Joe Torre goes all 'Man of La Mancha' on Dodgers: This is not impossible
Hung heads, testy players, a pregame meeting. A team loses five consecutive games and drops eight back, and they’re just a real ball of laughs.
Yet Manager Joe Torre looked at the calendar Monday, and it only said Aug. 2nd. It claimed 57 games more to play. These days, the Dodgers take encouragement wherever they can unearth it.
Still, he knows the Dodgers are incredibly frustrated, not just by the losing, but the way they’re playing. Their confidence lagging, their spirit in need of a lift.
Which could explain his pregame meeting. The message? Maybe the same he delivered to the media: This can still happen.
"They’re certainly understanding of what has to be done," Torre said. "There isn’t any pointing at anybody or any blame. It’s just that we’re not functioning very well.
"My job as a manager is not to allow things to get in your head, that this is not an impossible task. We have to find a way to do it, not to try and change what’s already happened. We just need to stay in the moment and try to turn things around."
The Dodgers were in trouble in Torre’s first season, too, but rallied to win the National League West and advance to the league championship series.
That season, they trailed the Diamondbacks by 4 1/2 games on Aug. 29th. Then they won 12 of their next 13, went up by 4 1/2 and rolled in to the playoffs.
Of course, in ‘08 the Dodgers had only one team to climb over. Right now they’re in fourth place and will have to overcome the Rockies, Giants and division-leading Padres.
Hard to admit as it may seem, the Padres and Giants are for real. And the Dodgers know it now. Which makes their current task all the more imposing.
And when you’re scratching to score runs and on a five-game skid, it’s not like you can pretend you’re something you’re not.
"We’re not very good right now," Torre said. "It’s really not important what other people think, it’s what we think and what we do out there. We certainly have to get it together.
"Sometimes they get in a little funk like they are now, they just don’t know where the door is."
The Dodgers play the next four games against the Padres. Best to find that door, before it does become impossible.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Dodgers first baseman James Loney flips his bat after striking out against San Francisco on Sunday. Credit: John G. Mabanglo / EPA