Three for the show

This is probably about 99 percent subjective projection, but …

When I went to the Dodgers’ National League Division Series clinching game last week, the Dodger Stadium crowd seemed to be brimming with optimism. Then Monday night, in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series, the crowd was throaty with desperation. Both were really loud.

Tonight at Dodger Stadium, the crowd seemed much more wary and tense than either of those two games. It wasn’t a must-win game, but it also wasn’t exactly a house money game. And that made things not quiet, but a touch more subdued.

In reality, this game and the last one I went to against Atlanta were much the same experience — a promising beginning followed by slow, painful torture through the middle innings, and then a moment of hope in the Dodgers’ final at-bat. But the biggest difference of all was that there was no two-run home run to save the day, no echo of Juan Uribe from the previous week or Kirk Gibson from 25 years earlier.

The Dodgers need to win three games in a row over the next four days to reach the World Series and avoid elimination. They can do it, and I hope fans realize it. Odds are they won’t — odds are that St. Louis can win one out of three games. But having a fully rested Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Kenley Jansen over those final three games is as much as you could hope for from your pitching staff (although we might well have seen the last of Hanley Ramirez, who had to leave tonight’s game after six innings, for a while).

It’s worth keeping the flame burning.

I am curious what Wednesday’s crowd will be like. Many people who bought tickets for NLCS Game 5 probably didn’t anticipate it would take place during the day — that plus disillusionment will probably keep Dodger Stadium from being a packed house. In any case, the Dodger season has had enough twists and turns — there’s no benefit in assuming there won’t be any more.

  • leekfink

    They probably shouldn’t have banned the Rally Bear.
    But if anything, you know that in baseball, something improbable will probably happen. And once in a while, even something impossible.

  • Spence

    If the Dodgers fail to come back from this 3-1 deficit, what will your impressions of the season be? A successful one? Met expectations? Or a disappointment given the payroll but no World Series yet again? I think given that the team got very little from Kemp this year, I think you have to still consider it a success. Lot of good things to look forward to next year with Kershaw/Greinke/Puig.

    • RBI

      Yes, a success, especially considering al the random and continuing injuries, from pitchers to Hanley and Kemp and on and on. Hanley’s cracked rib has been huge, and not in a good way!

      • Bob_in_Vegas

        Agree, RBI. As we talked about yesterday, my “waffle” from way back when was .500. Of course, that’s once the season got going — but the pundits weren’t picking the Dodgers to win the West, even before the horrendous start. (I always believe my team has a chance!)

        A thrilling, historic year with continued great (or near-great) starting pitching but an offense that could hit anyone or not hit anyone, seemingly dependent on whether Hanley was in there or not.

        During tonight’s game, I thought that LA needs another good bat in the lineup — then remembered that the Bison should be back! So, a full year of healthy Hanley, Kemp, Puig and what seemed to be (from July on) a more consistent Ethier . . . plus the return of Billz to the great starting lineup . . . thoroughly optimistic!

        • Spence

          If anything, this year gave Dodger fans a historic 42-8 run that will never be matched. A great introduction to Yasiel Puig. And best of all, no Lyons/Collins for next year.

          For some reason, I am really not that bummed out about losing this series to the Cardinals for some reason. 2009 hurt way worse bc I thought the Dodgers had the best team that year and lost. But this year, I think the Dodgers just ran into a better team in the Cardinals.

          • John_from_Aus

            I think it’s been a great year, with an exciting one in prospect next year.

          • rumped6

            Hard to believe that anyone who saw those Philly teams from that era ever thought the outcome was in doubt. The gap was that big….

        • rumped6

          Whose pundits? There was, back east here and nationally, a significant portion of the expertocracy who favored the Ds for it all.

          Then they disappeared, before practicing an unparalleled resurrection.

          I was not a believer, before or after (and during, I saw just enough to doubt
          they would be champs).

          But I thought their ceiling was around .520. Carl was better, Hanley
          miles better, Mark and Juan steady at the plate and a pleasure to watch practice their craft in the field.

          First time since 2004 I got this team (and the whole NL West:-), essentially wrong.

          Home plate ump (not saying he’s even conscious of the bias) really hurt the Ds tonight. I’m still amazed at folks who think that kind of frequent failure
          (I’m with Booby V. – too difficult a task for most humans) deserves to be
          preserved while changes take place in less important locales on the field.

          I never worried about Brad’s heart or brain. I always worried about what appears to be an undisciplined, undirected body. Give odds he’s hurt again next season.

          • foul tip

            Brad?

      • rumped6

        What about the not-so-typically random and continuing ones?

        Any guess about next year’s squad has some interesting dynamics: the Dodgers had that extraordinary run without He Who Has No Baseball Instincts.

        You can virtually count on Hanley, Matt, and Andre to miss serious (and possibly critical)
        chunks of time.

        These guys are from the JD Drew School of Constant Owies.

        • foul tip

          So injuries are the fault of the injured players? Is that right?

          • WBBsAs

            They can be the player’s fault – as Scioscia has noted, the Busted Poseur never learned how to block the plate properly – but in the case of this year’s Dodgers they’ve been mostly freakish incidents.

        • http://farinella.com/ David Farinella

          Do you happen to remember the 400 or so games in a row that Kemp played before busting his shoulder running full speed into the wall in Colorado?

          Does Hanley get NO credit for playing through a broken rib? A broken rib!

          Really, injuries are a part of sports. I don’t understand it — these are supposed to be people in top shape with the best in medical care around them — but it is.

          That said, calling those three guys glass is just well, not fair in my eyes.

    • DS1981

      In a vacuum of course a season when you win your division and a round in the playoffs is a successful one. However nothing exists in a vacuum. In a way to me this year just adds another year to their already too long of a streak of not even making the World Series.

  • RBI

    I will be there. Will you, Jon? I agree, strange feeling tonight. I had a sinking feeling our ump-karma might be bad, after a rowdy section of the top bleachers behind center field didn’t hear the request for a moment of silence in remembrance of Wally Bell, and sang “happy birthday” through the entire silent time. Just felt a little “uh oh” inside, not to mention expecting the moment would generate more comments about how classless we Dodger fans all are…

    • Bob_in_Vegas

      Sorry the great feeling at the park from Monday wasn’t repeated tonight . . . but hope you bring back their luck and send them on their way to St. Louis! They owe you that to celebrate your birthday!

    • dalegribel

      That is very sad

      • RBI

        To be clear, I don’t think they heard the announcement, but still, it was awkward and uncomfortable.

  • John_from_Aus
  • ASW1

    If only Hanley had been able to move his left arm over just a few inches and had that ball deflect off his arm instead of his ribs……

  • https://www.facebook.com/kmt59 KT

    Tough night for me…First a stumble in the middle of a diamond vision interview (puig signed jersey got the attention for the interview) because of the echo then by the third inning my back is killing me so much that I leave before the bottom of the eight and then we lose.
    Finally home and unpacked…medicine is starting to take effect…Here’s to a win tomorrow

    • RBI

      So sorry to hear this, KT. We needed you!

    • foul tip

      So, who was your relief pitcher after you took yourself out? ‘;-])

      Seriously, glad you’re doing better.

  • https://www.facebook.com/kmt59 KT

    Sandra_Palomo ‏@sandrapalomo6m
    @KMT59 I just noticed u in my picture! Lmao! pic.twitter.com/pmdBAxxQGv

  • JonnyTAFKAJ

    I love this posting because it touches on something that I mentioned to my wife (who disagreed with me) while we were watching that game vs. Atlanta in the innings immediately leading up to Uri-bear’s home run…

    I said, “Listen…. this place is dead.”
    She said, “What are you talking about?”
    I said, “The crowd…. you can sense the tension, and I think there are 3 reasons for it…. April, May, and half of June. Just the fact that this club could ever take the field and play so poorly for over 2 months (yes, injuries played a role) makes ya kinda weary as if… will they revert back to that.”

    Down goes Kemp, Ethier not at 100%, Hanley drilled and essentially done, Puig struggling…
    Not a good recipe.
    However, I remain hopeful.
    Go Blue! :-)

  • thescrounger

    Mike at MSTI wonders what would have happened if Mattingly had pinch hit for Nolasco with the bases loaded in the Second… Considering whom he could have used for a hitter, the answer is… NOTHING. The Dodgers have a big payroll but they have nothing of any value at all on the bench.

    • foul tip

      Pinch hitting for a starter pitching well that early is unheard of among managers.

      One as conventional as DM never would make that radical a move.

    • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

      I definitely thought about it but certainly never expected it. It would have been worth doing, though. Let Van Slyke take a shot.

      • WBBsAs

        Mattingly seems to utterly distrust Van Slyke or, alternatively, looks down the bench and thinks SVS is Withrow.

        • rumped6

          Well done!!!!

    • rumped6

      Agreed. Wholeheartedly.
      They have done a poor job of identifying and signing, or developing, even an average
      contender’s bench for offense. Not many Lee Lacys after lee Lacy.

      And that falls on GM and personnel guys (and gals).

  • http://farinella.com/ David Farinella

    I’m all in. Let’s go Blue.

  • Jon_Wymore

    I think this year is a success overall. Basically injuries derailed it at the beginning and end and the pitching kept us in it throughout.
    Would love to see Greinke and Kershaw win these two games and somehow force a game 7, and even if it’s a loss at the least the team put up one last fight.
    Other years it seems after game 4 the team rolled over in game 5 (08, 09).

    • rumped6

      The “magic stretch” was a thing of rare beauty. I am a process guy more than product,
      so tend to value regular season efforts more than many fans. So I can buy “success
      overall.”

      OTOH, here you D fans are, a few years and a supertanker of dollars of debatable provenance later, about to possibly go down in the second round, in five games, again!?! Where are the leaps and bounds from all those wildly spent bucks?

      (Although I will agree they are a much better match for the playoff-toughened Cards
      than they ever were against the Phils).

  • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

    Same lineup today for the Dodgers. Hanley is in there. Greinke on the mound. Believe!

    • RBI

      Wow. What a warrior. Go Dodgers!

      • foul tip

        If Hanley can’t swing better than last night, the team’s better off with Punto.

