Monday, November 23, 2020

32 Years of Waiting & 14 Years of SoSG

1988: birth year of Clayton Kershaw and Ghosts of a Championship Past.

When the Dodgers won the World Series in 1988, I was but a boy with hopes and dreams. 32 years later, that boy is older and heavier, his hopes and dreams having become wishes and adjusted expectations.

32 years is enough time to get an education and a job and realize how different they are from experience and a career. It's enough time to start a family, who will learn to tolerate your irrational Dodgers fandom.

Is it the Cubs' 108 years? Of course not. Is it still a fucking long time? Yes it is.

It's also enough time to figure out winning the World Series takes talent, discipline...and some je ne sais quoi.

Talent: The Dodgers were always rich enough to afford it (and sometimes stupid enough to give it away).

Discipline: Levels of hard work and common sense seemed to vary with the revolving door of managers that followed Tommy Lasorda's 20-year tenure, as well as the whims of whoever was keeping the GM chair warm (Kevin Malone? DePo?).

Intangibles: We never seemed to possess the inevitability of the Yankees, the devil magic of the Cardinals and Giants, the scrappiness (later entitlement) of the Red Sox. We endured 31 years of postseason drought and disappointment, never even getting within a victory of reaching the World Series. The Astros' cheating scandal of 2017 and the Red Sox cheating in 2018 were just the cherries on top of the cowpie.

So what changed? It was as slow as turning a battleship, but here's the summary:

    1. Fuck off, Fox.
    2. Go to hell, Frank & Jamie.
    3. Hello, Guggenbros and Andrew Friedman (assist: Ned Colletti).

The result? A steady stream of talent (not just the occasional Manny Ramirez-esque splurge) resulting in 8 straight division titles. An organizational philosophy of discipline. Remember how frustrating the swing-for-the-fences approach was just a few years ago? Then this year, cavernous Globe Life Field became our "home" park and talk started about how the Dodgers' homer-happy approach could fall flat there.

Instead the Dodgers made adjustments and nailed the balance of situational hitting and bashing dingers. Discipline! Lots of credit to hitting coach Robert Van Scoyoc for that.

And the intangibles! Finally luck was a lady, the cookie didn't crumble, the ball bounced our way:

NLDS Game 1. 5th inning: Padres 1, Dodgers 0. Dodger-killer Jake Cronenworth makes a throwing error, allowing us to tie the score. We score 4 runs the next inning.

NLDS Game 2. 7th inning: Dodgers 4, Padres 3. Cody's catch! It sets the stage for a one-run squeaker of a victory (thanks Kenley):

I thought we were toast after going down 3-1 to the Barves in the NLCS. Indeed we were losing in the 6th inning of Game 7, but there was a crucial momentum shift two innings earlier:

NLCS Game 7. 4th inning: Barves 3, Dodgers 2. The inexplicable Barves double brain-fart:

What if Swanson pulls a Pierzynski and touches home after JT's tag? Maybe a replay situation. What if Riley doesn't double back like ZZ Top in Back to the Future III? Maybe he's safe at third. More maybes than in an Arrested Development marathon!

NLCS Games 5-7. One word: Mooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooookie.

And the coup de grâce:

World Series Game 5. 4th inning: Dodgers 3, Rays 2. Manuel Margot decides he's the man:

Silly rabbit, Kershaw's the man.

(And for anyone questioning the legitmacy of a COVID-shortened season: The two best teams met after a regular season that was mentally and emotionally more taxing than a 162-game season, plus every playoff team had to play an extra round. Take your asterisks back to 2017 where they belong.)

32 years is a generation! Thanks to the Guggenbros for investing the scratch, to Friedman for his roster wizardry and to Doc for keeping the egos in check. Best of all, their sustainable approach means we should be competitive for the forseeable future.

And when we win the World Series again, I still won't be done celebrating this one.

The nadir of the Dodgers' 31 years of postseason futility came in the 2006 NLDS against the Mets. Jeff Kent and J.D. Drew were thrown out at home on the same play — by an all-former-Dodgers relay of Shawn Green to José Valentín to Paul "Fuck the Dodgers" Lo Duca. Naturally the Dodgers went on to lose that game by 1 run and get swept out of the series.

The collective outrage from group e-mails within our circle of Dodger fans must have been overheating our Intel Celeron microprocessors because days later, we decided to take our talents to Blogger. The Dodgers' streak of futility was at a mere 18 years — what babies we were! — when Sax made our first post.

It was three years B.T. (Before Twitter) and we were getting started during the golden age of sports blogging. It was thrilling to see the blog gain readership and recognition by the Dodgers organization itself (shoutout to Josh Rawitch!).

A glance at the sidebar shows our "attendance" at over 3.5 million views, which still blows my mind. A big hug to my friends and fellow Sons — the rest of the O.G. 6 — AC, EK, Lasorda, Pedro & Sax — and the "newcomers" — Delino, Dusty, Gnomes & Stubbs (and honorary DoSG Karina!).

But 14 years of blogging? Also a long time. At times it's felt like a crying baby that needs to be fed (damn GTs!). And the 31 years of falling short didn't help.

Now that we've arrived at the promised land...I don't know? In this fucked-up year, Vin Scully's truism holds even more true: "If you want to make God smile, tell him your plans."

Go Blue!

Saturday, November 07, 2020

Rob Manfred Doesn't Punish Cheaters, So There Was No Way He Was Going To Punish Justin Turner

We Sons of Steve Garvey have had lengthy WhatsApp chats about Justin Turner's post-Game 6 emergence onto the field following the Dodgers' World Series victory. And in a nutshell, though all of us love the guy and respect his leadership and understand his frame of mind and decision-making in the moment,...we all also think it was a pretty selfish move to endanger others' health and safety just so he could take his picture with "a piece of metal".

Oh, sure, it's been established that Turner believes that the World Series is more than a piece of metal.. And he's worked tirelessly for this achievement. And he's earned all of it, including the right to be part of the team picture celebrating victory and whole experience.

Which is why it would have been so much more meaningful and better if Turner had stayed in isolation, and had not come out of the not-quite-secure room in which he had been isolated after the eighth inning of the game. This would been the noble, albeit heartbreaking, move to make.

But Turner came out of the dugout, and despite the positive COVID-19 test result, opted to take maskless pictures with the team (in which he easily could have been photoshopped in post-production). Not a good luck for this team leader. Initially, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred was not happy.

Two weeks later, MLB completed its "investigation." And, consistent with his weak-ass disciplinarian reputation, Manfred is satisfied about Turner's apology, and won't punish Turner further.

MLB is damn lucky that no one was hurt or infected by Turner's brainfart. But more striking is that Manfred, who won't exact any punishment upon a team who cheated their way to an illicit and illegitimate "championship," once again doesn't have the balls to mete out punishment. All hat, no cattle.

Not that I wanted Turner to be punished. I was conflicted on this one, too, but mostly because I've seen Turner contribute over these past five seasons like a professional and a community leader. But I'm sure that if you weren't keeping track of the Dodgers during the last five years, and the World Series was your only glimpse of him, you might be pretty angry at his selfishness. Heck, I love the guy, and I still think it was the wrong move.

But irrespective, it's clear you can get away with murder and Manfred ain't gonna do shit. So now that this is firmly established, go trade in your masks for trash cans!

Meanwhile, Turner at least had the sense to apologize (which Bill Shaikin of the LAT noted that Manfred neglected to do, in his own statement). I was surprised that Turner didn't apologize earlier--I can only assume he stayed quiet due to MLB muzzling over potential liability issues--but it was not surprising that in his public statement, Turner expressed authentic contrition:

I will not make excuses for my conduct, but I will describe my state of mind. Winning the World Series was my lifelong dream and the culmination of everything I worked for in my career. After waiting in the isolation room while my teammates celebrated on the field, I asked whether I was permitted to return to the field with my wife in order to take a photograph. I assumed by that point that few people were left on the field. I was under the impression that team officials did not object to my returning to the field for a picture with my wife. However, what was intended to be a photo capturing the two of us turned into several greetings and photos where I briefly and unwisely removed my mask. In hindsight, I should have waited until the field was clear of others to take that photo with my wife. I sincerely apologize to everyone on the field for failing to appreciate the risks of returning to the field. I have spoken with almost every teammate, coach, and staff member, and my intentions were never to make anyone uncomfortable or put anyone at further risk.

All right, so we can all move on now. Turner stepped up after a bad move. Manfred again showed any hammer he might wield is a limp noodle. Let's get to the offseason.

Thursday, November 05, 2020

Hey Mookie, How's Your Off-Season Going?