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Dodgers' fast start even has the media in a tizzy

April 16, 2012|By Steve Dilbeck
  • Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier follows through on his eighth-inning home run against the Pirates last week at Dodger Stadium.
Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier follows through on his eighth-inning… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)

All aboard, this bandwagon is heading out like a love train.

Don't you know that it's time to get on board,

And let this train keep on riding, riding on through …

Anyone in their path. There’s no stopping the Dodgers now! They are 9-1 and taking names. Hannibal at the Battle of Cannae. Patton storming Bastogne.

OK, maybe not exactly. The Dodgers do own the best record in baseball and all kudos for that. They have met two of the worst teams in the National League three times and played with them like a puppy with a chew toy.

But there remains just a slight possibility that people are reading way too much into this start. And I don’t just mean the Dodgers faithful, either.

I’m not a big proponent of team rankings but guess they’re fun. Accurate? Maybe not so much.

Because the Dodgers are skyrocketing in these things. Sports Illustrated has the Dodgers ranked as the fifth best team in all of baseball, ESPN now has them fourth and the Sporting News has them second –- trailing only the Rangers.

In a video, Fox Sports columnist and Baseball Writers President of the Temperance Society Jon Paul Morosi claims flatly: “I’m a believer. This is a good team, it is not a great team … (but) good enough to make the playoffs.”

I’m thinking everybody needs to come down from mountain. I’m not sure who’s leading this sermon, but the air must be awfully thin up there.

Exactly what do we know about these Dodgers now that we did not know two weeks ago? Not that much. Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier were expected to carry the offense and have (times two). The rest of the lineup looked like a lot of role players and have been. Juan Uribe and James Loney still aren’t hitting. Dee Gordon is young player — hot and cold. Neither Mark Ellis nor A.J. Ellis are hitting, though A.J. has a .419 on-base percentage and has been terrific behind the plate.

“It’s not like we’re blowing teams away,” said Manager Don Mattingly. “We’ve caught a few breaks. It’s not always going to be that way.”

And he said that before Sunday’s bizarro triple play.

This is not intended to distract from what the Dodgers have accomplished. They’ve done exactly what they’ve needed to do: beat up on lesser teams, if hardly rolling through them. Five of their nine victories have been by a single run.

“The main thing is to start out fast,” said Matt Kemp. “It doesn’t matter who you play. We need to take care of ourselves and win as many games as we can.”

Which is correct, of course. The wins in April count just as much as the ones in September. Still, it is, as they say, an almost stupidly long season. Every team — even the Padres and Pirates — will have their winning streaks.

Just some caution to everyone eager to read so much into a fast start. Last year the Rockies started 11-2 and were never heard from again. The '55 Dodgers started 22-2 and never looked back. It can go either way.

The Dodgers have yet to play a strong team – they open a three-game series against the Brewers Tuesday – and really have a pretty soft schedule throughout April. They deserve applause, but also a decent amount of skepticism.

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Dodgers' fast start has the media in a tizzy

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