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Dodger Thoughts: One day more
Vin Scully doesn’t want the season to end.
You could hear it in his voice – the joy, the excitement, the wonder – after he saw Elian Herrera’s walkoff single in the bottom of the ninth inning Monday give Los Angeles a 3-2 victory over San Francisco, keeping the last thread of the Dodgers’ 2012 season from breaking.
“So what a game!” Scully exclaimed. “A Giant-Dodger game. Don’t miss it tomorrow night – we’re running out of baseball!”
Do you hear the “Les Miserables” fan in Vin sing, singing the song of broadcasters who love the game? “One day more.”
Scully was among the first to realize that if Herrera’s bases-loaded, one-out liner had gone into Marco Scutaro’s glove instead of off the edge of it and unretrievable in shallow left field, the Dodger season might well be over. Scutaro would have been able to step on second base, double-up Luis Cruz and send the game into the 10th inning.
“The Dodgers are live – admittedly, barely,” Scully said. “One of those things where you hold a mirror up against the lips to see if the body of breathing. Well, attention in St. Louis – the body is still breathing.”
St. Louis doesn’t seem to need reminding. The Cardinals have been doing their job, winning three of their past four games (and 11 of their past 14) to maintain a two-game lead over the Dodgers for the final wild-card spot in the National League in a season that now has only two games remaining.
That has left the Dodgers, near the end of their topsy-turvy season, in position for one of their most heartbreaking finishes since they came back from three games behind the Houston Astros with three games to play in 1980 to tie for the division title, only to lose a playoff. Los Angeles has won six straight games, but for the first time in 2012, they could win a game and still be eliminated from the postseason if St. Louis wins again.
At the other end of the spectrum is the absolutely tantalizing notion that the Dodgers could finish their season with eight straight victories to force a tiebreaker game, could finish with nine straight victories to reach the brand-new wild-card playoff game, could finish with 10 straight victories to reach the postseason tournament proper. Whatever were to happen after that, it would be a climax that we’d be talking about decades later, the same as 1980.
With that tease comes lament. You can hear the fans asking, “Why couldn’t the Dodgers just get their act together sooner? If they just hadn’t blown this game and that game, they’d already be in.” Don’t waste your time on what-might-have-beens that any other team outside the postseason can also claim. If St. Louis had gotten its act together one game sooner, it’d all be over. For that matter, it’s only because Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig and the sport’s leadership decided to institute a second wild-card team this year that the Dodgers weren’t eliminated days and days ago.
As always, emulate Vin. Show up tonight and see what happens. And between now and then, rather than focus on what might have been, fantasize about what might be.