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Dodger Blue Rock Bottom: Late Night Dodgers Thoughts



I’m sitting here stunned, listening to David Vassegh offer earthquake insurance. I finally decide that it’s time to turn off the postgame show. It’s nearly 2 AM here in Ohio, and the Los Angeles Dodgers have just lost at home to the worst team in the National League. I know this, because I get to watch the Reds each night before the Dodgers play.

The Dodgers have just dropped a 4-1 game to the Cincinnati Reds. It was a game that will be a footnote in your memories. Unremarkable, not particularly memorable, and blends in all too much with the rest of the 2018 season. But something tonight feels different.

It could have been the fact that the Dodgers wasted what was a dominant start by Walker Buehler – who at one point retired 14 Reds batters in order. In my soul, when I look at Buehler’s astonishing line in the box score; I know he doesn’t deserve that ‘L’ next to his name. But Buehler will be fine, he has big things in store. This is more about the current state of the 2018 Dodgers.

I escaped Vassegh and the postgame show. But I forget that I’m trying to forget, and I get on twitter. I see that the man who is our supposed leader, the manager; is at a loss for answers. Dave Roberts is just like me.

How can he be at a loss for answers, I wonder. Continuing to scroll through tweets about the Dodgers, I simply cannot unplug. My mind won’t allow it. There are more tweets with quotes about Roberts, and golf clubs, and things which make me question everything I’ve known about baseball for a quarter century.

I know things are not well, and potentially headed down a dark path. They may already be well down that dark path. The urge I have to flee the situation and sit on my porch for some fresh air quickly goes away. For the first time ever, I’m sitting around thinking strange thoughts. How can I help the Dodgers get out of this funk? I can’t. Like the rest of the fans who follow this team night by night, I’m helpless. No amount of wishing or hoping can do this for them.

Maybe if we start to steal or bases, or play small ball; I think to myself. That’s the answer: small ball. Certainly Friedman, and Roberts and other bright minds in the front office realize this team doesn’t hit for power. Our home run leader is at a paltry five. There are reserve players and platoon players around baseball who sit on that number. Small ball is the way to go, I tell myself.

As I shake my head – I realize we cannot transform our identity overnight. It’s unlikely. What is our identity anyway? That’s what we need, an identity. Teams that have that have foundation. They avoid losing 11 of 16, and they find a way to play .500 baseball in their home park. I come to the realization that we cannot form this overnight, and tomorrow could be more of the same. If it is, I will find a way to enjoy it.

This is baseball. Baseball has always been good, in some small way in my life.

A team meeting can cure all if they don’t want to play small ball and manufacture runs. The disengaged players I watched for nine innings will take it upon themselves to correct whatever lapses in play we’re seeing. After all, this was the ‘get healthy’ series with the lowly Reds coming to town. The problem is, the Reds brought the fire with them on the long cross-country flight. They brought it right down to Chavez Ravine, front and center.

Unfathomable it is that; a 10-27 team with an interim manager and nothing to play for crawled out of the grave tonight to beat Walker Buehler on top of his game. Or maybe the Dodgers just found a way not to win it.

I go into my basement and cannot stop thinking about what has just happened. There is a feeling of shock -but after engaging with the many fans of our official Dodgers Nation twitter account for three hours – I wonder why I feel this way. The large group of friends I’ve never met ask me if I have seen this team play this year. And if they’re not shocked, then why are they upset like me?

They’re just like me, I realize. All 150,000 of them are upset. They’re justified in being upset, because Dodger baseball doesn’t unfold this way. That is not to be say in condescending fashion. Games are played for a reason, and the outcome is never determined or reached without being earned. It’s about competing. The Dodgers have to fight to find a reason to want to compete, day in and day out. That’s the only way that this will get better.

As I turn out the lights and try to pretend that I’m going to go to bed, I begin to make excuses for the 2018 squad in my head. No one is to blame for losing Justin Turner in a meaningless March exhibition. Clayton Kershaw is on the shelf – and they didn’t deserve that. Corey Seager is lost for the season. These poor guys – I continue to feel sorry for them inside.

I begin to pen this post, and wonder if I should react at all. Tonight was just another night, right? There are a lot of ballgames left to be played. The story of the 2018 Dodgers is not yet fully written. We are in the blog business – maybe someone out there reading this is feeling the same way. Perhaps they can offer some clarity. Does clarity exist for this current group? The questions keep rolling through my mind.

But something about what I am telling myself begins to feel like a lie. Why would a man lie to himself, after all? And why can’t I reach apathy when it comes to this team? I reside to one singular thought. Even if something about this feels very strange and different than anything I can remember. It’s then that I realize that I’m going down with this ship. Every last one of them on board. We have reached the point of no return, together. The point of the journey where it’s more difficult to go back to the beginning. Where did this all begin, anyways – as shades of that last October night of 2017 race through my brain.

