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How Can You Watch the Dodgers: Open Chat
2005-07-19 09:05
by Scott Long

Direct TV just had their post-All-star game free preview the past week, so I got a chance to watch some teams I generally don't see much of. Since I was unfortunate enough to choose the Dodgers to win the NL West, I tried to focus on them, to see what has happened. Of course, being a regular of reader of Under the Knife (written by the imcomparable Will Carroll) I'm aware that the Dodgers have suffered so many injuries you would think the players worked at a meat packing plant, but even keeping this in mind, the Dodger's dullness is stultifying.

Actually, take away Gagne and the 2004 version of Beltre and the Dodgers have been this boring for the past 5 years. Outside of Jeff Kent, the starting lineup is filled with players that even Matthew Lesko couldn't get excited about. I'm shocked that Vin Scully doesn't nod off, ala Jack Brickhouse, when calling the game. So here is my question to Dodger fans. How is it that you can keep your passion for this team? Please explain, because the Los Angeles Dodgers of Los Angeles are about as exciting as the NBA regular season.

2005-07-19 10:28:19
1.   Vishal

well, to be perfectly honest, i DID sort of give up following the dodgers for a period of time. pretty much from 1999-2002, which, not just coincidentally covers most of the Fox era. it was also, conveniently enough, the time when i went away to college too, so it was a little easier to not think about the mediocrity at chavez ravine.

however, i've gotta say that the last 3 seasons(2003-2005) have had their highlights, even though the team hasn't done all that much. '03 was the year the dodgers had one of the best pitching staffs they've had, and even with no offense, that was enough to suck me in. it was especially nice to see the re-emergence of hideo nomo, and the whole staff was nails. meanwhile, eric gagne was winning the cy young and putting together a ridiculous save streak.

the restructuring of the last couple of years under mccourt and depodesta has been really interesting to discuss and follow, and last year's team was pretty exciting. sure, it was largely due to beltre and gagne, but why take them away? especially since we had waited so long for beltre to come around. there was also The Trade with florida/arizona, and we won the division in extremely dramatic fashion against the hated giants. jose lima was also a great story(his shutout of the cardinals in the playoffs is probably the best game i've ever been to), and we had one of the slickest infields i've ever seen with beltre, izturis, and cora. i for one also enjoyed the antics of milton bradley, and the emergence out of nowhere of jayson werth. the offseason was pretty exciting too, and i think a lot of us entered this season with high hopes that we would at LEAST take the division again this year. and we still seem poised, if we can stay healthy, with our farm system and expected budget(and if depodesta knows what he's doing- the jury's still out) to be one of the best teams in the national league for years to come. so i think a lot of us are hopeful long-term, even though this season is a bit of a wash. watching all the terrible AAAA players on the team this year has certainly been stultifying, but what can ya do. wait till next year, as we say :)

also, i think jon's blog has been a big part of why many of us are still sticking around and thinking about the team even while they're playing so badly. we've got a good community to commiserate with, and jon's writing provides the firmament, as it were.

2005-07-19 10:30:48
2.   Another Tom
Because it's the team most of us grew up with. And besides, what else are we going to do until 'SC football starts?
2005-07-19 11:02:42
3.   Adam
It's not worse than watching any of the other bad teams in baseball. At least we're better than the D-rays, right?

And, we have Vin Scully...he alone makes it better to watch Dodgers games than those two homers who do the white sox broadcasts.

2005-07-19 11:07:15
4.   Scott Long
Vishal, Thanks for your post, it was illuminating.

Re-reading my post I realize that it could be misconstrued that I'm slamming Dodger fans. If that was your inference, I'm sorry, it wasn't the intent. The point was that the Dodgers have played a very bland type of baseball for quite a while now and wanted to know what keeps you drawn in, besides your love of the game. It's too bad about Milton Bradley and Jose Valentin's injuries, because as flawed as they are as overall players, they are exciting guys to watch.

2005-07-19 11:16:03
5.   Scott Long
Adam, this wasn't a my dad is better than your dad argument. Without getting into the whole broadcasting issue, the current Dodgers lineup could have Jon Stewart in the booth and they wouldn't be entertaining. I liked most of the additions that Podesta has made, but obviously the injury bug (curse in regards to Drew) have left the team as Vishal mentioned with a bunch of 4A players.

It is true that the NL West is dismal, but I would rather catch the D-backs and definitely the Padres, as they have some players who are fun to watch. Winning is obviously the most important key in enjoying your team, but considering the Dodgers play in the entertainment capital of the world, how about just a little "showtime".

2005-07-19 11:27:58
6.   Adam
Well...I was just trying to maintain the tone of the original post. In any event, the Dodgers have been this way as long as I can remember. They've generally been built around pitching, and a ballpark that is considered pitcher friendly. That tends not to lead to most exciting brand of baseball. We all thought that was going to change this year with additions that Depodesta made, but injuries have ruined that. The problem isn't just that dodgers are now playing unrecognizable names...that would be ok if these guys were real prospects and we were getting a look at the future. But, that's not the case.

Having said that, it's been fun to watch some of the young players, such as Robles, Perez and Repko. Every time a ball is hit, it's a new adventure. You never know what Perez and Robles are going to do, and you never what kind of amazing catch Repko is going to make.

But, I think it mostly boils down to winning. I don't know who you think is exciting on the D-backs other than Troy Glaus, but they are doing slightly better, so...

2005-07-19 11:36:18
7.   Bob Timmermann
The Dodgers have made the pretense of being in contention during all the time that Jim Tracy has managed the team. That's been enough. This year is just a stinker. I don't think it will be 1992 bad, but it will be reminscent of 1979 or 1987.
2005-07-19 12:05:53
8.   chris in illinois

For my two cents, I know Jayson Werth and he's a pretty good kid (played with my brother for a long time---odd stat, Jayson holds the Illinois H.S. record for steals in a season, something like 64) I kind of root for him. His Grandfather, Dick Schofield Sr. is a huge asshole, so it's a minor miracle that Jayson isn't a complete dick---to his credit, he's not. I'd just like to see him healthy for one calendar year.

2005-07-19 12:28:28
9.   Bob Timmermann
I'm glad Jayson Werth is a nice guy because he is having one awful season. I was thinking his slow start was because of his early injury, but he should have been able to get back in the flow by now.

He just seems to be getting blown away by fastballs now.

There are a lot of Jasons on the Dodgers, but finally one of them (Grabowski) got sent to the minors. That just leaves Werth (with a Y however), Phillips, and Repko.

2005-07-19 12:46:23
10.   Steve
What makes for "exciting" baseball? Probably all the stuff I hate.
2005-07-19 12:50:30
11.   Bob Timmermann
I think now, people enjoy teams that score a lot in the late innings and have seesaw games. The Dodgers had a tendency to come from behind last year and win late.

Now if the team is down late, it's pretty much a done deal.

2005-07-19 12:56:14
12.   scareduck
My reaction:

2005-07-19 13:18:57
13.   Another Tom
By the way, the Quad A tag was nice for a bunch of the players. I know a lot of guys who read this know, but in a game against Colorado (which the Dodgers won), the entire starting 8 consisted of guys making either the minimum or no higher than $350k. The entire lineup.

The games are horribly boring, but Dodger games have been for the past 5 years at least. The Gagne loss is more significant than just the obvious. The energy he brought to the team and to the stadium in the 9th was unbelievable.

The better question is Now what? A new manager? A big roster turnover? Yes, yes. But what about the minor league stars that are in the Dodger system? Will they pan out better than the past 5 years - that's the question.

2005-07-19 14:33:47
14.   Steve
Who do the D-Backs have that is fun to watch? Quinton McCracken? Chad Tracy? Javier Lopez? Mike Koplove? I don't get this.
2005-07-19 14:46:12
15.   Jay Jaffe

To judge the Dodgers at this state given the injuries they've suffered is grossly unfair, as this wasn't the team DePodesta and company had in mind. In the first month of the season, when they were reasonably healthy, the Dodgers played an exciting brand of baseball, coming from several runs behind multiple times to win (a Giants game and a Brewers game stand out). In particular, Milton Bradley hit like Gary Sheffield, Cesar Izturis looked like he had taken a major step forward, the bullpen had a matched set of sidearmers from the left and right sides plus the emergent Yhency Brazoban filling in as closer and nobody could get Jeff Kent out.

Now they've lost Bradley, Eric Gagne, J.D. Drew, Jose Valentin, Kelly Wunsch and a half-dozen other guys for extended periods of time, some even for the year. Nobody in their right mind could have planned for that, and that they're even playing anywhere close to competitive baseball is a miracle. Their pitching has been pretty good even during this slide into mediocrity (Jeff Weaver has put up a 2.56 ERA over his last 10 starts, for example); it's the hitting that's gone south; since Bradley's injury, the Dodgers have gone 15-28 while scoring just 3.51 runs per game. But if you turn around a few games blown by Brazoban, they're very close to .500.

The team hasn't been without its surprises, either. Brad Penny looks like an ace now that he's healthy. Olmeido Saenz is an entertaining professional hitter. Oscar Robles is fun to watch. I never realized what a good fielder Kent -- whom I've spent years fervently rooting against -- is, nor the intensity he brings day in and day out. Jason Phillips is a godsend to a team not only for filling the catching void with somebody who can actually get a hit now and again, but also for ridding the roster of the unbearable Kaz Ishii. D.J. Houlton is a steal as a Rule 5 pick. Rickey Ledee has morphed into a usable role player now that he's shed his infamous Yankee blankey, and I enjoy watching a scrappy career minor leauger like Mike Edwards take advantage of a long overdue opportunity despite his limitations.

In short, I'm disappointed in the way that injuries have sideswiped this season, but even with the team's shortcomings, following them is not without some rewards to their fans. I bought the Extra Innings package this year in part because I really wanted to see the Dodgers this year, and while the injuries have been a drag, Vin Scully is always a pleasure to hear. As an outsider, your mileage may vary, but then who among us would have said differently about the White Sox for the past, oh, two decades?

