Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Post-Game 159 Thread: The Difference Is Clinchability


Kuroda Stiff; Skipping Start

Hiroki Kuroda added to the Dodgers' list of late-season maladies (see: Clayton Kershaw, shoulder injury from shagging fly balls; Casey Blake and Manny Ramirez, with strained hamstrings; Ronnie Belliard, strained groin.), with a stiff neck causing him to miss his next start, instead resting up for a potential Game 2 NLDS start:

SAN DIEGO -- Dodgers manager Joe Torre confirmed Wednesday that Clayton Kershaw will start Saturday's game against Colorado instead of Hiroki Kuroda, who will be skipped because of a stiff neck.

Torre said Kuroda felt the stiffness while running in the outfield at PETCO Park on Tuesday, and it was not a factor Monday, when Kuroda was battered for seven runs [three earned] on eight hits in four innings in Pittsburgh.

"It's a little better today, but there's no rush," said Torre. "We have to make sure it goes away. We'll know more by the weekend. We may have to create a simulated game for him. He'll have to throw a bullpen [session] before he does anything." [...]

Although Torre had not previously announced this weekend's probables beyond Randy Wolf for Friday night, he said Kuroda would have pitched Saturday, meaning Kuroda would have been moved ahead of Kershaw, who had been following Wolf.

That indicates Torre plans to have Wolf and Kuroda start Games 1 and 2 of the playoffs. His other two starters will come from a group of Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Jon Garland and Vicente Padilla.

It would have been nice to see Hiroki with one more start before the break, but hey, if he's got a stiffy, let's sit him. We're still clinching the West...eventually.

Game 159 Thread: Sept 30 @ Johnny Podres, 7p

Jon Garland (11-12, 3.90) vs. Clayton Richard (8-5, 4.62).
DODGERS' MAGIC NUMBER: There is no magic number. It's all in your mind.

Why are the Dodgers playing one of their own former players? It makes no sense. Anyhoo, did you know the Dodgers haven't been swept all season? It's true. So, more than one significant event hangs on the outcome of tonight's game, this being the second game of a two-game series. I've never heard of Clayton Richard, but if he's the bastard child of Clayton Kershaw and J.R. Richard, we're in trouble.

(Thanks to Julie Hibbard for the picture!)

Love Connection(s)

Looking at this picture of Matt Kemp signing autographs before yesterday's game at PETCO Park, I can practically hear Barry White crooning in the background. Look carefully and you can see three women devouring Kemp with their eyes — not that Matty is exactly discouraging the attention. Apparently a smile and eye contact can work wonders. Is that the sound of ovaries dropping?

In the wider shot of this same picture, notice how Andre Ethier is doing his best to dampen his natural charms. Mrs. Ethier would approve:

photo by Jon SooHoo/Dodgers

If the Playoffs Started Today...

SoSG readers (except Karina, bless her) have been a surly bunch recently — and understandably so. Losing five of eight to some of the worst teams in baseball in the last week of the regular season will do that to a team's fans.

With the Dodgers backing into the post-season like a garbage truck in reverse — beep, beep, beep — we offer a few predictions of what would happen if the playoffs started today at Dodger Stadium.

Feel free to add your own in the comments. It's therapeutic!

  • The Dodgers hit into three double plays — in the same inning.
  • Charles Steinberg orders "Don't Stop Believing" to be played between every inning. Latter part of game resembles They Shoot Horses, Don't They?
  • Special section on each stadium level reserved for fans in fetal position, brought to you by Kaiser Permanente.
  • Pre-game ceremony honoring Washington Generals. Ned Colletti eyes possible recruits.
  • Tradition of kids taking the field with Dodger players continues; this time, kids stay on field, Dodgers return to dugout.
  • Ray Maytorena hires Keystone Kops to patrol outfield pavilions. Their antics inspire the Dodgers to play better.
  • Fans get bored of beach balls, throw sand instead.
  • TV broadcast of game preempted for "Three Stooges" marathon. Or is it?
  • Pitching change sponsored by Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
  • Between-innings blooper reel on Diamond Vision is just a replay of the last inning.
  • A fan runs onto the field, is allowed to stay. Eventually gets bored, wanders off.
  • Dodger batters look at 81 consecutive strikes; express post-game frustration that a pitcher could keep throwing like that all game long.
  • Fans arrive early; Dodgers arrive late.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

SoSG Readers, on the Fine MLB Network Announcers

From tonight's post-game thread:

Nic j said [...]

The guys on the MLB network just said if the dodgers make the playoffs. Well informed bunch they are. (9/29/2009 10:02 PM)

Dusty Baker said...

Guys on MLB Network also talking about how our guys (Manny especially) are swinging at balls and watching strikes go by. Why does everyone (incl us) know what we're doing wrong except the players and coaches themselves? Fuck, man, watch some game tape. (9/29/2009 10:06 PM)

Kinda reminds me of this tweet from the hilarious shitmydadsays:

# "Do these announcers ever shut the fuck up? Don't ever say stuff just because you think you should. That's the definition of an asshole." 11:51 AM Sep 27th from web

Post-Game 158 Thread: Everybody Panic


Game 158 Thread: Sept 29 @ Friars, 7p

Chad Billingsley (12-10, 4.07) vs. Cesar Ramos (0-1, 1.69).

COMMENTS: The Dodgers need one win in their last five games, or one Colorado loss in its last six games, to clinch the NL West. 11 opportunities, and only one has to go the Dodgers' way. And this one won't be it.

No, not with Chad Billingsley on the mound, after his last performance which had a promising start (no ball left the infield until the fourth inning) turned into a disaster on one pitch (a game-tying Ryan Zimmerman three-run HR, leaving Bills with an ND). Not with Manny Ramirez and Casey Blake nursing sore hamstrings. Not with a closer who couldn't take advantage of a three-run lead gift-wrapped to him in the ninth inning on Sunday afternoon. Not with a team who lost three of four in PNC Park, putting them 3-4 on this roadtrip against the majors' worst. Not with a Padre pitcher making the first big-league start of his career.

Nope, it's not going to happen today. Might as well wait until tomorrow.

illustration: My Medicated Cartoon Life

Two Days To The Grand Finale PCS Puzzle!

Gentlemen, sharpen your pencils. You're in for a doozy on October 1.

Rookie Hazing? Or Moonlighting Gigs?

With the Mets rookie class, who knows. But since all you SoSG-maniacs love the frosh hazing pics, here's some from the old World's Fair.

A special shout out to 40-year-old "rookie" Ken Takahashi, who boldly went where only Uma Thurman went before.

The Only Real Race Left!

Watch the Twins/Tigers battle via safe-for-work MLB Gameday here.

UPDATE 1.34p: Twins win game 1 in extra innings, 3-2, putting the Twins one game behind with six to play. Twins play game 2 of a doubleheader against the Tigers today at 7p.

Finish The Limerick

With the Dodgers heading to the postseason, it's time for another edition of "Finish the Limerick":

There once was a team from L.A.,

Who into October will play;




Let's hear it in the comments!

Previous Finish The Limerick here and here.

To Chad or Not to Chad?

53% of you say no thanks to Chad Billingsley. Looks like the hot hand wins out.

Things To Ponder At 3 AM

Leave it to SoSG readers to bring up some questions about the Angels' alcohol-filled celebration, juxtaposed with the jersey of Angel Nick Adenhart, who died in an accident caused by a drunk driver:

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—The Angels soaked the jersey in beer, champagne and tears, holding Nick Adenhart’s No. 34 high in the middle of the celebration he missed.

Los Angeles is headed back to the playoffs for the sixth time in eight years, and the Angels intend to go with the memory of their late teammate alongside them. The 22-year-old pitcher’s death in an April car accident roiled their season early on, but it couldn’t sink this resilient team.

Opined SoSG reader Dusty Baker:

Is it strange/ironic to be dousing Adenhart's jersey in a drunken, wanton manner given that it was that very substance that led to his untimely death? Just sayin'...

Yikes. Dusty's got a point. This is a little weird, right?

photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Monday, September 28, 2009

Congrats to the Angels, AL West Champions


Oh yeah, that's how you're supposed to close the deal. Going into this game, the Angels had had their troubles too, losing four straight including two of three from lowly Oakland. But now, the Angels can rest their regulars for the last six games of their season.

In all seriousness, congratulations to the Angels, AL West champions; considering everything that went through at the beginning of this season with the shocking death of Nick Adenhart and their (understandably) losing their way early on (they were 6-11 in late April), they showed a lot of guts by slowly working their way back into a winning ballclub.

Here's hoping they fare better against Boston in the postseason this year; they definitely have some ghosts to exorcise that won't be solved by an omnipresent rally monkey video.

Post-Game 157 Thread: Does Champagne Travel?


If ever you needed proof that baseball is also a mental game, look no further than this morning's shellacking. After a humiliating ninth inning yesterday, the Dodgers elected to watch the Rockies game in the clubhouse for a possible delayed celebration. "As far as I'm concerned, it doesn't matter how it happens as long as you make it happen," Jeff Weaver told the LA Times.

Of course, the Rockies won (they're off today), and the Dodgers came out this morning flatter than Kate Moss. Former Dodger — and it's always a former Dodger — Andy LaRoche did most of the damage, going 5-for-5 with two home runs and six RBIs.

Then again, maybe this is the Dodgers' crafty way of bringing their playoff celebration closer to Southern California. They start a two-game series against the Padres tomorrow, and you can be sure Dodger fans will flock to PETCO Park en masse. Pretty sneaky, sis!

photo by Barry Chin/Boston Globe

James Loney Isn't The Only First Baseman With Low Power Numbers

It turns out the Mets are looking at their first baseman prospect, Daniel Murphy, and using James Loney (along with historical references to Pete Rose, John Olerud, and Keith Hernandez, and Mark Grace) as the point of comparison. Wrote Benjamin Hoffman in Sunday's NYTimes:

[T]he idea that a thumper must occupy first ignores history.

Nearly 30 years before the Phillies won a World Series title with Ryan Howard at first, they won another with Pete Rose there. Rose hit one home run in 1980 while helping the Phillies to the championship.

The Mets were contenders with Keith Hernandez and John Olerud at first. Hernandez hit more than 15 home runs only twice in his career. Olerud, never a classic slugger, hit a high of 22 while with the Mets. Mark Grace was a three-time All-Star in a 16-year career without ever hitting more than 17 homers in a season.

Murphy is never going to reach 4,000 hits and will probably not win Gold Gloves like his Met predecessors. But he may compare favorably with the Dodgers’ James Loney, who will be going to the postseason for the third time in four years and had all of 13 homers entering Saturday.

Let's not forget that it was James Loney's grand slam home run that turned the tide for the Dodgers in last year's NLDS Game 1 at Wrigley. What was a 2-2 2-0 ballgame, on one swing, turned into a 4-2 Dodgers lead and served as a quick reminder to the Cubs that they are a cursed team. And for the rest of that series, the Cubs played like one.

We're with you, James!

ESPN's Steve Berthiaume Pimpsocks The Dodgers, For The Record

ESPN's Steve Berthiaume, in reviewing the porous bullpens of the postseason contenders, isn't very confident about the Dodgers' pen (last night's Jonathan Broxton meltdown only added fuel to the fire of what would have otherwise been likely a non-issue). Says Stevie:

As far as the Dodgers go, they won't win. In fact, they won't survive the division series. I'll go you one better: Put me down as the Dodgers going three-and-out in the first round. That's my bold prediction. Nearly every year, one September favorite forgets to show up in October. This year, it will be the Dodgers.

Stevie likes the Yankees' bullpen. WHAT A FRICKIN' SURPRISE for the worldwide leader in New York sports? And who would bother looking at the Dodgers' bullpen statistics, rather than making shit up about a team you haven't even seen (nor a Dodger reliever you even mention)?

All the more reason we will show him wrong.

Game 157 Thread: Sept 28 @ Buccaneers, 9:30a

Hiroki Kuroda (8-6, 3.65) vs. Zach Duke (10-15, 4.06).

What a rarity, a Monday-morning game. But it's probably a good thing if it can clear the stench of yesterday's game from the air. Can the Dodgers redeem themselves, or will they head to San Diego having lost four of seven to the league's two worst teams? Never cease trusting!

