I Never Did Like Roller Coasters

I never did like roller coasters at the county fair. I was always prone to being dizzy (yes, I know you all knew that already). So the dizzying rides were always a terror rather than a thrill. So, it stands to reason this roller coaster Dodgers baseball season is less than thrilling to me.

From stratospheric lows to heavenly highs and back again. Here we are only days from Labor Day and we are only a handful of games over .500, hanging on to first place by a fingernail (and a split one at that).

This season is giving me ulcers.

Why, we wonder, aren't we doing better? There are so many pluses. Russell Martin is so much more than expected. Andre Ethier such a pleasant surprise.

Kenny Lofton has done what he can do -- hit .300, steal bases. Nomar Garciaparra has had his best season in years.

Rafy Furcal has steadied as the season progressed. Wilson Betemit has helped.

Greg Maddux continues to defy age. Our 36 year old Japanese rookie closer has done everything asked and more.

Jonathan Broxton has settled into the majors. James Loney is making the case to be an everyday major league player (notice he's playing the outfield in Vegas right now?).

Chad Billingsley has settled down (he's been snapped up in every fantasy league).

After the raft of 2005 injuries, it was easy to expect 2006 would be easier on the Dodgers. It has not been. Think of where the team would have been with even normal seasons from Eric Gagne, Bill Miller and even Yhency Brazoban.

You always take your chance with trades, winning some and losing others. The Dodgers lost on Jae Seo and Danys Baez.

So, if the Dodgers sneak into the NL playoffs, can they prosper? Could they advance?

You bet your bippy they could. Look at this team man for man, position by position, against the 1988 Dodgers, who were only average during the season but caught lightning in a bottle in post season play and became baseball's world champions.

A lot, as usual, depends on pitching and here we come to the Dodgers Achilles heel.

The season ending bullpen is not the one that started the season.

Brad Penny, big, with powerful stuff, remains an enigma. How can so much talent produce so few wins. Penny made the All Star team, but is hardly a "stopper."

Will Billingsley get the jitters in post season play? Can Derek Lowe shine in the limelight one more time?

Will Kenny Lofton and Greg Maddux, knowing each chance at the brass ring may be their last, dig down one more time?

Has Rafy Furcal, who's never missed post season play, save his best for last?

Hey, the Cards ain't the Cards of the last few years. The Mets, with the league's best records, has a pitching staff not a heckuva lot better than the Dodgers.

Old guys playing to their ability and new guys surprising by getting into the swing of things ahead of schedule have a way of making managers look awfully good, and Grady Little consequently has had a good first season.

But, please, can we proceed on a more even keel with less of the roller coaster thrills!

Going up is dandy, going down is a bummer.

Like this offer?
There's lots of speculation in south Florida that the Marlins are so enamored of outfield phenom Matt Kemp that they would be willing to dangle their stopper, Dontrelle Willis, in a mega deal after the season. Would you make that deal?

A lot could on the line when Kemp comes back on September 1 and shows how much progress he has made in handling Uncle Charlie (ye olde curve ball), Sister Slider and their other nasty siblings.

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