In honor of last night's annual Hollywood circle jerk, aka the Oscars, here's a few awards of my own to those men of the Tinseltown diamond, the Dodgers...
Best terrible story I just made up about the origin of the team's name:
Did you know that the original Dodgers were made up of a rag-tag bunch of WWI draft dodgers? They traveled around and played semi-pro teams for whatever money they could get. Constantly on the run from the authorities, not only did they not have names on the back of their jerseys, but they all wore the number 12 in order to preserve anonymity. The players traveled by the light of the moon often riding in train cars posing as hobos and winos until the war ended and the team just so happened to be in Brooklyn. A franchise was born. Jeff Kent still wears the number 12 as an homage to the original team. Jeff Kent has a real respect for the game like that because Jeff Kent loves baseball.
Best part of a deal nobody is talking about
This has to go to the deal for Jason Schmidt. The Dodgers decided to give Schmidt, who's 34, a three-year deal worth $47 million and "lost" in the Barry Zito derby when he got seven years and a ridiculous $126 million from the Giants. Now, Zito is a perfectly good pitcher, but I don't know how much money I want riding on the left arm of a soft throwing curveball pitcher. Schmidt, on the other hand is more of a power pitcher and averages over a strikeout per nine innings better than Zito over his career (7.96 vs. 6.90) and in 2004 averaged over 10 K/9, numbers Zito could never imagine touching, even in his Cy Young Award year. Now that we agree that Schmidt is more of a power pitcher, I guess I'm saying look around at the pitchers who stick around after they're over the hill: Clemens, Randy Johnson, Pedro, Smoltz are all power pitchers. The only guy who comes to mind (sorry if I'm missing somebody, my research department is out today) that doesn't throw hard is Maddux, and nobody is like Maddux. I just think I'd rather have the 34 year old who can still throw hard for three years over the 28 year old who never threw hard for seven years. Okay, my acceptance speech is dragging, let's move on...
Best "Holy Crap, that's impresive" moment
I've been saving this one for the Dodgers rotation featuring Schmidt, Derek Lowe, Brad Penny and Randy Wolf (followed by "wait and see"). Now that's a rotation to be proud of. Wolf is somewhat of a wildcard here, but he's on his second year back after surgery so I'd say there's room for optimism. I'd say you can pencil in somewhere in the 40 wins range for the top three combined (last year 43). That's a solid foundation to build a season on. I like this staff.
Rip down the "No Pepper" sign award
Boy, this team better be practicing their bunting and hit-and-run scenarios. There is NO power to be seen in this lineup. Let me put that another way: Nomar Garciparra and JD Drew (now gone) led the team in homers last year with 20 each. Twenty! And that's out of your formerly-athletic-now-first-baseman. And with their aquisition of Luis Gonzalez the outfield goes like this: Gonzalez, Juan Pierre and Andre Ethier. And this is coming from me, a lifelong NL fan who loves the "small ball" style. But, if you're going to have Nomar and Kent hitting 3-4, I'm going to be a little more nervous if you need a run in the bottom of the ninth. Maybe that's just me. Probably not though.
Best managerial job of not being noticed
That's right Grady Little. I have to give you some credit. After your quasi-disastrous stretch with the Red Sox, you've done a nice job of keeping a low profile and staying out of Bill Simmons columns, for the most part. I had even forgotten that you still had this job. Plus, I'm really happy you and Mr. Hamm get to spend some more QT together in the locker room. So cute, you two.
Prediction performance by a terrible gambler
That's right, I'm giving this one to myself. Gosh, this is a tough division to predict. Could be another one down to the wire. But, since I've committed to making a prediction I'm going to say that the Dodgers finish second in the division and are in the Wild Card race. I haven't decided who wins that one yet. Jeeze, I'm only on my third team, cut a guy some slack.
Well, that lasted less than four hours, so I hope it wasn't too painful.
(Update: I've changed my prediction in my San Diego post. Sorry for the confusion readers.)