11 September 2007

This Is Not a Big Game

by Joshua Worley

Corey Brock of padres.com reports that Brady Clark may see some time in left field with Milton Bradley out. I haven't seen anything to suggest Milton has been completely ruled out for the series against the Dodgers, but an oblique strain seems like a nasty injury and even if he did try to play his swing might not yet be right.

The lead item in the above linked Padre roundup concerns Brett Tomko. The Padres are looking at starting Tomko on Saturday against the Giants. I know Wells has worked out well so far for the Dodgers, so there is precedent for a horrible pitcher changing teams and then doing surprisingly well. But still, I laugh. Why choose Tomko over Cassell? Tomko blames the Dodgers for wanting him to sacrifice velocity in favor of added movement on his pitches, and says his mechanics are getting back to where they should be. I have to agree with the Dodgers on this one, though. A Tomko with even less movement on his pitches is a scary thing. It's not as if he can throw 100 MPH, either. I don't care if he's throwing harder; big league hitters can hit his fastball. Especially if it's straight. Just watch, Padres. If you start him Saturday he'll be knocked around the park unless he can hit the corners all night long. Which he won't.

Peavy against Loaiza tonight. This is not a big game. Tomorrow and Thursday might be big games, but tonight is not. Why?

Nearly all BIG GAMES before the last week of the season are artifical. Losing a big game is devastating, and severly alters a teams chances moving forward. Game 5 of a World Series is a big game. The third from last regular season game is a big game if you're tied for the wild card at the time. A game three weeks from the end of the season is not a big game by nature, even if you are 2.5 games out. Of course being 3.5 out is worse, but there is still time to come back. There really aren't dire consequences for losing tonight's game unless we pretend there are.

Why pretend a game is a big game if it's likely to be a loss? The Dodgers are facing Jake "the Pulverizor" Peavy. The Dodgers aren't going to lose, but they are going in likely to lose. I don't want to wake up tomorrow feeling like the season is over because I overvalued one game. Important, yes. But not all-important.

If the Dodgers fall out of the race this week, it won't be because they lost a big game, anyway. It will be because they lost a lot of little games. Falling out of a pennant-scrap race is a slow death. Hope fades bit by bit, day by day. There are different points of surrender for everyone. It can be a miserable thing. I'm not going to compound my misery by making individual losses worse than they already are!

Of course, it's not a loss yet. The game isn't lost; the season isn't lost. The goal of winning the World Series is still in reach. Remote, but in reach. Just like tonight's game.

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