Please don’t mistake yesterday’s failpost as a commentary on the entire season. It was really just the same gut reaction to seeing your team get unceremoniously bounced out of the playoffs that I imagine nearly all of you had. 2008 was clearly not a failure, but rather an unbelievably entertaining – and successful – season. (Caution: may contain writing from the heart with few statistics or sarcastic commentary. Proceed at own risk. And yeah, I used the Nomar picture again. I love that shot more than life itself, and who knows if I’ll get the chance again.)
How could you have predicted anything that happened this year? Remember, in March we were all looking forward to Andruw Jones becoming a big hitter in the lineup, seeing whether Nomar or Andy LaRoche would win the third base job, hoping Brad Penny would take the next step to become a full-fledged ace starter, hoping that Andre Ethier would ever get any playing time over Juan Pierre, laughing as to why in the hell Chan Ho Park even rated a spring training invite, wondering if Hong-Chih Kuo would even be able to comb his hair with his left arm – and for 90% of Dodger fans, never having even heard the names Blake DeWitt, Cory Wade & James McDonald. The biggest bet wasn’t “odds the Dodgers make the playoffs”, but “odds that Ned Colletti gets fired by the All-Star break”.
Who could have seen Nomar and LaRoche getting hurt in the same spring game? Is it more surprising that DeWitt was the Opening Day 3B or that he was the starting 2B in the NLCS? Are you more amazed that Andruw Jones had quite possibly the worst season in baseball history (even those against ardently his signing never saw this coming, don’t lie) or that Joe Torre would actually bench Pierre? That the shortstop who would get the most at-bats this season would not be Rafael Furcal or Chin-Lung Hu, but Royals bust Angel Berroa? That Russell Martin would make only four fewer starts at third base than LaRoche? That Kuo would become one of the most dominating relievers in the entire sport, and that Wade would become a huge part of the bullpen? Every team has injuries, but how many teams can claim to be in first place in September despite having their Opening Day starting pitcher, ace closer, shortstop, second baseman, third baseman, and center fielder either on the DL or in the minors?
And my god, Manny. Where do you even start with Manny? Regardless of whether he stays or goes, and regardless of the awful things that may have led to his departure from Boston, the kind of impact that man had on this team and this town for the 2.5 months he was here will likely never be seen by any of us again.
No matter how you feel about 2008 and how it transpired, we learned a lot this year and there’s a lot to look forward to next year. Young players like Chad Billingsley (playoff debacle aside), Clayton Kershaw, Ethier, Wade, McDonald and DeWitt really showed that they’ve got what it takes to be a part of this team’s future. On the other hand, and while I’m certainly not counting them out, Matt Kemp, James Loney, and Martin all arguably took a step back, and veterans like Jones, Pierre, and Penny are huge question marks moving forward.
Don’t go too far away, though, because this is going to be a particularly crazy offseason, especially since the Dodgers took us over two weeks further into it than we’re used to. Obviously the Manny saga is going to be issue #1 (Plaschke says “no way“, Simers says “you’d be crazy not to“, I tend to *shudder* side with Simers), but there’s plenty behind him. Three-quarters of the infield are big question marks right now, as are two-fifths of the rotation, and the yearly “how’s the outfield going to shake out?” question. We know that Colletti’s coming back, which is no surprise (Kensai lives for another year!), but Kim Ng might not return since she’s made it into the final three for the Seattle job. There’s also rumors that Larry Bowa might return to the Yankees, which I would count as a big loss.
As for us here at MSTI? Oh, we’ll be here. There’s too much going on to go anywhere else. We might take it a little easy this weekend, but on Monday we’re unveiling the 2009 MSTI Plan, which I hope you’ll find interesting, followed by the 2008 in review series similar to how we did it last year.
Finally, cliche as this might be, a big thanks to everyone’s who’s read and linked here over the past year. 2008 was our first full season doing this, and I think it was really successful – not only did we enjoy doing it, but the readership numbers skyrocketed over the course of the season, especially lately.
One more thing… Deadspin has a Dodgers blog round-up today, and the header is “What they’re saying out in the ether about the Phillies’ 5-1 win over the Dodgers in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series …” DodgerThoughts and Sons of Steve Garvey are each represented, along with us. Hooray! Except… why in the hell did they choose to link to my silly picture about Todd Hollandsworth from four months ago, rather than anything relating to the NLCS?
- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness