Friday, May 8, 2009

Hypocricy, Thy Name Is 'Mannywood'

I try to avoid thinking of individual moments, games, or series as turning points early in a baseball season. It is just so long that even a really significant event that happens today can be followed by 10-15 more momentum shifts (good and bad) before it is all said and done, rendering this really significant event as pretty insignificant in the end.

Obviously the Dodgers losing Manny Ramirez for 50 games is a monumental blow to their season. Or is it? Heading into yesterday's games, the Dodgers were 6.5 up in the N.L. West and running away from a pack of average-at-best teams. Not counting any added emotional stress that may make players choke, they are still more talented than any of the teams chasing them. My guess is that they will still be in the lead in the West 49 games from now, and then they'll just pull away again for the final 70 games after Manny is back.

After all, this team played more than 50 games without Manny last season and are a deeper, more talented team this year.

There are a few wild cards to be played in this scenario though. Will the Dodgers' young players crumble under the pressure without Manny's bat and mouth to make everything easier for them? Will their pitching staff be able to compete over the course of a season (with or without Manny, this is not a good staff)? Will Manny come back hungry to prove he's an all-time great? Will he come back a shadow of his former allegedly steroid-using self? Will he come back apathetic since his chances of a huge free agent contract may have just vanished? Will the Giants make a trade for a bat, making them an actual threat?

If there is no such thing as a turning point this early in the season, Dodger fans should be hoping that last night's game was also not a microcosm of their season: great start but then suddenly the bats went silent, the pitching fell apart, and by the time they got the offense going again, it was too late.

There's a part of me that feels sorry for Dodger fans after yesterday. First they lose Manny, then the team comes out and scores 6 in the first inning: "Ha, we're fine without him!" Then the Washington Nationals, the worst team in baseball, score 11 unanswered runs to steal the game and halt your record home-winning streak. But then I remember how miserable Dodger fans make a trip to that stadium, and all the Dodger fans I know who are obnoxious, and what the Dodgers did to my parents when they left Brooklyn, and what an ass Tommy Lasorda is, and how pissed I still am about the 1988 NLCS and Hong Chi Kuo flipping his bat in the air two years ago when he hit a homer off of John Maine and Guillermo Mota plunking Mike Piazza and then sprinting to the clubhouse to hide six years ago, and then I don't care so much.

And who comes to town next? Of course it is the Giants. Who better than to come in and sweep the Dodgers, cutting the division lead from 6.5 to 2.5 in four days, than the team and fans who Dodger fans crucified for supporting Barry Bonds. Just as San Francisco fans were ripped for standing by an "obvious cheater," now they get to come to L.A. and return the favor to all the Dodger fans who insist that Manny is innocent ("He just wanted to spice up his sex-life" I heard one misinformed fan say). Click here and watch the video to see more Dodger fans.

For the Giants fans' sakes, I hope the Dodgers have extra security in the parking lot after the game. Dodger fans will stab you in the parking lot when things are going well, just imagine what it will be like out there this weekend.

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