Sports

How bad is it? *

TextPretty bad. Does anyone remember that the Dodgers ended last season on their highest high in many years? Forget the nonsense about being in second place with a shot at this year's playoffs. If they somehow sneak in, they won't deserve it. The Dodgers have already lost more games than they did last season and have a worse record than the perennially mediocre Detroit Tigers or Cincinnati Reds. (In only one year since coming to L.A. in 1958 have the Dodgers finished with a sorrier winning percentage than they have today.) Both the hitting and pitching are bottom tier, and getting worse. They have an injury-prone lineup, and the GM and manager are on different pages. No young players have come up to make an impact—despite a ton of playing time, Dodgers rookies rank rank 29th of 30 teams in production even counting very mild bright spots in Houlton and Navarro. [* Don't forget: Oscar Robles, while not a young prospect, looks like a legit utility guy and his ascent from the Mexican League is a good-news story.] Next season is already soured by injuries and, especially, the clubhouse rift exposed by vocally angry Milton Bradley and quietly angry Jeff Kent. Now owner Frank McCourt, in today's Times, helps Bill Plaschke make a case that the team's "character" is off. Addressing Bradley versus Kent:

"Unselfishness is a part of character and what does unselfishness mean?" McCourt said. "It means putting the team ahead of yourself."...

So why keep Bradley around next season when, as an arbitration-eligible player, he can simply be released?

The Dodgers probably won't. While McCourt wouldn't comment, Bradley's Dodger career is likely history.

"No question, the biggest lesson I've learned so far is the importance of character in building a winning baseball team," McCourt repeated.

Does this mean it will be more of a factor in personnel decisions?

"No question," he said.

Meanwhile, San Francisco Chronicle columnist Ray Ratto—who covered Kent's bad relations with Barry Bonds on the Giants—writes at ESPN that there's no realistic hope for peace between Kent and Bradley:

The Los Angeles Dodgers now have two clubhouses, and maybe three. They weren't so hot when they had just the one, but now ... well, look out below....

It's all raw feelings and rawer emotion, but for those who think it can be papered over, let us explain it to you this way: It can't...

And that means that the Dodgers now have factions. Factions almost never win, no matter what teams with factions tell you about the myth of chemistry....This one is a sure team destroyer, and the Dodgers already are in full arrest.

Other views: Dodger Thoughts, Ken Rosenthal

Change of mood: Video (with profanity-laced sound) of Pulp Fiction's Jules Winnfield as a hockey coach. (via LetsGoKings.com)


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