Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Ten Reasons Why the Dodgers Have Been Bipolar

Heading into a July 28 home contest versus the Washington Nationals, the Los Angeles Dodgers had lost eight consecutive games. That night, the Dodgers rolled to a 13-1 victory to begin what is now a 10-game winning streak. The club has confounded observers by seemingly turning a switch from ineptitude to excellence. Why has the team been bipolar the past few weeks? Here are ten reasons.

Old School: Many Dodgers watched the movie over the All-Star break, and Will Ferrell convinced them that streaking is the way to go. So the club started a losing streak before deciding that a winning streak is more fun. The Dodgers also pay tribute to the movie with their slogan “Think Blue,” in honor of the fallen 90-year-old frat brother.

Wilson Betemit: The infielder was acquired from the Atlanta Braves on July 28 for Danys Baez and Willy Aybar. That night, Los Angeles began its winning streak. Over the same period, Atlanta is 3-7. Years from now, Braves fans may rue the Curse of the Betemo.

Greg Maddux: The future Hall of Famer, taking his second start as a Dodger tonight, was consistently shelled as a Chicago Cub this season. Getting in the turnaround spirit of his new club, he threw six no-hit innings in his first appearance for Los Angeles. General manager Ned Colletti revealed that he actually traded for the Greg Maddux of 1994.

Theme Parks: The Los Angeles area is filled with them, including Disneyland, Magic Mountain, and Universal. In order to draw families, the Dodgers decided to provide their own roller coaster this summer.

Milton Bradley: Los Angeles traded the combustible outfielder to Oakland in the off-season. Without his unpredictability, the club needed to come up with another way to bring wild mood swings to Dodger Stadium.

Shortstops: In addition to current shortstop Rafael Furcal, the Dodgers have a converted shortstop at second base (Julio Lugo) and third (Betemit). They will have another one at first base when the injured Nomar Garciaparra returns. Any good shortstop should display range, so a team filled with them will naturally be all over the place in its performance.

Floyd Landis: On July 27, Landis was basking in the glow of a Tour de France triumph, while the Dodgers had lost eight in a row. The cyclist’s positive drug test was reported that day. Since his fortunes plummeted, the ballclub was due to rise again to maintain the famous Dodger-Landis equilibrium.

A Tale of Two Cities: The classic by Charles Dickens is on many summer reading lists. Most students don’t want to actually read it, so the Dodgers thought they’d summarize what they need to know: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

Starting Rotation: Recently acquired Mark Hendrickson stands 6’9.” So like anyone who’s bipolar, the pitching staff displays the high (Hendrickson) and the Lowe (Derek).

Steve Garvey Bobblehead Night: This was the promotion on the night the Dodgers began their winning streak. Seeing the bobblehead go up and down, the players knew that after having been down they were due to go back up again. Reportedly, the Garvey bobblehead was so life-like, it fathered three children out-of-wedlock.

On July 27, the Dodgers were in last place, seven games behind the first place Padres and considered dead by many baseball fans. Today Los Angeles is in second, 1 ½ games back of San Diego and tied for the wild card lead with Cincinnati. A handful of teams have gone the worst-to-first route from one season to the next. The Dodgers want to take that accomplishment to an extreme: doing it within two weeks.