A Whole New Blue?
It's a whole new blue according to the Dodgers new marketing slogan. A new season, a new ownership group (for a full season, that is), a new paint job, some new bells and whistles at the park. But underneath that veneer if you look closely you realize it's the same old Dodgers.
It's the same old Dodgers who starters beyond Clayton Kershaw is suspect. Beyond Kershaw the Dodgers are praying and wishing that the other four pitchers in the rotation will come up with some magic. Unfortunately for Josh Beckett, the magic wasn't with him tonight in the Dodgers 5-3 loss to the Giants.
It's not that Beckett pitched horribly. He pitched a decent five innings. Unfortunately it was just one inning, the third to be specific, that did him in.
"I thought Josh was okay," manager Don Mattingly agreed. "He had that one bad inning and really should have gotten out of that. We gave them an extra out."
That extra out came after a single and a double by Gregor Blanco and Brandon Crawford that got the damage started. Tim Lincecum grounded out to short which brought home Blanco to tie the game. Then the error: second baseman Skip Schumaker mishandled a grounder from Angel Pagan which scored Crawford and allowed Pagan to stand safely on first. When Marco Scutaro flew out right for the second out, it seemed like the damage would stop there.
But then came Pablo Sandoval. He fouled off the first two pitches from Beckett before taking a ball.
"He's up there hacking, but he puts the barrel on the ball a lot," Beckett said. "We were trying to go up with it. But he's a pretty good hitter, and obviously it wasn't the pitch that I needed to throw there."
That not-quite-so-high pitch was deposited into the right field pavilion to give the Giants the 4-1 lead.
"Really the game changed there," Mattingly said.
The Giants added a run in the sixth inning when Hunter Pence hit a solo homer.
It's the same old Dodger offense. The biggest failing in the game was the Dodger offense which looked an awful like last season's offense.
"We had a lot of chances tonight," Mattingly said. "We just didn't do a lot with it tonight."
The Dodgers had 15 baserunners but could only get three across the plate. Stop me when things get familiar.
First inning: One run in thanks to a passed ball, and runners on first and second with one out. Andre Ethier pops up to short and Luis Cruz strikes out looking to end the inning.
Second inning: Bases loaded with one out. Skip Schumaker strike out swinging and Matt Kemp flies out to center field to end the inning.
Fourth inning: Runners on first and second with two outs. Schumaker grounds to second.
Fifth inning: One run in and runners on first and second with two outs. A.J. Ellis flies to right field.
Sixth inning: Bases loaded no outs. Kemp grounds into a double play that scores a run and leaves a runner on second. Adrian Gonzalez strikes out swinging.
Seventh inning: Ethier hits a leadoff double. Cruz and Juan Uribe pop up to the first baseman in foul territory and A.J. Ellis flies to right.
While Mattingly acknowledged all of the missed opportunities, he didn't seem to be particularly fazed.
"We're three games in," he said. "It's three games."
That's true. Several other media members and folks on Twitter reminded me of this. I also realize the Dodgers aren't going to win all 162 games.
But with the all of the effort the new ownership group has made to break with the futility of the Frank McCourt years, the product that's on the field looks an awful lot like a McCourt-era team.
Perhaps I'm expecting too much, too soon. But had Kemp made his first hit of the season in that sixth inning with the bases loaded and no outs, the outcome of this game might be different. Just one itty bitty single.
Luis Cruz echoed his manager's sentiments. "I think we all are trying to do our jobs," he said. "They just pitched well. They got us out."
Sure. But compound this with the still long concession lines, the decreased role of organist Nancy Bea Hefley, the loud in-stadium hosts who have a penchant of screaming at us, pretty soon this facade of we're-new-we're-spending-money-we're-not-McCourt will crumble. They will remind fans of some other former owners who left a bad taste in fans' mouths: Fox.
All of the paint and bells and whistles amount to putting lipstick on a you-know-what.
Guggenheim spent the money. Now they need to convince people that they have the ability to field a championship team, not just merely sell Angelenos a bill of goods.