Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Monday, September 7, 2015

Tidbits Before the Final Freeway Series of the Year

A 7 1/2 game lead with 28 games to play makes thing look mighty positive, but I've seen enough pennant races in my 54 years to recognize that some crazy things could happen.  So, I'll refrain from doing any celebration dances because I hate putting the hex on the season.  Also, will anything short of a World Series appearance be satisfying enough to remove the awful taste of how last season ended?

The additions of Chase Utley, Corey Seager and Justin Ruggiano seem to have sparked the club with new blood that has been sorely needed.  Time will only tell if the Utley rental won't bite us in the rear end for years to come, but that is one of those moves that I am all for...simply because it's guys like Utley that bring that playoff presence that just might be what's needed in post season play.
Justin Ruggiano homered on Friday night at San Diego.  (AP Photo/by Gregory Bull)

Ruggiano looks to be rejuvinated and a valuable bat against lefties.  Seager, well he's the real deal and appears to have ice-water in his veins.  I don't recall a Dodger rookie having that much poise, ever. And the have been a lot of successful ones.

I read on other blogs some strong words asking for Stan Conte's outster because of the slew of hamstring injuries this team has had.  I really have a difficult time believing that it is the fault of the conditioning staff that has caused the Dodgers problems in this area.  Do we really believe that the training staff doesn't have the guys stretching adequately in their pre-game preparation?  It's bad luck, simple as that.  Maybe there could be some blame on Puig's part for playing too many video games and not taking his conditioning seriously...but I could be completely off there too.

Injuries are fickle things.  Remember, it was just a few years ago when the oblique pulls and strains seemed to be the injury that was the most prevalent.  (The same injury that Giant Hunter Pence us recovering from at the moment).  I believe that with the Dodger training staff and state of the art facilities, that the team has done just about all they can to prevent the pulls, strains, tears and breaks that occur over 162 games.  Ask the Giants, who have had their share of bad luck this year too.  Injuries happen, and sometimes more often than normal.

The teams with the greatest depth prevail over injuries, and the Dodgers have definitely built a ball club with a lot of that.  This 2015 team has trotted out 54 different players on the field, the most of any Dodger team in history, (the 1998 team used 53 players), and who knows if a few more minor league call-ups occur after the PCL playoffs are over.   That's what $300 million in payroll can do to you.  That's also a lot of World Series rings if the club wins it all.  (Note: of those 54 different players, 31 were pitchers).


The countdown has begun.  The number is at Jim Gilliam at the start of today.  Hopefully it'll get down to A.J. Ellis by around 10:30 PM tonight.

I just took count and realized that this Dodger season I have watched our boys in blue on MLB network from three continents and ten different countries, and I'll add a few more locations before the month ends.  By my count they are USA, El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Ghana, Mexico, Colombia and coming up in the next three weeks: Brazil and Thailand.  I definitely got my money's worth out of the MLB internet package this year.  What a blessing that is.  It's watching games in crazy time zones that makes things difficult. There are a few misses for me as well:

  • For the first time in 34 years, I will not attend a home game this season, (but I did make it to Philadelphia and New York to see them play).  
  • This also was the first season since 1995 that I did not see the Dodgers play in person in San Francisco. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Up-coming Idle days in Schedule Should Allow Dodgers to Optimize Starting Rotation Order

The Dodgers have a rarity of two off-days this coming week, and three days off in the coming nine days.  This creates a unique opportunity to break-up the back-to-back Greinke/Kershaw starts without having either one of them losing a start.  Additionally a juggling of the rotation order can set up the home series against the Giants in two weeks, with both Greinke and Keshaw facing them.  Without a shuffle in the rotation, the Dodgers would play their three against San Fancisco with Latos, Wood and Anderson on the hill.

The approaching schedule is as follows:
Today, August 16: Reds (Greinke)
August 17: Offday
August 18: @ Oakland (Kershaw)
August 19: @ Oakland (Latos)
August 20: Off day
August 21: @ Houston (replace Wood with GREINKE)
August 22: @ Houston (Anderson with 7 days of rest)
August 23: @ Houston (replace Wood with KERSHAW)
August 24: Off day
August 25: @ Cincinnati (Wood with 10 days of rest)
August 26: @ Cincinnati (GREINKE)
August 27: @ Cincinnati (Latos with 8 days of rest)
August 28: Cubs (KERSHAW)
August 29: Cubs (Anderson with 7 days of rest)
August 30: Cubs (Wood)
August 31: Giants (GREINKE)
September 1: Giants (Latos)
September 2: Giants (KERSHAW)

Aside from setting up the starting staff to the most advantageous match-ups for the team, this also grants much needed extra days of rest for Wood, Anderson and Latos.   It makes perfect sense and I would hope that the decision makers would give these changes serious consideration.


