Daily Distractions: The Dodgers are leading Major League Baseball into the Land of Lethargy.

Don Mattingly

The Dodgers and Washington Nationals sat through more than three hours of rain delays Monday night. (Associated Press photo)

Even when the Dodgers are fast, they’re slow.

Yesterday’s 4-0 loss to the Washington Nationals, which began at 7:05 p.m. in Washington, D.C., ended at 1:22 a.m. If you choose not to count the three hours, 17 minutes of rain-delay time toward the official time of game — this is what MLB does — the game lasted 2 hours and 59 minutes. In reality, more than six hours passed from the first pitch to the last, and the human beings at Nationals Park yesterday felt every second of it.

How many of those human beings made it past midnight? You’ll only need one hand for this exercise:

What’s really scary is that yesterday’s game was the Dodgers’ fastest in nearly two weeks. Not since they beat the Philadelphia Phillies 5-2 on April 23 have the Dodgers finished a game in less than three hours — again, officially.

There’s a trend around baseball for games getting longer. Has been for a while. A year ago, six teams finished games in less than three hours on average. In 2012 that number was 15. Dial it back 10 years to 2004 and only one team, the Baltimore Orioles, averaged as many as three hours per game.

This year? Only two teams — Cincinnati and San Diego — are finishing in less than three hours. And those two clubs are averaging 2:59 per game. The meaning of the 3-hour mark has been completely flipped on its head.

Unfortunately the Dodgers are leading the way in this department, with an MLB-worst 3:25 average time of game. Might as well sit back, find a good blog to read between innings, and enjoy the ride.

If you want to reach for a positive, try this one: The team who played the longest games last season, the Boston Red Sox, won the World Series.

Some bullet points for an International No Diet Day:
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Daily Distractions: Predicting the Dodgers’ agenda for the Winter Meetings.

Juan Uribe

Juan Uribe is the Dodgers’ first choice to play third base in 2014. (Associated Press photo)

Tuesday was such a busy day for free agent signings and trades around baseball, one website asked what many major league beat writers were probably thinking: “Who needs the Winter Meetings”?

For the Dodgers at least, next week could be a productive one. The Brian Wilson deal isn’t official yet, despite reports that he passed his physical. Assuming that contract has been signed by the time Dodgers officials land in Orlando, Florida, here’s what will top the to-do list:

1. A third baseman. General manager Ned Colletti is still hoping to bring back Juan Uribe, who is reportedly seeking a three-year contract. If the Dodgers are willing to go to a third year, there must still be a gap in dollar figures being exchanged by the two sides. Maybe they can overcome their differences in a week. Maybe not. If the Dodgers aren’t ready to commit to Hanley Ramirez as their third baseman for 2014, they might be best suited to resolve the position via trade if Uribe signs elsewhere. The free-agent crop at third base is really that thin.

2. A left-handed reliever. The Dodgers have a nice stable of right-handers among Kenley Jansen, Wilson, Chris Withrow, Brandon League and Jose Dominguez. Other than Paco Rodriguez, who petered out around the time of his 66th appearance in 2013, they don’t have a single established lefty reliever who will be healthy to start next season. (Scott Elbert underwent Tommy John surgery in June.) Re-signing J.P. Howell seems like the logical move, even if he is seeking a three-year contract. At age 30, Howell is a less risky investment than, say, Randy Choate, who was 37 when the Dodgers wouldn’t give him a three-year contract at this time last year. Javier Lopez raised the market value by signing a 3-year, $13 million deal to stay in San Francisco and Howell’s numbers are comparable. If the Dodgers can’t re-sign Howell, they may turn to a veteran such as Scott Downs on a shorter-term deal.

3. A bench. After losing Skip Schumaker and Nick Punto as free agents, the Dodgers lost arguably the two most proven quantities on their bench. Backup catcher Tim Federowicz, first baseman/outfielder Scott Van Slyke, outfielder Mike Baxter and whatever-he’s-playing-these-days Dee Gordon are all in line for bench jobs. The Dodgers would like to bring in another infielder as insurance if Alexander Guerrero isn’t ready to be the everyday second baseman. They could also shake up the equation by accepting trade offer for Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier or Carl Crawford.

Some bullet points to tide you through the weekend:
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Daily Distractions: Qualifying offers trickling in, Elian Herrera claimed by Milwaukee Brewers, etc.

Hiroki Kuroda

Former Dodgers pitcher Hiroki Kuroda received a qualifying offer worth $14.1 million from the New York Yankees today. (Getty Images)

It’s been a busy day for qualifying offers around the majors. Among the names reported today to have received the $14.1 million offers for 2014: Robinson Cano, Hiroki Kuroda, Curtis Granderson, Jacoby Ellsbury, Stephen Drew, Mike Napoli, Carlos Beltran, Ubaldo Jimenez, Brian McCann and Kendrys Morales.

All those players could be off the market by tomorrow if they accept the qualifying offer.

