In the rest of the country, summer starts with Memorial Day weekend. Here in Southern California, where the calendar and the weather are actually on speaking terms, we enjoy that festive monthlong tradition: June Gloom. And what a gloomy – or blue, if you prefer – month it’s been in Dodgerville.
After today’s Stanley Cup Finals Game 7, it’s officially all baseball all the time in SoCal sports, and – well – ick. Matters in Chavez haven’t quite devolved into watching Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and Clayton Kershaw while averting your eyes when any of the other 22 guys wearing blue takes center stage, but we’re getting there quickly.
Last night’s misadventure against Cincinnati was instructive. There was Mr. Kershaw holding the Reds to a run on four hits in seven innings. There was Dee Gordon stirring stuff up, bunting for singles, forcing errors, stealing three bases including third, and making hellacious defensive plays at shortstop. There was Don Mattingly lifting his best hope for a win because he’d thrown 104 pitches and was about to face a right-handed pinch hitter with a .267 career batting average and no power. Finally, there was the bullpen finding a way to lose again.
(Memo to The Donz: If you think your ace can’t handle Miguel Cairo with the game on the line, there’s either something wrong with your ace or your judgment. By the by, there’s nothing wrong with Clayton Kershaw.)
Dee Gordon? Yep. Remember when Jerry Sands was the Great Blue Hope? He’s back in Albuquerque, where he belongs for the moment, while Master Devaris Strange-Gordon, son of 22-year big leaguer Tom “Flash” Gordon, is currently making people crazy at Chavez. If you haven’t caught his act yet, you need to.
While we’re seeing the tip of the iceberg with Gordon, Rubby De La Rosa, who’s now dealing at 100 mph, and Javy Guerra, The Bison is now doing everything everyone said he could do when he showed up in The Show five years ago. When you’re leading the league in homer runs and slugging, second in batting average, and tied for fifth in stolen bases, you’re officially fulfilling all your promise.
Oh, and along with Ethier, Hiroki Kuroda is doing what he does, which is mostly pitching well while having the occasional blowup. That’s the good stuff, amigo.
The rest? Don’t ask.
Left field is still a black hole. The fifth and sixth best hitters on the team are currently Kershaw and Chad Billingsley. Other teams are running wild on the Dodger catchers. Outside of Jamey Carroll and Aaron Miles, the bench is populated with guys struggling to hit .230. Brox, Hong-Chih Kuo, and Kenley Jansen will be back in the bullpen soon. Of course, their ERA’s are 5.68, 11.57, and 6.43 respectively, so don’t go popping any $90,000 champagne bottles when they return.
The Dodgers are eight games out of first place – and one game away from being last – in the worst division in baseball. Just to make it more fun, they don’t play another game within the pathetic NL West for another 23 days. After Cincy today, they get the worst team in baseball…who they lost two of three to a few weeks ago.
While the forecast for 2011 remains gloomy with widely scattered Kemp and kershaw highlights, there are hints of a better future. In addition to the promise offered by Messrs. Gordon, De La Rosa, and Guerra, here’s hope another nail in the McCourt coffin will be driven in in just 15 days. Rumors are running heavy that he’s going to struggle to make the June 30 payroll, which includes $8 mil to Manny. (And you thought we were done cheering for him!)
Here’s hoping Frank McCourt runs into this freeway sign soon.