Posted on: June 21, 2009 2:51 am
Posted on: June 12, 2009 11:09 pm
Posted on: June 6, 2009 8:54 pm
Edited on: June 7, 2009 9:47 pm
Posted on: May 29, 2009 9:20 pm
Posted on: May 22, 2009 8:15 pm
Edited on: May 22, 2009 8:25 pm
All over the Dodgers Board I am hearing how they can't wait until Manny comes back and how they hope they can get a solid arm for Juan Pierre.
Well I'm here to open a few eyes to just how well Juan Pierre is doing.
In 84 at bats this year Juan Pierre is batting .405 with 0 homers, 12 RBI's, 19 Runs, and 7 stolen bases. Manny Ramirez in 92 at bats this year is batting .348 with 6 homers, 20 RBI, 22 Runs, and 0 stolen bases. So Manny is a little bit more productive in this category but considering Juan Pierre came into the season with splinters on his back-side from sitting on the bench so long, not to mention the huge chip on his shoulder when he had to come in to "fill manny's shoes", plus he's generally a lead-off hitter or hitting 9th like he did a few times to start for Joe Torre, it makes his play as impressive as it is surprising. It's amazing how Juan Pierre is able to bat just as well as Manny for about half the cost! Baseball is a game of streaks but Juan has been every bit as good as Manny so far with near the same amount of playing time.
Economically it's a smart move to keep Juan and possibly try to deal Manny. Who knows if anyone would even consider it with his use of banned substances, most teams don't want that kind of image in their clubhouse, or that kind of attention but someone has got to be desperate for a hitter. Again, baseball is a game of streaks and perhaps Juan will only be hot for this time and revert to his previous O.K. baseball, but he has really impressed me and I really find it hard to part ways with him. He is a great teammate and never once whined about not getting playing time when he thought he was going to be a starter when he originally signed.
In terms of baserunning and fielding it's a smart move. Juan Pierre has scored a lot of 1st inning, and late game runs with his contact hitting and baserunning, just the other day I saw him draw a walk to lead-off the game, follow that up with a Furcal single and he easily goes 1st to 3rd and eventually scores. That's the kind of lead-off production we've been needing since Furcal has been struggling to start off the season. It's always easy for the O-Dawg to get a hit when he can relax with 0 outs and men on 1st and 3rd. When fielding you never have to worry about Juan dropping routine balls like Manny would ever so often, he might even dish out an amazing play or two on top of it.
I want to praise Orlando Hudson and get off topic for a bit because he still hasn't let up, to start the season I thought he was just benefiting from Manny but since Manny was suspended he is still hitting as great as he was. With how bad Ethier has been playing as of late it's clear that pitchers don't need to throw anything to him, so it seems to me Orlando is a real threat with the bat in his hands, and is still 2nd in the N.L. in hits, keep up the good work O-Dawg.
In terms of image it would be a smart move to keep Pierre. With the steroid label forever imprinted on Manny Ramirez's forehead it's hard not to think of the steroids everytime he gets a hit in the future, maybe some people don't believe his legacy is tainted but to me, the player himself is tainted. Juan Pierre is probably the opposite of a person who uses steroids, he works hard and doesn't focus on hitting the ball hard but hitting the ball to get a hit and help the team win, not just get a paycheck.
If not for any of the reasons above then it would be a good move to try to ship Manny instead of Juan because of Manny's history. He's known to take teams to win it all and he's known as one of the best hitters of all time (or was) so wouldn't it be better to move a big name like Manny to get a big name pitcher instead of trading Juan Pierre for a decent pitcher? Even if Juan Pierre doesn't stay this hot, would we need Manny's bat if we had a more well-rounded pitching staff? Lets not forget the '03 season when Juan helped his team to win the world series with a .305 batting average, 204 hits, 64 stolen bases, and 41 RBI's for anyone who is saying "well we could use Manny for that same history".
I am not saying Juan Pierre will end up being better than Man-Ram by season's end, there's too much baseball left to be played for me to make that particular prediction but keep your mind open to possibility instead of saying you should trade Juan as soon as Manny comes back from suspension. Our team batting average has skyrocketed without Manny, for the first time since we went 13-0 at home to start I'm seeing our team come together as a real team. Maybe Manny's suspension was a blessing in disguise because in my eyes the team seems 2x more confident.
