Monday, June 30, 2008

Game 82 Thread: June 30 @ 'Stros, 5p

Eric Stults (2-0, 0.60) vs. Roy Oswalt (6-8, 4.77).

COMMENTS: The Dodgers ride into Houston following a rare series win this month, facing a team with a nearly identical record (Dodgers are 38-43; Astros are 39-43) and armed with the team's only active arm with a complete game in 2008 (let alone only starter with a winning record). The difference is that the Dodgers are only 2.5 games back of the .500, division-leading Diamondbacks, while the Astros are 10 games behind the Cubs (and in fourth place in the Central). 'Ssuming the 'Stros 'ssent to the Dodgers' 'scent, 'sserting ourselves shouldn't be too much of an 'ssignment, I'm 'ssured. (Sorry for all the apostrophes, but these are your 'stros, maestro.)


From Diamond:

Juan Pierre has been placed on the disabled list after an MRI exam revealed a sprained MCL in his left knee. Jason Repko has been recalled for today's game.

Manny Shows Chacon How to Manhandle Employees

Last week pitcher Shawn Chacon grabbed Astros general manager Ed Wade by the neck and threw him to the ground. Chacon's punishment? Booted off the team.

Saturday Manny Ramirez pushed Red Sox traveling secretary Jack McCormick to the ground:

Manny Ramirez has apologized for pushing the team's traveling secretary to the ground in the visitors clubhouse during a confrontation Saturday in Houston, according to a report in The Providence Journal.

Ramirez had requested 16 tickets from Jack McCormick for Saturday's game against the Astros, the report said.

After McCormick said that might not be possible, Ramirez replied by yelling, "Just do your job," according to Monday's report.

Manny's punishment? Nothing. Oh, that silly Manny! Playful yet smart enough to restrict his assaults to lower-level employees.

Poll: Keeping Up With The Jones

Assuming Andruw Jones does indeed return to the lineup in time for some Carne Asada, I'm going to set the following modest goals for him over the last 68 games of the season:

  • Hit 8 HR's (for a season total of 10)
  • Knock in 25 runs (for a season total of 32 RBI's)
  • Bat 0.230 (which would end his season ~0.205)
  • OBP 0.280
  • SLG 0.350

So I am wondering...if the baseball Gods magically appeared and gave you the opportunity to lock in these numbers for Jones' 2nd half now, or let his season play out as it will, what would you do (let's say keeping him benched is not an option)?:

If you could, would you lock in the above numbers now or let Jones play out his season?
Wow, those number exceed my wildest dreams - lock 'em in!
His career SLG is 0.492. Now that he's healed he can do way better than 0.350 - let him play it out!
Free polls from

Timing of Andruw Jones' Return from DL No Coincidence

The Dodgers' site last evening reported the return schedules for the seemingly endless list of players currently on the disabled list (excluding Juan Pierre, who suffered a knee injury in Sunday's 1-0 loss). And casting a large shadow on that list (literally) is center fielder Andruw Jones:

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers will have some roster decisions on their hands in the next week as a plethora of injured players are expected to return. p>Shortstop Rafael Furcal (lower back soreness) and infielder Nomar Garciaparra (left calf) could return by next weekend in San Francisco, and outfielder Andruw Jones (arthroscopic right knee surgery) is expected back after the All-Star break.


Jones' rehab will include returning to Los Angeles for the weekend to rest before going back to Vegas for eight more games.

Which got me thinking, okay, right after the All-Star Break, which means Jones will return for a three-game road series in Arizona. Why would Jones pick that series for a return? The answer lies in the D-backs' promotional schedule:

But of course, it's Carne Asada Sunday, in which $45 gets you a post-game celebration with food and entertainment! We all know that an $18M salary can allow one to afford a $45 entry fee for a carne asada food spread.

The question is, can Dodger fans afford the return of Andruw Jones, his expansive belly and and his .165 batting average, again dragging down the lineup?

The Race to 0.400 Officially Begins

We can officially begin the 0.400 watch. Halfway into the season, Chipper Jones still sports a robust 0.394 BA, a comfortable 30 points ahead of second-place Lance Berkman. The Dodgers, meanwhile, enjoy a 0.363 BA (Binary Average) after throwing two more binary shrimp on the barbie this weekend. The Dodgers stand a staggering 67 points ahead of 2nd-place Oakland.

All facetiousness aside, I really do find it unbelievable that in almost 1 out of every 3 games, the Dodgers score 0 or 1 runs (the 4 games in which they scored 11 runs bring their Binary Average up to 0.363). While both Jones and the Dodgers need to produce a spectacular 2nd half to match Ted Williams' 1941, it's been a long time since the Chase for 0.400 has been interesting this late in the season.

And for those hoping at some point we'll get tired of these binary musings, well the chances of that happening are about 0 or 1 in 1,000,000.

UPDATE: Inspired by Cigarcow's and Sax's discussion in the Spain post below, I did the research: Over the past 14 years in Euro and World Cup competition, Spain has put up a binary score in 17 of 34 games, for a binary average of 0.500. Time to step it up, Dodgers.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Spain Wins! Spain Wins!

The "Cubs of International Soccer" have finally broken their curse. Despite consistently fielding among the most talented teams, and despite administering perhaps the world's strongest national league, the Spaniards have come home empty-handed in every major international tournament in 44 years. But today they broke that curse in the Euro 2008 finals against the team that not only boasts the most Euro Cup Titles in the tournament's history (3), but also fields the player with by far the best name (midfielder Torsten Frings). ¡Felicidades, España!

And, oh yes...who called it? Who correctly predicted, one week ago, how every game over the tournament's last week would play out (see comments at 2:29pm and 2:30pm here)? Granted, only one of those games might have been considered an upset, but I'll take credit for the amazing feat nonetheless.

And just one more thought - I think the Germans may have lost because they didn't take the game as seriously as they should have. Now, I'm no master soccer tactician, but in the photo below, take a close look at the German player in white to the right...I'm pretty sure that when the ball and an opposing player are that close to your goal, of the many defensive stances players are taught to assume, "standing around picking your nose" isn't one of them:

(click image to enlarge)

Russell Martin Going Overboard with the Pine Tar?

Game 81 Thread: June 29 vs. Angels, 1p

Derek Lowe (5-7, 4.05) vs. John Lackey (5-1, 1.65).

COMMENTS: A series victory against the Angels, with a chance of a series sweep? Last night's gutty shutout performance by The Law Offices of Billingsley, Broxton, and Saito earned the Dodgers a win even when their offense--back to sputtering offense, mind you--can't even muster a single hit (yet still picks up the win!). Lackey has a streak of 13 quality starts dating back to last year; Lowe has been unpredictable of late (3-3 in his last seven starts). If we are to hope for any fallen angels today, Lowe had better bring his A-game--if the last Dodger day game is any indication, the Dodger bats will likely take the day off.

