Monday, May 27, 2013

Battle for Los Angeles (Dodgers vs. Angels)

I hate to say it but the battle for Los Angeles baseball supremacy this week feels lackluster. Maybe I'm saying this as a Dodgers fan, but the facts support me.

In one corner you have the Angels, who've won eight straight games and appear to be finding their mojo after struggling mightily. In the other you have the Dodgers, who've won three out of their last nine and appear on the verge of firing Don Mattingly as manager.

Clayton Kershaw also picked a bad time to have a rough start, giving up 4 HR's to the Cardinals on Sunday. Considering he's been hot the last few starts, you can forgive him for that. The Dodgers have bigger problems to worry about.

Mattingly's showing classic signs of a manager gripping. He called out the team last week and he may be alienating his two longest tenured stars in Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp. He and Ethier are frosty at the moment and after pulling Kemp out of a game, it appears he's risking all of his cards to spark this team.

Both Mike Scioscia (left) and Don Mattingly were on the hot seat last month and now, Scioscia's seat has cooled while Mattingly's has stayed hot as the losses pile up in Chavez Ravine.
It's been hard watching the Dodgers struggle with putting up runs and injuries. They've scored the 2nd fewest runs among all 30 teams and all the high expectations have failed to materialize.

Those same worries plagued the Angels all year. They suffered injuries as well (Albert Pujols with a hurt foot) and their big guns weren't producing, mainly Josh Hamilton. Guess what? They regrouped and now they're playing the best ball of the season so far.

Mike Scioscia's job was in jeopardy and now the cries for his head have quieted somewhat. Hamilton's found his groove with 5 RBI's his last 5 games and with Jered Weaver coming off the DL Wednesday, it might be a great summer for them after a rough spring. They may still be way off expectations but at least they have hope.

Their optimism mixed with the current pessismism at Chavez Ravine is why even as a Dodgers fan, I can admit the Angels have run Los Angeles over the last decade. As similar as both teams are - both in the top 10 in terms of payroll - the Halos have seem to overcome their troubles while the Dodgers are still figuring them out.

Whoever wins this series will not just have supremacy in the city but will tip a heavy domino on the immediate (but not longterm) fate of the loser. The Dodgers can't afford it so they better find a way to show up.

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