Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

Giant shadows

Field shadows

By Jon Weisman

I’ll admit to being a bit at a loss for words as I start this.

In part, that’s because I’ve said just about everything I want to say about the irrelevance of regular-season performance against a specific opponent when it comes to October (“Winning opponents: It just doesn’t matter”) as well as the slippery meaning of “winning opponents” as a concept (“How the Dodgers lose for winning”) I’m not a big fan of repeating myself.

I’ve only tangentially addressed the emotional aspect of Dodger fans watching their team lose nine of its first 11 against the Giants in 2015, but there might not be a lot to add there either, other than to remind people that it’s only bad until it gets good again — and it could get good again at any moment.

One year ago today, the 2014 World Champions lost their sixth straight game. By June 30, their National League West lead — 9 1/2 games earlier in the month — was gone. June was miserable for San Francisco, and look how things ended there.

Anyway, I’ve begun writing this piece in the seventh inning, with the Dodgers down, 6-2, and I’m going down this face-the-negative path even though I truly believe the Dodgers could come back and win the game by the time I finish, because we’re talking about baseball, not systemic poverty.

I saw “Inside Out” today, and really, you have to see this movie, because besides being fantastic on its own terms, it describes, without even intending to, the emotional musical chairs of being a baseball fan. It’s such a reactionary activity, and so natural to embrace those extremes, even though sometimes, it does us little good.

The quandary Dodger fans are in is this — they’re not just battling the uncertainty of this season, they’re bearing the psychological weight of Potential Year 27 Without a Title. No Dodger fan below the age of 87 (i.e., someone who was at least 27 years old in June 1955) has had it worse than the current generation.

Each additional tick of the clock without a title doesn’t anesthetize you to the pain, it expands it. Each run allowed, each loss suffered, each opportunity wasted, makes relief and celebration seem that much farther away.

What I would suggest is that if a World Series title is truly the main goal (and why wouldn’t it be), then you have to be prepared to ride out the bad times that hammer every eventual champion sometime during the season. No team goes through 162 games unscathed. It just doesn’t happen.

Nine losses in 11 games against the Giants before June really are irrelevant as far as October. Miserable, yes, but irrelevant. I’ll always get a ton of pushback on that point, but the evidence is absolutely clear on my side. The Giants lost eight of their last 11 to the Dodgers in 2014, and who in San Francisco cares now?

On the other hand, if you’re someone who simply lives in the moment, and doesn’t attach larger significance to the lousy ones the Dodgers have been having this week, then I can’t help you, but you don’t need my help. You know that change is always on the horizon, and sunshine is always around the corner from the shadows.

I guess I’m guilty of repeating myself after all.


Dodgers get fresh arm in bullpen in Matt West


Dodger draftees shine at College World Series


  1. The Dodger performance has been pathetic. The geniuses have screwed around and produce a worse team that last year. Even if we get the bullpen back – Peralta, Baez and League, the offense is so troubled I doubt it will make much difference. This team is completely unable to move runners, to make productive outs. They can’t steal, they can’t run the bases, they can’t sacrifice bunt. They may have a wonderful clubhouse but I prefer a team than can execute.

    • Not a well thought out tirade. As Jon showed, the issue over much of the past ten games has not be the lack of RISP, but a BAPIB of .054, which is about .200 below league average.

  2. Man I love the Kinks.

  3. Well put Benzo Jones. I couldn’t have worded it better.

  4. 20 runs in the last 9 games!! Something has to change. Mattingly got the clubhouse he wanted. No excuses. Donnie has to go, so does McGwire

  5. I don’t think it’s McGwirs falt, Mattingly’s poor coaching, like not using a pinch hitter in 5th inning instead of having Frias bunting, Frias already had a pitch count in the 70ies, and hasn’t showed much after that lately, so instead Donnie found a way to screw up the inning, in addition you can’t always wait until the pitcher has lost the game to take him out, something that has happened a lot lately

  6. Well stated Benzo. As a fan of the Dodgers for over 50 years and a Ph.D. in an analytical science, I can safely say metrics is not working out very well right now for the Dodger front office. From my perspective, the game is played by people not numbers. Until the Dodgers get a real lead off hitter, base they had one and gave him away for who knows what, and a number two hitter that can move the runner this will continue. While I do not have the data, I know that if the team can not hit a home run, then they rarely score otherwise. To many 3-4-5 hitters and not enough guys that just want to get on base and help the team score any way they can. Placing Pederson and Puig in those roles, in my opinion, is counter productive in many ways.

  7. The irrelevance of regular season performance? Whatever point you were seeking to make is automatically invalidated by the galactic imbecility of that statement. As is, the Dodgers have zero chance of making the playoffs.

    • Jon Weisman

      Seems like you are taking that point out of context. And how you can rationally state they have zero chance of making the playoffs escapes me.

  8. I have mentioned this in the past but fell on deaf ears; The Dodgers need to change the manager. He thinks to much and moves that are made either late or premature, I would like to think if you pay somebody a good amount of money to run your shop the expectancy and results should be higher than what they currently are. The Dodgers have invested a great deal of money in putting talent out on the field of play. Mattingly was a good player and has the knowledge for the game but his game calling has a lot to be desired.

