Out here in LA, where beach weather has a tendency to lull, a couple of members of the Rip Van Dodgers brigade have finally awakened. First owner Frank McCourt, then GM Paul De Podesta, have gone public with something everyone else has known for ages: that the game as played between the lines is somewhat at odds with fantasy baseball.
In other words, while putting Jeff Kent and Milton Bradley on the same roster may work on paper — or in De Podesta’s case, on computer printouts — on the field, and even in the clubhouse, personalities come into play.
Moral of the story: character matters.
Sadly, nearly all the players with character — including a couple who were on top of that legitimate characters — were sent packing for two reasons: so that McCourt’s payroll could be trimmed, and De Podesta’s neo-"Moneyball" theories could reign. Thus it was bye-bye Lo Duca, Cora, Dave Roberts, Jose Lima, Beltre, Sean Green, etc.
In the process, what was arguably baseball’s best defensive infield, was crippled.
More significantly, the chemistry that had taken Jim Tracy three years to develop, was suddenly gone, gone, gone.
And while some teams both in baseball and in other sports have been successful despite a lack of kinship among the players, those clubs have been based on mutual respect.
But who’s ever called J.D. Drew a gamer? Or heard Jeff Weaver’s teammates in Detroit or New York refer to him as a big-game player?
As to Milton, whose teammates have usually liked him, there is a bit of history that might have been considered. People out here remember him dogging it on a fly ball way back when he was playing Area Code. And a good friend of mine named Coco Crisp, who’s having an excellent season, owes his job in part to the fact that Milton wore out his welcome in Cleveland.
While it’s true that this year’s Dodgers have been hit by injuries, I wonder if theirs have been as impactful as those suffered by, say, the Cardinals. Yet last I checked, St. Louis was somehow managing to be competitive without any whining.
Yet the irony of the club playing at Chavez Ravine is that, thanks to the division they play in, they could still make the playoffs.
That begs a question. Should that happen, will ticket prices go up?