Archives for posts with tag: Dodger traffic

BumHey, remember how at the start of the season everyone was saying the Dodgers are the new Yankees, because the L.A. payroll had exceeded that of the Bronx Bombers, and of course more spending means more winning, right?

I guess our season so far refutes any notion that money changes everything, unless you mean it changes everything for the worse.

I keep hoping something will spark, and the tide will turn in our favor, but my optimism is wearing thin. I know, I need to keep the faith, but it is so very hard to do.

If I were a god-fearing type (which I most definitely am not), I might think Guggenheim Partners is being punished for its deal with the devil (a.k.a. Frank McCourt). They lied about it when they bought the team, and they have tried to hide it under blankets of evasion and obscurity, which obviously means they knew L.A. would hate them as much as we hate him if anyone ever got all the details. That was probably the most astute reasoning they have exhibited so far.

And now their dirty laundry (at least some of it) is in the open, and Frank McCourt is still making millions off the backs of Dodger fans, and the team is cursed by injuries and lack of cohesion. Only now it costs a lot more to go to a game.

I’m rooting for the Dodgers in this short series with the Yanks, because that’s what Dodger fans have done since the trolleys rolled past Ebbets Field. But why are loyal fans like me and you the ones being punished for this Faustian deal?

Yasiel Puig, left, and Andre Ethier, right, high-five teammates after a very solid win in Pittsburgh.

Yasiel Puig, left, and Andre Ethier, right, high-five teammates after a very solid win in Pittsburgh.

OK. The Dodgers hit 10 games below .500, and that seems really bad with the season’s halfway point rapidly approaching. But yesterday’s game gave me hope.

Not only did the boys in blue work together to get Clayton Kershaw out of that horrible first inning with only one run given up, but they managed to not allow another Pirates run after Pittsburgh had tied it up, 3-3, (on a home run off our new “closer” Kenley Jansen) in the ninth.

Plus, Juan Uribe and Nick Punto came through in the clutch, knocking in two runs with good, solid hits in the 11th. Then Brandon League tried his best to give the game away, but defense saved his ass. A fine display of Dodger spirit if I’ve ever seen it. (And kudos to Andre Ethier, who hit like he used to yesterday.)

Author Mark Harris writes about baseball like nobody else.

Author Mark Harris writes about baseball like nobody else.

Perhaps the melee with Arizona brought the players together somehow. Maybe the team can turn this season around, like the fictional Mammoths do in Mark Harris’ brilliant novel “Bang the Drum Slowly.” I am not advocating any Dodger die, of course, but the team in the book — and the movie starring Michael Moriarty and Robert De Niro — come together and become a force to be reckoned with, turning their misfortunes into a pennant through sheer good will and teamwork.

“Bang the Drum Slowly” is one of four books narrated by pitcher Henry Wiggen that follows his career with the fictional New York Mammoths.

If you love baseball, you should stop everything and read these books right now. They are beautiful, poignant, exciting, funny, heartbreaking … just like baseball. In “Bang the Drum Slowly,” Wiggen reluctantly befriends Bruce Pearson, a so-so catcher who is not the brightest bulb on the porch but is also dying of cancer. Bruce’s misfortune puts things in perspective for the other players on the team, and they stop griping about everything and start playing baseball the way they were meant to. Here is an excerpt:

One of four Mark Harris novels following the baseball life of pitcher Henry Wiggen and the New York Mammoths.

One of four Mark Harris novels following the baseball life of pitcher Henry Wiggen and the New York Mammoths.

We whipped Chicago twice. Nothing in the world could stop us now. Winning makes winning like money makes money, and we had power and pitching and speed, so much of it that if anybody done anything wrong nobody ever noticed. There was too much we were doing right. It was a club, like it should of been all year but never was but all of a sudden become.

The great thing about these books — the other titles are “The Southpaw,” “It Seemed Like Forever” and “A Ticket for a Seamstitch” — is that Harris writes about baseball with all its glories and its flaws. The players are cruel and vain a lot of the time, they mercilessly tease the weakest among them, and they care primarily about themselves and their own careers. But when they need to come together, they do, and they are all the better for it.

The Dodgers need some of that right about now.

Everything is right and everything is wrong with baseball.”
— Mark Harris, preface to “Diamond: The Baseball Writings of Mark Harris,” 1994

The incredible writer of the Henry Wiggen tetralogy could have been talking about last night’s game, when the Dodgers showed unbelievable grit, rallying for four in the fifth inning to take a 4-3 lead, then squandering everything in the 12th beneath the 500-pound gorillas of Ronald Belisario and Brandon League.

There isn’t much more to say about the game, so let me talk about Mr. Harris, the greatest baseball writer the nation has ever produced.

Yankees pitcher Carl Mays

New York Yankees pitcher Carl Mays

Cleveland Indians shortstop Ray Chapman

Cleveland Indians shortstop Ray Chapman

In “Diamond,” Harris recounts the tragic true story of Ray Chapman and Carl Mays.

“A single moment of baseball,” Harris writes, “has remained forever unlike any other. Memorable moments have winners and losers. This moment had no winners. Everybody lost.”

Ray Chapman was a shortstop for the Cleveland Indians that August of 1920. He was a sweetheart beloved by all his teammates, married and expecting a baby.

Carl Mays "slings the pill from his toes," said one Baseball Magazine writer.

Carl Mays “slings the pill from his toes,” said one Baseball Magazine writer.

Carl Mays was a pitcher for the Yankees, morally rigid and unlikeable, whose “submarine” pitching style was described by one Baseball Magazine writer as looking “like a cross between an octopus and a bowler.”

In the top of the fifth in a game at the Polo Grounds, Cleveland was ahead of the Yanks, 3-0, and clinging to a slim lead in the American League. Chapman came to the plate to lead off the inning and was struck in the head by one of Mays’ crazy pitches. He went down and was taken to the hospital where he died later that night. All of baseball mourned the passing of this “glorious example of our American manhood,” as he was eulogized. The priest performing the ceremony also asked forgiveness for the man who had accidentally killed Chapman.

But Mays became even more hated as “a vicious creature who threw beanballs at other players,” according to Harris. Mays said he was just trying to brush Chapman back, that he had expected Chapman to move out of the way. “That’s what I was paid to do,” he said. “Get the ball over the plate.”

Arizona pitcher Ian Kennedy is developing a reputation for plunking batters.

Arizona pitcher Ian Kennedy is developing a reputation for plunking batters.

On Dodgers Live yesterday, Ian Kennedy said essentially the same thing. He tried to claim he wasn’t aiming for Zack Greinke’s head, the ball just got away from him. But in the same breath he added that he was also trying to get even for “Miggy” (D’backs catcher Miguel Montero), who had been hit by Greinke an inning earlier in retaliation for another beanball Kennedy threw that had slammed Yasiel Puig in the face.

This is a dangerous game Kennedy is playing, whether he thinks it’s “what I was paid to do” or not.

Carl Mays’ career and reputation went into a downward spiral after Chapman’s death. “Nobody ever remembers anything about me,” he told the Sporting News in 1963, “except one thing — that a pitch I threw caused a man to die.”

I don’t think Ian Kennedy wants to be remembered that way, so he better reconsider the way he’s playing before it’s too late.