Los Angeles Dodgers: They've Got the Band Back Together

Jeff Spiegel@jeffspiegelContributor IIJuly 14, 2012

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

As I followed the Dodgers game against the Padres last night, there was something slightly different about things, but I just couldn't put my finger on it.

Was I glad that baseball was finally back after a brief hiatus? Possibly, but that seemed unlikely.

And then, everything clicked.

As Mark Ellis, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier stepped to the plate in succession, my feelings were clarified: it wasn't that I hadn't seen baseball in a few days, it was that I hadn't seen these guys play baseball in so long.

It always seems cliche to talk about off-the-field intangibles or thoughts and feelings that can't be quantified with an average or a number, but the feeling of knowing the Dodgers were healthy, finally, was almost tangible.

The confidence I lacked with Adam Kennedy patrolling the middle of the order (or even playing at all) and Jerry Hairston as our best hitter had become borderline difficult to bear. In fact, when things finally caught up with the "miracle team" and the losses started piling up, I wondered if this day would ever come.

Would the Dodgers hold Ethier out for an extended period of time wanting to play it safe? Would Kemp's hamstring cooperate with and respond to the treatment they were giving him?

Well, on a beautiful Friday night at Chavez Ravine, Friday the 13th no less, both of those questions were answered in a way that sent chills and goosebumps down the spine of anyone who claims to bleed Dodger Blue.

As Kemp stepped to the plate and promptly smashed a ball into the left-center field gap, fans throughout the stadium held their breath to see how his legs looked powering into second.

No problem.

So as Kemp jogged into second, a universal sigh of relief was taken and the game continued.

While two runs are hardly enough to make fans believe the offense has returned from its six-week hiatus, the positives were there.

For starters, one of the team's true unsung heroes (and least-appreciated acquisitions of the off-season), Mark Ellis, was right in the middle of things. Now with 29 runs in just 42 games, Ellis raised his on-base percentage to just under .370 with a monumental two-run homer that got the second half of the season off on the right foot.

While many will remember this as the time when Kemp and Ethier returned from injury, Ellis wanted to remind them that he had been gone for a good chunk of time prior to returning before the All-Star break. Don't think the celebration of the return of the two Dodger stars Friday night didn't light a fire under him a little bit.

Regardless of what it looked like, and it wasn't pretty, I couldn't describe Friday night's game as anything less than perfect.

The stars returned, the Dodgers won and hope in Dodgertown was restored. The dominant first-place team we remember from a couple months ago is back—and, man, it feels good to have the band back together.