzo had another chance, and he singled Martin home for the first run. The Brewers answered with a run of their own in the top of the third, but in the fourth inning, Kent led off with a double, and then Martin hit a home run to left center. 3-1, Dodgers. Turns out that home run was the last hit the Dodgers would have in the night.

The Brewers would add a run in the sixth after a walk and a double. But that was all they would get. Broxton pitched a great eighth (again), striking out two. Saito came in to pitch the ninth, and gave up one hit, but stopped the Brewers there. Good game, especially because the Padres were leading their game when ours ended (the Dodgers have a tenuous half-game lead).

We'll see how it goes tomorrow with Brad Penny taking the mound. Let's hope he performs a little better than he did in his. Thursday is an off day, and then the Cubs come to town.


Pierre Watch: 0-4 (forgot to mention that Pierre is normally the #2 hitter, but Grady moved him up to leadoff on Monday. Seems to be working out so far, huh?)


Player of the Game: Russell Martin (1-2 with a walk, 2 RBI, 1 SB, 2 runs scored)


Record: 26-20


P.S. Loyal readers, I will be out of town for a few days. Going to Phoenix to visit family and see one of my cousins graduate from high school, and then it's on to Vegas, baby! I'll probably miss all of Wednesday night's game, since I'll be suffering through listening to every name of 600+ graduating students (maybe I'll try and sneak my XM in, though I'll be risking my mother's ire).


Anyway, I'll do my best with the games while I'm in Phoenix, and then I'll catch the others at a sportsbook somewhere in Vegas. Don't worry. I won't let you down.



COMMENTS:

AUTHOR: Mike
DATE: 05/23/2007 01:46:06 AM

Have fun Erin and if you play Roulette remember:


Always bet on black!
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AUTHOR: Erin
DATE: 05/23/2007 01:49:46 AM

Of course. Just like Wesley.
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AUTHOR: Kevin
DATE: 05/25/2007 02:30:40 PM

Well, your mom wasn't upset at all. You gotta admit that it can be fun to watch the bickering though.


Great seeing you Erin. be sure to send a mail with your address so I can send you that software you wanted.
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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Game 45: Brewers 9, Dodgers 5

I made a last minute decision to go to this game. I got two great seats for $28, and never sat in them because I managed to sit in three sets of even better seats (not such a crowded game).

I got there early to watch batting practice, which is actually something I'd never done before. I hung out down the left field line and watched a few guys nearly kill themselves trying to shag balls that were out of their reach. I had my glove, but I didn't really try too hard to get much. Not worth risking life and limb for that small, white thing, right?

I sat in the front row next to the left field foul pole for the first five innings of the game, then moved behind home plate for another inning, and then up to the loge section (close to where my actual purchased seats were) for the last inning I saw. I left a ball game early for the first time last night. Getting there early ensured that I had to do that, because my dog can only stay alone for so long.

In case you were wondering, Brett Tomko still sucks, and he now accounts for 25% of the Dodgers' losses this year. He gave up five runs in his 5.1 innings. He left with a 3-0 deficit in the sixth, and Chad Billingsley, who might be worse than Tomko (if that's possible) let the two men on base score, and then, for good measure, allowed three more runs of his own in his .2 innings.

The Dodgers came up in the bottom of the sixth inning, and suddenly the bats came to life. When things like this happen, it makes me want to cry because all I can do is say, "Okay, if Billingsley wasn't such a fat idiot, this would be a one-run game." Pierre led off the inning and, being the automatic out that he is, promptly grounded out. Furcal hit a double, Nomar singled him home, and then Jeff Kent hit a two-run home run. 8-3, Brewers. Suppan escaped that inning, Beimel pitched a perfect top of the seventh, and then the Dodgers tried for some more magic.

LaRoche walked, then Ethier hit a single and moved LaRoche to third. Wilson Betemit hit a pinch-hit single to score LaRoche. First and second, nobody out, and a new pitcher came in for the Brewers. Guess who was up then? Juan D'Vaughn Pierre. Seeing a new pitcher in the game, he chose to swing at the first pitch. He grounded into a fielder's choice, which advanced Ethier to third, but got Betemit out at second. So, Pierre continued his unbelievable success at being entirely fucking useless. Furcal struck out, then Nomar grounded out to end the inning. Threat over. 8-4, Brewers. That's when I had to leave to go check on my dog.


Broxton pitched a good eighth, and then Gonzo homered to make it 8-5. Not too close, but a comeback was still possible. But Saito gave up a home run to Prince Fielder in the ninth (Fielder's second of the game), and the deficit was back to four. The Dodgers went quietly in the ninth (unless you count Pierre getting hit by a pitch) and the game was over.

The Dodgers have not had the tools to come back in a game, so it was surprising to see them string something together in the sixth and seventh. But it wasn't enough. I'm still trying to figure out what to make of this team this season. They need more power (or need their apparent power guys to actually hit the ball). Kent can't be the whole offense for this ball club. The pitching from the bullpen has been good (except I hate Billingsley with a fiery passion), and the starters were doing well until the last few games. I guess the real struggles, then, have to be the offensive ones. And all I can really say about that is that they need to wake up. What else are you supposed to say to a bunch of guys who hit the baseball for a living? They know how to do it, so just go and do it already.

Here's a new feature, out of my extreme anger at the Juan Pierre acquisition:


Pierre Watch: 0-4; OBP stands at .302 (he's the LEADOFF HITTER)


Player of the Game: Jeff Kent (1-4, 2 RBI, 1 HR)


Record: 25-20

Monday, May 21, 2007

A Non-Dodger Entry

Okay, so Gene Wojciechowski has this column up on ESPN right now. It's his second in the last few days about the Spurs/Suns series. In the first one, he gave the Spurs an asterisk because of the suspensions. In that column, he claimed that he wasn't trying to take anything away from the Spurs, and then he proceeded to take everything away from them by essentially saying that they won the series because of (and apparently only because of) the suspensions. Because, according to Gene, it was a one-game series.

