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About Jon
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1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
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Feelin' It
2004-08-23 20:29
by Jon Weisman

Disarray? Dis-a-way.

No, not really. It just feels that way.

The Playoff Seat Cushion - capturing the distance between making the playoffs as a division champion or wild card and missing them - debuted on this site July 28 at 3 1/2 games in the Dodgers' favor. Now, it sits on the Dodger Thoughts sidebar at its lowest point since its debut: 4 games.

Nearly four weeks have gone by, the Giants have rallied, the Dodgers have faltered - and no ground lost.

Remember, back in July, 3 1/2 games was a huge, sudden surge. It was a flowering. But The Playoff Seat Cushion went up before it went back down - as high as 7 1/2 games - and so now the bloom is bloomin' gone.

Feeding the seediness is how curseworthy the losses have been. In the past five days, Adrian Beltre has helped tie three games with home runs; somehow the Dodgers won only one. The bullpen, formerly our Big Brother, now feels like it's abandoned us back at the foster home with no more trips to the zoo.

In just two days, Odalis Perez and Wilson Alvarez went from stalwarts to warts, and avoiding a three-game losing streak seems to depend on what side of the bed Kazuhisa Ishii wakes up on Tuesday.

Brad Penny, whose presence could have anchored both the starting rotation and the bullpen by pushing Alvarez into setup time, just won't get better. The nerve of that Penny - literally.

Darren Dreifort withered once more like a grape left too long on the vine. Out in Las Vegas, journeymen are battering Hideo Nomo. Edwin Jackson, the precious flower of the farm system, whose career people kept saying we daren't risk, is now being pushed to the front lines faster than a grunt into the Battle of the Marne.

A discernable lack of enthusiasm from Jim Tracy toward Hee Seop Choi weakens the case that was validly made for his acquisition. The catchers in Paul Lo Duca's stead remain ugly ducklings, not swans, offering no pleasant surprises.

Mike Venafro exists.

I don't like it. How could you like it?

Well ...

Beltre, Shawn Green, Steve Finley, Jeff Weaver, Jose Lima and until this week, Alvarez, Perez and Giovanni Carrara have been playing out of their minds. Yhency Brazoban hasn't been bad either, though his sparkling ERA hides some inherited runners he's allowed to score. But nine Dodgers have been exceptional in August. You decide whether nine is a lot or a little. Either way, the team is 12-9: playing .571, 93-win pace ball.

It'd be peaches and herb if Eric Gagne hadn't lost games plural last week, but don't you have to take it if you're going to take a journeyman like Lima posting a 2.79 ERA in 29 August innings?

Lo Duca's gone, but in 20 games this month, Beltre, Finley and Green have combined for 71 hits. including 13 doubles, 21 home runs and an OPS of over 1.000. That's so good it's practically ungraspable.

We live in the moment. Sunday, my father's cousin, from the Yankee branch of the family, said with a steel-straight face that the Yankee season was over. This is an overreaction.

I reminded him that the Yankees still had the best record in baseball. I assured him most bluntly that the Yankees would play in October. Now sure, there might be trouble in the Bronx. Boston has underperformed compared to its runs scored and allowed all season - there's a sleeping dog at Fenway. The Yankee starting pitching is not unlike the that of the Dodgers - a mixture of good names and bad, none of whom can necessarily be counted on to do the expected. But honestly, who could fear for the Yankees?

A week ago, Minnesota felt Cleveland breathing down its neck so acutely, the Twins could have told you what flavor Tic Tacs the Indians were sucking. Seven games later, all losses, and you've got a whole other brand of sucking - it's pure halitosis in the mouth of Lake Erie.

The team that stands to knock the Dodgers out of the playoffs if the Giants somehow catch them? The Cubs, whose disgruntled fans a week ago made the anger of Mel Gibson's Braveheart crew look kittenish.

We live in the moment. We live in a world where I was thisclose tonight to writing an entirely different piece about six-run comebacks (for what it's worth, it involved a comparison to a six-run late-summer comeback by the nascent Atlanta Braves dynastists back at the start of the 1990s).

We live in a world where two losses in a row is at least one too many, where average is negative, where insecurities flower among us like we were teenagers hugging against the wall at the school dance.

Is there any group of fans outside of St. Louis - whose Playoff Seat Cushion is 14 - that can feel secure about its team? We ache with each loss - but that's a statement about us, not the team. For a division leader, it remains more likely that a tough stretch is less a collapse than a future anecdote.

We're in it, folks. We're in it deep. We feel it coming and going. We revel and we despair.

We are baseball fans in a pennant race.

May all of us find vigilance.

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