An Appreciation for 6-4-2

SoSG would be remiss if we didn't use this Dodgers-Angels series to call out the fine work done by Rob McMillin over at 6-4-2. The blog itself purports to cover both Los Angeles teams, though that really isn't accurate as McMillin also covers the teams' minor-league affiliates, courtesy of some technical device that is well beyond the fuzzy-weighted educations of the Sons. (Needless to say, if you ever want to see how the next Dodgers' minor league phenom is doing for the 51s or 66ers, 6-4-2 is your place.)

Occasionally, 6-4-2 posts some off-topic posts, with subjects ranging from oil prices to Supreme Court decisions; and recently, one of these "OT" posts got a pretty high level of critical comments in return. To his credit, Rob answered and even published privately-sent emails he received, both positive and negative, and answered points with courtesy and decorum. In an age where mainstream media stalwarts pooh-pooh blogs for lack of editorial control, Rob's approach was noticably measured and professional.

Hey, we at SoSG ain't one to comment on random posts...nor do we apologize for them. Heck, it's difficult writing about a moribund offense every day. And we've got more than one guy on staff!

Rob has been a kind commenter of SoSG from the start, including a ton of encouraging feedback when we were just starting this gig almost two years ago (without even mentioning the bountiful blog revenue streams, either!). Keep up the great work, Rob.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Post-Game 80 Thread: No Hits? No Problem!

The Dodgers became the fifth team in modern major league history to win a game in which they didn't get a hit, defeating the Angels 1-0 on Saturday night.

The Angels' Jered Weaver pitched six hitless innings before he was lifted for a pinch-hitter, then Jose Arredondo pitched the next two innings.

Since the Dodgers didn't have to bat in the ninth, the game doesn't qualify as a no-hitter. It was only the fifth such game since 1900, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

AP Photo/Chris Carlson

Game 80 Thread: June 28 vs. Angels, 7p

Chad Billingsley (6-7) vs. Jered "I'm Not Jeff" Weaver (7-7).

COMMENTS: Okay, so we won last night's game 6-0, with a surprisingly effective performance from starter Chan Ho Park and two--count 'em, two!--home runs from a punchless offense. Before you get all excited, remember that we won the opening game of a series three other times this month, and we went on to win only one of those three series. Me, I'm still concerned about the Red Scare of the AL West-leading Angels; if we are to make like the caption in the above poster, such that "the people and the army are one," can we please gather the resources to drown out the Reds in the crowd and on the field tonight? (That's right, yet another historical-reference Game Thread, brought to you by your comrades at SoSG.)

And thanks very much to SoSG reader John G for his kindness and generosity in offering up tickets for tonight's game!

Friday, June 27, 2008

What Can Cinematic Xenomorphs Teach Us About Young Baseball Players?

"I almost got lost in Andruw Jones!"

Remember in Alien after the chest-burster pops out of John Hurt and disappears into the spaceship? And then the next time we see it the alien is fully grown and ready to kick ass? Well it turns out that kind of rapid development is pure movie magic, and boy am I disappointed our "Baby Blues" haven't undergone a similar metamorphosis in the Dodger Stadium air ducts, ready to pop out and dismember unsuspecting opponents.

Fast starters are the exception, yet every season they make baseball fans drool. In 2006 there was the Angels' Jered Weaver, who started the season 9-0. Last year Chris Young of the Diamondbacks hit 32 home runs. This year, the Reds' Jay Bruce hit three home runs in his first seven games. And these types of exceptions unfairly set the standard for other rookies, especially those labeled "hot prospects."

Why? Because the game works in cycles. Opposing teams make adjustments, and word gets around on how to beat players. Phenoms don't stay phenoms by doing the same thing; they adjust to the adjustments. And so we are all connected in the great Circle of Life. (Whoops, wrong movie.)

Anyway, next time Clayton Kershaw fails to get his first win, or Matt Kemp chases another ball out of the strike zone, or James Loney hits into another double play, just remember these kids aren't part of a parasitoid extraterrestrial species whose spawn springs forth fully-formed killing machines. Rather, they're just employees learning on the job.

Game 79 Thread: June 27 vs. Angels, 7.40p

Chan Ho Park (2-2, 2.83) vs. Joe Saunders (11-3, 3.03).

COMMENTS: Very little positive to say about tonight's game. Saunders is the Angels' ace, leading the team with 11 wins. Park, while performing admirably in any role the Dodgers have requested of him, doesn't look likely to beat the Angels, having lasted fewer than five innings in each of his previous starts. The Angels have a 2-1 record against the Dodgers this year, including Saunders already beating the Dodgers once. Want more gloom and doom? The Dodgers also face Jered Weaver and John Lackey in this series. Enjoy your weekend!

Puzzle Championship Series Rankings Released!

Well folks, the long-awaited first edition of SoSG's Puzzle Championship Series (PCS) Rankings - the world's most prestigious and widely-recognized measure of puzzle-solving prowess - has been calculated and released. So without further ado, here they are:

Rank Player (Wins)
PCS Tour
quadsevens (3)
Loney Fan (1)
erin (1)
benjamin pratt
steve sax
dusto magnifico
chad fonville
alex cora
mike scioscia's t.i.

As you can see, quadsevens is hanging onto the #1 ranking, but the last puzzle has allowed SoSG orel to close the gap.

Although I can't yet reveal exactly how the rankings are calculated, they are loosely based on the PGA and ATP Tour ranking formulas, with some necessary adjustments. Here are a few guidelines:

  • They're as objective as possible, although I sometimes have to make subjective judgment calls.
  • They're based on the results of a rolling 7-puzzle span, which at this time goes back to this puzzle. Thus, the results from this puzzle will no longer count after the next puzzle (the SoSG Quiz isn't considered a puzzle).
  • For each puzzle, the first correct solution submitted garners the most points. The 2nd correct solution gets the 2nd-most points, and all subsequent correct solutions garner the 3rd-most points.
  • Each puzzle is categorized as either easy, normal, or difficult, and a minor adjustment is made to the point totals awarded accordingly.
  • There is a small point award for effort/participation, even if you don't get the right solution.
  • Rankings will be updated and posted after each new puzzle.

And please keep in mind that while it took NASA almost a decade to come up with the BCS Rankings formula, these PCS Rankings were developed by one guy in about 10 minutes. So they might not be perfect and are subject to possible revision, but I think they're pretty good.

Good luck next puzzle!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Torre to Go with Six-Man Rotation

From Ken Gurnick:

It can't be said that Joe Torre won't push the envelope.

After Eric Stults' complete-game shutout Wednesday night, the Dodgers manager said he would go to a six-man rotation until the All-Star break just to keep Stults in it. [...]

