When is it officially no longer ‘Still early?’

“It’s still early.” There isn’t a baseball phrase in the English language that annoys me more.

Don’t believe me? Just ask anyone who knows me, but be prepared to receive a belly laugh from them. Everyone knows that I hate this phrase… I mean I really hate it.

Please indulge me for a minute.

When was the last time that you heard a winning team say “It’s still early?” That’s right, you never hear winning teams say it, only losing teams. Why? Because it is an attempt to justify losing; an excuse for shoddy play or other deficiencies.

It has long been my perspective that it is never too early to win but it is always too early to lose and that a loss in April and May is just as important as a loss in August and September. You simply never get them back – especially losses to division rivals.

To his credit, Dodger manager Don Mattingly has made it known on several occasions that he isn’t a big fan of the “It’s still early” phrase either; unlike his predecessor who would beat it into the ground and would use it almost daily up until the All-Star break – by which time, of course, it was no longer still early but too late.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly is not a big fan of saying "It's still early." (Video capture courtesy of Dodgers Media Network)

Someone needs to remind Mattingly of a far more appropriate baseball phrase – “You don’t win pennants in April, but you can surely lose them.”
(Video capture courtesy of Dodgers Media Network)

I am not foolish enough to think that the Dodgers are out of the 2013 division race – not by any margin. In fact, I honestly believe that when Hanley Ramirez returns to the Dodger line-up (which could very well happen within the next two weeks), he will be the spark that the Dodgers so desperately need to ignite their virtually non-existent offense.

Hanley Ramirez can't return to the Dodger line-up soon enough. He may very well be the spark that the Dodgers need to ignite the struggling Dodger offense. (Photo credit - Pat Carter)

Hanley Ramirez can’t return to the Dodger line-up soon enough.
(Photo credit – Pat Carter)

My hope is that Mattingly puts Ramirez in the number three hole after Carl Crawford and Mark Ellis respectively and puts AGon, Ethier and then Kemp in the four, five and six holes. I understand that this puts back-to-back lefties in front of the right-handed hitting Matt Kemp, but until Kemp snaps out of his funk (and he will), he is killing this team with his 2010-ish looking strikeouts – especially with runners in scoring position. Once Kemp gets it together (and he will), then you go back to the right-left-right-left thing – which might not even be necessary if Gonzalez and Ethier continue to hit left-handed pitching successfully.

After Saturday’s doubleheader loss to the Orioles, the Dodgers are exactly 10.49% through the 2013 season. It is now imperative that they take at least two of three from the Mets or they may find themselves in last place in the NL West when they return home from this short six-game road trip. It is also imperative for the Dodgers to start winning series (with an occasional sweep) if they are to have any hopes of winning the NL West – which they will have to do to make it into the post-season. I say this because (in my opinion) neither NL Wild Card will come out of the NL West; not with the way that the Braves, Nationals and Cardinals are playing. And while the Colorado Rockies are currently enjoying the best record in all of baseball, it is only a matter of time before they wake up and realize that they are the Rockies.

I understand that the 2013 season is less than a month old and that there is still a lot of baseball to be played, but it is not “still early” – and having this type of attitude is the kiss of death, especially for a sub .500 team like the Dodgers.

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