Friday, February 29, 2008

Comment Myopia: Dodger Fans Through the Eyes of Deadspin Wags

Want to take the temperature of the sports blogosphere? Check Deadspin, perhaps the leading sports blog. And for good reason—it's funny, erudite and (most importantly) updated frequently. So it was with some interest that I saw a Dodger-themed post over there. I wondered, What will the Deadspin commenters say about the forthcoming Coliseum game?

Here's a sampling:

Yeah, but they'll show up in the 3rd inning and leave by the 5th.

Yeah but they're all gonna show up in the bottom of the 3rd inning

It will be like a giant douche-off!

Now, I'm never one to advocate terrorist attacks, but if there ever was a time...

Dodger Blue versus the Red Sox. In no way could this prompt a Crips and Bloods altercation.

So what can we learn about Dodger fans from Deadspin commenters?

We arrive late and leave early. Not since I watched that Carlos Mencia marathon on Comedy Central have I seen such original, incisive commentary. Yes, it's true some people attending Dodger games miss the first few innings. Or the last few. What's amazing is how this never happens in other cities! Have you seen 55,000 people in their seats for the first pitch? I highly recommend you travel to any of the 29 other cities with MLB franchises and check it out.

We are a bunch of douchebags who should be killed. It's true! We're so lame! I personally am a huge douchebag, as is my wife. Our friends and their kids? Douchebags all. We're all looking forward to our richly deserved deaths. Attention non-douchebags: Douchebags are everywhere. They just have a higher profile in L.A.

Colors : Los Angeles :: City of God : Rio de Janeiro. Los Angeles has gangs. And some of their members actually enjoy Dodger games.

Stay tuned for our next installment of Comment Myopia, when we see what other anonymous internet posters have to say about the important issues of today!


In fairness, some commenters seem to get it:

Lazy. There's nothing more tired than making comments about the stereotypical nature of LA sports fans.
However, I think there's definitely truth to the rumor that Boston fans are all hardcore racists.

Hey, I hear the fans will all show up in the third inning and leave in the seventh!
And what about that airplane food! What is the deal with that stuff???

Dodgers Lose but Kuroda Solid


Dodgers' Spring Training record: 1-1

MLB08 The Show Portends Hope for Dodger Baserunners

The new videogame MLB08 The Show (for PS3, PS2, and PSP) has the following text in its advertisement (featured in the new SI, Jason Kidd cover):

Packed with all-new features from third base coaches that actually coach to real-time pitching and batting analysis, The Show is easily the most realistic, high-definition, smell-the-pine-tar baseball simulator ever created. See for yourself at

Wow, those new features sort of sound like the Dodgers' new features in 2008! (That is, if Larry Bowa can get cracking...)

Game On!

The Dodgers vs Braves Spring Training game is on ESPN and ESPN HD at 1:00 pm EST. Get your first glimpse of Kuroda in his major league debut. Feel free to comment if you are able to ditch work and watch the game.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

It's Spring, And There's Litigation In The Air

Tonight, the top five ESPN News headlines on the MLB page (in blue inverse) are as follows (click the picture for a larger view):

FBI opens probe of whether Clemens was truthful
Bonds' lawyers set to make request for dismissal
Fehr would consider OK for reliable HGH blood test
Astros' owner might reconsider Clemens' contract
Wary Pettitte prepared to talk to DOJ if called upon

And just think, this is AFTER they've started playing spring training games. The court is now in session, playing ball can wait!

Wait, This Time There Is No Explanation

The Dodgers' Matt Kemp slides into third base, only to find teammate James Loney standing there, as Atlanta's Brent Lillibridge applies the tag Thursday at Vero Beach.

Twice in one week! Yay, Larry Bowa!

photo: Sam Wolfe / The Stuart News

It's Never Too Early To Start Extrapolating

The Dodgers are going undefeated this year!!!

Seriously, I won't be so brash as to project team performance based on one game. But let's have some fun looking at players' lines from today's box score, shall we?

Pierre, LF 0-for-3, 0R, 0RBI, 0BB, 0SO, 2LOB, .000
Kemp, RF 2-for-3, 0R, 0RBI, 0BB, 1SO, 2LOB, .667
Ethier, LF 1-for-2, 2R, 0RBI, 1BB, 0SO, 0LOB, .500
Jones, A, CF 0-for-1, 1R, 0RBI, 2BB, 0SO, 0LOB, .000
Which one of those doesn't belong? (Hint: he batted leadoff, and was replaced by Chin-Lung Hu who went 1-for-1 with a run.)

Garciaparra, 3B 1-for-2, 0R, 0RBI, 0BB, 0SO, 2LOB, .500
LaRoche, PR-3B 1-for-1, 0R, 0RBI, 1BB, 0SO, 0LOB, 1.000
Hoo, boy, this is going to be a dogfight this spring. With these performances, though, it's a problem I'd like to have.

Loney, 1B 2-for-3, 0R, 0RBI, 0BB, 0SO, 0LOB, .667
See what happens when you finally FREE JAMES LONEY?

Dodgers Win First Spring Training Game

...despite some baserunning blunders.


Dodgers' Spring Training record: 1-0

A Dodgers Ad Waiting to Happen

Not sure how the Dodgers missed this opportunity. An Academy Award winning film, whose plot HINGES on catching a Dodgers game.

Charlie: I thought maybe we could go to Los Angeles and see a Dodgers game.

Rain Man: Go see the Dodgers play. Today's an off day.

Charlie: We don't have to go today.

Rain Man: Monday, no games scheduled.

Charlie: I just thought maybe you'd Like to go see Fernando Valenzuela pitch.

Rain Man: He pitched Saturday. Not scheduled to pitch 'til Wednesday.

Charlie: I'm not doin' anything on Wednesday.

Rain Man: Yeah, Wednesday.

Charlie: Let's go to L.A.

Rain Man: Yeah.

How Did We Miss the Signs? The Rich Donnelly Saga Continues

From Diamond:

Wow. On a day in which they honor Maury Wills, this happens. Bases loaded with Matt Kemp on first, James Loney on second. Mark Sweeney singles to left field, scoring Jones. Third base coach Larry Bowa holds up the stop sign, and Loney stops at third. Kemp rounds second with a head of steam and probably with his head down. He slides into headfirst third, where Loney is, so Kemp is called out. After the following inning, Bowa caught up with Kemp coming off the field from his right field position and the two spoke.

Russell Martin just followed up with another baserunning error. Running on the pitch, he slid into second without realizing Jeff Kent had popped up to right field. Martin was doubled off.

Torre Channels The Ghost of Grady Little

Gentlemen, get your crossbows ready, because the first card Joe Torre is playing...strongly favors the veterans.

VERO BEACH, Fla. -- Juan Pierre will be leading off and Rafael Furcal batting second on Thursday at 10:05 a.m. PT when the Dodgers open what will likely be their last Florida exhibition season against the Braves at Holman Stadium.

Manager Joe Torre said the alignment is not necessarily the way the Dodgers will start the regular season, but he seems to be leaning that way. Torre has made no secret that he likes the speed of Pierre, the likely Opening Day starter in left field, atop the lineup. Torre's predecessor, Grady Little, preferred to bat Furcal leadoff and Pierre second.

Torre said that Nomar Garciaparra will start at third base on Thursday and that "being a veteran, he has the inside track on the starting third-base job." Garciaparra and rookie Andy LaRoche are contenders for the job.

Torre did not release his batting order, but he said all of his regulars will start. That means that in addition to Pierre, Furcal and Garciaparra, Jeff Kent, James Loney, Andruw Jones, Matt Kemp and Russell Martin will start.

I suppose it's only spring training, let's not get too alarmed, and it's only natural to defer to the veterans in the first game. This will be one interesting spring to watch; let's hope that Andre Ethier and Andy LaRoche aren't sitting beside us watching all spring.

Dodgers Skimping on Outdoor Advertising Amidst Sea of Red

It's been at least a month since the bright red Angels billboards, including a huge one that just says "VLAD", popped up all over town. I know that Angels owner Arte Moreno, who has made his business fortune on outdoor advertising, has a competitive advantage here.

But with Frank McCourt's parking lot expertise, I would have thought that he would have found some way of working his angle into the Dodgers' 2008 publicity campaign. Give valet parking attendants Dodger schedules to distribute! Put Dodger ads on the lines separating parking spots! Align the little bots dots in "LA" logo designs! Come on, Frankie! Wake up!!!

We are a month away from opening day, and the only baseball billboards up in the city are Angels billboards. Dodger Baseball: Why Wouldn't You Stay Home?

Anyway, the upshot of all of these Angels billboards is that I'm keenly aware that they have moved their radio home from ESPN 710 to 830 AM. Cool.

The Dodgers' contract with KFWB 980 ended in September. How are Dodgers fans supposed to know that you switched to KABC 790, if you don't put up a frickin' billboard or two?

And by the way, the first KABC 790 broadcast of Dodger baseball comes today, in about an hour's time (10am PT). Dodgers vs. Braves. I'm sure the ratings will be rival the Oscars.

Poll: Which is the Least Real?

These days, with scruples seemingly decreasing as quickly as science, pressure to perform, and media scrutiny are increasing, it's becoming more and more difficult to tell what's real. We thusly pose our next poll...

Which of the following is the least real?

1) Roger Clemens' statistics after age 40

Roger Clemens (2002-2007) 74 39 3.23 944 8.25

2) Bill Belichick's Super Bowl victories

3) Shawn Marion's excitement at being traded from Phoenix (34-15) to Miami (9-39)

"I'm looking forward to it. I'm a Miami Heat player."
-Shawn Marion, Feb 7, 2008

4) Jennifer Love Hewitt's cans

Which is the Least Real?
Clemens' stats
Marion's excitement
Belichick's championships
Love Hewitt's cans
Free polls from

A World Without SoSG?

For almost ten minutes yesterday, the legion of SoSG-maniacs came across the following message.

Blogger and Blog*Spot are unavailable right now. We apologize for this interruption in service. Details: Blogger is undergoing brief maintenance and will return in a few minutes.

We hope you were able to survive this terrifying event. If SoSG ever goes down again, you can call Steve Sax directly on his 1-900 number.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

"Dodger Idol" Updates Pouring In

From Diamond:

Dodger Idol kicked off today with guest judges Jeff Kent (Simon), Juan Pierre (Randy) and physical therapist Sue Falsone (Paula). Word on the street is that the judges dressed the part, with Kent donning a tight black shirt.

From Dylan Hernandez at the LA Times (reg.):

The two-day "Dodger Idol" competition has begun, as six players in their first big-league camps were forced to sing in front of their teammates. Garciaparra played the role of Ryan Seacrest, while Pierre was Randy Jackson, team physical therapist Sue Falsone was Paula Abdul and Jeff Kent, wearing a tight black shirt, was Simon Cowell.

Widely said to be the best performer of the day was right-hander Rick Asadoorian, a non-roster invitee who sang Billy Joel's "Piano Man" while playing a guitar and harmonica. "Genius," closer Takashi Saito said.

Music is in Asadoorian's genes; his brother Steven, who uses the stage name Steven Dorian, is performing in the musical "Smokey Joe's Cafe" in Vero Beach.

Would it be too much to ask for pictures? I've never seen Jeff Kent in a tight black shirt.

How Did We Miss the Signs?

From - Cards release Spiezio after police issue six-count arrest warrant.

Utilityman Scott Spiezio was cut by the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday, released after police issued a six-count warrant for his arrest following a December car crash.

The warrant filed Tuesday by Irvine police alleges driving under influence, driving under the influence with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or more, hit and run, aggravated assault, assault and battery.

Spiezio won World Series championships with Anaheim in 2002 and St. Louis in 2006. He has cultivated a hard-rocking image during his 12 seasons in the majors and plays in the heavy metal band SandFrog.

That dyed soul patch was a cry for help that none of us were willing to hear. For that matter, so was his "music".

Scott Spiezio Taking This Whole Sandfrog Thing Too Far

Arrest Warrant Issued For Scott Spiezio (6-4-2)

Paging Gary Busey

You read articles like this, and you have to shake your head and wonder what this guy is thinking. In the wake of the death of minor league coach Mike Coolbaugh's death last year after being hit on the head by a line drive foul, instantly killing him, MLB has instructed all on-field coaches to wear protective headgear.

However, Braves coach Glenn Hubbard is griping about the safety measure, saying it feels ridiculous. Clearly, MLB has erred by not balancing the fashion and scalp sensory needs of grumpy curmudgeon coaches, when considering issuing edicts that could save lives.

Glenn Hubbard trotted on the field Wednesday wearing a helmet -- and feeling downright ridiculous.

"You know what it feels like?" he asked before a spring training game. "Look at that kid over there."

Hubbard pointed toward a young batboy standing at the edge of the Braves dugout, his head dutifully covered by a helmet.

"That's what I feel like," Hubbard said, not bothering to hide the disgust in his voice. "A batboy."

Actually, Hubbard is the first base coach of the Braves, a job he's always done with nothing more than a cap on his head. But last year's tragic death of minor league coach Mike Coolbaugh -- the victim of a line drive to the neck -- prompted the major leagues to take action.

Now, the coaches standing along each foul line in the majors must wear some sort of protective headgear. So Hubbard and Atlanta's third base coach, Brian Snitker, carried out their duties during an exhibition game against the University of Georgia wearing "skullcaps" -- baseball slang for the flapless helmets that catchers wear along with their masks.

"It's like the one I used to wear in high school and college," said Snitker, a former catcher. "It seems a little tight. It doesn't feel like it's shaped to my head anymore. But it's one of those things if we've got to do it, we've got to do it."

Hubbard wasn't so magnanimous about the mandate from higher up. He even threatened to adorn his helmet with advertising, like a NASCAR racer.

"We should have a choice in these things," he said. "My choice would be not to wear it. I'm only wearing it because it's a major league rule."

Keep fighting the power, Hubbard! Drive without your seatbelt! Tear off your mattress tags! Leave the cover open while striking!

Frank McCourt, Thank You for Not Being Sam Zell

Zell won’t hesitate to sell Wrigley Field naming rights (AP/Yahoo! Sports)

Zell to DC bureau: 'unsupportable' (LA Observed via Dodger Thoughts)

2008 NL West Preview Predicts Dodgers Finish Second

Rich Lederer and Patrick Sullivan of Baseball Analysts broke down the Dodgers, and the NL West, yesterday. Jon Weisman and Russ Oates, a Rockies blogger, guest-starred (I suppose Daryl Hall wasn't available, so they went with Weisman).

