Fire Jim Tracy

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

There's So Much Ahead and So Much Regret

Exactly ten days ago, I sat in a hard orange seat to witness the greatest Dodger game of our still-young decade: Game 3 of the NLDS. I arrived an hour and a half early to find my third-base Loge level seat and see Albert Pujols make an absolute mockery of batting practice. An audible buzz crept in about a half-hour before game time, when Jose Lima began stretching in left field. That's when the "LIMA! LIMA!" chants started. Those chants would only grow louder and more magical as the night grew older.

Earlier in the year (on June 15th, to be precise), I had seen Lima throw a 7-inning/68-pitch gem against the Baltimore Orioles. I don't think anyone foresaw the performance Lima gave Dodger fans on October 9th. We Dodger fans had seen some magical moments in 2004, but I don't know if anything compares to the 9-innings worth of grit and joy Lima gave us that night. For 9 innings, Dodger Stadium shook, rattled and hummed like I've never seen before.

And Green's 2 home runs!! For an inning or two I actually harbored the thought that the Shawn Green of old had come back to carry the Dodgers like some baseball messiah. I've always believed that we were one 2002-Shawn-Green away from being a really special team in 2003 (we certainly had the pitching to carry us in the postseason). And now, on 10/9/04, Green had just hit 3 home runs in 2 games! I don't know if I've ever been more optimistic about the 2004 Dodgers than I was in the parking lot after Game 3.

Unfortunately, the magic died rather quickly the very next day. Odalis Perez pitched as if he had decided he wouldn't mind living in some place like Pittsburgh or Milwaulkee for the next four years. As it turns out, we may have been one 2003-Hideo-Nomo away from being a really special team in 2004.

What will it be in 2005? Will we be one 2004-Adrian-Beltre away from being a great team? Though years of experience and heartache tell me not to get my hopes up for the 2005 Dodgers, I firmly believe that we have a great young core that can carry us for many years to come (assuming, of course, we can resign Beltre). I quite like the idea of seeing Werth, Izturis, Beltre, and Bradley in Dodger Blue for the next few years. And Brazoban's only 24? With a little luck we may see him and Gagne closing out Dodger games for a long, long time.

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