Saturday, September 29, 2012
On the joys of scoreboard watching
By Mark Saxon
Matt Kemp's two homers Saturday seem to be evidence that he's feeling better these days.
LOS ANGELES -- Information finds us nowadays. It finds us on an island in the South Pacific or in a yurt in the Gobi Desert. So, if you ever hear a baseball player in the midst of a pennant race -- surrounded by 40,000 people, most of whom have mobile devices -- say he isn't following out-of-town scores, realize he's either lying or indifferent.
"I think everybody looks at that scoreboard and sees what St. Louis is doing," Matt Kemp said.
In the sixth inning of the Dodgers' 3-0 win over the Colorado Rockies on Saturday, the video board operator magnified the image from the right-field scoreboard that read, "WAS 6, STL 4 (10)."
By that point, manager Don Mattingly didn't need the scoreboard to tell him that Washington catcher Kurt Suzuki had hit the decisive two-run double to beat the Cardinals 1,800 miles east of here. He also knew what St. Louis had done to get things to that point.
"I knew they were up 4-0 from the phantom grand slam and then I saw 4-3 and then I saw 4-4," Mattingly said.
Whether it's the start of the charge that gets them deep into October or just a little late-season pizzazz -- and the smart money is on the latter -- there's nothing like a little split-screen action in late September and, at the very least, the Dodgers are treating their fans to some of that delightful theater.
After looking dead in the water, the Dodgers have won four in a row and everything feels different. The Dodgers know their final series, here against the San Francisco Giants, won't be meaningless. They didn't know that until St. Louis lost.
Why have the Dodgers suddenly started playing like a team rising to the occasion? Hard to say. The offense, for some unknowable reason, has snapped out of its baffling funk. The pitching, good before, has looked untouchable against the punchless and diluted Rockies. But the readiest explanation is physical. Either Kemp and Clayton Kershaw are feeling much better or they're doing a good job of tricking themselves into thinking they feel better.
Kershaw's hip went from on-the-verge-of-surgery to feeling great, Kershaw says. Kemp's left shoulder had him on a downward spiral at the plate a week ago and now it looks like a minor nuisance. It didn't seem to be affecting him much as he bashed a pair of home runs Saturday, one of which slammed into the bleachers five rows from clearing the left-field pavilion.
"It's kind of irrelevant how banged-up he is," Mattingly said.
That's the beautiful thing about fall baseball. Everything other than those little yellow lights on the scoreboard is irrelevant.