Ayiyiyi. So we were cruising halfway through the game, and suddenly, shoop, the Dodgers implode, and the Marlins win the game.
That made me wonder about what it feels like to be there on the field. Do they ever sort of sit back on their heels in a "Ah, great, we got this one won" fashion? Or are these guys such professionals that they remain sharp and focused at all times?
Well, since they're all human, I'd say option 2 cannot be true. I've played four years of action cricket in a recreational league and I've personally experienced the impossibility of remaining focused at all times, and the dangers of contemplation and thinking the game is won or the intensity levels can be racheted down a notch or two. Yeah, it is a rank amateur level that I talk about, but it is still insight in what it means to be human.
Kent definitely dropped the ball ( ha ha ha. Awww, darn ) on yesterday's play. I'd say that we saw the big difference between a team of youngsters and a team of veterans yesterday: the youngsters are inexperienced, and the veterans are experienced. The Marlins didn't know that the Dodgers were supposed to win the game. They were more interested in winning the game themselves. So when Kent got casual on that play, they took advantage of it. Then Furcal got eaten by a grounder, putting a runner on for Cabrera's booming bat, and just like that, the Marlins got what they wanted. That's when I considered the game to be lost. Broxton didn't lose this game for us. Neither, to be technical, did Hendrickson ( more on that in a moment ). Neither did the stingy umpire ( grrrr ). Our veterans ( and Hendrickson is kind of a veteran too, isn't he? ) lost the game for us.
Of course, our veterans will win a lot more games for us, and one hope that they will win many more games than they'll lose. We will see.
Now, more on Hendrickson. Man, I saw that home run coming from days back. More precisely, from when Martin enthusiastically told a reporter about the plan that he and Hendrickson has, of throwing precisely the kind of pitch the homer came on, and having guys miss it. The problem with that plan is that a guy like Cabrera will maybe not miss that pitch. And boy, did he ever not miss that one. Or, maybe a scout read what Martin said and whispered it in his ear, or maybe he watched the scout tapes himself. You can't do the same thing over and over and expect success, unless you are a really good pitcher, which Hendrickson isn't.
I predict that Hendrickson will be regressing steadily towards his career norm from now on. Of course, we will first need to lose about five of his decisions in a row before they'll even start thinking of slotting Billingsley into his spot. Those five games lost could take us all the way down to .500, for a bit of perspective.
Or, maybe that won't happen. Maybe Hendrickson got on the phone to his psychologist straight away, and he'll find a way to keep foxing batters. We will have to wait and see, which is why those games need to be lost first. That's how you wait and see, after all.
Now, how about today? Well, we trot a poster child of mediocrity and impending doom, Brett Tomko, out there. This means that, unless Tomko somehow pulls a Lowe-against-Smoltz mindset and decides to pitch like he means it - thus amazing the Marlins into losing - we can at best take half of this series, and take home a losing road trip. Which just stings me and makes me start playing that fan favourite, the "If only" game: "There's a dropped game to the Braves that we should have had, and there's last night's game. Those two games would have made for a winning road trip. Arrrrrgh!"
Yet, we're still in first, even as the weak spots of this team start to glint in the spotlight. Over the last six games we've traded W's and L's, for a .500 mark. That's not bad. You only need to be 18 games over .500 at the end of the season to crack that 90-win mark. We have a record of five over compiled in a month and a week. Even if we only play at an additional thirteen over for the rest of the season ( three more months like April ) we'll crack the 90-win mark. Neat bit of perspective, perhaps, but of little consolation in the here and now, where I just want to see this team win two in a row for a change!