(Thanks to Loney Fan for the picture!)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

SoSG Readers, on Jinxes

Baseball players have superstitions. Baseball bloggers have superstitions (see our Game Threads). Charley Steiner? Not so much. From Saturday's game thread:

Dusty Baker said...
"Easy play for Manny." -Steiner
Let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Nic j said...
quick nobody mention anything about the pen being good.

Mr. LA Sports Fan said...
Steiner: You know, Julius Caesar has never been stabbed once in his life? Oh wait, hang on, he's being stabbed 23 times!

Mr. LA Sports Fan said...
Steiner: The Hindenburg has never collapsed in its history of flight...wait, it's collapsing right now! Oh, the humanity!

Mr. LA Sports Fan said...
Steiner: No president has ever been assassinated in Ford Theater...wait, John Wilksbooth has just killed Lincoln! There goes the Ford Theater's perfect record of living presidents!

Mr. Customer said...
Charlie Steiner's Day Planner
8:00 - Christen Lusitania
9:30 - Interview Amelia Earhart
10:45 - Lindbergh Baby Shower
12:00 - Donner going-away party
1:30 - MC at Harrison Inaugural
Shall I continue?

Well played, gentlemen.

Post-Game 156 Thread: Not So Fast


"Time to ice up the bubbly!"

—Charley Steiner, after the Dodgers took the lead in the eighth inning

If it's any consolation, today's ninth-inning loss was a team effort: Clayton Kershaw allowed two runs in four innings of work, Andre Ethier was thrown out at third and Matt Kemp was picked off first in the fourth, the Dodgers loaded the bases with one out but scored only once in the seventh, and Jonathan Broxton melted down in the ninth, aided by errors by Rafael Furcal and Ethier.

Magic number remains at one; Colorado currently leads the Cardinals 4-3 in the bottom of the fifth. Early start (9:30 a.m.) tomorrow — hang in there, Dodger fans!

Game 156 Thread: Sept 27 @ Pyrates, 10:30a

Clayton Kershaw (8-8, 2.85) vs. Daniel McCutchen (0-2, 5.25).

What's sexier than making the playoffs? Making the playoffs with a healthy Clayton Kershaw! After injuring his shoulder on September 6, Kershaw has only pitched two innings, those coming in a blowout relief appearance. Today Clayton makes his case for the post-season starting rotation. Let's hope there's not much of a counter-argument*.

*A little something for all you law-talking guys out there.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Post-Game 155 Thread: Playoff Bound

Joe Torre and Ned Colletti join in a toast to this year's playoff team.


Parts of today's game were expected: Randy Wolf got another no-decision, and the Dodgers had to come from behind.

Other parts were unexpected: The Pirates scored three runs off Hong-Chih Kuo and George Sherrill, and Jim Thome had two RBIs.

But the end result was something that has been expected for a long time: The Dodgers clinch a playoff spot. Champagne flowed in the locker room afterward, but heads stayed dry — for now. The Rockies' loss to the Cardinals tonight reduces the Dodgers' division-winning magic number!

photo by Jon SooHoo/Dodgers

Game 155 Thread: Sept 26 @ Pie Rats, 4p

Randy Wolf (11-6, 3.24) vs. Paul Maholm (8-9, 4.46).
DODGERS' MAGIC NUMBERS: 1 (to make playoffs), 3 (to win division)

So a man goes to the doctor and says, "Doctor, it hurts when I do this."

The doctor replies, "_________________________!"

Friday, September 25, 2009

Game 154 Thread: Sept 25 @ Pirates, 4p

Pittsburgh breaks out its finest security measures to herald the Dodgers' arrival into town for a four-game series

Jon Garland (11-11, 4.02) vs. Jeff Karstens (3-5, 5.53).

