Full disclosure to start: I had the Los Angeles Dodgers dead and buried in June. Done. Over. Even with the phenomenon that is Yasiel Puig; even with Ian Kennedy poking the big, blue bear with a sharp stick at just the wrong moment with two of the most ill-timed beanballs in baseball history.
But if the Dodgers were going to rise from the dead — and you know they will come back to Earth and lose more than once a week here pretty soon — they were in the perfect division for a resurrection. Consider: As bad as the Diamondbacks have been since June (three games under .500 entering Friday’s game), they still lead the Padres, Rockies and Giants by at least 6 1/2 games. That means if the Dodgers hadn’t risen from the dead, Arizona would still be the valedictorian of summer school in the NL West.
Arizona was three games over .500 in April. They were the same in May. They were three games under in June and have been .500 ever since. They are what they are, and if it feels like the Dodgers have blown by them as if they have been standing still, it’s because they are.
This isn’t a team that could endure no Daniel Hudson, and poor seasons by Kennedy, Miguel Montero, Aaron Hill and Jason Kubel, and still be considered a contender. Only in the West, only with the Giants’ pitching staff imploding and that $200 million Hollywood payroll stuck in neutral, did Arizona appear to be better than they were. Unless a large percentage of the young arms on the way teams with Patrick Corbin and Wade Miley to form a big-time rotation, the D-backs will continue to fight an uphill battle against teams who can buy their way out of trouble.
Up in Smoke
The Suns still owe Michael Beasley $12 million for the final two years of a contract which was looked at as a fairly pricy experiment last summer.
It took one year and one summer to officially declare the experiment a complete and total failure for the Suns to reach the same conclusion as the Heat, Timberwolves and all the other NBA teams who wouldn’t have touched Beasley with a pair of Kevlar gloves. Beasley transformed Phoenix into yet another patch of scorched Earth, and, at age 24, put his NBA basketball career to bed.
It’s not just the rap sheet, although the man has racked up an impressive array of law infractions (even for Arizona) in a very short time: Speeding, marijuana, and, the most disturbing, a sexual assault investigation.
It’s not just that he’s so completely aloof as to take coaching as a mere suggestion, play as an imposition and listen only to those who tell him he’s doing fine.
Here’s the real deal: The Suns seem to really have a plan now. They’re clearing cap space, building through draft picks and trades. Flyers and band-aids like Beasley don’t belong anywhere near the Suns’ new coach, new direction and new uniforms.
The occasional 30-point game just isn’t worth it. Giving the guy $12 million to go away will hurt. Giving him an opportunity to infect the foundation new general manager Ryan McDonough is trying to build could cost even more.
Cut the cord. Send Beasley off to Europe, Colorado or Ricky Williams’ old tent in Australia, wherever. The team, the fans and local law enforcement will be the better for it.
Jerry Brown is a contributing columnist who appears every Sunday in the Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.