Contact Form

    News Details

    The Audible: On the Charger Lady, Dodger accountability, and Kim Ng
    • October 19, 2023

    Jim Alexander: Not sure if you saw it while covering the Chargers-Cowboys game the other night, but Charger Lady (my nickname for her) has become a meme. The Monday Night Football director made sure to get multiple shots of the overly emotive woman in the Justin Herbert jersey every time the Chargers made a play. Her reactions were priceless … but at game’s end, and another typically Chargers finish, the shot of her with hands to forehead, agonizing, was so memorable even the Chargers tweeted it. (Or is it X’d it? Hard to keep track now.)


    — Los Angeles Chargers (@chargers) October 17, 2023

    Anyway, I think it’s kind of illustrative of what you go through if you choose to root for a team whose very name has become a verb for failure in the most painful, agonizing way. The Chargers’ L.A. fan base is learning what its former San Diego fan base learned the hard way. (One way to find out how long someone has followed the Chargers: Ask them about Marlon McCree’s role in the team’s history.)

    I do believe they still hate-watch the team in San Diego. Our colleague at the Union-Tribune, Sunday columnist Nick Canepa, still does a report card following each Chargers game, and while Brandon Staley got an “F” again this week, he wasn’t alone.

    You were there. How did it look in person?

    Mirjam Swanson: Uninspiring.

    Although maybe Merianne Do – the now-famous Chargers fan – would argue with me on that?

    This 20-17 loss to the Cowboys on Monday night wasn’t a classic Chargering collapse, of course, because the Chargers never had a substantial lead to give away.

    The opening drive went according to script and then mostly it was frustration. The running game gave them just 53 yards. Brandon Staley did the go-for-it-on-fourth-and-goal (from the Cowboys’ 7-yard line) instead of taking the three points in the third quarter, and I get having fine field position if it didn’t work out (it didn’t; Herbert’s pass was incomplete) … but in a game where points were proving so hard to come by, I would’ve taken three of them.

    And Herbert wasn’t exactly lighting it up either, overthrowing receivers and then throwing the game-ending interception on the Chargers’ final drive.

    All of it felt out of sync.

    I was at the Rams’ game the day before, and you can see that team building and improving weekly, finding a rhythm (which might be tested by injuries to their running backs now). But there isn’t the same momentum when you consider the Chargers. You know?

    Jim: Maybe it’s the curse of expectations. People expected the Rams (3-3 so far, with Pittsburgh at home this week) to have a bad season, but they’ve got some youth, they’ve got energy and they’ve played the NFC’s two best teams, the 49ers and Eagles, closer than expected. And they have Sean McVay.

    Interesting point: The guys in McVay’s coaching tree are a combined 9-13 so far this season: Staley 2-3, Zac Taylor in Cincinnati 3-3, Matt LaFleur 2-3 in Green Bay and Kevin O’Connell 2-4 in Minnesota.

    (Or to put it another way, Marianne Do’s two favorite teams – she roots for the Vikings as well – are 4-7. I guess you can say she knew what she was getting into.)

    Speaking of expectations, Andrew Friedman met the media Tuesday after the latest Dodgers failure to meet said expectations. He said all of the things you’d expect him to say, but I didn’t see any real accountability – specifically, for not doing more to bolster the rotation at the deadline. He made a reference to there not being a lot of guys out there who can go six or seven innings – but even five would have been sufficient.

    You want to play deep into October? You give up what you have to give up to get those reinforcements at the deadline. When you have one of the best farm systems in baseball, trying to win every deal and hold onto all of your top prospects – which seems to have been Friedman’s modus operandi the last two years – won’t get it done.

    Oh, and he used the term “October theater.” I’m still not sure what that means.

    Mirjam: I like that term, actually.

    Because the Dodgers have the regular-season script memorized backward and forward. They’ve got that down. But when the lights get brighter, and the pressure ratchets up – especially considering those aforementioned expectations, self-imposed by all the regular-season success – they’re just not getting it done.

    I maintain that they don’t necessarily need five or six innings from starters, that’s not the way they’re playing it anymore, but they do need an inning. As in one, or goodness, two. And they didn’t get even that.

