Well, the Giants 2007 season is now (mercifully) drawing to a close. And it's perhaps understandable that we Orange-and-Black loyalists are focused primarily on our own feelings of frustration with the present and uncertainty about the future.
And it's perhaps likewise understandable that we might look around the NL West with some envy at our division rivals -- who at first glance seem so filled with promise and hopes of contention for 2008 and beyond.
Look below the surface, though, and all may not as rosy as it seems for at least one division rival -- the hated Dodgers.
Will their large ($120 Million payroll) and talented kids mixing in with their veterans, one might fear that Da Bums are poised to take over from Arizona or San Diego as the preeminent team in the division. However, it's a very real possibility that they may instead turn into the Dodgers of the past decade or so -- a collection of high-priced loners continually upset with one another and continuing to underachieve.
I mean, surely, by now you've heard about Jeff Kent scolding the Dodgers' younger players for "not getting it" and failing to play the game right. Apparently this is just a public vocalization of what has been a season-long rift between Dodger vets and the Dodger puppies.
According to the LA Times: "There has been an obvious and growing tension all season between the Dodgers' veterans and youngsters. Publicly, at least, that discord had remained largely under control and Kent is the only one who has spoken out on the record."
Next, there is reportedly widespread dissatisfaction with manager Grady Little within the Dodger clubhouse and among Dodgers fans, many of whom have been very vocal in calling for his head as well as suggesting that maybe it's time to show new GM Ned Colletti the door:
And so now the Dodgers, a team that went from 1954 to '96 with only two managers, have die-hard fans calling for them to fire their fifth manager since that time. It has been less than two years since the last one, Jim Tracy, was cashiered.
To be sure, not everyone thinks Little is the Dodgers' biggest problem. Some have blamed injuries, but Colletti is also taking a good deal of heat. He has a mixed record at best in player acquisitions, and there's a strong case to be made that most credit for whatever success the Dodgers are having should go to assistant GM of scouting Logan White, the man in charge of drafting most of the team's young talent. White and vice president/assistant GM Kim Ng are among the top candidates for any major league GM openings, and plenty have suggested that the Dodgers would be worse off to lose either of those two than Colletti.Wow. I don't recall anything like this happening with the A's -- or the Diamondbacks. Maybe it's just 'cause it's LA and the payroll is $120 Million.
Here's what Fox Sports had to say about it:
When we heard that notorious clubhouse lawyer Jeff Kent had criticized the comportment of some of the Dodgers' younger players, we just assumed L.A.'s resident grumpy old man was getting his kicks by alienating another generation of teammates before riding his dirt bike off into the sunset.
But the more we hear, the more it seems Kent was onto something regarding his younger teammates' lack of professionalism and proper respect for the game (not to mention their elders)…the hunch is that you will be hearing Matt Kemp's name in virtually every Dodger trade rumor until he is eventually dealt.
...And here's the LA Times, once again -- (just get a load of the article's title):
The Youth Movement is a Flop
Bill Plaschke, LA Times -- September 21, 2007
This youth movement has officially gotten old.
I thought it would work, I really did, but I admit today that I am wrong.
By using the last couple of months to integrate, the Dodgers have done nothing but alienate.
This mixture of kids and veterans is no longer charming, it's combustible.
The fans are mad. The front office is mad. And now, their future Hall of Fame second baseman is stomping and snorting mad.
In the wake of a barely-show-up loss Thursday in Colorado, a fifth consecutive defeat that essentially ended their playoff hopes, quiet Jeff Kent quaked.
Using words like "perplexing" and "curious" and "bitter," he took veiled shots at Manager Grady Little and direct shots at the Dodgers' kids. ."
Turns out, the clubhouse has been more eccentric than eclectic. The kids have driven veterans crazy with mistakes. The veterans have driven their manager nutty over lineup decisions.
The fans have turned on nearly all of them, howling at Little, chastising Colletti, booing the first bad pitch, begging for the sort of mass firings they once abhorred.
And now, the Dodgers' most celebrated player is spraying around blame like it was a 2-and-0 fastball.
Read the whole thing, it's truly an eye-opener.
Schadenfreude: from the German -- a term meaning "taking delight in the misery of others."
Perhaps it isn't exactly noble. But as we head into an uncertain Winter for our Gigantes, I'll take it. For now, at least.