I’m incredibly bummed. The Dodgers are out and I’m bummed. I’ll get over it, but I’m bummed. It happens every fall.
The Dodgers lost a heartbreaker, 4-3 to the hated Giants last night at the Ravine, and did so in that frustrating way that seemingly only they can. Other teams do it too, of course, but who the hell cares about them at the moment?
MSTI’s Mike Petriello has a great recap you really should read that rails on Don Mattingly especially, and on poor Mark Ellis for his brain-cramp attempt to stretch a triple in seventh inning. Since Mike sums it up well, and since I really don’t want to experience the pain of it all over again, I’ll just say a couple of things.
First, Mattingly and the sacrifice are strange bedfellows. Actually, they’re a bleeping nightmare is what they are, and need to be separated, surgically if at all possible. This old piece of mine explains the theory, if you require it, and when I get around to my 2012 Dodgers post mortem, expect the manager to take the brunt of my wrath.
On the other hand, I’ll have calmed down by then, which is why I usually wait a few days before tackling the assignment, and will do my best to be objective.
As for Ellis, look, it was an uncharacteristic mistake and the man knew he’d blown it 50 feet before being tagged out. He gets a pass as far as I’m concerned. It’s over and done with. For me the base running blunder opens an old wound, and in eerily-similar fashion.
Game Five of the 1974 World Series. The deciding game, Dodgers trailing Oakland 3-2 in the eighth. Bill Buckner leads off with a single to center, and after Bill North kicks it around in the outfield, is out trying to go all the way to third. So instead of the tying run at second with nobody out, the Dodgers have nothing, don’t score and lose the Series, giving the A’s their third straight championship.
There were highlights in the series too – very much including Joe Ferguson nailing Sal Bando at the plate in Game One and Mike Marshall’s pickoff of “designated runner” Herb Washington in Game Two – which illustrates the point that in baseball most of the time, among the bad things to remember, there is also the good.
A.J. Ellis is the good. With a game to play, Ellis has hit .270, with 13 home runs and 52 RBIs in his first full season in the bigs (I predicted .260, 15 and 60), but there is so much more to Ellis than the numbers.
There’s the way he works with the starters, there’s his arm and his eye, the consistently great at bats, and the way he makes opposing pitchers work. There is the durability, which we can attribute in part to Mattingly’s overworking of catchers, learned at the knee of Joe Torre.
There is the no-surprise-to-anyone and probably unanimous Roy Campanella Award, given to Ellis by his mates, who tabbed him this year’s “Most Inspirational Dodger.” There is the totally cool “Between two Palm Trees” video series, co-starring Clayton Kershaw.
And there is the attitude; the way he talks, with respect for the interviewer and for the game he loves to play. Read practically any game story, after a tough loss in particular – Ellis is always the man up front, with a thoughtful comment about what just happened out there on the field.
He’s not in the lineup for this afternoon’s finale, and we probably won’t see him pinch hit, but look for Ellis on the field after the game, congratulating his team on a season just concluded, and perhaps taking a bow on his way to the clubhouse.
Kershaw goes for consecutive National League ERA and strikeout titles, a 14th win, and most importantly, a healthy conclusion to his season, at 4:15 p.m.
Here’s hoping the Dodgers finish on a high note, which would give them 86 victories for 2012, including seven of their last eight.
And remember, glove conquers all.