DODGERS MAGIC NUMBERS: 1 to make the postseason; 3 to win the NL West

COMMENTS: The Dodgers' march toward the postseason is getting so intense (a phenomenon foreign to Pirates fans), that increased security detail for the team is in order. Trade imbalances and disparities between bigger economic powers (Dodgers, $100M payroll) and "developing" markets (Pirates, $49M payroll) will definitely be topics for heated discussion over the course of this four-day summit. That, and the fact that one more Dodger victory secures postseason play for our boys in blue.

photo: Keith Hodan / Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Hi kids, my name is O-Dog. My friend Willie Harris and I are here to teach you about proper baseball cap brim etiquette. As you can see, the white piping on my cap indicates I'm wearing our batting-practice cap. This cap comes in small, medium and large and features a snug fit and, most notably, a curved brim. You cannot uncurve this brim. Do not waste your time trying. Willie is wearing an authentic game cap. The game cap offers brim versatility. Willie is currently sporting a flat brim, à la my teammate George Sherrill. A flat brim may be molded into a more traditional curved brim by repeatedly bending it. Note that unbending an already curved brim takes some effort, maybe even a steam iron. Cheaper hats that have a piece of cardboard instead of PVC inside the brim may in fact never be flattened once they have been curved. Please remember all this, kids, as you go to school today. Thank you for your time.

photo by Jon SooHoo/Dodgers

Caption Contest Turns into Photoshop Contest

...thanks to M. Brown of the Left Field Pavilion!

Check out the original image (and captions) here.

A Brilliant Idea

(All remaining Dodgers tickets going cheap on Goldstar)

Friday, October 2nd - Tommy Lasorda Replica Hall of Fame Plaque Giveaway (7p)

Saturday, October 3rd - Star Wars Night (7p)

Sunday, October 4th - Fan Appreciation Day (1p)

The D-Line's already got tickets to the Friday night game, but is really jonesing for some Dodgers Star Wars love. So consider this post an official request to Frank McCourt: COMBINE THEM. What kid wouldn't want to take home a Lasorda Carbonite Plaque!

And while I'm on the subject, is anyone else upset with the brazen capitalization of a truly horrific cinematic moment? I saw Empire three times in the theater before I didn't bawl over Han's untimely frigidation. And that was only when I knew he was coming back for Revenge of the Jedi. Yet, everywhere you turn, there's poor frozen Han. On USB Drives...

In Lego blocks... As long as they keep all "Anakin/Padme fireplace scene" toys in a galaxy far, far away.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Post-Game 153 Thread: Dodgers Eke Out Series From Pesky Nats


Dodger starter Vicente Padilla wasn't exactly on target tonight, yielding 4 ER over 5 IP along with 6 Ks and 103 pitches. But hey, it's the Nationals, losers of 100 games this year (five losses ahead of the next-worst team, the Pirates, our upcoming opponent for four games).

Big ups to Rafael Furcal for his second four-hit game of the series, Matt Kemp with a three-run home run in the first inning, and Andre Ethier with a game-saving outfield assist to nail the speedy Elijah Dukes at the plate (nice tag, Russell Martin). The Dodgers leave Washington with the league's best record, the Giants eliminated from divisional title contention (thanks to their 3-2 loss to the Cubs tonight), and luckily no increase in taxes. On to Pittsburgh for four games!

Game 153 Thread: Sept 24 @ Expos, 4p

Vicente Padilla (11-6, 4.52) vs. J.D. Martin (5-4, 4.21).

DODGERS' MAGIC NUMBERS: 2 to make playoffs; 5 to win NL West

COMMENTS: This is a pretty important start for Padilla--not the point of no return, but still critical if he wants to be considered for the postseason roster--as he looks to rebound from his last crappy start against the Giants, his first loss since joining the Dodgers. And while Padilla/Martin sounds like a normal battery, this Padilla/Martin matchup is quite different. Montreal starts a pitcher whom says "is...the second best pitcher in the Expos' rotation. Last Friday, he pitched 5 1/3 innings and gave up two runs on seven hits against the Mets. Martin is second on the team in wins with five."

FIVE? Five measly wins gets you second place and a set of steak knives? Let me be the one to tell you, when you only have 52 total wins on the team, it's mathematically plausible, but I wouldn't go around trumpeting a win total smaller than that of Jeff Weaver; Martin would be the Expos' equivalent of Matt Cain, Adam Wainwright, and Cliff Lee. Wow. Tell you what, Torre, let's just make this interesting, and throw out there whomever the hell you want for this lineup!

