Single page view By Eric Neel
Page 2

People hate the Dodgers.

They're not the least bit shy about it either. They tell you about it like they're compelled to share, like they're eager to testify.

"Don Drysdale was an over-rated thug, you know that, right?"

"What's with the beach balls? You feel good about the beach balls?"

"I never liked Orel Hershiser; too snooty. And nice hair on Sutton; you gotta be proud of that."

And they're always wanting to tell you stories, like Chris Farley talking to Scorcese:

"Remember that one game, when the pennant was on the line, and Brian Johnson hit that home run and killed you guys? Remember that? That was awesome!"

There's more talk about universal contempt for the Yankees, sure, but Dodger loathing runs almost as deep and wide (anywhere outside LA and far too many places inside of it, too).

Chalk it up to lingering bad feelings about the bolt out of Brooklyn, to resentment of the sun and surf, or to a unifying contempt for every shticky word out of Tommy Lasorda's mouth over the years.

Whatever. I'm good with it.

I know if I wear the colors I draw the ire.

That's the way it always is.

But this year's different. This year, folks are especially loud and specific about their contempt.

Paul DePodesta's an idiot, J.D. Drew's an injury waiting to happen, Milton Bradley's a time bomb, Jeff Kent's a club-footed, claw-handed malcontent with a bad mustache, Derek Lowe cost too much and he can't pitch his way out of a sack, Hee Seop Choi couldn't carry Shawn Green's jock, and Adrian Beltre's about to win an MVP award ... for another team, ya bum.

I'm reading this stuff all over the mainstream press, I'm seeing it on TV, I'm hearing it from the kid packing my groceries at the market, from the moms and dads pushing swings next to me at the neighborhood park, and from the mail carrier in a Giants cap standing on my doorstep.

And here's my thing: Bring it on.

It's not that I'm drunk on the Paulie D Kool-Aid. I've got questions about the infield defense, just like everyone else, and the starting pitching makes me nervous (Lowe's strikeout and walk rates don't inspire confidence, and just the words "nerve injury" and "Brad Penny" make me wanna hurl). And I'll be honest, there's a hole in my heart and my scorecard where Beltre (who, I felt like, us Dodgers fans raised up from a pup like Joy raised Elsa once upon a time) used to be.

Do I take some comfort in the fact that the team, at least potentially, added offense at first base, second base, and in right field? I do. Am I heartened by the flexible, inexpensive (after Gagne), and very effective bullpen, or by what I read from stats analyst Tom Meagher suggesting Kent is a lot better defensively than people think? I am. Do the upward-trending numbers from defensive wizard Cesar Izturis cheer me? Indeed. Am I one of those wide-eyed innocents who actually believe Bradley's figuring some things out, and think Drew, if he's healthy, is going to be very, very good with both the bat and the glove? Yes, sir. Am I emboldened by the 6-2 start, complete with four wins over the Giants? You know I am.

Continued...


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BLEEDING DODGER BLUE