Happy Monday morning, everyone! Sorry the blog went dark for a couple of days, but I was busy flying home and getting my life back in order after all these months of traveling. I hope most of you are starting to move on now and put the shock of the Dodgers’ National League Championship Series disappointment behind you. I guess the old bullpen cart, parked up on the suite level at Dodger Stadium, will go at least one more season without having a championship year painted onto the side of its gigantic batting helmet.
Was able to monitor Game 6 of the ALCS from the plane, and it dawned on me that when the Dodgers were about to play the Phillies in the 2008 NLCS, I wrote a feature on Shane Victorino, then the Phillies center fielder, in which I questioned the fact the Dodgers had let him go not once, but twice in the Rule 5 draft, and now, here he was, having just had another solid season for the Phillies. Well, I suppose that in the interest of consistency, we should point out that the Dodgers now have let him go THREE times, losing him to free agency after last season, but the Dodgers simply didn’t think they would have a place for him in an outfield that already had Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. They would later add Yasiel Puig, theoretically creating a logjam that never really developed. So we can’t really blame the Dodgers for not retaining Victorino, especially given that he signed with Boston for three years and $39 million.
Still, at the moment Victorino hit that decisive grand slam in the seventh inning Saturday night, the one that put the Red Sox into the World Series, I couldn’t help thinking of the irony of the fact the Dodgers played the NLCS without Kemp, without a fully healthy Ethier and without a very productive Puig, who was OK in the middle three games at home but went 0-for-St. Louis, striking out eight times in 13 at-bats.
Victorino, meanwhile, now a three-time ex-Dodger, played the hero for the Red Sox.
On another note, this widely repeated narrative from the NLCS about the cultural differences not only between the buttoned-down, old-school Cardinals and the demonstrative, fist-pumping, mouse-ears-mimicking Dodgers but also between the Cardinals’ salt-of-the-earth fans and the Dodgers’ Hollywood crowd, well, it was all very tiresome. And overblown.
And in a lot of ways, not even close to accurate.
Look, stereotypes aren’t formed out of thin air. They exist for a reason, and there is always SOME level of truth to them. But the problem with stereotypes is that they paint with a very broad brush. And in this case, it assumes that anyone who lives in St. Louis and roots for the Cardinals is a product of good, old-fashioned Midwestern values, and that anyone who lives in Los Angeles and roots for the Dodgers is shallow, vacuous and insincere — and even worse, doesn’t respect the game of baseball or the apparently emotionless way in which it should be played.
Well, you know, I lived in Los Angeles for a long time. Four and a half years, to be exact. And I still spend, on average, probably three to four months a year there covering the Dodgers. And you know what? There are PLENTY of people who live in Los Angeles who live their lives by those same values that, in recent days, we have been repeatedly told are Midwestern values. People who are all about family, integrity, doing right by others, all of those things. These are not qualities unique to the Midwest, or to the South where I grew up. They exist everywhere.
And having visited St. Louis dozens of times in my life, beginning when I was 4 years old and my parents took me to my first big league baseball game at old Busch Stadium, I can vouch for the fact that people there are generally nice and pleasant — much as they are in, say, Los Angeles — but that I also have run into my fair share of rudeness and arrogance there, just as I have pretty much everywhere I have ever been, including New York, Boston and even Atlanta, a city that prides itself on the notion of Southern hospitality.
I even read one column stating that the Cardinals beat the Dodgers because the Cardinals are a team while the Dodgers are a bunch of individuals. Or something like that. Well, hogwash. The Cardinals beat the Dodgers because they beat them, simple as that. Over a six-game series, they were the better team. They were good enough to win three close games while losing two, and when they got the series back to St. Louis, they were good enough to blow out the Dodgers on a rare off-night for Clayton Kershaw.
It really was no more complicated than that.
The Cardinals are about to take on the Red Sox in the 2013 World Series, marking the fourth time those two teams have met for all the marbles. The Cardinals won seven-game victories over the Red Sox in 1946 and 1967, and the Red Sox came back to sweep the Cardinals in 2004, claiming their first world championship in something like 3,247 years, I think it was.
This would seem to be the most evenly matched World Series in a long time, impossible to predict. I’m rooting for the Cardinals just because, as I stated in another recent post, I always root for the N.L. team. But I think we have a great series on tap either way, so I hope everyone is sufficiently over the shock of the Dodgers’ loss that they can watch it and enjoy it.
By the way, Ned Colletti and Don Mattingly are having their end-of-season media session at Dodger Stadium this morning. I’m sure they’ll probably address Mattingly’s job status, but at this point, I would be shocked if he isn’t coming back.
I’ll post later today with an update. Have a good day, everyone.