Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Two First Names, No Problem

I get the feeling I'm going through a series of emotions as I learn to deal with games occurring on Eastern time. When I first found my way to the venerable "EST", I was upset. Games didn't begin until 7pm locally, and West coast contests ended in the wee hours of the night. It wasn't as great of a stress during basketball season, since hoops games only seem to last about 2:15-20. This brought my night to an end around 12:30am, which was rather late, but doable.

Then baseball season came rolling in, and with the Dodgers, Angels, Giants, A's, Padres, and Mariners all starting play at 10pm Eastern time, I consider myself lucky if my night is over by 1am. Joe Torre manages a notoriously slow, plodding, bullpen-heavy style of baseball. With due credit for winning year after year, Torre's Dodgers would keep me up until 1:30am every home game, later if extra innings got involved. I was exasperated, unable to get anything done the following day before 10am.

Then came aggression -- anyone unlucky enough to ask me about sports was left with an earful about how insane the "7-to-2" sports window was "out here." I whined; I moaned. I made sure everyone knew that this time zone was "stupid," and robbed me of the 4pm sports start time that made the last 1-2 hours of every West coast workday move that much quicker.

Denial. After complaining for a while, I realized nobody cared. So I tried to ignore it, convince myself I didn't care about the late games, but this tactic didn't last. At heart, I'm a Dodger fan first and sports fan second, but I was caught watching only the first 5 innings of every game. I yearned for the Dodgers midseason swing through the NL East. When that trip came and went, something had to give.

Turns out I was wrong. Somewhere along the way, I'm still not sure where, I became infatuated with the idea that teams were hammering at each other long after I was fast asleep. It was flat out weird, yet intriguing. I could wake up in the morning and see what my childhood team had done while I slept, almost like a dream. This is where I sit now, convinced that the folks resting on the Pacific are merely playing late at night so I have something to read in the morning.

Why is he rambling on and on about time zones? Because we're going with back-to-back profiles of Dodgers.

CASEY BLAKE - Before the 2 week hiatus, we had noted Casey Blake's move to the Dodgers' cleanup spot in the batting order, with the report that his RBI total should skyrocket. Well, we were kind of right. He has 6 in his last 2 games, and is currently riding a 7-game hitting streak, so he has been valuable. He hasn't, however, been the cleanup man every night. Torre likes to rotate the batting order depending on the throwing hand of the opposing pitcher, so Blake may fall as far as 6th against some righties, but is generally in a coveted spot against lefthanders. Tonight, he goes up against Cahill, and in most cases, I might say to rest him, but with the hitting streak going, it may be best to ride the horse until he tires. My fantasy team was, up until very recently, saddled with some dead weight (Big Papi), though he appears to be squirting some sort of power-infused, liquified spinach into his eyeballs, and may now challenge Blake for the Utility spot on my roster. Still, Blake is batting over .300 in his second year against NL pitching, and when Manny returns, the Dodgers offense will get even more opportunities to thrive.

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