I’m imagining some jaded neighbor of a player like Mark Ellis after he goes home for the winter:
JN: “So, how’d your season go?”
ME: “Got a week? It will take that long to explain it.”
JN: “Oh, man, no, not now. Wait till we’re snowed in. Then you come over and we’ll drink a bucket of coffee while you tell me all about it.”
I feel that way about the Dodgers’ 2012 season. It started out much better than even the most hopeful of fans could have imagined, I think. Here’s the standings at the end of each month:
LA Dodgers 16 7 .696 –
San Francisco 12 10 .545 3.5
LA Dodgers 32 18 .640 –
San Francisco 27 24 .529 5.5
San Francisco 44 35 .557 –
LA Dodgers 43 36 .544 1
San Francisco 55 47 .539 –
LA Dodgers 56 48 .538 –
San Francisco 74 58 .561 –
LA Dodgers 70 63 .526 4.5
x-San Francisco 93 66 .585 –
LA Dodgers 84 75 .528 9
I find that interesting. If asked, I suspect most casual fans would say the Dodgers’ sudden collapse happened in September; up until then they had been playing well. The standings show that’s not quite accurate. They had two really good months, then three of mediocrity and one of near-calamity. As Vin Scully pointed out during yesterday’s final broadcast, their highwater mark was June 17 when their record was 42 – 25, seventeen games over .500. After that there was a fairly steady decline until they bottomed out on September 20 at 77 – 73, only four games over .500 and at some risk (at least in my mind) of suddenly dropping below break-even on the year.
As it turned out they ended up a respectable 86 – 76, 10 games over .500. What frustrated many fans, I’m sure, is that “L10” column in the standings: the Dodgers were 8 – 2 over their last ten games and playing very well indeed. Had they started that streak about two weeks earlier it wasn’t out of the question that they could have finished in the hunt for Wild Card #1. I don’t think they could have caught the Giants for first place in the division, since the Giants played well for all of September.
Now they head off into the off-season with as set a lineup as they may have had since the 1970s, when fans could just pencil in the same infield for 8 years. Who’d have thought that was a possibility at this year’s All Star break? And, that lineup performed pretty well for the last two weeks of the season. We’ll have to see whether they can continue to do so once they’ve been playing together for several months.
When do pitchers and catchers report?