Okay, first of all, there are two reasons I became a Spurs fan. One, my girlfriend is from San Antonio. She embraced the Red Sox (my original baseball love--we became Dodgers' fans together) and so I tried the Spurs. I didn't like basketball so much until then, but I watched the Spurs play a few times, and I liked it. I saw a team playing basketball, and playing it well.

Maybe I saw Ginobili flop a few times, sure. But he's certainly not the only one in the game who does that, and I hardly think that's the only dimension to his game. And Duncan has an eye bulge issue after most fouls. But you know what else he has? A strong work ethic and a dedication to being one of the best players of the last decade. Watch Mike D'Antoni a few times for an example of a really whiny guy. As for Bowen, I don't know. I haven't seen specific examples of his "dirty" play, but they wouldn't necessarily surprise me. I do think most of the stuff he does is well within the rules, and a lot of players get angry because they can't get past him. But I don't know.

I also saw a city that loves its team, and a whole bunch of media members who keep calling the team "boring," but great, and then claiming that no one wants to watch them play the game. Seems like the press has created a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy there--if you'd never seen the Spurs play, and every pundit is telling you how boring they are, why bother tuning in?

Anyway, on to Mr. Wojciechowski. I won't post the whole column here, because it's long, but here are a few select portions, and my responses to his points.

"[In Game 6] Horry finally returned to the court … and to a hero's welcome. The cheers weren't for his three rebounds, two assists and one blocked shot in 16:32 of playing time. It was for what happened Monday in this same AT&T Center. Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash can tell you all about it."

I don't think for a second that the majority of Spurs' fans were applauding Horry because he fouled Nash. I think they were glad to see him back (as Wojciechowski quotes Michael Finley as saying in the column) because he's been a key component of the team this year. It's really irresponsible and insulting for Wojciechowski to make such a claim about Spurs' fans and, to me, it seems like a not-so-subtle way of saying that Spurs' fans appreciate their "cheaters."

"Nash eventually got up, but it was obvious after the Game 6 closeout loss that he felt the suspensions had denied the Suns a chance to compete on an even level. I agreed and told Horry the best postseason series had been reduced to what-ifs. "

This whole idea of "what-ifs" is really annoying to me. As Horry says to Wojciechowski, isn't this sport (and all sports, for that matter) full of "what-ifs"? If the entire thing weren't based on one big "what-if" then why would they even bother playing the game? They could just stack up the teams on paper, flip a coin when necessary, and crown a champion.

What if the Clippers had gotten in, rather than the Warriors? Where would the Mavericks be now? What if Houston had beaten Utah, or Chicago beaten Detroit? What if anyone on any team had missed or made any given shot at any given time? What if the Suns had been able to win game 1, or game 3, or game 6, all at full strength?

The Spurs were the favored team, and a lot of these press guys act like some huge upset happened when the Spurs won the series. The Suns had lost six of the previous seven in San Antonio, and, if not for the ridiculousness that was Joey Crawford, the Spurs might have had a shot at home court advantage in the series ("what if" Crawford hadn't ejected Duncan for laughing?). What if the Spurs had swept when they had home court advantage?

"Except that Horry's foul on Nash wasn't an accident. It was done on purpose and with the Suns' victory already assured. Doesn't matter to Horry. The playoff code is the playoff code. And he isn't the only one who thinks that way.

'It's a part of our game," said Fisher, an 11-year veteran. 'It's not like he picked him up and threw [Nash] over the scorer's table. He hit him.'"

Keep in mind that a lot of people considered Baron Davis' foul against Fisher to be far more eggregious than Horry's foul on Nash. And Fisher is the one on Horry's side in this matter. As for the game being "assured," whatever Gene. The Suns had the ball with 18 seconds left in the game, and a three point lead. Let's say Horry fouls Nash (maybe not so flagrantly) and Nash misses both free throws (it could happen). Then the Spurs have the ball with 18 seconds and a three-point deficit. Don't quote me on this, but I'm pretty certain there have been more dramatic comebacks than that (but with that scenario, I guess I'm reducing the series to a "what-if" and thereby invoking Mr. Wojciechowski's wrath).

From my perspective, and I confess to knowing nothing about Wojciechowski, he seems like quite the Suns' fan who is intent on keeping the controversy going now that the series is done and the Suns lost.

I understand that Suns' fans are upset, and I would absolutely feel the same way if the situation were reversed. But I do tend to try to be objective if I can, and if I were a Suns' fan right now, I would be wondering why Nash scored fewer than 20 points in three of his team's four losses, and why he only had three points going into the fourth quarter of an elimination game. And I would wonder, as I mentioned earlier, why they couldn't win games one, three and six with Stoudemire and Diaw playing.

Horry's foul was too hard, and Nash flopped a bit. Horry probably deserved his two game suspension, and maybe Stoudemire and Diaw didn't deserve their suspensions(that's a tough call, since it is the rule, but maybe there should also be some discretion applied). Bell should have been the one suspended in reality, since he's the one who physically came after Horry, but no one mentioned him.

I realize that game 5 was an important one in the series, but it was not an elimination game. It was not the end for the Suns, and they could have done better and taken it to seven games.

I hate that the Spurs now have this reputation of being cheaters, which most NBA fans should know is completely absurd and very undeserved. I hope that this blows over, and that the Spurs aren't permanently saddled with the asterisk that guys like Wojciechowski seem so intent on pinning on a good team.

I'm no NBA expert, so I'm sure plenty of you disagree and might have something to say. Feel free.

