For the first time in a long time, I missed two Dodger games in a row. Given the general malaise I feel in early April, it was hard to get fired up about an early season showdown between the Dodgers and the Pirates. As I drove out of radio range of 980, Brad Penny had no clue where his pitches were going, and the Dodgers were being shut down by Ian Snell. Now, I like Ian Snell. Any rookie with an ERA over five who responds to an interview request with, and this is the honest to God truth, "Snell doesn't do that" is all right by me. However, pulling over to the side of the road to listen to Snell hand the Dodgers the ass wasn't do appealing of a plan. So I miss one game, then pretty much sleep through the next one.
Sunday night rolls around and I finally got around to checking out how the game went. Walk. Off. Grand. Slam. Good golly Miss Molly. I sit through a weeks worth of games that were over in the fifth inning, and then I miss this. Now I remember, this is why I watch all of these games.
Russell Martin is making it really hard for me to not fall madly in love with him. Generally a player has to fulfill two out of three criteria to become one of my boys. They can be good, they can have some kind of personality aside from the standard "giving it 110%" cliché spewing, or some kind of distinguishing physical characteristic. Generally, this involves a wicked mustache or obesity. Since Russ only fulfills the being good requirement, he hasn't reached the pedestal that Brad Penny, Olmedo Saenz and Jonathan Broxton are on. After Saturday nights grand slam, I might have to make an exception for him. I had very low expectations for Martin in 2006; we'd heard for the previous two years that his target date was 2007, so I expected some struggles. I kept bracing my self for a slump that never really came, and Martin finished 7th amongst starting catchers in OPS. Coming into this year, I thought Martin's 2006 was so good that he would have to go through a sophomore slump. While it's still way too early to pass any judgment, Martin has certainly gotten off to a hot start. He currently leads the Dodgers in VORP and has the fifth highest OPS out of all starting catchers. You can see my dilemma here. If Russ just grew a handlebar mustache he'd make things a lot easier on me.
I answered a couple of questions for Jon Weisman's latest SI.com blog entry. I end up looking like kind of a jackass since I'm the only one of the writers who actually criticized his team, but I felt trapped. When I root for a team that seems to be the favorites not only to win the West, but the entire NL, and has a massively hyped farm system, what could I write about? Jonathan Meloan is a nice hidden talent? If there's some hidden aspect of this team I missed, let me know.