29 May 2008

Give Me Character in the Gap and Over the Fence

When Saito walks multiple batters in an inning it's certain trouble. He was so wild and had so many 3 ball counts that it seems like he walked the tying and winning runs in, even though he didn't. Maybe we should remember it that way. It's more poetic that way, more cruel, more vengefully satisfying. Goodness knows I feel like being cruel after watching the Dodgers get swept. Just as Bill Buckner allowed four runs to score and simultaneously lost games 6 and 7 of the 1986 World Series when he let the ball get through his legs, so can we heap greater shame upon Saito in retrospect. Or perhaps the mountain of shame belongs to Kemp striking out with the bases loaded in the top of the eighth. Someone is going to get it. Where is the character on this team? These young players don't have the will of a warrior. They have the will of a Care Bear.

Now, character and the will of a warrior are tricky concepts. What do they really mean? Aren't these just lazy excuses to rip on young players in a patch of slump or ill luck? No, I will tell you exactly what character is. Character is hitting home runs. Character is pulling a ball into the stands. The Dodgers are last in the National League in home runs, with just 33. Even the Giants are 4 ahead of them. That's LA for you, first in beach balls, last in character. Grit is whacking a ball into the gap and steaming into second. The Dodgers are last in the league in doubles, with 80, 8 behind the woeful Padres. Determination is going the other way deep down the foul line for a shoes-on-fire triple. The Dodgers are not last in triples, the freaky, frisky cousin of the double, but their modest total of 12 isn't enough to pull them out of last in extra-base hits in the National League. Congratulations, Dodgers. The team mascot should be "Losing-with-grace" Bear, the gentlest and softest Care Bear of them all, so soft he has no teeth or claws.

See, it's hard to score runs when all you do is dink singles and draw walks. You've got to have 3 of those events in one inning just to score a run, or even 4 if the walk comes third, as it so often does. It's not a lack of character keeping the Dodgers from scoring and getting clutch hits, it's the difficulty of piling up 4 positive offensive events in one inning. If three out of five ( or four of six ) Dodgers can't avoid making outs in an inning, then they won't score. Is it any wonder that the Dodgers appear to lack character? The degree of difficulty in scoring runs is extreme when you can't skip ahead to second or third or even home on your base hits.

What's the solution? I don't know, something boring and unsatisfying like patience? Maybe some of these young players aren't that good. Maybe they are still a year or two away. Maybe they should close their eyes and swing as hard as they can. I don't know. Do something. The season is still not lost. The Snakes are a mere 3.5 games ahead. If the Dodgers can just start to hit for a little more character they'll be right back in it.

2 comments:

Rob said...

See, it's hard to score runs when all you do is dink singles and draw walks.

Wow, I think you just described the Angels' offense.

bernard n. shull said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.