The Five Biggest Mistakes the Dodgers Made in 2013

With word today that the Dodgers are re-examining the situation surrounding the empty uniform non manager Don Mattingly with a glimmer of hope that he will be shown the door, let’s take a look at the errors of the Dodgers’ ways through this disappointing 2013 season, a season that started out so bad, got so exciting and seemingly successful, and then ended in a thud, in large part due to the lack of home field advantage directly related to the awful start.

5. Starting the season with Brandon League as the closer. For some unknown reason, the empty uniform non manager Don Mattingly had a thing for League, who was spotty last year after he came to the Dodgers, and with Kenley Jansen returning to health, and with other short term possibilities such as Ronald Belisario, J.P. Howell, Matt Guerrier, and even rookie Paco Rodríguez, who had a 1.35 ERA in 11 September, 2012 appearances and who started this season off with 18 strikeouts in his first 13 innings and had a 2.40 ERA after the first six weeks of the season. At the same time, League’ s ERA was 5.40.

Los Angeles Dodgers NL West Championship gear

4. Handing the third base job to Luis Cruz, then waiting forever to replace him with a major leaguer. Cruz had failed miserably in prior shots with Pittsburgh and Milwaukee, in 2008, 9, and 10. He had a really great six weeks with the Dodgers in 2012, and Mattingly was convinced he was a major league third baseman, and was handed the job for 2013.

Finally, after a painful 46 games, through which Cruz compiled a .127 batting average, he finally replaced him with Juan Uribe, whose excellent play the rest of the season was a key to the Dodgers’ second half success.

3. Kicking the Rally Bear out of Dodgers’ Stadium. The team has no mascot, and has seldom had a fan stand up and do something truly entertaining during games, to get the crown enthused, and even to motivate the players. The Lakers had Dancing Barry for several years, and other teams around the country have hugely popular real mascots, such as the Philly Phanatic. The San Diego Padres made a similar mistake years ago, when they fired the guy then known as the San Diego Chicken. Attempts to re-create the character by a paid employee failed miserably, and the original went on to a successful career touring other stadiums as “the Famous Chicken”, but never again in San Diego. The Dodgers went so far as to ban the fan inside the Rally Bear suit from the Stadium for six months.

2. Choices at shortstop. WIth Hanley Ramirez suffering through much of the season on the disabled list, Mattingly chose to first use Justin Sellers (.188, 1 HR, 2 RBI in 27 games) as the regular shortstop, and the Dee Gordon (.234, 1 HR, 6 RBI in 38 games). Again, it was not until the Dodgers had become cellar inhabitants that he installed the veteran, established, talented

all-around sub Nick Punto, as Ramirez’ permanent caddy.

1. Keeping the empty uniform non manager Don Mattingly on to manage in 2013, and 1A, Not firing the empty uniform non manager Don Mattingly during the season when the term’s awful play had earned him a pink slip.

1B. I have to add this as an addendum. I cannot help but believe that Clayton Kershaw’s horrible start in game six of the National League Championship Series was a direct result of Mattingly’s moving him up in the rotation to start on short rest in game four of the Division Series against the Braves. He pitched great in that game, and again in his first start of the NLCS, but labored and was hit as hard as even in his career in the final fiasco. Mattingly also let him in to be abused for not just seven earned runs, but to throw 89 pitches through his first three innings, including an unacceptable 49 in the third inning alone.

These items, save for one, all have a common thread: They are related directly to the empty uniform non manager Don Mattingly. May he and his ego take the one year option he now feels unacceptable and go back to New York or anywhere east, west, north or south of Los Angeles.

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