Dodgers Can't Lose for Winning

A week ago, the Dodgers, to paraphrase the old Brooklyn saying, was dead. With a September schedule chuck full of road games, the team with the worst road results in all of baseball, were in the coffin and the coffin was being lowered into the grave. Then somebody heard a cough, opened the box and the Dodgers were, in fact, not dead but still breathing!

The cough came, truth be known, as much to the Arizona Razorbacks, the chief coffin bearer, as to the Dodgers.

Suddenly, there are still three weeks left and the Dodgers, left for dead, are only 1 1/2 games out, back to .500, and very much alive.

The Dodgers are doing this in the last couple of days without the old vet Jeff Kent, who had been playing on a bum knee for longer than most knew, and most reluctantly was forced to undergo arthroscopic surgery.

They were alive largely without veteran Nomar Garciaparra, who since he came back from the DL just after the All-Star break has been hitting lower than Mark Sweeney. Instead, almost as old vet Angel Berroa has rediscovered is batting stroke and begun to contribute more than had been expected.

The Dodgers are staying close in spite of Joe Torre continuing to send the aforementioned Sweeney up to bat, even though he continues to hit less than Madonna weighs.

Andre Ethier continues to hit because Torre puts him in the lineup, which he should have been doing all along. Ditto James Loney, who loves to hit in September.

But staying close, much less winning, depends on pitching. Old Greg Maddux, hit early and often twice, came back to bite the Padres. Chad Billingsley won, Mr. Kuroda won. Scott Proctor came back and as Torre is wont to do any time Proctor has a uniform on, went right back to him as his first choice for long man.

If the Dodgers had "quit" written all over them, what could one say about the DBacks, who were given a 9-of-10 Dodgers road losing streak.

The DBacks should have run away and hidden from the pack with this gift horse ribbon-packaged for them. They did not but instead have been backing up game for game with the Dodgers.

Whichever team wins the division, it would have to figure as the odds on favorite to be first out of the playoffs. But stranger things have happened.

Look back to 1988. The Dodgers, the eventual World Series Champions, looked on paper as the worst team in the playoffs. Then Mike Scioscia hit a 9th inning playoff homer off Dwight Gooden and a week later Kirk Gibson, one-legged, hit that two-strike back-door slider off Duane Eckersley and the A's.

These two improbable swipes were enough for the black and blue Dodgers to hand the ball to Orel Hershiser and the rest was history.

With all this good fortune of late, the Dodgers are still not a very good team and still need major retooling, win or lose. The 1988 Dodgers didn't retool after their championship, the beginning the the long 20 years in the wilderness.

The Dodgers still face the final three weeks with no Penny, no Saito, no Furcal. Andruw Jones is back, but he just as well might not be.

The Dodgers 9-of-10 losses were kind of like Barak Obama's post convention 9-point boost in the polls. Do the Dodgers have a baseball equivalent of Gov. Palin ready to step forward and reinvigorate their season? Time will tell.

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