“Why,” you might be asking, “did you use a picture of the famous Wrigley Field facade where the idiot who was taking the picture snapped it in mid-sentence rather than waiting for the change to complete?” That’s because I am that idiot, and I took this picture myself in July while on tour, although I’m sad to say that this is as far as I was able to get. I was worried about how much money I could afford to spend on a scalped ticket – well forget that, I couldn’t even find anyone looking to sell, and this was on a Friday afternoon. Never underestimate the fervor of the Cubs fan.
Now we’ve got two off-days in which to discuss the upcoming NLDS in more detail before Derek Lowe (career 3.25 ERA against the Cubs in 8 starts) faces off against Ryan Dempster (career 3.01 ERA against LA in 19 appearances/9 starts) on Wednesday. I don’t think, however, any stat is going to amaze you more than this one:
The Dodgers (1884) and Cubs (1876) have been around for 256 combined years… and have never once faced each other in the playoffs. How unbelievable is that? Sure, that nearly forty year break from the postseason the Cubs took between 1945-1984 is a large part of that, but still, these two teams have somehow never battled in October.
So here’s what we know while waiting for the playoff roster to come out:
*Hong-Chih Kuo, Jason Repko, Ramon Troncoso, Chin-Lung Hu, and Eric Stults are officially not going to make the playoff roster, and will head south to play in the Arizona Instructional League (except Stults, who is going to Mexico) to keep in shape if they’re needed later. No surprises here.
*In fact, I don’t think there’s really all that much drama left over the postseason roster now that Penny and Kuo are both out and Kent and Furcal are both almost certainly on. Seems like Maddux and Kershaw are each going to make it, and the only question really is whether the last man off the bench is going to be Mark Sweeney, Delwyn Young, or Pablo Ozuna.
* Nomar Garciaparra greatly overvalues speed. Just kidding, sort of. But in his one-day role as manager, he did let Juan Pierre lead off. Haven’t we learned how much that can kill an offense by now? On the other hand, he did let A.J. Ellis get his first career start and at-bat, which was nice.
*Very quietly, Hiroki Kuroda has been incredibly valuable. After he allowed just two hits over five scoreless innings today, that makes eleven straight starts in which he hasn’t allowed more than four earned runs. Over those eleven starts his ERA is just 2.58, and he’s LA’s third starter at best. How many teams would kill for a first starter with those numbers?
* Bill Plaschke hates sunshine and kittens. I’ve made a concious effort to not discuss offseason issues like Lowe’s free agency or going after CC Sabathia (who is an absolute beast, by the way) while this team is still in the hunt, and I intend to stick to that. There’s just something unseemly about coming out with negative articles about the future on the day a playoff team ends its regular season, isn’t it? But that’s Plaschke for you. In this article, he goes off about how the Dodgers shouldn’t invest a boatload of money into bringing Manny back, and while I may or may not agree with him, why is he coming out this with this kind of crap right now? Is he physically incapable of praising a team that’s just made the playoffs? Even though I could expend 2000 words on it, I’m not going to go through this entire thing, because I don’t want to sink to his level. That said, there’s one “point” he makes I simply cannot ignore.
Some members of the Dodgers, however, aren’t so sure.
They look at their record since acquiring Ramirez, 29-23, an average slate that proves one thing:
The guy is great, but the guy can’t pitch.
I’m not even sure I follow this point. Manny was acquired because the Dodgers had a lousy offense that wasn’t supporting their excellent pitching staff. Even when they went on that eight game losing streak, it wasn’t because the staff was falling apart - it was because the offense died. Remember back in June and July when all the Sabathia rumors were flying around and I was strongly against them because the Dodgers didn’t need more pitching, they needed an offensive force? That’s because the Dodgers have one of the best pitching staffs in all of baseball.
So why are you painting it as a bad thing that Manny’s a hitter and not a pitcher? Because let me tell you this in no uncertain terms: if the Dodgers had acquired Sabathia and not Manny, they’d have had one of the best pitching staffs ever – and they’d have missed the playoffs thanks to all the 1-0 and 2-1 games they’d have lost.
And again, the deal worked out great for this season. No one argues that, and I don’t neccessarily disagree that giving a huge amount of cash to late-30s Manny is a questionable decision. But on the verge of the playoffs, there’s plenty of time for that conversation another day.
Knock it off, Bill. I look forward to the Dodgers winning the World Series and your inevitably unreadable column full of one-paragraph-sentences saying, “yeah, but if they had done what I’d wanted, they’d have swept the series rather than won in six.”
* Fun Picture Update! At Joe Sports Fan via The Big Lead, have this fantastic picture from the celebration the other night that I hadn’t seen before. No, don’t look at Manny – check out the scoreboard in the distance behind him. Oops!
- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness