Fire Jim Tracy

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Welcome Back, Bill

Glad you could TiVo the game and skip to the last at-bat!

As months of catcalls became a long moment of cheers, a personal hailstorm interrupted by a strange and warm sun, the most embattled Dodger danced and soaked and basked.

Months of catcalls by who? Bill Plaschke? He reaches into his "ego representing 'everyone'” pitch early in the count today.

Not Milton Bradley, but Frank McCourt.

Alongside the Dodger dugout late Tuesday afternoon, the owner leaped out of the newly constructed McCourt Family Field Box with a dozen seats and two fancy TVs and protective railings.

How fancy? Are they flat screen? Do they have DVDs and Playstations? What are the protective railings made of? See, one problem with Plaschke is he never gives us any important details.

He pumped his fist at the field.

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He pumped his fist into the stands.

Paragraph (Plaschke is thinking at this point: Can I think of anywhere else Frank McCourt might have pumped his fist? That would be more paragraphs! "pumped his fist at the fans?" "pumped his fist in the air?" "pumped his fist at his wife?" Come on, I can do this!)

He ran down the stairs and through the tunnel amid a chorus of roars usually reserved for guys with names like, you know, Arte.

I’m sorry, what did Arte Moreno win last year? Is Plaschke too dumb to remember that when the Angels actually won the series, they were owned by a mouse named “Mickey?” Or does he have so low an opinion of Angels fans that all they care about is the $3 beer? Anyway, if the Angels fans are sitting around roaring for Arte Moreno come July, that's probably not a good sign for the team.

"This is a good team!" McCourt shouted in the tunnel. "I'm telling you, this is a good team."

This was certainly a good few minutes, these Dodgers coming back from a five-run sucker punch to steal their home opener from the bumbling San Francisco Giants, 9-8.

Yep, Bill Plaschke went on vacation, and none of the last week ever existed. Blow out the Giants on their home field. Nothing. Jeff Weaver throws a gem? Didn’t see it. Jose Valentin wins the game with a home run. Wasn’t that Spring Training? Yhenzy Brazoban whiffs Troy Glaus and Plaschke’s favorite $16 million dollar man, Shawn Green? Yeah, he was eating his twelfth taco. But glad they turned it around for a few minutes at least.

This was certainly a terrific Milton Bradley scene, last year's villain hitting a two-out, two-strike fastball better than he ever threw a plastic bottle.

Wow, that was really clever. Let’s think of other ways to write that sentence.

1) This was certainly a terrific Milton Bradley scene, last year’s villain making a diving game-saving catch better than he ever threw a plastic bottle.
2) This was certainly a terrific Milton Bradley scene, last year’s villain going to the bathroom better than he ever threw a plastic bottle.
3) This was certainly a terrific Milton Bradley scene, last year’s villain playing poker in the clubhouse with Elmer Dessens before the game better than he ever threw a plastic bottle.

What could Milton Bradley do worse than throwing a plastic bottle? “This was certainly a horrible Milton Bradley scene, killing an eight year old with his bare hands worse than he ever threw a plastic bottle.” In other words, this sentence has no purpose other than for Bill Plaschke to remind all of us that he knows Milton Bradley threw that bottle, and he’ll never forget it. You have a mind like an elephant, Bill.


This was certainly a throwback game in a remodeled house, these April Dodgers looking like last September's Dodgers, in different shades of Lima.

I’m sort of surprised here that Plaschke didn’t point out Weaver’s lack of “Happy Face.” Weaver needs to pitch with more Happy Face.

"I watched all this on TV last year, and heard all about it, but to actually experience it?" said kid outfielder Jason Repko. "Wow."

There was, indeed, some wow.

Indeed! But only “some wow.” Not all wow – on the wow-meter, this registered a mere 62. Some would quibble that such a score should put this in the category of “plenty of wow” or “wowsers,” but Plaschke puts it in the category, probably on the high end, of “some wow.” A judgment call, I suppose.

But, on a day when Dodger fans and players settled somewhat uncomfortably into their new digs, there was also some whoa.

McCourt's claim that this is a good team? Which, in Dodger parlance, means a championship team?

Too early to tell, especially considering that the pitching staff has a 5.00 ERA and that they have required comebacks to win three of their five games, a tightrope pace even more dangerous than last season's.

I must have clams in my ears or something. “Too early to tell?” TOO EARLY TO TELL. Now, of course, it is too early to tell. There is no doubt about that. BUT ISN’T WAITING SEVEN GAMES INTO THE SEASON TO MAKE SOME CONCLUSIONS JUST A LITTLE BIT BETTER THAN DRAWING THEM IN NOVEMBER! We all tried to tell you that it was too early to tell, and because you obviously have hash browns for brains, you went nattering on about Alex Cora and Jose Lima. The former will never be heard from again in the American League Central; the latter will...now that I think about it...never be heard from again in the American League Central.

Do you ever wonder, by the way, if Bill Plaschke played fantasy baseball, would he actually put his money where his mouth was and actually draft Alex Cora?

Tuesday, however, showed that the Dodgers are many other things, some good, some bad, some Bradley.

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This is a pain-in-the-butt team.

This is a pain-in-the-butt column.

Literally.

Literally.

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The new wooden dugout benches? They are regularly delivering splinters into the back of the players' pants, and you can fill in your own joke.

OK. How about, “How many Arte Morenos does it take to screw in a lightbulb? How many? None, he has Tim Brown do it.”

On Tuesday, coach Glenn Hoffman, among others, felt their sting.

Unfortunately, I am only comfortable when Glenn Hoffman is sitting on the bench, so we have a problem here.

"I guess we could use some pads down there," Hoffman said with a grin.

Great. More down there to adjust. Just what we needed in this era of heightened FCC scrutiny.

This is an obstructed-view team.

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Numerous fans were furious Tuesday with reduced vision caused by the reconstruction. Most were blocked by either the wraparound ad board or the dude sitting in front of them.A friend with seventh-row seats in the new section down the third-base line phoned me in the press box to note that she had a great view, with one exception.She and her friends couldn't see the, um, batter.

Um, that’s awful. Um, sitting on the seventh-row must really suck. Why has Plaschke become such an ardent defender recently of fat-cats who sit in premium seats?

This is a hate-those-foul-balls team.

Although experts claimed that the reduced foul territory at Dodger Stadium would not turn it into a hitter's park, on Tuesday it turned two outs into hits.In the first inning, Edgardo Alfonzo's fly ball landed in a photo well, then he singled to left.In the second inning, J.T. Snow's fly ball landed in the huge Dodger dugout, and then he singled to right.Only one of those hits resulted in a run, but over the course of a season, that could be plenty of runs, and the Dodgers are giving them up nearly as fast as they score them.

You know, Bill, that’s some pretty fancy statistical analysis. Amazing, really. Tom Meagher must be jumping off a building right now, having made this peculiar cameo. Now here’s some news for you. Those crazy changes the team made in the offseason? They don’t retract those seats and move the photo wells when the Dodgers bat. So over the course of a 162 game season, it is more than likely, that hey, maybe one of the Dodgers, maybe even Hee Seop Choi, will hit a “fly ball” (sometimes known as a pop up when they land in the dugout, Bill) and it will land in the tremendously cavernous Dodger Dugout, and it is just possible that Hee Seop Choi will get another chance to hit said ball, and then will reach base on a base hit, just like Edgardo Alfonso and J.T. Snow did! And the crowd will cheer and say collectively “Thank God that someone had the foresight to construct those mammoth dugouts in which pop flies fall so that Hee Seop Choi could keep this rally going.” I think that will happen. I really do. But hey, the statistical analysis was great. We’ll bring you along to .OPS slowly but surely. I think you might be ready for productive outs though.

This is still a "team" team.

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All the worries here about lousy chemistry have so far been squelched, the perfect example occurring after Bradley's hit and the game-costing error by that over-eager kid in left field.

All the worries where? And so far? What will happen to make you worry again, Bill? A three-game losing streak? Remember this one, because he's almost sure to contradict himself in the next 60 days.

Whom do you think ran to the field and lifted up Bradley and carried him to the dugout?Would you believe Jayson Werth, a guy on the disabled list?On most teams, after a play like that, the only thing guys on the disabled list would be carrying is their plate of food from the clubhouse buffet to a table.

And Bill Plaschke knows that, because he’s usually standing in line right behind him, with two plates.

"Jim Tracy does a lot of that," Bradley said. "He makes everyone in here feel important, he makes us all feel a part of things."

Which leads us to our next observation.

Who’s this we?

This is a well-managed team.

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Even those who have never been in Tracy's corner -- and this includes some management folks -- must admit that winning five of seven games any time without Eric Gagne is good stuff.

Though it’s actually too early to make any conclusions.

How many of the first seven games would Eric Gagne have pitched in? Not Game 1 – the Dodgers were behind. Not Game 2 – the Dodgers won 10-4. He might have come in to get the final out of the 4-0 victory, but even Kelly Wunsch got that out. Gagne not needed. He would have pitched the Bottom of the 9th in the 8-7 game, but we won that game with Braz getting the save. He would have pitched in the 12-10 game, and we needed him there. He would not have pitched today, because we were three runs down going into the bottom of the ninth.

The point – well, the point is that Plaschke doesn’t really have one here, other than the casual fan has heard of Eric Gagne. The Dodgers won five games without him, and in four of them, he either wouldn’t have played or clearly wasn’t needed. This says very little about Jim Tracy.

So far this season, instead of cowering under the increased pressure, Tracy has been unafraid to bench front-office favorites Jose Valentin and Hee-Seop Choi while somehow coaxing wins from a bullpen that include guys named Houlton, Wunsch and Schmoll.

He’s also been unafraid to play front-office favorites Jose Valentin and Hee-Seop Choi, to his credit. But why Jim Tracy would get credit for “coaxing wins” from Houlton, Wunsch, and Schmoll you would have to explain to me. He’s just got to throw these guys out there and hope they make the pitches. All of them are functional, replaceable cogs to be shuttled in and out.

"I don't know what it is for us, but things happen," Bradley said.

Tracy routinely puts them in a position to make those things happen.

You know, like Jeff Weaver pitching to Pedro Feliz in the Fourth. That was a double play just waiting to happen. Couldn’t you feel it?

This is an Izzy team.

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What Cesar Izturis lost in his double-play partner, he gained in his biceps, his winter workout regimen turning him into muscular player with a bigger bat.

Who is Izturis's double-play partner? Is that the guy hitting the lights out, drawing key walks, scoring the game-winning run? I don't remember his name now. Alex something.

Two hits a game? Five runs batted in in a week? As long as his added strength doesn't hamper him in the field, he could end up being the league's best shortstop.

But it’s really too early to be making any conclusions.

We’ve only played seven games.

Indeed.

Dan Evans, who was at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday in his job as a Seattle Mariner consultant, deserves another bow.

Let’s see. Dan Evans gets a bow. Who traded for Milton Bradley last year? Who signed Cesar Izturis to a long term, big money contract this year? Paul DePodesta, you take a bow too.

This could also be a Bradley team?

?

?

Not so fast.

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Even Bradley acknowledges that trust is something that cannot be gained in one week.But give him credit. He's trying. He delivered the big hit Tuesday, waved to the fans, stood in front of his locker in full uniform for nearly 30 minutes doing interviews, and asked for only one thing.

Wow, he did interviews. I believe in you, Milton Bradley. And if you did interviews for 40 minutes, I’d vote for you for the All-Star Team. If you did interviews for an hour, I would nominate you to be President! Did you make good copy, Milton?! And if you call T.J. Simers in the next 68 days, who knows the heights to which you can aspire!

"When I do something wrong, I hear about it from everybody, and I understand that," Bradley said. "All I'm saying is, I'd like to also hear about it when I do something right."

Agreed.

Except when I’m comparing you to Jose Guillen, and then you’ll hear about it when other people do something wrong too.

Bradley returned to grace Tuesday with a splendid piece of skill and sportsmanship, earning every cheer, deserving every wave.

Translation: Damn it, I know the Dodgers won today, but they’ll get theirs.

Even if fans couldn't see it, they could hear it, and during a home opener as odd as it was invigorating, that was as good as it gets.

Actually, I would have taken an 11-1 blowout. Maybe tomorrow!

CONCLUSION: It’s too early for the rest of us to make our crazy conclusions about Jeff Kent and J.D. Drew, but just fine for Bill Plaschke to take the first seven games (or actually, the five minutes of today’s game he actually seems to have watched) and salvage what little is left of his demented worldview. And that my friends, is precisely what I expected.

5 Comments:

  • Well.

    (paragraph)

    We were all waiting for what Plaschke would do. We all suspected he might have an odd take on things.

    (paragraph)

    But I don't think any of us expected this.

    (paragraph)

    Okay, enough with the paragraphs. I would say this column represents the absolute nadir of Plaschke but it's getting to the point now where it's pick a column, any column, and you get that nadir.

    Even by the most generous of standards, this was a horrific performance. Jeff Kent isn't mentioned at all, Valentin is portrayted as a guy who's playing only because the evil computer nerd wants him played (what's he batting again?) and I could go on but why do it?

    The only saving grace is that Steve had me laughing so hard a couple of times I thought I was going to lose my spleen.

    Good stuff, Steve.

    (paragraph)

    Until next time, indeed.

    By Blogger Mr. Landon, at 4/13/2005 09:34:00 AM  

  • I did a ctrl-f on "depodesta" in this version of Plaschke's article. Only mention is in italics.

    Credit where credit is due, indeed.

    Screw you Plaschke.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/13/2005 09:51:00 AM  

  • What should Dan Evans bow for first, declining to trade our best DL'd relief pitcher, or acquiring the SP that gave up all 8 Giant runs?

    Oh, he acquired our SS, too. Take a bow, Dan, you are responsible for this 2005 team's success.

    But wait, there has been a "complete roster turnover." Bill has created a contradiction big enough to stick his forehead through - DePodesta is roundly chastized for bringing in an entirely new team, but Dan Evans gets credit for its success??? Huh? Either Depodesta turns over the team and Evans is irrelevant, or Depodesta has done nothing and Evans deserves all the credit. But not both.

    Take a bow, indeed.

    By Anonymous Vivalos, at 4/13/2005 10:16:00 AM  

  • Tremendous point, Vivalos.

    By Blogger Steve, at 4/13/2005 10:20:00 AM  

  • Haha! Great job! I read Plaschke's article last night and the first thing I was thinking at the end was, "Oh brother. FJT should have some fun with this one."

    Plaschke was all over the place! I really don't understand his personal problem with the Dodgers. It's all so random and nonsensical. I've heard this is what it's like in NY. A dozen Plaschkes. :shudder:

    Anyway, your site always gives me a laugh. Thanks!

    By Anonymous coreyt, at 4/13/2005 10:31:00 AM  

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