Giants coach Tim Flannery: the Dodgers “failed in the humanity department”

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On Tuesday the Dodgers had ten year-old Casey Johnstone throw out the first pitch of the Dodgers-Giants game. Johnstone is notable for a viral YouTube video in which he told his fifth grade graduating class about how he’s a Dodgers fan even though the rest of them were Giants fans.  OK so far.

The not OK part, according to Giants coach Tim Flannery, is that the Dodgers did not mention the fact, when they introduced him, that Johnstone donated all of the money he got from the video to the Bryan Stow family to help pay for his recovery. Flannery’s comments from his Facebook page:

Tonight the Dodgers did something that really pissed me off…yeah they beat us, they are better this time around, but this is about other stuff..they honored Casey Johnstone the kid who made a video and gave his $200 bucks to Bryan Stow…but the Dodgers never ever mentioned What the kid did with his money, or Bryan’s name. I once had a Dodger broadcaster tell me ” we wish he would just go away”…..ok…more shows for Bryan…another way to shine the light, and to the Dodgers how you handled this pregame first pitch tonight….you just got me started all over again……we won’t go away, till you do what is right here..had your chance tonight……failed in the humanity department….

Flannery has been out front in raising money for Stow, playing charity gigs with his band and stuff.

I agree that the Dodgers could have mentioned this, but I also understand how lawyers and corporate thinkers work: the Stow family has a pending lawsuit against the Dodgers for Stow’s injuries. Someone, somewhere probably made the calculation that the Dodgers can’t be seen at all talking about Stow lest it somehow be used by the plaintiffs. And in my experience, no matter how innocuous a comment is, an able lawyer can twist things to make it sound sinister and work against the defendant.

Not saying that the Dodgers did the right thing here. Not saying that the Stows’ lawyers would act underhanded or anything. Just saying that lawsuits suck and make people behave in ways that are somewhat less than naturally human. Which is to say that the hate should be directed at the game more than the players in this case.

The Cubs are in desperate need of relief

Associated Press
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Tonight in Chicago Yu Darvish of the Dodgers will face off against Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs. If this were Game 1, we’d have a lot to say about the Dodgers’ trade deadline pickup and the Cubs’ budding ace. If this series continues on the way it’s been going, however, each of them will be footnotes because it has been all about the bullpens.

The Cubs, you may have heard, are having tremendous problems with relief pitching. Both their own and with the opposition’s. Cubs relievers have a 7.03 ERA this postseason, and have allowed six runs on eight hits and have walked six batters in seven innings of work. And no, the relief struggles aren’t just a matter of Joe Maddon pushing the wrong buttons (even though, yeah, he has pushed the wrong buttons).

Maddon pushed Wade Davis for 44 pitches in Game 5 of the NLDS, limiting his availability in Games 1 and 2. That pushing is a result of a lack of relief depth on the Cubs. Brian Duensing, Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr. all have talent and all have had their moments, but none of them are the sort of relievers we have come to see in the past few postseasons. The guys who, when your starter tosses 80 pitches in four innings like Jon Lester did the other night, can be relied upon to shut down the opposition for three and a half more until your lights-out closer can get the four-out save.

In contrast, the Dodgers bullpen has been dominant, tossing eight scoreless innings. Indeed, Dodgers relievers have tossed eight almost perfect innings, allowing zero hits and zero walks while striking out nine Cubs batters. The only imperfection came when Kenley Jansen hit Anthony Rizzo in Game 2. That’s it. Compare this to the past couple of postseasons where the only truly reliable arm down there was Jansen, and in which Dodgers managers have had to rely on Clayton Kershaw to come on in relief. That has not been a temptation at all as the revamped L.A. pen, featuring newcomers Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson. Suffice it to say, Joe Blanton is not missed.

Which brings us back to Kyle Hendricks. He has pitched twice this postseason, pitching seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS but getting touched for four runs on nine hits while allowing a couple of dingers in Game 5. If the good Hendricks shows up, Maddon will be able to ride him until late in the game in which a now-rested Davis and maybe either Strop or Edwards can close things out in conventional fashion, returning this series to competitiveness. If the bad Hendricks does, he’ll have to do what he did in that NLDS Game 5, using multiple relievers and, perhaps, a repurposed starter in relief while grinding Davis into dust again. That was lucky to work there and doing it without Davis didn’t work in Game 2 on Sunday night.

So it all falls to Hendricks. The Dodgers have shown how soft the underbelly of the Cubs pen truly is. If they get to Hendricks early and get into that pen, you have to like L.A’s chances, not just in this game, but for the rest of the series, as bullpen wear-and-tear builds up quickly. It’s pretty simple: Hendricks has to give the Cubs some innings tonight. There is no other option available.

Just ask Joe Maddon. He’s tried.