Following those losses the Dodgers went 62-28, far and away the best mark in the Majors. Exactly a month later they were in first place. The boys in blue didn't lose back to back games until another month after that. But what changed? Dead weight starters Josh Beckett and Ted Lilly, who combined to go 0-7, hadn't pitched in weeks. Hanley had made his return to the field several weeks prior coinciding with the debut of the dynamo Puig and they both absolutely
raked. Kenley Jansen had retaken the closer reigns from Brandon League. The collective calling for manager Don Mattingly’s dismissal went silent. I knew Los Angeles had the talent to be legitimate contenders but usually when a west coast super team hits a rough patch they don’t usually bounce back (see 2012-2013 Los Angeles Lakers & 2013 Los Angeles Angels).
The sudden team cohesion was a revelation. The pitching staff rounded into form as the three workhorses at the top (Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Hyun-jin Ryu) combined to go 30-11 the rest of the way. The July 6th trade for Miami’s Ricky Nolasco gave them one of the deepest rotations in the Bigs, even with his brutal September. Combined with solid outings from the likes of youngster Stephen Fife and journeyman Chris Capuano they didn’t give opposing hitters a chance to have a proverbial day off. The offense took the kick start from the duo of Puig and Ramirez and never looked back. Having the former in front of him and the latter behind him seemed to give Adrian Gonzalez his stroke back. Role players that had populated the starting lineup over the earlier months returned to the bench. In the poignant words of the late “Macho Man” Randy Savage, the cream of the crop had risen to the top.
That is why I am proud to be a Dodgers fan today. What could have been a lost season turned into one of promise. A promise that I don’t have to worry about seeing a hefty contract doled out to a player and wait for him to become a shell of what he once was. A promise that I could watch a sport that had continually deconstructed my psyche and have it be fun again. A promise that the new owners and new players have made a commitment to the fans to not put a subpar product on the diamond. In response to this display I have made a promise to them as well as to myself to never let my faith in them waver again. Gone are the days of front office deceit and healthy players who played like injured ones. Gone also are my days of keeping my Dodger gear buried in the closet due to shame and anger. Living in New England I have seen how those who stick with a team at their lowest get the greatest rewards when the trend turns. I can only hope that I am similarly rewarded in the coming seasons even though I may not deserve it. My convenient pride may not be worthy but I know plenty of Dodgers fans whose it is and to those they deserve this trend to finally turn.
Trevor Utley is currently the only writer on this site. Hopefully for him and you that will change soon.
Video Credit: CGatto (Youtube)