Off Base
The Dodgers are Back in the Race

August 29, 2007

First of all, Jeff Kent is a total stud. While Mike Piazza was once referred to as "the strongest man in So-Cal," and deservedly so, those days are long gone. Now Jeff Kent is the man, and I mean the man.

Russell Martin is a very close second, but Jeff Kent is the man. Leader by example times ten, or better yet, times twenty-five.

Quick, name one instance of a player getting hit flush in the head by a major league fastball without tumbling to the ground in a heap. Right, you've never seen it. Me neither, until Jeff Kent. He took it standing up, bat in hand, and after a few minutes, simply walked off the field. Absolutely stunning.

Then the 39-year old second baseman plays and hits safely the next day, as if nothing had happened. And plays the next day, with a couple of hits. He follows that up with 12 innings in 90-degree muck the next day, adding four more hits, and a head-first game-winning slide into home.

Reckless abandon. Passionate baseball player. That's Jeff Kent.

And the Dodgers are back in the race. Since they'd been left for dead just days ago, l'll repeat that. The Dodgers are back in the race.

Sure, it's just four straight wins, and three of them against the lowly Washington Nationals, but in four games the Dodgers have exhibited some more of those signs we talked about last week. Signs of life, and just plain signs.

First, David Wells comes up big in his first start with the club, and drops down a beautiful bunt to spark a winning rally. I understand he began instructing Juan Pierre with drills, bright and early Monday morning.

The next day, the Dodgers overcome a shaky start by Derek Lowe, get three shutout innings from three relievers, and come from behind to win on a sacrifice fly by the previous week's hero, Ramon Martinez.

The day after that, Chad Billingsley pitches seven strong, the team gets two more shutout innings from two relievers, a big pinch double by Mark Sweeney, and wins on a sacrifice fly by Andre Ethier.

The day after that, Wednesday, the Dodgers play a wild one, with contributions from too many sources to list here, get three gutty innings from Scott Proctor, and win on a sacrifice by Shea Hillenbrand. Kent slides into home, smiling.

So the team is sparing no sacrifice, apparently.

Meanwhile, GM Ned Colletti goes out and steals himself a solid starter in Esteban Loaiza, whom I predict will have several contending clubs kicking themselves for not thinking of first.

Now it's onto Petco for three monster-sized contests this weekend. The Main Squeeze and I will be there Friday with bells on. Not hells bells, mind you; just plain bells. Dodger blue bells. It's on, my friends. Talk to me Monday…

Talkback: Your comments are always encouraged…

Tomko, We Hardly Knew Ya: Actually, we did, which was the problem. It's interesting that Tomko wants the Dodgers to do the right thing and trade him someplace he can pitch. Easier said then done, pal. You wanna go to Tampa Bay, then fine. Otherwise, unless the club can sabotage the enemy by placing him in San Diego or Philadelphia, I say Tomko is off to the desert to sit in that inner-tube with Don Stanhouse…

Media Savvy: Couple of nice items from Steve Henson, of Yahoo Sports. First, there's this dandy line about the state of pitching as we know it today, or did a week ago:

"And barring an unexpected change, [Brian ] Lawrence and Tomko will match up Sunday at Shea Stadium, hitters will trip over one another getting to the bat rack and the managers will cover their eyes."

And this cool article about Jim Bouton's revival of 19th Century baseball, or as it was known at the time, "base ball."

Next, props to Los Angeles Times' Jerry Crowe, for his topical piece on pitcher-turned-outfielder Bobby Darwin.

For the piece de resistance, check out aspiring broadcaster and funny man Donny Baarns' YouTube hits, "The Darren Dreifort Wealthbuilding System" and "Dodgers Trade for Jeff Gordon." Great, great stuff…

Statue for Sandy: I'm taking the Dodgers announcement of a plan to rebuild a bunch of bathrooms and hot dog stands in the field level to mean that we're getting closer to making the Koufax statue a reality. I mean, they're running out of things to do to the old place. The monument simply has to be next. But just in case it isn't, please Vote “Yes on 32.” And tell a friend…

Remember, glove conquers all….








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