If they don’t, and certainly not all will, the Dodgers and 28 other teams are faced with a choice: Sign the player as a free agent, or sacrifice a 2014 first-round draft pick. For a team like the Dodgers, who have a handful of high-level prospects but not many more tradeable assets in their farm system, that’s a difficult and expensive signing to justify. Cano is arguably the only elite player on that list and the Dodgers aren’t expected to make a run at him.

The others — some of whom made my short list of players to watch — just made themselves a little less attractive to the Dodgers.

A few bullet points for a Panamanian Flag Day:
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Daily Distractions: The Arizona Diamondbacks’ general manager took offense to the Dodgers eating bananas.

Mark McGwire brawl

The Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks brawled at Dodger Stadium in June, but pitcher Ian Kennedy wasn’t around to brush anyone back in September. By then, he had been traded to San Diego. (Getty Images)

Sports-talk radio is a breeding ground for talk of tribalism, vengeance and all those crude things that come from bitter rivalries. Such talk just usually doesn’t come from the mouth of a Major League Baseball general manager.

The Arizona Diamondbacks’ Kevin Towers waded into those waters Tuesday. Pun intended. And it had nothing to do with the Dodgers’ celebration in the Chase Field swimming pool after they clinched a playoff berth on Sept. 19.

Towers took great offense to the Dodgers’ celebration on Sept. 9, when Juan Uribe went 4 for 4 with three home runs in an 8-1 Dodgers win . From arizonasports.com:

“I was sitting behind home plate that game and when it showed up on the Diamondvision of stuffing bananas down their throats, I felt like we were a punching bag,” Towers told Arizona Sports 620′s Burns and Gambo Tuesday. “Literally, if I would have had a carton of baseballs I would have fired them into the dugout from where I was sitting behind home plate.

“That’s not who we are as Diamondbacks, that’s not how — I mean, it’s a reflection on Gibby, on myself, on our entire organization. They slapped us around and we took it.”

Towers said that has to stop, and following the game he had “a few choice words for the (coaching) staff.”

Nothing changed.

“You’d think the GM comes down and makes it a point to talk to the staff about it that at we need to start protecting our own and doing things differently,” he said. “Probably a week later Goldy gets dinged, and no retaliation. It’s like ‘wait a minute.’ Not that I don’t take any of our guys from a lesser standpoint, but if Goldy’s getting hit, it’s an eye for an eye, somebody’s going down or somebody’s going to get jackknifed.”

After the season, the Diamondbacks dismissed pitching coach Charles Nagy and first-base coach Steve Sax.

No word yet on whether Towers made those moves before or after researching this stat:

 

Some bullet points for a World Post Day:

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Daily Distractions: Clayton Kershaw joins an exclusive group of Dodgers All-Stars.

Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw became the fourth Dodgers pitcher to appear in three consecutive All-Star Games. (Associated Press)


Clayton Kershaw didn’t start the All-Star Game — Matt Harvey did — though he did join a different exclusive group Tuesday.

Kershaw became the fourth Dodgers pitcher ever to throw in three straight All-Star games. He fared better than the last Dodgers pitcher to do so; Eric Gagné gave up a solo home run in the 2002 game to Alfonso Soriano, allowed three runs in one inning the following year, and tossed a scoreless inning in his final All-Star appearance in 2004.

Fernando Valenzuela pitched two scoreless innings in the 1984 All-Star game, one scoreless inning in relief of Nolan Ryan the following year, then pitched three (!) scoreless innings in his final All-Star appearance in 1986.

Don Newcombe (1949-51) is the other. Like Gagné, his third and final All-Star appearance was the only one in which he didn’t allow a run.

Whit Wyatt, Ralph Branca and Sandy Koufax were all chosen to pitch in three straight All-Star Games or more, but for various reasons did not.

Of course, some were still focused on one Dodger who wasn’t in the game Tuesday.

The American League won the game, 3-0, and will have home-field advantage in the World Series. Mariano Rivera threw a scoreless inning, was named MVP and will be responsible for every baby born today in New York City named “Mariano,” “Mo” or, perhaps, “Sandman.”

Some bullet points for a Slovakian Independence Day:

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Former Dodgers first baseman Steve Garvey is battling prostate cancer.

Steve Garvey

Steve Garvey, who starred for the Dodgers playing first base from 1969 to 1982, is battling prostate cancer.

The 64-year-old couched the announcement in a press release for an upcoming memorabilia auction. Garvey, Rollie Fingers, Bret Saberhagen and basketball star John Havlicek will be auctioning items from their personal collections online April 10.

“This past fall I was thrown a nasty curve and battled prostate cancer,” Garvey said in the release. “I decided on a radical prostectomy operation at UCLA, and through God’s grace it went well. I will continue to monitor my progress, but will now dedicate a significant amount of time and resources to prostate awareness. Through SCP Auctions, the Garvey family will also continue to share our great love for baseball by donating time and dollars to youth baseball programs.”

A radical prostectomy (or prostatectomy) is an operation performed to remove the prostate gland and some of the tissue around it.

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