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Welcome everyone to the first edition of my new column, The Artful Dodgers! Here I’ll provide regular analysis and commentary of my favorite NL team (and second only to Minnesota) as they undertake arguably the most hyped season in franchise history. I know Brushback is primarily a league-wide commentary blog, as well as one run by Twins fans, but all the same I think it’ll be interesting to follow a top contender from start to finish (Also, I’ll include league-wide analysis and misc. observations when pertinent.).

I’m not sure if I’ll be able to reach the satisfying level of crisp analysis at True Blue LA or the lethally hilarious and uncompromising nature of Dodger Blues. Hell, knowing the Dodgers’ propensity for excruciating heartbreak, this column’s greatest purpose could end up being to provide incriminating evidence of me angrily dropkicking someone like Chan Ho Park. But if my commentary turns out to be congruent with a long overdue championship season, it’ll prove more than worthwhile. Maybe I can publish all of these columns in a book and use the $13 in profits to buy a Darren Dreifort card for laughs. Sky’s the limit, eh?

Now, to the team itself: You know the time immemorial Zen question about a tree falling with no one around, and thus whether or not it makes a sound? Well, many may justly feel that way about the regular season-opening series between LA and Arizona in Australia this past weekend. The half-a-day time zone difference meant that while the fans in Sydney got to soak in a sunny game at 1 p.m., those of us here in the states got to revel in the thrill of staying up past midnight to follow a Gamecast. Personally, I had no problem with this whole scenario. Granted, I’ve been listening to Midnight Oil nonstop, so the land down under has been omnipresent in my mind as of late. I would insert the MLB.com-ready spiel about baseball being a universal pastime as well as an American one, but given the relative abundance of Australian players in MLB over the past few decades it’s not like they’re hopelessly shut off from being able to experience the greatest sport in history.

Nevertheless, fans who stayed up late enough both nights, or waited to catch highlights later, were treated to the sight of what Los Angeles should look like this season: Top-tier. I’m not saying after two games you should get ready to stress about Dodger Stadium parking during the World Series, but the sight of typically lights-out performances from Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu coupled with a balanced offense is pure bliss. And after an offseason where all pundits rightly agreed that second base is a question mark after the departure of Mark Ellis, the sight of Dee Gordon tearing things up on offense is greatly reassuring (his error on defense, not so much).

A quick raspberry for the bullpen in game two, however. It still projects to be one of, if not THE best in the entire game, but issuing a ton of walks and turning a 7-0 shutout into a 7-5 affair I could do without. And another for Yasiel Puig’s increasingly irritating diva shtick. Doing my best to look past my obvious bias, I’ve defended Puig’s on-field antics under the opinion that he’s an all-around fun player to watch, and I stand by that.

But especially coming on the heels of his speeding incident this past offseason, he could still do well to discipline himself in many regards, and only two games in he’s reminded us of that with his constant and (hopefully) exaggerated injury claims. Even Don Mattingly himself, as well as a few teammates, are clearly sick of his routine.

But flaws and wonky time discrepancies aside, the Dodgers’ venture to the outback will ultimately prove worthwhile. They took another step in advancing the franchise as a globally recognized one, and have two wins under their belt before anyone else in the majors. Nothing wrong with a little head start, right?

Until next time,

Marshall

What do you think of MLB's decision to start the season outside North America?

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How do you think the Dodgers will do in 2014?

  • Win the World Series (50%, 1 Votes)
  • Win the division but lose before the World Series (50%, 1 Votes)
  • Lose the World Series (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Claim a wild card spot but lose before the World Series (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Miss the playoffs altogether (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 2

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