Upshot is that the Dodgers have a lot of upside, but are not predicted to win the division. It's a long post, but here's the banter on the boys in blue:

Sully: Switching gears, what do we make of the Los Angeles Dodgers? The run prevention side does not seem to be a problem given the team's bevy of young, durable arms. The Dodgers had an ERA+ of 109 last season and it is hard to see them falling off too far from there (if not improving).

Jon: Chad Billingsley (138 ERA+) could become a staff ace as early as this season. That would be a huge help to a team that doesn't know exactly who its fifth starter will be if Jason Schmidt or Hong-Chih Kuo aren't up to snuff in April (though quality candidates like James McDonald and Clatyon Kershaw are lurking in the minors). There's a lot of mystery centered on Japanese import Hiroki Kuroda, but another question is whether Brad Penny can maintain his high-flying performance (151 ERA+) despite a tumbling strikeout rate. If the Dodger starters can give quality starts, Takashi Saito and Jonathan Broxton form a great one-two combo in the bullpen. On the downside, Dodger defense can be spotty, depending who's in the lineup.

Rich: The Dodgers have a fab four (Derek Lowe, Brad Penny, Chad Billingsley, and newcomer Hideki Kuroda) at the top of the rotation and a fifth (Jason Schmidt) who could be a pleasant surprise if he can begin to earn a fraction of the more than $15 million per season that he is pulling down. Saito and Broxton, who make about $2.5M between them, have given the McCourts a much better return on their investment, combining to strike out 32% of the batters they faced in 2006 and 2007.

Russ: Penny finished an honorable third in the NL Cy Young voting last year and there's as good a chance as any that he'll repeat that finish for another year. Lowe was the victim of poor run support in many games last season, so an improvement in his W-L record isn't out of the question. Hiroki Kuroda isn't on the level of Daisuke Matsuzaka, but he should fit in nicely behind the previous two pitchers and Chad Billingsley. If Jason Schmidt bounces back from his shoulder injury and subsequent surgery, it could be a good season for the Dodgers.

How Joe Torre uses his bullpen will be interesting since he was questioned numerous times in New York for how he managed it there. As Jon and Rich said, Broxton and closer Takashi Saito are a lights-out combination.

Sully: Jon is our Dodgers guy here, so I am interested in his take. What do we think about this offense? It seems like there is talent all over the place on this roster. Can they make it work in 2008?

Jon: Don't laugh, but this is potentially the most dangerous group in the division. If Andy LaRoche and Andre Ethier win starting positions, one of them could easily be the No. 8 hitter in a lineup that could have everyone with an on-base percentage of .350 or more. (Last year, James Loney, Jeff Kent, Matt Kemp, Russell Martin and Ethier all reached that plateau; ex-Braves Andruw Jones and Rafael Furcal need comeback seasons to make it). Los Angeles won't have the most power in the NL West, but the pitching in this division is so strong that a team that can consistently battle offensively might have the best weapon.

Rich: If Joe Torre puts his best eight on the field everyday, the Dodgers should have one of the best offenses in the division and maybe the league. I'm less concerned with the youngsters like Martin, Loney, LaRoche, Ethier and Matt Kemp as I am with the veterans such as Kent, Nomar Garciaparra, Jones, and Juan Pierre. How goes the 40-year-old Kent and Jones, coming off his worst season ever, will go a long way in determining how goes the offense.

Russ: Signing Jones could be a huge boon for the Dodgers, but is it likely for him to rediscover his power with the Dodgers? Having a competition between Ethier and Pierre should hopefully improve the Dodgers. Russell Martin offers the best offense out of all the starting catchers in the division, but Joe Torre could give him a few more games off after catching 145 games last season. The competition at third between LaRoche and Garciaparra will be good for the younger LaRoche.

Sully: This seems like the team in Major League Baseball whose Manager could make the biggest impact. The personnel is there. The question is whether Joe Torre can optimally deploy the resources at hand.

And the predicted divisional finishes:

Sully: [...] As for my predicted order of finish, I am going with the D-Backs (their offense comes alive this season), then LA, San Diego, Colorado and (big, big gap) San Francisco.

Rich: I like Colorado, followed by Los Angeles, San Diego, Arizona, and San Francisco. The Diamondbacks will be closer to first place than last although that says as much about the Giants as anything else.

Jon: I don't think Colorado or Arizona got lucky last year. despite what others might say. There's no reason either of the two couldn't win. But thanks to their addition of Haren to a rising young team, I think the Diamondbacks deserved to be slotted first right now. And given what full seasons from Kemp, Loney, Jones, Billingsley (in the rotation) and maybe Ethier and LaRoche could mean for the Dodgers, I'm gonna put them close behind in second. (Maybe this year, Martin blocks the plate against Holliday in a one-game playoff with the Rockies.) San Diego follows in fourth place, with San Francisco fifth.

Russ: Same as 2007: 1. Arizona 2. Colorado 3. San Diego 4. Los Angeles 5. San Francisco

Do not weep for San Francisco, Dodger fans.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Score One for Juan Pierre

From Diamond:

[Jason] Repko used an example of a reporter throwing only 40 MPH, and the reporter began to balk at the projected velocity. Juan Pierre, criticized for his arm strength, jumped in with impeccable timing, noting. "Now you see how it feels."

I Knew I Liked This Kid

From today's chat with James Loney at

ytezah: Who is your favorite artist/band?

Loney: I'm going to take you back ... Stevie Wonder.

mogre: Is this really you?

Loney: If I say yes, would you believe me?

theboss95_2: Have you tried In-N-Out yet?

Loney: Yup, of course. Them double-doubles are tasty!

ralex15: Do you see yourself wearing a Dodgers uniform for the rest of your career?

Loney: Yeah. Just the way the team is going and the direction we're in, it's been fun being a part of that. I would love to.

Schmidt Down, Penny Up


Jason Schmidt had his fourth bullpen session of Spring Training on Tuesday, and he wasn't thrilled with it.

Schmidt, recovering from major right shoulder surgery, reported no pain, but said he took longer to loosen up and didn't feel adequately loose until near the end of his 53-pitch session....

By contrast, Brad Penny threw two innings worth of a simulated game/batting practice against Minor League hitters and was pleased with his recent progress.

"I was throwing harder and my curveball had a lot of bite," said Penny. "I feel like I'm now ahead of past springs."

Westways Highlights LA Dodger Memories

Westways, the Southern California Automobile Association member magazine, had a nice five-page article on the Dodgers' 50th anniversary in Los Angeles, written by Managing Editor Robin Jones. By our count here at SoSG, this is Jones' second article for Westways featuring the Dodgers, so we're guessing that she's quite a Dodger fan. We've admired Jones' writing for quite some time, and since we love fellow Dodger fans, we hope she keeps up the great work!

The five pages, which detail memories about the Dodgers in Los Angeles, along with profiles of some of the greats in the Dodgers organization, are scanned in below. Page 1 might be hard to read, so it leads with this:

For those of us who've grown up with Dodger Blue, it's hard to believe that as late as the 1950s, there was no Major League Baseball in Los Angeles. But it wasn't until April 18, 1958, that the Dodgers played their first game in L.A.

Until that day, the Dodgers had played for 68 years in Brooklyn, and Major League Baseball's most western team had been the St. Louis Cardinals. in 1957, Dodger owner Walter O'Malley had convinced Horace Stoneham, owner of the new York Giants, to move with him to the West Coast, and when the Dodgers beat the Giants, 13-1, in San Francisco on April 16, 1958, MLB entered the jet age.

The Dodgers' move was contentious; very few people across the country thought that one of the best and most storied teams in the major leagues should leave its home. But the baseball fans in L.A., who'd been clamoring for a team for years, couldn't believe their luck. They rewarded the team by setting attendance records all year long, a tradition that has lasted to this day.

To commemorate this anniversary year, we've collected your reminisces of the Dodgers' first 50 years in L.A., and we've asked a few old-timers to reflect on their memories of the team over the years. Their stories follow.

(click on pages for larger images)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Brad Penny Is Going To Hurl

...Just check out this banner ad from the site. What is Penny doing shaded in puke green? What's that bulge on the left side of his mouth? Can projectile vomit travel 60 feet 6 inches?

Diamond Hoggers Gives SoSG An Oscar

A very kind shout-out to Diamond Hoggers, who in the course of their team-by-team preview series, decided to give the "blog of choice" Oscar to Sons of Steve Garvey. Thanks, guys! We really appreciate it!

We'd like to thank our producers, our editorial staff, the Mothers of the Sons of Steve Garvey,....

"TheNaturalMevs" (if that is indeed your real name) also has a separate post about Kirk Gibson's home run, which always is compelling viewing (and reading). Guys, you had us at "hoggers." (And the fact that you extol the virtues of Dodger Dogs + jalapenos. Mmmm.)

The Hoggers also rate the Dodgers against core attributes on a ten-point scale, giving Lineup 7.2, Pitching 8.1, Manager 9.3, Intangibles 7.0, for an Overall ranking of 7.9 (perhaps their formula is an arithmetic average?). Personally, I would have given Lineup a 7.1 and Pitching a 8.2, but I won't quibble. Here's their summary:

This team has the makings of a decent group, but I don't think they're going to win the West. The things that will help them are obvious. A dominant closer, a great manager, speed at the top of the lineup, and having a team that is built to play in their home ballpark. Their downfall will be that they have a bit too much age at this stage in the game. The careers of too many in their lineup are flickering and in decline. I think this is a team that could finish 4 games or so above .500 for the season.

Not exactly the most inspiring words. But didn't everyone pick us to win the NL West last year?

Wait, There's an Explanation

VERO BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 24: Chin-Lung Hu #14 and Tony Abreu #13 of the Los Angeles Dodgers miss the ball as Andre Ethier #16 slides safely into second base during an intersquad game on February 24, 2008 at Holman Stadium in Vero Beach, Florida.

photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Audible of the Night

...goes to whichever Oscar power decided to give Best Original Song co-winner Marketa Irglova a second chance at delivering her acceptance speech after her first attempt got cut off by the orchestra:


From the LA Times:

Why was "Falling Slowly" co-writer Markéta Irglová ushered offstage while accepting her award with singer-songwriter Glen Hansard for best original song from the film "Once"?

As always, that call is made by Cates. After the show, he admitted that director Louis J. Horvitz signaled orchestra conductor Bill Conti by mistake. "The low music was cued accidentally," Cates said. "When I saw it, I asked Jon to please bring her back. It just worked beautifully. It was a very emotional moment."

It's Never About Money. It's Always About Money

Thanks to commenter Bryan for this tip on the Cardinals and Barry Bonds:

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa acknowledged Sunday that he recommended to club brass this offseason that St. Louis sign all-time home run champion Barry Bonds. The suggestion didn't get far.

"What I've said each of the last two years is that when you're looking for somebody dangerous to hit behind Albert [Pujols], Barry was a guy that I thought," La Russa said.

"And for whatever reason, at the general manager or ownership level, they didn't agree that he would be a guy that they thought we should add. I understand. Organization chart -- they're my bosses. That's exactly what happened."

It was the second year in a row that La Russa explored the possibility of bringing Bonds to St. Louis. This time around, the notion didn't get as far as it did a year ago. During the 2006 Winter Meetings, La Russa discussed the possibility with Bonds but found the slugger not entirely receptive.

"I was excited about Barry because I had spent the winter around California that year and I had heard all the things Barry said he wanted," La Russa said. "And so I told him, 'We've got everything you want except money. And you shouldn't want money. You've already got money.' We never got past that."

Seems like Bonds and Clemens are the new Radioactive Twins.


Not so fast? Rays manager Maddon confirms internal discussion about Bonds (AP/

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Koufax at Spring Training...for the Mets???

Remember back when Dodgers management, under News Corporation's leadership, pissed off Dodger legend Sandy Koufax so much he refused to make any Dodger appearances? Well, Dodger management has changed (whether for the better or the worse is debatable), and Koufax is now back to showing up at spring training, helping out and inspiring young Dodgers and Dodgers of the future...

...wait a minute! Koufax isn't just helping out the Dodgers at spring training! Koufax is also helping out the METS! (

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Billy Wagner was looking for a little help and Sandy Koufax was happy to oblige.

Legendary Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax, left, visits Saturday with Mets pitcher Pedro Martinez, right, and Mets bullpen coach Guy Conti, second left, at spring training in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

After getting a call from bullpen coach Guy Conti, Koufax visited New York Mets camp Saturday and spoke with the team's hard-throwing closer.

"I wanted just to talk to him," Wagner said. "I've known Sandy off and on for 12 years. He's probably about the only lefty I can go to and say, 'Hey, what am I doing?' and kind of have somebody I feel kind of connects with me."

Wagner, 36, went 2-2 with 34 saves and a 2.63 ERA last year. He's trying to maintain his status as an elite reliever.

"If somebody wants to get better and they think I can help them, then it's a pleasure," Koufax said. "I don't do it unless someone asks. If I help them, great. If I don't, I tell them, 'This is an experiment. If it doesn't work for you, forget it. It has to work. You have to be comfortable.' I don't have all the answers."

The Hall of Famer also chatted with fellow three-time Cy Young Award winner Pedro Martinez, who received a book in the minor leagues that included stories about Koufax and other famous pitchers. [...]

Koufax and Mets owner Fred Wilpon were high school teammates growing up in Brooklyn. Mets manager Willie Randolph said it's always great to have Koufax in camp.

"To me he's like royalty, man. He comes around, he's like the Pied Piper, guys just gravitate towards him," Randolph said.

Yep, Sandy is royalty...DODGER royalty. And yet here he is helping out a league rival's squad (he already visited the good guys this spring). As if the Mets' pitching rotation wasn't strong enough, Sandy...couldn't you spend more of your time helping out Jason Schmidt instead of Martinez and Johan Santana???

Friday, February 22, 2008

Sweet Trailer

This is an intense trailer for a great game. Unfortunately, Andruw Jones takes a strike, but Furcal is safe, right? Thanks to Sony and GameTrailers.

When Rick Reilly Left SI, He Took All The Photographers With Him

Ever since Rick Reilly abandoned his back page column in Sports Illustrated, they have tried to fill his large shoes with a parade of writers, none of which I have found eloquent or thought-provoking. What used to be a treat, sort of like dessert at the end of a meal, has now become a waste of space, sort of like the waiter who comes back to your table saying they are all out of the chocolate souffle but could offer you a plate of Jelly Bellys.

But even worse than that, Reilly appears to have stolen all the internal photographers from SI headquarters, replacing them with droputs from the Wall Street Journal's portrait department. Now, columnists get their pictures done in a black and white cross-hatch drawing that looks something like a woodcarving done by a guy using a fork on a block of wood. It is not a flattering result.