He said a sixth starter would allow an extra day of rest for hard-throwers Kershaw and Chad Billingsley, as well as pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, who is expected to return from the disabled list to the rotation next week. Torre said the idea stems from the fact that the Dodgers play 20 consecutive days leading to the All-Star break. When Kuroda returns to the rotation, Chan Ho Park will return to long relief.

Torre said the rotation would be re-evaluated for the resumption of play after the break, depending in part on the uncertain return of Brad Penny from the disabled list.

Game 78 Thread: June 26 vs. White Sox, 12n

Clayton Kershaw (0-1, 4.34) vs. John Danks (4-4, 2.80).

COMMENTS: For the baseball fan on the go, or with a case of ADD, the White Sox can't be beat. Tuesday's game lasted all of 2:05, and last night's game clocked in at a breezy 2:22. Take in today's businessperson's special and you might be back at the office in time to make that 3 o'clock PowerPoint presentation. Just don't get any mustard on your tie!

Kershaw is winless in six starts but sports a nifty 8.07 K/9 rate, good for second among Dodger starters. He also has a slightly less nifty 1.55 WHIP and is averaging less than five innings per start, but patience is the key for those of us rooting for this rare talent. Some Stults-ian run support (the Dodgers have scored 12 runs in Stults' two starts) would be nice too.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A New Low: Pitcher Assaults General Manager

From "Astros suspend pitcher Chacon indefinitely for insubordination" (AP/

HOUSTON -- Astros pitcher Shawn Chacon was suspended indefinitely by the team Wednesday for insubordination after reportedly grabbing general manager Ed Wade by the neck and throwing him to the ground.

Chacon, upset after getting demoted to the bullpen over the weekend, told the Houston Chronicle this problem began when Wade saw him in the dining room before the game against Texas. Wade wanted to meet with Chacon in manager Cecil Cooper's office, the pitcher said.

"I sat down to eat and Ed Wade came to me and very sternly said, 'You need to come with me to the office,'" Chacon said. "I said, 'For what?' I said, 'I don't want to go to the office with you and Cooper.' And I said, 'You can tell me whatever you got to tell me right here.' He's like, 'Oh, you want me to tell you right here?' And I said, 'Yeah.' I'm not yelling. I'm calm."

Chacon said things went downhill from there.

"He started yelling and cussing," Chacon said of Wade, according to a story on the Chronicle's Web site. "I'm sitting there and I said to him very calmly, 'Ed, you need to stop yelling at me.' Then I stood up and said, 'You better stop yelling at me.' I stood up. He continued and was basically yelling."

Chacon said that after Wade told him he needed to "look in the mirror," it got worse.

"So at that point I lost my cool and I grabbed him by the neck and threw him to the ground. I jumped on top of him," he said. "Words were exchanged."

Holy smokes, what an Ron Artest-ian move by Chacon. And to confirm the entire story to a newspaper? That would be career suicide, except this is a sport where the Yankees re-signed malcontent Sidney Ponson out of sheer desperation. Don't be surprised to see Chacon playing in the majors again this season.

Anything But Stultifying

Eric Stults, 2008: 15.0 IP, 1 ER.

photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Proctor Not Hurt. No, Hurt. Optioned. No, to DL

From Diamond:

After being told he was going to be optioned, Dodgers reliever Scott Proctor revealed his elbow had been bothering him for "close to a month," according to Manager Joe Torre. Proctor, who after his last outing vehemently denied being hurt, will undergo a test probably tomorrow. "It happened in New York," Torre said. "'I'm alright, I'm alright.' You love him for his heart...Scotty's that guy who figures in spite of it he can go and get guys out. Has has at times...I don't agree with the thinking (of not reporting injuries). I don't condone that thinking."

Meanwhile, updates on those who make up a disabled list now worth about $74 million...

- Jason Schmidt (shoulder) will resume his rehabilitation assignment with Class AAA Las Vegas on Saturday.

- Hiroki Kuroda (shoulder) will pitch in a simulated game Friday and not make his Saturday start, with Chan Ho Park going instead.

- Brad Penny (shoulder) will possibly need a rehabilitation assignment before returning, and his simulated game is slated for Saturday.

Hall of Fame Unveils New Plaque for Jackie Robinson

Robinson's old plaque read:

Jack Roosevelt Robinson
Brooklyn NL, 1947 to 1956

Leading N.L. batter in 1949. Holds fielding mark for second basemen playing in 150 or more games with .992. Led N.L. in stolen bases in 1947 and 1949. Most Valuable Player in 1949. Lifetime batting average .311. Joint record holder for most double plays by second baseman, 137 in 1951. Led second basemen in double plays 1949-50-51-52.

photo by Milo Stewart Jr.

Game 77 Thread: June 25 vs. White Sox, 7p

Eric Stults (1-0, 1.50) vs. Gavin Floyd (8-3, 3.19).

COMMENTS: They say things happen in threes, and certainly the Dodgers are sporting the Trifecta of Crappiness going into tonight's game: (1) a crushingly bad Interleague record (2-8), (2) a mysteriously elusive offense (scoring two or fewer runs in nine of 21 games this month) and (3) a capably efficient opposing pitcher (Floyd is averaging 6.5 innings per start this year).

So what's a Dodger fan to do? Pass the buck, of course. SoSG AC worked his magic in Sunday's win over Cleveland, but I dropped the ball in last night's loss. SoSG Sax scored some sweet seats for tonight's game and will hopefully relight the torch. Then maybe we can retire this random cliché generator I've been using.

SoSG Crests 300K Hit Mark

Sons of Steve Garvey just passed the 300,000 hit level!

Or, for those of you scoring at home, 299,978 more Dodger hits than Andruw Jones has.

One Week Left to Do Russell Right

"Vote for me or Juan Pierre gets it!"

From "Martin needs votes to help catch pack" at

The Dodgers need their fans' help more than ever after the latest round of All-Star balloting.

For the first time since voting totals began being released in late May, no Dodger ranks among the top five at his position in All-Star voting.

Russell Martin has consistently ranked among the top five vote-getters at catcher, but he dropped below this week in a race that Cubs catcher Geovany Soto is running away with.

Click here to vote! You can vote up to 25 times a day.

photo by Jill Weisleder/Dodgers

At-Game Recap: Congratulations, Jaime Jarrin

In a pre-game ceremony yesterday, the Dodgers honored Spanish-language announcer Jaime Jarrin's 50th year with the team. (You can read an excellent interview with Jarrin at Dodger Thoughts.)

The man of the hour.

Vin Scully offers his best wishes from the broadcasting booth.

Pepe Yñiguez, a representative from the newspaper Hoy and Fernando Valenzuela present Jarrin with a framed jersey.

After Jarrin threw the ceremonial first pitch, Joe Torre was among the first to congratulate him. They stood together the for the national anthem.

