Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Diamond Musings

For a mishmosh of reasons, I have not done too many baseball postings on this blog of late. Let's face it, if you're not a fan of America's pastime, that would be a really efficient way for me to lose a blog audience.

But, bear with me today, gang.  It's a rare foray onto the diamond.   And, if you're a fan of nastiness, hang in there.  I will pull out the claws later on.

But, for now...

A little over a quarter into the season, the only thing really lighting up Dodger Stadium in 2013 are Friday night fireworks.  The team with the highest payroll in the National League has been left at the starting gate like one of those horses that breaks a leg ten seconds into the Preakness.  The optimist in me says there's still plenty of baseball to be played.  The pessimist in me says there's still plenty of baseball to be endured.


In the land of Len Fandom, my east coast team is sucking wind as well.  The New York Mets were put together on the cheap and look it.  Run by an ownership and management team that clearly has seen better days, the whole place needs to be overhauled from top to bottom.  And, to make matters even worse, they closed the concession stand that sells fried barbecue bologna sandwiches on my level.

Winging back west where, at least, the gametime temperature is always a little warmer....

The hubbub around the Dodgers is their lousy start and, naturally, this translates into a hue and cry for the manager's head.  Don Mattingly went into 2013 with only one year left on his contract and, even in spring training, the press was talking that he would be a goner if the Dodgers got off to a bad start.  Well, bad start is a reality and the vultures, albeit the less knowledgeable ones in the national media, are circling.

Forget the fact that, as a result of injuries to everybody except organist Nancy Bea Heffley and announcer Vin Scully, Mattingly has yet to field the entire lineup he thought he would have last winter.  

Forget the fact that the front office neglected to remember that they needed a competent third baseman going into the season.  They pinned their hopes on journeyman Luis Cruz who, as a resident of California, has a better future cleaning pools.

Forget the fact that the morons in the national baseball media are focusing on the Dodgers' high salaries inherited from last year's trade with the Boston Red Sox.  These clowns talk about all this dead wood absorbed by Los Angeles.  Uh huh.  Checking the stats, the three best hitters so far on the team are Adrian Gonzalez, Nick Punto, and Carl Crawford.  Guess where they came from?

Meanwhile, Matt Kemp is badly in need of some steroids.  Andre Ethier has shaved his head and apparently twenty points off his batting average.  And the Dodger bullpen looks like it moved to Oklahoma...last week.

But, as the adage goes, you can't fire 25 guys so you have to shitcan the manager.  I'm a Mattingly fan and think he's done a great job learning how to manage on the fly.  Over his tenure here, I certainly have had a lot less moments cursing the manager than I did previously when "that stupid Torre" was a regular phrase in my Loge section every night.  To me, Donnie Baseball has a bright future in baseball management.

It just might not happen in Los Angeles.  And that's a sad state of affairs.  Sure, he's got a vote of confidence from the owners now.  But I also get a lot of those "$5 off" Bed Bath and Beyond coupons in the mail and they're almost as useful.

But, of course, in the slap happy world of sports journalism in 2013, somebody has to take the fall.  And, over the past week or so, it has galled me how Mattingly has been sliced and diced by a bunch of reporters who are allegedly "baseball insiders."  They're not in the Dodger clubhouse.  They don't travel with the team.  They sometimes will go months at a time without setting foot in California.  But, they still have, as my father used to say, "all the answers to none of the questions."

It started last week.  These assholes had nothing to write about so they all focused in on the Dodgers and Mattingly.  You know who these schmucks are.  They work for reputable sports websites but have long since lost credibility.  They are gossip mongers and yellow journalists.  They hide by "unnamed sources" and "scouts from rival organizations."

They are the scum of the business.

You've got jerks like Jon Heyman who lives in super agent Scott Boras' back pocket and has a face that screams "one of the townspeople in the Syosset High School production of Fiddler on the Roof."  Then there's some dolt named Buster Olney on ESPN.com.  I live by the rule of thumb that only dogs should be called Buster.  

The worst of the lot is this parasite who toils for Fox.  They even include him on their Game of the Week telecasts with Joe Buck and Tim McCarver who, by the way, sounds like he's retiring one season too late.

It's Ken Rosenthal and the guy is a complete fraud.  He's one of those jerks who probably had his lunch money stolen all the time in high school.  Hell, had I known him, I would have kicked the cream cheese out of him in the boys bathroom.

But, wait, he's a "baseball insider."  Long ago a sellout to any form of honest sports journalism, Rosenthal lives in hotel bars and airport terminals.  Looking for any kind of dirt or innuendo that he can use in his pieces.   He takes the barest of news and explodes into the crashing of the Hindenburg.  Over and over and over, Rosenthal has made up stuff that never materializes.  Of course, nobody seems to focus on his inaccuracy.  By the time there's a fact check, Kenny's moved onto his next topic.

A week ago Sunday, it must have been one of those days when Rosenthal had come up empty on the news scene.  So, with the Dodgers fresh from an annoying weekend sweep in Atlanta, he hit his keyboard and filed a tale on Fox Sports.com.


Oh, he even had the exact date of the firing.  It would be Thursday, a team off day.

And that's what lots of other websites picked up as well.  Rosenthal's story went viral.

Except when you actually read it, the notion was all his own speculation.   Purely made up.  

Opinion passing for fact.

Of course, in a society that thrives on negative news of any sort, this became all the Dodgers had to deal with last week at every corner.  Mattingly's pre-game meeting with reporters on Friday night, usually covered by no more than three or four beat writers, had to be moved to a conference room.  

All of this incredibly unfair.  And stirred by a dweeb of a human being who should be doing nothing more for society than stacking cans of beans at your local super market.

Sure, if the Dodgers don't improve over the next several weeks, Mattingly's ouster might be their only move.  It would be sad if the guy doesn't get to manage when the Dodgers make their first intra-league visit to Yankee Stadium in mid-June.  

But, that is baseball and he probably understands that more than anybody.  A totally upstanding and professional guy.

Whose future and career is manipulated by just the opposite.  Ken Rosenthal.  A guy as far away from professionalism as the planet would allow.

Dinner last night:  Barbecued baby back ribs, baked beans, salad, and strawberry rhubarb crumble at the home of good friends Amir and Kevin.

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