MLB Power Groupings: L.A. Dodgers Playing the Slacker Role in Hollywood?

Nino CollaSenior Writer ISeptember 8, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 06:  Third base coach Larry Bowa #10 of the Los Angeles Dodgers is restrained by Mariano Duncan #35 and Orlando Hudson #13 in the second inning during the game against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium on September 6, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. The Padres defeated the Dodgers 4-3.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Things got so busy this summer that I neglected my much loved mash-up of MLB thoughts that I put together and posted every Monday.

It was a place for me to talk about random things, like Shin-Soo Choo meeting the South Korean girl band the Wonder Girls and even dancing with them and bullpen catcher Dave Wallace. I could also bring up random things, like how Curt Schilling wants to run for a Senate seat, and comment, "Hey, seek attention much?"

It also gave me the platform to mention career milestones, like Lance Berkman's 300th career home run. Then I'd sneakily congratulate David Ortiz for hitting his second home run of the season—at the beginning of June.

I'm starting to think the Dodgers got so exhausted that they've just stopped. I don't want to say they've given up, because that implies that they're done winning and they'll choke and miss the playoffs. I'm not saying any of that.

It's like they put so much into the first half of the season, the second half is just them trying to finish out the race. But really, I was contributing a low-read weekly baseball column with a lot of nonsense. You're contending for an MLB division.

Welcome to the Disaster Zone

Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Cleveland, Kansas City, Oakland, Seattle, Washington, New York Mets, Chicago Cubs, Houston, Pittsburgh, Arizona

It wouldn't be a disaster unless we talked about Pittsburgh locking up their 17th consecutive losing season.

As someone who lives rather close, has family that works there, has been there numerous times, and is a Steeler and Penguin fan, I have no joy in seeing the Pirates fail. This is not just the longest streak in baseball history; it's the longest streak in baseball, football, hockey, and basketball. It's downright sad.

However, I can say in good faith, with whatever baseball knowledge I have, that this streak isn't going to carry on much longer. In fact, it would not shock me to see it come to an end with this season being the last. They've got a good core of young players coming together with a good mix of pitchers.

Get a few veterans in there, like the Pirates have been willing to do in the past few years, and there is hope in a rather up and down NL Central. St. Louis is the class of it this year, but every year they've got someone different in the mix, be it as a division winner or a wild card. Houston, St. Louis, Chicago, and Milwaukee have all had their shots in the past few years.

Anyway, let's not concern ourselves too much with the Pirates at this point; there will be plenty of time to gush over the unknown potential. There are other bad teams.

We officially welcome three teams, even though one has sort of been in this position. I've waved the white flag for Tampa Bay as they are seven out of the AL Wild Card race, and to me, that's four games too many.

Not only are they not playing the best baseball, they also only have three games against the Red Sox to help them make up ground, and they've got seven against the Yankees to help them lose it. On top of all that, Carlos Pena is out for the season with broken fingers.

The Cubs are here, the Cubs are here, the disaster zone is complete! Sorry to Chicago, but there is no coming back, not with all the teams ahead of you and just four games against any of those teams combined. It's not like you are chasing after a division.

I've also formally added the Mariners, who are remarkably on track for a winning record; hats off to them on a season so far that was not expected.

Let's have some fun

Cincinnati, Milwaukee, San Diego

One team in this grouping has taken this group to its meaning and has actually had some fun.

So it would be wrong to hold them out, regardless of record.

You really have to be having fun to do what the Brewers did on Sunday, despite being out of the playoff race and at the tail end of a long season. To collectively fall down when Prince Fielder jumps on home plate is probably something that I'll never forget as long as I'm living and watching the sport of baseball. It's unique, it's fun, and if someone has a problem with it, tough.

This is a team that likes to have fun. Let's remember this is a kid's game after all, and when you do something as harmless as having some fun, you are playing a kid's game the right way.

Anyway, other than having some fun at home plate, there was some fun on the field with Cincinnati and San Diego. Typically I'm looking for the spoilers, and the Reds and Padres did just that. The Dodgers and Braves are not appreciative of their efforts to make their playoff race much tougher.

