For this year, I am trying to be a more laid-back Dodgers fan. I'm attempting to be burnt up less by each W that dissolves into a L on an error, a toothpick-bat night for the whole lineup, a Grady Little decision that has fans all over go "Mrrrrrp? What?", or any of the other creative ways this teams loses those games.
I'm trying to remind myself that even though this losing-record road trip, with its three winnable games flushed down the might-have-been sewer, feels like the start of something awful - the start of what will be a long season - it probably isn't.
The Dodgers are five games over .500, and in first place, too. Only six teams have lost fewer games than the Dodgers so far this year. Only Boston and Milwaukee have bigger leads over the second-place team in their division ( and Milwaukee plays in a silly division ). I'd say all that counts as "sitting slightly above average", if not quite "sitting pretty". For remember, even though the Dodgers have their flaws, so do the rest of the West. Some teams have more upside - if the Diamondbacks' young hitters come to the party, they'll be a hard-to-stop avalanche. The Rockies are under performing a little, considering the three H's of Hawpe, Holliday and Helton are in that lineup and raking. The Padres are doing pretty much as I expected - and the Giants are over performing a little, in my opinion.
So, even if the Dodgers of late have had me reaching for the big ol' jar of despair a little, I'm chalking that reaction up to a fan's expectations. If they keep dropping games they should have won, I will become more vitriolic, no doubt. But for now I'm content to sit back and wait for those two wins in a row that I'm pining for.
May those two wins form part of a home stand that goes something like 5-1. Now, that would be something. The Reds have a record that is the flip of ours, at 15-20, and they have a 3-7 record over their last ten. Beware the numbers, though. They are also 7-8 on the road, and they've scored more runs that they have allowed. Therefore - they will be a tough opponent for the Dodgers, and the Dodgers better be prepared to take them on, throw down with them, and walk away the victors.
Wolf goes up against Arroyo tonight and this one will be no easy game. Wolf does not inspire great confidence in me, and Arroyo have been dealing. The hitters will need to come to this one if we're to pull it out.
Tomorrow Penny goes against Lohse. That is a game that we should be able to take if the hitters are halfway competent, and if Penny arrives at the park to pitch, and not just to throw. Penny's last outing against the Marlins was old-school Penny, just throwing hard. More experienced lineups won't buckle under that kind of stuff. I'm confident Penny will not fall into this trap, though, based on his post-game comments. It looks like sense has finally begun to grow in his skull.
Sunday's game features that mirage of competency, Hendrickson. Maybe Martin cooked up a new plan for them to execute, maybe not. We'll have to wait and see. The Reds doesn't have a starter listed with Milton out. I fear that they'll call up some career minor leaguer to grab the W, or some bullpen piece will make a great start. That always seems to happen.
Okay, that's a nutshell of the weekend ahead. Ideally I want the Dodgers to play like they mean it, to come out and brush away any fan worries. Realistically I will have to wait and see, and hope the Dodgers doesn't spoil my Friday night.
On paper, the Dodger team is capable, even if not great. But I want to start seeing that on the field. It is one thing to cover for each other in post-game conferences, showing admirable team spirit. And quite another to take that spirit on the field and win some games with it. Talk is fine. Results are what it's at.
Up and at 'em, boys.