Kike Hernandez is that rare gem that unexpectedly may be the key acquisition in the off-season trade with Miami.  He brings enthusiasm combined with versatility and a glove that can competently play 5 defensive positions.  I call him the modern day Derrell Thomas, but with a better bat.

Hernandez's three-run clout in last night's game was nearly hit out of the LF Pavilion.  The blast was shocking, not because he homered, but because of the distance the ball travelled.  ESPN tracked it's distance as as 433 feet.   I'm not sure how accurate that measurement was, but there's no doubt it was tattooed.

The Dodger's 8-3 win last night showed a return of the home run, as 5 were hit by both teams on a hot August L.A. night.  Something I would expect to continue in today's afternoon contest in the sweltering heat.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The New Guys Contribute for the "W"

Dodger fans can be an impatient lot, and the early results of Jim Johnson, Alex Wood, Mat Latos and Luis Avilan have got a lot of them up in a tizzy.  For that reason last night's 5-3 Dodger win over Cincinnati may have temporarily calmed a few nerves.
Alex Wood went 6 1/3 innings in his first Dodger win. (AP photo)

It can't be ignored that Alex Wood pitched a good game last night.  He was on his game, his pitch count was low, he was getting ahead in counts.  It was a solid, not great, but solid outing and deserving of a win.

Jim Johnson retired the two hitters he was assigned, and luck was in his favor for the first time in which her wore a Dodger uniform.  I realize Johnson has been lit up in his previous outings, but I've seen enough nasty pitches from this guy in all but one of those appearances to still believe he can be a valuable piece to the bullpen.  To simply give up on him would be foolish.  As much as I'm quick to criticize Mattingly, I was glad he found a spot for Johnson to contribute last night.  I strongly believe that Johnson will be a significant contributor to the team between now and the end of the season.

Latos and Avilan remain to perform up to standard, but there's time.  Meanwhile, the Dodgers, in my opinion need about 27 more wins to wrap up the division title.  That'll put them at a 92 win season. Do they have it in them to finish up 27-18, (a .600 pace)?  I believe so, but there's still a lot of quality opponents that they'll have to beat.


Last season Dan Uggla found himself in a San Francisco Giant uniform for 4 games.  He participated in a three game series in SF against the Dodgers and went 0 for 9, while striking out 4 times.  He also made two errors at second base.  It was a putrid week for him as his batting average lowered to .152. As Dodger fans we were elated, after all the Dodgers swept the Giants and their new second baseman appeared to be done as a player.  The Giants brass didn't stick with him much longer, as he was released after his next game, an 0 for 3, two strikeout performance in a loss at home to Pittsburgh.

Uggla during his 4 days as a Giant. (photo by USA Today/SI)

The final numbers for Uggla as a Giant: 11 ABs, 0 Hits, 1 BB, 1 R, 6 SO, 2 errors.  He was a Giant from July 25-29th.

Q: What does he get for that?

A: A World Series ring.  

Uggla is in San Francisco with the Nationals this week and he was presented his ring, for that 4 game losing swing.  Sorry, but there's something wrong with that.

Oh, and another thing.  Uggla is still awful.  As a Nat he's hitting .191 with an OBP of .294.  At least in the past he had some pop to go with that low OBP, but even that is gone now.  Uggla has one homer this year so far.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Schedules / Road Trip Report

The Giants are finally hitting that rough patch of the schedule, and so far, things aren't looking good for the guys in the halloween colored duds.  Look at this brutal slate of games:

@Cubs (2 more, after having lost the first two), Astros (2) at home, Nationals (4) at home, @Cardinals (3), @Pirates (4), followed by a home stand with the Cubs (3) and then the Cardinals (3).

This stretch is against all playoffs contenders and in the dog days of August.  Following those 22 games they travel to Los Angeles and face the Dodgers for four.

Now if the Giants survive this stretch, September may be their month as they only face the NL West and A's, plus three home games with the hapless Reds.

So the Dodgers really need to take advantage of this month and stretch out the lead.  On the scheduling front, the Dodgers have their share of tough opponents too, (Nats, Astros, Pirates and Cubs), but the A's and Reds are mixed in there too.  If the Dodgers enter September with a 7 game lead, they should be in good shape.  They do have eight remaining contests with the Giants, who have pretty much owned them all season.

So I made it up to Philadelphia for yesterday's afternoon matinee.  Fact is, I traveled up to New York two weeks ago and caught the series opener there too, (which was Kershaw's masterpiece), but this piece is on Philadelphia's Citizen Bank Park, which was inundated by Dodger fans.

Who would have thought that Philadelphia would ever be accepting of a situation like that?  The city that may have one of the toughest fan bases in the all of sports.  Booers of Santa Claus, battery throwers at J.D. Drew and their own hometown star Richie Allen, fighters of opposing hockey players in the penalty box.  There's little doubt that Philadelphia fans have a reputation of being a tough group.  