I've reserved opinion since I never knew what these writers really looked like in the first place. But now, here comes Dan Patrick's line-art portrait. And it looks nothing like him.

Patrick looks sinister, almost...evil?

We all remember what Patrick looked like after seeing his omnipresent mug for years on ESPN. So how to explain this portrait?

A) Patrick's face was viciously attacked by Wolverine
B) Patrick has the chicken pox, so the portrait conversion software couldn't process the scan of his original photo
C) Patrick has long hairs growing all over his face and is in dire need of a shave
D) Patrick's makeup artist at ESPN was simply en fuego (which would mesh with the rumors that he showed up to the set a Juan-Pierre-like three hours before tapings)

I know Patrick's SI contract was for a lot of money. Maybe he can fork some of that coin back over to SI so they can hire themselves a photographer on-site.

Giants May Finish Last in Division, But They Will Finish First in Dreaminess

The California Travel & Tourism Commission has hired Giants ace Barry Zito for their "Inside California" campaign. If you've ever wanted to find out Barry's thoughts on his favorite California haunts, click here!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Pot Calling the Kettle, Well, You Know

Looks like Gary Sheffield is at it again ( This time he is going after Scott Boras, his ex-agent. Seems like Boras is asking for compensation for negotiating Sheffield's 2003 New York Yankees contract, when Sheffield said he had fired Boras before the negotiations and represented himself. Now Sheffield is calling Boras "a bad person." In the press, Boras does seem to be an unscrupulous, money-grubbing, client-losing person, but Sheffield is no saint. Sheffield is the guy who got arrested with uncle Dwight Gooden, pissed off Dodgers management wanting more money, thinks Joe Torre is racist, was named in the Mitchell Report, and thinks Latin players are easy to control saying: "What I called is that you're going to see more black faces, but there ain't no English going to be coming out" ( Huh? Yeah, well Gary, that ain't no English coming out of your mouth too.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Jose Reyes to Go from Really Annoying to Merely Annoying?

From's Spring Training Blog:


Are the Mets about to see a more mature Jose Reyes this season? The electrifying shortstop told reporters Tuesday that he plans to tone down his celebrations this season.

"No more handshakes. People kept saying we got teams fired up when we did those handshakes, so now I want to focus more on baseball," Reyes said, according to Newsday.

The Marlins reportedly took offense to the Mets' excessive celebrations in the final weekend series last year, helping to motivate them to knock New York out of the playoff chase.

"Nobody said anything to me, but it's because of what happened last year," Reyes said, according to Newsday. "That's why I'm taking this year more seriously. In 2006, everybody loved [the handshakes], but now it's different. I'm going to enjoy the game, but I'm not going to do the handshakes with the guys. I don't want people to talk about that. I just want to play baseball. I want to take care of business on the field."

It's been a long time coming, Jose.

photo by Julie Jacobson/AP

Gentlemen, I Want to Thank You For Coming Today

From Diamond:

Jeff Kent in his own words

I've just been reading everything on the Internet and the magazines, and you can't believe half of everything you read. A lot of good talk.

Gentlemen, my frustrations don’t lie with anybody. They lie with wins and losses. You don’t win, and if anybody's not frustrated, they should not be playing this game. There are no frustrations with players. There are no frustrations with management. You hope to build on your mistakes as players and as an organization, too. Those are the things that are frustrating.

Jeff Kent in my own words

Gentlemen, I've just been reading everything on the Internet. And boy are my arms tired. Ha ha! Gentlemen, seriously—reading everything on the Internet takes a long time. That's why I was one of the later arrivals to training camp.

Gentlemen, you have may have read I was frustrated with some of our younger players last season. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact I was mildly irritated. Gentlemen, see what I mean about a lot of good talk?

Gentlemen, one young player, who shall go nameless because he knows who he is, particularly galled me because he was supposed to bring an appetizer to Poker Night. Not a dessert! Gentlemen, how am I supposed to keep a group of teammates interested in a marathon session of seven-card stud with no artichoke dip but four bundt cakes?

Gentlemen, you just can't ingest too much sugar at the beginning of Poker Night. It just doesn't work!

Gentlemen, my frustrations don’t lie with anybody. Instead they lie with a system which tells a rookie it's okay to forego a daily facial moisturizer because he has "natually soft skin." We play in the sun, people! Leathery crow's feet don't play well with the ladies. Trust me on this one!

Gentlemen, I want to thank you for coming today and allowing me to unburden my soul. Who's watching American Idol tonight?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I'm Coming For You, Delino


In fact, I'm lifting weights right now.

--Steve Sax

Pierre Reports Early?

Again from the same ESPN blog, farther down, I saw this post:


And I thought to myself, shoot, six minutes early isn't worthy of an AP story, right? So I continued:

Juan Pierre reported to camp a day early, and said he's prepared to do whatever the Los Angeles Dodgers need from him.


Bowa Will Push Where Donnelly Would Send Into Buzzsaws

From ESPN's spring trining blog, some thoughts on Larry Bowa taking the mantle over at third base, rather than the poorly-calculating Rich Donnelly, who would send Dodgers to their dooms:

Dodgers ace Brad Penny is eager to see new third base coach Larry Bowa get in somebody's face, even if it's his own.

"We damn sure needed it last year. Fourth place," Penny said. "You need somebody to push you. You know Bowa's doing it for your benefit. I loved watching him in Philly."

Penny is fond of former manager Grady Little, but believes L.A. would have been better off had Little or someone on his coaching staff come down harder on the players when mental mistakes were made.

"If we make stupid mistakes, something will be said," said Bowa, 62. "I don't hold grudges, but I get stuff off my chest. I didn't come over here to finish third. I came over here to play in October."

I don't know if the reason Brad didn't feel pushed by Little was due to Little's lackadaisical, stoic managing style, or due to the fact that Penny would bite Grady's head off when he came to the mound. In any event, I'm glad that Penny is psyched for Bowa; Penny ain't that bad of a hitter, and with his girth one better make sure he makes it home cleanly (for the Dodgers', and the catcher's, sakes).

Steve Sax - Appearing Today!!!

Okay, it's a repeat on Sirius, which most of you don't/won't get. And the appearance is from 1991. And it's the Howard Stern show. But if you're in the mood to hear Mr. Sax pontificate on all things rice, hunting, and Steinbrenner, tune in at app. 1pm today for the replay on Sirius Channel 100. Here's some highlights of his interview from the wonderfully titled

Steve Steve said he was actually there to promote the Rice Council of America. He got right into some rice talk and talked about how great it is to cook at home. Howard told him that the Asians are amazing the way they can eat rice with those sticks they use.

Howard asked Steve if he ever nailed anyone famous. Steve laughed and said he never has. Howard asked about the Rice Council again and wondered why they need a council for rice, you either put butter on it or not, that's it.

During a commercial break Steve was talking to Howard about spelunking and hunting and things like that. Steve said that they go hunting for birds and end up eating them. Fred threw in another fart sound and made him laugh hysterically again.

Howard came back from the commercial break and said that he thinks they lost Steve when he went to check out their office door which is filled with pictures of naked women who have sent in pictures of themselves.

Yep, riveting radio. Unfortunately, Howard did not get Sax to take a ride on the Sybian (I'd put a link or pic of exactly what that is, but I want to keep our site S.F.W.)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Is the Negative Press Getting to Juan Pierre?

Juan Pierre, as reported today, from Diamond:

Some people value my game. Some people don't. Some people in LA like it. Some people don't. I know my game is not pretty. I'm not the guy all over SportsCenter....

I know I have to get on base a lot more. I had a disappointing season, and I take full responsibility. I have to improve offensively and defensively.

Ned Colletti, December 6, 2007, from Diamond:

We signed a player that's a great guy and a guy that comes to play every day and a great influence throughout the clubhouse. You know what you’re getting. 195 hits, 60-something stolen bases. The way the 2007 Dodgers performed is not Juan Pierre's fault.

Seems Ned was trying to protect Pierre from the expectations of his outsized contract, and maybe now Pierre is trying to live up to it. The contract is obviously the albatross; Pierre could have easily pointed out that his numbers are on par with previous seasons.

It's all up to Andre Ethier. If he doesn't produce, Pierre gets the starting job.


Again from Diamond:

Colletti on Pierre

He knows I like him.

I think he's a strong asset for the team.

The criticism from a year ago was wrong.

He's a championship-type player.

"Criticism from a year ago?" Which criticism is Ned talking about?


Dodger Thoughts: Andre Ethier Is a Veteran


From Diamond:

Torre on Pierre

He grinds out at-bats and can steal bases.

Certainly you'd like everyone to have a .400 on-base percentage, but that's not always the case.

He's a nuisance.

We want quality at-bats.

I'd have to agree with all four of those statements.

"I'm Sorry, But I Can't Say What For"

What is it with these evasive former Dodgers, pulling lines out of Jason Giambi's playbook and publicly apologizing for transgressions they are not detailing? It's ridiculous.

First came Paulie LoDuca, who said yesterday in the New York Times that he "made a mistake, without saying what that mistake was:

Addressing his inclusion in the Mitchell report for the first time, Nationals catcher Paul Lo Duca acknowledged what he called “a mistake” without explaining exactly what he was apologizing for.

Lo Duca, a four-time All-Star who played for the Mets the previous two seasons, was among the more prominent players cited in George J. Mitchell’s report on drug use in baseball, which was released Dec. 13. That was two days after Washington announced it signed Lo Duca to a one-year, $5 million contract.

“You do something wrong in your life and you get away with it, you still have something inside you that burns,” Lo Duca said. “And it’s been a big relief for me to know that I’ve come to grips with it. That I made a mistake.”

His name appears 37 times in the 409-page report, which said he received shipments of human growth hormone from — and put other players in touch with — the acknowledged steroid distributor Kirk Radomski, a former Mets clubhouse employee. Radomski pleaded guilty in April.

Lo Duca was silent on the matter for more than two months. But Saturday morning, he issued a statement, then held a news conference after arriving at the Nationals’ spring training facility.

Asked whether the Mitchell report was accurate about him, Lo Duca said: “I’m not going to comment on that.”

And today comes Eric Gagne, who must have the same publicity agent as LoDuca:

In his first public comments since the Mitchell Report linked him to human growth hormones two months ago, former Dodger closer Eric Gagne apologized to his family, friends and new Milwaukee Brewer teammates today but stopped short of admitting to the use of performance-enhancing substances.

"I feel bad for my family, what they had to go through. And all my friends. And especially my teammates here in Milwaukee," said Gagne, who spoke for about a minute. "It's just a distraction that shouldn't be taking place. I'm just here to help the Milwaukee Brewers to get to the World Series and get to the playoffs. And that's all I really care about."

Gagne, a Canadian, addressed reporters in both English and French but did not take questions. He did, however, laud baseball's efforts to rid the sport of steroids and other drugs, specifically citing the Mitchell Report in his comments in French.

"Since 2004, Major League Baseball has done everything in their power to clean up the game," he said. "And I think they've done a great job. Right now I just want to go forward. I think Major League Baseball is ready to go forward. And hopefully all the fans are ready to do that."

Mark McGwire has been ridiculed for his "I'm not here to talk about the past" routine before Congress. But I'm not sure how "I'm here to talk about the past, but only in vague terms" is much of an improvement.

Elton John had it wrong--"sorry" isn't the hardest word, it's all the other words afterward that are proving difficult.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Next Evolution of UFC

The mettle of a man is not measured by his heroes, his breeding, nor his education. It's measured by how many five year olds he can conquer. (But you already knew that)


You're one click away from finding out what kind of man you really are, based on your honest answers to a series of Blade-Runner-replicant-exam questions. I lost points due to my never being trampled (though I came very close to being drawn and quartered at an Alice in Chain concert). Not helping matters were my height (short, but taller than Steve Sax), weight (too much), and kick height (too low). But I gained vanquished children based on my tendency to fight dirty.

Not sure how accurate this scale is. I spent a few hours today with my energetic four-year-old cousin, and feel like I was in a triathalon. Sidebar: how many children do you think Barry Bonds could conquer?

"Garbage Can Incident" Explained

From "Dodgers' Kemp works to improve image" by Bill Plaschke at the LA Times (reg.):

Remember last year when [Matt Kemp] was criticized for loudly complaining that a garbage can had been put next to his locker?

"If I see that trash can this year, I'm going to call a press conference with all the writers and say, 'See, I'm moving it without complaining,' " he said.

He pauses and smiles.

"No, no, just kidding," he said. "This year, I'll just move that trash can without saying a word."

That trash can incident was part of the reason that last year's veterans complained about youngsters such as Kemp and James Loney.

The veterans thought the kids didn't respect winning. They thought they didn't respect the game.

The veterans quietly complained about everything from late clubhouse arrivals to dumb baserunning errors to smiles after losses.

Those complaints reached the ears of Dodgers management, whose thoughts reached me, so I wrote a column about the possibility that Kemp would be traded.

It wasn't my idea, it was the Dodgers' idea, yet judging from the angry responses I received, you would have thought I put a "For Sale" sign in front of Kemp's locker.

Overall a nice article by Plaschke.

Nice of him to revisit a controversial subject from last year.

But it's disingenuous of Plaschke to write that because trading Kemp wasn't his idea, that he didn't play a role in encouraging it.

He easily could have written an article about the importance of keeping Kemp despite the clubhouse turmoil.

You can't be a high-profile voice in the Los Angeles sports scene and disavow culpability when people disagree with you.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Let's All Get Our Hopes Up!

From AP notes at


Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Jason Schmidt, a question mark entering spring training, looked impressive in his first bullpen outing Saturday and was all smiles afterward.

"Knock on wood, I hate to even say anything. I was pain-free," he said. "I'm feeling free and easy. Stamina up, arm strength, too. [But] we're not out of the woods."

Schmidt used all of his pitches during the session, split into two segments of 15 pitches each not counting a few warmup tosses.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Welcome Back, Russell

photo by Jon SooHoo/Dodgers

Wii Sports No Substitute for Real Sports

I practice for Wii Tennis by carrying a large boulder under my right arm!

I'm glad the world's scientists are hard at work. From The New York Times:

Children who play sports video games on the Nintendo Wii burn more calories than they would playing regular video games, but not as many than if they played the actual sports, a new study shows.

The research, reported this month in the British Medical Journal, is believed to be the first published study on the calorie-burning effects of the popular Wii gaming console, which was one of the hottest toys this holiday season. Several recent studies have shown that new active video games, such as Dance Dance Revolution and the Sony EyeToy system, encourage more activity than traditional sedentary video games. However, data has been lacking on the new Wii, which has surged in popularity since being introduced in fall 2006.

The Wii is different from sedentary games because it uses a motion-sensitive wireless controller that requires players to simulate swinging a tennis racket or throwing a bowling ball. Dance Dance Revolution requires the player to stand on a pad and copy dance moves, while the EyeToy is controlled as the player moves his or her arms and body.

The latest study, from researchers at Liverpool John Moores University, included six boys and five girls between the ages of 13 and 15. The children were fitted with a calorie-counting monitoring device while they played games on the Xbox 360 and the Wii. The kids burned up to 66 percent more calories playing the Wii than the Xbox, the researchers found. That translates to about 179 calories burned an hour playing Wii tennis compared to 107 calories on the Xbox. At rest, a child expends about 70 calories.

But the most active game, Wii Tennis, fell far short of the calorie-burning effects of the real game. The researchers estimated kids playing real tennis for an hour would burn about 270 calories.

270 calories per hour playing Wii Tennis has still got to beat sitting on the couch watching Spongebob reruns while eating pork rinds. Geez, with our obesity problems in this country? We'll take it.

Next, they're going to tell us that fantasy baseball doesn't burn the same amount of calories as real baseball.

photo: Janene Outlaw/The New York Times

Russell Martin Feels Not Only Fresh, But Also Rooty, Tooty, and Fruity

No, I'm not outing Russell Martin, our star catcher. Rather, I thought Tim Kurkjian's spring training blog was funny for multiple reasons. First, what he wrote in yesterday's blog:

[Dodger manager Joe] Torre is getting to know his players, many of whom he has never met. He met star catcher Russell Martin when the two ran into each other at an IHOP in Vero Beach on Tuesday. Martin went up to him and said, "Hi, I'm Russell Martin." The two talked about the team for 10 to 15 minutes. Martin said he spent the winter on a workout program that helped make him more "explosive." "I feel more athletic now," he said. This coming from the one of the most athletic catchers we've ever seen.

First, it concerns me that Russell had to introduce himself to Torre in order to be noticed. If Torre hasn't had time to take note of Martin since being named manager, he's only overlooking, oh, the most important player on the team. Nice. Secondly, I'm glad that Martin's "explosive" workout regimen includes plenty of IHOP pancakes. I must have missed that scene when they showed the training program in Rocky IV.

Other notes from Timmy K. (why not keep the kitchen references going?):

Jason Schmidt, who missed most of last season with a shoulder injury, "is on the back burner" this spring, said manager Joe Torre. Schmidt rehabbed the shoulder all winter, said he threw off a mound for a first time a month ago and "hopes" to be ready Opening Day, but that's not going to happen. He said the Dodgers are being extra cautious with him this spring. Instead of throwing a bullpen session every other day, he might [throw] every fourth day.

With the signing of center fielder Andruw Jones, Juan Pierre said he's expecting to be moved to left field, a position, he said, he hasn't played "since 1999 in A-ball." Pierre said such a move will require a great deal of work because "in center field, the ball comes off the bat naturally, but in left field, it's slicing and dicing. Plus, there's foul territory to deal with in left field." But, Pierre said, he'll do what he's told. "I'm just trying to get another ring," he said.

One can still get a ring sitting on the bench all year. And after watching The Misadventures of Juan Pierre in center field next year, I'm awfully concerned that he's concerned about left field. Yikes.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Asterisk Ink Darkens, As Does Bonds' Future

UPDATE 9.42P: Whoops, it's a typo! Their mistake. The federal government meant to say he failed a test in November 2000, not November 2001. Yeah, that makes it all better. Original post follows:

ESPN just broke news that Bonds failed a steroids test back in November 2001, one month after he set the single-season home run record with 73*.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Bonds tested positive for steroids in November 2001, just a month after hitting his record 73rd home run of the season, U.S. prosecutors said on Thursday.

The allegation came in a legal filing in his steroid perjury case that referred to Bonds' long-time trainer, Greg Anderson.

"At trial, the government's evidence will show that Bonds received steroids from Anderson in the period before the November 2001 positive drug test, and that evidence raises the inference that Anderson gave Bonds the steroids that caused him to test positive in November 2001," U.S. Attorney Joseph Russoniello wrote.

Hey, Bud, it's awful hard to get fired up for spring training when every single MLB headline is about steroids. Way to go, shoulder-shrugging commissioner.

My Championship Week

Since spring training will soon be taking our hearts and minds, it seemed like the right time to share my experiences over the past week plus. I'm a Giants fan. Not just cause I hate Belichick (which I do). Or because I won money on the game (which I did). I root for the other boys in blue thanks to my Brooklyn-born dad, who got me into James Bond, Woody Allen, and the coolest team in New York.

I've followed them for decades, rooting for them every season at Veteran's Stadium amidst the scariest M.F's on the planet (fans notorious for cheering Michael Irvin's career-ending injury and booing Santa Claus).

I was there at my friend Ross's house, when he'd pop the Famous Fumble (aka The Miracle at the Meadowlands) in the VCR, claiming it was a porn film he just found.

And I was there in San Diego, when Eli played his first game against the city he turned his back on. Wearing my lucky Jason Sehorn jersey, I got to be on the receiving end of 1000s of boos. One decrepit gentleman even held up a homemade "Eli Sucks" sign in front of me ALL NIGHT. Back then, I had a hard time disagreeing with that sentiment. (BTW, not sure how the TV cameras missed a 8 by 11 sign in the back of the second level.)

Giving up a 22 point lead to the 49ers in the playoffs. Getting creamed by the Ravens in the Super Bowl. Ron Dayne. The list goes on and on. And it was all worth it, for that Eli Manning scramble, David Tyree catch, and the dozens of emails and text messages I got. It's been 17 years since the last Super Bowl win, and this time I got to focus on the game instead of getting digits from that cute girl in the Les Miz shirt! I wish all of you such unbridled joy from something that is neither family nor career, and that you have absolutely no control over. Maybe this year will bring another 1988.

Spring Training Is Here, Bonds Is Not

Enough with the Barry Bonds hatred introspection, which I suppose I'll just add to the list of things to bring up to my therapist.

ESPN's Jayson Stark has a nice piece getting us all psyched up for pitchers and catchers reporting to camp, and (no surprise), he mentions the Dodgers and their rivals many times:

Most Intriguing Story, #3: Didn't this used to be Dodgertown?--Say it ain't so. No more spring training drives down Duke Snider Street or Vin Scully Way? No more open-air dugouts? No more street lights disguised as giant illuminated baseballs on a pole? No more living legends leaning against the batting cage on the same, coconut-tree-lined field where Branch Rickey and Walter O'Malley once presided? Progress has never been more overrated than it will be this spring -- when the Dodgers vacate their hallowed, historic spring home of the past six decades.

Having never been to Vero Beach, I have to say I'm split on this. The LA Times reporters seem to have been pressured by the McCourts into writing a cavalcade of "good riddance" pieces trashing the historic spring training site (which as a conspiracy theorist I found both odd and extremely convenient, even at the risk of impugning Ross Newhan with whom I usually agree). But it will indeed be nicer to have the Dodgers' spring training camp closer to Los Angeles next year.

