09 July 2007

Hope for the Dodgers ... Even Tomko

by Joshua Worley

It's a good first half, isn't it? The Dodgers are 49-40, one game out of first place, in the wild card lead by 2 games. There's no reason to complain about that. Giants fans and Rockies fans can complain. Snakes fans can complain, because of their 2-9 collapse. But Dodger fans? No reason to complain about the team's overall performance.

Brett Tomko, Juan Pierre. I see those names, and I want to complain about them being on the team. I guess this is okay, because they are individual players, and not the team as a whole. They surely deserve to be complained about. But I'm weary of it. How many times has someone said that Tomko and Pierre were bad signings by Ned Colletti? It's always the truth. But I don't want to hear it anymore. I know it. I surely don't want to say it anymore either. Everyone else knows it too, unless they refuse to see it.

The Dodger pitching staff has gone through a tough week. Wolf went down, and nearly everyone else struggled. Every man on that staff has a challenge to do better in the second half. They were the strength of the team for most of the first half, so we know that they can do better than this past week.

Even Brett Tomko. I don't think he's going anywhere. He is a member of the staff, and he will be used. That's the reality and as promised I won't complain about it. But I will write some harsh words about Tomko, while hoping and believing he can do better. I don't like what I imagine to be his attitude on the mound. I hope I'm wrong about what I think his attitude is. I hope he's not stubbornly clinging to the notion that his pitches are good, and that luck or something else is letting him down. His pitches have not been good. When he comes into the game lately you can with near certainty add a few runs to the opponent's run column. But it wasn't always that way this year. He doesn't have to pitch this poorly the rest of the season, unless something is physically wrong with him, and he's hiding it from the training staff.

I wonder if we should be encouraged by his last outing. Tomko walked two, but maybe this is an improvement from giving in to the hitter, to throwing an easily hittable pitch over the heart of the plate just to avoid the walk. I was so disgusted by his previous outing where his very first pitch was a nothing offering up and over the plate that was hit to the wall. To me that's not trying, that's just giving up and hoping to get lucky this time. Tomko can't ever pitch over the middle of the plate. Not that walking hitters is acceptable either, but maybe next time he can get his pitches closer to the corners. I think Grady is right: it is about confidence. Tomko needs to think, "I'm going to hit this corner and strike this batter out" instead of "I'm going to make sure I throw a strike here and avoid the walk and hope that it isn't crushed". He'll never put his pitches where they need to be unless he has confidence that he can.

There is hope for Brett Tomko. I really believe that. And if there's hope for him, then there must be abundant hope for the rest of the Dodger team, for the rest of the season, right? I think so. We Dodger fans are among the fortunate few. Not many teams' fans are following a team in such a good position. There are better teams than the Dodgers, of course. The Dodgers have flaws, and it's possible that they could collapse. Still, things are very good right now.

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