Game 44: Angels 4, Dodgers 1

So it was a sweep. And not even a close one at that. Sunday's game was particularly miserable because Derek Lowe did not pitch badly. He just had one terrible inning in which none of the balls left the infield, but the Angels still scored three runs (thanks to one particularly costly error by Rafael Furcal). He pitched an eight inning complete game, so I guess the only good news is that he saved our bullpen. But he suffered his second complete game loss in his last three starts. In his seven losses, the Dodgers have managed five runs.

In the weekend "Freeway Series" the Dodgers scored a total of four runs in three games. With runners in scoring position over those three games, they batted a scorching 2-22, which works out to a 0.91 batting average. Brad Penny let them down in the first game, sure, but the pitching wasn't too terrible in the next two, and the Dodgers still couldn't find a way to put runs on the board.

Of the nine players Grady Little started on Sunday, only one has a batting average over .300 (and many of them aren't close). The average OBP for our two leadoff guys, Furcal and Pierre, is .337. Pierre is ridiculously bad at getting on base, he has no power, and he can't steal bases if he's not on base. He also can't catch fly balls, which at times is a problem because he plays center field. So where's the value?

The Dodgers are home to play the Milwaukee Brewers for three games. The Brewers are 3-7 in their last ten games, so perhaps the team is cooling down a bit from its hot start. Do we think that will make a difference to the Dodgers, or will they find a way to lose anyway?


Player of the Game: Jeff Kent (the only RBI in the game, which came in the damn ninth inning)


Record: 25-19

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Game 43: Angels 6, Dodgers 2

Okay, so Sunday's game is already in the fifth inning, and the Dodgers are only losing 1-0. So far, that's an amazing success story for this series.

Friday night was pathetic, and Saturday might have even been worse. Hendrickson wasn't very terrible until the sixth inning, and then he was just atrocious. He gave up all six runs (five earned) in 6.2 innings. Nine hits, two walks and three strikeouts. It was 3-2, Angels, at the start of the sixth inning. A close game, and there was every reason to believe that the Dodgers could do something while only down one. But no such luck. Hendrickson couldn't hold onto the lead, and when he left, the Dodgers were down 6-2, where the score would remain.

The Dodgers' batting average with runners in scoring position ranks 15th in the National League (who do we think is in 16th place? The Rockies? Maybe the Reds? Fine company). They left eight runners on base on Saturday night to maintain that dubious distinction. Jeff Kent hit a home run, and he's really been the only one doing that this year, and he's only got six. The entire team has 23 home runs on the season, which is only seven fewer than A-Rod has alone. They are 28th in the league in that category, ahead of only Washington and St. Louis. Home runs are not the only indicator of success, of course, and our opponents have only hit 24 against us, but with Nomar, Kent, Gonzo, Martin, even Ethier, I think it's only right to expect more from this team.

And, hell, home runs aren't the only things that score runs, right? Sometimes a man gets on base, and another man hits a base hit that lands in the outfield grass. That scenario often scores runs. Do you think I need to remind the Dodgers of that fact? Maybe someone should.

I'm being harsh, but only because I really can't deal with how hot and cold this team can be. The pitching has been largely good this season (sixth in ERA in MLB), but as important as that is, it's not going to be very effective if no one scores runs. This team still has the fifth best record in the National League, and they came into Sunday's action with a two-game lead over San Diego. As much as I gripe, it could be worse. I could be in Depressed Fan's position.

But as I wrote that, the Angels took a 4-0 lead. The Dodgers will probably be swept, and then they have to come home to play the Brewers (who won two out of three from the Blue Crew at the beginning of the season). Hard to find any silver lining there.


Player of the Game: Andre Ethier (for being the only Dodger with more than one hit)


Record: 25-18

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Game 42: Angels 9, Dodgers 1

As is the case in most losses suffered by the Dodgers this season, it has taken me a little bit to work up the ability to write about the game. This one was hard to deal with, and a lot of that had to do with the fact that it came 1) in a Brad Penny start, and 2) against the cursed Angels.

I'm not sure there is anything good to report from the Dodger side of this one. Brad Penny came into the game with a 5-0 record and a 1.39 ERA. But he sure picked a dramatic way to get his first loss of the season, giving up eight runs in five innings. He struck out two and walked two. He looked like a completely different pitcher out there, and it was a sad thing to see.

I thought this game would be one that would go for the Dodgers, or at least be much closer. So with this result, I honestly don't have any idea how things are going to go for the rest of the series. Tonight we have Hendrickson against Weaver. Hendrickson started off very well this season, but struggled a little in his last two starts. Weaver seems to be kind of hit or miss, so I'm looking for the Dodgers to pounce on him early with a little offense.

But I'm not holding my breath.


Player of the Game: Russell Martin (2-3, with the Dodgers' only RBI)

Record: 25-17


COMMENTS:

AUTHOR: Smeghead52
DATE: 05/21/2007 01:14:37 AM

Well the Dodgers are going to have to develop better--as the Canadians would say--OH FENSE to compete in the playoffs, let alone interleague play.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Game 41: Dodgers 5, Cardinals 4

For the first time since 2004, the Dodgers were able to string together consecutive wins against the St. Louis Cardinals, though they of course had to keep it close to make me nervous.

This was the game where Rafael Furcal could have tied the major league record for consecutive games with four or more hits. He had three coming into the night, and he's a leadoff hitter, so he was put to the test immediately in the first inning. I was listening to the game on the radio on my way home, while Vin talked about Rafael's amazing hitting of late. When Furcal laced a double down the left field line, Vin was very excited and said, "Darned if he didn't do it again!" He's very impressed with Furcal.

But, Rafael couldn't tie the record. He went 1-4 with a walk and a run scored. Turns out the Dodgers didn't need Furcal to be Mr. Incredible again last night, because Wilson Betemit came through big yet again (trust me--I'm as amazed as you are).
Betemit came into the game in the bottom of the fifth inning, with the Dodgers down 3-2, two outs, and two runners on base. He was pinch-hitting for Randy Wolf, which meant that Randy was really hoping Wilson could get a hit and keep things going so he might qualify for the win. And Betemit answered that call by hitting a 1-0 pitch to deep center field, right over the wall. 5-3, Dodgers.

That means that in five at-bats as a pinch hitter, Betemit has three home runs. With Betemit and Olmedo Saenz, the Dodgers have some pretty scary guys on the bench for late inning situations, and that's never a bad thing.

The Cardinals got a run in the seventh off Tsao (he was out, but Beimel let the runner score), but that was as close as they could get. Saito came into the ninth for his 13th save, and the loudspeakers starting blaring Randy Newman's "I Love L.A."

Wolf wasn't as dominant Wednesday as he was in his previous outing, but he did just fine, giving up three runs (two earned) in five innings, and striking out seven.

Today is on off day for the Dodgers, and then they head down to Anaheim for the first weekend of interleague play. The Angels started off slowly this year, but they've been clicking lately, and it should be a pretty tough series. On paper, it looks like the Dodgers have the advantage in the first two games (Penny vs. Santana, Hendrickson vs. Jered Weaver). But Tomko is facing Escobar in Sunday's game, so that one looks a little dicey.

The hot bats need to continue into the weekend. Penny just needs to do what he's been doing, and Hendrickson needs to shake off his last outing against the Reds and return to the way he was pitching prior to that. Tomko has had a couple good outings this year, but he's our definition of a hot and cold pitcher, one of those you just have to hope is on for any given game. My fingers are crossed.


Player of the Game: Wilson Betemit (1-1, 3 RBI)



Record: 25-16


COMMENTS:

AUTHOR: stopmikelupica
DATE: 05/18/2007 05:20:22 PM

I Love L.A. always makes me think of The Naked Gun.

California Love would be more appropriate....
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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Interesting

I like this article, for probably obvious reasons.

But I do think it is interesting how Scoop Jackson, a black man, apparently doesn't know that the phrase "calling a spade a spade" has some pretty racist connotations (though it may not actually be inherently racist, as some people think).


COMMENTS:

AUTHOR: stopmikelupica
DATE: 05/17/2007 01:19:55 PM

Hey Erin: Your "obvious reasons" may be that you don't like Clemens, but I also liked the article. I think Scoop is pointing out a very big double-standard in media coverage: The press always goes off on "self-promoting" "selfish" NBAers (Scoop cites AI, a good example), but not some much on guys like Clemens. It's one of those double standards that vexes me.


Good find!
-----

AUTHOR: Erin
DATE: 05/17/2007 01:22:45 PM

Yeah. I mean, at face value I liked it because he called Clemens a lot of names, but I also enjoyed the article for the same reasons you did. I just have to rip on Clemens whenever I can.

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AUTHOR: Brian
DATE: 05/17/2007 01:31:10 PM

I think there's another double-standard at play here. Why is this only an issue now, when the Yankees sign Clemens and give him special privileges, but it wasn't an issue for the past two seasons when the Astros did the exact same thing?


I'm also not sure how selfish it is of Clemens to only pitch partial seasons. He's 45, the odds of him being able to last through Spring Training and then a full regular season without injury, or running out of gas are slim. By shortening his season, he's giving the team he's playing for the best he can offer, when it matters the most.

Not traveling with the team etc. are another matter altogether, but the short season makes sense for Clemens and the Yanks.

As far as A.I. is concerned, I never had a problem with his "practice" press conference, at least not the message of what he was saying. That guy gave more than anyone else ever has every time he stepped on the floor to play a game. It was a miracle that he wasn't in the hospital after the beatings he took.

The way he said it, and the way he went about it (not showing up to practice, not calling) were both childish and moronic, but the fact of the matter is that resting him on off days was more important than having him run sprints and drills for a couple of hours.
-----

AUTHOR: stopmikelupica
DATE: 05/17/2007 02:54:27 PM

Good point, Brian. No one cared about that stuff until he signed with the Yankees.


Agree that playing half a season works better for Clemens; the Mets ought to do the same with Pedro and El Duque.

Agree on AI, except that I'm not sure that Philly's management was willing to do that, which is what forced the AI situation and the conference. I'm willing to bet that after that blew over, AI was given a little more flexibility with his practice schedule....
-----

Game 40: Dodgers 9, Cardinals 7

Turns out that going into Tuesday night, the Dodgers had lost ten straight to the St. Louis Cardinals. But that changed in a big way, thanks to a record-setting night for the leadoff man, Mr. Rafael Furcal.

Furcal has been hitting like crazy the last few games, and in fact had two four-hit games in a row. No Dodger (the stat on TV said no "LA" Dodger, so I don't know if a Brooklyn Dodger did it) had ever gotten four hits in three straight games. Furcal came into the seventh inning 3 for 4, and in that fifth at-bat, he hit the ball straight back up the middle to set the record.

Lowe wasn't brilliant, and neither was Hong-Chih Kuo, who was just called up Tuesday from Triple-A Vegas (they sent Wilson Valdez down). Derek gave up four earned runs in 5.1 innings, but he left with the lead, so he got the win. Beimel came in to get the final two outs of the sixth inning, and then Kuo made his first appearance in the seventh inning. It was a disaster. To give you an indication, his ERA is now 81.01, because he got one out while giving up four hits and allowing three earned runs. Not exactly inspiring confidence.

Grady had wanted to rest his bullpen some, but Broxton had to come in and get the final two outs of the seventh (which he did on two strikeouts) and then pitch the eighth. Kuo had made the game a little closer, so Saito came in to collect his twelfth save, collecting two strikeouts in the process.

The Cardinals actualy outhit the Dodgers 12-11, but that didn't matter in the end. Every position player but LaRoche had a hit, but he had three walks (he now has 11, compared to his two strikeouts, in his twenty at-bats). Lowe struggled, but the team picked him up, and this is the sort of game you expect out of this lineup.

Wednesday night, the Cardinals send Kip Wells to the mound, and he is not exactly blowing anybody away this year (1-7 with a 6.51 ERA). Wolf, coming off his dominating performance against Cincinatti, looks to be the favorite in this matchup. Maybe the Dodgers can start a new streak against the Cardinals, this time of the winning variety.


Player of the Game: Rafael Furcal (4 for 5, 3 RBI, 2 runs scored)



Record: 24-16

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Game 39: Pathetic

Look, I know the St. Louis Cardinals are the defending World Champions and all, but give me a break. They've hardly been playing well this season, and they were putting a ten-year old on the mound against the Dodgers. This should have been a no-brainer.

Unfortunately, Brett Tomko continued his pattern of underwhelming me (when is Jason Schmidt coming back?) and Monday night, he was just beyond bad. By the second inning, the Dodgers were down 8-0.

Nothing you can really say about this one, other than I'm sure the Cardinals are glad they were able to climb out of their offensive struggles. I'm so glad the Dodgers could help them in that respect. Tomko was awful, but the bullpen did well after he left. The Dodgers managed four runs (and left the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth), but it was just sad overall. The Cardinals had thirteen hits, but the Dodgers managed twelve and still couldn't do anything.

Tonight, Derek Lowe takes the mound. I like our chances here much, much better.


Player of the Game: Wilson Betemit (2 for 4 with a solo home run)



Record: 23-16

Monday, May 14, 2007

Games 37 & 38: Sweep!

After not being able to win two in a row for almost two weeks, the Dodgers were able to take advantage of the Cincinnati Reds, beating them all three games this weekend. I had a busy weekend, so this will be a condensed recap of the final two games of the series.


Game One


Brad Penny was masterful yet again. He gave up one run (in the first inning) on four hits (two of which were in the first inning), with one walk and four strikeouts. In the process, he lowered his ERA to 1.39.

The Dodgers tied the score at 1-1 in the second inning on an Andre Ethier sacrifice fly, and then came out big with a 5-run fourth inning. With two outs and two on, the Reds chose to intentionally walk Andy LaRoche to get to Brad Penny. But that backfired when the Reds' pitcher walked Brad Penny, driving in the go-ahead run.

Everything went downhill for the Reds from there. Three hits in a row scored four more runs, and the Dodgers left the fourth with a 6-1 lead. They would add another on a second Ethier sacrifice in the seventh.

The Reds scored two runs in the ninth off of Beimel, but Seanez came in and took care of business. Dodgers win, 7-3.

Ten hits for the offense, which was good sign for these batters who have been struggling lately. That, combined with effective pitching, is the way to win ballgames. It's nice to see the Dodgers doing both of those things in one game.

Player of the Game: Brad Penny (6.1IP, 1ER, 1BB, 4Ks)


Record: 22-15



Game Two

I was at this game on Sunday, and it was a great time had by all. It was my first day game this season, and the weather was pretty good. But, I'll tell you what, this is probably my last day game. Last season I went to a few and nearly died, and I don't really feel like reliving that one.

Anyway, great game. Not the best pitching performance from Mark Hendrickson, who seemed to be struggling through most of his 5.1 innings. He gave up five runs (including a three-run homer from Griffey) and gave way to Billingsley, Broxton and Beimel, who held the Reds' offense in check for the rest of the game.

Jeff Kent hit a solo shot in the sixth inning, and it landed about ten feet to my left in the center field bleachers. That's the closest I've been to a home run, so that was pretty cool. Cooler still was that it brought the Dodgers to within one run, and it was looking like we might have a chance for a rare come-from-behind win. In the sixth, they got one more run (scored by Andy LaRoche, who scored two in the game) to tie the score at 5 all.

In the bottom of the eighth, they finally broke through offensively, and by the end of the game, they had a total of eighteen hits and ten runs. This is the kind of game I've been waiting to see, and I'm definitely glad I was there in person to see it.

Here's the line on the eighth inning: single, single, steal, single (go-ahead run scores), steal, single (another run), out, out, walk, walk (scores a run), single (two runs score). By the end, it was 10-5, Dodgers, and that's where it stayed.

A lot of guys came through in this one. Nomar went 3 for 5 with 3 RBI, Juan Pierre went 2 for 4 with an RBI, Andy LaRoche was 2 for 3 with two runs scored, Jeff Kent had the home run.

But, Rafael Furcal came up bigtime, going for 4 for 4 in the game, with 1 RBI and two runs scored. If he's going to be the leadoff hitter, he's going to have to start having more games like this. And because this is probably his best game of the year...


Player of the Game: Rafael Furcal (4 for 4, 1 RBI)


Record: 23-15

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Game 36: Dodgers 2, Reds 0

Saturday night's game is in the bottom of the fourth inning as I write this, but this is the first opportunity that I've had to write about Friday's game. Sorry to all my myriad readers who were waiting patiently for this report.

Well, it was a good one for the pitching staff, and yet another poor showing for the Dodger offense. Randy Wolf was really, really great, and despite a high pitch count, he managed to last seven innings. He gave up four hits, no walks, and struck out ten. As much as I am hesitant to give the player of the game to a pitcher again, the Dodgers batters are leaving me no real choice in the matter.

Russell Martin drove in two runs in the first inning, and that was all the scoring the Dodgers needed in this one. Nomar, who is batting incredibly well at home and not well at all on the road (especially on the last road trip) went 3 for 3 with a walk in the game. So, he's coming out of the slump, but I'd sure like to see him do well on the road, too.

The Dodgers just took a 6-1 lead here in the fourth inning of Saturday's game, so it looks like they'll have a good chance to win their first back-to-back games since May 1 and May 2.


Player of the Game: Randy Wolf (7IP, 4H, 0ER, 0BB, 10Ks)


Record: 21-15

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Agony of Defeat: Marlins 3, Dodgers 0

At this point, I'm convinced that the Dodgers are trying to find the most painful way possible to lose games. If that's the case, I think Thursday's game is far and away the frontrunner.