And if everyone is up in arms about losing the street names (Stark is not the first person to lament the loss of all these street names around the Florida facility), why don't we just build a couple of new streets and move the street names? Doesn't seem that difficult to me. Heck, Frankie can even stand to charge higher parking fees for those who want to park on Vin Scully Way. It's a win-win!

Most Improved Team: 1) Mets, 2) Diamondbacks, 3) Cubs--Here's how much of a difference maker Johan Santana is: Before the Mets traded for him, they were viewed as one of the National League teams that had done the least to get better this winter. But drop the best pitcher of his time into this mix, and people start changing that tune, faster than you can say, "Whatever happened to Deolis Guerra?" Can one player really make that much of a difference? Sure. When he's this player. Heck, the Twins went 105-47 when Santana started over the past five years (and only 335-323 when he didn't). So the Mets might go undefeated when he's out there.

Poll tidbit: The Mets got 14 votes from our panelists. The D-backs got 10. And no other NL team got more than three.

No one thinks the Dodgers have improved, which makes me wonder if this poll was taken before the Mark Sweeney signing.

Best Free-Agent Signing: 1) Kosuke Fukudome, Cubs (4 years, $48 million); 2) Hiroki Kuroda, Dodgers (3 years, $35.3 million); 3) To quote one exec, "Was there such a thing [as a good free-agent signing] this winter?"--What a nutty winter. Once we'd finished disqualifying free agents who re-signed with their old teams in this category, the only free agents who mustered any real enthusiasm from our poll voters were guys who came with their own translators. Not that anyone is sure that Fukudome is going to generate the same productivity or electricity as some of his Japanese predecessors. But his left-handed bat is a perfect fit for the Cubs. And we're betting that if there are any curses out there he's familiar with, at least they have zilch to do with goats.

Poll tidbit: All you need to know about this free-agent market is that five players got votes for best and worst signings: Hunter, Francisco Cordero, Pedro Feliz, Eric Gagne and Andruw Jones.

The pressure's on, Andruw. Hope you didn't subsist on donuts and beer dring the off-season.

Worst Free-Agent Signing: 1) Carlos Silva, Mariners (4 years, $48 million); 2) Scott Linebrink, White Sox (4 years, $19 million); 3) Aaron Rowand, Giants (5 years, $60 million)--So many choices for this award. So few places to rank them. But in a category in which 17 (count 'em, 17) different players got nominated, the Silva and Linebrink signings squashed the rest of the field. It's a great country when a guy like Silva -- who hasn't had a winning record since 2005 and has struck out fewer hitters over the past three years than Jake Peavy struck out last year -- can rake in 48 million bucks. But as a whole, no category of fat contracts seemed to offend our panel more than excessive bullpen contracts. And $19 million for Linebrink, whose opponent OPS has swelled from .583 to .678 to .742 over the past three years, made him the bad-bullpen-contract poster boy of 2008.

Poll tidbit: Rowand would never have shown up on this list if he'd gotten, say, a three-year deal. But those fourth and fifth years, which the Giants so charitably guaranteed him, allowed him to edge Cordero, Gagne, Jose Guillen and Jones for that prestigious No. 3 ranking.

Hey, the Giants got a mention!

And have you stopped to realize that Barry Bonds is not on any team's roster? No one wants the all-time home-run leader, one year after he set the record? No one wants the extra attendance virtually guaranteed by his at bats? No AL team thinks that, even in a DH role, he brings more positives than negatives? Seriously, this is shocking.

Hank Aaron was able to find a new team the year after he he broke Babe Ruth's record, and he played two more seasons and hit 22 more home runs. Why doesn't anyone want Barry? (This is a rhetorical question, one need not comment with the answer.) (Oh, what the hell, comment if you'd like.)

The Clemens Aftermath: Bucketed with Bonds?

Much has already been written and analyzed about Roger Clemens’ and Brian McNamee’s day on Capitol Hill yesterday, and I found Howard Bryant’s ESPN piece to be a nice summary and post-mortem. Both Clemens and McNamee ended up sullied, arguably even ruined, but at least McNamee (whose account was corroborated by accounts from Andy Pettitte, Chuck Knoblauch, Clemens’ wife, and the Mitchell report) maintained his credibility in this matter. Clemens, on the other hand, came out looking like a liar who can’t even look in the mirror:

Clemens, meanwhile, revealed himself as incapable of introspection or culpability. When cornered, he attempted to bully, but Room 2154 of the Rayburn House Office Building is not a pitcher's mound and he did not hold the gavel. Not being in control frustrated Clemens, and he did not know what to do.

He avoided accountability for his role in his own drama. At no point during the day did he take responsibility for the direction of his career or the choices he's made. As much as McNamee, by being a signature player in the steroids era, Clemens has been part of a drug culture that has diminished his standing and that of his sport, but he never once acknowledged his part in its, or his, downfall. There was always someone else who should have done something for Roger. Clemens had an answer for everything the committee asked him, and each answer, when sifted to its essence, was that nothing was his fault.

On the stand and under oath, Clemens claimed his protégé and friend, Pettitte, “misremembered” the situation. His use of B-12, which MLB cautioned teams against, was blamed on advice from his late mother. His choice to contact his nanny, ahead of Congress reaching out to her on their own behalf, was “a favor” (as if Congress didn’t have the resources on their own and needed Clemens’ intervention). That he never even knew about HGH until the last month.

Come on. How stupid do you think we are, Roger?

I’m troubled by all of this since I have admired Clemens’ career, his amazing beginning and late-career rebirth, his off-season workout regimen of legend, even his irascible bat-throwing personality that we call “being a ‘gamer’.” And now, it’s pretty clear that it’s all on a mountain of fraud, illegal drug usage, personal denial, and lack of public accountability or personal introspection.

But I’m even more troubled by this when I juxtapose Clemens against Barry Bonds, another purported steroid abuser and liar under oath. I’ve hated Bonds for years—though admittedly admiring his prodigious offensive talents--for the same list of reasons that now bother me about Clemens. Bonds is (allegedly) also a user, he’s also in denial, he lacks public accountability and personal introspection (and is probably even more frosty with the media). Like Clemens, Bonds has played the “victim” card, to extremely poor and ineffective results.

And throw in the fact that Bonds has achieved most of his career highlights as a San Francisco Giant, and it’s easy to see why Bonds is a fitting recipient for boos, for disgust, for even hatred.

If you're a true Dodger fan, I know you have been right with me: up in the top deck, booing Bonds as he emerged from the dugout and walked to the on-deck circle, vitriol spewing from one's mouth during every pitch of the at bat. Uproarious laughter and cheering, with high-fives all around, should Bonds strike out or even ground out to a heavily shifted infield. More booing, but perhaps some pangs of awe, should he take a pitch deep into the night, the ball traveling so fast that it disappears faster than you can gasp. Booing Barry has been such an integral part of Dodger-Giant games, I can even recall debating the Dodger fans' right to boo as if it was mandated by the Bill of Rights.

But now, in the aftermath of the latest round of this steriods debacle, it may be difficult to rationalize how one feels about Clemens today--but it's even harder to wonder how one would have felt about Clemens back then. Clemens was never a Giant, he mostly pitched in the AL, so we didn't get a chance to see him at Chavez Ravine all that much. But if he really isn't all that different from Bonds, isn’t he also deserving of our scorn, our hatred?

And if Clemens had spent the last fifteen years as a Giant, would I have booed just as loudly? Would any of us have booed at all?

Happy VD to All You Sexy Dodger Fans