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Why You Should Back the Dodgers Over the Red Sox

October 23rd, 2018 · No Comments · Baseball, Dodgers, Lists

This is a list of reasons why regular folks around the baseball world should support the Los Angeles Dodgers over the Boston Red Sox in the World Series, which begins tonight in Beantown.

First and foremost?

–The Dodgers have not won the World Series in 30 years. The Red Sox have won it three times since 2004, and expect the rest of you to join them in their selfish pursuit of a fourth championship in 15 years. Hey, it’s L.A.’s turn! There are Dodgers fans 35 years old who have no recollection of Kirk Gibson and the 1988 World Series.

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Dodgers and Red Sox: A Rivalry in the Making?

October 21st, 2018 · No Comments · Baseball, Dodgers

The Los Angeles Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox are two of the half-dozen most prominent Major League Baseball teams. In theory, then, they should be rivals of some sort. Perhaps bitter rivals.

But they are not. And have not been for a century. A time frame that does much to explain why they enter the 2018 World Series on Tuesday as polite and respectful opponents.

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Whither the Lakers and LeBron?

October 19th, 2018 · No Comments · Lakers, NBA

A sample size too small even to call a sample size, but that never stops us from expressing enthusiasm — or confessing alarm — about a team we have been studying.

In this case, the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers of LeBron James. The Lakers who Are Back. Relevant Again. In Theory.

The Lakers who are 0-1 in an 82-game season after a 128-119 defeat at Portland on Thursday night.

And here is what we found worrisome.

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Winning Ugly: Dodgers Are Perfecting the Concept

October 17th, 2018 · No Comments · Baseball, Dodgers

The Dodgers defeated the Milwaukee Brewers 2-1 in 13 innings to even the National League Championship Series at two games apiece.

The game lasted 5 hours and 15 minutes.

It only seemed like it went on for 10 hours and 15 minutes.

It has been three decades since the Dodgers won a World Series, and most of their fans would like to see the end of that drought …

But do the boys in blue really plan to give us more of what we saw Tuesday night/Wednesday morning?

Wouldn’t that just encourage other teams to play the same way?

This was a brutal game to watch, and I saw every moment of it. All 315 minutes, which is 18,900 seconds, if a moment constitutes a second.

The biggest problem?

The 11-plus innings that Dodgers hitters turned into a whiff-fest, at the hands of the Milwaukee bullpen.

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Jared Goff’s Mile-High Weather and Altitude Test

October 14th, 2018 · No Comments · Football, Los Angeles Rams, NFL

I was as badly wrong about Jared Goff as … well, just about anyone or anything over a long stretch of time.

Back in 2016, his rookie season, I was suggesting the Los Angeles Rams quarterback was in big trouble even before the season began, and then declared him a top-of-the-draft disaster. Or nearly did. (“Goff … may be a bust.”)

He started the final seven games of a 4-12 season, and lost them all, and looked awful. Clueless, hapless, scared, lost.

Rams fans, and I, were cringing over the cost of the team trading up to get the top pick from the Tennessee Titans. Which led to Goff. Two first-round picks, two seconds and two thirds, in the 2016 and 2017 drafts.

After making his debut in the 10th game of the season, Goff suffered those seven defeats, as well as seven interceptions, five TD passes and a disastrous 63.6 quarterback rating for the worst offense in the NFL.

The team’s greatest hope, I suggested at the end of the 2016 season, was the Rams finding a coach ready to “take on the Jared Goff Project — personally, or with a fantastic QB coach”.

Which is exactly what they did, in hiring Sean McVay. Since that inspired move, the Rams are 16-5 in regular-season games, including 5-0 this season.

And today?

Goff pretty much has a final test to demonstrate he is one of the league’s top quarterbacks by winning in bad weather, and at altitude.

In snow, that is. In Denver.

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Looking Forward to Baseball’s 2018 Final Four

October 11th, 2018 · No Comments · Baseball, Dodgers

Los Angeles Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers. Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros.

Two teams that played in last year’s World Series.

Two teams that led their league in victories.

Four teams that are rolling. Two best-of-seven series to decide who plays in the 2018 World Series.

Baseball has reached its version of the Final Four, with the Brewers and Dodgers playing for the National League pennant, and the Red Sox and Astros vying for the American League pennant.

It could be, should be interesting, given that these seem to be the four best teams in baseball. Nobody fluky has sneaked into this party.

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UFC Bout as Craziest Sports Event? Not Close

October 10th, 2018 · 1 Comment · Boxing, soccer, Sports Journalism

Much has been made this week of the moments of madness after Khabib Nurmagodemov defeated Conor McGregor in a highly anticipated Ultimate Fighting Championship event in Las Vegas.

People rushed into the ring, punches were thrown.

Some people who were at the event feared that the situation could devolve into a riot in the sold-out MGM Grand arena.

Two of those alarmists did a podcast for theringer.com, a site mostly concerned with sports topics, and they seemed to agree that the risk of general violence and the threat to civilians in the stands was high.

One described it as “the craziest event I’ve ever been to.”

No doubt things looked dangerous for a moment, but then that moment was gone –which enables us to demonstrate that Khabib-MGregor was a long, long way down the list of crazy or, more, lethal sports events.

Let’s cite a few.

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Chris Davis Brings New Depth to Mendoza Line

October 6th, 2018 · 1 Comment · Baseball

Chris Davis is a bug lug of a Texan who made his way in baseball by hitting home runs.

That is why the slugger was, in years past, referred to as “Crush” Davis — a play on the name of the Kevin Costner character “Crash Davis“) in the movie “Bull Durham”.

Chris Davis, now 32, had some halcyon days. In 2013, he led the major leagues in home runs (53) and runs batted in (139). In 2015, he led baseball in homers again, with 47.

But he never was a guy who was going to reach base a lot. He is not a guy who will lay down a bunt or hit behind the runner or cut down on his swing when he is behind in the count.

It’s all or nothing … and in the 2018 season Chris Davis experienced “nothing” so often he pushed one historically relevant statistic to a new low.

With a .166 (qualified) batting average. An MLB record.

And, really, if we are going to attach a name to guys who can’t get hits, whose batting averages are plummeting below .200 … we ought to rename the Mendoza Line for Chris Davis.

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Is This the Dodgers’ Year?

October 4th, 2018 · No Comments · Baseball, Dodgers

Probably not. But at least they are in there with a chance.

Dodgers fans have been waiting for a World Series championship since 1988, when Orel Hershiser and Kirk Gibson led them to glory.

The notion that winning the National League West would translate to World Series victory … well, that has not quite worked out: The Dodgers won the division in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, and only one of those teams got to what Tommy Lasorda always insisted was “the Fall Classic”.

So the fact that the Dodgers have run that NL West mastery to six straight seasons, well, it doesn’t have Dodgers fans planning victory parades. The club may be the best in the NL West, but their inability to seal the deal has led to a sense that they lack that something special to carry them to the top.

Can they overcome that?

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So Long, Sosh

October 2nd, 2018 · No Comments · Angels, Baseball, Dodgers

The last time someone other than Mike Scioscia was manager of the Angels … it was another decade. Another century.

Heck, it was another millennium.

Lots of Angels fans have no memory of the club without Scioscia. And may not even know Scioscia was a key player for two Dodgers World Series championships, in 1981 and 1988.

Scioscia led the Angels from the 2000 season through 2018, which is 19 seasons. Which also made him a pretty special character for a franchise mostly known, before his long tenure, for short-termism and mediocrity.

Under Scioscia, the Angels reached the playoffs seven times and won the World Series in 2002. Before him, the club gained the playoffs three times in 41 seasons and never got past the first round.

He was pushed out as Angels manager two days ago, after the club finished 80-82 this season, its third successive losing campaign — despite having mega-star Mike Trout, in his prime, on the roster.

The trouble with the club, in recent years, was not Mike Scioscia. It was the fact that management surrounded Trout with not much of anything beyond has-beens and never-weres, and was not in the habit of producing its own stars. Something has to change when a team is losing and, usually, in baseball, it is the manager.

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