Derek Lowe, to put it simply, was awesome. Unfortunately for the Dodgers, the other guy on the mound (don't remember his name, and I'm not looking it up) pitched pretty well, too. The Dodgers couldn't get anything going against him, and it was a stalemate until the ninth inning.

In the bottom of the ninth, no one was surprised to see Derek come back out. He had been cruising along, and his pitch count wasn't high. It was not a bad move on Grady's part to let Lowe continue. But Lowe started by walking Hanley Ramirez. Then Lowe induced a ground play from Uggla, which would have been a routine double play if Betemit hadn't been in playing third (LaRoche had the day off). Instead, Betemit booted it and there were two on with no out. Miguel Cabrera grounded out to the pitcher. Runners on second and third with one out.

Grady came out to talk to Lowe, and I thought (along with everyone in the world) that they would walk Willingham in order to get to Aaron Boone. This would load the bases, sure, but it would put a force at every base. And Aaron Boone is not the offensive threat that Willingham is.

Instead, they decided to pitch to him. And Willingham responded by dumping the first pitch into the left field bleachers. 3-0, Marlins. Their second walk-off win in the series.

Disappointing. And a shame for Lowe. Grady has hinted that he might be shaking up the lineup as early as Friday's game, in an effort to get some offense happening. I'll be interested to see how that works out. Friday it's Randy Wolf versus Bronson Arroyo. Good luck, Dodgers.


Player of the Game: Derek Lowe (8.1IP, 5H, 2ER, 3BB, 6Ks)


Record: 20-15



COMMENTS:

AUTHOR: Smeghead52
DATE: 05/11/2007 01:21:09 PM

Now the Dodgers have to cross the country and face the Reds at home. Which neutralizes any homefield advantage they might have had. Someone's going to have to hit the baseball if they want to make the playoffs. Pitching can only do so much.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Game 34: Dodgers 5, Marlins 3

Okay, I really thought the Dodgers were going to blow it again, but they surprised me and won.

Tomko finally got his first win of the season, but not without a little drama. With one out in the fifth, he had a no-hitter going. Then Hanley Ramirez hit a ball about 30 feet and got a single out of it. Grady came to the mound to make sure Brett wasn't going to fall apart the way he did in the fourth inning of his last start in San Diego (he had a no-hitter there, too, though it was only through 3.2, and then gave up three runs on four consecutive hits).

Turns out the pep talk didn't really do a lot of good, at least not immediately. Ramirez stole second, and the next batter hit him in to make it 4-1 Dodgers. Tomko gave up another hit, and started to put a little fear in Dodger fans everywhere (or maybe just me), but then struck out the next two batters to get out of the inning.

In the seventh inning, Brett decided to make it even more interesting. With one out, he gave up a single, then got another out on a fielder's choice, and then gave up a home run to Jacobs. 4-3, Dodgers. Suddenly, it wasn't such a comfortable lead, and it looked like they were in danger of giving up their second 4-1 lead in as many games.

Grady opted to take Tomko out, and Broxton came in and gave up a single before getting the third out. He retired the Marlins in order in the eighth, and Saito came in and got his tenth save of the season.

In the ninth, the Dodgers added an insurance run with two outs on a nice, nice bunt hit by Wilson Valdez. The squeeze was on, and Russell Martin scored from third. In other news, Betemit got his third hit in three games as a pinch hitter, smacking a double to deep right.

It was nice to see Tomko get his first win, finally. And his final line didn't look so bad, either (6.2IP, 5H, 3ER, 2BB, 6Ks). Hopefully this will get him on the right track for his next start.

The Dodgers were the only team in the NL West to win today, which means they gained a game over everyone. They are currently in first place, two games ahead of San Diego and Arizona, 2.5 over San Francisco, and six over the Rockies. So, for all my gripes, the team is still doing very well, and has the fourth best record in the National League. The hitting has picked up lately, and the pitching has been steady (despite the few lapses recently, the team ERA is still second in the National League). Overall, I like what I'm seeing thus far. And I'll be glad when they come home this weekend, because I miss Vin Scully calling the games, and because I'm going to Sunday's game against the Reds.

Tomorrow's game is a day game after a night game, with a 9am start here on the left coast. Who'll be stepping in to give me the day off?


Player of the Game: Wilson Valdez (for that great RBI bunt base hit)


Record: 20-14

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Game 33: Marlins 6, Dodgers 5

The Dodgers just gave this game away, and it was quite the brutal thing to watch.

Mark Hendrickson was not the dominating pitcher he had been in his previous three starts, but he wasn't terrible. He struggled in the fourth inning, but got out of it, and then watched his team give him a 4-1 lead going into the bottom of the fifth.

And that, dear readers, is when everything went horribly wrong. With one out, Hanley Ramirez hit a triple to deep right. Ethier got the ball and threw it back into Kent, who bobbled the catch. The ball landed in front of him, maybe three or four feet away. Kent looked at Ramirez, who was standing on third, and then put his head down and slowly walked toward the ball. It was then that Ramirez decided he might as well go home if Kent was just going to give it to him. By the time Kent looked up and realized what was going on, it was too late. He fired the ball to Martin at the plate, but Ramirez scored pretty easily. So, E-4. The score was 4-2.

On the next play, Dan Uggla hit an easy grounder to Furcal, who bobbled the ball. Uggla was safe. E-6. And then Miguel Cabrera came to the plate and blasted a two-run home run. 4-4, just like that. Hendrickson got a groundout, and then Aaron Boone hit a double. Hendrickson stayed in to intentionally walk Miguel Olivo, and then Tsao came in to give up a double to Borchard, scoring Boone. 5-4, Marlins.

The Marlins tried to give it back to the Dodgers in the top of the eighth inning. Ethier hit an infield single, then advanced to second on Boone's throwing error. LaRoche hit a weak grounder to third, which allowed Ethier to take that base. Olmedo Saenz came in to pinch hit, and Ethier scored on a wild pitch. 5-5, new ball game. Saenz then struck out, as did Furcal after him.

Beimel pitched a nice eighth, and then Broxton came into pitch the ninth. Here's how that inning looked, briefly: single, passed ball, strikeout, intentional walk, RBI single. 6-5, Marlins. Game over.

Not good at all. Just painful, in fact. I don't even know what else to say about it except for that, so instead I'll answer Depressed Fan's question about Andy LaRoche. Yes, I think he's the real deal. He's only played three games, but he looks confident out there. Granted, it could just be the adrenaline of being called up to the big leagues, but he's from a baseball family, so it's not like he hasn't seen it before. We see guys come up, do well, and then really struggle, but then we also see the Jeff Francoeurs and Robinson Canos of the game. But, if you believe this column, you might want to stick with Zimmerman.

Also, check out this nice piece about my favorite Martin.

Willis is pitching Wednesday. He's doing well, even if his ERA is a little high. Let's see if the Dodgers can get a lead and then throw it all away again (I'm looking at you, Kent).


Player of the Game: Andre Ethier (3 for 4, 1 RBI)


Record: 19-14


COMMENTS:

AUTHOR: Brian
DATE: 05/09/2007 07:35:44 PM

Thanks Erin.

D-Train is another guy that's killing my fantasy team, not looking too good tonight either.
-----

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Game 32: Dodgers 6, Marlins 1

Well, well, well, Mr. Penny, my fantasy team certainly thanks you. Oh, and also it's good that you won a game for your team, too.

This was quite the virtuoso performance from Brad, who pitched seven innings, allowed five hits, and struck out fourteen (including ten of the first twelve he faced). His previous career high had been thirteen, but he got the fourteenth on the final batter he faced in the seventh inning. He also got two RBI on a base hit in the fourth inning. Rudy Seanez came in and pitched the eighth and ninth (giving up a home run to Uggla with two outs in the ninth to ruin the shutout) and the Dodgers won the first of four against the Marlins. Brad Penny improved to 4-0, and dropped his ERA to a shocking 1.39. The Dodgers have won all but one of the seven games in which Penny has been the starter (and he only gave up three runs in that game).

Wilson Betemit pinch-hit, but there was no home run Monday. Instead, he reminded us of the Betemit of old, striking out on three pitches.

His replacement at third base, had a great game. LaRoche went 1 for 2 with 2 RBI before leaving the game after being hit on the wrist with a pitch. No official word from the Dodgers, so we're just to going to assume (and hope) that he's okay.

Jeff Kent hit a home run on the first pitch he saw in the game, and later added a double. The Dodgers are having quite the power outage this year (and Nomar is still in a mini-slump), so as much as I like seeing them score six runs two days in a row, I'd like to see a few more homers now and again.

Mark Hendrickson is on the mound tonight, so we'll have to see if he can have the same success he's had in first three starts.

Player of the Game: Brad Penny (7IP, 5H, 0ER, 0BB, 14Ks)


Record: 19-13


COMMENTS:

AUTHOR: Brian
DATE: 05/08/2007 05:18:22 PM
I know it's a small sample size, but does LaRoche look like the real deal? Zimmerman is killing my fantasy team, looking to replace him.
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Monday, May 07, 2007

Game 31: Braves 6, Dodgers 4

I couldn't fathom the idea of writing about this game yesterday, and it's still pretty depressing to think about today.

Consider this-- going into Sunday's game, the Dodgers were 15-0 this season when holding a lead after the sixth inning. Reliever Chin-hui Tsao had retired his previous 24 batters in a row, and only given up one hit (and no runs) on the season. Wilson Betemit hit his second pinch-hit home run in two days (wow) to give the Dodgers a 4-1 lead in the sixth. Then Tsao came into pitch the seventh. Game over, right?

Hardly. Tsao couldn't do anything right, and when all was said and done, the Braves had scored five runs against him in just two-thirds of an inning. He left while the game was still tied, and then Billingsley came in and allowed two of Tsao's baserunners to score before finally getting the third out. Not a good inning.


And all of this overshadowed a spectacular game by Randy Wolf, who allowed just one run (in the first inning) on six hits, while striking out eight. It would have been nice to see him go deeper, but he once again struggled early in the game, which elevated his pitch count. Still, though, it seemed like the bullpen was primed to get him the win.


In other news, Andy LaRoche (brother of Adam) made his Dodger debut at third base. Apparently, Grady intends to make LaRoche the everyday third baseman, which means Betemit will be another utility guy on the bench (to go with Valdez and Martinez). Sucks for Betemit, but unless he keeps hitting a home run every time he comes to the plate, I don't blame Grady for the move. The unfortunate thing is that the
eyebrows seem to run in the LaRoche family.

There was a nice moment in the fifth inning, when Andy LaRoche got his first hit as a major leaguer. He hit a ground rule double to right field, and his friend Jeff Franceour got the fan to give the ball back so he could make sure LaRoche got to keep it. That, combined with the shots of LaRoche's mother cheering, was enough to make me almost tear up.


It would have been a much happier ending if the Dodgers had won the game, though.

Now there's a four game series against the Marlins. We have Hendrickson going up against Nolasco, so it looks good for us. We'll have to see if the offense can keep it going this week. Maybe a weak pitcher will help get them into that groove.


Player of the Game:
Wilson Betemit (second pinch-hit home run in two games)


Record: 18-13

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Enough Already

Well, Roger Clemens has proven once again that he won't say no to a paycheck, even though he already has more money than god. So much for retiring (how many times now?) and then deciding to come back so he could play closer to home (and possibly play with his son). I wonder if the Yankees will let him stay home on road trips, the way the Astros did.

