When the 2013 season began, many Los Angeles Dodgers fans were excited at the prospects of the team. The new ownership was ready to embark on their first full season, a retooled roster with a payroll over $200 million was in place, and stadium upgrades were in the final stages of being completed. They were promised “A whole new blue”.
However, as the old adage goes, games are not won on paper. Roughly six weeks into the season, the Dodgers found themselves with an abysmal 13-21 record. They would continue to limp through their games in May and into June, both literally and figuratively.
The team was mired by injuries to Carl Crawford, Zack Greinke, Matt Kemp, and Hanley Ramirez, among others. Ironically, the season was on the same path as that of another Los Angeles team – the Lakers. How could a city with such a rich sports tradition be cursed with two separate, but talented teams who have high expectations only to fall flat on their face in the same year?
More than just losing games, the Dodgers seemed to have no fight or resilience in them. Game after game they would find themselves in a deficit and rarely would they display any desire or capability to fight back.
Yasiel Puig’s exuberance has helped turn the Dodgers around (photo credit: espn.com)
After hitting rock bottom and with essentially nothing to lose, the Dodgers chose to call up Cuban rookie sensation Yasiel Puig on June 3 and haven’t looked back.
Puig helped excite and ignite a team that was dead in the water, resulting in a 4-1 record in his first five games. The Dodgers however were unable to keep pace, losing their next five of six games.
Then, the return of Ramirez came, who needed roughly two weeks to acclimate himself and has since been as tough an out as any. While Puig understandably received many of the headlines and attention, Ramirez was playing just as well, if not better.
As typically happens in baseball, opponents have had the opportunity to scout Puig and are exploiting his reckless, er, aggressive batting style, while Ramirez has continued to plug away coming up with hit after hit.
Coupled with solid pitching and the improved play from the team’s stars has been the timely contributions from Mark and A.J. Ellis, Juan Uribe, Jerry Hairston Jr. and others.
The roster certainly isn’t perfect, some help for the bullpen is recommended but the team finally appears to be playing to its expectations.
They have continued to pile up wins, currently sit six games above .500 and are leaders of the NL West division.
Finally, the Dodgers are a whole new blue with an eye on baseball in October.