Wait Till Next Year ... Again?

Every year, the late 1940s and early 1950s Dodgers would field good and sometimes great teams. Every year, they would find a way to lose. The Dodgers had never won a world championship in Brooklyn (their 1955 win came in Yankee Stadium). And every year, after the Dodgers had found a way to win.

The New York World Telegram back/sports page would show the Willard Mulllin cartoon of the weeping Brooklyn bum, cigar stub in his mouth, saying "Wait Til Next Year."

We are tired of Wait Til Next Year. Darned tired.

We have been waiting since 1988 for a Dodgers team that can get to the World Series much less win one.

No more waiting.

Field a team that can win. Field a healthy team. Field a team with real pitchers. Field a team with a winning pitching coach. Field a team with a top of the order that can and does get on base when it counts.

Field a team with a number 5 hitter who hits more than .152 and doesn't drive in a single run in post season play. Field a team with the best first baseman on the team on the field instead of on the bench.

The 2006 Roller Coaster Dodgers had to win the last seven games of the regular season just to get the wild card berth, then came crashing back to reality by being ingloriously swept. The old man went out to battle the sea and, unlike in storybook novels, this time, in reality, the sea won.

Great pinch hitters do not take third strikes. The Dodgers best pinch hitter did.

The Dodgers sent an echo, the wounded Nomar Garciaparra up to pinch hit. He grounded out.

He could hardly walk much less run. Why waste an out in a must win game for a curtain call doomed to failure?

Now the Dodgers did NOT field a $200 million payroll squad like the Yankees, but they did field the fifth highest payroll in baseball. Did it get what it should? Nope.

Go to work Mr.McCourt. Newly painted seats and more of them ain't good enough. Go to work, Mr. Colletti, and this time go short on the ex-Giants. The reason most of the ex-Giants were ex-Giants was simply their best baseball was behind them, not in front of them.

The Dodgers are sure to point fingers someplace. Happy go lucky Joe Beimel, still with his dozen barroom stitches in his hand, is a likely candidate. But excising Beimel, who was earning near the major league minimum, is not nearly sufficient sacrifice to erase all the Dodgers' demons.

The Dodgers can take a clue by watching what happens five time zones east of them in New York, at the home of the Yankees. The Yankees like the Dodgers have too old players.

The Yankees like the Dodgers have players with too big contracts. But you can be rest assured, old George Steinbrenner aint too old to bring out the surgeon's scalpel to prune his tree of the limbs that no longer bear fruit.

The 2006 Dodgers were exciting. Too exciting. They were the Maalox Dodgers, the Pepto Bismal Dodgers.

Still standing in 2006 are the Mets with so many ex Dodgers it is hard to count them.

Still standing are the Oakland A's with, yegads, Milton Bradley.

Still standing are the Detroit Tigers with skads of young hard throwers.

The Dodgers are not standing.

Now in the final game, a losing one, there are some lessons. Besides running into the Mets, which was bad enough, the Dodgers were unfortunate enough to run into a home plate umpire who was to have an off game, a very off game.

Right away in the first, he demonstrated to Greg Maddux that he was to look at borderline pitches in his own way. The ump's way, even to a completely biased fan, would not favor the Dodgers pitchers but did favor at least the Mets starter Mr. Traschel.

When you take the brush out of the hand of a master painter, you are in deep trouble and the Dodgers were in deep trouble right away. Trouble it would never recover from.

Lesson number two appllies to pitcher Jonathan Broxton, catcher Russell Martin, pitching coach Rick Honeycutt or whoever in the world is responsible for calling for an average slider when the pitcher has a 97 mph fastball.

In the fatal 6th, three times the Mets would hit average Broxton sliders for run scoring hits. Its like asking a surgeon to do a radical procedure with a pair of fingernail clippers instead of a finely honed scalpel. Who did it? Why?

Lesson number three: repititio mater studiorem. In Latin, that means "repitition is the mother of learning." As has been his season long habit, Grady Little repeatedly went to Brett Tomko in relief. And repeatedly Tomko gave up a run. When will be ever learn, when will we ever learn?

There were two positive lessons in the season ending game. One, there is still a lot of baseball left in Mr. Jeff Kent, and one whole heckuva lot of heart. Second, can there be any doubt left anywhere in the world that Mr.James Loney is THE Dodgers first baseman of the NOW, not the future.

If the Dodgers are wed to the dream that Nomar Garciaparra is next year, a year older, going to be miraculously restored to season long health, and even think about the unthinkable, i.e., using the estimable Mr. Loney as the cornerstone of a blockbuster deal to revitalize the Dodgers, the only deal we would even contemplate would be packaging James Loney, he of the biggest upside and very low salary, with Matt Kemp, to the dummy and broke Marlins for lefty starter Willis AND third baseman Miguel Cabrera, neither of whom they will be able to afford to keep much longer.)

Going back to the Yankees need to do something, did anyone notice that the NY scribes have already hit on the idea of the young and talented Joe Girardi as the better replacement for Joe Torre than the retread Lou Piniella?

Did anyone notice Andre Ethier in his two playoff pinch hitting tries absolutely crushed the ball both times, and both times right at somebody? His two swings each hit the ball harder than Kenny Lofton did the entire series. Would the Dodgers have done better with Ethier in the lineup rather than on the pine? Who knows, but they couldnt't have done any worse.

Every time manager Little used little used Ramon Martinez, something good happened. Every time he used often used Julio Lugo, something bad happened. Is there a lesson or a message in this observation? Very probably.

If we were to have a chance at coming back to life in a different form, we would choose to be a lefty, and a big lefty. There are special rules for lefties. Look at Mark Hendricksen. He's so tall nobody wants to face him, even though he hasnt been very good.

Forced to be used by the aforementioned Mr. Beimel's unfortunate 2 a.m. excursion into the bowels of New York City, Hendrickson, who wouldn't even have been on the playoff roster, pitched in relief in all three games and effectively enough to resurrect a career seemingly all but over.

He is big, although not strong, he is lefty, which counts, and he is smart enough to stay in his hotel room when he is supposed to. We are big, but side to side not up and down. We are unfortunately righty. And so old we couldnt leave a hotel room if given the chance. Ah, so is life.

Well, Mr.McCourt and Mr. Colletti, time to go to work. In the case of Mr.Colletti, we suspect he already has.

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