Since virtually every Dodger game these days seems to share the same scenario, team wastes solid pitching effort, can’t score runs, not hitting with runners in scoring position, and leaving too many men on base. I figured today’s post would be dedicated to analyzing just how bad this offense is right now. Plus you all know my feelings by now on all things Dodgers, so I’ll also take a look at what other bloggers, beat writers and reporters are saying about the ‘Blue Crew.’
As we all are aware of, the Dodgers are in the midst of a three game losing streak, during which they have scored a whopping two runs. But what you may not realize is just how bad this offense is overall. As pointed out by Eric Stephen over at SB Nation:
"This team is off to one of the worst starts since the franchise moved west to Los Angeles. At 19-23, only the 1958 squad (at 16-26) got off to a worst start…Three other L.A. Dodger teams started 19-23, and all finished under .500 for the season: 1964 (80-82), 1967 (73-89), and 2002 (63-99, the only last place Dodger team in the last 106 years)."
But even more disturbing than scoring eight runs in their last five games and scoring a paltry 3.48 runs per game, good for 15th out of 16 N.L. teams:
"The 2011 Dodgers have been outscored by 30 runs this season, their third-worst run differential in 54 years…perhaps a ray of hope can come with the 1985 team. In 1985, the Dodgers were outscored by 37 runs in their first 42 games. Somehow they managed a 21-21 start, and went on to win 95 games and win the NL West."
The only problem is the 1985 squad was .500 after 42 games not 4 games under, and the lineup was much more balanced than the 2011 version. They actually had a left fielder, something the 2011 squad is still looking for, as pointed out by Dylan Hernandez at the L.A. Times. So the prospects of the 2011 Dodgers turning things around once healthy, if that will ever happen, and going on to win 95 games seems completely unrealistic.
One thing both squads have in common is a closer who is basically a gas can just waiting for a match, in 1985 it was Tom Niedenfuer. What Dodger fan can forget the home run he gave up to Ozzie Smith in game 5 of the NLCS, with the series tied 2 games a piece, it was Ozzie’s first HR in over 3,000 career at-bats hitting left-handed.
In game 6 Niedenfuer was called upon to pitch to Jack Clark with the game on the line and first base open, Dodger fans are still waiting for the ball Clark hit to land, rumor is it’s in orbit somewhere near Jupiter. The 2011 Dodgers have witnessed Jonathan Broxton’s struggles, which ultimately landed him on the DL. Yet somehow after recounting Niedenfuer’s 1985 implosions, Broxton’s 15 hits and 9 walks allowed in just over 12 innings doesn’t seem as painful.
What is painful is the rising cost of attending a Dodger game these days. As pointed out in a recent opinion piece in the L.A Times by Michael Fox a former Dodgers marketing executive:
"In 1997, a family of four could enjoy a Dodgers game for $104, which included a package deal of four $12 box seats, four hot dogs and four sodas, two beers, two game programs and two Dodger caps and parking. Today, the same experience can run $600 or more; an authentic Dodger cap alone now costs $35."
No wonder Dodger stadium looks more and more vacant each game. T.J. Simers of the Times also wrote an article on the exorbitant cost of attending a Dodgers game. He forked over $140 for 2 tickets, which weren’t even on the field level. He also pointed out:
"The Team Marketing Report, an annual survey that takes into account the cost of tickets throughout baseball, and the average Dodgers ticket — not counting premium seats — is $30.59. The average Angels ticket is $17.13. The average premium ticket is $222.38…the average premium ticket to an Angels’ game is $67.71."
Yet despite these ridiculous priced tickets the Dodgers owner is broke and is now just two weeks away from not being able to make the team’s end of the month payroll. The ensuing domino effect still to be determined, according to Bill Shaikin of the Times.
What is certain is the team is a mess both on and off the field, fans are staying away from games at an alarming rate and there doesn’t seem to be anything or anyone on the horizon to clear up the mess. Now four games into a crucial 19 game stretch against a favorable schedule, the Dodgers are 1-3 against the Diamondbacks and Brewers, who are a combined 7 games under .500.
If the Dodgers bats don’t wake up, and if they don’t start winning games against teams with losing records, the end of May could be the end of the road for the Dodgers in more ways than one.