These two teams took it upon themselves to play the role of spoiler, and the Rockies are especially grateful for the services of San Diego as they chase Los Angeles.

Not out, but let's be real, AL Central

Chicago White Sox, Minnesota

Why have I not pulled the plug on these Central clusters of confusion?

Pity, I guess.

I guess I wanted to give them one more pep talk. Here it goes:

Look, you guys are on the outside looking in. The Tigers have just put together a run we've been waiting the entire year for, and it was better than the one Minnesota put on last week. There is an expiration date on this whole contention thing, and it will be next week. You're either in or you’re out.

If Detroit's heat carries on, there will be nothing for you to do, but if it doesn't, it's up to you to find one last push. Well, maybe a second push, since there really haven't been many pushes all year.

Minnesota didn't exactly have a horrible week, but dropping a series to Cleveland after they got swept by Detroit isn't exactly keeping up with the Joneses. I like them more than Chicago if I was to pick one, but I wouldn't be optimistic here. I expect them to be grouping with the disasters.

We might be contenders

Atlanta, Florida

Now even though few games separate teams that I've eliminated and these two NL East players, I feel as if both are still chasing something that is attainable.

First of all, Florida is just as far out of the NL East crown as they are the wild card. Philadelphia put together a shaky week, but we'll get to them in a second. I figured one team would separate themselves with the four-game series, but of course, they split. The Braves separated things by getting swept by Cincinnati though.

I like Florida more than I do Atlanta, more because they're ahead and they've been a team I've been in the corner of all year. They're also two games ahead of Atlanta—I'm not that unaware. So Atlanta probably has a week left, but I'm willing to be that nice about it since Philadelphia didn't run away like I thought they would.

In it to win it

Texas, Colorado, San Francisco

Can we give Texas some credit? Just about everyone on that team has been injured at some point in the season. I mean, Hank Blalock has played in more games than all but four players. That's saying something.

Yet here they are, still sticking in the race for the Wild Card. You've got their MLB writer, T.R. Sullivan, proclaiming that Omar Vizquel is both the best second and third baseman in their franchise's history, Scott Feldman making a crazy transition to the rotation and being their best starter at that, and what seems like a new outfielder every month.

Over in the West, we've got Colorado making a hard charge towards the Dodgers. What's funny is that they've got a week filled of teams that are towards the bottom, but both of them are teams I just highlighted as being spoilers, Cincinnati and San Diego.

San Francisco could use this as an opportunity to make things as close as possible for the clash with the Rockies next week. It will be the most important series of the season for both clubs.

Here we are, where we should be

Boston, New York Yankees, Detroit, Los Angeles Angels, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Los Angeles Dodgers

I went ahead and did it.

It felt like, with the assumption that Detroit reads my weekly thoughts, I was dangling a carrot in front of the team by not pushing them over the edge. I've rewarded them though by having the week that most of us have been waiting for.

I mean, even the Angels and Dodgers have smaller leads than Detroit as I view the standings. They finally put together a week to pull them away from their AL Central trailers.

Just because you have the carrot, though, doesn't mean you quit.

Just ask the Dodgers, who seemingly had their division wrapped up before anyone else did.

Now they're just about the only team that has their division left to fight for, it seems. Given that their win percentage isn't behind too many teams though, it has a lot to do with the Rockies just playing extremely hot baseball, but San Francisco is also closer than they were months ago.

If the Dodgers haven't been worrying in the past few weeks, they better start soon, or they're going have a race on their hands that is totally unnecessary given the position they were in at the All-Star break.

Philadelphia is a team that I thought was going to be the second team, right behind the Dodgers, as a group that was just going to end things early. But for some reason, there's a little inconsistency in there that holds them back just a bit. They've got this division in good hands, but they're still not out of the woods.

This is the week for them though. They've got six games with Washington and New York, and if that isn't an invitation to put an end to their race, then I don't know what is.

*All statistics, standings, and opinions were based off their states going into action on Sept. 7.