Juan Pierre has earned the right to be a starter, whether it be with the Dodgers or not, but if I had to choose between Juan Pierre and Manny Ramirez at this time , I'd pick Juan Pierre in a heartbeat.
Just a thought.
Posted on: May 17, 2009 12:16 am
Edited on: May 17, 2009 1:32 am
I watched the documentary presented on ESPN today by Spike Lee on Kobe Bryant. It follows Bryant, with his own commentary, from a game near the end of his 2008 MVP season.
Kobe has been under scrutiny for years now. More recently on this very website there was a columnist who portrayed Kobe as unsportsmanlike for apparently "belittling" his opponents. This is completely based on his on-court actions, like when he taunts Shane Battier. You have to remember though, when you're on the playing field, like any sport, you are so full of adrenaline and such that things like this are second nature. Personally, I would do the same thing, and if you were dominating at the highest level I find it hard to believe you wouldn't either.
So here's big, bad, taunting, undeserving Kobe Bryant.
The first thing Spike Lee says is that Kobe is "one of the most driven, passionate athletes playing today." Does that speak to you in any way? He's so passionate and gets so into playing that he starts smack talking. So are you willing to take anything away from the Detroit Bad Boys because they liked to get physical and get personal? Of course not, but when it comes to Kobe, everyone wants to put him down. Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe Micheal Jordan did this too, so is he unsportsmanlike too?
The documentary starts on April 13th, 2008, when Kobe and the Lakers were set to play against the then World Champion San Antonio Spurs for Home Court Advantage in the western conference. All the while, Steven A. Smith, and Jeff Van Gundy are talking about his MVP chances with a win tonight. Kobe said that he wasn't even thinking about MVP, he was thinking about getting his team the best chance to win a championship by gaining Home Court.
The Lakers are in the tunnel, getting ready for the big game and something Kobe says surprises me. He says he always gets goose bumps in the tunnel before the game. Amazing, someone who has been the best for quite a number of years, been playing in the league for 12 years, and he still gets goose bumps before every game.
Kobe's disrespectful right? Well, as soon as the shot goes on Ginobli, Bryant says "That's a bad boy right there, I have so much respect for his game. He's an incredible competitor. It's a shame he didn't get to play in this ballgame, and I enjoy playing against him."
He then goes on to say into the game "A lot of people hate playing against Bruce Bowen, because he grabs and he holds, and all that stuff. I love it. It reminds me of the eighties man, when they would let you hit, and grab, and hold, and scratch, and claw, I think that's fantastic." Kobe grew up watching and idolizing the players of the eighties and their physical style of play. He was a kid and looked up to those players, basketball was a big part of his life even at a young age because his father was a playing professionally in Italy.
Throughout this game Kobe is constantly helping his teammates by barking out orders any chance he gets. He is the only one that seems to be vocal out there, he leads the team on the court and off clearly. The most amazing thing is that no one gets their egos hurt, they all just keep quiet and listen to exactly what he has to say, they trust him to the fullest, at least when it comes to basketball. Also, Kobe can barely contain himself while commentating the documentary. He commentated this film after he scored 61 on Spike's beloved Knicks and said he wanted to play badly when he was watching the tape. The guy's love for the game is hard to match.
There is a time where Phil Jackson and Kobe hold up the hand signal "5", without ever looking at each other and realizing they were calling the same play. Kobe says "That's just from years of being around each other, sometimes we call the same play without ever realizing that the other is calling it. We both see the same things and notice the same things, it's pretty crazy."
"I don't think a lot of fans understand the amount of communication and execution that goes into the game of basketball, at least on our team. You know Phil and his coaching staff preach that to us, it's about execution. Yeah, you have to emotionally be invested in the game, you have to play hard, play with a lot of energy, but you gotta execute. I think that's what great about our team, and you know having smart players on the team. We talk about execution all the time, I mean we can't stress that enough."
Kobe then goes up for a crazy layup attempt, the type of ones he always misses against like 3 defenders. He says "That's just doing too much, you know dumb play by me. (laughs at himself) That's just a dumb play. Damn it."
He banks a shot in and says "I actually stole that one from Tim Duncan. I played one on one against him before the All-Star game a few years back. I learned the bank shot from him. So I just stole it from him, swagger jacked him (laughs)." "Tim Duncan, the best Power Forward of all-time".
