After losing again Wednesday night, the Los Angeles Dodgers fell to 31-30 overall, eight full games out of first place in the NL West. They're 13-19 at Dodger Stadium, and only one team in the majors has more losses at home. Their payroll is $240 million. Manager Don Mattingly has "reached his breaking point," according to the Los Angeles Times. In describing the kind of baseball his team is playing, Mattingly used an adverb that relates to manure.
"Basically, we're [s*****] ," Mattingly said. "We're just not that good."
The problems begin, Mattingly says, with players being selfish:
Mattingly had little to say about the loss and called on his players to be accountable. "I really think you should talk to them," he said. "I'm tired of answering the questions, honestly."
Before the game, Mattingly implied some of his players were more concerned about themselves than they were about the team.
The Dodgers had a similarly rough start in 2013 before a 42-8 run shot them to the head of the line. That kind of winning spree happens once, twice, three times a century. And even though they ended the season in the NLCS, it's hard to call their season an unqualified success. The Dodgers were supposed to be better in 2014 — not the same or worse.
Although baseball is more individualistic than any other team sport, Mattingly has a point about being more selfless. Look at what Ryan Zimmerman is doing for the Washington Nationals. He's a third baseman, 10 years in the league, and has shown 10 times the willingness to play left field than Matt Kemp has with the Dodgers. And all Kemp has to do is move about 100 feet over.
It's not just Kemp, or Hanley Ramirez hitting below expectations and playing poorly at shortstop. It's not Carl Crawford — again — being too banged up to get the most out of his talent. Or the same with Andre Ethier. It also hasn't helped that Clayton Kershaw missed 4-5 starts, and that the back of the bullpen has been shaky as the San Andreas Fault.
The Dodgers are talented enough to get better results. Worrying less about playing time, while easier said than done, is a good place to start. Take advantage of the playing time you do get.
It's also possible that the Dodgers, even with their expensive payroll and grand expectations, simply aren't the juggernaut they expected themselves to be. Maybe they're just not that good, regardless of their bad collective attitude.
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