L.A. Surprisingly Lucky So Farm

The Dodgers, by sweeping the Razorbacks at home a week ago, slipped into first place in the "nobody wants to win it" division, aka The National League West. Sobriety loomed as he Dodgers, toting baseball's worst road record, embarked on a 13-of-19 road trip to finish the season.

But, lo and behold, the waters did part (Dodgers Prophet Tommy Lasorda must have called the anointed one, i.e., Barak Obama, for help) and the Dodgers won their first road series, against those pesky Padres, who have been biting the Dodgers ever since they have come into the league and the division.

The only loser in that series was, ahem, pitching on fumes Greg Maddux, now 1-3 in the heat of the pennant race.

Better yet, the Razorbacks, stunned by the LA sweep, journeyed north to San Francisco, trying to right their ship only to continue to lose. With the division title on the line, the appellation "chocker" has passed from the Dodgers to the Razorbacks.

The Dodgers have 16 games left, with 10 on the road. Three in Colorado and four in Pittsburgh, then San Francisco and San Diego at home, then up the coast for the final three by the bay.

The Razorbacks have a series at home against Cincinnati and San Francisco, seven on the road against Colorado and St. Louis, then finish with Colorado back in Arizona.

The Big Dodger in the sky has begun to smile more often on the Dodgers, overlooking Joe Torre's obeisance to GM Ned Colletti, by starting overpaid, underachieving, and barely healthy Andrew Jones (0-4, 2Ks, nada out of the infield) and sub .150 since the All Star Break Nomar Garciaparra at his third best fielding position (1b).

The Big Dodger let Torre get away with using clearly not right Brad Penny out of the bullpen (three runners faced, all reaching base) and his continued stubborn use of Mark Sweeney as a pinch hitter (hitting under .135, Sweeney did what he is good at, lowering his average).

When the Dodgers can get away with Torre's miscues and Colletti's chumps, surely somebody is smiling on the Dodgers these days.

There are just about two weeks left. The Dodgers are sporting a 3 1/2 game lead, probably good enough for them to be in or near first a week from now, even on the road.

Here's a prescription (or prayer): 1) park Penny in one of the owner's better parking spots, 2) make Sweeney a hitting coach but God forbid, don't use him as a pinch hitter anymore, 3) even lipstick ain't gonna help Andruw Jones contribute, so stifle the impulse, 4) have the bullpen warm up at the same time as Ole' Man Maddux each outing, 5) for at least the next two weeks, think less about making Colletti's acquisitions look somehow justified and more about winning games on the field.

Let's look at history: when the 1988 Dodgers won the division, before the post season started, they looked like candidate number one for first team to be eliminated. Before anybody could blink, they had become the surprise world champions. What would you give the odds against that happening again?

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