Monday, March 31, 2008

Opening Day Win!

Game 1 Thread: March 31 vs. Giants, 1.10p; OPENING DAY 2008!

Barry Zito (0-0) vs. Brad Penny (0-0).

COMMENTS: SoSG will be at Dodger Stadium today by around 11am, field level, behind third base. Leave a comment on this Game Thread if you'd like to say hi, and maybe we can grab a $8.00 beer together and check out the all-new wider concourses (and hopefully, shiny new urinal troughs in the bathrooms!).

Coliseum Exhibition Game, from Left-Center Field

Oh, what a night; Frankie Valli would be pleased. Left-centerfield looks amazingly short from this angle.

Thanks to the fan who sent in this shot, from SoSG!

The Adventures of Dodger Duck: Episode 2 / The Final Four in NYC

Dodger Duck was so worn out after watching UCLA's run to the Final Four this past weekend, he needed to take some time to walk around town. First, he left his humble room in the New York St. Regis hotel, hopping next store to look at some characters from FAO Schwarz NYC (he's got a thing for that Hermoine):

But more importantly, after seeing the Bruins dispatch Xavier and be the first team to reach the Final Four, Dodger Duck needed a good glass of wine and a great steak dinner. Witness a floppy Dodger Duck right before he enters Smith and Wollensky's steakhouse in Mahnattan:

Go Bruins! And hopefully Dodger Duck has recovered in time to catch today's game at the Stadium (nice to have a private jet, he might add).

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Ultimate Dodgers Housewarming Gift

Got this from a good friend in anticipation of my upcoming move to a new house. Man, the Dodgers sure know how to license that logo! And it feels like a pretty solid hammer, too...

The gift-giver happens to be a lifelong Cubs fan, so I know he can appreciate that I'll get more hits with this hammer than poor former-Cub, current-Dodger Juan Pierre.

After Orel's last post, I actually feel bad about writing that last sentence. Strike that out about Pierre.

Wait, that's not right either.

Hang in There, JP

From Kevin Pearson at Diamond's blog:

You really have to feel for Juan Pierre. First he looked like his dog died before the game when he found out he would not be the starting LF, and then he was flat-out embarrassed on the field just now.

Pierre hit a single through the right side, but then was immediately picked off. He did not even make a move back to the bag and honestly looked as though his mind was off someplace else and he didnt even realize there was a baseball game going on.

You know this has to be tough for him, losing his spot, and the Dodger fans certainly were not helping. He was booed as he trudged back to the dugout and one heckler yelled "Go back to Florida, please" as though he were begging.

Always a classy guy, Pierre just looks like his heart is broken right about now.

Dear Juan,

While we believe Joe Torre made the correct decision in naming Andre Ethier the Dodgers' starting left fielder, we also believe you don't deserve the venom that's been spit at you this spring. As long as you're wearing Dodger Blue, we want you to succeed. And although you're unused to a bench role, we're certain your professional pride will ensure you play as hard as you did as a starter.

Plus, given how things are going this spring, don't be surprised if Andruw Jones and Matt Kemp collide with each other out there in right center. Hey, you may be a starter again before you know it.

Best,
Orel
Sons of Steve Garvey

UPDATE:

As usual, Jon Weisman says it better—and with a historic burger joint reference to boot:

At least in terms of what's been printed, Pierre doesn't voice any recognition that everyone realizes he's exactly the same player he has always been - but that what's happened is three better outfielders have come along. It's as if Bob's Big Boy weren't able to understand why people have started to buy burgers elsewhere, even though it's still got the same ol' Bob's Big Boy statue outside it always has. Pierre can't, at least publicly, acknowledge the fact that you can now get a better burger elsewhere.

Dammit, now I'm hungry.

Dodgers Win Red Sox Series, Yet Most Fans Paid to See Them Lose This Weekend

DODGERS 8, RED SOX 0

Dodgers' Spring Training record: 11-18-4

Glad to Be Wrong: Ethier Is Starting LF

Congrats, Andre! From Tony Jackson:

Joe Torre broke the news to Juan Pierre this morning. "He just said 'OK,' but I know he is disappointed, and that's fine," Torre said. "You don't want a guy sitting on your bench who just accepts being on the bench." Torre said JP will be a regular bench player, pinch hitting, etc. "Before it's all said and done, we're going to get contributions from a lot of people," Torre said.

