2012 has come and gone, and it brought forth a lot of good and bad for the Dodgers. However, some things just aren’t worth seeing in 2013. While some things are worth wishing for.
What I don’t want to see in 2013?
1. The Dodgers ranking in the bottom half of the MLB in runs scored.
The record wasn’t good enough to make the playoffs, and, it was beefed up by the production of the team’s pitching.
With a lineup featuring Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, and eventually Carl Crawford, the Dodgers are primed to be amongst the top offenses in baseball.
The goal: Why not 800 runs? The Rangers scored 808, and the Yankees cashed in 804. Topping the NL was the Brewers, who scored 776 times, 139 times more than the Dodgers did.
2. Stop forgetting that there is no ‘I’ in team.
What’s made the trio successful is its ability to shine by feeding off the team’s chemistry.
Then came the trades that brought in Ramirez and Gonzalez.
You’d think the team was due for a boost, but no.
Ramirez provided a spark upon his arrival in Los Angeles, but it faded when Gonzalez’s followed.
In fact, Ramirez felt the need to get an ovation from the Dodger Stadium crowd after Gonzalez hit his first home run against the Marlins on Aug. 25 in his first at-bat.
The perception? What a clown!
These players must show that they are Dodgers to win a championship, and could very well pad their stats by helping the team achieve its goal.
One step at a time.
3. Juan Uribe
Uribe, 33, is due to make $8 million in 2013, a year after hitting .191/.258/.284 with two home runs and 17 RBIs in 66 games. That comes a year after hitting .204/.264/.293 with 4 home runs and 28 RBIs in 77 games.
If my math’s correct, that’s 6 home runs and 45 RBIs in two years, which has already cost the team approximately a little less than $13 million.
Fan favorite Luis Cruz is just 28 years old, and just finished a season where he hit .297/.322/.431 with 6 home runs and 40 RBIs.
Cruz makes a meager $401,500, and cannot be arbitration eligible until 2014, and won’t hit free agency until at least 2018.
The only thing increasing on Uribe is his weight, and it won’t result in more production.
Cut the losses now, and just assume the money is going to Cruz.
Even if Cruz flounders in 2013, he still will have given more production to the Dodgers in two season than Uribe will have done in three.
Now, what do I want to see in 2013?
1. More intimidation
The Dodgers have already begun to innovate this into the game-plan.
There is the ‘I See You’ taunt by Hanley Ramirez, which sparked some controversy with Pirates pitcher A.J. Burnett, who did not take the taunt lightly.
With a coach like excitable coach like Davey Lopes at first base, the team is primed to ignite at any given moment.
It can run, hit and field well. It even will strike fear into its opponents on paper alone.
But there is nothing like an event during the game.
How about coach Don Mattingly? He won’t back down from a bad call. Umpires could bet that he’s going to come out, ready to bark with full bite.
The roots are there. Now how about they get planted.
2. Better crowds
Fans of Los Angeles sports have a tendency to arrive late and leave early.
Then there are those that focus on the Dodger Dogs and beer, or even the beach balls.
That’s great; enjoy yourself at the game, but don’t forget the chief reason you’re at Dodger Stadium — to watch the Dodgers!
It’s important for fans to encourage and root for the Dodgers from the first pitch until the final one.
Players have actually shied away from coming to Los Angeles because the fan atmosphere isn’t the way they’d like.
Have you ever seen a home run hit at Fenway Park? You’d think they won a championship.
How about an 0-2 situation at Yankee Stadium? You could go deaf in there.
Meanwhile, Dodger Stadium drew 3.3 million fans in 2012, but only a fraction of those stuck around when it mattered.
Perhaps the team would perform better with a crowd that wants to be at the game to actually watch their players.
Get to know this team, it’s going to be a good one and very fun to watch.
3. A World Series championship for the Dodgers
In 1988 I was a mere two years old, which gives forth the most unpleasant feeling in any sports fan’s life: That of being able to say he lived through a championship, but was not old enough to experience it.
The Dodgers have made the right moves to set up a championship run.
But the best team on paper rarely wins, at least not right away.
In basketball, the Los Angeles Lakers signed Shaquille O’Neal and drafted Kobe Bryant in 1996, but did not win a championship until 2000 when a legitimate coach (Phil Jackson) was brought in to fully utilize the team’s talents.
While staying on the topic of basketball, sometimes all it takes is a superstar, just as it did for the Miami Heat. The arrival of LeBron James and Chris Bosh helped franchise mainstay Dwyane Wade win the NBA championship this past season, a year after falling short in the NBA Finals to the Dallas Mavericks.
But it took chemistry, whether it be through a coach or a player.
The Dodgers will fit both molds perfectly. They acquired superstars Ramirez and Gonzalez midway through last season and now have signed Zack Greinke to help Kershaw in improving the team’s pitching, which will ultimately put it in a position to compete for the franchise’s first championship since 1988.
And if not, maybe it’s time to find that manager that could make it happen.