11-0 since we wrote ’em off – you’re welcome

first_imgEnough, already. I’m actually embarrassed. Feeling all flushed. Come on now, please, stop it. Cease the congratulatory letters, the flattering e-mails. Do need to free the cell phone for professional use. And if the back gets patted one more time, it’ll become my chest. Yes, it’s become clear to everyone by now I single-handedly turned the Dodgers’ season around. They were a bunch of sad mopes, bent on self-destruction and plenty of unsightly baseball when I last visited our Boys in Blue. They had lost eight consecutive games and 13 of 14. They were fighting in the dugout, silent in the clubhouse and shrinking in the standings. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhy these photogenic dumplings are popping up in Los AngelesSo I cleverly wrote them off. Said they were done. Dead team walking. That they not only lacked life, but simple spark. And look at them now! They’ve haven’t lost since. They’ve become world beaters. They eat opposing teams for lunch. They hit, they pitch, they field. Bullets bounce off their chests. They’re the Super Dodgers. Did that old ploy work or what? Can’t believe they fell for it, calling a team out with 60 games to play. But, hey, you do what you must to help your locals. And I must say the boys have responded beautifully. Now it will be awkward when I become the first sports columnist voted a team playoff share, and really, a half-share is plenty. Motivational techniques are my new specialty. Think of me as the Tony Robbins of the sports world, just with less hair and teeth. Some may be wondering how a team that was playing so poorly could overnight become the hottest team in baseball. How a team that was 7 1/2 games out and in last place could suddenly be challenging for the division lead. It’s all in the inspiration, baby. You think Tommy Lasorda won 1,599 games because of strategic genius? The man was a motivator. Grady Little seems a swell guy, but he’s new around here and obviously needed a little help to wake the guys up. Now as any savvy baseball man knows, no team is out of the pennant race in July. Especially when its entire league reeks of mediocrity (only five teams have winning records) and it’s playing in the only division in baseball that isn’t home to a single team with 60 victories. It didn’t hurt that shortly after I called the Dodgers a team with no leader, no center, no reason to believe, they played a bad Washington Nationals team. One three-game sweep at home and it was momentum on the road. Meanwhile, general manager Ned Colletti continued to be a very busy man. Now in addition to writing the Dodgers were a team left in the sun too long and calling Colletti’s one-season patch job a failed experiment, I urged him not to trade any of the organization’s prized prospects for some two-month rental of a player. Colletti, already wise to my motivational ruse, astutely recognized my trading strategy. He dealt veteran reliever Danys Baez, a failed closer here, and infielder Willy Aybar, who had no real Dodger future, for 26-year-old third base prospect Wilson Betemet. Then he traded shortstop Cesar Izturis for 40-year-old Greg Maddux, and infielder Joel Guzman, a once top prospect they had soured on, and outfield prospect Sergio Pedroza for Julio Lugo. The only real loss was Izturis, and he had no place to play. Andre Either, Russell Martin, Jonathan Broxton, Matt Kemp, James Loney, Chad Billingsley, all the major prospects, remained. None of the deals was individually earthshaking, but together they helped spark a team that wouldn’t have recognized a flint from a fire hydrant. An offense averaging 5.0 runs per game has averaged 7.2 runs during the winning streak. Their rotation, wholly unreliable after Brad Penny, saw starters earn seven consecutive victories. They’ve gone without an error in the past six games. The guys are on fire. The Daily News started running a little box on our Web site that counted off the consecutive victories since I called them “dead team walking.” Ten was already getting into some rarified air. The last time the Dodgers won 10 consecutive games was in 2003, when they finished second. The last time they won 11 straight was in 1993, when they finished fourth. And when they won a club record 15 consecutive games in 1924, they finished second. OK, so these winning streaks are no guarantee of titles, but we’re done with all that negative stuff. It already has served its obvious purpose. Now I’ll be taking my proven motivational techniques into new frontiers. Infomercials, books, seminars, DVDs, speeches. Pretty sure next week I’ll write Pete Carroll’s Trojans can’t beat Arkansas, just to make sure USC starts its season off right. Then again, it’s only fair to write off the Angels. Will call the Lakers’ next season lost before it begins. There could be no end to this. For a small fee, next I could be ripping your company. And to think people doubt the power of the press. Meanwhile, the Dodgers – now mentally focused – roll on. They handled the Rockies 4-2 Tuesday night and might never lose again. They’re a half game back of San Diego, which might as well wave them past now. But, really, you’ve all thanked me enough. It’s appreciated, but there are new worlds to conquer, new teams to inspire, new dregs to motivate. Although if the Dodgers insist, I might be able to work out a full share. Steve Dilbeck’s column appears in the Daily News four times a week. [email protected] (818) 713-3607160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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