As Dodger fans sit and watch the playoffs, watch the team that beat them out for the second wild card spot battle the team that beat them out for the NL West play tonight to go to the World Series, one wonders what could have been. If the Dodgers had the new owners in place three months earlier, they could have acquired Prince Fielder. Five years ago they could have had Miguel Cabrera. Both are with the Detroit Tigers this season, four wins away from a world championship.
Last off-season, Fielder was one of the marquee free agents out there, but after several weeks, he was still unsigned. Milwaukee couldn't afford to keep him, and the big money players, namely the Yankees and the Red Sox, both had first basemen. The Yankees had Mark Teixeira, and the Red Sox had locked up Adrian Gonzalez. Fielder, who batted .313 this season with 30 homers and a 108 RBIs after 38 HRs in 2011, was still out there, and the Dodgers still had the power stricken James Loney. Everyone in baseball knew Fielder was the perfect fit in LA, but Frank McCourt still owned the team, and there was no money to spend. When Detroit lost Victor Martinez to a season-long injury, the Tigers swept in and signed Fielder.
After the 2007 season, the Florida Marlins decided they could no longer afford the 24-year old Cabrera, and rumors were flying about which team would land the eventual triple-crown winner. The Angels were making a pitch for Alex Rodriguez of Texas, and there was even a rumor or two about A-Rod and the Dodgers, but it was thought that the two LA teams would battle for Cabrera once Rodriguez was shipped to the Yankees. The price was steep for Cabrera's services, and the Marlins were pushing for guys like Matt Kemp or Clayton Kershaw. One rumor, though, had the Marlins asking the Dodgers for pitchers Chad Billingsley and Hong Chi-Kuo, infielder Andy LaRoche, and Loney. Five years later, that looks like a pretty good deal for the Dodgers. The only player of that group still wearing blue is Billingsley, and he battled injury in 2012, and missed a lot of the year. Meanwhile, Cabrera led the American League in all three major hitting categoriesóbatting .330 with 44 home runs, and 139 runs batted in, becoming the first triple-crown winner in the majors since Boston's Carl Yazstremski in 1967.
So while Dodger fans watch the Cardinals and Giants, and wait for the World Series, they can only daydream and wonder. Oh, what could have been.
Musical interlude: From what we've seen, the Giants have had the best anthem singers. Jose Feliciano for Game One, the Grateful Dead with Giants coach Tim Flannery for Game Two, and the Kingston Trio for Game Six. Maybe this skews to an older crowd, but this forty-something has enjoyed it...The woman from Beach Blanket Babylon flubbed the words to God Bless America Saturday, but the crowd didn't seem to mind. Go see that show if you are ever in The City. It's a blast.
Gold Sox connection: Over the past couple of weeks, I've tried to think of a few nuggets for my Twitter followers relating to this post-season, and tying them in with the Gold Sox. I've come up with a few. Kyle Lohse is from Chico, and tonight's Cardinal starter's cousin Brad Lohse pitched against the Gold Sox opening night this season for the Oroville Pirates...Cardinals third baseman and last year's World Series MVP David Freese, was drafted after two former Gold Sox. Justin Souza, Brennan Garr, and Freese were all ninth-round picks in 2006... Former Sox catcher Tyler LaTorre seems to have become the Crash Davis of the Giants organization. LaTorre was the backup catcher at triple-A Fresno this season, batting .278 in 42 games. The Gold Sox have had two other players in the Giants organizationóDarren Sack and Myles Schroder...Pitcher Anthony Bass was drafted by San Diego, and is in the bigs with the Padres, but is from Michigan, and grew up a Tigers fan. He even gave me a Tigers shirt, which I was wearing during the ALCS. That shirt is 4-0.