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. 

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  • Felton Suthon

    Let’s be objective about this win streak. The Padres and Rockies had the white flag flying when they played the Dodgers and the Giants were limiting Matt Cain to have him resdy because they are in the actual playoff. More to the point, an eight-game winning streak offers little justification for the extremely unfortunate decision to re-up with Mattingly and Coletti, both of whom will return to soil the Dodgers 2013 efforts, which will more than likely include the most expenive offense in the history of baseball to fail to score 700 runs.

    • SteveA_9534

      Wow Debbie Downer, you sure are a ray of sunshine. The most expensive offense in baseball history to fail to score 700 runs? On what basis, because of the last month? And Donnie and Ned ruining things? You know you could also recognize that the team wouldn’t be this close to the playoffs without those two, especially Ned, and his aggressive trading. Just sayin’

  • Felton Suthon

    Steve, I can respect you standing up for your guys and I will be delighted to eat crow a year from now, but the Dodgers were close to the playoffs like a student applying to a college who standards have dropped so far that by signing one’s name, one is accepted. I sincerely doubt that 2013 will be much better than 2012, which will ultimately be a great frustration to both of us.

    Aggressive trading? You’re right, but was it good trading? Before the Big Trade, the Dodgers were 68-58 and trailed the Giants by 3 games. Adrian Gonzalez shows up and hits a home run – hooray! Then, the Dodgers went 11-17, losing an embarassing 5 games when Dodger pitchers surrendered 3 runs or less. Gonzalez hits 3 home runs in a month. Key acquisition Shane Victorino batted .217 during that time period. Gonzalez’s career arc for home runs is 40-31-27-18 – I doubt seriously that he will hit 25 home runs next year in spite of a $21M a year salary that’s owed for some time. In 2011, the Dodgers outscored opponents 644-612 and won 82 games. In 2012, after “aggressive trading”, the Dodgers outscored opponents 632-596 and won 85 games. That’s not really improvement, is it?

    Mattingly is even more regrettable. He gave an astonishing 1481 plate appearances to bad players in 2012 – Uribe 179, Gwynn 277, Gordon 329, Rivera 337 and 359 for Loney (Let’s also remember that it was Ned who overpaid Uribe and Rivera by a huge amount). SF only had Theriot with 383 and Buriss with 150 (533 total and SF managed to fix second base with Scutaro while the Dodgers made themselves arguably worse). You think 1000 plate appearances given to bad players helps correct a 9-game deficit?

    Then, there is Donnie’s continued poor lineup construction. He continues to bat AJ Ellis 8th when Ellis is one of the most productive hitters on the team while the only thing that stopped him from leading off with the human out machine Dee Gordon was an injury (can’t steal first base).

    So, I anticipate Carl Crawford leading off or batting second behind Dee Gordon next year. Unfortunately, Kemp will bat with two outs and nobody on in the first inning a lot next year – if he stays healthy, which will become more problematic going forward.

    I’ll give Coletti credit for his smaller deals – Capuano, Mark Ellis and Luis Cruz were all steals. He and Mattingly stayed with AJ Ellis. However, ned floundered again when he let Russell Martin go after 2010 and kept James Loney around.