It was last season in late June and early July, and we were in Las Vegas sitting in a sportsbook at the Belagio when it hit us: why don’t we take some money out of our emergency savings, and plunk it down on the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the whole damn thing? It almost seemed too easy. The Dodgers were just starting to get on a roll but the oddsmakers really weren’t onto them just yet. A lot stood to be made if someone had the gusto to plunk down the bet.
And as a wise gambler once told us; this is exactly why you do not bet. Luckily, we talked ourselves out of it and stayed away from it. But it was maybe only because we had a marriage to worry about if things didn’t work out for the Dodgers in the postseason.
Los Angeles would soon thereafter go on a 46-10 roll. National League pitchers seemed to figure out Yasiel Puig, but not entirely. The Dodgers ran into a buzzsaw of a team in St. Louis whose rotation got hot at just the right time, and looking back that St. Louis team excelled at all the small things that the star-power Dodgers did not. Small execution, great defense, and exceptional pitching helped the Cardinals prevail.
We were happy to see the legendary Dodgers succeed. We would have been fine with them taking the title last year. It’s good for baseball when the Dodgers are good. In our opinion, they play in America’s most enchanting city, in a gem of a stadium in the sunshine, with the grandfather of baseball calling their games late-night in the Midwest all by himself.
They have an eclectic roster and a charismatic ownership group. Their GM looks like a guy who could have you whacked. There are a lot of things to love about this team heading into 2014.
Major Off-season Moves:
Signed Clayton Kershaw to a 7-year, $215 million dollar contract.
Michael Young retired.
Signed Don Mattingly to an extension through 2016.
Signed Jamey Wright.
Signed Chris Perez.
Re-signed Juan Uribe to a 2-year, $15 million dollar contract.
Signed Alexander Guerrero to a 4-year, $28 million dollar contract.
And you’re damn right we’re bullish on the Dodgers. Did 2013 scare us off a little bit with the way they eroded in the NLCS? Absolutely not. We started with this team because we’re picking them to win the whole damn thing in 2014. As we have been so often in life (and sometimes not enough), we were just a year early on the Dodgers. They’re a year better, a year wiser, and they’re going to still come into your town and stomp your team and probably drink all the tequila your city has to offer this season. Click through the jump to learn more about our projected 2014 champions.
We told you it would be so; we told you that the Dodgers would beat Adam Wainwright in the Cardinals in game three of the NLCS. And that’s exactly what happened.
The Dodgers snapped an ugly scoreless streak by gathering a single by Adrian Gonzalez, and a huge triple from Yasiel Puig with two outs. Puig pimped it as if the ball was out. The Dodgers took a 2-0 lead and threw some big first punches against the Cardinals ace with their number three guy on the hill.
It was obvious from the opening bell that Hyun-Jin Ryu had as good of stuff as he’s had in a long time. He was throwing 95 MPH early in the game and spotting up. He went seven shutout innings and the Cardinals didn’t really mount a threat all night long. St. Louis had four hits on the evening and don’t look now, but the Cardinals are now the team with one run in the last 18 innings.
Hanley Ramirez played with broken ribs, and he did it effectively. He had two hits including a late RBI single for an insurance run to stretch the lead to 3-0. Bigger than that was his piece of hitting that advanced Mark Ellis to third base with no one out in the inning that the Dodgers bottom of the fourth.
After Ryu exited the game, the Dodgers turned it over to their shutdown version of the pen. Brian Wilson allowed a lead off single to Jon Jay, but blew away two hitters after that to strand Jay and get out of the inning unharmed. Kenley Jansen took over in the ninth attempting to earn his first postseason save, and while he didn’t strike anyone out he was clearly overpowering in a 1-2-3 frame, giving the Dodgers their first LCS win in a number of years. Rough night in center for Jon Jay, by the way.
It’s a brand new series, and it’s good for baseball. If the Dodgers lost the game tonight, it was likely to end tomorrow night. Now the Dodgers get a crack at Lance Lynn and a chance to even this thing up. I can’t wait to watch game four tomorrow evening and see if the Dodgers have the same kind of John Wayne in them that they did tonight in the face of all odds. I thought I had the pulse of this team right, and the victory over Adam Wainwright is confirmation that it is so. This is going to be a long and bloody series.
Julio Teheran came out throwing hard, but was leaving balls down the middle of the plate. The Dodgers did exactly what they needed to do in facing him by having quality at-bats and not panicking when they fell behind early. Teheran worked himself into a high-stress inning in the bottom of the 2nd, and with the bases loaded Ryu hit a line drive that almost got over the head of Justin Upton. The poke by the pitcher got the Dodgers on the board, and they never looked back. The next hitter up (Carl Crawford) hit a three-run home run into the right field bullpen, Dodgers lead 4-2.
The Braves proved to be nothing if not resilient. Ryu made a few blusters to let them back in it. He missed first base on what should have been a double play and errantly threw home on a tapper back to him. The Braves tied the game at 4-4, and then the Dodgers bats continued the outpour.
Yasiel Puig had three hits, line drives to left-center, center, and right field. He scored three times and drove in three runs. Here’s one of those rapier shots. In true Yasiel Puig fashion, he has six hits in his first three postseason games.
Hanley Ramirez is absolutely on fire. The Dodgers heart of the order is laying waste to the Atlanta pitching staff; factor in that Juan Uribe also hit a home run and that’s a pretty terrifying four bats in the middle of the Dodgers order.
The Dodgers really got into the Atlanta bullpen. Jordan Walden had to throw an extended workload and Alex Wood was in long-relief. That should give the Dodgers an edge today if things are close in a late situation. Conversely, the Dodgers had to use Kenley Jansen to close out the game because Atlanta mounted a min-rally in the ninth.
The game didn’t seem the same without Vin Scully calling it. It just didn’t feel right watching a baseball game at Dodger Stadium of such magnitude without Vincent narrating it.
The Dodgers go with Ricky Nolasco tonight and the Braves counter with Freddy Garcia. Freddy Garcia was throwing in the big leagues the year I got my driver’s license. I don’t see how Atlanta could win this game with the way the Dodgers have been swinging it, unless of course the game of baseball decides to rear it’s ugly head and they beat themselves. I bet on the over 7.5 in this one tonight at 9:30 at Chavez Ravine. It’s going to be another late night.
Dodger Stadium plays host to game three of the NLDS between the Braves and the Dodgers. Hyun-Jin Ryu and Julio Teheran oppose one another. The loser of this game is in huge trouble. I haven’t been able to watch this series like I’ve wanted – but that’s going to change tonight.
Football takes a back seat, and October baseball is going on the tube in the family room come 8:00 PM ET. This is going to be a great game.
That’s what I think of the 2013 Los Angeles Dodgers as things begin. It’s not a bad thing for baseball if these guys are restored to relevancy.
It would be unrealistic to think that all of these former superstars will put together superstar seasons at the same time. However, if just a few of them manage it while the others become solid contributors, the Dodgers are going to be one tough out in the National League.
Major offseason moves:
Signed SP Hyun-Jin Ryu
Signed SP Zach Greinke to a 6-year, $147 million contract
Traded minor leaguer Jake Lemmerman to St. Louis for Skip Schumaker
Signed RP JP Howell
Signed RP Brandon League to a 3-year, $22 million contract
Of course, let’s not forget all the damn moves they made at the end of last season. They acquired a small army of misfit toys in getting Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Josh Beckett for basically nothing.
After the jump, we’ll take a look at the Dodgers from top to bottom.