Mariano Duncan offers some love.

A hug from Nomar.

Jarrin seemed especially pleased to see Chan Ho Park.

Jeepers creepers, Jeff Kent!

After the top of the seventh inning, Clayton Kershaw tried to high-five Derek Lowe, who walked right past him. Kershaw turned his upraised palm into one of those "You the man!" finger-points.

Which Delwyn Young did. Whoo hoo, free tickets to Universal Studios!

1 Question ... Why?

Why is Maria Sharapova going for this look? If you ask me, the tuxedo top + those arms make her look like a man, baby.

'Nope' Springs Eternal

When opportunity knocks, the Dodgers always seem to be out on the back porch frying burgers with the radio on too loud. Observe:

May 9-11: The then-MLB-best D-backs face the Cubs juggernaut and get swept out of the windy city for their first 3-game losing streak of the season. Finally the Dodgers will gain some ground, right? Nope. The Dodgers suffer their own sweep via the jugger-not Astros and actually lose ground after their subsequent loss to Milwaukee.

May 26-30: The mighty Diamondbacks get swept by the lowly Giants and lose the opener to the even-lowly-er Nationals to cap their first 5-game losing streak. At least now the Dodgers will pick up a few games here. Nope. Dodgers get swept by the Cubs after losing 2 of 3 to St Louis, then lose 3 of 4 to the Mets. Again they lose ground.

June 2-4: D-backs get swept by Milwaukee. While it may be too little too late, at least the Dodgers can make a move here, no? Nope. Dodgers match Arizona's 3-game losing streak at the hands of the Rockies and Cubs.

June 13-15: D-backs win the first game (barely) but still manage to lose the series to Kansas City of all teams. Surely the Dodg- Nope. Dodgers get swept by Detroit to cap a 5-game losing streak and lose ground.

Thus has been the Dodgers' 2008. After the D-backs' scorching 27-15 start, they proceeded to go 13-23. But over that same time, the Dodgers went 14-21, picking up a mere 1.5 games. Put another way: since May 22, the D-backs have lost 18 times on a day the Dodgers also played a game. In the Dodgers' corresponding 18 games, they've come away with 4 wins. If we'd just played 0.500 ball during those games, we'd be leading the division by a game. Now, I probably put less stock in the specific timing of wins and losses than anyone I know, but even I find this frustrating.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Game 76 Thread: June 24 vs. White Sox, 7p

Derek Lowe (5-6, 3.90) vs. Mark Buehrle (4-6, 4.28).

COMMENTS: The White Sox have just come off a disappointing sweep at the hands of their cross-town rivals, who boast the best record in baseball and have all the press in Chi-town. However, we face a starter who Buehrle lost a no-hit bid in the sixth during his last outing, and everyone knows the Dodgers are a sad 2-7 in interleague play in 2008. Can we pull off an second victory in a row off an AL team (something we haven't done all year), and maybe gain a game back against the fumbling Snakes?

On our end, we are again pulling out the stops by sending SoSG Orel to the park to cheer on the blue. SoSG AC worked his magic in Sunday's day game, but he now suffers from third-degree burns from the 110-degree temperatures at the Stadium (free cups of water from Frankie McCourt notwithstanding). Orel needs to do his part tonight and make sure the hot streak continues even if the LA heatwave has abated.

Boffo Biz, Sudser Season, Fan's Patience Ankled

If you have no idea what any of those terms in the title mean, I envy you. 'Cause it means you haven't wasted valuable cells or seconds reading Variety. (But f you want to know what those INFIELD BOX MVP "fans" are typing in their blackberries, click here).

Today marked a departure for Hollywood's favorite rag, as they introduced a special 16-part exploration of LA's other favorite pastime. Or maybe they just couldn't bear writing about The Love Guru.

Dodgers make ultimate pitch:

Fifty years after Walter O'Malley moved the team west from Brooklyn, the Los Angeles Dodgers have become their own branch of the entertainment industry. Even though the franchise is 20 years removed from its sixth and most recent World Series title, ticket sales and team revenues are higher than ever.

In a sense, the Dodgers are the ever-sequeling blockbuster, the showbiz tentpole that keeps on churning through reviews good and bad.

I guess our Boffo vs. Da Bums opened the doors for the most monumental sports/entertainment summit since the Rock/Wrestling Connection.

Off-Day Puzzle #4: Solution

Here, dear readers, is the solution to yesterday's puzzle:

Gold star goes to Loney Fan who was the first to solve it. Following Loney Fan with the correct solution were SoSG Orel, Benjamin Pratt, and stolenmonkey86. Congrats guys and many thanks to all who participated.

General puzzle note: I really appreciate everyone's participation in these puzzles. I truly hope you enjoy them. You may have noticed in my puzzles I often state 'if you think you have the answer but aren't sure, you don't have the answer'. I say this because I think this characteristic is critical for a proper puzzle, that the solution can't be open to various interpretations. Which brings me to this note - via email we received a number of solution attempts, almost all of which can be divided into two categories (the actual solution turned out to be a combination of the two):

  • Wordplay-driven - These solution attempts tried to determined the Giants player to attack based on various 'wordplay devices' - the alphabetic sequence of the names, length of the names, starting letter, etc. While some of our past puzzles (and to some degree this one) are indeed based on wordplay devices, a general rule of thumb is this: if the wordplay device has greater than approximately 1 in 1,000,000 chance of happening by coincidence, it won't be the basis of a strictly word-play puzzle solution. For example, there are only 120 sequences in which 5 names can be ordered, so a puzzle will never be based solely on the alphabetic order of 5 names (if it were, say, 20 names, well that might be a different story).
  • Metaphor-driven - These solution attempts tried to draw a metaphor between Loney's predicament and another situation. The rule of thumb here is if your solution requires broad stretches of subjective interpretation to complete the metaphor, or if your metaphor is based on a single metaphorical comparison concept, you are not on the right track. Any metaphor-driven puzzle will contain several metaphorical concepts tying back to the same greater metaphor so you can cross-verify your interpretation. In this case, there are several: the white and black jerseys, the premise of Loney heading from his safe haven to the opposite dangerous side of town, the names of the Giants invoking the chess pieces (which almost certainly won't occur by chance), their movements in 'distinct and indirect paths,' the use of the 'King' nickname, the fact that Quiñones and Patterson were in position to strike and not the other two, etc. None of these concepts alone would be compelling enough to drive the metaphor, but taken together I feel they most definitely are.

Anyhow, these are general rules I try to abide by, though of course the rules themselves are subject to some degree of interpretation. As with everyone, I do the best I can. Anyhow, thanks again and see you next off-day!