Kobe swishes a 3 on an inbound play and says "Gotcha." right in Kirk Thomas' face with the ball about half way to the bucket. He says "That felt great. Me and Kirk always mess around with each other, he always loves hitting me with illegal screens, and I'm always throwing those little elbows here and there so I had to let him know that that one was good."
Yet another example of people just trying to judge athletes just because of how their actions on the court seem arrogant, without even knowing why the person does it. During Sasha Vuijacic's free throws, Kobe starts talking to Kirk Thomas and asks him "You going to play until you like 50? C'mon man." They both began smiling as Bryant commentated "See, that's why I was talking trash to him. Now he's a throwback player, man he's going to foul you, he's going to foul you hard. You gotta love it."
"Man this is a fun game. Now all that comes from preparation. You know that's me, at home, watchin' film. And preparing and getting ready for this game. So I can comunicate with my teammates and make them better. There's more to making teammates better than passing them the ball. You know you gotta teach them a lot of the things that you know, the way that you prepare for the game. There's so many different ways on making guys better."
After a 8-0 run by San Antonio after Kobe hits the bench, Kobe has this to say. "Phil won't call a timeout when that happens either. He likes the guys kind of digging themselves out of the hole a little bit. Teams go on runs and you aren't playing as well unless you try to crawl out of your own grave." That's specifically to people who doubt Phil Jackson when he chooses not to call a timeout. It's not without reason
Soon after Kobe looks at Phil and says "Let's go". Phil tells him to get up and head to the scores table while Kobe laughs commentating. He says "That's called, get my ass in the game, I've been over here long enough!, let's go."
After Lamar Odom hits a jumpshot Kobe states "Lamar is just an incredibly talented basketball player. At his size, his versatility, really to shoot the ball. His versatility is what makes us go."
I think I've proven my point here. All this "horrible person" labels you try to pin on Kobe go on undeserved in terms of how he is on the court. The only people that can judge him off the court would be his friends that he speaks to on a regular basis and hangs out with. So for writers and others to try to make him seem like that, it just doesn't make sense. I don't know if it's because it hurts your ego somehow when he taunts a player of your favorite team but it's evident that it's all in good nature, Kobe grew up watching NBA in the 80's so if you think about it, he has an extraordinary "Old School" basketball attitude if anything . Maybe if people like the ones who think of him as a negative personality would just losen up and not cry over a little contact or good natured trash talking, then maybe, just maybe, the NBA could still be like the glory days of the 80's instead of the mainstream society it falls under today.
Kobe is a great leader, who possesses as much, if not more respect and influence among the Lakers as Phil Jackson. He never stops giving advice to his teammates, not in an arrogant way, but rather a caring way. Like a father teaches his son. He gives all respect due to any player in the league. Trash talking in no way labels him as disrespectful, in fact, most of the times in which he trash talks he follows that up by saying how much respect he has for that person in the commentary, it's the phycological aspect of the game. It's been part of sports for quite some time so for people to knitpick it's just dumb.
Kobe is probably one of the best athletes of our era and I doubt anyone can challenge me on that statement. I don't know if Kobe is a terrible person off the court but on the court, he's one of the best. Kobe Bryant just goes out every night and does his job, he's just doin' work.
But what does MVP mean to you Kobe?
"I think what's special about this  season is I felt like we were such a community. We're such a great team, we all got along. I felt like it was an award that we shared together. Which made it more special because I felt like we did it. You know because they made me better. By them, you know getting in the gym and working out, working on their game, making plays and making shots, that in turn brought me the MVP. You know in the fast I hear a lot of my fans say that I should have won it before. Maybe, maybe not, I don't know, but winning the MVP was a great honor, it was something we shared together as a team."
Selfish? Decide for yourself.
Posted on: May 13, 2009 11:58 pm
Edited on: May 14, 2009 9:31 pm
I hope their dreams last long because in the real world the next 10 games are going to make or break the Dodgers. At least for now.
