Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Truckin'

Sometimes the light's all shinin' on me;
Other times, I can barely see.
Lately it occurs to me ...
What a long, strange trip it's been.

What an exasperating year this has been. From injuries to triumphs, the ups and downs, the Dodgers seemed doomed from the start, but hopeful that everything would turn out o.k.

Everything did start well enough. Free agency brought us Jason Schmidt, Randy Wolf and Luis Gonzales. Nomar re-signed for another term. JD Drew left for Boston to the claps and cheers of the Dodger faithful. Our rookies where looking better than anyone imagined.

Then, a dark cloud popped out from behind the shadows. Repko and Furcal were injured on the same freak play that resulted in Jason sitting the entire year and Rafael hobbling and limping at shortstop. Worries about Schmidt's velocity during the Spring ballooned into a season ending injury. Loney was sent back to the minors at the start of the season that caused some grumbling. Pierre had a difficult start to the season in centerfield. It took him a long time to traverse the expansive terrain of Chavez Ravine. Sometimes it looked like he could not see the ball off the bat at Dodger Stadium. Nomar was not entirely healthy. Betemit couldn't buy a hit. The year was not starting out on the right foot.

Somehow... Somehow, the Dodgers found a way to be competitive anyway. Billingsley showed that he is ready to be a full-time starter. Penny and Lowe proved to be a solid pitching tandem. Saito was not a one year wonder, and Broxton matured into a more reliable set-up man (the past couple of weeks notwithstanding). Kent continues to prove why he belongs in the Hall of Fame. Our rookies on the field continued to progress beyond our wildest expectations. James Loney, the disgruntled Texan, earned a full-time starting job at firstbase. Along with Russell, Ethier and Kemp they provide a solid foundation for the future.

Unfortunately, the future might have to wait for next year.

We started the day having lost a crushing doubleheader to the Rockies yesterday. Billingsley pitched an outstanding 5+ innings, having given up just two runs on 4 hits. Nevertheless, the Dodgers offense provided little help as the Blue Crew fell 3 to 1. Then the nightcap became a hitting bonanza. The Dodgers got 13 hits and scored 8 runs; including homers by Gonzales, Loney and Martin. They led going into the later innings, but saw their once solid bullpen give up 4 runs. The final nail the coffin was a walk-off two-run homer by Helton of Saito. It was a bad ending to a hopeful day.

Yesterday morning had so many opportunities. The Dodgers were 4 games back of the Diamondbacks in the division race, and only 3 games back of the Padres in the wild card race. Our playoff hopes were looking dim, but there was more than enough time to make it all up. Now, everything seems different. That glimmer of light is slowly burning out. The Dodgers are now 5.5 games behind Arizona and 4.5 games behind San Diego. There are 11 games left to go.

Is there still a chance of a late season revival? Of course there is! Baseball is a funny game where just about anything can happen. Is it likely or plausible that we will find the "Boys in Blue" playing in October? No, at this point we are probably done.
Truckin', I'm a goin' home.
whoa whoa baby, back where I belong,
Back home, sit down and patch my bones, and get back truckin' on.
Hey now get back truckin' home.

Pic Link: Agony & Ivy:
Lyrics above are from the Grateful Dead song Truckin', written by Robert Hunter.
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