Apr 05

Ease up on Puig

So says Dan Le Batard of ESPN the Magazine.

Puig is still young, man, and he’s going to do young-man things, no matter our sensibilities. According to ESPN The Magazine’s Tim Keown — and there have been precious few illuminating profiles written about this sports star, the American media machine still somehow having trouble climbing over the language barrier even as our country browns like a pie crust — Puig’s favorite entertainment viewing is “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” There are very mature adults, celebrities in that part of the world, who can’t handle Hollywood’s vices and excess, and they are not 23, and they are not new to this culture, and they aren’t being asked to carry a baseball team with Magic Johnson as the owner and an $8 billion television contract, and they are not watching “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”

It’s a good column. Don’t read the comments unless you want to read a whole bunch of privileged wannabes moralizing about the kid who oughtta know better. Le Batard’s point is simple: “how could he know better? He’s been here less than a year; he grew up on an island which has food shortages, dilapidated cars, and few people who could explain America to him. Give him a break.”

Oct 27

Ouch!

Young Mr. Wong had a wonderful career at the University of Hawai’i, and if he learns to hit in the big leagues he’ll have a long career there, I’m sure. But this was not the best memory he’ll take away from the 2013 World Series. The worst of it is that his run was meaningless; the Cards needed two to tie the game, so there was no need for him to be stretching his lead.

So now we go to Game Five tomorrow in St. Louis, all tied up at two games apiece.

Oct 26

Wotta ending, huh?

The Cardinals’ Allen Craig was awarded home plate after an obstruction call at third base kept him from advancing cleanly on a wild throw from Saltalamacchia and the Cards won Game Two 5 – 4 to take a two games to one lead in the World Series.

That last play is going to be remembered in World Series lore for quite a while.

Mar 11

Greinke’s elbow inflamed

An injection of platelet-rich plasma was the preferred treatment.

Greinke missed a bullpen session 10 days ago because of discomfort in the back of the elbow, missed a start five days ago because of the flu, then threw an impressive bullpen session Friday without issues.

But the discomfort in the back of his elbow returned when he played catch Sunday. The club said the decision to send Greinke for an exam was made “out of an abundance of caution.”

He returned to LA and was examined by Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who diagnosed inflammation but no structural problems.

Hyun-Jin Ryu took his place in the lineup today and gave up three runs in 4 2/3 innings while striking out three and walking two. The Dodgers lost to the Brewers 3 – 2. Yasiel Puig continued his hot hitting, going 2 for 2 to get his average up to .452 for the spring (14 for 31)

Feb 23

Exhibition Game #1

“Juan Uribe had the first hit for the Dodgers, a line single, and Andre Ethier the first extra-base hit, a triple off left-hander Leyson Septimo.”

Well might you ask “what the hell is Juan Uribe doing in the lineup at all?” A question, unfortunately, that I can’t answer.

Kershaw started, gave up two runs in two innings, and came out for Belisario. He too gave up two runs in the Dodgers’ eventual 9 – 0 loss to the White Sox.

Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu make their Dodgers exhibition debut Sunday against the White Sox at noon PT on Gameday Audio.

Update: Ownership in the form of Mark Walter and Stan Kasten was present for the game, and had some thoughts for Barry Bloom of MLB.com:

Expectations are high now for the Dodgers, and criticism could follow if they don’t win.

“I suppose people will say we were foolish or something and maybe they’ll even be right, if that’s the case,” Walter said. “I know Stan is going to do everything possible for the long term. We know that you can’t be a perennial strong team, strong franchise, without a farm system and player development. Stan is going to build that.

“I feel that especially in L.A., where there’s been a down period we’ll say, we needed to do something to tell the fans we cared and wanted to be back. Whether that results in a World Series ring right away or not, there’s really no guarantee of that. But it does tell people we care a lot.”

Oct 22

If they can do this

then the Giants really are a team of destiny this year. Watch as Hunter Pence’s bat shatters and hits the ball not once, not twice, but three times.

Congratulations to the Giants. As Bob Timmermann reminded me on Facebook earlier today, this means that there actually will be a Giants – Tigers World Series. There’s never been one. The closest was in 1908, but Fred Merkle committed his “bonehead play” which cost the Giants the pennant. The Cubs won and beat the Tigers for the World Championship; it was the last time they won one.

Oct 03

Dodgers win season-ender

The Dodgers ended their season on a good note, defeating the Giants 5 – 1. Kershaw pitched 8 strong innings, striking out 8 and lowering his ERA to a league-leading 2.53, winning that title for the second year in a row.

The Dodgers got home runs from two unlikely sources, Alex Castellanos and Juan Rivera. Castellanos was a late-inning replacement for Andre Ethier in right field and Rivera replaced Adrian Gonzalez late in the game as well. I hesitate to say Rivera was a defensive replacement, as Gonzalez has won three Gold Gloves in his career and nobody would hire Rivera for his defensive skills at first base.

I’ll have a longer post-mortem later. In the meantime, go read Jon’s thoughts on the season just gone at the City Think blog at LA Magazine.

Oct 02

Alas!

The Dodgers’ six-game winning streak ended tonight at the worst possible time, after the Reds had defeated the Cardinals earlier to keep the Dodgers’ faint playoff hopes alive. With the loss the Cardinals win Wild Card #2 and the right to play the Braves in a one-game playoff Friday to determine who goes on to play the Nationals starting on Sunday, October 7.

This game might serve as a microcosm of the Dodgers’ season: down early to a couple of solo home runs from the Giants, they scratched back for one run, gave up two more, grimly fought back to within a run, and fell short at the end. There was a costly baserunning error by Mark Ellis, usually one of the steadiest players on the team; there was a short outing from the starter Chris Capuano; there were some hits from the new guys (Victorino, Gonzalez and Ramirez) and from the old (AJ Ellis and Ethier); and there was excellent relief pitching again from Belisario, Jansen and League.

Tomorrow’s game is for pride only (and Kershaw’s attempt to retake the NL strikeout lead from R.A. Dickey — he needs nine to tie and ten to go ahead), but pride might be enough. It’s the Giants, after all.

Oct 01

Walkoff win!

It’s not every day you see a manager pull a double switch which involves pulling the guy who hit a two-run home run earlier in the game and putting a relief pitcher in his spot. That’s what Don Mattingly did in this game, however, taking Andre Ethier out of the number-two spot and replacing him with closer Brandon League while putting little-used utility-man Elian Herrera in the number-nine spot. It paid off in spades when Herrera came up with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning and lined a single off the glove of the drawn-in Marco Scutaro at second base, scoring Hanley Ramirez to give the Dodgers a 3 – 2 win and keeping their slim playoff hopes alive.

This was a tight game all evening, with the Dodgers falling behind 1 – 0 on a double by Buster Posey in the very first inning, scoring Scutaro, who’d walked. Ethier got the run back and one more with a booming home run to center field after a Mark Ellis single. The Dodgers had a chance to score an insurance run in the sixth inning, but Adrian Gonzalez’s career-high 47th double of the year was wasted when he was out at the plate on an excellent throw by Dodger cast-off Xavier Nady after a single by Shane Victorino. Then in the eighth inning the Giants tied the game on a double by Angel Pagan and a single by Scutaro, who took second on Victorino’s ill-advised throw to the plate. Fortunately for the Dodgers, pitcher Kenley Jansen got the next two Giants out with no further damage. League got the Giants out in the ninth, allowing a single by Aubrey Huff but no further damage. That set the stage for Herrera’s heroics in the bottom of the inning.

St. Louis defeated Cincinnati 4 – 2 earlier in the evening, reducing its magic number to one. The Dodgers’ only hope is to win the final two games against the Giants while the Reds defeat the Cardinals in the final two games of the season. That would leave the Dodgers and Cardinals with identical 87 – 75 records and force a one-game playoff between the two teams to determine which goes on to another one game playoff against the Atlanta Braves, who won the National League’s Wild Card #1.

Oct 01

American League playoffs

In a manifestation of how interconnected baseball can be, by winning the nightcap of their doubleheader yesterday the Rangers assured not only themselves but also the Yankees and Orioles spots in the post-season playoffs. It’s still to be determined who plays whom and where and when.

ESPN’s “If the season ended today” feature shows it would be the As and Yankees in the AL Wild Card #2 game; the winner moves on to play the Rangers. The Tigers and Orioles would play in the other series. The opponents could change depending on the results of the next three days.

Tampa Bay has a faint hope, but if it loses once or the As win once, the Florida team is done. It could still have an impact, though, as it starts a three-game home series with the Os today. Today’s game between the two is free on MLB.tv at 4:10PM PDT.

The Yankees, meanwhile, start a three-game series with the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. I’m sure the schedulers thought “Ooh, man, this will be a meaningful series which will determine the winner of the AL East.” It still may, but the Red Sox won’t be in the mix. Little did the schedulers know how completely the Bosox would collapse this year. They lost their 90th game of the year yesterday, which ensures their worst record since 1966.

Update: I thought I had the situation covered, but David Schoenfield goes into further possibilities at ESPN’s Sweet Spot blog.