2005-07-19 16:09:31
16.   Scott Long

I've watched the Dodgers probably more than any National League team besides the Braves and Cubs (Superstation imposed) over the past 5 years and the point of the piece was to find out what it's like to be a Dodger fan, when the team has been so dull. (Scott's Note: The Dodgers have been my favorite NL team my whole life, as the 1977 30 homer group of Garvey, Cey, Smith, and, Baker, was one of my all-time favorite teams.) I've had no problem with the moves DiPodesta has made, outside of signing Drew to such a big contract. As I mentioned, I picked the Dodgers to win the West.

Now to the issue of the White Sox over the past 2 decades, they have been maddening to watch on many levels, but pretty much, outside of the last 3 months of 2004 (after the Thomas and Ordonez injuries) a very exciting team to observe, as their offense has been top-notch, ballpark effects or not.

2005-07-19 16:44:08
17.   Scott Long
To the Diamondbacks question, choosing to watch them versus Dodgers is like the choice of boning Rosie O'Donnell or Roseanne. A lesser of two evils situation.

I currently choose the D-Backs, as Tracy, Green, Gonzalez, and the resurgent Tony Clark have some pop. I feel badly for Dodger fans, as Kent, Drew, Bradley, Valentin, and Choi sure seemed promising at the beginning of the year.

Now if you are like Jay, enjoying the talents of Olmedo Saenz, Oscar Robles, Mike Edwards, and the thrillingly usable Ricky Ledee, well then who am I to argue.
For myself, outside of watching Brad Penny pitch and Kent hit, the current team that hits the field for the Dodgers has all the entertainment value of Weekend at Bernies 2.

2005-07-19 17:29:20
18.   Steve
Green? OK then.
2005-07-19 22:30:00
19.   sanchez101
True, green did hit 4 in game. But really, i think LA did forget about the dodgers, the difference is that LA is so big that its tough to tell. Remember that ticket prices at Dodger stadium have been among the lowest in the league during this period. It seems that a hugely popular team would could charge big $. Personally, untill late 2003, when Gagne got big, I was pretty disinterested by the dodgers. Not because they were bad, or especially boring or anything like that. It just that the from 1998-2003, the Lakers provided so much drama, so much excitement, so much SUCCESS, that it made the dodgers look bad by comparison. As an LA sports fan, you wondered; why could buss get shaq and kobe, and all fox could do was overpay f---ing kevin brown and the bland Shawn Green. Then last summer, shaq was gone, the lakers didnt look so good, but then the dodgers were winning, so people flocked to the stadium to support the new LA team. Bottom line though, winning teams are interesting, even though the dodgers posted winning records, no playoffs, to LA sports fans, means your not winning anything. I dont remember any people attaching annoying dodger flags to their car windows back when fox owned the team.
2005-07-20 16:43:09
20.   Jacob L
On any given night, Dodger Stadium is host to a large number of yahoos, thugs, posers, and even more once-or-twice-a-year casual fans. This obscures the fact that there is also a sizable group of us that has an unbreakable bond with the team from years gone by when they were the "real Dodgers." In my case it was the late 70s "Big Blue Wrecking Crew." We are as passionate, knowledgeable and committed as any fans in baseball. My family is from Chicago and my wife's family is from New England, and while I don't take anything away from Cubs or Sox fans, there are many, many of us in L.A. who take baseball at least as seriously if not more so. Here is what I think we believe (aka why we watch):

1. The Dodgers rightful place is among the elite franchises in baseball. We should, like the Yankees, expect to be in the playoffs every year. Baseball is better off when we do well. Therefore,
2. The post 1988 era has been like living in exile. The quest is to regain what should be our birthright. Nothing will be right with the world until we get there. Therefore,
3. The temptation to believe that whatever scrubs and castoffs are wearing the uniform will be the ones to right the wrongs of the last 16 years is incredibly strong. Every day on Jon's site, people suggest that if Antonio Perez, Oscar Robles etal could go on a hot streak, we'd be right back in it.
4. People always say there's so much to do in L.A. I'm lukewarm on the beach, and at this point, I hate the Lakers.
5. Baseball is never boring.

I think there's little chance that anyone would become a big Dodger fan right now, but I also think people have no idea how tight a grip the Dodgers have, such that no amount of stinking can undo it.

2005-07-20 16:55:44
21.   Jacob L
Oh, and a couple additons . . .

I think you were asking, Scott, if there's anything worthwhile about the current Dodger team that you might not be aware of as an occassional viewer. The answer to that question is no. This team, or at least what they're putting on the field now, does in fact stink. Those of us who watch the games at this point are well beyond making a conscious choice about it based on anything like "excitement."

I also realize that no one's probably reading this thread anymore.

2005-07-20 21:30:30
22.   Steve
Arizona in another thrilling matchup tonight. I can hardly change the channel during commercials.
2005-07-20 21:36:26
23.   Scott Long
Actually, I am still checking in on this thread, as it's has some great commentary. Thanks for everyone who helped me have a better understanding of the passionate Dodger fan.

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