They down energy drinks, chug coffee and overload on Adderall because, hey, it’s October, when baseball players need stimulants to achieve optimum performance in their month of reckoning. But who knew the Dodgers also were doing silly pills?
Sometime between losing two games in St. Louis and resuming the series in Los Angeles, where people tend to lose their minds, the most expensive team in big-league history decided to become the class clowns of the postseason. Whether it’s Adrian Gonzalez mocking the Cardinals with a Mickey Mouse ears gesture, the team summoning comic Will Ferrell to annouce the starting lineup (and introduce Zack Greinke as “today’s winning pitcher”) or Yasiel Puig being Yasiel Puig, this doesn’t seem like a group trying to avoid elimination. Rather, they look headed to Beacher’s Madhouse, the nutball Hollywood nightclub where Miley Cyrus sits in the corner and twerks by herself amid cross dressers and flying midgets.
If they’re going down in the National League championship series as a $237-million loser, they’ll do so having a good time. Never mind if their approach completely bucks the professional philosophy of those upstanding, principled traditionalists, the St. Louis Cardinals of Middle America U.S.A., they of the (clear the throat, blow the trumpets) “Cardinal Way.” Heading into Game 6 trailing three games to two, with zero margin for error at Busch Stadium, the Dodgers are so high on themselves that they’re convinced the Cardinals are the team with the pressure noose.
“We’ve kind of become America’s team, because everyone wants to see a seventh game,” manager Don Mattingly said, oddly. “Probably even the fans in St. Louis would like to see a seventh game, so I figure that everybody’s (rooting) for us to win on Friday night. I feel pretty good about having Clayton (Kershaw) pitching on Friday night and our chances of getting a seventh game.”
“Can’t predict anything, that’s for sure, but I’d definitely take Kershaw and (Hyun-Jin Ryu) the final two games of the series, absolutely,” blurted Gonzalez, per USA Today.
This is the same Gonzalez who was criticized in Boston for not displaying enough vocal leadership. Now, he’s celebrating hits by forming Mickey Mouse ears with his hands, which got under the skin of Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright, prompting Gonzalez to do it again after a home run in Game 5. “You’re in the playoffs, you’ve got to have fun,” Gonzalez said. “If you’re not having fun in the playoffs, then you don’t deserve to be here.”
The Dodgers are trying to make the Cardinals choke, which wouldn’t seem possible facing super-rookie Michael Wacha in Game 6 and, if necessary, Wainwright in Game 7. But St. Louis did lose the NLCS to the Giants in ugly fashion last year after leading 3-1. And never has a MLB team blown 3-1 leads to lose an LCS in successive years. That said, I’d rather be the team leading 3-2 with two studs taking the hill at home. Also, the Cardinals won the World Series two years ago and another in 2006. The Dodgers, they of the fat payroll and Hollywood address, haven’t won the World Series since Kirk Gibson’s bomb in 1988. Again, who has the pressure?
“I don’t know why you guys continue talking about last year,” Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina told USA Today after struggling mightily in Game 5. “It’s different. We’re facing another team this year. We’re not thinking about that.”
They’ll be thinking about it, for sure, if they lose Game 6. But I’d much prefer Wainwright to Ryu on a Saturday night in Middle America, where the red-bathed fans are too polite to even think about mocking the Dodgers with Mickey Mouse ears gestures, though they really should.