Dee Gordon appears incredulous after Oakland's Coco Crisp steals… (Karl Mondon / Contra Costa…)
And on the morning of June 21, 2012, the Dodgers awoke to greet the new summer no longer in possession of the title: Team with the best record in baseball.
The sky is falling! The sky is falling!
OK, maybe not, but the team had sort of hung its blue cap on that recognition all spring. As the days went by and the Dodgers continued to hang onto baseball’s best record, non-believers continually fell by the wayside.
Suddenly all those questions about their offense and depth and rotation, were all being answered in the affirmative. The faithful multiplied like released rabbits. Those always curious “team rankings” suddenly placed the Dodgers No. 1.
Only today, the Dodgers find that they have slipped behind the Texas Rangers by an entire half-game for baseball’s best record. In June, the reward for that is a slap on the back. Also, the Dodgers no longer have the largest lead in the majors, the Rangers also currently owning that by a half-game.
Over the course of a 162-game season, it is wise to never get too high, or sometimes too low, over early results. Certainly, you have to be aware and respond to them, but they don’t award trophies to the leaders at the first turn.
The Dodgers are currently in an offensive rut, which should hardly come as shocking development. They’ve now played almost half their games without their best player, Matt Kemp, and haven’t had starting second baseman Mark Ellis for over a month.
Replacements Jerry Hairston Jr. and Tony Gwynn Jr. have filled in admirably, but are starting to look worn down. The offense as a whole is struggling to generate an attack. And in the team’s last 22 games, they are 10-12.
But the sky is not falling, at least not today. They are still 42-27, still lead the Giants by 4½ games, are still in very good position, if feeling a tad exposed.
Kemp and Ellis should return next month. The trading deadline will bring some change. And the grind and the challenges of a six-month season will emerge anew.
The Dodgers are faced with one right now and need to respond. That’s what championship teams do. They just don’t award championships in the majors on June 21st.
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