Everyone Pile On The Dodgers' Rotation

One day after Chad Billingsley lost his no-hitter in the sixth inning (off a three-run HR by Ryan Zimmerman, thanks in no small part to Charley Steiner going out and announcing the no-hitter mere moments before Zimmarman's blast), obscuring what was otherwise a gutty 87-pitch, 9 K performance that (in my mind at least) signals hope for a return of the Billingsley we had in the first half of the season, we get this. That's right, Jayson Stark of thinks that the Dodgers' starting rotation, among eight playoff teams, ranks eighth:

8. Dodgers

Prospective rotation: 1) Randy Wolf, 2) Clayton Kershaw (if healthy), 3) Hiroki Kuroda and 4) (pick one) Chad Billingsley, Jon Garland or Vicente Padilla.

Every time we asked one of our panelists about the Dodgers' rotation, we got a variation of the same response: "I don't even know what their rotation is," said one NL scout.

Uh, that's OK. Neither do they. Wolf, to even their surprise, has morphed into their Game 1 starter, thanks to a great year (11-6, with seven blown saves behind him and more quality starts -- 23 -- than any NL pitcher except Tim Lincecum or Dan Haren). And Kuroda (5-1, 2.34 the past two months) has finally righted his ship.

But the often-dominating Kershaw is still inching back from a separated non-pitching shoulder. And the big enigma is Billingsley, who started out 9-3, 2.72, and then unraveled so mightily, he pitched himself out of the rotation -- but then might have pitched his way back in with six one-hit innings Wednesday in Washington. "He had so much trouble commanding the strike zone last time I saw him," said one NL scout, "I thought something [physical] was going on. He's too good to become that ordinary."

Garland and Padilla will be around just in case. So the Dodgers have options. But they also have way too many questions to sit near the top of this list.

That's okay, this is exactly where I want the mainstream media to be, as of late September: hating the Dodgers, and thereby gift-wrapping for us the opportunity to prove them wrong. The Cardinals are #2 and the Phillies #3? We'll see about that.

(By the way, Stark's article is juxtaposed with Christina Kahrl's Baseball Prospectus article, which uses support-neutral winning percentage (which adjusts for lineup variations and VORPs) to rank the rotations, ranks the Dodgers second of eight, only to the Cardinals. Again, the statistics shouldn't lie, but make sure you check out the subjective conclusion reached at the end.)

Dodgers: Although Chad Billingsley (.502) and Hiroki Kuroda (.519) were the pitchers used here, swapping in Jon Garland (.502) and/or Vicente Padilla (.507) doesn't materially change their ranking. The Dodgers have depth, but their hopes truly rest on the left arms of Randy Wolf (.561) and Clayton Kershaw (.597). [...]

The takeaway? The Cardinals are the obvious class of the league, but the Phillies deserve to rank right with them when you consider that they'll get to start a series with Cliff Lee and could elect to start Happ instead of Martinez or Joe Blanton.

Operation Snoopy: Playoff Fever

Thanks to Mrs. Orel for the coup de grâce! Snoopy is psyched for the playoffs — are you?

Previously: Operation Snoopy: Restoration

Caption Contest

Caption Manny Ramirez and Matt Kemp getting their lines crossed in the eighth inning of yesterday's game. Here's one to get you started:

" 'Mime'? I see no mimes out here."

photo by Jon SooHoo/Dodgers

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Post-Game 152 Thread: Hold On for One More Day


Game 152 Thread: Sept 23 @ Nads, 4p

Chad Billingsley (12-10, 4.05) vs. Ross Detwiler (0-6, 5.80).
DODGERS' MAGIC NUMBERS: 2 (to make playoffs), 6 (to win division)

COMMENTS: This may not be Chadley's last chance to redeem his 2009 season, but it's his best chance. A poor performance by Bills against the Glass Joe of the majors would just about ruin his chances of starting the in playoffs. However, a strong performance wouldn't necessarily guarantee him a start, and a so-so performance would just leave us all frustrated. Hopefully the bats will follow their cue from yesterday's drubbing and provide Mr. Thighs with some run support, allowing Chad to Punch-Out!! the Nads!

