The consolation prize: Why the World Series matters most, but the regular season still matters

San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Now that Madison Bumgarner has gone full Hershiser and then some, now that the San Francisco Giants have a well-earned dynasty of three World Series titles in five years, now that history has recorded this all in fresh ink, I’ve reached the stage of acceptance with the 2014 season.

But I am left with a sincere question …

Clayton Kershaw will win the National League Cy Young Award and maybe the MVP, the Dodgers won the NL West, and all anyone will say this winter is how they are inferior to Bumgarner and the Giants. I’m not denying people the right to say it.

But if winning the World Series is all that matters, and what you do in the regular season matters not at all if you win the World Series, and if how you finish in the regular season gives no hint about whether you’re going to win the World Series, then why worry about what is happening during the regular season?

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Dodgers set Los Angeles record in BABIP … what happens next year?

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Yasiel Puig had a .356 BABIP despite declining from 2013. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

Were they feeling lucky?

The Dodgers had a team batting average on balls in play of .318, which was third in the Majors but the franchise’s highest in 84 seasons, since the Brooklyn Robins had a .321 BABIP in 1930.

In general, the Dodgers’ BABIP has trended upward in recent years, thanks in part no doubt to strikeouts becoming a larger percentage of outs. It was a different story, for example, in the 1960s, when the Dodgers’ BABIP bottomed out at .266 in 1967 and .268 in 1968.

The oddity is that several prominent Dodgers underperformed their recent or career BABIP marks in 2014 …

BABIP chart (more…)

The Dodgers-Lakers-NBA connection

Kobe Bryant and Tommy Lasorda (Jill Weisleder/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Kobe Bryant and Tommy Lasorda (Jill Weisleder/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Cary Osborne

The NBA season tips off tonight, including the Lakers hosting the Houston Rockets at Staples Center. With that in mind, we thought we’d give you some amusing Dodger-Laker connections and throw in some other Dodger-NBA connections.

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Seasons: Tommy Davis’ 1962 — thou shalt not pass

tommy_davis

This marks the first in a series of stories where we look back in depth on some of the greatest individual seasons in Dodger history.

By Cary Osborne

The RBI is like the vinyl record of baseball statistics.

Traditionalists love it — still find beauty in it and won’t let go of it. The modernists have less regard for it and think of it as analog in a digital world because the stat is dependent on other factors, namely the ability of the guys ahead of the line to get on base.

But like an audiophile might tell you that there is no sweeter sound than needle meeting spiral groove, a batter might tell you that there is no better satisfaction than bat meeting ball and run crossing the plate.

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Time and urgency, winning and losing

By Jon Weisman

Somewhere right now, someone is driving a car and texting about the horrors of ebola.

But let me get back to that …

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Corey Seager an AFL Fall-Star

By Jon Weisman

Dodger prospect Corey Seager has been named to the West Division roster for the Arizona Fall League Fall Stars Game, taking place at 5 p.m. Saturday.

Scouting and farm directors from every Major League organization, in consultation with Arizona Fall League director Steve Cobb and his baseball personnel staff, made the selections. The game will air on MLB Network and MLB.com.

Playing shortstop, the 20-year-old Seager has a .345 on-base percentage and .412 slugging percentage in 13 games.

Preston Mattingly’s journey from Dodger to college basketball player

Photo courtesy of Lamar University

Photo courtesy of Lamar University

By Cary Osborne

The Lamar University basketball team opens up its season on November 14 in Dallas at Southern Methodist University. There’s a sophomore shooting guard on the Cardinal team who will likely check into the game at some point. Now 27 years old, the man who was once a top prep player in the state of Indiana has chosen basketball again.

Baseball chose the former Central High of Evansville two-sport star. With a last name Mattingly, it’s not surprising that it did. But baseball isn’t always kind, even to its own.

Fortunately for Preston Mattingly, basketball took him back.

Mattingly, the son of Dodger manager Don Mattingly and a 2006 first-round pick of the Dodgers, is in his second season playing NCAA Division I basketball for the Lamar Cardinal in Beaumont, Texas.

The 27-year-old’s final day on a baseball field was in Spring Training camp in 2012 with the New York Yankees, and he hasn’t looked back on the game. He said he spent time with his father this summer hanging around Dodger Stadium. But now he is reunited with the game he loved the most as a youth.

“To be honest, I don’t miss it at all,” Mattingly said of baseball. “I miss hanging out with the guys, but I don’t miss going 0 for 4 with three strikeouts and struggling as bad as I did. I love baseball, but I had some rough years, and I’m really hard on myself.”

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Humble Fresno hero receives gift from Tommy Lasorda on Jimmy Kimmel Live

By Cary Osborne

He’s being called a humble hero for rescuing a 73-year-old man from a house fire in Fresno last Saturday. A video of 49-year-old Tom Artiaga rescuing Robert Wells has gone viral this week. Artiaga, wearing a Dodger cap, is seen carrying Wells over his shoulder, smoke billowing from the home.

“I didn’t want the glory,” he told CNN. “I don’t want it.”

Artiaga appeared on the Jimmy Kimmel Live show on Thursday night and was surprised by Tommy Lasorda, who came with a proclamation and a gift for the Dodger fan.

At the 4:13 mark of the video, you’re likely to get a lump in your throat.

Jimmy Sheckard, the Yasiel Puig of 1901 (sort of, but just enough to make the headline work)

SheckardBy Jon Weisman

You might have heard Jimmy Sheckard’s name once or twice this summer, and even so, if you’re a Dodger fan under the age of 120, it was quite possibly the first time you ever heard it.

Largely forgotten among Brooklyn stars of the past, Sheckard hit three triples for the Superbas in one game on Opening Day 1901 at age 22, a feat that went unmatched until 23-year-old Yasiel Puig did so against the Giants on July 25.

That 1901 season was Sheckard’s best in a career that had more than a few highlights. Sheckard led the National League with 19 triples and a .534 slugging percentage, while finishing second in home runs (11) and total bases (296), third in batting average (.354) and OPS (.944), tied for third in RBI (104), fifth in runs (116), sixth in on-base percentage (.409) and stolen bases (35), seventh in doubles (29). In September, Sheckard also became the only player ever to hit inside-the-park grand slams in consecutive games.

Sheckard also had a run-in with an ump that surpasses any mess Puig has gotten into, according to Baseball Library.com:
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Gold Glove finalist Uribe best pick to win prize

Los Angeles Dodgers vs Arizona DiamondbacksBy Jon Weisman

This should be the year of the Uribear.

Adrian Gonzalez, Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw, Juan Uribe and Zack were named finalists for the Rawlings Gold Glove Awards, with winners to be announced November 4.

Each position has three finalists. Greinke and Kershaw are up against Adam Wainwright of St. Louis for the NL pitcher Gold Glove. Gonzalez is against Adam LaRoche of Washington and Justin Morneau of Colorado, while Uribe has competition from Nolan Arenado of the Rockies and Pablo Sandoval of San Francisco.

Going strictly by advanced stats, Uribe would be the Dodgers’ top candidate. Despite a couple of injury issues this year, Uribe dominated NL third basemen statistically. (Click chart to enlarge.)

3B

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