At this time last evening, the Dodgers, led on the field, as well as emotionally and spiritually, by Manny Ramirez, possessed the best 2009 won-lost record in baseball, the record for most home wins at the start of a season, and looked to most observers as the team to beat in the NL, if not in the majors.
24 hours later, the team is demorzlied and fans disgusted, as Manny is gone for 50 games under baseball’s baned substance policy, and after a valient offensive effort failed due to a total meltdown by the bullpen, the Dodger’s home win streak is now just a piece of historical fluff.
The young Dodger nucleus, of Andre Ethier, of Matt Kemp, of James Loney, of Russell Martin, of Chad Billingsley, of Jonathan Broxton, needs to focus on the game and nothing else, and play as if there is and there was no Manny. They cannot feel that his loss is a reason, an excuse, to lose. The Dodgers can, and should, win the West Division, without Manny. The team needs to prove that to the fans and to themselves.
Joe Torre needs to show why he is one of the game’s great managers, and that he belongs up there with Walter Alston as the best the Dodgers have had. He needs to convince his team they had their bad day, and that the season starts tomorrow, with a new winning streak, and a drive to still be in first place, and maybe they’ll even have the best record in baseball on July 3, when that guy with the long hair returns.