Today had the potential to be one of the darkest days in Dodger history, and in many ways, I suppose it was. As if shipping off the man who sits atop the club’s all-time leader boards in several important offensive categories for next to nothing wasn’t enough, we had to deal with the start of the embarrassing divorce case between two millionaires equally unworthy of owning the club. (Seriously, if you care about the case, you should be following Molly Knight and Josh “Dodger Divorce” Fisher, who have been killing it from within the courtroom).
With those kind of sideshows going on simultaneously, and with the tacit admission that the Manny trade meant that the 2010 season was all but over, you could be forgiven for forgetting that there was even a game tonight. Hiroki Kuroda didn’t forget, though, taking a no-hitter into the 8th – the 7th time in his short Dodger career that he’s gone at least five innings and allowed two hits or fewer.
Kuroda’s always seemed a bit underappreciated, largely because he quietly goes about his job and often comes up with little to show for it. Even in those six previous starts allowing two hits or less, he came away with the win only twice. As Dave of Big League Stew noted as the game headed into the late innings, Kuroda’s win/loss record is a complete joke:
Kuroda’s a fine example of a pitcher’s W-L record not meaning bupkus. 26-28 my tuchas.
After everything that happened today, would anyone have been surprised if Roy Halladay had come out and just destroyed this team? Of course not. Kuroda deserves our thanks, not just for tonight’s performance, but for reminding us that no matter how ridiculous things get outside the lines, it’s always worth watching what happens on the field.
Hey, the night belonged to Kuroda, but seeing Rod Barajas, SoCal native and longtime Dodger fan, hit a homer in his first home game with the Blue was pretty nice too. I’m starting to get a little worried that his hot start is going to fool fans into thinking that he’s, you know, good at baseball, because 34-year-olds with career OBP’s of .283 who just got let go by the Mets don’t generally all of a sudden figure it out. There’s really no scenario in which I’m okay with him as the starter next year, but I’m warming to the idea of bringing him back on the cheap to share time with Russell Martin, assuming Martin returns.
Really, half the reason I brought up Barajas was to post this picture:
Barajas over Halladay? You’re goddamn right. And that’s even his ball in the top there!
Oh look, the obligatory “Bill Plaschke bashes Manny” story. It’s so predictably wrong that I really could write an entire piece on it, but I can’t allow myself to devote another entire post to this “journalist”, so I’ll just hit the high points.
But, with the exception of an occasional lucky moment when a fat pitch hit his slow bat, he departed the Dodgers the moment he was busted for being a performance-enhancing drug cheat.
Imagine if he didn’t have a “slow bat”? I’m sure he’d have done much better than 13th in MLB in OPS, or the 21st best season of all time by a 38-year-old. Nah, I’m sure that was all “luck”.
Three years ago, he bailed on the Boston Red Sox in his final plate appearance there by refusing to lift the bat off his shoulder on a three-pitch strikeout. On Sunday, he topped that bit of despicable behavior by being ejected from his final Dodgers game for arguing the first pitch of a pinch-hit appearance. Really, Manny? The first pitch? Couldn’t you have given the Dodgers at least two more?
Except.. that the pitch was basically in the opposite batter’s box, and just about everyone agreed on that. Joe Torre, with absolutely zero reason to defend Manny and every reason to hang him out to dry, backed him up after the game and criticized the umpire. I mean, even LA Dodger Talk – who I usually wouldn’t agree with if they claimed the sky was blue and that Sandy Koufax was a Dodger – was on the same page on this one. Of course, Bill’s never been one to let “facts” get in the way of a good story.
For all the wigs and wackiness and Mannywood mania, you know what Ramirez actually gave the Dodgers?
Ten weeks. Ten good weeks.
Well, ten historically excellent weeks. And then about five more great ones before he was suspended. And two great ones after his return, before getting hit by a pitch. Some pretty good, if not great, weeks to end 2009, and a blazing start to 2010 before getting hurt again. So there’s that.
You say he led the Dodgers back to the NLCS the following year? I say, and the Dodgers agreed, that they would have reached it without him. Weren’t they in first place when he came back from his 50-game suspension?
Wait, so all the games that they won with him – you know, the ones that had them 6.5 games up when he was suspended – they don’t count anymore? Because, I feel like they did.
I would love to cheer Ramirez from life’s dugout as he fights off collapse in the final inning of his storied career. But I’m taking a shower.
Oh, ha, I see what he did there. He’s referencing a manufactured “controversy” that he started, that few people cared about at the time, and which no one remembers now. Well done, Bill.
Now that I’ve wasted too much time on that has-been, be sure to check out someone who actually knows what they’re talking about, Chad from Memories of Kevin Malone. His piece today on what’s ailing Matt Kemp is a must-read, particularly for the breakdown (with video!) of his mechanics:
Striding forward on a consistent plane allows the hitter to keep his weight back, keep his hips closed, and keep his timing regular. The actual end alignment of the feet doesn’t really matter that much, but the important thing to note is what happens when Kemp’s hips begin to drift away from the ball as he tries to start his swing.
When he prematurely releases his hips through his stride action, his bat dips further under the contact zone than intended, in order to compensate for left side pulling away, and the bat head will be slower to get to the launch position because the core is the primary mover in bat speed. So by Kemp not having his stride in gear, instead of keeping his weight back, power stored, and remaining on time, he’s off-balance, drained of bat speed, and late on pitches.
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the entire thing.