THE SPORTS PHILOSOPHER asks you to all sing along: “Let me root, root, root, root for the home team, if they don’t win it’s a shame….” by Brad Eastland

August 8, 2010
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      Well well, all you provincial parochial ‘homers’ out there, it’s time to ask the $64 dollar question.

      Or, more precisely, the $112 million dollar question.   Since that’s their “estimated” payroll for 2010.



      Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining.   As a lifelong Giants fans, I get a warm, euphoric glow deep in my bowels every time I check the scores and see the Dodgers mired in the “L” column.   But it is a topical question, and timely, and frankly a joy to write about and dissect and shamelessly luxuriate in, so I ask again; what the heck is wrong with Big Blue?

Joe Torre

Joe Torre


      Wasn’t this the uber-talented team that was destined to get over the hump in 2010 and finally make it back to the World Series for the first time since 1988?   I mean just look at the last two years.   Joe Torre’s boys of summer made the playoffs both times, won their first-round playoff match-up, and were twice denied Series glory only by the powerful Philadelphia Phillies squad in the National League Championship round.   In other words, the Dodgers were the 2nd best team in the NL two years running.

      But this year?   Well, they started out okay, were in 1st place or at least in contention for the first three months of the season, but then something happened on the way back to work after the All-Star break.

      They decided to suck.

      Since the All-Star game, as of last Saturday, the Dodgers were 8 and 15.   That’s 8 wins against 15 losses.   It is the worst record in the whole league during that stretch.   In those 23 games they have scored exactly 58 runs.   That’s a whopping two and a half runs a game, Dodger-lovers.   During that stretch they have the worst batting average in the league, the worst slugging percentage, have scored the fewest runs, and have the worst average with runners in scoring position.  In every case.   In the entire league.

      The Dodgers’ overall record as of last Saturday was 57 and 54.   They were seven games out of first place in the National League’s Western Division, in 4th place.   If they don’t get it together, they have about as much chance of making the playoffs as I do of winning a gold medal in the 100-meter sprint at the London Olympics in a couple of years.

      Why is this happening?

      There are lots of theories.   First of all their big gun, the mercurial, man-child Manny Ramirez, has been on the Disabled List for much of the season.   And he’s getting old.   That’s one theory.   Speaking of old, skipper Joe Torre is seventy now.   Baseball history has scant few seventy-year-old managers with playoff appearances on their resumes.   The owners are having marital difficulties.   Good theory.   Their pending divorce is essentially a war between two virtual armies of lawyers.   This has led to tightened purse strings, no free agent signings of note, and the letting go of good though expensive players (Randy Wolf, Orlando Hudson) in the off-season.   That’s what happens when you spend a quarter-million bucks a month on private jets; you just can’t afford to sign a good left-handed starter.   Tragic.   But there are some people who think the Dodgers’ decline is just the fruit of the law of averages.   Or that maybe the rest of the league is just catching up.   Or that maybe it’s because the Bachelorette got screwed over by some two-timing psycho at the last minute so she had to go with her second choice.    There are lots of theories.   I’ve heard them all.

      I have one.   It is simply this: I don’t know what the identity of this particular Dodger team is.

      Are they an offensively-supercharged hitting team?   Those last 23 pathetic excuses for baseball games would say no.   Are they a pitching team?   Sure, somewhat, but who’s their ace?   It’s August, and no pitcher on the team has more than 10 wins.   Are they an aggressive, nose-in-the-dirt type of team?   Are you kidding?   This is L.A.!   So what about leadership?   Well, their so-called best player makes $18-million a year but doesn’t come to work.   And the last team he played for he quit on, so they ran him out of town.   And then last year he got busted for Steroids.   Oops!   You can’t have a leader without character.   So then who is their leader, their feisty hard-nosed catcher Russell Martin?   Oh yeah, he’s hitting .248 with five measly home runs.   And he’s on the Disabled List too.   Hard to lead by negative example.  

      When I think of the 2010 Dodgers, the adjectives that jump into my head are:  listless, unengaged, rudderless, passive, and confused.

      You know what that reminds me of?   I hate to say it, but those adjectives kinda remind me of the President.   I hate to say it because I am openly rooting for Obama.   He’s a good guy.   And I voted for him.   But I still don’t know what kind of a president he is.   His lethargic, Bush-like response to the Louisiana Oil Spill, his diminished stature in the Gay community (traditionally a left-wing stronghold), his failure to cross the finish line with universal health care, his personal contribution to the never-ending cycle of partisan, party-first one-upsmanship in Washington, the overall drop in his approval rating, and his general inactivity and cautiousness cause me to wonder exactly who he is.   If the Dodgers don’t decide exactly who they are and then rise to meet that standard, their penalty will be staying at home during the playoffs.   But if Obama doesn’t let us know exactly who he is, and then doesn’t boldly meet that standard, his penalty will be a one-term presidency….

      The difference is I am rooting for the big O.   I am rooting against the Dodgers.

      But that’s just me.   Who I really want to hear from is you.   Where’s your pulse?   Los Angeles is your town, the Dodgers are your team.   Why do you think they are struggling so mightily?   Has Manny’s terminal phoniness and spoiled-brat attitude finally worn thin?   Has Torre finally outlived his usefulness?   Is Frank and Jamie McCourt’s comical, reality-TV-worthy divorce ripping the organization apart?   Are the baseball gods throwing the Sports Philosopher a bone after a tough last couple years?

      Do you have a better theory than any of the above???

      I’m curious.   I’m intrigued.   I’m downright giddy with anticipation.   So let me hear from you, Laverne Online Nation.   Don’t follow the sorry example of the president or the Dodgers.   Let me know who you are, what you think, and what you believe.   I know you’re frustrated.   It will do you good to get it all off your chest.

meet….The Sports Philosopher!

Brad Eastland is an author, historian, film buff, undiscovered fictioneer, and wacky political theorist—in no particular order.   Brad’s other recent columns for LaVerneOnline can be found in Sports under ‘The Sports Philosopher’ and also in Viewpoint under ‘Brad Eastland’s View’.    Brad has also written 4 novels and over 20 short-stories.    Samples of his best fiction work can be discovered within the mysterious links below:


The Sports Philosopher

The Sports Philosopher






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