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Monday, October 13, 2008

The LA Sports Blog: How I Became Inspired To Write Again

The ArmchairGM Burns

By: Nate Gordon

Generally I am a fairly consistent writer; two times a month minimum in slow times, once a week during busy times, three times a week when highly motivated. On the contrary, however, I’ve been stymied by a real life event that I both never though I’d have to endure at this point in my life, nor would believe the magnitude of it I did experience such a thing. My close friend and neighbor Chad, who I’ve known since I was 10, passed away on September 7 th due to complications of substance abuse. It’s been a troubling, sobering, anomaly of an experience. A diehard Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Broncos fan, I’d often draw motivation to write off of a conversation I had with Chad. The last 6 weeks have been to say the least, an experience, an experience I’ve been unable to write through.

That is until this afternoon. Sitting at my desk, reflecting on the previous weeks sports events my mind wandered into a faux conversation with Chad. I could see and hear his excitement over the Dodgers and his corny jokes about the Raiders. As I thought about this I was quickly drawn into side thoughts about each team, Dodgers and Raiders respectively. What came of it was an analysis of the state of each team currently. I’m going to share the thoughts on the Dodgers with you today, but I’m going to write in the spirit of Chad, so the language and grammar might not sound like my voice, but it’s only because you’re talking to Chad. So without further ado, here is Chad’s take on the Dodgers:

Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers are NL West champions, and 3 wins shy of their first World Series since I was 2. I’ve been attending Dodgers games since 1990 and there are “5 best of the last 20 years” on this team. I’m certain of that have made this team what it is:

  • Manny Ramirez is the best player to play for the Dodgers the last 20 years.

You think this is obvious right? Manny is a lock Hall of Famer having one of his best statistical seasons while wearing Blue. However there is more to this then one may see. You see, I’ve watched tons of great players in a Dodger uniform, but not all of them played to their potential, or were in their primes when they were with the club. Pedro Martinez and Vlad Guerrero, both as farm hands/fringe big leaders were moved to Montreal. I’ve seen Gary Sheffield, Mike Piazza both come through here and put up their respective numbers. But no one has played as hard or as well as Manny.

Now the next caveat purposed would be that Manny won’t be here next year. My answer? So freaking what! If he helps us win a ring, thank you for your services and have a nice day! I don’t see past this season, not when I’ve endured 20 years of losing from a proud and successful organization. If I was a Giants fan I could cope – not as a Dodgers fan.

  • Joe Torre is the best Dodgers Manager of the last 20 years:

Now this is unfair because it would technically reach into Lasorda Era. So excluding Tommy Lasorda we’ve been subjected to Davey Johnson, Glen Hoffman, Jim Tracy and Grady Little. So enough said, Joe is the best since Tommy.

Derek Lowe, Dodgers Ace
Derek Lowe, Dodgers Ace
  • Derek Lowe is the best Dodgers Pitcher of the last 20 years:

I’m not going into stats, ERA, sabermatrics or anything like that. I’m going off of what I’ve seen with my own two eyes and no one since “Bulldog” Orel Hershiser has been more consistent than or as talented as Derek Lowe. Lowe, the textbook sinker-baller, has been automatic the last two months and is playing his best baseball since arriving in LA. He’s been the true Ace of the staff on and off the mound and has brought a calm and consistency to that clubhouse by ensuring the position players that at least once ever five days they are getting a quality start from their pitcher.

James Loney, Dodgers First Basemen
James Loney, Dodgers First Basemen
  • James Loney is our best first round draft pick of the last 20 years.

Loney was a highly regarded High School pitcher but was assumed to be unable to play position baseball. Logan White, Dodgers scouting director, had a different idea. Called a “waste of valuable talent” at the time, the Dodgers selected Loney in 2006 as a first basemen. Two seasons later Loney was starting in Los Angeles as the first basemen, batting over .300 and showing a prowess for defense and power.

Russell Martin, Dodgers All-Star/Silver Slugger Catcher
Russell Martin, Dodgers All-Star/Silver Slugger Catcher

Russell Martin undid a childhood of Pizza and LoDuca memories in his rookie season alone. This season his continued his solid pitching staff management while putting up consistent numbers at the plate. The kid is gifted with unnatural speed for a catcher and a leadership quality that borders on arrogant. While that attitude has rubbed some veteran teammates the wrong way, it has thrilled fans and emboldened other young teammates. Martin seems poised to be the franchise catcher well into the next decade and I for one will be thrilled to go see him at Chavez Ravine year after year.

So if Chad was still around this is how he would see the current state of Dodgers affairs. Success behind 5 of the best Dodgers of the last 20 years, all at pivotal positions: Catcher, Pitcher, First Base, Left Field and Manager. I’ll never get my friend back, and I’ll never to get share another memory with him like the ones we made. But hopefully, if you have a friend that is special to you like Chad was to me, you’ll cherish the time you have together, because it can be gone tomorrow.

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