I hope he gets the tar beat out of him in his first few starts, but I'm not naive enough to think that will actually happen. If the Yankees lose the pennant now, they'll have only themselves to blame.

For the record, I of course liked Roger Clemens as a pitcher when he played for the Red Sox, but he's always been sort of an asshole. I didn't want the Sox to pay out the butt for Clemens, so I'm glad that they didn't. That said, I certainly hate to see him go to the Yankees.


COMMENTS:

AUTHOR: stopmikelupica
DATE: 05/06/2007 04:34:35 PM

Hmm, odd. You didn't want to see the Sox pay out the hole for Clemens? But are you okay with them paying out the hole for so-far less productive Dice-K?

Listen, I never complain about a team paying for talent... if I ever did, I might has well root for the Royals or Pirates.

It's well worth the money if you are getting a proven stud; paying for unproven pitchers is how you get stuck with Carl Pavano, Kei Igawa or Dice-K types. Clemens is worth the money and the contract.

As for the retirement stuff, he didn't "unretire"; after retiring at the end of his run with the Yankees, he unretired to sign with his hometown Astros. Since then he's been unretired, though he has spent the last two seasons starting very late because he takes the first two months off. Probably to avoid drug testing.

Everyone knew he was going to sign with the Yankees as soon as they started dumping Randy Johnson. Again, it's a good idea to go with the proven guy (Clemens) over the guy who hadn't proven himself over the past three years (Unit). The money works out the same.
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AUTHOR: Erin
DATE: 05/06/2007 04:41:47 PM

I've never said I was glad about bidding so much on Dice-K. I just said I didn't want to give up on him yet. I was not pleased that the Sox spent that much on him, and I don't think I've ever stated otherwise.


Without Dice-K, I still wouldn't want the Sox to pay for Clemens. And now, given that they did pay $102 million for Dice-K, of course I don't want another $30 million or whatever going to an old pitcher for an abbreviated season. I don't think that's such a farfetched opinion.


I'm not saying that I'm against a large payroll. I couldn't be a Red Sox fan if I were. I just don't want Clemens, and I think it would have been a waste for the Red Sox, frankly.
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AUTHOR: Brian
DATE: 05/06/2007 09:32:36 PM

Whether or not you wanted the Sox to pony up the money for Clemens is irrelevant at this point. He's in the Yankee rotation, and any slim advantage the Sox had in the starting pitching department is completely gone.


Wang >/= Schilling
Pettitte >/= Beckett
Clemens > Dice-K
Mussina > Wakefield
Hughes > Tavarez/Lester/Warm Body.

The Sox better enjoy this lead, because come the middle of June, they're going to be looking up at the Yanks.
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AUTHOR: Erin
DATE: 05/06/2007 09:38:40 PM

Irrevelant or not, this is my blog, so I felt like it was maybe okay for me to state my opinion, especially since I was questioned about it by stopmikelupica.


It's a good thing the games aren't played on paper, huh? Otherwise the Yankees would have won every World Series in the last six years, instead of none of them.

I think the Sox will enjoy this lead, thank you. And we'll see where we are in the middle of June.

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AUTHOR: Brian
DATE: 05/06/2007 09:45:23 PM

"It's a good thing the games aren't played on paper, huh? Otherwise the Yankees would have won every World Series in the last six years, instead of none of them."


And I guess the Sox would've actually made the playoffs last year too, if paper mattered. Or at least finished ahead of Toronto.

As for the irrelevant statement, came out harsher than I meant. Didn't mean your opinion was irrelevant, meant who was in/out of the bidding was irrelevant. My apologies.

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AUTHOR: Erin
DATE: 05/06/2007 09:50:28 PM

I'm not sure, with the pitching staff the way it was last year, that the Red Sox were even better than Tampa Bay, on paper.


All I was saying is that you can't just say Pettitte is better than Beckett or whatever. The numbers back it up in the past, but not so far this year, since Beckett is off to a 6-0 start.

And Phil Hughes has made two starts. Lester was good last year until he got freakin' cancer. So we might want to let the two of them play a few more before deciding who's better.
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COMMENT:
URL: http://depressedfan.com
DATE: 05/06/2007 10:17:28 PM

Lester made 15 starts last year and had a 4.76 ERA and 1.65 WHIP. I don't care how small of a sample size we have on Hughes, he's a better pitcher than that. But I do see your point.

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AUTHOR: Erin
DATE: 05/06/2007 10:19:51 PM

Sure, a 4.76 ERA.


But also, cancer.

I'm cutting him a break until I see a healthy Jon Lester pitch this season.
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AUTHOR: stopmikelupica
DATE: 05/06/2007 11:45:19 PM

Well, at least you are consistent in your opinion, at least as it relates to Dice-K and Clemens. I respect that, and I hear what you are saying.


My opinion has been the same since the begining. I didn't want Dice-K. I don't believe in Japanese starting pitchers - at best they are only good for a year or two before the league figures them out - they have weak arms, are used to six-man rotations, throw different balls... if they were young and could be mold in the minor leagues, fine, but we're talking about 10-year vets.

I like Japanese relief pitchers (see Okajima on the Sox this year), because while they, too, have a short shelf life of a couple of years (see past examples), they tend to dominate for those two years, because they only pitch an inning or two. In fact, this Sox guy might be a stud reliever for a few years, because he's a lefty specialist who pitches a minimal amount of innings.

So that's why I was glad the Yankees didn't win the bid for DIce-K, and couldn't believe how much the Sox bid for him. Seriously, can you name one successful Japanese pitcher to transition to the US?

Clemens, on the hand, I feel is a worthwill investment. He's a proven stud. The investment is just for a year. Despite all the big numbers being thrown around, he gets paid $4.5 million a month. June-September = $18 million, which is pretty close to what Jason Schmidt is getting paid by the Dodgers for pitching from June-September. And Clemens is better.
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