It isn’t hopeless, but it’s a long shot

Twenty-five years to the day after Kirk Gibson dispatched him to the dugout in the ninth inning of the opening game of the World Series to tell Tommy Lasorda he was available to pinch hit, Mitch Poole, who was a bat boy then and is the Dodgers head clubhouse guy now, sprang into action once again in response to another Dodgers player who was forced out of postseason action by a debilitating injury tonight. The media scrum around Hanley Ramirez‘s locker, which is near the door, was so thick that Poole had to actually move a clubhouse couch so other players who had showered and dressed could get to the exit. This after inactive reliever Brandon League actually climbed OVER the couch to get out.

Deep inside that scrum, in the middle of what had to be about two dozen questions, many of them repetitive, Ramirez sat in a chair, wearing only a towel around his waist, and patiently answered every one of them. Even the one from a TV guy who asked if he felt like he was letting his teammates down by not being able to be on the field on such a monumental occasion.

The question wasn’t meant to sound as insensitive as it did. But it also made a point, even if it made that point rather awkwardly. Because Ramirez — much as Gibson was a quarter of a century ago — is the Dodgers’ most important offensive player at this most important time of the season, and he left tonight’s game after seven innings. And although he said he will come in tomorrow and that he will “definitely” be in the lineup for Game 5, the fact he is experiencing such excruciating pain from the hairline fracture in his left rib and the fact there is less than a 17-hour turnaround from the end of this game to the beginning of the next one would seem to suggest it might be a longer shot than Ramirez is willing to admit.

Not as long a shot, though, as the notion that the Dodgers can still win this National League Championship Series.

The Dodgers now trail the Cardinals 3-1 in the best-of-seven series. There is plenty of precedent for teams coming back from that, and the Dodgers have their dual aces, Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw, ready to go for Games 5 and 6, respectively, Greinke on regular rest on Kershaw with an extra day due to the schedule. If they can push it to Game 7, they will have an apparently rejuvenated Hyun-jin Ryu ready for that one.

So to answer the rhetorical question that a radio buddy asked as he passed through the media workroom after the game, yes, I AM saying there’s a chance.

There just isn’t a very good one.

Keep in mind, the Cardinals blew a 3-1 lead in this thing last year on their way to losing to the Giants. But the Cardinals didn’t have homefield advantage in that one. This time, they do. And if they fail to get it done in tomorrow’s matinee, they have the comfort of knowing that the rest of the series will be played in the comfort of their own Busch Stadium. And add to all that the fact that this is essentially the same team with the same players. They remember well what it felt like to cough up that series. So perish any thought of them suffering a letdown or a bout of overconfidence.

So the Dodgers face a tough road back, and they might face it without Ramirez. If they’re going to pull it off, they can’t think about winning three games in a row. They just have to think about winning one game. And then winning another. And then winning another. And if they can pull that off, they will be in the World Series for the first time since 1988, when Gibson’s homer kickstarted their inexorable march to a world championship.

Still, from where the Dodgers sit right now, having not only lost three of four but having scored a grand total of seven runs in those four games, a world championship seems a little farfetched in 2013. But as Ricky Nolasco — who can hardly be blamed for giving up three runs and lasting just four innings after being put in the rather unusual situation of starting Game 4 of the NLCS after not starting any other game for almost three weeks — said after the game, “Stranger things have happened.”

Yes, a lot of strange things do happen in this game. But most of the time, they don’t. That’s why they are called “strange.”

11 comments

  1. Unless Greinke throws a shut out, very doubtful Dodgers can get to a game 6. That means the Cardinals will have beaten him twice and Kersh once to win the series. Just sad way to end a once promising season.

  2. >> the Dodgers have their dual aces, Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw, ready to go for Games 4 and 5, respectively

    Ready to go for WHICH games??? :)

  3. Titled World Champions or not, the world class of the Dodgers is unparalleled in my humble line of sight.

    I literally had no hope in the Dodgers at the beginning of this season. ….and I was glad! :D I’m in college in Texas at the moment and don’t like to feel like I’m missing out on anything while I’m here!

