Off Base
Easy as Pie

October 9, 2009, 10:17 p.m. In the hip pocket. Can of corn.

OK, maybe “can of corn” is a bad choice of words. Matt Holliday would no doubt think so.

With my copy of Paul Dickson’s indispensible “Baseball Dictionary” stuck in a Pod in San Diego, I found a nice alternative at A user, aptly named Clayton, defines a can of corn as “a lazy fly ball practically anyone would be able to catch,” adding “the phrase, first used in 1896, makes reference to a long-ago practice where a grocer would use a stick to tip a can of vegetables off a high shelf, then catch it in his hands or outstretched apron.”

So the drive hit by James Loney yesterday wasn’t really a can of corn, and the victory wasn’t exactly a piece of pie, but it sure was fun, wasn’t it? And the Dodgers sure made the national, and in particular, east coast “experts” in the media look like dufusses, didn’t they?

And this is what I’ve been talking about for weeks. Exactly this. That what occurred in the first two games of the National League Division Series is exactly what happens in the postseason, and why there’s simply no predicting a damn thing in October. With more to come, quite possibly, some of it not as orgasmic as L.A.’s bottom of the ninth Thursday afternoon at the Ravine (and while it might not be in the baseball dictionary, “orgasmic” is the absolute dead-on right word for the occasion.)

But this is how it works. This is the baseball postseason. It rarely unfolds the way the prognosticators lay out for us, and most certainly is never as simple as “ace takes ball, opposing team without ace rolls over and gets swept, la-dee-da, la-dee-da, there’s no point playing the game at all, you underdog bounders.”

With so much being written about game two elsewhere, with credit rightly being divvyed up to all corners of the Dodger clubhouse – to Ron Belliard, Casey Blake, Loney, Mark Loretta and others – and if you saw it you don’t need my analysis anyway, I thought I’d chime in with a memory from 1978 National League Championship Series, which came to me the instant Holliday tried catching the baseball in his cup.

October 7, 1978, game five of the second consecutive NLCS between the Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies. Similarly-struck tenth inning drive off the bat of Bill Russell, which center fielder Garry Maddox couldn’t quite grab, with Ron Cey racing around third with that Penguin waddle of his, scoring the pennant-winner for Los Angeles.

It was just incredible to experience, the first time I saw a pennant captured in person, and I can distinctly remember bear-hugging complete strangers, as if we’d all shared a life-saving moment in time. And in a way, we had. Kind of.

Unlike with Holliday’s play, however, this one was ruled a hit. Maddox was said to have “muffed” the ball pretty much everywhere, and it was especially striking because he was a three-time Gold Glover to that point in his career. He’d end up with eight of them, and about whom it was said, “two thirds of the earth’s surface is covered by water, the rest is covered by Garry Maddox.” And, as with the nickname "Secretary of Defense," what a great and deserving complement that was.

Indecently, Holliday’s muff may have cost him literally tens of millions of dollars. Not just because he dropped the ball; that could happen to anyone. He’s a great player, and a solid defensive player, actually. But with free agency looming, and St. Louis’ chances of advancing diminished substantially, Holliday’s just not going to be around long enough to make the Carlos Beltran-like postseason contract drive he’d no doubt hoped for.

Which means, the Dodgers now have a better chance of getting him than they might have otherwise, and can go after him to replace Manny Ramirez, with a Texas-sized banishing to the American League a possibility, ala Andruw Jones. I’m just saying. Anyway…

Freeway Series: Enough with the Freeway Series talk already. I’ll gladly take it if that’s what happens, but as a true Dodger fan, a proud Los Angelino, I prefer an Angels one-and-done to an October matchup of inter-county rivals.

I’m most satisfied when this particular expansion team is embarrassed, early and often. Fourth best team in the Junior Circuit works for me, thank you very much. Not likely now, but it could still happen.

In favorite LAT’s Bill Shaikin’s article last week, Vin Scully says: “I don't think Anaheim looks at the Dodgers as Brooklyn looked at the Yankees,” and "I certainly don't think Dodger fans look down their noses at Anaheim the way Yankee fans looked down their noses at Dodger fans."

Vinny takes the high road, as you’d expect him to; he’s just not quite right about this one. Dodger fans absolutely look down their noses at Anaheim. Plenty of them, and the more the merrier, if I have anything to say about it.

So no, I’m not down with the I-5 World Series. Forget that…

Talkback: Your comments are always encouraged…

Look-Alikes: Mark Loretta and Dennis Quaid…

Media Savvy: Thanks to my writer friend Steve Amoia for sending in this neat piece, by John Branch of the New York Times.

No thanks to TBS’ Ernie Johnson, among too many others to name, for using the basketball phrase, "play-in game," where it very much is not welcome. The one-game playoff between the Tigers and Twins was so much more, and would’ve been even as a 10-0 blowout.

A play-in game this just wasn’t, and nothing could minimize it more than to call it that. This was game number 163, an absolutely huge deal for two states and for the sport in general, historic in its nature. Not the 65th and 66th best teams in the NCAA playing for the right to lose by 40 in their next and only game of the postseason. Please.

And check out the ESPN television production news magazine E:60 which tells "the incredible story of former Los Angeles-area high school baseball star Pat Chawki, thought by many of his former classmates to be dead," Tuesday, October 13, at 3 p.m. Pacific time. For a preview of the Chawki feature, visit here

The Morning After: Bright and early this morning, the Main Squeeze was at Dodger Stadium preparing for the Walk to Cure Diabetes, which takes place the Sunday after what would be Game Seven of the World Series, November 8, 2009.

To sponsor my wife’s efforts for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), to sign up to walk for the cause, or to learn more, visit the event site, and click around.

Just fyi, former Dodger Todd Zeile is the current President of the JDRF Board of Directors.

Here are this morning’s pictures, taken of and by the Main Squeeze:

Statue for Sandy: The Koufax in bronze campaign continues. Please Vote “Yes on 32.” And tell a friend…

Remember, glove conquers all….








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