I’ve never seen a Dodgers game with an atmosphere like that – it was like watching spring training, except with 50,000 people as opposed to 5,000. As it just so happened to be the last regular season home game of the season, Joe Torre really put a flourish on it with his lineup choices. Not only did we get to see Rafael Furcal and Jeff Kent start up the middle together for the first time in over four months, but the whole “send a guy out to his position, but replace him before the inning starts” idea – thus allowing the fans to give standing ovations to guys like Kent, Furcal, and Manny – was electrifying.
Now obviously there was quite the party after the game, and I’m not going to recap that all here, since that’s already been done pretty well across the Dodger web (Sons of Steve Garvey, as usual, comes up with the best pictures, and Andrew Kamenetzy from the LA Times’ Blue Notes blog was in the middle of the chaos). Although I will point out that Joe Beimel in his custom Dodgers robe, complete with uniform number, is probably one of the best things I’ve ever seen.
So now it’s off to San Francisco for three of the least meaningful games you’ll ever see, hopefully populated by heavy doses of Delwyn Young, Chin-Lung Hu, Jason Repko, and the like. And can we please get A.J. Ellis an at-bat? He’s caught in two games, but has yet to see the plate. You never know if he gets another chance in the bigs, so don’t let him go out like this. Free A.J. Ellis! More important, however, than anything that happens up by the Bay this weekend is how things shake out for the other two NL playoff spots, since there’s still three different opponents that the Dodgers could face - Chicago, New York, or Philadelphia.
Now all along, I’ve been saying “Let’s go Mets!” simply because their bullpen is a completely abysmal house of horrors, and I’d still like to see them in the first round. But I’ve now realized that there’s something way more important to cheer for this weekend, and it’s not any one team in particular: it’s time. Think about it – the Cubs have known they’d be in for weeks, and have been able to adjust their rotation accordingly. The Dodgers, now that they’ve clinched, have rearranged their staff so that Derek Lowe and Chad Billingsley can pitch Games 1 & 2 on normal rest (extra rest, actually, for Chad). But the Mets, Phillies, and Brewers still need to claw for every last game, and if they should be forced to extend this through the weekend, all three have their aces lined up for what would likely be a do-or-die game on Sunday: Johan Santana, Cole Hamels, and CC Sabathia respectively. Forget Milwaukee, since there’s no way LA can play them, but what that effectively means is that neither the Mets or Phillies would have their ace available for Game 1, which would also make it more difficult to bring him back for a second start should the series go to four or five games. Who would you rather be facing in Game 1 as Shea Stadium rocks with the cheers of its final season: Johan Santana… or Mike Pelfrey?
So sure, root for the Mets. Root for the Brewers to collapse. But more than anything, root for the battle to go as long as possible. And hey, even though it’ll ruin my weekend, I don’t care: root for rain. It’s been raining in New York City all day, and it’s expected to last through the weekend. How great would it be to play a Mets team that just had to run through their top starters and most of their bullpen in a do-or-die Monday doubleheader?
It’s going to be an exciting weekend, folks. It’s really nice to have finished this off early and relax while watching prospective opponents kill each other just to get in.
* One other thing to discuss, and I hate to be a downer, but I can’t let this go by. What the hell is up with this?
The locker of Brad Penny was empty Thursday and Penny himself was nowhere to be seen.
The Dodgers’ opening-day starter, Penny was placed on the 60-day disabled list Wednesday to open up a spot on the 40-man roster for Furcal. Penny is ineligible for postseason play.
Torre said he had no idea about Penny’s whereabouts.
“I didn’t get a chance to say hello or goodbye,” Torre said. “He was here yesterday and he disappeared. I didn’t ask him to leave.”
General Manager Ned Colletti said he spoke Wednesday to Penny’s agent, Greg Genske, but refused to divulge the nature of their conversation. Genske did not return voice messages.
Penny, who has a $9.25-million option for next season that could be bought out for $2 million, said this month that he was disappointed that the Dodgers refused to extend his contract this spring.
Sounds like we’ve seen the last of him, but what a way to do it. Who clears out their locker on the day the team – of which you are the most senior member of – wins the division? I was still considering the possibility of picking up his option next year, which is really only a $7 million decision thanks to the buy-out. But if he’s just going to bail on the team during the playoff run, and not even tell anyone at that, then no thanks.
- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness