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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.

Walker-Sports Top 25 Poll: Hook'em Horns

What a week in college football and it just seems to keep on giving. Now Tommy Bowden is fired and there was such a shake up in the Top 25, that Walker-Sports just had to share their new poll with all the readers out there.

1) Texas Longhorns: No we are not trying to be like the AP and ESPN. Texas jumped to the top spot in this week’s poll because we had Missouri and LSU ranked behind OU. Despite all that, Texas is the number 1 team in the land and there is a huge target on their back now as they attempt to navigate the Big 12:

2) Alabama: Being idol can kill you. That’s what happened to the Tide. They had the weekend off, and because of that, they were unable to best the performance Texas put on in the Cotton Bowl. Don’t worry Bama fans, I don’t think the Longhorns will be riding on top very long.

3) Penn State: The destroyed Wisconsin on Saturday. I’m not sure if Wisconsin has just fallen apart that bad or what their deal is. What I do know is this is by far the best Penn State team I’ve seen since the 1990’s. They will be representing the Big 10 in the BCS.

4) Florida: Talk trash, come to the swamp and you will become Gator bait. That’s what the Florida Gators showed the world Saturday night. Urben Myers crew put on a clinic Saturday against LSU (a team I had ranked at #2). The Gators are right back in the hunt, and you better believe Saturday’s game was a statement game.

5) Texas Tech: The Nebraska Cornhuskers gave the Red Raiders all they could handle on Saturday, but somehow Texas Tech pulled through. This team is a fraud, but till someone can prove that Texas Tech is fraudulent they will remain a top ranked program.

6) BYU: Just win baby. Stay focused and don’t let a 3-5 team upset what could be a very special season.

7) Georgia: Don’t look now but the Bulldogs are back. UGA and company handled their business against a Tennessee program that is counting the days till Fulmer is fired. All Georgia has to do is make it to the SEC Title game. It’s in their backyard and they can make good things happen.

8) Oklahoma: Tough lost on Saturday. Not only did the Sooners lose the Red River Shootout for the third time in four years. The lost to Texas just added fuel to the fire that Bob Stoops cannot coach in the big games.

9) Oklahoma State: He’s a man! He’s 41 and he has one damn good football team. The Oklahoma State Cowboys are the real deal and they showed everyone just how good they are by knocking off Missouri on Saturday.

10) Ohio State: Why is it not surprising that as the season rolls into it’s second half Ohio State have weaseled its way back into the Top 10? This team is as good as Beanie Wells will allow them to be. As long as he provides protection and takes the pressure off Pryor the Buckeyes will be just fine.

11) USC: A solid dominating win over Arizona State Saturday night. They didn’t blow them out, they didn’t put up the gaudy numbers, but they showed the rest of the Pac 10 that all roads still run through USC.

12) Utah: Just like their cross state rivals, just keep plugging away and don’t become so obsessed with BYU that you over look someone else on the schedule.

13) Missouri: Tough break against a good Oklahoma State team. Now, the Tigers must put Saturday’s lost behind them because they have a chance to fix everything next Saturday when they take on the top ranked Texas Longhorns.

14) Kansas: The Jayhawks are a solid team with a great QB. As I’ve said multiple times this year, they aren’t as good as last year. Nor are they amongst the elite in the Big 12, but that won’t stop them from making noise all year.

15) Boise State: The kings of the WAC just do what they do best and that’s win games on the blue turf and just wait for someone to give them a shot at the big boys.

16) LSU: I doubt that the LSU Tigers will be talking trash and making bulletin board material for anyone in the upcoming weeks. All it did last week was set themselves up for failure and knock them out the top 10.

17) Virginia Tech: After an average performance against Western Kentucky the Hokies had the week off. Now they have to face the rest of the ACC. Virginia Tech is just a solid team that will more than likely play for an ACC Championship.

18) North Carolina: UNC got their first national exposure of the season and they made the best of their 10 minutes of fame by knocking off Notre Dame. The Tar Heels are quickly becoming the team to beat in the ACC. Next week they will be put to the test against a suddenly resurgent Virginia team.

19) South Florida: This is the highest ranked team in the Big East. Now what does that tell you about that conference? The Bulls are hoping they can make keep afloat and make an appearance in a BCS game in January.

20) Wake Forest: Wake got the win over Clemson on Thursday night, and they can go down as the straw that broke Tommy Bowden’s back and cost him his job.

21) Vanderbilt: The bubble seems to be bursting on Vandy. However, this marks the fourth week Vanderbilt has been ranked and that is a first for the school.

22) Michigan State: plunking and lumbering away, with a running game like theirs, the Spartans can remain a factor in any game they play.

23) Ball State: All this team has done is go out and win and win. They are doing all they can to remain viable and just make a showing.

24) Pittsburgh: Who would have thought that Pitt. Would find their way into the Top 25. Dave is coaching for his job and right now he is doing a good job with it.

25) Cal: Cal has climbed their way back into the top 25 after their embarrassing lost earlier this season that left the Bears losing their lunch.

Columbus Day Daily "Linkin' Logs" (10/13/08)

Last night it appeared as though the Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Douchbags...err...Dodgers reached a fever pitch as far as fighting. L.A. won 7-2 via a 5 run fifth off of normally steady but playoff unready Jamie Moyer. The Phillies still lead the series 2 games to 1.

If you haven't been paying attention, the anger started in game 2 on Friday where Phillie Brett Myers appeared to toss one behind Manny Ramirez, unprevoked and without cause. Manny promptly struck out after that pitch but not without having words with Myers who appeared to be admitting that the ball simply slipped. Given the way I've see Brett throw, the Phillies lack of attack (in that manor) this season and the way the ball flew out, I have a tendency to believe him.

Back to Sunday. Hiroki Kuroda tossed a lofty one just above the head of tiny Shane Victorino. Vic took exception to such a pitch, pointing at his head and then his gut, to suggest to Kuroda that he'll take a pitch, just don't try to kill him by giving him one in the noggin. Head Doucher...err...Dodger Russell Martin didn't think Victorino was being to considerate and decided to give Vic a piece of his mind. Chase Utley then stepped in (with the umpire) and cooler heads prevaled. But as Victorino grounded out and Kuroda then decided that was the appropriate time to respond, the benches cleared with Manny Ramirez having to be held back and Mariano Duncan and Davey Lopes almost dropping the gloves.

Now, as a Philly fan, I can appreciate moxey. I'd love to see any one of our guys go toe-to-toe with any of their tofa players any day of the week, but I don't think any of these guys realize, the Phillies simply aren't the type of team to retaliate. Just look at Chase Utley, who's the new Craig Biggio, taking hits left and right for the sake of a free base. The Phillies respond the right way...with their bats.

Now, I'm not done yet. What sickens me most about all of this is the verbally felatio given to the Dodgers by Fox. I'm absolutely baffled that any network (actually its, Fox, why am I baffled?) would go so far as to clearly support one team over another. I just wish I had DVR so I could time the thing and listen to the radio via my subscription. I didn't think Buck had any clue the Phillies never retaliate and as I've mentioned before Tim McCarver went through an entire season before someone finally told him how to say Carlos Ruiz's name. These guys are down right criminal and if this series somehow manages 7 games with a Dodgers win there will be little doubt in my mind.

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