  9. You can’t be too suprised by these outcomes with the elite teams the Dodgers face. The style of the Dodgers play is one dimensional. They don’t pressure pitchers with base stealing or hit and run. Their batters don’t work pitch counts, and this team is coached to rely on the “big hit”. So when facing above average pitching staffs they continue to fail miserably.

    IMO Don Mattingly and staff can not take this team to the promise land. Our pitchers have become predictable and again, the elite teams are exposing them. Unless Mattingly and staff begin to mix things up from top to bottom Dodgers fans will find themselves waiting for next season. And probably another untelevised season at that.

    • Remember, the front office traded Dee, not Donnie. Analytics don’t value stolen bases, and essentially, small ball. Which is a shame. With the amount of DPs against the LAD, you would think hit and runs would come back in vogue, but I’m not a sabermatrician, so what do I know.

      • I couldn’t agree with you more. Small ball is so much fun to watch. It’s also psychological putting the pressure on the opposition’s pitchers, fielder’s and coaches. Dodgers just don’t have that instinct, and it is being exposed.

        I ask friends and family almost weekly, why did they trade Dee Gordon again? After putting years into his development where he improved every season. There’s no logic and no one has given a decent answer. Oh well.

    • Dee for as fast as he is is a lousy base stealer, don’t be fooled by the amount of stolen bases he has. He gets thrown out almost 30% of the time, that means his OBP is even lower than the 326 he had last year as a Dodger (yes he’s slightly better at it this year). IMO if you aren;t sucesful at least 85% of the time, just stay were you are. That said I do wish the Dodgers would hit and run more.
      As far as the trade, the part that may have hurt more is just letting Haren go in it and paying for him, but getting Kike, the piece that got Kendrick, and Barnes, who should be their back catcher now, and will be for years, was very good. Hatcher is a bust though. So 2 pieces that are helping this team, another that should be, for Dee, an overrated one dimensional player, to me is a good trade.

      • My original point exactly. Not that Dee was traded, but what we got in return for both he and Haren. I am not knocking Howie, but to eat Haren’s salary and swap even for 2nd basemen seems a bit one sided. While Howie provides some pop, and given Dee’s is OBP and steal percentage this year it looks like a break even there, but if you do not have a lead off man to replace him, well I am not sure about that move. You have to be able to manufacture a run in a close game in the late innings. I do not see it right now.Maybe in a year or two it will look like genius. After all, there were other pieces in the moves.

        • Jon Weisman

          I loved Dee Gordon, but how exactly was he helping the Dodgers manufacture runs in the second half last year with a .300 OBP and a 68% steal rate?

          Heck, let’s look at the whole season. Gordon played in 140 games for the Dodgers in 2014. He scored a total of 25 runs after the seventh inning. Joc Pederson already has 13 runs this year after the seventh inning, and he batted eighth for about the first month.

          This notion of Dee Gordon manufacturing runs in a close game in the late innings is something that you’ve imagined — for understandable reasons, because it sounds like something that would have happened. But it didn’t.

  10. “What I would suggest is that if a World Series title is truly the main goal (and why wouldn’t it be), then you have to be prepared to ride out the bad times that hammer every eventual champion sometime during the season. No team goes through 162 games unscathed. It just doesn’t happen.”

    Excellent stuff. Fans can be so nearsighted. 162 contests to get to the dance.

  11. I believe I am saying this but I feel like Bobby Knight right now when was losing to Purdue.


  12. Jon,

    Thanks. The 2014 Giants reference helped the most. That being said, it gets old when the Blue lose to our two most despised rivals, StL and SF. That just is a real psychological downer. But thanks.

  13. Dodgers just suck under the manager ? owner ? that’s it…..

  14. Perhaps strangely, I find consolation in the fact that the giants are only a winning team cuz the beat us. :(

  15. Another website rattled on about how the most important thing is to beat the Giants. My response was that if the Dodgers won every game except the ones they played against the Giants, they would go 143-19 and probably wouldn’t see them in the playoffs, and that my statement was still less silly than theirs.

    It’s easy to blame Mattingly, and I don’t think he’s a good game strategist. That said, I lived through 20 years of terrible game strategy from 1977 to 1996, and we still came out of it with two World Series wins in that period, so something worked. What worked was, indeed, that the manager was more important off the field than on it, and I sense that to be the case with Mattingly. Perhaps it would help him if the sabermetric geniuses assembled a team that could play fundamental baseball, with a leadoff man followed by someone who knows how to put the ball in play.

  16. Thanks for your reply, but I’m a little shocked that you’re that harsh on Dee Gordon. His base stealing lifetime is almost 80%. This year he’s somewhat down but does he get the protection from the batting order? Dee leads the league in hits, still batting .356 but that’s somehow a disappointment. Hell his fielding percentage for 2015 is .994.

    I remember 2014 when he had Puig behind him batting, he wasn’t well protected because Puig is kinda all over the place…still btw. I wonder what the story is in Miami.
    I’d take Dee in a second. The pressure he can put on an infield. And his fielding percentage is Allstar/Gold Glove fantastic.

    We’ll just have to disagree. If you look at what Rollins and Kendrick are doing, Dee has them both, and he’s much younger. I think for me his youth and willingness to do whatever it takes is worth a hell of a lot. Thanks again for commenting.

Comments are closed.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén