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BILL SHAIKIN ON BASEBALL

It's not quite a title, but it's a good start

Dodgers are now 13-0 at home, but they'd rather have a World Series ring.

May 07, 2009|BILL SHAIKIN

It was too warm for fleece blankets, too soon for back-to-school lunch boxes, too late for Joe Beimel bobblehead dolls. So the Dodgers resorted to the promotion they roll out for every game at Dodger Stadium.

Guaranteed Win Night.

The Dodgers stamped their logo on another page in baseball's record book on Wednesday, and yet there was something subdued about it all.

That's not a bad thing. The Dodgers are here for a ring, not a trivial pursuit.

On the night the Dodgers set the major league record for consecutive home victories to start the season -- a lucky 13 -- Dodger Stadium was half-full. The Washington Nationals were here, the Lakers were playing, and October is five months away.

"It's a baseball season," General Manager Ned Colletti said. "It's not a baseball month."

The Dodgers were on the verge of history, but there was no giddiness to be found. Manny Ramirez worked out in left field three hours before game time, catching waves of fly balls hit over his head by coach Bob Schaefer. James Loney worked out at first base, fielding waves of ground balls hit at him by coach Larry Bowa.

They're not playing to keep a streak alive.

"We have more important things in mind," Manager Joe Torre said.

They're not playing to get L.A. talking about a streak.

"In August, nobody remembers April or May," pitcher Randy Wolf said.

We don't know where the Dodgers will be in August, although we suspect they could be printing playoff tickets.

They're laying waste to the National League West, but so were the Arizona Diamondbacks this time last year. They're 13-0 at home, but they're 8-8 on the road. They don't make the schedule and don't need to apologize for it, but they have played the worst team in the NL East, the worst team in the NL Central and the rest of the NL West, and that's it.

"You like to see the team get off to a good start," Colletti said. "We'll have to face adversity."

The Dodgers have lost pitchers Hiroki Kuroda and Hong-Chih Kuo to the disabled list, and even at full strength Colletti is not entirely sold on the staff.

"We need more pitching, whether it's from within or from outside," he said.

But we have a summer to worry, a streak to celebrate.

The Dodgers broke a record set by the 1911 Detroit Tigers, with Hall of Famers Ty Cobb and Sam Crawford. The Dodgers players might live forever in trivia quizzes, even if that is not their goal.

"I think they'd like to be the team to own the streak and, like the 1911 Tigers, not be around when it's broken," Torre said.

Those Tigers did not get to the World Series. Neither did the 1983 Kansas City Royals, after starting the season 11-0 at home. Neither did any of the three previous NL teams to start 10-0 at home -- the 1983 Atlanta Braves, the 1970 Chicago Cubs and the 1918 New York Giants.

"All those teams, and none of them ever won," Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully said. "It's a sobering thought."

We're fine with the worries, and with the sobering thoughts. We're still in search of even a touch of giddiness, somewhere in the clubhouse.

"I haven't played major league baseball too long," outfielder Andre Ethier said, "but I've played baseball long enough to know you'll always lose some."

That wasn't really what we were after.

After all, there are kids six months old that have yet to see the Dodgers lose a home game.

Come on: 13-0 at home! Baseball history!

"It's above average," pitcher Will Ohman said, "as far as the player experience goes."

It's above average as far as the fan experience too, even if the fans were not at Dodger Stadium to witness history. Scully said he was stopped at the market, at the pharmacy, at the dry cleaners, by Dodgers fans with a smile on their faces.

So perhaps giddiness is not in order.

Perhaps a small smile will do, for a streak that makes the day a little brighter.

"It's eye-catching," Scully said. "It's a good headline. It's not really meaningful -- not yet, anyway.

"It's just another reason to be happy."

--

bill.shaikin@latimes.com

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