The Better Team (and Better Manager) Won


The panicked face on Zack Greinke in the photo above, as he helplessly watches Dodger Killer Daniel Murphy casually steal third base in Game 5, perfectly sums up the Dodgers’ 2015 NLDS.

Just as Greinke watched that steal, all of us saw the implosion that was the Dodgers’ postseason develop right before our eyes. It unraveled in agonizingly slow motion, and there wasn’t a darn thing any of us could do about it.

Game 5 started out well enough, as the Dodgers had one of the best pitchers in baseball on the mound, and they put up a lead on the board as Vin Scully would say, “Before the seats were warm”.

Then the Dodgers slipped into their usual bad habits of not getting clutch hits with RISP, and they allowed the innings to whittle away. Meanwhile Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom, whom they had on the ropes for the first three innings, weathered the storm and settled into a groove, never allowing the Dodgers to score after the first.

While the Mets rallied behind their embattled pitcher, and held on tight – the Dodgers fell apart and let it slip away – all in plain sight.

Andre Ethier let his famous emotions get the best of him at absolutely the wrong time, and he went off on manager Don Mattingly, erupting into a heated tirade in the Dodgers’ dugout during the third inning. National TV cameras followed as Ethier stomped the length of the dugout, shouting at the top of his voice, while Mattingly followed, apparently giving a piece of his mind as well.

We couldn’t hear the words, but oh boy, we knew something was very bad. It seems Clayton Kershaw got involved partially, as some reported he had words with Mattingly also, before disappearing into the clubhouse.

The Dodgers never seemed to recover from that bad mojo, and went on to later pull a monumental mistake, when they failed to cover third base after another one of those ridiculous shifts, leaving the bag wide open for Daniel Murphy to saunter over and occupy it, since the Dodgers weren’t prepared enough to defend it. One batter later, they cashed in his run, and it made the difference in the game.

That said, what would a final playoff game be without the usual gaffes and questionable tactics from the ol’ skipper?

Mattingly started the day by shooting the Dodgers in the foot. He penciled in a lineup that included a catcher who can’t physically swing the bat (Yasmani Grandal, 4 for 94), and buried his spark plug batter (Enrique Hernandez) at seventh in the lineup (behind the catcher who can’t hit).

Later on in the eighth, with the Dodgers’ season fading fast, Mattingly finally pinch hit for Grandal. Did he use the previous playoff lightning bolt, and Mets killer, Chase Utley? Nope, instead he batted “Easy-Out” Carl Crawford. The results were predictable.

Sidenote – I know some out there want to point to Crawford’s performance in the 2014 postseason as a rationale for using him this year. While I agree Crawford batted well in the playoffs last year, the Dodgers didn’t bring last year’s Carl Crawford to the game. They brought 2015 Carl Crawford, who looked feeble and over-matched all series. Thus, the results of using him in a clutch situation, after he showed no potential, were predictable.

Mattingly left Utley on the bench until the Dodgers were down to their last breath. Utley pinch-hit to lead off the ninth, with the Dodgers down, 3-2.  He gave the ball a long ride to the outfield, but it was just a loud out. A.J. Ellis and Howie Kendrick finished the season by quietly striking out – and suddenly, it was all over.

On a personal note: I would like to send out a million Blue Thanks to everyone who read my articles this year. 2015 ended on a down note, but it certainly was a good ride, following the team that many of us love. Thanks also, to everyone who posted comments. We didn’t always agree, but it was fun talking baseball and I always enjoy seeing your perspectives on things.

So long, Nancy Bea, and get well soon, Vinny. You were both the soundtrack to every one of my Dodger summers. Thanks for all the wonderful memories.

Here’s hoping 2016 will a World Series year for our Dodgers!