Just as happened when the Washington Nationals were eliminated from the races, and the Matt Williams execution watch went from acute to get-it-over-with already, so has it been for Don Mattingly from just about the moment the Los Angeles Dodgers got bumped to one side Thursday night. Anything from speculating on when to speculating on successors, you name it.
Squaring off against Clayton Kershaw in Game One, Jacob deGrom plain outpitched the Los Angeles Dodgers’ maestro. Squaring off against Zack Greinke in Game Five Thursday night, deGrom didn’t have his first-game mojo working. So he went to his belly. And it turned out that the slender fellow with the delta wing hair and the infectiously prankish grin had all the belly he needed.
It didn’t hurt that he and his New York Mets had Daniel Murphy on their side, either. That’s why they’re going to the National League Championship Series and the Dodgers are going home early for a third straight year, possibly with their manager’s head in a noose.
“There’s trouble on Joe Pepitone’s line,” was the title Bill Madden gave a chapter of his 2003 book Pride of October: What It Was to be Young and a Yankee. The title alluded to what Madden heard when he first called Pepitone at his Long Island home to arrange interviews for the book. Long before he struggled to reach the former first baseman, there was trouble on Joe Pepitone’s line. And there would be again, nine years later.
It seems that Detroit isn’t the only city this postseason fated to have nervous breakdowns when it’s time for their team to call the bullpen. Los Angeles may be fated to reach for the nerve tonics in similar times, if Friday’s National League division series opener in Dodger Stadium was any barometer.
There’ll be no more fun, fun, fun for the 2013 Los Angeles Dodgers. Daddy took the T-Bird away in Busch Stadium Friday. And you can spend all winter debating whether or not the Dodgers themselves gave him the ammunition on a platter.
Concerning the Los Angeles Dodger’s pool party to celebrate clinching the National League West in Arizona, a few observations:
1) There was a point during the season when the Dodgers had hit rock bottom, or close enough, while the Diamondbacks were hitting the high notes and the high standings. It isn’t exactly out of the bounds of reason to suggest that, on the assumption that the Dodgers had a resurrection in them, which wasn’t an assumption many were willing to make at that point in time, there could be nothing sweeter than to finish it at the Diamondbacks’ expense. Especially considering . . .
Jump not to any conclusions that not even a collarbone fracture in an earlier brawl this season sent Zack Greinke the message. Let’s run down how went the Tuesday night fights between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks — featuring a few rounds between several 1980s all-stars now among both teams’ brain trusts — for those who needed a scorecard to establish the, ahem, order of battle:
Second thoughts are not first disasters. There’s nothing wrong with thinking twice, which one gathers many wish the Baseball Writers Association of America had done with this year’s Hall of Fame non-election. If a large enough group of the 500+ voting writers elected to send a message about actual or alleged performance-enhancing substances, they have done so.
I had the feeling it might turn out this way. Not since Bill Clinton looked his second presidential election campaign in the eye have the Baseball Writers Association of America ended up electing nobody to the Hall of Fame. And I’m not sure which, among factors gaining serious discussion as the voting commenced and, at last, the results came in, may prove the most controversial of them all:
Late surges did the Detroit Tigers all the good in the world and the Los Angeles Angels none of it after Monday’s proceedings were finished. The Tigers stood with the American League Central in their hip pockets and the Angels stood with no place to go the rest of October other than playing out a two-game string with the Seattle Mariners and praying what they managed to do down the stretch this time would mean anything better than what they didn’t do in the season’s first month.