What a proud day to be a Dodger fan or member of the organization. On the heels of one of the worst losses of the season to the dreaded Giants last night, co-owner Jamie McCourt dropped a serious bomb today, while Andre Ethier apparently is frustrated about his current slump. So many ways to go here but I’ll start with last nights debacle against the Giants, then touch briefly on Ethier and, I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but finish by giving Jamie McCourt a tip of the cap. (Check out the rest of the article to see the photo that has Andre Ethier in hot water)
Playing the 6th game of a critical 19 game stretch and having lost three of the first five to teams with losing records, the Dodgers had a golden opportunity to pick up two games on the division leading Giants behind their two best pitchers. Last night it was Clayton Kershaw, who struggled, giving up seven hits and four runs in only five innings pitched.
The key point of the game came in the bottom of the 5th with the Dodgers trailing 4 to 0, which for this team is the equivalent of a 10 run deficit. However, Matt Kemp led off the bottom of the 5th with a towering home run to right to put the Dodgers on the board. Giants starter Matt Cain was clearly rattled as he then walked Juan Uribe, which is no easy feat, then 2 pitches later he hit James Loney. Up next came Jay Gibbons who walked on five pitches loading the bases with no outs.
So if you were Rod Barajas what would you do, maybe lay off a pitch or two to make Cain, who clearly had lost his control, start throwing strikes. Sounds like a good plan, but unfortunately Barajas swung wildly at the first pitch, which was in the dirt, then popped up to second base on the next pitch, a terrible at bat.
As bad as Barajas’s at bat was the decision Don Mattingly then made was even worse. He pinch hit for Kershaw, who had only thrown 85 pitches, also knowing he had a short bullpen with Vicente Padilla unavailable (he was put on the DL today) and with Kenley Jansen having worked four of the last five games and Matt Guerrier the past two.The decision and Mattingly’s unwillingness to pitch any of the rest of his relievers more than one inning would eventually cost the Dodgers the game.
But it wasn’t the fact that he pinch hit for Kershaw down by three with the bases loaded and one out that was the poor choice by Mattingly, it was sending Juan Castro to the plate as the pinch hitter. I realize his choices on the bench are limited, but sending up the worst hitter on the club, who has the least pop of anyone on the bench was simply an unfathomable decision.
Just like Barajas, Castro showed no patience swinging at the second pitch, even after Cain had thrown a ball with his first pitch. The result was a pop up to center, too shallow to score the run from third, but in Castro’s defense he should have never been at the plate to begin with. Again Mattingly’s bench options are limited but it’s hard to defend him selecting a hitter who has hit below .200 three of the past four years.
The inning ended two pitches later when Jamey Carroll grounded out to second, and like the two hitters before him Carroll swung at both pitches he saw. The Dodgers wasted an opportunity, particularly by not making a pitcher who was struggling to throw strikes that inning do just that. The Dodgers are now a measly 3-for-34 with the bases loaded, with three walks and two sacrifice flies, giving them a paltry .088 batting average with the sacks full this year.
Despite being 0-18 when trailing after seven innings, the Dodgers got a lead-off single to start the 8th from Jamey Carroll, after Aaron Miles and Andre Ethier both made outs (Ethier is now 0-for his last-17) Matt Kemp singled, and the Giants brought on the bearded one Brian Wilson to get a four out save.
The Dodgers had other plans. Juan Uribe drilled a 2-run double to the left-center field gap to make it 5-4. James Loney then hit a weak chopper just to the right of first baseman Aubrey Huff, who for some reason broke to first base, rather than trying to make a play on a ball it looked like he could have at least knocked down, which allowed the tying run to score.
The joy of the comeback would be short-lived as Lance Cormier, who got the final out in the 8th inning came on to pitch the 9th. After pinch hitting for Kershaw, we would later find out the Dodgers only had four available relievers and despite that Mattingly used Scott Elbert and Javy Guerra for just an inning each. Cormier was forced into duty with two outs in the 8th after Mike MacDougal gave up a run on two walks and a hit.
