Ned Colletti, who grew up in Chicago and used to take the El to Cubs games at Wrigley, just told us this great story about his Uncle Frank, whom he’ll be taking to the games this week. When the Cubs were last in a World Series in 1945 (they lost to Detroit), Ned’s dad, who was the seventh of eight kids and was 14 at the time, was about to catch a bus to the nearest El stop the night before the first Series game at Wrigley, along with two of his older brothers and a friend. Their plan was to camp out overnight and buy their tickets the next morning, as soon as the window opened. At the last minute, their youngest brother, Ned’s Uncle Frank, came running up the street yelling, “Wait, I want to go with you guys.” Frank, who Ned estimates was 10 or 11 at the time, was told that he was too young to tag along. “They told him, `Frank we promise you that the next time the Cubs are in a World Series, we’ll take you with us.” Sixty-three years later, Uncle Frank is still waiting (although Ned, then the Giants’ assistant GM, did take him to some of the 2002 World Series games against the Angels). But Frank is definitely rooting for the Dodgers in this opening-round series with the Cubs. “Unless (Cubs GM) Jim Hendry is getting him some tickets,” Ned said. … Dodgers finish the regular season 84-78 and win the division by two games over the Snakes.
He didn’t put himself in it, but he did say he won’t be afraid to send either himself or his bench coach, Mark Sweeney, up to pinch hit. Tim Lincecum pitching for the Giants today and trying to cement his Cy Young credentials, so the boys will have their work cut out for them.
Hong-Chih Kuo was sent for tests after the game, further muddling his chances for making the playoff roster. Joe Torre had intended to bring in Kuo for the ninth inning to test his balky left elbow, but Kuo couldn’t get loose in the bullpen, so he was scratched. He then threw in the indoor batting cage and felt better, but the tests are a precaution. Should know more in the morning.
“He just couldn’t get a feel for the ball,” Torre said.
Billy Sadler, the Giants’ rookie reliever, just can’t stop pumping his fist after striking out Dodgers hitters. You may recall he angered the Dodgers in their previous trip here when he got a little too celebratory after striking out Manny in a key situation. Tonight, he got a little too celebratory after striking out Casey Blake to end the eighth inning with Matt Kemp on third. The result was that both Blake and Kemp said something to him, and Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti reacted to that by running onto the field in the general direction of Kemp, and that caused both benches to momentarily empty. But as is almost always the case when both benches empty, nothing happened and order was quickly restored.
Dodgers go to 84-77 and stay three games ahead of the Snakes, ensuring themselves of winning this truly awful division by at least two games. It occurred to me after the game that these Dodgers, who are division champs, have to win tomorrow in order to finish with the same record as the 2000 Cincinnati Reds, who finished 10 games behind the Cardinals in the Central. The only reason that occurred to me was that was my first year with the first team I covered as a full-fledged beat guy. Also, that was the last time the Reds DIDN’T have a losing season.
This will be in tomorrow’s paper, but in case you miss it:
The Dodgers will host a postseason rally for fans on Sunday night at Dodger Stadium. Admission is free, but there is a $2 charge for all Dodger Dogs, sodas, nachos and peanuts. No alcholic beverages will be available. Merchandise commemorating the team’s division title and 50th anniversary in Los Angeles also will be for sale.
The event begins at 6 p.m., with the main gate opening at 5 p.m. The entire affair is expected to conclude with the team bus pulling into the parking lot, carrying players back from the airport after the team arrives in Los Angeles.
As we already knew, Derek Lowe and Chad Billingsley will pitch the first two games. As we suspected, Hiroki Kuroda will pitch Game 3. Joe was non-committal on Game 4, but it sounds like Lowe will come back on three days’ rest. There would be an off-day before Game 5, so that likely would be Billingsley on regular rest. If Lowe isn’t the Game 4 starter, it likely would be Maddux, as Joe confirmed that Kershaw will come out of the bullpen for long relief. … By the way, Kuo isn’t out of the mix yet. He’s going to try to pitch an inning tonight, after which a more definitive evaluation will be made. Going to have trouble getting enough innings for everyone tonight. Maddux will start and I’m sure be given the requisite five innings to qualify for the win if he’s ahead. Billingsley expected to two innings.