Rollin' With The Thome

Okay, this NL West divisional crown is a done deal, home field advantage for the playoffs is as good as locked as well, and we've got eight games left against a bevy of last place teams: the Washington Nationals (34.5 GB, NL East), Pittsburgh Pirates (31.5 GB, NL Central), and San Diego Pirates Chickens (technically in fourth place, but still 22.5 GB, NL West).

We've been using the opportunity to tune up the offense and give live-action bullpen starts to Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw, as well as #3 starter auditions to Jon Garland and Vicente Padilla. And now there's one thing left to do for the remainder of this season: Get Jim Thome back in the swing of things. And we can best do that by playing Thome in the field for a game or two, to give him four to five at bats instead of the one-per-game he's getting as a pinch hitter now.

Yes, Thome hasn't played a field position since June 13, 2007, when he played first base. And yes, there is no doubt that he will be a defensive liabiilty, particularly relative to James Loney. We may see a couple more doubles down the right field line. But that cost is worth it relative to the gains from him finding a groove again.

Since joining the Dodgers at the trade deadline, Thome has appeared in nine games and gone 1-for-9 with 5 Ks, with his lone single occurring in his first game. That's a .111 average, much less than the ~.250 average one would have expected from him based on his performance this year, let alone his .277 career batting average.

We acquired Thome for his pinch-hitting bat, as well as the prospect of him DHing for us should we get to the World Series. And it's clear that acquiring the 12th all-time leader in HRs (and #3 active HR leader) was designed for one thing: to make sure we've got another power bat off the bench, if not as a DH. Thome is here to win a title, and he's here to contribute to the team's success.

But with the little dribbles of pinch-hit at-bats that Thome is getting, he's not likely to find his stroke. Thome hasn't had a homerun in over a month and now is the time to get him back swinging for the fences again. Thome also has 17 career HRs in the postseason, including four each in 1998 (NYY) and 1999 (BOS), so we know he can thrive in the playoffs, if given the opportunity.

Meanwhile, Loney has found a hot bat again--even hitting home runs at home, for pete's sake--and giving him an extra day of rest makes sense, even more so when you consider the quality of the opposition we're facing for the next eight games. The 14-2 drubbing of the Nationals last night should be an indication that we're going to coast to victories each night, even if we have a hole in the lineup (or two, if you count Russell Martin). So let's get Jim Thome suited up for position play, and prepared for the postseason.

Come on, Joe Torre; we're offering up another lineup variation. You should be salivating. Get Thome in there at first base so we can get him ready for October.

photo: Jacob de Golish, Getty Images / September 4, 2009 (hitting a single against the Padres)

Milton Bradley - A Musical Journey...

Like Johnny Cash's "A Boy Named Sue," Milton Bradley came into the world ready to defend himself over an unfortunate moniker provided by a stern father. And he's been fighting ever since.

He's taken on all comers: bats, bags of balls, umpires, first base coaches, gravity, and (more recently) the entire city of Chicago.

And now, Milton's own mother is coming to defend her son against Chi-town.

According to his mother, Bradley's unhappiness in Chicago stems in part from racism that his 3-year-old son has faced at school.

"When racism hit his 3-year-old baby in school, he couldn't take that," Rector said in a radio interview earlier this week, according to the Sun-Times. "Parents, teachers and their kids called him the n-word. He didn't even know it was a bad word until his mom told him."

When asked why her son shared the information only with her this season, Rector said, "Milton is a quiet person. Stuff like that, he keeps to himself. He doesn't want to talk about that because he doesn't think anybody cares. It is a heartbreaking situation."

She believes it affected his play. Bradley struggled at the plate, batting .257 with 12 homers and 40 RBIs this season, and was booed vigorously by home fans at Wrigley Field.

"I watched his swing, and I could tell what was wrong," Rector told the Sun-Times. "His mind wasn't on baseball. He was thinking about all of these other things."

I once got called a smartass by a teacher, and I thought that was pretty bad. But it sounds like Milton Bradley's kid had a really tough go. Not that I'm a king of PR, but expressing to the media that his family was treated badly might have been a little smarter than saying he knows why they've been losers for a century. Now that he's got the time free, Bradley should visit his son's school and introduce them to his famous Sonny Corleone-esque temper.

The Rogue's Baseball Index

The fine folk at Pitchers & Poets are playing the name game and have fired up the Rogue's Baseball Index, "an alternative baseball lexicon." Their sample entry should give you an idea of what they're going for:

The Joe Mauer

We are fortunate as mere mortals that The Joe Mauer has graced this plane of existence with his glowing presence. His swing is flawless, his morals are sound, and his bone structure is immaculate. He dates beauty queens, he wins batting titles. The Joe Mauer is ideal. The Joe Mauer is America.

Notable Joe Mauers include:

  • Joe Mauer
  • Joe Dimaggio

And guess who they tapped for their home opener?

Celebrity Rogue #1: The MSB from SOSG Orel

Updated PCS Rankings

So the season comes down to one last 150-point grand slammer on Oct 1. Remember, because of the uneven number of puzzles, the succubus will not be in effect in the last week, so no points will drop off the back end.

With this in mind, there are 8 puzzlers still mathematically alive for one of the top 2 prize spots:

  • ubragg*
  • keven c*
  • drewdez*
  • josh s*
  • j steve
  • mr customer
  • fanerman
  • quadsevens

And just to review for the new puzzlers, our season-ending prizes will be awarded as with previous puzzle prizes, as follows:

  • The 1st place finisher will get his choice of either a physical, tangible prize (to be revealed later, but before he must make his choice) or the opportunity to create a future puzzle, as jose, mr customer, and ubragg have done this season.
  • The 2nd place finisher will get the prize option that wasn't selected.

*still mathematically alive for 1st place

Here are the full rankings. Much like the 2007 college football season, it seems like there's a new #2 each week. This week it's Keven C:

(750 possible points)

PCS Tour
keven c
josh s
j steve
mr customer
ll cool l

Others receiving votes: rbnlaw 235, dunkhawk 170, neeebs 145, erin 125, matt 120, jose 115, berkowit28 99, wicks 90, karina 65, golem 64, dusty baker 60, andrew 50, stolenmonkey86 50, danielle 50, m.l.a.s.f. 45, m.s.t.i. 10, dangarion 10, dusto magnifico 10, fred's brim 10, javier 10, jesus 10.

So rest up for the Grand Slam Finale Puzzle, which drops 7am Thursday, October 1!

Playoff Beards Coming into Bloom

Quick: What's the difference between the Joe Torre-led Yankees and the Joe Torre-led Dodgers? (Besides all those World Series trophies?) The Dodgers may not be talking publicly about the playoffs yet, but the post-season is on their minds — and faces:

Blake, DeWitt, Garland: Juan Ocampo/Dodgers; Ethier, Martin, Broxton, Wolf: Jill Weisleder/Dodgers; Kemp, Loney: Chris Carlson/AP; Ramirez: Jon SooHoo/Dodgers; Furcal: Nick Wass/AP; Sherrill: Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Post-Game 151 Thread: Installations


On the day the National Portrait Gallery installed a painting of Tommy Lasorda, the Dodgers installed their foot in the Nationals' ass and won their first-ever victory at Nationals Park. It was a cakewalk that served as a perfect tune-up for the playoffs:

  • Hiroki Kuroda: 6.0 IP, 2R (both unearned), 6K
  • Rafael Furcal: 4-for-5, 4 RBIs
  • Matt Kemp: 2 RBIs
  • James Loney: 3-for-5, 2 RBIs
  • Casey Blake: 2-for-4, HR, 2 RBIs

Also making appearances were Juan Castro, Juan Pierre, Jason Repko, Blake DeWitt, Jim Thome, A.J. Ellis and Chin-lung Hu. Yeah, it was that type of game.

Want more good news? Clayton Kershaw pitched the last two innings of the game, throwing 39 pitches and striking out four. He hit 94 mph with regularity and looked comfortable, even fielding a high bouncing comebacker to end the game.

Magic numbers drop to 3 (to make playoffs)/7 6 (to win division). Padres and Rockies are tied at six in the fourth inning at Colorado — feel free to scoreboard-watch in this thread!