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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Pickoff Moves

Stirring Up The Animals: Angels R Better 'N Dodgers, No, The Angels Suck, Etc.

I pass along this Paul Oberjuerge piece published over the weekend because it represents a sort of fan-baiting that's been going on ever since 2002:
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim own this market now.

They are the guys who know what it takes to win and have the track record to prove it.

They are the team the Dodgers — their "betters" for, oh, so long — should study. Should try to learn from. Should attempt to emulate.

The team the Dodgers should bow down before as smarter, gutsier and classier than they are.

The Angels clinched the American League West championship on Sunday, the same day the Dodgers ended the seven-game belly flop of a losing streak that buried them over in the National League West.

That's three outright division titles in four years for the Angels, or two more than the Dodgers have managed in 12 seasons.

That's four 92-victory seasons in six years for the Angels, or two more than the Dodgers have achieved since 1991.

And don't forget the Angels' 2002 World Series championship, something the Dodgers haven't won (or even competed for) since 1988.

One of the fundamental tenets of this blog is that predictions of Angels ascendancy, and reflexively, of the Dodgers' imminent demise are, at root, hogwash, nothing more than stuff to sell newspapers. Turning the town Angel red would take a lot more managerial incompetence in the Dodger front office, maybe a couple more decades of no appearances in the postseason. The real battle is for the casual fan, those marginal seats not filled by season ticket holders. Neither team seems to have a problem with attendance; the Dodgers made it in to last year's postseason on the Wild Card, and I don't remember Arte Moreno getting thusly taunted, though that could be just my defective memory; there's always somebody. I will agree with Oberjuerge on this much: if the Dodgers' measure of success is getting to the postseason and winning once there, they could sure use a refresher.

Matt Welch On Dodger Front Office Foot-Shooting

Well, when Matt Welch makes kissy noises like this (this very blog, "fine"?), it's hard to resist.
The layman's notion of public relations is often akin to applying positive "spin" on a negative fact, or "putting lipstick on a pig." But the better PR professionals I've known take a different tack -- getting the correct story out (in as advantageous a way as possible, sure), and if the reality isn't good to begin with, work hard at changing that reality first.

The reality about the McCourt Dodgers is that -- unlike the playoff team down the 5 -- they have no organizational cohesion, no comprehendible storyline that the players, coaches and flacks all understand in their marrow. It's a team that goes through third basemen like potato chips, that can't figure out if it's young or it's old, that sends conflicting signals to its fans and employees almost every day.
Matt, of course, has had his issues with the McCourts, as have I. The Dodgers want to be an interesting team, but they just don't know how, and seemingly aren't interested in learning.

Nothing's Shocking: Rangers 8, Angels 7

Another crappy road outing (at Texas, especially) by Ervin Santana, bats that couldn't compensate, and so what. Just another road loss with Mike realigning his rotation for the postseason.

Elsewhere: Cleveland (92-63) had the day off, as did Boston (92-64), putting the Angels one game back of Cleveland in the loss column. The Yankees lost to Toronto 4-1, pushing them two games back of the Sox, and postponing the twin eliminations of Detroit and, yes, Seattle from the Wild Card.

RecapYahoo Box

National League Races

It was a quiet night in baseball, as most teams had a travel day. However, all three scheduled games in the National League had significance to the postseason, as the Nationals humiliated the Mets 13-4 in the NL East, slicing their division lead to two games. In the NL Central, Milwaukee crushed a depleted St. Louis squad 13-5 in the NL Central, keeping the Cubs' magic number held at four. Barry Zito led the Giants past the reeling Padres 9-4; the Pads have lost four straight, with no help last night from a shaky Chris Young. Short-handed (they're missing Milton Bradley and Mike Cameron), their chances are fading fast. The Pads remain three back of the Diamondbacks in the division, with an elimination number of four; in the Wild Card, the loss allowed Philadelphia to catch up with them. Since the September 1, 2005, according to Mike Carminati, the Phils have been in first place for a postseason slot only ten days, and all of them discrete (i.e., as soon as they gained the lead they lost it the next day).

Abreu Out

Tony Abreu strained his right hip Sunday and will be undergoing an MRI.

Thank You, David Wells

For saying the obvious:
"Some of the guys that you see around that are young are a little cocky," said pitcher David Wells, at 44 the oldest Dodger, yet one of the few who has moved comfortably between both sides in a split clubhouse. "But you know what? They're going to get humbled. And when they do, they'll switch their attitude. It's not my place and time to tell people how to act. But I pay attention.

"And if I feel the need maybe I'll say, 'Hey, maybe you want to try this approach.' Because I was told that."

Stephen Smith At Arizona Instructional League

Stephen Smith has a series of posts up about Arizona Instructional League ball, where Dallas McPherson recently homered (Windows Media video). The video of McPherson is like watching a silent movie, almost ghostly: there's nobody in the stands, and you can hear the umpires spit.

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I watched that clip over at FutureAngels.com about a dozen times before now watching it a couple more. I'm really pulling for this guy.
Wow! I'm pleasantly surprised that you didn't let your feelings for the Angels color your opinion about what it would take for them to overcome the popularity of the Dodgers in LA. You know, the sad part of the McCourt situation, in my view, is that he made a deal with Bud Selig before he bought the team; he won't overspend on draft picks or the payroll. There are certain situations where the Dodgers should make exceptions, like with Kyle Blair this year. That also paralyzed the team in the negotiations for Vladimir, which I believe was a huge factor in the relative success of both teams.

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