The Tortoise and the Hare

Remember the tortoise and the hare? The rabbit runs way out in front, is so confident he stops for a nap and while nobody is looking the slow moving but never give up tortoise passes him by. Maybe the Dodgers should change their name to the LA Tortoises.

The Arizona Diamondbacks were napping at home and maybe watching the Dodgers sweep the Cubs and advance to the National League Championships with a day or two extra rest over the winner of the Phils-Brewers set.

The Yankees and the Mets similarly were given a long winters nap. Joe Torre has to be smiling inside, having been not so gently given the gate in Gotham, only to get to the league championships a lot closer to his beloved island winter home. 

GM Ned Colletti has to be breathing easier, given a new lease on life.

Say what you want about Manny Ramirez, it was sometimes belittled James Loney who did the work in two of the three games in the sweep, and all credit to the hitters, it was the pitching that prevailed in round one.

Ole' September Lowe lived up to his name, not incidentally lowering his free agent value over the winter. Ace Billingsley cemented his role as the Dodgers youngest, strongest, most talented hurler. And Japans gift to the Dodgers, Mr. Kuroda said "Sayonara" to the Cubs. No need to worry about game four starter now.

Oh, them Dodgers. 

Sidelined most of the season by the dratted disabled list, hamstrung by the GM's not so artful dodging over the last winter, disappointing to the faithful for ever so long, it's as if the team collectively went into a seance and reemerged as the 1988 World Champion Dodgers - a Roy Hobbs reappearance if there ever was one.

Now all bets are off. In both a short series and post season play, anything, anything, can happen.

Rafy Furcal started all three games. Torre was smart enough to prefer Blake Dewitt's all around play at second. He was smart enough to leave Mark Sweeney off the roster, albeit three if not six or eight months too late, he resisted the temptation to put Aches and Pains Garciaparra at first, which allowed Loney to play and produce, which he did.

The starters were so good, the Dodgers didn't have to screw it up by making iffy bullpen decisions.

Good pitching allows good managing, or to be more precise, not to have to think too much.

Are these October Dodgers a whole lot better than the team that floundered most of the season? Maybe not so much. But timing is everything.

Man for man, position by position, the Dodgers didn't match up as good as or better than the Cubs, who were inexplicably lousy all around. The team spawned and nurtured and tolerated by Mr. Wrigley of chewing gum fame, simply gummed up the works at the worst possible time. It was just one of those things, which in Webster's Dictionary means pitching.

You can't say enough about what Manny Ramirez, the no-cost-to-the-Dodgers player jettisoned by the Red Sox, has meant to the Dodgers, even though there may not be enough bucks to go around - short of a federal bailout - to keep him for long (Hey, did you notice the Congress tacked on help for the Hollywood studios in the bailout bill). But for here and now, Manny is the straw that is stirring the Dodgers offensive drink.

Loney got into the 90s in RBI during regular season play and is now closing in on 100 for 2008.

Brother Broxton punctuated the sweep by a three strikeout 9th. That is an exclamation point.

Can the Dodgers advance? Sure they can! Will they? Its up in the air.

Ken Rosenthal is pining for a Red Sox-Dodgers series. While not getting the cart before the horse, that would indeed be a dandy series with so many sidebars it would make the French Quarter in New Orleans look like a center for churches.

For now, Dodgers fans everywhere will savor the present for as long as it lasts. That being said, the team still ought to get in line at the home improvement section of Sears at the earliest opportunity.

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