Manager Don Mattingly before a Dodgers split squad lost, 8-3, to the Giants… (Kyle Terada / US Presswire )
I've done the unspeakable.
As traditions go, it's one of the most honored in baseball.
It's February, a time for great optimism and hope everywhere in baseball. Even in Los Angeles. And yet recently I chose to write honestly about the Dodgers from Arizona.
This is the very best time of the season for longtime Dodgers fans, Matt Kemp yet to strike out. Sorry, there I go again.
Some fans might be so excited they are even thinking about buying tickets or loaning Frank McCourt money.
Others might be talking to their buddies about the team's great off-season moves. No telling how many more people will go to Dodger Stadium this year because Davey Lopes is coaching first base.
And yet I chose to dampen everyone's spirits. And it's not just the Dodgers, but L.A.'s other baseball team. It was like I was in midseason form, staying in a Tempe hotel directly adjacent to the Angels' spring training camp but choosing not to visit them.
I do that so often once the season begins — living in Orange County just down the road from Angel Stadium.
I should at the very least have feigned interest here in February.
There are things happening. It's the beginning of a new error in Dodgers baseball with Don Mattingly as manager. You know he's motivated, never having won a playoff series in 14 years with the Yankees.
And while he might not have the resume to offer such hope, he was saying the other day every team right now feels as if it has a chance to be successful.
Even baseball fans in Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Arizona are excited about their teams. If anything I should be writing the Dodgers are so much better off than Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Arizona. We'll get Vicente Padilla back at some point.
It's all a matter of how one looks at things, the negativity here sometimes just appalling.
Why can't I be more like Plaschke? He's already written about the feel-good steroid guy in left field who is replacing the female-fertility-drug guy whom Plaschke so disliked.
"Jay Gibbons is that rare baseball player,'' Plaschke wrote last month, "who can make the peacefulness of winter long for the burn of spring.''
That's almost poetic, and here I'm describing the guy as a stiff now that he's not on steroids.
In hindsight, I probably should not have started my spring training writing about Jonathan Broxton and Kemp. Why remind fans how much they let everyone down a year ago? Why depress everyone right from the get-go?
There are so many uplifting stories to tell, like Dioner Navarro's courageous effort to hit better than .200. He got so close last season at .194.
Here's hoping they put Tony Gwynn Jr.'s locker near Navarro's — Gwynn an inspiration for Navarro since he hit .204. It's not that hard to gush about the new guys.
How about Marcus Thames? They tell me he will bring back memories of Manny Ramirez with glove in hand playing left field. Better yet, he's played nine years in the major leagues averaging only 36 defensive starts a season, so he'll be fresh.
Maybe he's not known for his defense, but our new guy Thames has a career .248 batting average. That's almost .250.
I could have written about our new relief pitcher Matt Guerrier, whom the Dodgers are really counting on. Someone maybe youngsters might admire. He's pitched seven years, has five saves and 16 blown saves, but he keeps on trying. Now you know why Ned Colletti signed him to a three-year deal.
The same could be said about starting second baseman Juan Uribe. He's hit better than .250 only once in the past five seasons, but the thing is, he proved he can do it. It should be pretty exciting to see if he can do it again.
Tickets to watch these amazing guys went on sale Saturday to the general public; how many more might the Dodgers have sold had fans known of Guerrier's determination, Gwynn's standard of excellence or Uribe's drive to be average?
I happen to think it would be fun to watch Clayton Kershaw pitch, but he works once every five days. Do the Dodgers have a mini-Kershaw ticket plan?
I did get an e-mail regarding tickets this week. It was from John, a Dodgers fan. He said he'd received an e-mail about a special pre-sale of Dodgers tickets. He said he checked the Dodgers' website for prices and then followed the instructions for the pre-sale.
"I was surprised to see the pre-sale tickets were HIGHER than the stated individual ticket prices on the Dodgers' website," John wrote. "For example, a loge MVP seat, listed at $70 on the Dodgers site, was $75 during the special pre-sale, not to mention the per-ticket convenience fee. I wonder how many people Frank fleeced today.''
We all know about Frank's need for money these days, so I thought maybe John was on to something. Maybe Frank was taking advantage of everyone's February optimism.
I talked to Frank's spokesman, Josh Rawitch, since Frank isn't much of a talker. He said the Dodgers fan was mixed up, and I would agree. Why would anyone want to pay $70 or $75 for a ticket to a Dodgers game?
Rawitch said Friday and Saturday tickets are $75, every other day $70, presumably because the Dodgers put on a better show on Fridays and Saturdays.
I looked it up. The Dodgers went 7-7 at home on Fridays as well as on Saturdays last season, so they really do try harder.
This is a new year and anything is possible for our heroes. They might never look as good as they do now in February, so shouldn't that really be what's emphasized here?
I'm going to do my best.
There will be plenty of time to discuss their anticipated third-place finish in the NL West at a later time.