While I spent the weekend at a wedding in which two bridesmaids went chasing after a tossed bouquet like a a couple of defensive linemen going after a fumbled football (congrats Darryl and Amanda!), the Dodgers spent the weekend looking ahead to October.
How else to view the Michael Young trade, with the Phillies unloading their primary third baseman to a Dodgers team that might or might not use him extensively off the bench?
Looking ahead in a way the Dodgers won’t publicly, the best record in the National League is within their reach the next three days in Denver. If the Dodgers sweep the Colorado Rockies, and the New York Mets sweep the Braves in Atlanta (stranger things have happened; the Metropolitans are 4-3 in Atlanta this year), the best record in the National League belongs to the Dodgers. Atlanta is currently two games ahead of the Dodgers, 83-53 compared to 81-55.
The National League team with the best record on October 1 will have home-field advantage throughout the postseason until the World Series, thanks to the American League’s All-Star game victory. All those Dodger wins in July and August that had us reaching for the record books, searching for the best 40- and 50-game stretches in baseball history, might actually mean something after all.
So far as we can tell, the last time the Dodgers held the NL’s best record outright as late as Sept. 4 was in 1978.
And so the journey into scarcely charted territory continues.
More bullet points for Labor Day:
• Turning to one possible Dodgers playoff opponent, the St. Louis Cardinals’ starting rotation is showing some serious flaws. From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Since Aug. 1, [Joe] Kelly is 6-0 with a 1.99 ERA. The other starters are 5-11 with a 5.49 ERA. Kelly has had six of the team’s 13 quality starts since Aug. 1.”
• Memo to the Phillies, who acquired Double-A pitcher Rob Rasmussen from the Dodgers in the Young trade: When I interviewed Rasmussen after he was traded to the Dodgers last December, he told me “it’s hard to contain your excitement when you get traded to the only team you ever wanted to play for.”
• Remember Orel Hershier’s 59 consecutive scoreless innings? It started 25 years ago last Friday. He discussed the topic with Buster Olney here. “I always thought that record was unbreakable,” Hershiser said of Don Drysdale‘s 58-inning streak. “To think that it’s in my name now, it’s really, really odd even to this day.”
• Aaron Harang, traded by the Dodgers in April and designated for assignment by two other teams, signed a minor-league contract with the New York Mets.
• Masahiro Tanaka, 24, “is expected to be the beneficiary of a big bidding war as one of the top free agents of this off-season,” writes Peter Gammons. No word yet on the Dodgers’ level of interest, but remember that name.
• Matt Kemp is going to be in the Rancho Cucamonga lineup again today. That’s a 2 p.m. start time out at LoanMart Field.
• Malcolm Gladwell writes on NewYorker.com: “The typical professional baseball player can see at twenty feet what the rest of us can see at thirteen feet. When [ophthamologist Louis] Rosenbaum looked at the Los Angeles Dodgers, he found that half had 20/10 vision and a small number fell below 20/9.”
• The title of this popular, catchy song could also be the title of a Gladwell book: