The Dodgers have an ace left-hander in Clayton Kershaw, but another top-shelf… (Harry How / Getty Images )
Oh, good, it's time for that annual ritual in which the Dodgers attempt to appease those unfortunate ticketholders who spend one inning trying to park and two innings trying to buy a hot dog.
OK, so they're attempting to appease everyone, which is why it's called Fan Appreciation Day, occurring Sunday afternoon at Dodger Stadium during a game against the horrid Colorado Rockies, which should be appreciation enough.
My favorite prize is four tickets to a regular-season Kings home game. The lucky winner will be considerably luckier if there actually is a hockey regular season.
My second-favorite prize is a lunch for two with Hall of Famer Tom Lasorda, which could be conveniently paired with three other prizes — a one-year supply of Coca-Cola products, a one-year supply of Wetzel's Pretzels, and a one-year supply of Frosted Flakes cereal.
Seriously, at this point, 24 years after their last world championship, the only prize that would make Dodgers fans feel appreciated would be another championship.
Well, that, and one of the new owners realizing that this sport is baseball and not basketball and TURNING DOWN THE STADIUM VOLUME.
The actual prize: The Dodgers grounds crew visits your house and works on your lawn.
A better prize: A revamped Dodgers infield for next season featuring Hanley Ramirez at third base and Luis Cruz in some sort of platoon at shortstop.
Ramirez has to be convinced to move to third base because he doesn't field well enough to play shortstop every day, especially in a pitching park such as Dodger Stadium.
Cruz may be a fan favorite and the season's best story, but remember, he's batting above .300 in only 74 games, which may be just about right.
"When we acquired Hanley, we wanted to be see if he was open to whatever Donnie [Mattingly] wanted him to do, and he was, so we'll see what happens," said General Manager Ned Colletti on Saturday.
The actual prize: A Las Vegas Experience that includes three nights at a casino resort.
A better prize: An ace.
I know, the Dodgers already have Clayton Kershaw, but they need another top-shelf starting pitcher to compensate for the possible long loss of Chad Billingsley and their bevy of middle guys, including Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang and Josh Beckett.
It sounds crazy to think the Dodgers could add a high-priced free agent such as Zack Greinke or make another deal for a big-money arm, but after what happened this summer, could they do anything that would surprise us?
"I think we have to look for another starting pitcher," admitted Colletti, later adding, "I think it's clear our owners have shown they are really excited about this thing and the possibility of bringing this town a championship."
The actual prize: Hello Kitty gift basket.
A better prize: Hello Carl Crawford.
If you listen to all the whining from Boston Red Sox fans — do they do anything else? — you would think Crawford is more foul than that infamous Popeye's chicken. Yet throw out his Fenway follies and you have a guy with National League skills finally going to the National League. His recovery from elbow surgery, and subsequent positioning in left field and at the top of the order, will change this team in ways that folks with short memories cannot imagine.
"This is a breath of fresh air for Carl,'' said Colletti. "When I talked to him after the trade, he was as happy as any player I've spoken to during that kind of call … you could sense his relief."
The actual prize: High-definition camcorder kit.
A better prize: A high-definition bullpen.
The Dodgers need to re-sign Brandon League to solidify their pen with three potential closers, keeping him with Kenley Jansen and Ronald Belisario. Who would finish the game? Would it really matter? Mattingly smartly subscribes to the theory that the three most important outs of the game aren't necessarily in the ninth inning. With League having allowed runs in just one of his last 18 relief appearances, he's earned his spot.
Or, in the words of Colletti, "It would be like having three center fielders in your outfield.''
The actual prize: A flat-screen TV.
A better prize: No more flat-screen Matt Kemp.
Even through injury this season, Kemp established himself as the club's toughest and most inspirational player. Now he has to also become its smartest by knocking off this running-into-walls stuff. At this stage of his bruised career, his health is almost as important as his swing.
Said Colletti: "I think he's learned a lot about himself this year.''
Said Mattingly: "Now he just needs to know which walls to run into.''
We'd surely appreciate it.