Dodgers Will Allow Poor to Visit Stadium, So Long As City Pays Bill

Sorry this post comes late, but I've been away this weekend and just realized the Dodgers will support reopening a Union Station to Dodger Stadium shuttle service, which pending city council approval might be running as soon as next month.

Now before you get all excited, let's make sure you know what you're getting into. First, according to City Council President Gil Garcetti, fans would be "expected" to "pay a nominal fee to ride the shuttle." Assuming that said nominal fee is below the current $15 hostage tax for parking at the stadium, I suppose that's a benefit to Dodger fans.

And guess who's funding the bill for this? Not the Dodgers. The City of Los Angeles!

Under the plan, the city will cover the estimated $70,000 cost of the program through surplus funds in the transportation department, with the Dodgers responsible for marketing.

So let me get this straight. Ridiculously high gas prices have given our transportation department aberrantly high surplus funds, amidst a city and state in economic shambles and budgetary ruin. And Frank McCourt comes along to pillage one of the few coffers of money that the city's got, in exchange for making Rick Monday remind us of the nominal-fee shuttle during the middle of the sixth inning? ("Friends, did you know that the Dodgers shuttle runs from Union Station...") Why aren't the Dodgers chipping in with a reasonable effort here?

Frank, you're getting $12 for a large beer at the stadium, and probably profiting $11.25. You can pitch in to bring in some extra people to the stadium, who are still going to buy tickets, concessions, and probably a souvenir or two. What you'll lose on parking costs, you'll gain back elsewhere--and at these gas prices, another deterrent to spending a night at the stadium now exists. The Dodgers might want to embrace public transportation before declining attendance embraces them.

The Dodgers are a major league team deserving of a legitimate and affordable public transportation solution. It's time they start acting like a big league team to their fans and their city. Especially when the team on the field isn't playing like one.

UPDATE: A faithful reader (thanks R.S.!) alerted me to a link with more insight into how the Dodgers don't feel like a shuttle service should be on their tab. Yay.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Off-Day Puzzle #4: Loney to Meet His Maker?

Welcome to another off-day puzzle. For today's edition, you'll find below a short, fictional anecdote involving our favorite 1st baseman, James Loney. Please read it through carefully, use your imagination, and try to pick up on the clues that will help you help him escape harm!

Premise: Dodger 1st baseman James Loney (known as "King" James to beloved reader Karina, among others) lives amongst his family and friends in a safe, comfortable neighborhood on the south side of town. One evening he gets the munchies and ill-advisedly decides to head to the dangerous north side of town (perhaps in search of a White Castle?). Dressed in his freshly-pressed home whites, James sets out on foot. Unfortunately, his travels soon take him through unfamiliar territory, and he eventually finds himself in an open and seemingly deserted field. He anxiously trudges on but does not know in which direction to head. He is lost and alone on the north side of town, and nightfall is quickly approaching.

James then hears footsteps in the distance. He looks around and notices four men each several yards away in different directions. All four are clearly watching him, and seem to be slowly moving closer. James tries to retain his cool. He quickens his pace but refrains from running, and discreetly observes his pursuers, nervously glancing at each.

The first thing James notices about them is that while the four men are following him, each seems to be moving in a distinct and indirect path toward him. James then notices that each is carrying a baseball bat. Not a good sign. Then, as the men inch closer, he realizes something else: each man is wearing the hideous alternate home uniform of the arch-rival Giants. Hmmm...very strange, and definitely bad news. It then dawns on him - each man is a former Giants player! He recognizes the four thugs as:

  • Rich Robertson, SF Giants '66-'71;
  • Bob Knepper, SF Giants '76-'80,'89-'90;
  • Luis Quiñones, SF Giants '86;
  • John Patterson, SF Giants '92-'95;

This realization only increases James' fear. He continues his way through the field but before he knows it, the four men have surrounded him and have closed to within arms' length, one at each corner. They are clearly intent on doing him serious harm. James knows he is in mortal danger, particularly when both Patterson and Quiñones raise their bats to strike him down...

Here is a visual representation of James' situation:

Question: Loney must act immediately or likely face an untimely death. His options are:

    A) Run north, between Patterson and Quiñones;
    B) Run south, between Robertson and Knepper;
    C) Run east, between Knepper and Quiñones;
    D) Run west, between Robertson and Patterson;
    E) Attack Patterson;
    F) Attack Knepper;
    G) Attack Quiñones;
    H) Attack Robertson;

What should James do?

Note: Hints available upon request. And as always, if you think you might have the solution but aren't sure, it means you probably don't have the solution. Enjoy!



Hint #1 (11:43am PT): I chose those four ex-Giants for a specific reason, but not related to their positions played, years played, and/or stats. You won't need to solve this one.

Hints #2 & 3 (1:08pm PT): Technically, the existence of the compass is not required to pick the right answer, but it should help you verify that your reasoning is correct. And there's a reason I picked King James to be the protagonist rather than another Dodger.

Hint #4 (2:16pm PT): You don't have to research anything about the players involved, but you do have to think outside the boxes.

Solution: See here.

Additional Note: As mentioned, if you solve the puzzle correctly, you will be certain of it. If so, please don't post the explanation and spoil it for the rest...please instead post that you think you solved it and send us an email with your reasoning. Thanks!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Game 75 Thread: June 22 vs. Indians, 1p

Chad Billingsley (5-7, 3.54) vs. Paul Byrd (3-7, 5.21).

COMMENTS: "Is there a Son of Steve Garvey in the house?" "Why yes, I'm a Son of Steve Garvey." And so it came to be that our very own jet-setting Alex Cora is watching the Dodgers play for the sixth time this season...and only for the second time at home. AC has compiled a 2-3 record in those five games, so both he and the Dodgers are looking to reach .500.

Billingsley is looking to continue his defiance of all things Ohio after striking out nine Reds in his last start. Cleveland starts the soft-tossing but durable Byrd, who is 0-3 with a 3.79 ERA lifetime at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers need a win today to avoid the sweep, so let's hope they squawk! do the Byrd!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Five Things to Blame for this Season

1. Frank McCourt. If it weren't for you, the Dodgers would have Vladimir Guerrero.

2. Ned Colletti. If it weren't for you, the Dodgers wouldn't have Mark Sweeney.

3. Joe Torre. If it weren't for you, Scott Proctor would be out of a job.

4. The NL West. If it weren't for you, the Dodgers wouldn't still have a shot at winning the division.

5. You and me. If it weren't for us, nobody would care about this $119 million, six-games-under-.500, broken-down team. Go Blue!

Game 74 Thread: June 21 vs. Indians, 1p

Chan Ho Park (2-2, 2.95) vs. C.C. Sabathia (5-8, 4.26).

