Friday, October 23, 2009
Sports NewsMayfield's Mutterings: Cardinals NL Central kings again

LA still looking for 1st World Series since '88

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[October 23, 2009]  PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Some Dodgers lingered in the dugout, staring at another wild Phillies celebration on the infield.

Most of them headed back to the clubhouse.

After all, the Dodgers saw this show before. The sequel was just as bad as the original.

Bounced again in the NL championship series by Philadelphia for the second straight year, the Dodgers squandered home-field advantage and their league-best 95 wins seemed about as empty as Philadelphia's discarded champagne bottles.

It might be time to call rewrite in Los Angeles.

The NL West champions made all the right moves in the regular season, but they flopped two straight years in the NLCS.


Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Cole Hamels aren't leaving Philadelphia any time soon. The Dodgers are going to have to make some bold moves this offseason if they want to get past Philly and return to the World Series.

"It'd be nice to be celebrating like that," third baseman Casey Blake said.

They weren't even close to a wild and wet locker room party. If not for Utley's costly error in Game 2, the Dodgers would have been swept.

"There's a lot going on in that clubhouse. There's a lot going on in their stomachs, which is good," manager Joe Torre said. "They care a great deal. I don't think the Phillies wanted it more than us, it was just that they were able to do it."

Every possible weakness was exposed in the five-game series.

Closer Jonathan Broxton, who went 7-2 with 36 saves in 42 opportunities and a 2.61 ERA, was done in for the second straight year in Game 4 by aging pinch-hitter Matt Stairs. Stairs fashioned himself a Philly folk hero last year with his winning two-run homer off Broxton, and he coaxed a four-pitch walk Monday that led to the tying run in a ninth-inning rally.

The rest of a supposedly deep and strong bullpen flopped, and there was no true stopper anchoring the rotation.

Los Angeles hoped 21-year-old Clayton Kershaw would be the postseason ace, but he posted a 9.45 ERA in the NLCS. The Phillies picked up former Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee and Pedro Martinez to bolster their staff down the stretch. The Dodgers countered with Phillies castoff Vicente Padilla -- and he promptly got rocked on a familiar mound in a Game 5 loss.

"We kept passing around that No. 1 pitcher thing all year long, and I think we have a couple of guys in that clubhouse that certainly eventually will emerge as being capable of doing that stuff," Torre said.

Torre hasn't duplicated his World Series trips in Los Angeles, although he extended his streak of consecutive managerial playoff appearances to 14, tying the record set by Atlanta's Bobby Cox from 1991-05.

Torre won four World Series titles with the Yankees, the last in 2000.

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The 69-year-old manager has one year left on a three-year deal he signed after 12 seasons guiding the New York Yankees. He plans to return for at least one more year and try and win his first World Series title in the National League.

"It's still something that keeps me around and keeps me wanting to do it some more," Torre said.

And then there's Manny Ramirez. Who knows what the dreadlocked slugger is thinking about heading into the offseason. Ramirez, whose season was interrupted by a 50-game suspension for violating baseball's drug policy, will likely exercise his $20 million option for next season and return to his familiar cleanup spot.

Ramirez was 5 for 19 with one home run and two RBIs in the series against the Phillies. The homer was his only extra-base hit.

The Dodgers have the most potential players (16) eligible for free agency and most of them don't figure to return. They took care of one contract this week when Ned Colletti agreed to a long-term extension to stay on as general manager.

The Dodgers have reached the postseason in three of his four seasons.

Not bad, but not a World Series.

"We have the capability, we have the talent, but that's all well and good," Torre said. "It's like having that good team on paper. You still have to go out there and play between the lines."

[Associated Press; By DAN GELSTON]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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