Dodgers Dreams: The 1954 Cleveland Indians set a then American league record of 111 wins out of a 154 game schedule, eclipsing the 27-year-old record of the 1927 Yankees, generally accepted as the best team of all time, who won 110 games. The Indians were odds-on favorites to win the World Series against the New York Giants. But after Willie Mays made his historic catch in the eighth inning of the first game on a 480 fly ball hit by Vic Wertz, and Dusty Rhodes singled in the winning run in the 10th inning of the first game, the Giants swept the Indians 4-0 and Cleveland’s golden season was forgotten.
This year the Dodgers won more games than any other team in baseball, and more than any other Los Angeles Dodgers team. They thereby earn home field advantage for all playoff games, including the World Series, and much hoopla about being the “best team ever.”
However, the idea of the Dodgers playing in the World Series is a long shot. While Dodgers manager Dave Roberts protects his precious starting pitchers arms by not allowing them to throw more than 100 pitches in a game (a phony statistic as previously pointed out in this column ad infinitum), he is not equally solicitous of his relief pitchers whom he pitches every day, either in the game or warming up in the bullpen. A pitcher cannot pitch every day. This explains why his relief pitchers like Pedro Baez have folded near the end of the season.
Talk of the Dodgers being the “best team of all time” takes a shot when one considers that while in 1927 Yankees were called the Bronx Bombers and had a team batting average of .307, the 2017 Dodgers had a team batting average of .249 and were ranked 22nd out of 30 teams. They were 23rd in number of hits.
Their proposed starting lineup for the playoffs includes:
- A catcher, Yasmani Grandal, who leads baseball in passed balls and has a batting average of .247
- An outfielder, Curtis Granderson, who has hit slightly over .100 since he joined the team a month ago; despite this Roberts had him batting cleanup in one game, go figure
- A starting second baseman, Logan Forsythe, with a batting average of .224
- Three other starters, Justin Turner, Chris Taylor and Corey Seager, have been battling horrible slumps for more than a month. Turner’s batting average plunged from .390 at the All Star break to .322 at the end of the season
- That leaves two starters, rookie first baseman Cody Bellinger and right fielder Yasiel Puig, both of whom are no better than .260 hitters
- Mr. Home-Run-or-no-count Bellinger leads the major leagues in swings and misses and Taylor is right behind him in strikeouts, 146-142
Forget pitching, is this a championship team? The Dodgers get a break in the playoffs because Arizona is forced to use its best pitcher, Zack Grienke, in the one game playoff against Colorado, so if Arizona beats Colorado he won’t be available to face Clayton Kershaw in the first game on Friday. Counterbalanced against that is the fact that Kershaw has yet to show he can bear up under playoff pressure. So far in his career he’s no Whitey Ford.
I think the Dodgers will be lucky to survive the first round of the playoffs. They have losing records against both Colorado (9-10) and Arizona (8-11), and if they do survive the first round that they will be overmatched by Washington or the Cubs. They only won one out of three games against Washington but were 4-2 against the Cubs. I hope I’m wrong, but the Dodgers look like a long shot to me.
The more things change the more they stay the same: Just because UCLA beat Colorado by the width of a gnat’s eyelash doesn’t mean that their inept coaching took a vacation. With 1:32 left in the first half and UCLA leading 14 to 12, Colorado had third and 2 on the UCLA 29 yard line. Someone took a timeout. When they resumed play, UCLA was then called for an illegal substitution giving Colorado a first and 10 on the UCLA 24. Someone needs to explain to me how a coach with a long term contract and an $11 million buyout can retain his job when he has a timeout, discusses things, sends the team back on the field and then before the ball is snapped, makes an illegal substitution.
Tony Medley is the author of three books including “UCLA Basketball: The Real Story,” the first book written on UCLA basketball. Visit TonyMedley.com.