Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Plaschke Flip-Flops On Dodgers Lineup Fortitude, But Short Sentences Keep Him From Falling Down

Gotta love our hometown hack Bill Plaschke, who couldn't wait 24 hours to flip-flop positions on the strength of the Dodgers' lineup, not to mention Matt Kemp's ability to contribute.

Exhibit 1: Monday September 16. The Dodgers had just lost their third in a row to the woeful Giants (though believe me, we know what we're doing!), using lineups that were only anchored by two regular starters (Mark Ellis at 2B and Juan Uribe at 3B).

All three outfield positions changed starters each night. We started Dee Gordon for pete's sake. There was no Hanley Ramirez to be found. Matt Kemp entered only for a late PH AB in the Sunday game.

And yet, after losing a fourth straight game, falling in the series opener with Arizona, Bill Plaschke came out of the weekend really worried:

PHOENIX — The clinching is slowly becoming a clenching.

The Dodgers are going to win a game that puts them in the playoffs, and it will probably happen this week, but at this rate the sounds of cork popping will be drowned out by teeth grinding.

For the fourth straight day their magic number is still four — and still apparently hiding somewhere up their sleeves — after a 2-1 loss to Arizona on Monday night in a game that was typified by the final out.

Remember Matt Kemp? In his first appearance in nearly two months after suffering through ankle and hamstring injuries, he came to the plate as a pinch-hitter with two out in the ninth inning and the tying run on third base and the go-ahead run on second.

Stop the presses? Nah, let them roll, the Dodgers' narrative remaining unchanged as Kemp struck out flailing on four pitches. [...]

Make no mistake, no matter what the Dodgers are doing now, their journey is going to take them to the postseason for the first time in four years. With the recent injuries and ineffectiveness, the growing concern is suddenly how long they will stay there.

Yikes, that sounds dire. The game was "typified by the final out", which must mean that Kemp's PH K somehow typifies the nine basehits from the team, not to mention the bases-clearing / lead-taking double from Adrian Gonzalez! And Matt Kemp can't be trusted! Disaster!

Oh, but wait a second. Exhibit 2: 24 hours later, the Dodgers opened a can of whup-ass on the Diamondbacks, romping to a 9-3 win and dropping the magic number to two. And suddenly, according to Plaschke, the lineup woes are all solved by Matt Kemp and his 4-for-4 performance:

PHOENIX — The champagne is still on hold for at least another day, but the Dodgers bounced out of their clubhouse here Tuesday night happily soaked in a different sort of bubbly.

There's nothing like being sprayed with a vintage Matt Kemp.

One ball was smacked into the left-field corner. Another ball was blasted off the wall above the center-field fence. There was a line drive up the middle. There was a grounder past the shortstop.

One moment Kemp was standing on second base, raising his hands into the air, pointing those hands at the Dodgers dugout. The next moment he was standing on first base slapping those hands together in joyful relief.

In his final moment Tuesday, when Kemp was pulled off the Chase Field diamond in the seventh inning to protect his still-tender ankle, he was enveloped by teammates with hugs, back slaps and welcome laughs. After a 58-day absence from the lineup card, Kemp's name showed up with exclamation points, his bat accounting for four hits and three RBIs while helping to whittle the Dodgers' magic number to two in a 9-3 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

"That's me, that's what I do," a grinning Kemp said afterward. "To be able to do it in my first game back is a pretty good sign."

As usual with Matt Kemp, the three words trumpeting his dreamy return must be accompanied by three words rooted in reality.

He is back. Will it last?

Wait a second, wasn't this the guy you were just excoriating as typifying the Dodgers' ineptitude? Weren't the Dodgers up shit creek a day ago? What the hell is "being sprayed by vintage Matt Kemp", anyway (and why am I afraid that Plaschke might know the answer to that question in the first place)?

Wow. Well, I suppose I should at least be excited Plaschke isn't uniformly focused on just Trojan football anymore. Hope Matt doesn't 0-fer tonight so we get another "end of the world" column tomorrow.


Fred's Brim said...

Trade him to the Colts!