Tomorrow

The one truth that has always kept me loving baseball, is there’s always tomorrow. Redemption – washing out these thoughts and feelings – is but a wake up away. On Friday the Dodgers will wake in their beds, and I will do the same; hoping for the best. Sometime this weekend, Dave Roberts will reach for the right club in his golf bag of players. Cody Bellinger will connect on that fastball down the middle, and the ball will be in the seats. The greatest fans in the world will be rewarded and see the guys wearing the perfect home whites slap hands at the end. And then we will wake up and do it again.

This is the greatest organization in baseball, playing in the greatest city in the world. If I can have pride in that – I know the players can too. Suddenly I have enough optimism that I may be able to sleep.

Baseball is like life. You play the hand you’re dealt, even if you don’t like the cards. So tomorrow we begin again. You, myself, and the Dodgers. Like boats against the current we will beat on, borne ceaselessly against the past. Certainly now, the worst is over. Or so I hope.

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Written by Staff Writer

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  1. Went to my first Dodgers game when I was 4 that was 69 years ago…this team is without any doubt..the worst one I have ever seen… right now I don’t think they could get into the Little League World Series. They pay theses men how much ??? Save your money… Get an all start girls softball team.. they do a lot better

    • Wow, neat to think about; you saw your first Dodgers game when my father was a small kid. First Dodger you remember seeing live at a game? Who was it

  2. Too many career or near-career seasons on last year’s 100+ win team lead to unrealistic expectations for this year. Those players are now back to earth, the front office seemed to believe last year was the norm and did nothing to improve the team (made it worse, in fact) and Dave Roberts is really a bad manager. Tell me about his first two seasons, and I’ll tell you that he lucked into two teams that had players playing above average and all he did was fill out a line-up card and then follow a pattern of 5-6 innings or 80-90 pitches for starters and bring in the bullpen that management put together and caught lightening in a bottle. Same plan this year, but players are playing more like what they should be doing rather than the career year guys.

    • David, great comment. As I watched the ceiling fan spin last night, I found myself wondering things like “is this who Chris Taylor really is” and “Is Cody Bellinger really a power bat” and all kinds of other horrible realities I don’t want to confront. Hopefully these guys prove to still be good to great ballplayers (I believe/want to believe that they are). There is so much baseball left. A couple wins being strung together in impressive fashion would do a lot to calm me, I think. Even over the Reds.

  3. What the team needs is for someone to look in the archives for that Tommy Lasorda tape of Tommy yelling about Steve Garvey and Dave Kingman. It might inspire Roberts to pull a Tommy and light a fire under these guys. I think the ball is a bit heavier this year as is the air in Dodger Stadium, hence long fly outs. I say hit for average and get the running game going. Hopefully the funk will end soon. The middle relief pitching sucks so far. Roberts needs to let the starters go longer, at least through the 7th. When Turner gets back things will change…..I hope.

  4. Winning is not an unrealistic ecpectation. Dodgers and the Reds controlled the NL in the 70’s. That was expected, and they delivered.

  5. our depth (sic) is overrated- what we have are 4 guys who can play multiple positions but can not hit worth a %$#@ (taylor barnes Kiki farmer) Muncie just can’t hit period and God lnows what got into puig bellinger is repeating the terrific lack of contact he had in the WS- Aaron Judge and Trout can strike out but cody is on a pace t hit 20

  6. It’s time to get a leader as manager again. A Walter Alston, Tommy Lasorda or Leo Durocher–someone who can inspire the team. Dave Roberts is not that leader.

    Chase Utley is!

    Just ask the players on the team. Cory Seager learned that as soon as he was on the team. Trace Thompson and Kike Hernandez and others praised him in USA Today’s Bob Nightengale’s article earlier this spring.

    The Dodgers need a manager that exudes confidence. Roberts does not. With a lineup that changes daily players are not sure what their roles are. Unable to develop a flow, not sure of what they can and cannot do, a pitch count becomes more important than “working the batter” and continually rotating positions and using what he seems to think is an endless bullpen.

    We’re only 40 games into the season, so, stop the bleeding now and hire Chase Utley as the manager. From SoCal, he could lead the Dodger Blue for the coming decades. Maybe even win a World Series or two.

    A Dodger fan since they moved to LA in ’58…and longing for excitement of the Moon Shot, Wills on the bases, Koufax on the mound, Big D controlling the strike zone, the Cey-Russell-Lopes-Garvey combo, Pitbull Orel, fist-pumping Kirk, Fernando-mania and the list goes on and on and on.

    So, turn lose Chase, Yasil, Cody, Cory, Justin, Kike and the new Boys of Summer. And bring back energy and excitement to Chavez Ravine.

    Al Ainsworth

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