Off Base
You Sir, Are No Mariano Rivera

July 18, 2010, 6:40 p.m. Alternative headlines considered include The Butchering of a Ballgame, How to Succeed in Baseball Without Really Trying (It's Better if You Do), The Horror, and The Missouri Breaks Your Heart Every Time, But That Doesn't Mean You Have to Help It.

Oh, and I am So Pissed. Man, am I pissed. Absolutely fuming.

I tried my crawl-into-the-fetal-position-cry-myself-to-sleep thing, as I often do following a Dodger gut-wrencher of a loss, but without the usual success. REM was not achieved, making manipulation of my dreams impossible. Which only pissed me off further.

But look, obviously Jonathan Broxton blew it for the blue big-time today. He was awful, as is sometimes the case. Not always; sometimes. But if even the most casual of Dodger fans could see this one coming a couple of innings away, so should the skipper. And yet it happened.

Please don't start with the "you're just second-guessing" crap, OK. Don't make me come down there.

It's not second-guessing if you fire off the predictions to your pals online while screaming to your wife in anticipation of the exact breakdown of what's about to occur, with the confidence that only a man with a detailed script ought to have. It's first-guessing, actually. First-guessing.

We can debate the balls it takes to employ the two-inning save (five outs, six outs, whatever) from here until Dennis Gilbert takes over custody of the Dodgers. Even when you have the best closer in baseball history – Mariano Rivera – it's pushing the envelope farther than you ought to by going there time after time, and year after year.

When you don't have the best closer in baseball history – and instead have twice the man (if you know what I mean) in Jonathan Broxton – it's downright negligence. A refuse-to-win approach.

Or perhaps some sort of losers' complex. I'll get my psychologist folks (yes, Mom and Dad both, it was like growing up in a Hitchcock movie) on it and report back. It's a couple hundred bucks an hour, but at times worth every penny. This is one of those times.

Sure, it may be Joe Torre who really needs the therapy, but since that's out of our hands, the least we can do is point the faithful to the treatments available to them.

If you read Chad over at periodically, and you should, you know about his "Broxton haters" line of thinking. I'm not a Broxton hater, and hate isn't the apt emotion anyway, so spare me the label.

I know JB is a good closer, one who can be great at times, and I like him. I do, however, quake in my boots at the mere thought of his entering a game at other times, and especially at the thought of his entering a game at the wrong time.

Memo to Joe Torre: those wrong times are your bad, not big John's. And I don't think Broxton is an "elite" closer, as some of his supporters would have you believe.

But again, it's the two-inning save that's the problem here. While not quite the I-went-to-law-school-see-how-smart-I-am affectation Tony La Russa's pitcher batting eighth thing is, it's up there.

And if you're going to be as creative or on-the-fly in your strategy as you need to be to consider a two-inning save, shouldn't you be open to adapting mid-stream as well? I mean, if Broxton gets two quick outs in the eighth, then fine, trot him out there for ninth. If he doesn't, and he gives up hits and walks in laboring to end his first inning, why not replace him for the second. Why not replace him ever?

These are rhetorical questions, unfortunately. Perhaps with another manager, a more modern one. Down the road, during a Gilbert Administration. Talk to me then…

Talkback: Your comments are always encouraged…

Last Add, First-Guessing: The chat rooms were filled with fear the second Torre lifted Vicente Padilla, and before Garret Anderson reached home plate. That Anderson doubled is almost beside the point. Not entirely, but almost.

It was a sacrifice opportunity, with Rafael Furcal to follow, and the Dodgers might have scored the same three runs anyway. Or one or two, and still had their starter in there to go at least seven. That extra inning of pressure Torre put on his bullpen was the difference-maker, and as questionable a call as the use and overuse of Mr. Broxton.

First-guessing, remember. Not second…

Counting Down the Days: My apologies to Eric Collins, but as long as I'm this pissed. If the club sticks to its television schedule, Collins will do just 14 of the Dodgers remaining 70 games, with the last one being September 12 in Houston.

With the time off, I suggest Collins see someone about the depth perception (so that he can tell a pop fly from a room service fly to a well-hit fly ball), and rethink even one more use of the phrase "all's it was" for the duration of his career, much less this particular baseball season…

Media Savvy: Line of the week goes to Bret Saberhagen look-alike and columnist Jerry Crasnick for this little ditty, re the triple crown:

"Baltimore's Frank Robinson led the American League in home runs, RBIs and batting average in 1966, and Boston's Carl Yastrzemski achieved the feat the following year. That was so long ago that some of the statistical analysts who now lecture us on how overrated the RBI is hadn't even been born yet."

Last Add Dennis Gilbert: One of the many things a new baseball owner can do to distinguish himself from the old, and there are many, is to start with a simple change, and publicize the hell of it. Think Arte Moreno's lowering beer prices, only better.

How about a dropping of parking prices, and a serious drop at that, effective Day One? I'm not smart enough to calculate the revenue sacrificed by going all the way back to a $10 fee to park at Dodger Stadium, but I can tell you right now the pr value will be greater.

And adios the parking lot attendants ordering patrons around before the game, and replace them with a plethora of friendly ones helping direct traffic afterwards…

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

Remember, glove conquers all….


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