Thursday, May 01, 2008

Post-Game 28 Thread: SoSG Guest Writer Bill Plaschke

We've been really busy over here at the SoSG offices, what with May Day rallies, Cinco de Mayo preparation, and early morning baseball like we had today (Dodgers beat the Marlins 5-3, extending their winning streak to six) which has us passed out by noon and hung over by 3 pm. Luckily for us, we asked Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke to write a guest column encapsulating our euphoria over the Dodgers, now the hottest team in baseball, and their latest victory.

And so, without further ado, Bill Plaschke, SoSG Guest Writer.

Out on the field, the youngsters were filled with nervous energy, like seven-year-olds before the curtain rises on their school play.

Over in the corner of the dugout, the grizzled veteran manager cracked a slight wry smile.

Out on the field, Matt Kemp singled in the go-ahead run with two on in the ninth inning.

Over in the corner of the dugout, the veteran manager knew more positive things were still on the way.

Out on the field, Russell Martin outlasted a rundown just long enough to allow Kemp to score and the Dodgers to take a two-run lead.

Over in the corner of the dugout, the veteran manager muttered under his breath like Farmer Hoggett in "Babe."

"That'll do."

"That'll do."

"That'll."

"Do."

Midway through April, only two short weeks ago, many had the Dodgers left for dead. Four times in five games, the offense had rolled over to score a single anemic run, each time resulting in a loss.

The offense was weak. The veterans were injured. The fans were booing. The sentence structure was repetitive. The coach was powerless.

I liked him.

I thought Torre would make the perfect subject for a self-reflecting, "I"-filled column, rife with random metaphors, abundant blank spaces achieving expansive column inches. And sentence fragments. Of course.

And I knew Joe Torre would turn the ship around.

Turn.

The ship.

Around.

When people mocked Juan Pierre, his hollow offensive statistics and noodle throwing arm, I defended him.

And so did Torre, who batted him second in the lineup on Thursday.

And look who went 2-for-3 with 2 RBI?

When people shuddered at the girth of Andruw Jones, his sub-Mendoza batting average and single home run, I defended him.

And so did Torre, who has played him in all 28 games this year.

And look who didn't make a defensive error in centerfield Thursday, as a ninth-inning defensive replacement (without a plate appearance)?

When people questioned the longevity of Nomar Garciaparra, his brittle bones and tired muscles on the verge of a breakdown, I defended him.

And so did Torre, until Nomar succumbed to the DL late last week.

And look who cheered on replacement Blake DeWitt at third base, back from his armchair at home in Los Angeles?

Torre has known all along that the Dodgers were going to be just fine. That they were going to break open a streak that would take them back over .500. That the boo birds would have to become ostriches and stick their heads in the sand.

Sure enough, the Dodgers are up to a six-game win streak and are the hottest team in baseball. The runs are flowing, numbering 11 and sometimes 13 in a game. The hits are coming easy, and opponents' pitchers are getting chased back to Colorado and mauled in Miami. Late-inning heroics, once anathema to the team, are nowde rigueur.

That's French for "necessary according to etiquette, protocol or fashion." I know French.

And so does Torre.

Torre must know French, because he can deal with the flaky croissant-like space cadets in the dugout, the puffed-up souffle-like chests of arrogant veterans, the short workdays and frequent days off in the schedule.

So there is Torre, cool and collected, with an all-knowing smile like he knew a return to winning baseball was always in the cards for this Dodger team.

Now, more than ever, Torre seems positively sagacious.

Now, more than ever, Torre and his air of calm seems appropriate.

Now, more than ever, Torre's penchant for new lineups every day seems reasonable.

It makes sense.

This guy can coach. He can make the Dodgers a winner. Heck, he can even make Joe Beimel a game winner after throwing only one pitch, as he did Thursday.

Did you ever really believe that the San Francisco Giants and their $126 million relief pitcher would stay ahead of us in the standings?

Did you ever really think that the Colorado Rockies would be able to bottle last September's magic and unleash the genie again this year?

Did you ever really imagine the San Diego Padres would be able to squeeze one more effective year out of Trevor Hoffman, after seeing multiple cracks in the armor last year?

I didn't. I never doubted.

And now, the Diamondbacks hear the Dodgers' footsteps, with a pace whose cadence accelerates each day.

Here come the Dodgers. Here comes Torre.

Better get ready, Arizona.

Thanks for the contribution, Bill! Come back any time!

Editor's note: This column was in fact not written by Bill Plaschke. But it could have been. It could. Have. Been.

2 comments:

Orel said...

Dear Bill,

Great article. Could you do the next Game Thread?

Thanks
Orel

Dusto Magnifico said...

That was beautiful! I've broken down a few of Plashke's dodger columns over at alldodgers.blogspot.com