Joe Torre makes his first controversial decision, and it's the right one. Things are looking up after the Dodgers' dismal spring training.

earlier: An Ethier/Or Situation, Speed vs. Power

We Love Ya, Vinny!

Vin Scully waves to the crowd during a ceremony honoring him before last night's Coliseum game.

AP Photo/Branimir Kvartuc

Saturday, March 29, 2008

While You Were at the Coliseum, I Was Watching THIS!!

Ah, the joys of expected parenthood!

Only in L.A. Does This Make Perfect Sense

Former Laker Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is flanked by actress Pamela Anderson and actor Billy Crystal as they watch the Red Sox and Dodgers' exhibition game at the Coliseum in Los Angeles Saturday.


AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian

Dodgers Lose Coliseum Slugfest

"It is a meaningless game that is so full of meaning." —Vin Scully

RED SOX 7, DODGERS 4

Dodgers' Spring Training record: 10-18-4

Dodgers Parking Underscores Elitist Front Office Attitudes

Nice article from Steve Hymon on Friday summarizing the parking problems around Dodger Stadium over the past year. For those of you who haven't followed this issue, one of this blog's favorite issues (search "parking" on the sidebar for earlier articles), Frank McCourt overhauled the entire Dodger Stadium parking system last year, leading to a disastrously snarled Opening Day as well as dozens of messes thereafter. Hymon recaps last year's Opening Day catastrophe and McCourt's grossly ineffective system:

Opening Day in 2007 has already gone into the record books as one of the worst traffic days in stadium history. A new parking system, requiring fans to park and exit in certain locations as opposed to picking their own spots, led to epic gridlock.

"Leaving the game was like walking out into a war zone," McArthur recalled of her two-hour journey out of the stadium parking lot. "There was literally nowhere you could go."

The Dodgers, for their part, like their parking prospects this year, pointing to a lineup featuring 1,000 new spaces, which were created when some landscaping between lots was removed. As for the team, they play host to the world champion Boston Red Sox at Dodger Stadium tonight and Sunday afternoon, followed by the regular season opener Monday against the division rival San Francisco Giants.

Hymon goes on to discuss how tonight's Coliseum game will be supported by free shuttle service from Dodger Stadium, as well as a number of public transportation options that the Dodgers have (to their credit) repeatedly publicized (knowing that 110,000 fans will make Exposition Park quite a jam this evening). But then the article gets interesting, as Hymon asks a Dodgers representative the painfully obvious question: why not restore bus service to Dodger Stadium, making it publicly accessible for its fans (and joining almost every other major MLB team of note):

The bus service to the Dodger game is the exception, not the rule. Once the season begins, the Dodgers will remain one of the few teams in the Major Leagues without mass transit serving their stadium.

The other big league parks in California -- in Anaheim, San Diego, San Francisco and Oakland -- are next to rail lines. And the stadiums for the Padres and Giants were deliberately built with a limited number of parking spots, many of which are expensive, to encourage people to take mass transit. The Angels' ballpark is next to a Metrolink and Amtrak stop, although train schedules aren't coordinated with game times.

Conversely, the Dodgers have more than 16,000 parking spaces, more than enough for most games. Buses used to stop behind left field, but service was suspended after the 1994 season because of transit budget cuts. In 2004, low ridership prompted the team to suspend the shuttle service it provided that year on Friday nights from Union Station.

City and county transportation officials have said they don't have the money to add new routes and that altering existing ones would inconvenience other riders. So the closest bus stop remains on Sunset Boulevard, down the hill from the park.

And the Dodgers aren't willing to foot the bill for new service.

"We think this should be done by the public," said Howard Sunkin, the team's senior vice president. "We've spent in excess of $150 million to restore the stadium, with more to come, and our fans are looking for public transportation."

So what Howard Sunkin is saying is, screw the public, we're not paying for public transportation options--and he's hiding behind the $150M stadium refurbishments as a weak shield. But let's look into that $150M:

  • The majority of that money has gone toward additional "luxury box" seating, as well as two exclusive clubs with special eating options not available to the normal ticketholder;
  • That $150M includes the cost of redoing the luxury box seating after only one year, as the sightlines were awful and ticketholders who paid the hefty fees complained (in fact, the only reason why "luxury boxes" exist in the first place is there isn't enough elevation to add additional rows of seats, without having each fan starting right into the back of a head);
  • The source of that $150M isn't the McCourts' noblesse; rather, Dodger ticket prices have increased by more than 100% in most areas, and parking prices have almost doubled as well from $8 to $15 since the McCourts took over--and by the way, even the people in the cheap seats are feeling the sting of higher prices.

