01 May 2007

Observer's Notes: 30 April 2007

It was the worst Dodger game I've ever attended.

First, seeing Juan Pierre in person really brought home how awful he is. I want him to do well; I want to root for him. But he stinks. There's no way around it. If Betemit's strikeout with the bases loaded against the Giants is his defining moment for his detractors, then Pierre's defining moment to me was his failure to catch Webb's bloop in the fifth inning. Webb pinged the ball to shallow right-center, much the way Pierre often hits the ball when he makes contact. Pierre got a horrible jump, but then closed fast and reached the ball just before it hit the ground. It appeared he got his glove around it, and the crowd started cheering. The cheering continued for about a second after the ball dribbled loose, and then turned to a collective gasp as everyone realized Pierre had failed to hold on.

It seemed to me that the crowd was cheering for an eternity as the ball rolled away on the ground, but maybe that's just because I was expecting him to drop it. Though these are the same fans who seemed to think every Dodger ground ball was a single and every Dodger fly ball was a home run. In any case I've reached the point where I truly expect Pierre to fail every time. I have tried to root for him, to believe he wouldn't be as bad as the detractors said. But he's awful, and he's blocking Matt Kemp. I want him off the team now. Enough is enough. I don't care how much effort he shows ... there's nothing virtuous about taking a job you don't deserve, about letting down your colleagues and people who pay to see you day after day.

This isn't quite fair, I guess. It's Colletti I should be mad at. Pierre just took what was offered him. But I wonder about Pierre ... he's batting 0.280 right now ... does he think that's almost good enough? Does he think just another 20 points of batting average and he'll be an asset on offense? Does it bother him that he makes an out 70% of the time? Later in the game they showed some offensive categories that Pierre leads in. He's first in the league in at-bats. That's the problem right there, that this is considered an accomplishment. Does he realize that he's a bad defensive outfielder, or is he fooled by all the fast running and diving around he does out there?

The game left me feeling the Dodgers are a deeply troubled team. That's an overreaction. It's just one game. One game after a 17-inning game, to be precise. But they are troubled. The starting pitching isn't as good as it seemed early in the year. It's been 9 games since the Dodgers allowed fewer than 3 runs. Early in the season they regularly allowed only 1 or 2 runs in a game; lately 5 is more typical. There isn't any one pitcher that can be replaced to make it better. There's no way to obviously improve the starting pitching staff. I'd like to see both Kuo and Billingsley get a chance in the rotation, but I can't say that they would necessarily do any better than anyone in there now. Maybe Lowe can turn it around, and maybe eventually Wolf's high K rate will actually translate into something good. But for now, it's a lot of blah.

Wolf got a lot of strikeouts, but he was wild, and most of the time when the Snakes hit the ball they hit it hard. Two of his outs were deep flies to the wall. He did well to hold the Dodgers in the game as long as he did, I guess. His curveball was good, but he couldn't throw it for strikes enough. Thanks to the leadoff home run he gave up and the way Webb breezed through the first two innings, it never felt like the Dodgers had a chance in this game, which is a rotten way to watch a game.

There was a moment of false hope when Valdez came up with the bases loaded down 6 in the seventh, but that didn't amount to anything. What made it even more frustrating was that it was clear Webb had lost it by this point. He had nothing left and he still got out of it. The Dodgers are a team that has lost their way offensively and defensively, for the moment. I think they will have more good stretches this year. But if they hope to win the west, they'd better hope that all the Snakes young players don't suddenly put it together, and they'd better end the year on a hot streak the way they did last year.

When Tomko came in to relieve I couldn't figure out who it was at first; I thought there was a reliever I didn't know about. The low point of the game came while he was pitching, when he was about to walk in the eighth run. I had been trying to watch the at-bat around two women in front of us who were standing up, when I realized that they were involved in an altercation. One of the women made a fist, and then the other slapped her twice. Apparently there were accusations of hair pulling, maybe involving some children too. Bizarrely, after security led the two women away some guy held up his young daughter as if to proudly show everyone one of the props from the spectacle we had just seen. Now that was a deeply disturbing ( and confusing ) moment. I hate leaving games early, but we left right after this. It was just too depressing on the field and in the stands to stick around.

For the first time ever, I regretted going to a Dodger game.

Parking Report:

We made sure to get there an hour early, so parking wasn't a problem. It would have been a problem if we arrived later. There were still cars lined up trying to park in the fourth inning. They still don't have the parking thing figured out, and I don't think they will figure it out. I don't have any confidence that the McCourts will do the right thing and lower the price to park back down to $10.

Their were marginal improvements, such as making sure the stream of cars didn't intersect the stream of pedestrians walking to the stadium from lot 4. I guess one of the parking experts realized that if you let the cars into the lot at the farthest point from the stadium, rather than the closet entrance to the stadium you wouldn't get this problem.

Since we left early, there wasn't any trouble getting out of the lot. There were people directing traffic on the way out, which I hadn't seen before.

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