Going into today's game against the Phillies, saying I was frustrated with their performance as of late would be an understatement. With the growing pains of Kershaw clearly showing on Tuesday, then add the great 13 inning game which turned into a painful loss on Mother's day, (which I saw in person) I could barely watch the game today as we were struggling against Jamie Moyer in the first 3 innings, even when he was coming off of his worst start in 4 years. But we came back in the 4th inning exploding for 5 runs. Started off by Furcal who would later score on an Orlando Hudson double. Then Loney hit his first homer of the season on a 3-run shot into right field. After the 4th it never seemed like the Phils were going to get back into this game. They have been batting terrible as of late and we absolutely had to take advantage of that in this game, not because of Cole Hamels but for the fact that we need to win to keep our player's morale up.
Randy Wolf turned in a magnificent performance out on the mound today. Wolf pitched 6 inning and allowed 3 hits with 8 strikeouts. The only run allowed by Randy came off of a bad pitch that was promptly laid into the left field seats by former MVP Jimmy Rollins. This is truely what Randy Wolf can do when he hits his spots and keeps control of the hitters. His left handed dominance this season is what really sealed this game for him when the Phils had 4 left handed batters in the lineup as always. He did not allow a hit to any lefties in this game and has given up 1 run or less in each of his last 4 starts.
I will admit, going 1-4 without Manny was as painful to watch as American Idol (After the first couple of shows when all the bad singers are eliminated). But we play 162 games in this league for a reason, you can't win them all - it's just about which team can stay the hottest, for the longest amount of time, the most times within the season.
If you are into excuses then there were many of which to pick from to explain the overall bad baseball we played since Manny's positive hCG test was released. You could say we were doing bad because of the media not willing to give this story a rest, or you could point out that we played 33 games with only 2 days of rest. But I am not one for excuses, the fact is when you are out on the field playing ball, that is exactly what you should be thinking about, playing ball . I mean, you get paid to do just that right?
I can also understand the void Manny left, not his "juiced" batting stats, but the clubhouse personality he took with him. I heard Ethier say recently that he is glad no one is trying to "act up" so to speak, in order to try to fill Manny's shoes. He also went on to add that Manny makes "his own show" and that no one could duplicate it. Leaving me to believe that Manny was not only a big part of the Dodgers success out on the field, but in the clubhouse as well.
But how sorry is Manny? Ned Colleti and Joe Torre insist that he is feeling very embarrassed, but he still has yet to address the team as a whole, and does not seem to be all that much interested in working out and traveling with the team. In my mind if you are really sorry then you will apologize to your team as a whole and continue to apologize to your fans and go out there and support your team to the fullest! Maybe it is his "shy" personality, what his biography tries to portray him as, but he needs to hone up to what he has done. Yes, he probably will never get into the Hall Of Fame now, he is a cheater, and will be heckled whenever he strays away from Dodgers stadium but you have to move on in your life sooner or later.
As for the next 10 games, we face Cole Hamels in Philly tomorrow, then we head down to Florida for a 3 game stint. On May 18th we come back home to host the Mets for 3 games, have a day off, then face the recently hot Angels in the famed Freeway Series. These games in my mind will make or break the Dodgers in the sense that if we win the majority of the games then we will have more confidence than any other team in the league. When you give our young guys confidence then they do scary, scary things out on the diamond. But even if we pull .500 ball then we have done our job for now, as I've said before still plenty of games left to be played and plenty of roleplayers yet to emerge in this young season.
Speaking of Roleplayers lets talk about Juan Pierre. I heard on the Dodgers Boards we should try to trade him early in the season but I always disagreed with that idea, he is the same man that stole 64 bases for us just 2 years ago and is tearing it up so far batting .404, earning the leadoff position on this team. He has been as about as on fire as one can get without actually being on fire, it is clear that without him and Casey Blake's homeruns this season that we would be a far worse team than we are now. Speaking of Casey, he bats in the 8th spot like it's clean up. He's batting only around .250 but has hit 7 homeruns this year. I would trade batting average any day for the most homeruns on our team out of the 8th spot.
Russell Martin bumped his average to .271 after some people in L.A. were becoming worried. As Vin Scully kept pointing out early in the season, no other catcher was doing much better than .150 at the time and we are seeing Martin really catch his stride now. Perhaps his late mother gave him some inspiration because after Mother's Day started getting closer on the calendar he seems to really be locked in on the ball more.