Sunkin's haughty, elitist response is absolutely absurd and further reinforces how the Dodgers organization is out of touch with the common fan. Offering a public transportation option is more than a simple economic calculation; it's a business responsibility for a quality major league team that wants to take advantage of its large market fanbase. And it's not like the fans who are interested in taking the bus are net losses--not after buying $8 glasses of beer and $5 Dodger Dogs.

It's striking that the Lakers, with fewer lower-priced seats available, carry a strong passion among the full spectrum of income classes in this city, especially since most people can't even afford to go to a game (and if they do go, they are so high up in the nosebleeds of the Staples Center that they need oxygen tanks to breathe). Meanwhile, the Dodgers--who have no shortage of seating options for most games--can't find a way to fill extra seats that are otherwise going to sit empty for games.

Get in touch with the fans, Dodgers, and underwrite a couple of buses here and there. Those fans will reward you with concession and souvenir sales and attendance records, and may even give you a shot at returning this town to being a Dodger town rather than the Laker town it has been since the late 1980s. Be nice to your fans--all your fans, not just the rich ones--and they'll be nice to you. Do the math.

Bills Rebounds in Win Over Red Sox

DODGERS 3, RED SOX 1

Dodgers' Spring Training record: 10-17-4

Friday, March 28, 2008

SoSG Needs Your Help for the Coliseum Game

Talk about stars aligning. The staff of SoSG has a horrible problem in which all of us, for different reasons, will be out of town or taking vacation on March 29, so none of us will be able to attend the Dodgers / Red Sox game at the Coliseum on Saturday.

One of us will be on the east coast. One will be in the midwest. One will be at the Phoenix Regional cheering on UCLA. One has a wedding. One has a bar mitzvah. One will be recovering from an emergency appendectomy (and he doesn't even know it yet, which is going to be quite a hoot!). And the final Son is too addicted to Guitar Hero III to leave the house (much to his mother's dismay, as she'd like her basement back).

So here's where we need your help. Please, please send us your pictures of the event and we'll post what we can, with our usual snarky commentary. If you want to send your take on the event as well, we'd appreciate it and might even publish a quote or two. Everything submitted might be published on the blog. Just follow the link on the sidebar, under "Email us".

Thanks, o' faithful SoSG reader, we appreciate it. And hve a great time at the game; we wish we were there with you...

Blue World Order?

This week's Sports Illustrated unveiled its annual pre-season Player Value Rankings (PVR), in which they rank each MLB player from #1 (A-Rod) to #425 (Brad Ausmus at #406 was the lowest I could find) based on their projected performance this season.

Let's see how the pecking order of the Dodgers' primary position players is shifting compared to last season (Matt Kemp is omitted as he wasn't ranked in '07):

(click on graph to enlarge)

The biggest positive movers are, no surprise, youngsters James Loney (up 184 spots to #58) and Russell Martin (up 86 to #32). These two take over the top two spots on the team from Rafael Furcal and Juan Pierre. But ageless Jeff Kent also fared well. The 40-Year-Old Vergin' on joining the 1,500 RBI club moved up 42 spots to #73.

On the flipside, Nomar plunged 98 spots to #201 and Pierre is down 66 to #133. And while Andruw Jones would have been the top dog on last year's Dodgers, his poor '07 dropped him to 4th on the '08 team.

Of course these are only one magazine's pre-season surmisations. In a couple months it could be a whole new ballgame.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Coliseum Exhibition Game to Set New Dodger Parking Price Records

According to the Dodgers' own press release, parking around the Coliseum around the USC campus will cost $25, a $10 increase over Dodger Stadium parking prices last year.

Parking on the USC Campus will be available at five gates. Lots open at 8 a.m. with each slot costing $25.

  • Gate 1 – Enter at Exposition Blvd. and Watt Way (just East of Menlo Blvd. on north side of Exposition Blvd.)
  • Gate 3 – Enter at Figueroa Blvd. and McCarthy Blvd. (across from Radisson Hotel on west side of Figueroa Blvd.)
  • Gate 4 – Enter at Jefferson and Royal (immediately East of Hoover on south side of Jefferson)
  • Gate 5 – Enter at Jefferson and McClintok (just East of Vermont on the south side of Jefferson Blvd.)
  • Gate 6 – Enter at Vermont and 36th Street (across the street from Togos on the east side of Vermont)

Hopefully Frank doesn't get any more parking-rate-increase ideas for the regular season.

