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Off Base
The Loveless Wild Wild West

July 18, 2006

Nice division, huh?

If for some reason which I cannot fathom, you’re still wondering about the 2006 Los Angeles Dodgers, please stop. This is it, folks. You’re looking at ‘em right now. It doesn’t get any better than this.

Way to start the second half on a high note, guys. Just lovely.

And way to keep Odalis Perez on the roster. Way to listen to what the man has to say, on purpose.

Look, Dodgers “powers” that be, you’re beat on the Perez deal, so you might as well surrender. Admitting you have a problem is the first step in recovery. Or so they tell me. Stop treating Perez like a Rule 5 player. He’s got less of a future than D.J. Houlton, and it’s not particularly close. You’re not going to get squat in return for him talent-wise, no club will pick up a dime of his contract, and he’s not going to be worth a damn at any time in the foreseeable future.

The club can pray for a freak injury which takes Odalis out for the year but doesn’t involve his pitching arm, or a fortuitous suspension of fifty games, but unless the Dodgers can fix it so Perez gets busted for steroids, twice, it’s time to cut and run already.

The Dodgers can’t buy a hit, a well-pitched game, or a break. Just their luck; the team’s in St. Louis for a long series, and gets to face the entire Cards’ rotation, except Jeff Weaver.

On the bright side, L.A. still has games with the Pirates remaining on the schedule.

Plus, lucky for them, bad for baseball, 2005 wasn’t the worst of times for the National League West. The Giants are still dreadful, the Rockies are hideous, and Arizona is horrible, while the Padres only suck. The NL West really is a loveless division. It’s completely without love.

A Little History: Very little. It was 1969, in the first year of divisional play, when an American League team called the Pilots played its only season in Seattle, with the unexpressed purpose of providing material for Jim Bouton, that the NL West was first dubbed “the Wild Wild West.”

The Atlanta Braves finished 93-69, with San Francisco and Cincinnati three and four games back, respectively. The Dodgers, led by Billy Grabarkewitz and Andy Kosco, settled in fourth, eight games out, followed by the break-even Houston Astros. The Padres and NL East counterpart Montreal Expos, began their histories at an identical 52-110.

Willie McCovey won MVP honors, Tom Seaver the Cy Young Award, and Ted Sizemore was the Rookie of the Year. Five NL starters completed more than 20 games, while Bill Stoneman led the league in base on balls. Despite Henry Aaron’s .357 NLCS batting average and three homers, the Braves were swept in three by the New York Mets, who went on to something or other in the World Series.

A television program, “The Wild Wild West” ruled the day, and as urban myth would have it, Robert Conrad’s contract contained a clause which assured his appearance on screen in each episode shirtless, or as they used to say, “stripped to the waist.”

Talkback: Your comments are always encouraged…

Here’s a Thought: You know the axiom which warns against trading within the division? Well, it doesn’t apply in the case of Odalis Perez. Before releasing the guy, the Dodgers should take a flyer on the odd chance that, with the lameness of the NL West such as it is, some poor team might actually go for it. Maybe the club who fell for Randy Myers, for example. Paul DePodesta works there now so it just might be doable. You never know. So yes, by all means, please, trade within the division…

Jackass of the Week: In a tie, Scott Boras and Luke Hochevar prevail. We understand Hochevar’s not wanting to risk his future on the Dodgers, but balking at a team on the rise like Kansas City? That surprises us…

With the trading deadline approaching, it’s just about time for Kenny Rogers to request a deal away from a contender. Toby Hall too…

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Statue for Sandy: The Koufax in bronze campaign continues. Please Vote “Yes on 32.” And tell a friend…

And remember, glove conquers all....


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