Off Base
My Team, Right or Wrong

June 29, 2009, 8:45 p.m. My Dodger, right or wrong..My Manny, my homers, my victories, and my entertainment, because that's what matters, right or wrong.

It's sacrilege, I know, but I'm with Bill Plaschke, mostly. Fans in Albuquerque and Riverside did go gaga over their ball player, they hold him accountable for absolutely nothing, and they did everything but worship at the hem of his garment. And even that I'm not so sure about.

To be fair, a columnist with a point to make isn't exactly the most forthcoming with the contrary evidence either. The gene pool that is the crowd at a minor league game or two does not all of Dodger fandom make. Even a couple of mid-July nights at the Ravine will represent less than a scientific showing.

Of course those buying tickets are going to drool for their Manny. It's the people who aren't coughing up their hard-earned blue who ought to be sampled. That would require more homework on the part of the writer, but those fans' opinions count too.

Those boos are part of the equation too. One cheer or boo per customer, or non-customer, as the case may be. Why don't we try the experiment again, and see if there are some righteous Dodger fans among us. I'm guessing there are.

But Plaschke's point is well-taken. In a week when we lost a rock star, we seemed to have gained another. The way in which Manny was treated both by the fans, and to a lesser degree by his employers, is comparable to what we've seen with Michael Jackson. Far from a perfect comparison, obviously, but a comparison nonetheless.

And hero worship to this degree, with nothing else mattering except the entertainment the hero brings to the fan, cannot be healthy. There's a selfishness to it. All that matters is us. Our pleasures, however guilty. We need our favorites, we need that great concert, or that long-anticipated World Series. Me, me, me. We, we, we.

Within the overly-friendly confines of Dodger Stadium, the double standard stares us square in the face. As has been written elsewhere, nowhere has the vitriol for a cheater been more apparent than in Los Angeles for Barry Bonds.

And from club management, an appropriately terse two-sentence comment from Ned Colletti about his drunk-driving and arrested relief pitcher, Ronald Belisario: "Whenever a member of your organization is said to be in violation of the law, it is disappointing. We will provide any help we can."

For Manny, on the other hand, it's all about the help – the limos, the personal security, and the media relations roadblocks – the Dodgers can provide, with very little about the disappointment. That's disappointing.

I've got no surefire cure for the Manny mess we're in right now, but is a little less slugger-as-the-victim and a even a thimble full of contrition too much to ask? I don't think so.

Ali McGraw's character in Love Story had it about as wrong as can be. Actually, love doesn't mean never having to say you're sorry, folks. Saying you're sorry helps, especially when you mean it. Can't Manny get up there for five minutes and, at the very least, just say he's sorry? C'mon man, can't you do that much?

Talkback: Your comments are always encouraged…

Media Savvy: Here's the best of the early articles I've seen, detailing a writer's All-Star Game picks, from Jon Paul Morosi of

And a nice piece about the successes and failures of last winter's free agent class, by Jon Heyman, at

And finally, another in a series of fine entries about steroids in baseball, by Jeff Pearlman, also from…

Trading for an Ace: Forget what you're hearing about the Indians possibly hanging onto Cliff Lee and has attractive contract. The Cleveland left-hander will absolutely be traded, and the Dodgers absolutely are a player for the player. But Lee isn't the only guy out there, and the Dodgers aren't required to get him.

I'm a big Roy Oswalt guy, and I think he'll be easier to acquire. And just because the Dodgers dealt prospects rather than take on big contracts last year doesn't mean they will this time around. If anything, they might be more sensitive to the criticism if they choose that route again in 2009.

Oswalt's making $14 million this year, is due $15 million next, and $16 million in 2011. He's got a $2 million buy-out and a club option for 2012 at another 16, plus a full no-trade clause. That's a bleepload of money, but it's less than the Dodgers would have had to swallow for Jake Peavy, it's less than they would have paid for CC Sabathia, and it'll take far less in prospects than would a Lee deal to make it happen.

And Oswalt's the best of the lot when it comes to big games. By plenty. He's started seven postseason games, appeared in a World Series, and is 4-0, with a 3.66 lifetime in fall ball.

Yes, his ERAs have gone up in recent years, but he's pitching in a god-awful home park, and still very much in his prime. Seven, eight, nine innings in starts down the stretch, as a matter of course. Oswalt would go straight to the top of the rotation and be every bit the ace the Dodgers seek…

Russell Martin Day-Off-Oh-Meter: The "day game after a night game" phrase means little to Joe Torre, so you shouldn't have expected the "90 degree day game after a night game with the surging Rockies coming to town Monday" to either. So no surprise that Martin caught Sunday's series finale with Seattle.

Entering tonight (June 29), Russell Martin is in a flat-footed tie with St. Louis backstop Yadier Molina for the major league lead in innings caught, with 569. Is this really a category worth taking the trophy home for?

As I've said before, but worth mentioning again, Torre's career high games behind the plate? 114, twice, in 1966 and 1967...

Statutory Dreams: No joke. I had a dream that the Dodgers built a sculpture garden at the stadium, featuring statues of its former stars, like Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Fernando Valenzuela. The dream turned to nightmare with the discovery of monuments dedicated to Delino Deshields, Milton Bradley and J.D. Drew. Bill Sukakis was represented too, don't ask me why.

The dream got weird(er) from there, with the statues coming to life to play catch with each other (and no, Drew's sculpture did not pull a hamstring). Duke Sims was catching Don Drysdale. So help me, I couldn't make this up.

I don't know if this was my unconscious telling me something or what, but I promise to redouble my efforts. The Koufax in bronze campaign continues. Please Vote “Yes on 32.” And tell a friend…

Remember, glove conquers all….








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