Amid Koalas and Kangaroos, Mattingly Gets it All Wrong

After a couple of days of watching Clayton Kershaw with his new kangaroo and Vin Scully admiring a koala, the press asked the empty uniform non manager Don Mattingly a real baseball-related question of critical importance, and Matingly’s answer was either 1) an outright lie, or 2) a demonstration of his naivete.

For two seasons now, the raw hatred between the Dodgers and Diamondbacks has exploded on the field, with viscous bean balls and bench-clearing brawls. It all came to a head in last year’s playoffs when a few members of the victorious Dodgers dared to invade the right field swimming pool that normally gives visitors to the Chase mausoleum the

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team calls home something to do between the few and far between seconds of excitement the team provides.

Despite a now lengthy history of such events that have led to injuries and numerous suspensions, when asked what he expects when the two teams start the real season in Australia this weekend, mattingly said that he did not expect any serious animosity to have carried over to this season. Really? Could he have said anything more ridiculous? As I said, is he merely lying or is he that naive?

I expect to see fireworks and at least one major brawl, and ensuing suspensions that will effect the first month of the season. The Dodgers need not worry about that though, as they could sleepwalk through the awful National League West and still run away from a division that will struggle to have a second team play at even a .500 pace, unless, as I have said before, the Giants do have a big bounce-back season.

In their tune-up played earlier today, the Dodgers beat a collection of perhaps Double-A caliber players on a team called “Team Australia”. The press has jumped to create a story of how Yasiel Puig ended his spring slump with a game-winning homer that followed an earlier throw that beat a runner to the plate. Not so fast; wait until he does something like that against a team that has at least one major-leaguer on the field. Arizona plays the Aussie

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crew tomorrow, and I can just see the headlines now: “Chris Owens Now Majors’ Top Shortstop After Game-Winning Performance”.

Then there is the Australian press, which is clearly anti-Dodgers as they unabashedly root for Arizona. This week, the Sydney Morning Herald even published what other reporters have called a “Rooting Guide” where they describe the Dodgers as a group of Hollywood celebrities flaunting big salaries as they sail through life on their reputations, while the hard-working and underpaid Diamondbacks are praised as a “team that always fights”. How apropos. The article includes this pronouncement: “if you like barracking for the underdog, Arizona is your team”.

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