About Last Night: Dodgers’ Destiny

In case you were out floating down a river for hours on end, only to remember that you left your car upstream and now it’s dark and you think you just heard a coyote, here’s what you missed in sports on Tuesday:

  • Adrian Gonzalez hit a three-run home run to power another Dodgers comeback, as Los Angeles stayed hot with a 10-9 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. The Dodgers are proving that the classic underdog story is true: You can never count a team out, no matter how far down in the standings it may fall early in the year. A team as unlikely to win as the Dodgers can always surge back over the course of a 162-game season, using nothing but grit, verve, and gumption to overpower its rivals and wend its way back to an unexpected placement atop the NL West standings. An island of misfits like L.A.’s collection of broken toys may have been written off by everyone from the bums of the bleachers to the national prognosticators, but this club wouldn’t let themselves be written off. No siree bob. Not these Dodgers. So when you look up “team of destiny” in the dictionary of your local library this week, scrawl in “2013 Dodgers” in permanent ink. Because these bootstrap pullers ain’t going anywhere.
  • Dustin Pedroia celebrated a new $100 million deal with an RBI as his Boston Red Sox beat Roberto Hernandez and the Tampa Bay Rays, 6-2. Of course this Roberto Hernandez is not former relief pitcher Roberto Hernandez, but is in fact former starting pitcher Fausto Carmona, who is only formerly Carmona and remains a starter, yet must be relieved to no longer be forced to conceal his identity, though one does wonder whether he is starting to regret the bargain he made in order to become a professional starter, as it likely called into stark relief the sacrifices he made in order to start his career.
  • Yankees infielder Brent Lillibridge hit a tiebreaking RBI single off Joe Nathan before Mariano Rivera slammed the door for his 32nd save as New York beat Texas, 5-4. “That’s how you do that, old chum,” Rivera told Nathan as they met for a postgame spot of tea at The Closers Tea Haus and Tiny Sandwich Emporium. “You know I’ve admired you from afar, Joseph,” Rivera added as he ate a cucumber sandwich, to which a smiling Nathan, also eating a cucumber sandwich, responded, “And I you, of course. You’re the best. And if I am to be bested, it’s best that it be by you.” Rivera then arched an eyebrow and asked, “Well then why are you still grinning? I doubt your satisfaction in my being your bester is deep enough to relieve your internal strife.” Rivera then sipped deeply from his tea cup, before Nathan exploded, “Ha! You fool! I poisoned your tea with the deadly venom of the golden lancehead pit viper. You have mere minutes to live dear chum.” Nathan then drank deeply from his cup in triumph. But his victory was short-lived as Rivera began clapping slowly in his direction. “Oh, Joseph. Were you so naive as to fail to suspect that I would suspect you? I had our teas switched from the start. It is you that has consumed the deadly venom of the golden lancehead pit viper, not I.” Both men then keeled over before their waiter Trevor could explain that he had poisoned both of their tiny cucumber sandwiches lest they damage his historical reputation any further with their bestings of one another.
  • The Orioles acquired relief pitcher Francisco Rodriguez from the Brewers in exchange for — wait? K-Rod is still pitching? He has a 1.09 ERA in 25 appearances this year? Holy cow. Next you’ll tell me that John Lackey has rebounded and is a steady presence in the Boston rotation. Wait, what? Really? OK, but Scott Spiezio is still dead, right? Right? Right?????
  • Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp has suggested that Ryan Braun should be stripped of his 2011 NL MVP award after admitting to the use of performance-enhancing drugs. I for one am just excited that we get to rehash the 2011 NL MVP voting, an award which Kemp was similarly deserving of as Braun. Oh boy! The only thing better than debating the merits of potential MVP candidates is doing so years after the voting happened and after the results of the award have been ratified and will not be changed. So, since we know About Last Night is all about debate, let’s do it. Who should have won the 2011 Retroactive NL MVP award that takes into account both what players did in 2011 and what we know of them now? Ryan Braun? Who cheated? No thanks. Let’s look at the top of the WAR leaderboards. Roy Halladay? Regressed massively. Clayton Kershaw? Get out of here guy who throws things. This is the MVP award, and the P in that doesn’t stand for pitcher. Matt Kemp? When was the last time anyone heard from him on the baseball field? Not this week, Matt. No, the 2011 NL MVP, if given this week, should have gone to Prince Fielder for anticipating the surge regarding the birth of the royal baby with his name, and also for posting a .415 OBP two years ago. Case closed.
  • The bad news for Braun continues to pile up as Midwestern convenience store chain Kwik Trip has ended its four-year affiliation with Braun. Fortunately for Braun, Midwestern convenience store chain Kum & Go is willing to bring Braun on as an endorser because, according to Kum & Go CEO Kyle J. Krause, “We’ll take anybody that anyone has heard of. For some reason we can’t get anyone. It doesn’t make any sense. We do good work, we have a good reputation in the community. Why don’t celebrities want to be associated with Kum & Go?”
  • In his first comments since Aaron Hernandez’s arrest, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said he has already “moved on” from the matter. Does that seem a little too quick to you, as it does to me? Hold on, let me ask the rapidly blinking eyes of Bridget Moynahan, as she fights back tears while this news causes her to think about the life she could have had, to confirm that this is maybe just how Tom Brady rolls. Um, yes. We have confirmation.
  • Philadelphia 76ers rookie Nerlens Noel said he is rehabbing six hours a day in order to recover as quickly as possible from the ACL injury that cut short his freshman season at the University of Kentucky. Now, I’m no doctor, but six hours a day? Lazy. The average American job is eight hours long. And with the recession many people are working two jobs, meaning they work 80-hour weeks, or 11.5-hour days. Rounding up, Noel should be spending half of every day, seven days a week, rehabbing his injury. Now I know some people are going to suggest that training 12 hours a day is not the best way to recover from ligament damage, and to them I only have to say that you’re being lazy and you should get back to work. Look at you. Sitting at your desk. Reading a blog post about sports. Of course you’d side with Noel. You identify with his sloth. Well let me tell you: It’s going to get you both nowhere.

Filed Under: About Last Night, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers, New England Patriots, Philadelphia 76Ers, Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers, Tom Brady, Toronto Blue Jays

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Spike Friedman is a contributing writer for Grantland and makes theater with the Satori Group in Seattle, Washington.

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