> APRIL 2005

April 30, 2005 - Dodgers 6, Rockies 2
Wilson returning, Dodgers rebounding?

Unless you're a Windex product tester trying to prove that the competing brand isn't as good, streakiness is not something you want. (Jesus, that's lame.) If you're a Dodger fan, though, streakiness is something you've got to learn to deal with. After tanking badly the past week, the Dodgers have now won two in a row, beating the Rockies on Friday, 6-3, and on Saturday, 6-2. They didn't exactly beat the hell out of Colorado, though, only knocking out a total of eleven hits in the two games. Ten walks contributed to the Dodger runs on Friday, and a big fifth inning error on Saturday opened the floodgates. Facing a team as crappy as the Rockies—a team with four rookies in the starting lineup—the Dodgers goddamn well better win. Saturday night, Brad Penny made his first appearance at Dodger Stadium since last August. He threw 95 pitches, gave up four singles and a walk, and didn't grab his arm in pain even once. Meanwhile, the clubhouse staff is busily at work reassembling Wilson Alvarez's trough in preparation for the big lefty's return. Alvarez figure to rejoin the team either Sunday or Monday, meaning three things: (1) someone will have to be sent down, (2) that someone figures to be Buddy Carlyle, and (3) we'll have more occasions for fat jokes.

April 27, 2005 - Diamondbacks 6, Dodgers 3
A one-eighty— in record time

It was Fleece Blanket Night at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday, so at least fans could keep warm while watching the Dodgers fall out of first place. Either that, or they could strangle themselves with the blanket. Before suffocating on the fleece, though, fans would learn that—according to design woven into the blanket—the Dodgers won world championships in 1962 and 1966. Glad to see that Frank McCourt and Friends are in touch with Dodger history. Don't be surprised by other upcoming promotions such as Bobby Thompson Pin Night, Jack Clark Bobblehead Day, and Beach Towel Day (commemorating the Dodgers' three consecutive world championships from 1992-1994). Aware of the blanket error, the Dodgers handed them out anyway along with a certificate for a blanket with the correct years. Who knows when fans will actually get those blankets, but one thing that's becoming increasingly obvious is that the 2005 Dodgers will never find themselves on one. The Dodgers have now lost six of seven since their 12-2 start, and now sit a half game behind the Diamondbacks. Christ that was quick. No Dodger team in recent memory has gone from excellence to feces-eating in a shorter period of time. On Wednesday, once again, you could thank a couple former Dodgers for the loss. Koyie Hill (who the Dodgers dealt for Steve Finley) scored the tying run in the 7th inning when Craig Counsell (who, as we all know, did nothing as a Dodger in '99) was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Earlier in the game Counsell caught a foul pop-up just before somersaulting over the wall into the box seats. Unfortunately, he didn't have to be carried off the field in a stretcher. In even sadder news, Paul Shuey has announced his retirement. Shuey, who missed the entire 2004 season with the Dodgers because of injuries, decided to call it quits after making an appearance for the Indians' Double-A team on Monday. So much for our dream of a Shuey/Schmoll duo.

April 26, 2005 - Diamondbacks 3, Dodgers 2
It's half empty

Less than a week ago, the Dodgers were five games in first place. Tonight, after losing 3-2, they lead the Diamondbacks by a half game. It's early in the season, but Tuesday's game was a big one. A win would have stretched their lead in the West to 2-1/2 games and given the Dodgers two wins in their last three games. A loss would have cut their lead to just a half game and made it five losses in their last six games. Thanks in large part to Shawn Green, a loss is what they got. Green homered, doubled, and made a diving catch (yes, a diving catch) in the 6th inning to keep his stupid snake logo-wearing team a run up on the Dodgers. After the game Green admitted that it's extra sweet to beat his old team. Too bad the prick didn't have any of that passion when he was wearing blue. Maybe if the Dodgers had played the Blue Jays more often, Green would have acted like he had a pulse and hit the ball out of the infield occasionally. No worries, though—it's not as if the Dodgers paid Green $61,728 to beat them on Tuesday. Oh, wait... yes it is. When Green threw his batting gloves in the stands after his home run, it would have been beautiful to see them get thrown back at his face. Why? Because he's a Diamondback. You want a pair of Craig Counsell's socks? Alex Cintron's belt? Quinton McCracken's sliding pants? Exactly. Unfortunately for the Dodgers, though, their problems extend far beyond Shawn Green. Once again, they fell behind early in the game (thanks to Scott Erickson hanging a 32-mph curveball), and failed to hit in sync all night long. In typical Dodger fashion, Hee Seop Choi had the first 4-hit game of his career, but came up empty with two guys on in the ninth inning. Dodger fans will soon learn that nothing good can come from a "HEE-SEOP-CHOI" chant... especially when it sounds more like "WE-STOP-BOYS."

April 24, 2005 - Dodgers 8, Rockies 6
Our two cents: Penny should have sat

The Dodgers snapped their losing streak on Sunday, coming back from a 5-3 deficit to beat the Rockies, 8-6. Milton Bradley went 4-for-5, Norihiro Nakamura and Jason Phillips had key late-inning doubles, and Yhency Brazoban notched his fifth save. The story, though, was the return of Brad Penny. Looking more and more like a buffalo, Penny made 87 pitches, giving up four runs in five innings—a successful outing for a guy who hasn't pitched in a major league game in seven months. But let's go back to last season for a minute.

After being acquired at the trading deadling in the Paul Lo Duca deal, Penny made an outstanding Dodger debut, giving up just two hits over eight innings. In his next start, he faced just three batters before leaving the game with a biceps injury. That was August 8th. The Dodgers shut him down for a couple weeks, but badly wanted him to return for the stretch run. On August 26th, Penny played catch for five minutes. He said he felt no pain, but did notice "a slight amount" of restriction in his arm movement and lingering numbness in the forearm. A few weeks later, the Dodgers took Penny off the DL and started him against the Padres. Three innings later, Penny was clutching his arm and screaming in pain. He was done. A "rare nerve injury", the doctors termed it. Even Dr. Frank Jobe, who's been in medicine since the early 1800's, was baffled. "Not only have I never seen something like this," Jobe said at the time, "but it is so rare that there isn't even any literature on it." Flash forward to spring training. Penny began to take baby steps, throwing off a mound for the first time in late February. With the Dodgers bringing him along slowly, he pitched to Dodger hitters (well, guys like Grabowski) for the first time on March 22nd. He then pitched in a couple simulated games, made a start for Single-A Vero Beach, and finally a start for Triple-A Las Vegas on April 18th.

After months of rehab, the Dodgers announced that Penny would start on Sunday against Colorado—that is, if the conditions were good. "If it's cold and the weather is bad, we won't start him," Jim Tracy said on Saturday. Well, at game time on Sunday, it was 46 degrees. (We're not meteorologists, but we're pretty sure that's cold.) By the fourth inning, it was raining. (Again, not meteorologists, but that's generally considered bad weather.) So what the hell happened to the Dodgers' decision that Penny wouldn't start under those conditions? "I've waited a long time and I wanted to pitch," Penny said. Well, terrific, gotta do whatever Brad says. The Dodgers wait seven months for Penny to pitch, and can't hold him back one more day? Truly stupid. "It was cold, it was hard to get loose," Penny said. Yeah, no shit—you had some freakish nerve injury and it's 46 freakin' degrees. Here's a question: Where the hell were the Dodger coaches when Penny was having trouble getting loose? Probably in the goddamn clubhouse in front of the heater. If you're a coach and you've got a pitcher (potentially your ace) making his first start in 7 months, wouldn't you want to play it safe? With all that he's been through, wouldn't you want to do anything and everything possible to reduce the chances of him re-injuring his arm? Just a thought. The fact that Penny survived doesn't make the decision right.

April 23, 2005 - Rockies 8, Dodgers 6
An L.A. shitwreck: sixteen stranded

Jose Valentin should consider himself lucky. Hit on the left hand by a pitch in the eighth inning Saturday, Valentin wasn't around to watch the Dodgers leave the bases loaded in the eighth and ninth. Just for kicks, they did it in the fifth inning, too. All told, the Dodgers stranded 16 runners—one short of the franchise record. With twelve hits, seven walks, and three guys hit by a pitch, the Dodgers had ample opportunity to overcome an early 7-0 deficit. Of course, they didn't have to be down by seven in the first place. Colorado or not, you don't leave a pitcher in the game to get hammered like Odalis Perez got hammered on Saturday... well, unless you're Jim Tracy. The couple of come-from-behind wins the Dodgers' notched earlier in April may have seemed great on the surface, but they obviously convinced Tracy that his guys were capable of doing it every night. Now, there's never a reason to panic. A reliever gives up a 3-run homer to the first guy he faces (Tuesday)? No worries, leave him out there to walk two guys, hit another with a pitch, and then serve up a bases-clearing double. A starting pitcher gives up 4 runs in the first couple innings (Friday)? No sweat, leave him out there to give up 4 more runs. A guy gets knocked around for 4 runs in the first inning (Saturday)? No big deal, just watch him give up three more runs in the second. It's not particularly difficult to manage a team that's leading by five, six, seven runs… which is what was happening the first couple weeks of the season. When your starting pitcher is going nine innings, it doesn't take a genius to run a team. It's when you're down by a few runs—as the Dodgers have been lately—that managing becomes a little tougher. And when the going gets tough, Tracy hasn't a clue. Granted, the Dodger bullpen was on the short side Saturday (with Elmer Dessens down and D.J. Houlton being held out to potentially start Sunday). Still, you can't just throw away games, regardless of how early in the season it may be. Of course, it wasn't Tracy's fault that the Dodgers left 16 guys on base. Obviously, it was Tim Wallach's fault.

April 22, 2005 - Rockies 9, Dodgers 1
Oh, how quickly things sour

When the Dodgers go bad, they sure don't waste any time. A minute ago they had the best record in baseball. Their pitching staff was unhittable. Their offense was unbelievable. And the excitement, for once, was tangible. Suddenly, though, they can't pitch, can't hit, and can't beat the goddamn Colorado Rockies (who entered Friday's game with the second worst record in baseball). With their 9-1 defeat Friday, the Dodgers have lost two in a row—the same number of losses they had in their first fourteen games. We won't say "I told you so," but we did. The last two days are why it was so difficult to actually enjoy the last two weeks. Sure, you might be lying on a white, sandy beach, soaking up the sun, but if you know there's a tsunami coming, how relaxed are you really going to be? Well, the tsunami has hit. The Dodgers have scored a total of two runs the last two nights, and have gone 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position. On Friday, the Dodgers left nine guys on base. Their pitching has been just as bad. A day after Scott Erickson got bombed by the Padres, it was Jeff Weaver's turn. Weaver, who is becomming quite consistent in his inconsistency, got torn apart for eight runs on thirteen hits. Not to worry, though—if the pattern holds, he'll pitch a no-hitter next Wednesday against Arizona. Of course, the Dodgers will be in third place by then... mainly because they've got a manager who leaves his pitcher in the game to give up thirteen hits.

April 21, 2005 - Padres 6, Dodgers 1
The implosion begins

Just when we'd commissioned a huge Ricky Ledee mural at the Dodger Blues penthouse offices overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the Dodgers fell to the Padres, 6-1. The party is over. The jig is up. Time has expired. The end has come. Sadly, the grim reaper has entered the Dodger dugout (although a few of the players mistook him for Otis Nixon). After winning eight games in a row and taking fans on an unexpected little journey to a place called Winsville (just south of Rancho Cucamonga), the Dodgers made very little noise against Adam Eaton and now drop to a depressing 12-3 on the season. Sure, they still have the best record in baseball, still have scored the most runs per game, still have a four game lead in the West... but what the F have they done for us lately? On Thursday, they did nothing. Drew, Kent, Bradley, and Valentin combined to go 1-for-13, and Scott Erickson looked every bit his age, getting knocked around for five runs. The second Dave Roberts singled to lead off the game for the Padres, you had to know where this one was headed. By the 9th inning, Jim Tracy was feeling the loss, and like a baby who doesn't get his bottle, had a temper tantrum on the field. Tracy eventually got the boot, and headed back to the clubhouse to figure out how to get Jason Grabowski more at-bats. Put on your face masks and watch for debris—the implosion has begun.

April 20, 2005 - Dodgers 3, Army 1
Camouflage that!

The sun rose. There was traffic on the 405 freeway. Michael Jackson touched a boy. And oh, yeah... the Dodgers won. What's new? Winning for the 12th time in 14 games on Wednesday night, the Dodgers have become very good at doing two things: (1) never giving up, and (2) badly, badly fooling fans into thinking that they're never going to lose again. We know that #2 is true because we're fooled. We admit it. We'd like to say something like, "They may be winning now, but you've got to prepare yourself for the day when they begin to tank," but right now we can't even bring ourselves to write it. While we know deep down that they're not this good, maybe good has nothing to do with it. After all, the 1988 Dodgers weren't good. For Christ's sake, their shortstop hit .199. The team sucked. But they won. Sure, it's a little early to compare the 2005 Dodgers with the 1988 Dodgers, but you can't exactly compare them to the 1927 Yankees either. The fact is, they're starting the season better than any team in L.A. Dodgers' history. And not only are they winning, but—dare we say—they're exciting to watch. Milton Bradley can smash a little blind girl over the head with a bat for all we care—as long as he keeps hitting the ball, taunting opposing fans, and prancing in the dugout like he's been doing lately, it's all good. Actually, Bradley's bunt attempt with the game tied in the 8th inning Wednesday was no less impressive than any of his recent home runs. Ah, Wednesday. The game didn't start off particularly well, with Norihiro Nakamura a little confused about what it takes to make an out, but things began to look up later in the game, as they seem to do this season. Derek Lowe didn't allow a run after the first, and the camouflaged Padres entered the eighth holding onto a 1-0 lead. J.D. Drew then gave Ryan Klesko a little lesson on how to hit the ball out of Petco, crushing his second homer of the season to left field. With the game still tied in the 10th, Jose Valentin came through again, tripling in two and giving the Dodgers the eventual 3-1 win. The Padres can wear all the camouflage they want, but there's no hiding the fact that they'll be out of contention by June... nor the fact that Dennys Reyes is still a big fatty.

April 19, 2005 - Dodgers 8, Brewers 6
Is it all just a dream?

Forgive us, but we're having the weirdest dream. We dreamt that the baseball season started and the Dodgers didn't have names on the back of their uniforms. That was bizarre, but as the dream went on, it got even weirder. After losing the first game of the season, the Dodgers started hitting. And not just getting a hit here and a hit there—they actually started hitting in sync. And hustling. It sounds far-fetched, we know, but the dream started to get really vivid. Number 3 was getting like two or three hits a game, and number 23 and 36 pitched complete game shutouts. Then, every time someone would hit a home run, number 21 copied him. Number 12 played flawless second base, and number 9 (who wasn't even in the dream a couple weeks ago) had three RBIs in a game. Even number 5 hit a home run. It was all so peculiar. Then the dream just got plain ridiculous. The Dodgers fell behind by 6 runs early in a game. They inched back, and by the ninth, they were only down by one. Number 33 led off with a single, and two outs later he was at second base. Up came number 3, who punched one to left. Number 33 rounded third and slid beautifully at the plate, and the game—once seemingly out-of-reach—was tied. An inning later, it was number 21 again, crushing one to center and giving the Dodgers a 2-run lead. As if it couldn't get any stranger, number 38 didn't come out of the bullpen to close the game—instead it was some dude who looked like Forrest Whitaker. But he did it. And the Dodgers won their seventh straight. And Jim Tracy didn't interview himself after the game. And it only costs $3 dollars to park at Dodger Stadium. And the new Pope bleeds blue. It's been an incredible dream. Please don't wake us.

April 18, 2005 - Dodgers 7, Brewers 3
Dodgers scared of hotel, but not Brewers

It's amazing the stories that fans get treated to when the Dodgers are winning. When there's no complaining to be had, no mistakes to dwell on, and no goat to be crucified, what do reporters do? Write about ghosts. The Dodgers, it seems, stay at a haunted hotel when they're in Milwaukee—the 112-year-old Pfister Hotel, to be precise. Legend has it—and how we've never heard about this is beyond us—that Adrian Beltre once claimed that a ghost tickled his toes while he was sleeping at the Pfister. (He calls it a ghost, we call it Andy Ashby, but whatever.) Eric Gagne calls the hotel "scary," but let's be serious—what ghost is going to fuck with Gagne? If anything is freaky, it's the way the Dodgers have been playing. The Dodgers flew into Milwuakee as the hottest team in baseball, and on Monday, the Brewers fanned the flames. Milwaukee failed to get a hit off Odalis Perez until the 7th inning, and by then the Dodgers had a 4-0 lead. Back-to-back homers are quickly becoming the norm, Jason Repko and Milton Bradley combining for Monday's pair. Bradley went yard again later in the game, giving him twelve RBIs for the season. With the win, the Dodgers have matched their best start since 1981, when half of the current Dodgers were still crapping in their diapers. Still, it's only 12 games—and they haven't exactly been facing the Tim Hudson's of the league. If the Dodgers went 10-2 in the middle of the season, nobody would be making a huge deal about it. But if you want to start nominating Jim Tracy for Manager of the Year, knock yourself out.

April 17, 2005 - Dodgers 6, Padres 0
Good deal: Dodgers sweep Padres

Like a janitor cleaning up after a meeting of obssesive compulsive housewives, it was an easy sweep for the Dodgers this weekend. Eighteen runs, six homers, two shutouts... and only about a dozen beachballs on the field. After a horrendous start a week ago, Jeff Weaver gave up just five hits on Sunday, shutting the Padres down for the second time in three games. Also for the second time in three games, Jeff Kent and Milton Bradley went back-to-back. Later in the game, Paul Bako and Cesar Izturis went back-to-back in the dugout... and it turns out Bako is taller. But back to Weaver, who struck out seven while walking only one. If his performance wasn't satisfying enough, Dodger fans could peek at the scoreboard and see that Kevin Brown, making his first start of the season, had been shelled by the Orioles. Brown, of course, was dealt for Weaver before the 2004 season and has been a bitter disappointment for the Yankees. On Sunday, that deal looked better than ever:

Weaver: 9 IP, 7 K, 0 ER
Brown: 6 IP, 3 K, 6 ER

Dan Evans, take a bow. (OK, that's long enough. Remember, you did trade for Daryle Ward.)

April 16, 2005 - Dodgers 8, Padres 3
It's all smiles for now

The Dodgers won for the 8th time in their first 10 games Saturday night, making this their best start since 1983—coincidentally the same year that Scott Erickson last pitched. Erickson pitched six innings Saturday, yielding just two hits to the Padres and working out of a couple jams. Jason Phillips didn't quite match David Ross's's's 2-homer performance of Friday, but he did go 3-for-4 with two RBIs. J.D. Drew knocked in his first run as a Dodger, Ricky Ledee hit his first home run, and Norihiro Nakamura made his first error. A lot of firsts lately, which makes sense considering that half the team is new. What doesn't make sense is how the Dodgers have the best record in baseball. You definitely can't judge a team after 10 games, and we can safely say that the Dodgers are not actually this good... but are they not as bad as we thought? After all, they're doing all this without half their pitching staff, without a regular first baseman, and without much help from the $55 million dollar man (who's batting .135... although Paul DePodesta would certainly point out that he's walked eight times). The Dodgers' real test, of course, will come when they start playing teams outside the division—teams with pitching. Nonetheless, what can you do but get excited, right? If only we knew who the hell these guys were.

April 15, 2005 - Brooklyn 4, Padres 0
The real throwback: a complete game

In honor of Jackie Robinson's first game in the major leagues (58 years ago), the Dodgers wore throwback Brooklyn jerseys and caps on Friday night. While the uniforms evoked memories of Dodger teams of the 50's (at least for those whose memories stretch back before the days of Jeff Treadway), it was Derke Lowe's pitching performance that was the real throwback. Lowe—coming off an injury-shortened start on Sunday—pitched the second shutout of his career, silencing the Padres on just three hits. Complete games have essentially become a thing of the past, and seeing one these days is as rare as a J.D. Drew RBI (of which the $55 million outfielder has none). Lowe also knocked in half the Dodgers runs—the others coming on back-to-back shots by Jeff Kent and Milton Bradley. Even more impressive than Bradley's homer to dead center, though, was his all-out hustle after grounding to third in the eighth inning. A guy shouldn't have to be commended for playing hard, but it's still nice to see—especially when his team is up by 4 runs late in the game. (Truth be told, Milton still scares us, so we have to say positive things about him occasionally.) Of course there's no shortage of praise when it comes to Jackie Robinson. For us, though, one thing stands out. Sure, he broke the color barrier, but as a Dodger fan you've got to love him for another reason: he retired from baseball rather than accept a trade to the Giants.

April 13, 2005 - Dodgers 4, Giants 1
Hee finally hits one out

It took him 36 games, but Hee (Seop Choi) finally did it on Wednesday, hitting his first home run as a Dodger... though it was about as convincing as a blind guy's description of a college orgy. Choi found the shortest park of the park and one of the shortest walls in baseball—and cleared the fence by about half an inch. If a few people in the right field corner had exhaled, the ball would have fallen short. Nonetheless, his streak of futility is over. Well, we won't go that far, but at least he's got more home runs than Steve Schmoll. Choi's shot was followed two batters later by Jeff Kent's second home run of the year, and the Dodgers went on to beat San Francisco 4-1, completing a 2-game sweep of the black and orange. Odalis Perez threw six strong innings, and four Dodger relievers kept the Giants quiet for the final few innings. Even Gabor II Paul Bako got into the act, doubling in a run in the fourth inning. The Dodgers are off on Thursday, and then open a 3-game series against San Diego. Derek Lowe, who starts for the Dodgers on Friday, figures to spend the off day watching the Yankees/Red Sox game and searching for his Dodger jersey, which he could have sworn was somewhere in his trunk.

April 12, 2005 - Dodgers 9, Giants 8
For an opening act, it's a Giant bomb

Generally, you'd feel for a guy like Jason Ellison. A young outfielder, charging a ball in left field, hoping to cut down the tying run at the plate with two outs in the 9th inning... only the ball gets by him and rolls to the wall. As he chases it down, three runs score. His team, once up by five runs, loses the game to its bitter rival. You'd feel bad for a guy like that... if he wasn't wearing a Giants uniform. But he was wearing a Giants uniform... which makes his heartbreak a little less tear-jerking and a little more... oh, say, orgasmic. Opening Day wins are, without a doubt, great. Opening Day wins against the Giants are better. Opening Day wins against the Giants after being down by three runs in the 9th inning against their prized closer are to be cherished like a weekend in Hawaii with Jessica Alba and a wireless internet connection. It was the third late-inning come-from-behind win of the year for the Dodgers—who somehow lead the major leagues in runs per game. Obviously aided by shoddy San Francisco defense, the Dodgers overcame Jeff Weaver's ineffectiveness, Jim Tracy's cluelessness, and seemingly a dozen blown opportunities. Weaver gave up five runs in the first inning, and probably should have been gone in the second after he gave up his eighth hit of the game. Tracy, however, must have been mesmerized by the Dodgers' brand new dugout, and he left Weaver in for two more innings. Only after Weaver gave up his third consecutive hit in the fourth (a 3-run homer to Pedro Feliz), did Tracy wake up and pull him from the game. Just like last year, the Dodgers won on Tuesday despite Jim Tracy, not because of him. As a manager, you've got to know when a pitcher doesn't have it. Somehow, however, Tracy was the last one in the ballpark to figure it out. Sure, the bullpen was used for 6 innings on Sunday, but they all had a day off on Monday... and, um, it's their friggin' job. Speaking of jobs, Jayson Werth may be out of one when (and if) he returns from the DL. His y-less teammate Jason Repko continued to impress on Tuesday, hitting his second home run of the year and making a couple nice plays in left. Well, Repko may have impressed some people, but not Jeff Weaver, who reacted to the kid's home run by sitting in the dugout and picking his nose. (Yes, Jeff, the cameras are watching you... although they didn't happen to catch you washing your hands.)

April 10, 2005 - Diamondbacks 5, Dodgers 4
Dodgers can't withstand Counsell's Lowe blow

Let's get one thing straight: we've always hated Craig Counsell. That rat-faced little punk used to burn the Dodgers, and then of course played like crap when he was in blue for half a season. On Sunday, the scrawny spaz boy was at it again, this time lining a ball off Derek Lowe's elbow in the 5th inning. Lowe stumbled over to the foul line before collapsing in pain—suddenly realizing that he might not be able to make his planned trip to Boston to pick up his precious World Series ring. Frankly, Jose Valentin should have caught the deflection and doubled up Quinton McCracken at second, but maybe he was distracted by his pitcher getting smoked in the arm. While Lowe's elbow turned out only to be bruised, we'd still like to put a piece of cheese on a rat trap in the Arizona clubhouse and watch a metal bar snap across Counsell's neck. Wouldn't be a tragedy if a couple of the Dodger relievers also happened to get caught in the trap. Kelly Wunsch gave up a home run to Shawn Green and Duaner Sanchez gave up the eventual game-winner in the 8th after Jason Repko's first major league home run tied the game at four. The Dodgers, of course, blew a huge scoring chance in the 6th after Jason Phillips' bases-loaded walk with nobody out brought up Hee Seop Choi and Milton Bradley. Choi hit a weak little pop-up to short and Bradley (who apparently didn't start the game because he was tired from having to use his legs on Saturday) grounded into an inning-ending double play. The good news is that J.D. got a couple hits and won't set the major league record by going 0-for-545.

April 9, 2005 - Dodgers 12, Diamondbacks 10
Dodgers hot in AZ, but Drew still cold

By the time Steve Schmoll had notched his first spastic save on Saturday night, the game was four hours long. Scott Erickson had allowed four home runs. Jeff Kent had knocked in five runs. Yhency Brazoban had blown his first save (but then got his shit together the next inning and struck out Troy Glaus and Shawn Green with the bases loaded). Milton Bradley had made a game-saving catch (and then ran off the field like someone had freed mice in his pants). Giovanni Carrara had given up 2 earned runs in just a third of an inning (raising his ERA to a healthy 40.50). The Diamondbacks had knocked out 18 hits (only to lose). And J.D. Drew had, well, gone 0-for-5 (extending his hitless streak to 22 at-bats). The last time a Dodger started a season with more hitless at-bats was in 1991 when Jose Gonzalez went 0-for-28 and was then traded to Pittsburgh for Mitch Webster. Drew should take little solace in the fact that Webster retired ten years ago—the Dodgers could easily deal him to Pittsburgh for David Ross. Nonetheless, the Dodgers have shown surprising late-inning life the last couple days. Friday, it was Jose Valentin's 9th inning pinch-hit home run that sealed the deal for the Dodgers. Saturday, it was just plain craziness. Nothing like a couple of unlikely comebacks to bring a team together... or to fool fans into a false sense of hope.

April 7, 2005 - Dodgers 6, Giants 0
Jos-E can walk, too

The Dodgers shut out the Giants on Thursday night, 6-0, but more importantly, the streak is still alive. Jose Valentin made an errant throw in the ninth inning, keeping him on pace for a major league record 162 errors—which would just break Cleveland Indians' shortstop John Gochnaur's record of 95, set in 1903. (Coincidentally, Paul DePodesta made Gochnaur an offer just before picking up Valentin.) Thursday's error, of course, meant little, and Valentin reached base four times just by standing there with the bat on his shoulder. Jeff Weaver pitched a great eight innings, and Jeff Kent knocked out three hits amid the chorus of boos from his adoring fans in San Francisco. It was a cool and breezy night in San Francisco, made far more windy by the Hee Seop Choi's flailing bat. Choi struck out three more times Thursday, meaning he's stuck out 24 times in just 7 at-bats this season. After batting second on Opening Day, Choi was dropped six spots in the batting order, hitting eighth against Brett Tomko. The Dodgers might have to find a way to lengthen their lineup just to have some place to keep dropping Choi.

April 6, 2005 - Dodgers 10, Giants 4
Gagne ejected, Dodgers resurrected

Well, Jose Valentin made another error on Wednesday, putting him on pace for 162 this season. Yeah, fine, he also hit a 3-run homer, tripled in a run, and singled. While it was a big win for the Dodgers (coming on the heels of their little Opening Day collapse), it's sure as hell wasn't free of embarrassment. Cesar Izturis missed third base in the sixth inning (depriving Jason Repko of his first major league RBI), Jason Grabowski lost his glove over the left field wall in a spastic attempt to jump for a home run ball (looking like a little girl who just lost her kitty), and Yhency Brazoban got hammered in the 9th inning (inspiring tons of confidence in his closing skills). The highlight of the game, of course, came in the fifth inning when Eric Gagne—on the 15-day DL—was ejected by home plate umpire Bill Hohn for heckling him from the dugout. After Odalis Perez's low pitch to Deivi Cruz was called a ball, Hohn pointed at the dugout and booted Gagne. Thrilled to be able to relax in the clubhouse for the final 4 innings, Gagne left the dugout with a big smile on his face. It was a beautiful move, actually. He shows that he's got his teammate's back, he lets out some agression, and he gets a laugh out of it. Pure entertainment. Let's hope it's a daily occurrence while he's on the DL... with a little variety, of course. Thursday he can toss a puck at a Giants' fan, Friday he can toss a puck at a Diamondbacks' fan, and Saturday he can he can run over Shawn Green with a pickup truck.

April 5, 2005 - Giants 4, Dodgers 2
Shocking, just shocking

The fact that Cesar Izturis began the season on Tuesday with a leadoff home run was shocking. The fact that the Dodgers struck out 11 times and made two costly errors wasn't quite so shocking. Nor was it a surprise that the first error—which came with two on and two out in the seventh inning—was committed by Jose Valentin. Adrian Beltre, God rest his soul, would have easily made the play. Hell, the Pope could have made the play. (Yeah, sure, God rest his soul, too.) An inning later, Giovanni Carrara (looking fit as ever) lumbered off the mound to pick up a bunt and proceeded to throw it down the right field line. Probably didn't help that Jeff Kent, suddenly playing first base, didn't know whether to charge the bunt or run in the dugout and cry. We all got a taste of this in spring training, and obviously hoped that the guys would step it up come the regular season, but so much for that. On a positive note, Hee Seop Choi struck out only twice.

April 4, 2005
Well, Steve Schmoll's mom is ready

Aaaaah, opening day. Normally, that aaaaah is one of relief and joy (as in, "Aaaaaah, I can't believe the season is finally here... I'm so happy). Today, though, the aaaaah is one of dread and despair (as in, "AAAAAAAH, I can't believe the season is here... and the Dodgers still don't have a catcher who can hit over .230"). Just for the record, they also don't have a first baseman who can make contact, a third baseman who can field, or a radio announcer who doesn't drive listeners to drink. Gasoline. A little early to be this pessimistic? Well, the early bird gets the worm. And as Richard Feynman once said, "You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you're finished, you'll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird... So let's look at the bird and see what it's doing -- that's what counts." Who the fuck knows what that means, but the point is this: you can never prepare too early for disappointment and failure... especially if you're a Dodger fan (or if you're building a Mars rover). The fact is, despite our generally shitty attitude, we're usually excited about Opening Day. Somewhere in the disaster that is the Dodger roster, there's usually a glimmer of hope. Usually a ray of light. Usually a player's name you recognize. While we'd love to get behind Paul DePodesta, it's a little tough considering that Steve Schmoll made the team after pitching four innings in spring training. Things might not be as bad as they seem, but then again, they could very well be worse. The Dodgers are counting on Brad Penny to be healthy by the end of the month (which is like counting on your 3-year-old amputee daughter to dial 9-1-1 after you slip on the kitchen floor and smash your head on the 12-pack of Coors you just stole from 7-Eleven), they're counting on Jayson Werth's arm to heal (which is like counting on that same daughter not to drink the beer after you smash it open), and they're counting on Eric Gagne to rebound from injury to become the awesome slob he's been the past three seasons (which is like counting on the police to not discover that you're keeping your daughter's severed arm in the freezer underneath a box of 4-year-old popsicles). If you're naive enough to count on all of that happening, more power to you. But if you really must get excited about Opening Day, go ahead, but at least keep your Paul Bako autographed David Ross card to yourself.

April 3, 2005
It's LAA LAA land indeed

It all began a few years ago when the Dodgers opened the door and let Mike Scioscia walk away. The Angels quickly sntached him up and gave him the job that Fox wouldn't: manager. Soon, a bunch of Dodgers were coaching with the Angels. Mickey Hatcher, Alfredo Griffin, Ron Roenicke. Fast forward a few years. Arte Moreno decides that his Angels don't actually play in Orange County and names them the Los Angeles Angels. Soon after, they sign Steve Finley away from the Dodgers, stealing the man who clinched the Dodgers' first playoff appearance in eight years. Then they make a trade with Washington to get an Izturis of their own. Moreno then goes for the throat, putting up billboards throughout L.A. dubbing it as the City of Angels. For the last month, Dodger fans have had to adjust to the sight of LAA on scoreboards and web sites. This weekend, the assault continued—this time on the field. If the Freeway Series was a round in the Battle for L.A., someone forgot to tell the Dodgers that the bell was rung. So they got their bell rung. For the second time in three years, the Dodgers were swept. Does it say anything about the Dodger team? Probably. Is it embarrassing? Yeah. Have we been infected with the Jim Tracy Interview Syndrome? Apparently. The Dodgers end Spring Training with a record of 13-15, which wouldn't be a big deal if the team looked good on paper. But they look like shit on paper. Even without their recent injuries, they've got more holes than a dart board. First base... third base... catcher. It's not good. It's not good at all. The biggest problem might be their infield defense, which has taken a considerable hit since last season. That fact became painfully obvious this weekend when the Dodgers made seven errors. Unless they plan on scoring a ton (which, even they'll admit, they don't), they'd best learn to catch and throw. Either that, or they can watch the city slowly ripped out from under their little blue shoes. LAA, LAA, LAughable.

April 1, 2005
It's no joke

It wasn't an April Fool's joke, so consider it a glimpse of what's to come. The Dodgers blew a 2-run lead in the seventh inning Friday night, handing the Anaheim Angels seven runs en route to an 8-3 Anaheim Angels victory. Paul Bako (whose only asset, as we all know, is his defense) made two errors in the inning, and Norihiro Nakamura added one to show that he belongs on the team. Just as well, though, because the Dodgers don't have a closer anymore. Eric Gagne, who spent most of the spring nursing a bad knee, has been put on the DL with a sprained ligament in his elbow. While the Dodgers may downplay the effect his knee injury might have had on his pitching mechanics, it's a pretty good bet that the arm injury is related. Would have been nice if they figured all this out a week ago, but April 1st is better than May 1st... or May 2nd, but that just goes without saying. The loss of Gagne means the addition of yet another unknown minor leaguer to the Dodgers bullpen. Kelly Wunsch and D.J. Houlton already figured to make the club, and with Gagne down, there's a spot for Ryan Rupe (oh joy), Buddy Carlyle (oh great), or Steve Schmoll (oh jesus). If not for the lack of strippers and slot machines, the Dodger bullpen would look remarkably like Las Vegas. Off the field, the news isn't much better. The Dodgers announced a front office restructuring on Friday, necessitated by the firing of chief marketing officer Lon Rosen (who joined the organization only 8 months ago) and vice president of communications Gary Miereanu (who's also been with the team less than a year). Must be a friggin' joy to work for the McCourts, who obviously prefer to blame the organization's communication problems on their employees rather than taking any responsibility themselves (although Rosen did seem like a real asshole). Frank McCourt cites phone calls not being returned as an example of these communication problems. But wasn't it Jamie McCourt who didn't return T.J. Simers phone call for three months? Well, now there'll be another McCourt ignoring phone calls. As part of the restructuring, Frank and Jamie's 23-year-old son Drew becomes director of marketing. His marketing qualifications? Well, rumor has it he's spent extensive time in Ralphs and Vons.