Cormier who has allowed 19 hits, 15 runs (13 earned), four walks, and five strikeouts in 11 2/3 innings this season, got Cain to ground out to end the 8th and Aaron Rowand to do the same to start the 9th. He then turned back to his usual self and gave up back to back hits before getting Nate Schierholtz to ground to third, but the ball was hit too slowly for Uribe and Miles to turn a double play.
Up stepped former Dodger Cody Ross and Cormier threw him three straight breaking balls, hanging the third which Ross deposited into the left field stands for a 3-run shot. Game over, as the Dodgers would not be able to score on Wilson twice. Mattingly has said Cormier is on the team solely to pitch in blowouts, and to “take one for the team.” But the combination of Mattingly’s questionable managerial decisions and three other relievers being unavailable, meant Cormier was in the game with the game on the line. I’m sure he’s a great guy and all, but his numbers have been awful this year and last night it cost the Dodgers the game. They failed to take advantage of five runs, an offensive explosion for them, with their ace on the mound, and now find themselves four games behind the Giants instead of two.
Remarkably last nights game, which was full of bad moves, wasn’t even close to the dumbest thing a Dodger has done this week. Our partner site, big lead sports broke the following story about Andre Ethier and his bizarre conduct during batting practice on Monday.
"According to a source, Ethier…dropped F-bombs at photographers while children were nearby…totally unprovoked. A source claims the incident was witnessed by enough people that somebody must have complained – Ethier was practically begging photographers to take photos of him flicking off the fans – because Major League Baseball is supposedly looking into the matter. A source says Dodgers’ GM Ned Colletti and manager Don Mattingly were on the field at the time of the incident but isn’t sure if they witnessed the outburst."
I have no idea what would elicit this type of behavior from Ethier, who is widely regarded as one of the leaders on the club and in the community. But needless to say, if the sources are correct and there were kids and parents and he was “begging” the photographers to take the pictures of him, he should be a little lighter in the wallet soon. I guess being mired in an 0-for-17 slump has gotten the best of Andre, or maybe he was just letting the press know how he feels about being asked about the current ownership mess.
Speaking of the ownership mess, Jamie McCourt released a statement today urging a Los Angeles Superior Court judge to order the immediate sale of the Dodgers, according to Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times. In the filing Jamie McCourt alleges:
"Her ex-husband, Frank McCourt, has endangered the value of the Dodgers through his mismanagement, and she requested that the judge overseeing the couple’s divorce put the club up for sale so both parties could reap the maximum value from the primary asset of their marriage. Frank’s acts … have brought the Dodgers franchise to the brink of financial ruin."
She also released a statement saying she hopes the filing would help the Dodgers:
"As I’ve said all along, my goal is to resolve this situation for my family in a way that also advances the best interests of the Dodgers fans, players and franchise,” she said. “This motion will hopefully provide some momentum in the right direction.”"
I can’t believe I’m saying this but at least one of the McCourt’s realize they are in a no win situation, and that it’s best to sell now, while they still have control. But her interests are obviously self serving as she states:
"“MLB is under no obligation to maximize the proceeds of a sale”"
In other words, she and Frank have run up almost $500 million in debt, that we know of, and with what they owe the IRS and taxes associated with the sale, let’s sell for as much as we can so the half she gets will be the highest amount possible. Regardless of her motives the sell of the club would be a welcome sight and now seems all but inevitable.
Yet, I don’t think Frank is going to just go away so easily. He is still trying to push the media deal with FOX through and while Jamie is urging them to sell while the selling is good, Frank is asking a judge to approve the FOX deal. The L.A. Times reports a hearing has been set for June 22 to deal with both issues, but by that time Major League Baseball will more than likely be running the Dodgers. That throws yet another factor into what will no doubt be a messy battle.
To me it looks like Dodger fans are in for a long drawn out fight, with the Dodgers and Dodger fans “best interests” being used as the excuse for two people who have used the clubs funds to fuel excessive lifestyles. And regardless what either of them say in the press, don’t be fooled, the only motivation either Frank or Jamie have in this process is to get as much money as they can out of the Dodgers before they leave for good. On the day that happens, the Dodgers and their fans will finally have their best interests taken care of.
If I were dealing with this mess on a daily basis as a player, and playing with inferior talent because of the clubs financial problems, I guess I might feel the same way Ethier does as well.