Dodgers versus Giants: Time rules the day
The defining quality that makes baseball so unique relative to other American sports is time. Between pitches, between innings. There's always time to blow a lead (until there isn't), always time to make a comeback (until there isn't). It's true for individual games and an incredibly long season that makes Major League Baseball a sport best evaluated over weeks and months. At the same time, the unrelenting, every-day-a-game nature of the schedule keeps the focus on small pictures. One game, one start, one slot in the rotation.
In the scope of 162, clunkers can be tossed to the side, yet every game matters.
Monday night when the Dodgers took the field against the Giants at AT&T Park, the big picture said they'd lost six of nine in August and 2.5 of their eight-game cushion over San Francisco in the NL West. The bigger picture, though, still had the Blue 5.5 games ahead of the Giants.
The optimist says 5.5 on Aug. 10 is pretty darn good. That's a lot of ground for San Francisco to eat up over 50 games, chasing the National League's best team. The pessimist notes if the type of scuffling seen over the weekend at the Ravine against the Braves continues over a three-game set against what is by a fair leap the NL's most successful home team, 5.5 becomes 2.5 and visions of the '64 Phillies begin invading dreams.
112 games into the season with 50 left to play, suddenly one game seems incredibly important. The big picture shrinks.
Nine innings later, the Dodgers have a 4-2 win and a 6.5 game lead over the Giants, who aren't even their closest challenger anymore (that honor belongs to Colorado, still 5.5 games behind L.A.). One game, but I guarantee it does wonders for the psyche of Dodger fans. Probably the team too. Tuesday morning, time seems to be once again working for the Blue and against the Giants. Give it another week, and maybe that changes (for better or worse). Maybe it doesn't take that long.
Players will talk ad nauseam about the need to take things one day at a time, game to game, to not get too high or too low and always believe in the future's potential. It's cliche, no question, but it's also true. If they did anything different, the average MLBer would go insane by mid-July. Fans and media aren't bound by the same restrictions. The challenge for us is to see the big picture without missing too many of the pixels that form it, and find the proper role of imagination.
Of course, if we got it right every time, following baseball wouldn't be nearly as much fun.
-- Brian Kamenetzky
Photo: The Dodgers celebrate their victory over the Giants last night. Photo credit: John Mabanglo / European Press Association.