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Waxed On and Waxed Off
2003-07-04 06:50
by Jon Weisman

Flipping channels Thursday night during the first commercial after San Diego's Ryan Klesko hit his second big seventh-inning home run against the Dodgers this week, you might have come across Pat Morita attempting to catch a fly with chopsticks in The Karate Kid.

"Man who can catch fly with chopsticks can accomplish anything," Morita counsels Ralph Macchio. Of course, Morita's character, the old, wise Mr. Miyagi, had never reached this state of grace. And then Macchio's Daniel Russo, that little upstart, takes his own set of chopsticks and snatches a fly in about 10 seconds.

Seems like the Dodgers have been trying to catch that fly for quite some time now. It's getting to the point where you wouldn't be surprised to see the fly itself take two baseball bats, squeeze them together and pinch the Feeling Blue Wrecking Crew.

Perhaps the most astonishing aspect of the Padres' sweep of the Dodgers this week was the dominance of the San Diego bullpen. With Trevor Hoffman sidelined, the Padres entered the series with a bullpen ERA of 4.97 - more than twice as high as the Dodger bullpen ERA of 1.97. However, San Diego relievers pitched 9 1/3 innings of one-run ball, while their Dodger counterparts allowed five runs in 11 innings. These three losses were not a microcosm of the Dodger season - they were a mockery of it.

Padre relievers struck out only three in those 9 1/3 innings, indicating that the Dodgers were getting their chopsticks on the ball. Nevertheless, Los Angeles barely brushed the wings of the high-flying fifth-place Padres.

If Kevin Brown were to go on the disabled list, that would put two starting pitchers and two starting outfielders in storage, in an organization that has little depth to begin with. With the Dodgers clinging to playoff contention, the demand for a trade will resound like a sonic boom.

But it's a vicious cycle, man. The reason the Dodgers are always trying to crawl into the playoffs and not charging is because they have always sacrificed their future for their present. They have never felt bad enough about themselves to give up, and as inspiring as that is, it's also problematic.

I don't oppose a trade, but once more, I can't help wondering whether it wouldn't be better if the Dodgers, for once, were sellers at the trade deadline and not buyers. Don't you ever get tired of paying a mortgage, Daniel-san?

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