        (If Punto doesn’t get ideas about stealing 3rd base again and suffer brianlock, again.)

        Gamer, grit, play through pain, be a tough guy, and all that. But if your injuries mean you can’t play anywhere near your usual standards, you’re just hurting your team.

        • http://farinella.com/ David Farinella

          Is “brianlock” thinking a beard looks better than it does? Just kidding.

          • foul tip

            Think maybe he’s hiding pine tar in there somewhere?

        • rumped6

          Yes. As a thousand fairly recent performances attest!!!!

      • rumped6

        Wow! What another short-sighted but by-the-standard-handling-of-stars book choice.

        See gimpy-legged Andre cost in the field and on the bases. See gritty Hanley
        have another crucial non-competitive at-bat in yesterday’s fifth (but, then again, so did a healthy Mark Ellis in that inning, channeling Bad Derek Jeter, letting fat strikes go by, and waiting for the lusted after ball-on-fists:-).

        • RBI

          See my comment above. Until the inning he was pulled, Hanley was swinging a lot better today, and Ethier made several “loud” outs, as Vinny puts it. Ethier lost one ball in the outfield, as did Puig, in the blinding sun, but they each also made a couple of good plays out there. It was an exciting game.

  • RBI

    I seem to have one extra ticket for today’s game: Reserve 11, Row S. The 1pm time knocked out my usual 3 seat mates and I’ve been scrambling to find takers. Anyone interested? It’s 95$, but I am VERY willing to accept whatever, as at this point it’s between anything and an empty seat. I can e-mail you the ticket…

    • http://farinella.com/ David Farinella

      If only I was a freeway away…. Of course, I could probably catch a flight and be at DS before many of you will make it through the 405! Have fun today!

    • rumped6

      Are you bringing your blue-and-white pom poms to cheer Yasiel when he is supremely busy
      cheering himself???:-)

      Go Good Yasiel!!! BOOOOOOO Bad Yasiel!!!!!!!!!!!

      • RBI

        I can’t tell. Are you a fan of Puig, Hanley, Ethier, etc. or not? They’re playing their hearts out, as far as I can see, and yes, I am rooting for them all to do well.

  • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman
    • http://farinella.com/ David Farinella

      What does “ankled” mean in your led?

      • WBBsAs

        I’m guessing it’s a typo for “rankled.”

        • http://farinella.com/ David Farinella

          That’s what I guessed, but you gotta keep those editor types on their toes. (pun intended)

          • WBBsAs

            Are you watching today’s game? What part of Oakland? (I’m in Temescal).

          • http://farinella.com/ David Farinella

            We’re in Upper Rockridge…. I’m working and watching.

          • WBBsAs

            So you’re close by – I’m working at home and watching.

      • foul tip

        At one point Jon wrote something about “ankling” his career as a sportswriter, I think.

      • isb77

        It’s Variety slang: ankle — A classic (and enduring) Variety term meaning to quit or be dismissed from a job, without necessarily specifying which; instead, it suggests walking; “Alan Smithee has ankled his post as production prexy at U.”

        http://variety.com/static-pages/slanguage-dictionary/

        • http://farinella.com/ David Farinella

          Awesome… how come my Variety eds never put it into one of my stories… I’ll be calling Mr. Cohen about that.

    • SaMoDodger

      Any kind of termination involving Simers can’t be wrongful. His firing was overdue a decade ago.

      • rumped6

        Disagree. He’s just not a great fit for typical sports fans, who tend to lose their
        otherwise wide-ranging sense of the absurd when it comes to the homeboys.

        He had a uniqiue, if not entirely consistent and evolutionary, way of seeing little boys in big boys’ bodies.

  • WBBsAs

    Given the way the rotation’s lined up, I’m about as optimistic as possible under the circumstances.

    • rumped6

      I should be, too. I ain’t:-).

      • SaMoDodger

        How about now?

  • SaMoDodger

    Enthusiasm is definitely dampened by the $20 reserve level seats available on stubhub. Their loss is my gain. I’ll be in section 15 in 90 minutes.

    • http://www.twitter.com/ElJefedor Jeffrey Thomas III

      If I lived closer to the stadium I’d be there with you, enjoy the game.

  • thescrounger

    It is really impossible for Hanley to help the team today. I say sit him down (and hope for Friday) and play Gordon. I’m not mad at Punto, anybody can make a mistake like that, I just think Gordon MAY come up with a big game. I also think, Schumacher, bad as he is, can help us more than Ethier. So:
    Gordon; Ellis; Crawford; Agon; Puig; Uribe; Ellis; Schumacher; Grienke

    • rumped6

      I thought Skip might be this year’s “Small Guy helps Big Guys Win Ring”

      Was as wrong with that as I was about Dodger’s regular season….

  • TAFKA_Gagne55

    Game starts in half an hour and there is still no game thread!

    • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

      Don’t worry.

      • http://www.linkmeister.com/wordpress/ Linkmeister

        Look, it’s Bobby McFerrin! ;)

        • rumped6

          Borrowed from “Genuine Celebrities at the Kentucky Derby” gang…

  • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

    New post up top.