    So obviously, their pitching failed them – but even decent pitching wasn’t going to rescue them from such an epic collapse at the plate. It’s not as though Mookie Betts hasn’t been clutch; he’s a two-time World Series winner. It’s not as though Freddie Freeman isn’t clutch; he’s a World Series winner. But neither of those guys was clutch for the Dodgers this postseason.

    Anything but; they were anemic: 1 for 21! Still hard to believe. And that one hit was on account of a defensive miscue.

    Maybe the Dodgers should’ve invested in, say, Corey Seager two offseasons ago? Certainly he had his injury issues and droughts too, but he’s sure been clutch for the Texas Rangers – going 4 for 8 with three doubles and two RBI in a two-game wild-card sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays.

    And he certainly had clutch moments for the Dodgers, like in 2020 when he was the NLCS and World Series MVP after hitting seven home runs and collecting 16 RBI across those series…

    Or, if we’re talking about investing in someone clutch, Shohei Ohtani should help.

    Jim: Three guys who played key roles in Dodger postseasons – or thrived in “October theater,” if you prefer – were Seager, Joc Pederson and Cody Bellinger. I look at the Dodgers’ lineup now and, aside from Kiké Hernández (a three-homer game against the Cubs to clinch the 2017 NLCS) and Max Muncy (the 18th-inning game-winner against the Red Sox in ‘18), I don’t see a lot of guys who exhibit that clutch gene. Lots of good guys who play hard, but there needs to be someone who rises to the moment, whether it’s Mookie and/or Freddie or a role player who can handle the bright lights. Maybe Shohei’s that guy … but, then, we’ve never seen him on the October stage.

    Final topic of the day: Kim Ng. As Brittany Ghiroli wrote in The Athletic after Ng stepped down as the Marlins’ general manager, refusing to accept a demotion: “Kim Ng was a reluctant trailblazer. Now, she’s a certified badass.”

    I guess this is how it works when you are part of an unrepresented or underrepresented group: You take the job you’re offered because you don’t know if you’ll get another chance. But even when you show you can do the job, despite the indignities and the garbage you have to put up with, you’re expected to just smile and roll with it. Instead, she walked away when the Marlins’ CEO, Bruce Sherman, told her he planned to hire a president of baseball operations to oversee her.

    Let’s see: All Kim Ng did – with all of her years of baseball experience in the Yankees’ and Dodgers’ front offices and then in the Commissioner’s office – was get an underfunded operation back to the playoffs, pick a manager in Skip Schumaker who just might turn out to be an outstanding skipper, and broke barriers, and she’s supposed to accept a demotion? My thought: If the Marlins needed a POBO, which is not unreasonable, give her the job and hire a general manager to work for her.

    My hope is that someone will hire her quickly. Knowing the way these things work, I’m not optimistic.

    Mirjam: All of that. Gotta love the reporting within Ghiroli’s piece: “Detractors say she can be abrasive…” Of course. She’s mean. But if she wasn’t mean, then she’d be a “mother hen” and not a strong enough leader. I’ve heard that one.

    Related Articles

    Sports |

    Mary Lou Retton experiences ‘scary setback’ in her fight against a rare form of pneumonia, daughter says

    Sports |

    Pac-12 football: Our 15 bold predictions for the second half of an epic season

    Sports |

    CIF-SS girls volleyball playoffs: Scores from Wednesday’s Division 1 games

    Sports |

    Huntington Beach girls volleyball sweeps Alemany in CIF-SS playoffs after tough opening set

    Sports |

    Huntington Beach boys water polo sinks Los Alamitos’ playoff chances

    I agree that I’m glad Ng didn’t put up with the Marlins’ mess, but it also seems like the club got what it wanted by declining to offer her an otherwise-expected extension and then, for all intents, demoting her. How transparently insulting.

    I concur, though, I hope she gets another shot soon, because the results prove she’s deserving – she took a 90-plus loss team with a bottom-10 payroll and turned it into a wild-card team in a couple of seasons! That’s no small feat.

    And moreover, I hope she gets compensated better than she was in Miami, where she was among the lowest-paid GMs.

    But I’m not holding my breath, either.

    ​ Orange County Register