I'd never think that visiting fans from a team over 3,000 miles away could openly cheer in such a place without receiving any hostility or any fights breaking out.  But such was the case yesterday. The Dodgers had quite a contingent of fans, with many dressed up in jersey, caps and more.  I saw friendly banter between them and Phillies fans, as things should be.

So I give my props to Phillies fans.  They were great hosts.  The fans I interacted with were actually very complimentary towards the Dodgers, and as I departed, one even wished us luck in the playoffs.  I'm sure if the Phils didn't have the worst record in the league that things would have been different, but that's neither here nor there.  What I witnessed was a knowledgeable fan base that was respectful.

Watching the blue crew lace out five hits while plating three runs in the first inning made me think that with Zack Greinke on the mound, the game was over.  How were we to know that Greinke would give up more runs in the first inning as he had in the previous two months?  It was one of those games.

With an 1 1/3 innings in the books, both teams had already combined for 11 runs and 13 hits.  There was no doubt that CB Park is a launching pad, as no lead appeared safe, even up to the final outs as the Phillies rallied from a four run deficit to having the potential winning run at the plate.

Props to CB Park's Bull's BBQ, where I had an amazing BBQ beef sandwich.

I met up with True Blue Will from New York.  A great friend and acquaintance from the Think Blue LA forum. I've met up with Will at CBR as well as Citi Field a few weeks ago. Will caught Amtrak from NYC and is about as loyal and knowledgable as  Dodger fan as there is, dating back to his days when he followed the Boys of Summer in Brooklyn. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Lights Out Loss - Chalk It Up to Inept Nationals Staff + The Greatness of Kershaw

I had Friday night on my calendar as a game to attend for the longest time as I figured it would be a Clayton Kershaw start, being the first game after the AllStar break.  An ideal opportunity for a Dodger win.   All the stars were aligned for it to be the perfect road game to see in person.    But I couldn't pull the trigger.  I had to wait, and I'm sure glad I did.  In the end, when the Dodgers announced that Bolsinger would start, I didn't buy tickets.

photo by Brad Mills, USA Today Sports
In this age of modern technology, you'd think that a Major League organization with a stadium a mere 7 years old could keep the lights on.  But now, as a D.C. resident for the last 15 months, I must say, nothing surprises me in the nation's capital.

Chalk up the Friday-Saturday loss on the Nationals to an inept stadium staff.  They single-handidly gave their ball club a victory by forcing pitchers to warm up and cool down for a three hour period.  Why in the world the game wasn't played under protest is beyond me.

Tsao gave up the 2-run homer on Friday night after having warmed up and cooled down twice.  The third time, he clearly wasn't ready.  As I watched this debacle from home after the lights went out a second time, I couldn't help but think, "thank goodness you didn't attend this train wreck in person."
What a mess that was and an embarrassment for the Nationals organization.  That delay should have been no more than a few seconds, and not hours on end.

I'm obviously not savvy about technical issues, such as stadium lights, but it seems that there are enough out there in 29 other cities, (oops, make that 28, as I forgot about Chicago), that know how to keep them on without jeopardizing the integrity of the game.  If I had attended the game on Friday, I'd be asking for a full refund.


and....speaking of "lights out," how good is Clayton Kershaw right now?   Check out this stat line for his last two games:

17 innings pitched, 0 Runs Allowed, 27 strikeouts, 0 walks.

photo by Gary Fiume, Getty Images North America

Small sample size?  Sure.  Has anyone had such a dominant two game stretch in the past few decades?  I doubt it.  Twenty-seven Ks and 0 walks.  Nobody does that in two games.  Last night's Game Score of "90" was Clayton's highest since he pitched that no-hitter last year on June 18th vs. Colorado, with a games score of "102."  (Kershaw's no-hitter was the 7th highest game score in major league history and even surpassed Koufax's perfect game of "101").

That Bill James devised sabermetric stat (game score) is probably the best measure of game greatness out there for pitchers.  A score of 90 or higher makes up less than 0.025 % of all games played. Kershaw has thrown 4 of them in his career, and yesterday was one of them. He's the best pitcher in baseball bar none.  Watch him roll off 12 wins in a row.  I'm calling it right here.

How to calculate "Game Score:"

  1. Start with 50 points.
  2. Add one point for each out recorded, so three points for every complete inning pitched.
  3. Add two points for each inning completed after the fourth.
  4. Add one point for each strikeout.
  5. Subtract two points for each hit allowed.
  6. Subtract four points for each earned run allowed.
  7. Subtract two points for each unearned run allowed.
  8. Subtract one point for each walk.

Friday, July 3, 2015

It's Time to Take Over the Division...A Look Back In History

The moment has arrived.  The Dodgers need to step on the accelerator.

Everything is lining up in order.  The Giants are slumping on the road and now they head to D.C. to face a tough Nationals team.  The Dodgers are coming off their first off day in over a month as well their first winning road trip of the season.  They have a homestand coming up in which the schedule favors them with inferior teams, (Mets, Phillies and Brewers) and to top it off...Kershaw and Greinke start the first two games.

There comes a time in a season when you simply have to step on the gas and cushion that lead.  NOW IS THAT TIME!

As much as the Dodgers have pretty much led the division from the get go, it's safe to say that this team hasn't dominated by any stretch of the imagination.  If you want to see what this team is truly made of, I say this is the week we'll find out.  The Dodgers need to enter the All Star break with a 6 or 7 game lead in the West.


This has been a strange year.  With the Giants owning the Dodgers in head to head play, it reminds me of a similar situation of Dodger-Giant lore, but things were the exact opposite in 1971.

This was a Dodger team of Richie Allen, Willie Davis, Wes Parker and Maury Wills' last good season.  Al Downing won 20 games and Don Sutton 17. Jim Brewer in the pen sported a 1.88 ERA.

Richie Allen at 3B for the Dodgers in 1971 made Pedro Guerrero look like a gold glover.

The Dodgers absolutely owned the Giants that year, but San Francisco started out hot and they were in first place for 147 days of the season, almost from start to finish.  L.A. had a 12-6 record against the Giants that season, including winning their final eight contests with their hated rivals.  We all knew who the better team was.  It just seemed inevitable that San Francisco would cough up that 10 game lead they had as the Dodgers whittled away at it to move within one game of first place on September 14th.

Unfortunately, the Dodger schedule against San Francisco was done by then.  A four game losing streak to hapless San Diego and Atlanta set them back.  Even winning five of their final six wasn't enough as the Giants held their own and won the division by one game, depriving us of what would have been a classic NLCS with Roberto Clemente's Pittsburgh Pirates.

So my point is this:

It doesn't matter who the wins and losses come against.  The big picture right now is the overall record, and as things stand right now, the Dodgers beat the teams they should beat, much better than the Giants do.

 We know the Giants and Cardinals have owned us this year, but those were just blips on the whole schedule.  The '88 Dodgers were 1-10 against the Mets in the regular season, but that didn't matter when the NLCS rolled around.  The '83 Phillies were 1-11 against the Dodgers, but when the playoffs came around, and they took the Dodgers out in 4 games.

We express concerns with the way this team holds up against those NL rivals, but it's a clean slate in October.  There's a lot of time left.  There is a trade deadline looming and some exciting call ups coming for the September run.  This ball club will be a completely different animal in September. And so will the Giants.  For that reason, getting a cushion at the All Star break is very important.  Not crucial, but certainly important.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The "Cardinal Way" is Nothing to Brag About

Mike Matheny, St. Louis Cardinals Manager
As word spreads about an FBI probe against the St. Louis Cardinal front office hacking in to the Houston Astros network, it leaves little doubt that the organization that boasts about doing things the "Cardinal Way" gives little thought to such words as integrity and fair play.  Now I'm starting to wonder how deeply entrenched cheating is in the Cardinal organization at all levels.

We watched helplessly as Clayton Kershaw's deliveries were whacked around in the 2014 NLDS.  A schalacking that we'd never seen Kershaw ever experience before.  Speculation that the Cardinals knew what pitch was coming was prevalent, but no proof surfaced.  Of course Matheny and company denied it, but those that have followed the game for a long time recognized hitters that were teeing off on pitches they knew were coming.  Did the Cardinals develop an elaborate scheme to tip their hitters about the pitches being called?  Was it sophisticated in a way similar to the '51 Giants, who used, telescopes, signals and buzzer systems to let batters know what pitch was coming?  Who knows?

We can only guess, but today's announcement proves one thing.  There is now concrete evidence that this organization cheats, and they didn't even consider the consequences of getting caught.  For that, they should be punished severely.  If it were up to me, I'd banish the culprits from the game for life, in the same fashion that the 1919 Black Sox were banned, and Pete Rose was given the boot.  This is serious stuff.  In the 21st century, network hacking in the tech savvy baseball world can do some serious damage to an organization.  It messes with the integrity of the game and gives an organization an unfair advantage.  That in turn affects outcomes.

Take away St. Louis' first five draft picks in the 2016 and 2017 draft.  Ban those in their organization that were involved from the game for life.  Sanction the organization $100 million dollars.  That should show St. Louis what the "Cardinal Way" is all about.  This needs to be near the equivalent of the SMU NCAA football death penalty in the mid 1980s.  Rob Manfred, you're up next.

As a Cardinal hater, I must say that I admit to some morbid enjoyment in watching the redbird fans squirm.  There's nothing worse than cheaters, and the Cardinals have just surfaced with a dishonest reputation that should follow them for years.  Chew on that Cardinal fans.