Ethier is in a bad slump right now, since the departure of Manny he really does not seem focused out there. Before I would see him constantly making adjustments but as of late, he has been swinging at balls out of the zone, which before wasn't the case for him. Matt Kemp and Orlando Hudson have been doing what they do, amazing plays on the defensive side of the ball, while staying consistent with their play on the offensive side. Kemp still strikes out but he is still 5th among players all time in the category of batting average of balls in play (min. 1,000 at bats), which is a good place to start , but lets see a little less strikeouts out there Matt. Orlando Hudson is the real deal, he continues to swing a hot bat even with the exile of Manny Ramirez. He is currently 2nd in the NL in hits and shows no signs of slowing down.
The Dodgers are #1 for now but still many nights left of sleep, and many days left of baseball. "Only time will tell".
Posted on: May 6, 2009 8:16 pm
Edited on: May 6, 2009 8:31 pm
Seeing as how a two game set against the Nationals isn't too interesting, let's look ahead at the games within the week that will define the Dodgers as either feast or a feaster of the NL West famine.
May 10th Dodgers host the Giants at Chavez Ravine. The primary reason I'm previewing this game is the fact that I'll be there! I'll be in row E of the All-You-Can-Eat Pavillion in right field watching both mine, and my Mother's favorite team. You guys think I'm a Dodgers fan? You should meet my Mom. But with all personal matters aside, Lincecum will be battling Jeff Weaver in this Mother's Day game and I gotta say, I feel pretty good about our chances to finally beat Lincecum. We don't make too many mistakes at home and I feel like Russell Martin will step up to honor his mother, or at least really want to. As long as Weaver keeps doing what he's doing with last night's performance and his previous 4 scoreless innings then we should be in for a great game. Just as Joe Torre and Don Mattingly preach day in and day out, the Dodgers need to get deep into the pitch count on Lincecum, we need to get him out of this game as fast as possible to get to the nice and soft bullpen. Happy Mother's Day to everybody who doesn't have problems with their Mom.
May 12th The Dodgers head to Philly for the season's first rematch of last year's NLCS. The pitching match-up for the series opener will be Clayton Kershaw against Chan-Ho Park. Chan-Ho has a 8.57 ERA this year and isn't looking too hot in this young 2009 season. Of course one of the best lineups in the NL will put runs on the board, if no one else at least Manny but the offense isn't the question right now. The question is which Clayton Kershaw will show up on May 12th? Will the Clayton Kershaw who dueled 2007 Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy pitch for pitch show up? Or will it be the 21 year old who clearly shows his age with bad location that shows his face? Game 1 rests on the offense of the Phillies and Clayton Kershaw's shoulders.
May 13th Game 2 of the Dodgers .VS. Phillies series should be a great game. The ageless Jamie Moyer .vs. the former Phillie, Randy Wolf. Randy Wolf Hasn't been exactly dominating in his start with the Dodgers but he's been pitching well enough to give the Dodgers a legitimate chance to win any given game. When Wolf is hitting his spots, he can be extremely hard to hit but it also works the other way around since his stuff isn't so overwhelming. Moyer, despite having a 5.65 ERA is 3-1 and is 47 years old, just felt I had to remind everyone on how amazing this man is to still be pitching (and getting wins at that). If Moyer doesn't watch his recent control issues expect this to be a lopsided game.
May 14th The final game of last year's rematch features a battle of the aces, Chad Billingsley and Cole Hamels. Based completely on how Cole Hamels has pitched so far this year I say the Dodgers will take the game. Based on Cole Hamels ability then it's a real toss-up, if Cole Hamels decides to show up on May 14th then I expect a good old-fashioned low scoring game. Once again, it's that same strategy Joe Torre has been talking about, gotta get deep into the pitch count and take the ball out of the pitcher's hands, if we can do that this series looks to be where the dodgers prove to be the feast.
May 15th Dodgers head down to Florida to face one of the better pitchers in the N.L.: Josh Johnson. Johnson has 38 K's to 6 walks in 42.0 innings pitched this year but struggles against right handed batters. He faces Eric Stults who seems incapable at times without a very high ceiling, Eric will need to bring everything he has to outpitch Johnson and get around batters like Jorge Cantu, and the ever versatile Hanley Ramirez. Definite mismatch in this game but let's see what Stults can bring to the table.