    …so for the Boys in Blue to make it this far I am grateful and appreciative of the happiness they bring to me in Texas.

    The physical cost to salvage the season reveals the toll of professional sports to me.

    I was thinking about other cost this morning …. like when you start charging for this site. After I quit laughing about all of the out-call or in-call jokes I could make ~ whatever it is that’s listed in the back of those local, syndicated weeklies like the Dallas Observer or the LA Weekly ~ I justified the cost based on the cost of Sports Center the lack of soul in newspapers at the moment.

    I’ve read newspapers since elementary school. I’ve just always loved sports and politics and any other thing I could learn about.

    I didn’t like this blog thing at first because of the lack of qualifications of “community journalist” as much as I am anti big-government, authority, et al :D …I just value education. (I’m getting a BA in Journalism (one of four “Communications” options at the school I attend …. and a BS in Economics … one of my professors is one of the two brothers publishing papers in the field of sports economics.)

    Everyone I know has been canceling their newspaper subscriptions because of current bias in media. I read the LA Times and wonder if these people literally checked their diploma at the door.

    Other sports writers just like the “color” my feature writer has been drilling into my head all semester and the editing lacks the quality my liberal, yet tough University of Texas at Arlington Communications Department professors have taught me. I also worked at the “since 1919″ award-winning campus newspaper. ….I love the excitement and action photography … but do NOT miss the deadline moments you illustrated with your “favorite deserts” photo on twitter.

    …that’s another area where I find favor with your site. You always post a minute or two after the competition, but the I just find your articles have soul. Yay South! … although I love Californians and refuse to change my driver’s license or permanent address from the Golden State. … unless I move back to Hawaii … the MLB thing is huge and I’m currently trying on college baseball to see how it fits. :D

    …those early evenings at the Ravine are hard to replace. ….but so is Hawaii. I just like the thought of going to a weekday evening game …. and that some Southern guy is keeping me supplied with baseball news wherever I go after graduation. I’d love to be a photographer for the New York Times … and I love NYC … but as much money that was spent on the Yankees, it goes back to California class.

    …so running across your site in a way that I’ve forgotten now, has been made me feel like a gifted athlete … or just the blessed way my life always seems to work out.

    Thanks, Dodgerscribe!
    You even sound Southern thanks to your video posted on Twitter! …. I was there almost a decade and never once ran across one! :D

  4. …one of my professors even brought up the issue of timeliness in current media as illustrated by the number of reports rushed to the public during the Boston Marathon tragedy that were basically just guestimates by the end ….that would have never happened in the days of cigarette smoking on camera anchor men.

  5. …I like the more secluded space of blogs, too. I hope this really takes off so you can stay in “binness” :D

  6. Well, it won’t be easy but this team is certainly capable of a three game winning streak. If only they would start hitting. Our pinch hitters have been just pathetic. I feel SO bad for Hanley too. He worked so hard all season to overcome so many things just to get to this place, and then, was it on his first at bat?, he gets hit like that. Just sad. Bad for the Dodgers and their chances and just sad for Hanley….

    One game at a time…..Gotta get this one today.

    And, good luck at school Nikki.

    • >> Our pinch hitters have been just pathetic.

      The problem there is that we use bad hitters as pinch hitters. Michael “GIDP” Young with his .730 OPS, and Skip Schumaker (.665), while we let Scott Van Slyke (.807 with power) sit around. It’s one more example of poor managerial decision-making by Mattingly.

  7. Nolasco can indeed be blamed for another poor performance, as can Mattingly for running him out there.

    Knowing who the Dodgers will face back in St. Louis (if they get there), how could there not have been a sense of urgency? Big mistake not going with Greinke.

    And how about that pathetic strikeout by Nolasco in the second inning with the bases loaded? Never even took the bat off his shoulder. As hard as runs are to come by in these postseason games, maybe it wasn’t too early to use a pinch hitter and give Volquez a shot.

  8. Note to NikkiB6573: Warning: College baseball is addictive!

  9. Can’t stand watching another Dodger implosion in yet another NLCS. Brutal enough against Philly in ’08 & ’09. Think I’ll wash my cat instead.