Fans of the Major League Baseball team in Los Angeles (not Anaheim, but Los Angeles!) should be on cloud nine after Tuesday night’s 6-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.
Fans of the Boys In Blue should be excited because Los Angeles management finally admitted what we have known all season – that the Dodgers are rebuilding this year. Manager Don Mattingly said that the Dodgers are rebuilding without really saying it.
By admitting that the Dodgers are not going to play in the World Series or the NLCS this season, management has given fans hope for the following things:
1. The Dodgers won’t play rent-a-stiff this summer – Every year, the Dodgers pull the trigger on a summer trade deadline deal and give up minor leaguers in the process. Unless we trade for Roy Halladay and Albert Pujols, the 2011 Dodgers are going to have to enjoy watching the playoffs on TV like the rest of us. Since management admits that we’re rebuilding, we can keep our youngsters and see what they really have to offer.
2. The True Blue ownership group can pick up steam – Most Dodger fans would agree that the sooner Frank McCheap is run out of town, the better. With a team that is truly rebuilding, the new ownership group headed by former players Steve Garvey and Orel Hershisher can step in and put their stamp on the team. The new owners can build the team the right way and help bring respectability back to one of MLB’s most storied franchises.
3. Jerry Sands will have a longer leash – When there was talk earlier in the week about whether Sands should be demoted or Jay Gibbons should be released, I almost wanted to throw up my Dodger Dog. Sands is the future in left field or first base for the Dodgers. Is he struggling right now? No doubt about it. His .200 average and two home runs aren’t vaulting him to the top of the Rookie of the Year race. However, Sands has hit at every level thus far – 35 homers and a .301 batting average in 2010 and 19 homers and a .315 average in 2009. Leave the boy alone, and let him hone his stroke and let Gibbons collect a check to become a soccer mom.
4. The pressure will be off Mattingly – In Los Angeles, there is, obviously, media scrutiny. Even in a rebuilding season, Mattingly will be expected to put a decent product out on the field. In a season like this, though, a five-game losing streak isn’t going to bring about talk of Mattingly being overwhelmed by the job. He won’t be at the top of the list of managers on the hot seat all season. Mattingly can continue to learn, just like the players. He can build relationships with the young guys and become more comfortable at the helm of the Dodgers.
The 2011 Dodgers are kind of like that blind date that you hear has a “good personality.” It’s not ideal, but at least it’s something to build on.