COMMENTS: Today we see CHP versus C.C., you see. (Say that five times fast.) This is Sabathia's first career start against the Dodgers, as he's been busy compiling a lifetime 105-71 record against mostly AL opponents. This is Park's second start of the season, as he's been providing capable long relief for the Dodgers. And if Cliff Lee can make the Dodger bats disappear, as he did last night, then Sabathia is likely to do the same today. Hopefully Joe Torre will start Russell Martin; the Dodgers without Furcal are punchless enough; the Dodgers without Furcal and Martin have less sock than an armless boxer.

Friday, June 20, 2008

"What we've got here is failure to communicate."

Disturbing news from Kevin Pearson:

More on this in the morning paper, but it appears that RHP Hiroki Kuroda, on the DL with shoulder tendonitis, has been dealing with the issue for 3 weeks, which not coincidentely is how long he has been struggling.

What makes this a major issue is the fact that he has been seeing the trainers for three weeks to get treatment and get medication but somehow there was a lack of communication to Joe Torre and Ned Colletti that this may have been a serious issue. He hasn't made it out of the third inning twice in three starts and has a 7.71 ERA since this issue popped up.

Torre, who gets daily medical reports, said he should have realized that Kuroda's name was on the list more often lately than it was early in the season and that the blame fell on him. Trainer Stan Conte, who is not allowed to talk to the media, apparently failed to tell Torre that Kuroda had a shoulder issue.

"If I had paid more attention or inquired a little more I would have known sooner," Torre said. "I don't usually pay attention to guys who go in there on a regular basis. That's my wrongdoing in this case. I probably could have asked more questions, not of him, but from the trainers.

"There are a lot of things where I wasn't diligent enough in going to ask more questions. I'm not trying to find a reason why I wasn't. It's my responsibility because the trainers did their job and documented it."

And to make the lack of communication even worse, neither Torre or Colletti told Kuroda he was going on the DL. The player said he heard it from someone else not involved in the decision making process.

Andy LaRoche Getting In On the Act

Earlier: Hey Ladies..., Jeff Kent's Influence on Russell Martin

Dodgers Publicity Department Kicks It Into Gear

Click here to vote! You can vote up to 25 times a day.

Game 73 Thread: June 20 vs. Indians, 7.40p

Clayton Kershaw (0-1, 3.75) vs. Cliff Lee (10-1, 2.55).

COMMENTS: Welcome back home, Dodgers, a far less-friendly confine (18-15) than the cozy and comfortable Great American Ballpark (4-1); maybe we need to cut out section 25 of the reserve level as well? Tonight's matchup of binary-record pitchers pits with the Tribe's ace vs. the Blue's youth. Let's hope the Dodgers can keep the bats going against the sub-.500 Indians, since interleague play only gets worse from there (White Sox and then Angels). And it's Mesh Cap Night tonight at Chavez Ravine!

I Don't See Any Bloody Sleeve; Schilling Is A Wimp

Curt Schilling is set to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery.

"My season is over and there is a pretty decent chance I have thrown my last pitch forever," he said.

Schilling's physician, Dr. Craig Morgan, confirmed to The Associated Press the surgery will be done Monday in Wilmington, Del.

"If you use a scale of 1 to 10 and 10 is pitching in the big leagues, I'm at about 3 right now," Schilling said.

He added: "I'm going in to make it not hurt anymore."

Spare me the violins, Curt. So sorry that you aren't even at "4" on your scale. We've got Tiger Woods winning a major with a leg broken in two places, Kobe Bryant playing a half a season with a detached finger, and you're hanging it up since you're a little achy? Waah.

Here's a coupon to some Nexcare bandages.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

We Love the Reds

Dodgers' 2008 record vs. the Reds: 7-1 (6 games over .500)
Dodgers' 2008 record vs. everyone else: 27-37 (10 games under .500)

Too bad we can't play the Reds any more this year! Thank you, Cincinnati!

Would You Trade Matt Kemp for a First-Round Playoff Loss?

Those pesky Matt Kemp trade rumors just won't die. From Tim Brown at Yahoo! Sports:

It’s a fluid time of year. Expectations and organizational directions are being reconsidered, some strongly so. The Dodgers, for one, are waiting on Rafael Furcal and Andruw Jones to heal, waiting on Brad Penny and Hiroki Kuroda to heal and then pitch like front-of-the-rotation starters, waiting on their young players to string together some professional at-bats. And, even then, they no longer have the vaguest notion of what a healthy Jones can give them. Actually, they have a strong suspicion, which is worse. As pricy as [Matt] Holliday would be, the Rockies likely would jack up the cost on a trade inside the NL West, and then the Dodgers could watch Matt Kemp become Holliday at Coors Field.

I realize just because Tim Brown is writing it doesn't mean that Ned Colletti is thinking it. And it's a stretch to assume a power bat allows the Dodgers to win the division, as my title suggests. But the point is this year's post-season will be just like that of 2006, with the NL West going one-and-out in the first round. I'd rather let the Diamondbacks take that hit, and keep our homegrown power bat.

AP Photographer Puts On Symmetry Clinic

AP photographer Al Behrman took both these photos at yesterday's Battle of the Blondes in Cincinnati.

Awaiting a Ruling from the Fashion Police

Game 72 Thread: June 19 @ Reds, 9.30a

Eric Stults (2008 debut) vs. Aaron Harang (3-9, 4.10).

COMMENTS: You want a harang(ue)? How about getting its story straight so it's clear who the damn starting pitcher is before game time? The Dodgers also welcome back Eric Stults to the team after he went 1-0 in 2006 and 1-4 in 2007, with a career ERA of 5.75. I was fortunate to have met Eric during last year's cup of coffee, and he's a nice guy (and indeed did kick ass during The Transporter, Crank, and Lock Stock). Let's hope Stults opens a can of whupass on the Reds today and we get a much-needed sweep.

Post-Game 71 Thread: Kent Gets Backhanded Compliments from

Hilarious preview of today's game, compliments of Basically, the article sets Kent up like he's going to be commended, and then drops the hammer in a not-so-subtle way:

CINCINNATI -- Jeff Kent hasn't been kind to the Reds throughout his 17-season Major League career -- batting .308 against them lifetime -- and he hasn't been much nicer in this series.

The second baseman went 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored in a 3-1 win over Cincinnati on Tuesday night. He singled in the fourth and scored Los Angeles' first run of the game, singled in the sixth and doubled in the eighth to give the Dodgers an insurance run down the stretch.

Not so bad of a start, right? You're feeling good about Kent's performance, career and on Tuesday night. But wait:

That performance raised his batting average nine points, from .243 to .252.

.252, huh? You mean, right about Luis Maza's level? Or thirty points behind Slappy Pierre? Gee, that's great. And it continues:

He went 0-for-3 on Wednesday but reached base when he was hit by a pitch during the first inning.

Translation: "Though he didn't contribute another hit on Wednesday's game, dropping his average to .249, he did get on base after he was plunked by the erratic Bronson Arroyo. Thanks for playing, Jeff!"

