If you're not convinced by the on-field performance, consider some research prepared by the WSJ's Matthew Futterman on the prospects of under-500 teams even this early in the season. Since 1996, just 9 percent of the teams with a losing record on June 1 wound up with 90 wins, the number typically needed to make the playoffs, The Dodgers are five games below 500 as of today - and yes, it's still possible they can get it together over the next 12 days (three of the five clubs they play between now and the end of the month are below 500 themselves). But assuming not (and watching the Dodgers play over the past couple of weeks would suggest as much), then it's likely the season is effectively over. Many teams are already done - Houston, Minnesota, Seattle, Arizona, San Diego and Pittsburgh, among them.
Dennis Eckersley, the Hall of Fame pitcher, said no matter what players say about putting losses behind them and taking the season one game at a time, poor starts have a debilitating effect, especially if a team within the division scorches the first two months. "It affects the guys who play every day," Mr. Eckersley said. "They get disheartened." Mr. Eckersley was on the Boston Red Sox in 1984 when the Detroit Tigers started the season 35-5 and had an eight-game lead by May 23. "You just knew no one was going to catch that," he said. That's why the best players and teams, no matter what they say when the microphones are on, are trained to ignore the old saw that "it's a long season."
Another factor to consider: the gate. If a team is basically out of the running, its attendance is certain to fall, perhaps sharply. That's especially bad news for Dodger owner Frank McCourt, who relies on stadium revenue to provide the necessary cash flow to keep the franchise operating.