It Ain't Pretty, But It's Working

Three weeks ago, the Dodgers were under .500. Arizona came to town preparing to put the second place Dodgers away. It didn't happen. Even so, there was plenty of room for worry. The Dodgers, with baseball's worst road record, faced 13 of their final 19 games on the road. Two of those three weeks are history.

The Dodgers enter the final week of the season with a semi-comfortable lead (2 1/2 games) and a very real chance for a playoff berth.

The Dodgers saved their best run of the season until the end. Like the marriage feast at Canna, the Dodgers served the cheap wine first and saved the fancy stuff until everybody was mostly in the bag and having (this writer included) given up on the festivities.

Arizona was just the opposite. Drunk on early season success, nobody really noticed when Arizona started slipping. With the rest of the league in the rearview mirror, Arizona played awful - worse than awful. Frankly, they have given the division to the overpaid, underperforming, all too hurt Dodgers.

Suddenly, Arizona has a worse road record than the Dodgers - as do more than a handful of big league clubs. While the Dodgers would only be respectable in all the other divisions, the fact is with a week to go, the Dodgers sport a better record than 17 (more than half) of the other big league clubs.

Joe Torre's old club, the Yankees, are dead meat. His new club goes into post season still alive and kicking. Who could figure Torre would have improved his situation when the season began?

The Dodgers last half dozen games have not been ones for the time capsule. When they've won, they've won ugly. But they still have won.

The Dodgers are like Freddy Mac and Fanny Mae. They have given contracts that shouldn't have been done. They have thrown our money as if it were their own, figuring that in the end somebody would bail them out. The big Dodger in the sky did his part, Arizona did the rest.

The Dodgers gave mortgages to Mark Sweeney and he ain't repaid his loan.

They gave another to Andruw Jones, who lacks the wherewithal to justify his contract.

Jason Johnson. Unbankable.

These and other iffy investments which collapsed. Don't even talk about Jason Schmidt.

Still, the Dodgers are semi-solvent. The owner is salivating over the post season parking lot and concession fees rolling in.

While all this has been going on, the Dodgers pulled out the last of their troops from Florida, bringing them home, doing what Obama and Company have wanted to do in Iraq. Gone are the AA Jacksonville team and the Rookie League Gulf League Dodgers. That's the lot - there ain't no more. All that is left of the Dodgers and Florida are memories.

But maybe not! The Florida Marlins, who'll finish with a better record than the Dodgers, have baseball's stingiest budgets. They ain't gonna increase it until, if and when, they get a new ballpark, at taxpayer expense at that.

That will be sometime down the road. Until then, every time a player gets close to making what big league players make in all other cities, they are peddled for younger and cheaper talent.

As Dan Uggla (30 HR, 90 RBI), Jorge Cantu (25 HR, 90 RBI), a very good closer, even franchise linchpin SS Hanley Ramirez, get closer to arbitration, their days in Miami can be numbered. Most will be playing elsewhere sooner than later. All would look very attractive in Dodgers Blue.

Any and all would be much cheaper than the money the Dodgers have wasted in recent years on older and currently less talented players. (Dodgers interest under the current leadership might be muted by two facts: the Marlins players haven't played in San Francisco and few if any have medical risks). There will be substantial interest in these players all around baseball.

The Dodgers can't afford to be given the time to linger, to loiter around, to casually decide on their leadership. They have to be ready to pounce immediately. Will they?

But first, the Dodgers have win the last week.

The next order of business is to firm up the post season roster. Do they continue to invest in Mark Sweeney who has set a new record for futility? Do they continue to carry Jason Johnson on the pitching staff? Do they jettison Hu and Ozuna and continue to carry Nomar Garciaparra?

What do they do with Jeff Kent, when healthy is as fast as a turtle and now hurt is, if it can be imagined, even slower? And, God forbid, do they take a sober look at Old Man Maddux, he of one win in six starts?

There was/is the regular Olympic Games and then there are the "Special" Olympics. Which baseball version will the Dodgers prepare for? Says here some people's jobs depend on it.

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