Ronald Belisario’s agent, Paul Kinzer, said yesterday that the Dodgers reliever is in danger of missing the entire season, telling Tony Jackson of ESPNLA.com that “he just has a lot of things he needs to get straightened out.”
Belisario’s arrival at Dodgers camp has been delayed by visa issues for the third year in a row. Last year he didn’t show up until a week or so before Opening Day and spent the first three weeks of the season on the restricted list, later leaving the team for a month due to undisclosed personal reasons.
Kinzer indicated that this year’s visa problems in Venezuela stem from whatever caused Belisario to leave the team last year, explaining that he’s “just not very optimistic” about the right-hander pitching for the Dodgers in 2011. Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti is anything but surprised by Belisario’s situation:
When the season ended, I knew we could be walking this path again. I had no misconceptions that this was going to be an easy bridge to cross. Knowing what we went through a year ago, including in-season, I can’t say we built our bullpen with him in it. If he gets back and is in shape and can help our big league club win, we’ll examine it. As of right now, we’re not thinking about it. We will go forward as we are.
Belisario struggled in between all the off-field issues last season, posting a 5.04 ERA in 55 innings after thriving as a rookie with a 2.04 ERA in 71 innings. However, he pitched well in the Venezuelan winter league with 14 saves and a 1.00 ERA. Rather than dropping Belisario altogether the Dodgers can simply place him back on the restricted list, which allows them to retain his rights without committing a 40-man roster spot.
With the Dodgers trying to make it back to the World Series for the second year in a row — and trying to win it for the first time in 30 years — it’s worth looking back at the last time they won it. More specifically, it’s worth looking back at the signature moment from the last time they won it. Which, really, was one of baseball’s all-time signature moments.
Yep, I’m talking about Kirk Gibson’s famous game-winning home run off of Dennis Eckersley of the Oakland Athletics in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, which happened 30 years ago tonight.
All playoff magic for anyone too young to remember Bill Mazeroski’s homer in 1960 is measured against Gibson taking Dennis Eckersley downtown to turn a 4-3 deficit into a 5-4 win. Heck, even if you were around in 1960, it’s far less likely that you saw Mazeroski’s homer than it was for you to have seen Gibson’s. Nationally broadcast in prime time to a nation of millions who had not yet fragmented into viewers of hundreds of obscure cable channels and various forms of streaming entertainments, it was a moment that sent shockwaves through the world of sports.
For my part, I was fifteen years-old, sitting in my living room in Beckley, West Virginia watching it as it happened. Like most of the rest of the country, I was convinced that the Dodgers had no chance to beat the mighty Bash Brothers and the 104-win Oakland A’s. Especially given that the Dodgers’ leader, MVP-to-be Gibson, was hobbled and not starting. Even when he was called on to pinch hit, I had no faith that he’d be able to touch Eckersley, the best relief pitcher on the planet, let alone hit the ball with any kind of authority.
But, as Vin said when he called it, the Dodgers’ year was so improbable that, in hindsight, it made perfect sense for Gibson to have done the impossible: