Tell me this isn’t happening again.
After watching the Ducks limp through the first half of their season with a raft of injuries to key player after key player, I now have to watch the Dodgers go down like so many elevators from the top floor of the Empire State Building. In case anyone’s missed it, the team began the season with Justin Turner disabled from a broken wrist. He’s currently sharing space on the injured roster with Logan Forsythe, Yasiel Puig, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Corey Seager and (this was the final blow) Clayton Kershaw.
That’s not counting pitchers Tom Koehler and Julio Urias. The team would benefit from their return, but they weren’t around long enough for us to miss them.
The abrupt end to Corey Seager’s season was an enormous disappointment for me. I’d been looking forward to enjoying him on TV (yes, I get the Dodgers channel) all summer long. You see your favorite hockey players maybe twice a week. With baseball, it’s close to every day. They’re there five or six times a week, and you come to depend on that filling out the end of most summer days. Therefore something I was looking forward to a lot has been snatched from me. That’s going to impact my summer considerably. Sure, there are other Dodgers I like (I like Chris Taylor almost as much as Seager), but it won’t be the same.
I can also refer you to a very eloquent blog on the subject of Corey Seager. The writer may make some grammatical mistakes, but he captures many of my feelings about a Seager-less season.
Those feelings hearken back thirty years to the occasions on which injury forced me to contemplate a New York City Ballet season without Suzanne Farrell. (For a number of reasons, including Farrell’s retirement, I gave up the City Ballet twenty-five years ago. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be writing about the Dodgers today.)
While I’m sure it’s coming off totally gay, the comparison to a ballet company is nonetheless apt. One of the phenomena typical of a ballet company beset with injured dancers is that injuries beget further injuries. More pressure is placed on the dancers who are healthy – Merrill Ashley having to dance not only her performances of Diamonds, but Suzanne’s as well – and the result of that added pressure and work is increased physical and emotional stress on the dancers who can still dance. The latter then get injured in turn. I think that explains some of the catastrophe that is affecting the Dodgers.
I hope comparing the Dodgers to a ballet company doesn’t totally destroy my baseball cred. I never liked it when people referred to dancers as athletes – and I have a feeling that the Dodgers wouldn’t like to be referred to as dancers – but they are all people who do remarkable and wonderful things with their bodies.
Those bodies are, however, human, and, as such, are subject to breakdowns, especially if you’re doing things with your body that nature never intended. Like turning your feet out 90 degrees from your hips. Or throwing a ball overhand as hard as you can. That’ll catch up with you.
And – Heavens to Betsy! – has it ever caught up in how the Boys in Blue are playing!
Even the affable duo of the incredibly affable Joe Davis and the pleasantly chattering Orel Hirsheiser took to describing the road trip just completed as disastrous and miserable. The whole thing is too disastrous and miserable for me to want to go back through the telecasts of the last two games in the Mexico series to get exact quotes, but they weren’t pulling punches. I’m not sure whether we who write about the team should use “apocalyptic” quite yet, but I believe “catastrophic”, “deeply discouraging” and “profoundly disheartening.” are in order.
After the loss of Seager, the team did rally to provide that combined no hitter in Monterrey. After that…
C’mon guys: you didn’t even try in the bottom of the 12th tonight!
I get the feeling that losing Kershaw was the coup de grâce. Maybe not the coup de grâce for the entire season, as Kershaw’s gone missing for stretches of the past two seasons, but, if you were a Dodger, you’d probably be treading very carefully before something else happens – like a piece of the clubhouse ceiling collapsing right in front of your locker.
Come to think of it, there was a bizarre disaster this season: remember when a bunch of the guys picked up some kind of bug from the hot tub and missed a bunch of games?
Tell me they’re not cursed.
Back before the Word Handler blog interregnum, I wrote a bit of Ducks fan fiction in which Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Ryan Kesler and Kevin Bieksa visited an Orange County bruja to have a curse on the Ducks removed. They ended up making the playoffs that year. Perhaps I should get Mr. Getzlaf’s number to Mr. Kershaw, so that the latter can, by return of text, get Brujacita’s phone number to set up an appointment.
In this morning’s paper Bill Shaikin acknowledged the disaster but bade that cooler heads prevail, as there really isn’t a whole lot that can be done. “It would be ludicrous to demand how the Dodgers should fix the team when they have absolutely no idea what kind of team they have.” He then rattles off some of the positional absurdities: “their center fielder is now their shortstop. Their third catcher has yet to play an inning behind the plate, but he leads the team in starts at third base. Of the five pitchers in the original starting rotation, three are on the disabled list.”
(Allow me to interject an I Told You So with regard to Charlie Culberson.)
There is some hope on the horizon: Turner, Forsythe and Puig are nearing their returns, and Kershaw’s injury seems to be a minor one. Better to miss two starts in May than not to be able to start in September.
Did somebody just say September?
I strongly suspect that the difficulties besetting the Dodgers are a result of their having somehow offended the baseball gods, whose plaything they have become. The baseball gods don’t like hubris, and, Land o’Goshen!, has there been a lot of hubris from and around the Dodgers. You don’t go into a season assuming you’re going to win your division, even if you’ve done it five times running. The press took that as a foregone conclusion, and, even if the players were unaware of what was being said about them (and I don’t see how that was possible), those assumptions from the fourth estate alone could have provoked the gods’ ire.
Never mess with the baseball gods’ ire.
Winning your division isn’t as easy as it seems. First and foremost, it requires the winning of baseball games, and that’s not happening. My advice: break the season down into one-game segments, and maybe even one-inning segments. Win nine innings, and, guess what? You’ll have won a ballgame – something the Dodgers are in desperate need of doing.