Luckily for Brandon Harris (author of the article), Kent is well-known for being a likable personality around the clubhouse. Good luck getting that interview tomorrow, Brandon.

Poll: Sometimes Bad Is Bad

Who will end the season with the lowest batting average?
Mark Sweeney (currently 0.113 in 53 AB's)
Angel Berroa (0.154 in 26 AB's)
Chin-Lung Hu (0.159 in 107 AB's)
Andruw Jones (0.165 in 133 AB's)
Gary Bennett (0.190 in 21 AB's)
Free polls from

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Game 71 Thread: June 18 @ Reds, 4p

Derek Lowe (5-6, 4.03) vs. Aaron Harang (3-9, 4.10).

COMMENTS: says we're facing either Harang (one win in his last six starts), or possibly Bronson Arroyo (4-5, 5.31). Either way, we're taking our chances sending Lowe out there on three days' rest after Brad Penny and Hiroki Kuroda wreaked havoc on the rotation with separate injuries. Lowe, perennially a victim of poor run support, has to be on his game since the Dodgers' bats likely won't back him up. On the bright side,

[Hi everybody, Orel here. This is where Sax's Game Thread ended. I'll pick it up from here.]

On the bright earth continued rotating on its axis today. Enjoy the game, everybody!

Billingsley-Kershaw the Next Koufax-Drysdale?

Chad Billingsley is underrated and underappreciated, argues Andrew at True Blue L.A., and it's hard to disagree. Clayton Kershaw, on the other hand, has been well appreciated this season. Billingsley is 23. Kershaw is 20. If the Dodgers have got you down right now, think to the future.

I know, we've been thinking to the future for the past 20 years. But when was the last time the Dodgers have had two homegrown talents ready to anchor the rotation for years to come? Most of the Dodgers' recent pitchers of note, from Hideo Nomo and Kevin Brown to Brad Penny and Derek Lowe, have come from other teams (or countries).

Look at the ages of the NL West's premier pitchers: Brandon Webb is 29, Dan Haren is 27. Jake Peavy is 27. Matt Cain is 23, but Tim Lincecum is "already" 24. Yesterday's stellar outing by Billingsley shows what he's capable of, and don't worry about Kershaw's 0-1 W-L record—I'm looking at you, Steve Lyons. Once Kershaw starts getting some run support, he'll pile up the wins.

Billingsley & Kershaw. Kershaw & Billingsley. Get used to saying it, because (unless the front office pulls a Kazmir-sized boner) we'll be cheering both of them for a long time.

Billingsley photo by Jon SooHoo/Dodgers
Kershaw photo by Duane Burleson/AP

Gø B1ue!

A few weeks ago, I stated that "while I don't know this 'percentage binary' figure for the other teams, I'm willing to bet the Dodgers are tops in the league".

Well, I decided to research it and this is what I found (through Monday's games):

(click graph to enlarge)

Sure enough, the Dodgers are far and away tops in the league, with 26 of 69 binary games (38%). In a very distant second, third, and fourth place are Oakland (28%), the Chicago White Sox (26%), and San Diego (26%), respectively. Even if you take away the four binary games in which the Dodgers scored 11 runs, it's still not even close.

P.S. I just noticed that this inadvertently serves as a good companion piece to Sax's post below. Our messages are aligned: the Dodger offense sucks.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Dodgers' 3-1 Win Further Solidifies 16th Place in NL HR

I'll try to keep better running statistics on this, but after today's game (a 3-1 victory over hapless Cincinnati, ending a five-game losing streak), the Dodgers remain at 46 home runs, good enough for 16th and last place in the NL. They remain 3 HR behind Washington and 4 HR behind San Francisco, neither of which homered tonight (nor did the Dodgers).

To further put this in perspective, we have fewer than half as many home runs as the league-leading Marlins and Phillies (tied with 103).

On the other side of the table, our ERA ranks fourth in the NL (behind the Cubs, Braves, and Phillies) at 3.96; however we also lay claim to the 16th-most saves in the NL with 10 (counting tonight's save by Saito; we have one fewer save than the Braves).

Jason Kendall Leading Russell Martin in All-Star Voting. Seriously

Click here to right this wrong! You can vote up to 25 times a day.

Pitching Staff Falling Apart

Brad Penny to 15-day DL, Eric Stults recalled (Tony Jackson)

Kuroda to undergo MRI (Diamond Leung)

Game 70 Thread: June 17 @ Reds, 4p

Chad Billingsley (4-7, 3.71) vs. Johnny Cueto (5-6, 5.42).

COMMENTS: Good: The Dodgers have won five of six from the Reds this season. Bad: The Dodgers have lost five straight coming in to today's game. Good: Billingsley is the closest thing we have to an ace; look beyond his W-L record because he's second in the majors with an amazing 9.50 K/9 rate. Bad: The Dodgers have scored one run or less in seven of their 14 games this month.

Although the Dodgers need a series win against the last-place Reds, they have to take the Lakers' approach and play it "one game at a time" (quotes because it's a cliché, but also true). Prediction: If the Dodgers score at least four runs today, they'll win.

The Burden of Manny Mota

I had no idea about this. Then again, neither did Jon Weisman, so I don't feel so bad. From "Foul balls are a scary part of baseball" by Kevin Baxter at the LA Times:

It happened more than 38 years ago, yet Manny Mota still can't bring himself to talk about it.

"It's very difficult," the Dodgers coach and former All-Star outfielder said. "It brings up bad memories."

"It" was a foul ball Mota lined into the seats down the first base line at Dodger Stadium during the third inning of an otherwise uneventful mid-May game against the San Francisco Giants in 1970. But what made this foul ball different from the thousands of others Mota hit into the stands during his 20-year big league career was that it hit a 14-year-old boy in the head, just above his left ear.

Five days later, the boy was dead.

"I felt guilty because I hit the foul ball," Mota said quietly in Spanish. "And a young boy lost his life."

Mota is the longest-tenured coach in Dodger history, having spent 29 years with the organization. And this may be a case where a job is more than just a job. After the tragedy, Mota could have left the team and the sport behind to try to escape his guilt. Instead he stayed—and ended up staying much longer than most. Is this career longevity a kind of penance, or protection, or both? (Or maybe it's just a job, lest I get too carried away.)

We'll never know why Manny Mota stuck around, but I'm glad he did. I also know from now on whenever I hear his name, I'll think beyond all the pinch hits to a man on the field and a family off it changed by the game of baseball in a way fans could never fathom.

Mets Fire Willie Randolph Classlessly

There are shitty ways to fire people. And then there's completely classless ways to fire people that deny them any shred of dignity that their tenure, service to the organization, or even common courtesy to a fellow may merit or deserve.

