An Open Letter to Jamey Carroll

Dear Jamey,

I think you’re pretty much the most awesome person ever for choosing “All Along the Watchtower” as your walk up song. In fact, I think it’s so awesome that I would marry you.

You or the guy who understood why I think that’s so cool.

Whichever of you asks first.

Just saying.

Sincerely,

Jana

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Eric Gagne & We’re 2 Weeks Away!

Eric Gagne is one of those players who is a baseball “forgive-all” for me. Okay, maybe that’s extreme. But for a team that routinely lets go of players I love, I think it’s good news that we finally get one back–before he’s 45.

And for my second exaggeration, this would have been like signing Mike Piazza back in 1999. I would have considered it an act of reconciliation for having my heart ripped out by Bob Graziano and his Fox cronies.

Signing Gagne to a minor league contract, however, was not the most important news from this week in Dodgerland. Jamie McCourt’s increased monthly support request was, I think, perfect timing. Two weeks before the spring season opens up, she ups the ante. To a remarkable darn-near-$1-million per month. Personally, I would have taken the $300,000 a month and asked Frank to sign a starting pitcher, but he didn’t marry me, unfortunately–for all of Los Angeles.

I think, though, for the second spring in a row, I’m most interested in seeing what Clayton Kershaw looks like this spring. I’m hoping he’s recovered from his 2009 off-season, gotten some rest, and some perspective.

And to round out my interests for the spring–Blake DeWitt, A.J. Ellis, and James McDonald.

Happy almost-Spring Training!

Why There Should be No Baseball Offseason

(Disclaimer: My brother and I have a somewhat light-hearted approach to death. We are all very respectively of death and the dignity of life, but a lack of fear leads to conversations that may not seem too funny to some people.)

Background: I received an email with the preliminary baseball road trips for 2010 from Sports Travel and Tours yesterday. I know that Eric Karros is on the ballot for the baseball Hall of Fame so I texted my little brother and told him we should go. This is the texted conversation that resulted:

Little Brother: Let’s go right now!
Me: It’s drenched in snow. We’d die.
LB: So?
Me: You want your parting moments on earth to be at the baseball hall of fame?
LB: That’d be cool.
Me: Haha. You’re funny.
LB: You should probably die at Dodger Stadium. I’ll buy the team and bury you under the pitcher’s mound. Haha. Then the rubber thing could be a grave stone instead!
Me: Hillllllllarious. I always used to say that I wanted to be buried in the bullpen! That’s genius about the gravestone.
LB: Haha. The bullpen sucks. You should be buried under the away team dugout so you can haunt them.
Me: That’s a great idea, but I like the mound idea. You should really make that happen.
LB: Haha. Ok I will.

I seriously wish I was making this stuff up.

Dodger Intuition?

It’s been a weird year of “feelings”, predictions, signs…I don’t know exactly what you would call it.

It started in spring training, watching Kershaw pitch. Just a feeling that we were in for something exciting this year. A feeling with a disclaimer that he would need to learn to deal with his nerves. That held true for the entire season.

Then, two weekends before the end of the season, I said, wouldn’t it be funny if the Dodgers waited to clinch the division until they came home. “Funny” was not taken lightly. Even funnier (read: odd-er) was Friday of that final homestand, and I sent an email that said:

Truthfully, I’d honestly prefer it tomorrow¬†when Kershaw is pitching ūüėČ

And it happened. Odd. Odd. Odd.

Then there’s the Little One who turned to me during the first game of the NLCS, and said, “Manny’s going to hit a homerun just to spite you.”

And again, it happened.

Then there was Jimmy Rollins last night. He was interviewed prior to the game and my tweet:

Jimmy Rollins is making me queasy. #Dodgers #Phillies
4:52 PM Oct 19th from TweetDeck

I sat on the floor while the Phillies had two on and turned my head up to the TV just in time to hear that Rollins was headed to the plate. My heart sank. Just another of those moments.

I don’t know what it’s been or what it means. I don’t purport to be psychic. I just think baseball is such an intensely funny game that who knows how or why things happen.

Which brings me to my last example.  My email from yesterday morning before the loss:

For some reason though, and perhaps this is semi-wishful thinking, I have the sinking feeling this is going to 7.

Here’s hoping this is a trend that can keep up for just a couple more days.

Three and a HALF!?!

It’s been awhile since I’ve written about the Dodgers. I didn’t want to create some dramatic rant about how every time I’m at Dodger Stadium since the All-Star Break, I’m nervously jiggling my foot, holding my breath when anyone gets up in the bullpen or otherwise going into some sort of rant against some situation that I have deemed ridiculous as that particular moment.

My spring mantra of “who am I” to question Joe Torre was replaced with a 15-minute discussion with Tanaya about how Torre needs a Twitter account so we can helpfully point out all of the things he’s missing during the game.

My desire to not to engage in any scoreboard watching has been replaced with a midafternoon check of the Giants and Rockies score and a nightly reading of the box scores.

My steadfast belief that we “should just see if we can win with this team” has resulted in my quite literally banging my head on my desk when the Dodgers let John Smoltz end up with the Cardinals.

I’ve watched the offense struggle. I’ve watched Manny’s lackluster defense in front of millions of adoring fans. I’ve watched pitcher after pitcher not make it through the 5th inning.

Right after the Break, we sat in the stadium in some sort of nailbiter, and I clearly remember saying, “This is not good. It’s only July.”

We both looked at each other and pretty much realized that we’re going to be nervous wrecks through the end of the season. Forget the playoffs, my blood pressure is going to rise and fall with the numbers in the W-L column for the next six weeks.

And I love it.

I absolutely love it.

Yes, it would have been nice to cruise into September with a 15-game lead, all but obliterating the hope of Giants fans for the NL West title. Yes, it would have been nice to sit here knowing that Kershaw had finally worked through the issues I witnessed firsthand in the spring and that he was consistently overpowering hitters for 8 and 9 innings. Yes, it would have been nice to be able to name all five guys in the rotation with confidence.

But baseball happens. It happens this way as a sort of slow torture that is designed to keep me coming back. After all, when have I ever liked anything easy?

And my nerves? And rants? And screaming?

Love. All love.

And I take that love, along with a clenched jaw and a tapping foot, with me for the next few weeks.

Until I can progress to nervous pacing in October.

I Blame Manny

For three innings, Kershaw confounded Brewers hitters and breezed through the order without giving up a hit. But his control faltered in the fourth, and the Brewers took advantage.

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.

Enter: implosion.

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.”