I blame Manny.
I don’t blame him for popping out to right field in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded. I don’t. It was a stupid moment in its own right, especially in contrast to the way Juan Pierre played his at-bat in the ninth inning. Heck, the way Blake, Kemp, Loney, Hudson, Furcal and Ethier played their at-bats in the ninth inning. All played team baseball. All got the small hit, the sacrifice, the HBP that allowed the Dodgers to score three times in the bottom of the ninth. Manny got up there and starts swinging for the fences. It would have all been well and dandy had he smashed it out of the park, and then I would have felt a little less confident in this post but this was already formulated in the fourth inning.
I blame Manny.
Not for the aforementioned ninth-inning at-bat. I blame him for lackluster defense in left field.
I sat in left field last night for the game and witnessed it firsthand. He lacks hustle. He lacks attention. It was apparent in the fourth inning in a way that still irks me. Clayton Kershaw had pitched a decent three innings to that point, walking 2 batters but allowing no hits.
A ball was hit into the left field area. Let’s just say that Rafael Furcal made it closer to catching that ball that Manny did.
As my brother said at the time, “Manny killed Kershaw’s spirit.” He can be a little melodramatic when it comes to no-hitters, but I think he was dead-on.
He may not have killed Kershaw’s spirit, but I am more than certain that not only would Juan Pierre have gotten a better read on that ball, he would have hustled to try to make the play.
I think it says a lot when the team behind you is…umm…actually behind you.
This is not about steroids. I’m leaving my opinion out of this discussion. I would wholeheartedly cheer for someone who came back from any situation and worked hard, but this is a little ridiculous. I guess Bill Plaschke was right.
When you’re playing next to a guy like Kemp who routinely puts his body on the line to make plays and behind Orlando Hudson who makes the extraordinary look ordinary in a year when he’s coming back from a wrist injury, you really need to step it up.
Step it up. Or sit down. I know people get excited when Manny comes to the plate. And his theatrics are well-documented and applauded, but on a team with a core nucleus under the age of 27, the example needs to be a whole lot better from a “team leader.”