Today, at 3:15a ET, after the Mets beat the Angels in a meaningless interleague road game 3000 miles away, Mets GM Omar Minaya fired manager Willie Randolph. It was probably an impersonal phone call, if not a text message devoid of vowels to meet the 160-character limit. This sort of cowardly move to avoid the morning papers and the crush of New York media might have worked in the 1950s, but in the age of the internet, word travels. And early public opinion on the nature of the move (if not the move itself) is largely negative.

And with that, a good man (and debatable coach--but irrespective, by all accounts a good man and class guy) is gone. The man who would have been a coach at the MLB All-Star Game less than one month away. Well done, Omar.

It's also interesting that a team with a bloated payroll has fired a coach who took them to the playoffs in 2006, saw them collapse down the stretch in 2007, and is sputtering in the first half of 2008. And the Mets are only one game below .500, or three games ahead of the seven-games-below-breakeven Dodgers.

You listening, Joe Torre?

Off-Day Puzzle #3: Solution

Question: Where should Clayton Kershaw live? Answer: In Apartment Complex "B", with the Dodgers! Each complex and its tenants is a veiled representation of an NL West team and its starting rotation, as per the initials of the tenants:

Complex A ≡ Diamondbacks
  Barry Williams ≡ Brandon Webb
  Dustin Hoffman ≡ Dan Haren
  Michael O'Keefe ≡ Micah Owings
  Raul Julia ≡ Randy Johnson

Complex B ≡ Dodgers
  Harvey Keitel ≡ Hiroki Kuroda
  Bill Paxton ≡ Brad Penny
  Denis Leary ≡ Derek Lowe
  Christian Bale ≡ Chad Billingsley

Complex C ≡ Giants
  Ted Levine ≡ Tim Lincecum
  Macaulay Culkin ≡ Matt Cain
  James Spader ≡ Jonathan Sanchez
  Billy Zane ≡ Barry Zito

Complex D ≡ Padres
  Robert Wagner ≡ Randy Wolf
  Gabriel Macht ≡ Greg Maddux
  Chow Yun-Fat ≡ Chris Young
  Jason Patric ≡ Jake Peavy

As per my 3rd hint, I wanted to be complete and include all 5 NL West teams, but alas I could not find a Hollywood equivalent for Rockies starter Ubaldo Jimenez.

Quad "The Puzzle Yoda" Sevens (I'm willing to bet that five-word sequence has never before been uttered in the 14 billion years of the universe's history) once again solves this one - this time after the 2nd hint - and SoSG's own Orel after the 3rd hint. Congrats guys.

Next puzzle June 23!

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Penny These Days Can't Buy A Bat

...especially when said Penny, as in Brad Penny, may have a shoulder injury. Reports's rumors section:

According to ESPN's Peter Gammons, the Los Angeles Dodgers had internal discussions about trying to deal Brad Penny for Yankees' second baseman Robinson Cano, but recent shoulder problems have likely rendered Penny untradeable.

I don't know if Cano would have been that great of a bat in a lineup--but given this particular lineup, it would probably stand out.

Paging all NNEERRDDSS!

Unlike Friday Night Light's irascible Buzz Bissinger, the Dodgers love their bloggers, occasionally plying them with luxury box tickets, face time with the owners, and massive sandwiches! And now, they want more of us.

I'd encourage all our readers to take the opportunity and start their own blogs, but I'm pretty sure EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU already does. (Except for one blonde Italian friend of mine out of NYC). And am I the only one who tried to find the site "touch 'em all" and accidentally wound up on "To Catch a Predator?" (Out of fairness to Ms. Milano, the real site is here)

PS The De-lino was actually in De-Troit. Would have posted more, but Palm Treo c-blocked me. (Look for my next posting: "Delino Gets a Palm Centro!") I also hit Cleveland, Pittsburgh and, in an act viewed as a sacrilege to the baseball season, the Football HoF. Details to come.

Father's Day On-Field Recap

During the doldrums of a losing season (Doldrums? Check. Losing season? Check), a change in perspective can help you appreciate your favorite team in different ways. For instance, the collapse of last year's Dodger team was chronicled in our first full year of SoSG; we all shared in the misery through our blog instead of angry mass e-mails. Progress? You decide.

So far this year's team has been equally dismal, yet some of us were lucky enough to experience something completely different with the Dodgers' VIP treatment on Blogger Night. Yesterday's Father's Day event at Dodger Stadium comes in a close second to Blogger Night but was definitely better in one way: It was open to the public!

Our party, including Sax and me, arrived at 10 a.m. The event was well-staffed, including the cheerful people handing out free foam baseballs for our throwing pleasure. The center field gates were open and onto the field we strolled. Little did I know I was about to be blown away.

I was completely unprepared for the emotion of the moment. First of all, the grass. It's perfect. It's short and dense and green and wow. To the Dodger Stadium greenskeeper (perhaps Eric Hansen, Assistant Director, Turf and Grounds?): (1) I'm sorry hundreds of people walked on your field today, and (2) congratulations.

Before yesterday, I had never taken a stadium tour or done one of those stadium sleepovers or otherwise come close to stepping on the grass of Dodger Stadium. Having spent my entire life rooting for the players in this stadium, it never occurred to me I would ever see the field from their perspective. And suddenly here I was in the Dodger Stadium outfield, surrounded by people playing catch as if this were any other Sunday:

There are precious few things in life that make me feel like a child again. This was one of them.

Dodger management had thoughtfully broadcast the Dodgers-Tigers game on Diamond Vision, so we could watch Clayton Kershaw collecting another no-decision. I chose to walk around the field, amidst a sea of flying foam baseballs, to soak in as much as possible from my new standpoint. It was somewhat surreal, like being fully aware in a dream—and feeling you were going to wake up at any moment.

The infield was gated off, maybe because of the giant red boa constrictor sleeping on the pitcher's mound. Oh wait, that's a hose.

The warning track dirt reminded me of the famous "red dirt" on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. I did not attempt to dye any T-shirts with it.

The visitors' bullpen was closed but the home team bullpen was open for people to pitch in. No gnome sightings but the deer is still there.

No, thank you! Seriously, kudos to the McCourts for this event, which is in its fifth year. And I'm going to go ahead and thank Josh Rawitch, because be probably had something to do with it as well. And if you're childless and thinking of going next year: Get crackin' now and for Father's Day 2009 you just might be able to bring a three-month-old!


Josh replies at Inside the Dodgers (thanks for the link!):

And while I appreciate the kudos, I can't take credit for this event...there are a ton of hard-working people in the front office who put this together for the fans and they deserve it far more than me. In fact, I didn't even make it down this year, as my daughter can't quite throw yet.

That Josh. Modest as always!

photo #4 by Jill Weisleder/Dodgers. Hi Jill!