To be fair, the Dodgers are also offering free parking at Dodger Stadium and a complimentary shuttle service before and after the game (reservations recommended at (323) 224-1507).

And, they even suggest some public transportation ideas via Metro. Hmm, what a novel idea, public transportation options!

Dodgers' Tie-rrible Spring Training Continues

DODGERS 2, ANGELS 2

Dodgers' Spring Training record: 9-17-4

Andruw Jones to Lumber into Niketown Saturday

Got an email the other day that Andruw Jones will be at the Beverly Hills Niketown on Saturday March 29 from 11.45a - 1p, showing off the new baseball-inspired collection by Nike, the "Opening Day" collection by Jordan Brand. Jones will be at the store "showing off the great baseball-inspired footwear as well as meeting and greeting fans."

We normally wouldn't post on things like this, but given we too have a Nike shoe contract, we're obligated to post, but only this one time.

Only Shallowness Preventing Vinny from "Most Approved" Status

Last week, Deadspin's "Media Approval Ratings" featured Vin Scully. Predictably, Vin fared quite well, with a 94% approval rating. Now Deadspin reports an enterprising soul has compiled their results in an easy-to-read graph. (We love graphs.) And can you believe Vinny isn't the most beloved sportscaster out there? Who is more beloved than Vinny? Who dares to be one percentage point more lovable than Vin Scully?

No, not Orel Hershiser. Erin Andrews! Really, what has she got that Vinny hasn't? (Wait, don't answer that.) I'm just glad that we at Sons of Steve Garvey would never pander to our audience by gratuitously referencing Erin Andrews over and over again.

Our integrity is intact!

P.S.: Scott Van Pelt is tied with Vinny at 94%. I'm not sure why.

CHUD DVD Review: The Los Angeles Dodgers 1988 World Series

DVD REVIEW: THE LOS ANGELES DODGERS 1988 WORLD SERIES: CE (CHUD.com)

A Taste of Torre

"Cool in Any Language" by Eric Neel at ESPN.com

Barry Who?

From "Giant makeover: Bonds' images gone from AT&T Park" at ESPN.com:

SAN FRANCISCO -- The San Francisco Giants have now removed prominent tributes in the stadium to Barry Bonds, who has steroid allegations and perjury charges hanging over his head.

Take a good look: The left-field wall at AT&T Park will look much different this season than it did in 2007.

The left-field wall no longer bears an image of Bonds chasing Hank Aaron for the home run crown, nor elsewhere is the number of Bonds' home runs in relation to Aaron posted.

There are no "756" signs -- signifying the home run he hit to break Aaron's record -- anywhere in the park, in fact. A team spokeswoman said the Giants would put up a plaque to note where he had hit his last homer with the team.

LA Times Calls Out Dodger Blue Heaven Thoughts

Today's LA Times' Calendarlive section has an article called "50 Ways to Love Your Dodgers," which includes this advice:

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS...

As a guy who, at age 10, "wanted to be Vin Scully" when he grew up, native Angeleno Jon Weisman has been synthesizing media reports, analyzing between-the-lines drama and occasionally venting on his Dodger Thoughts blog since 2002. If you're looking for online snark, move on; Weisman and his readers merely exude true-blue passion. dodgerthoughts.baseballtoaster.com/

...OR SPILL SOME VITRIOL

Not recommended for the true-blue fan, or anyone averse to blue language, the decidedly R-rated Dodger Blues website throws darts at players, management, ownership, even history. Like the clock that records "Time Since the Last Meaningful Dodger Moment" (going on 20 years). The franchise's lowlights are "celebrated" with an acidity usually reserved for divorce proceedings. Bitter? Yes. Funny? That too. www.dodgerblues.com

TRUE-BLUE FAN

Ernest Reyes, on his extreme-fan-tastic website Blue Heaven, links to countless player and fan blogs, dispenses obscure trivia, posts hard-to-find video and hawks collectibles. Oh, and he does real estate too. dodgersblueheaven.blogspot.com

Congrats to Ernest, Jon and Anonymous DB Guy. Nice mention!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Dodger Seanez A Nice Guy by Many, but Cut from Few

Get it? "Seanez / Seen-as"? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

According to Tony Jackson, Rudy Seanez has been cut:

The move was made last night when the team arrived in Los Angeles. This is a bit of a shocker. He wasn't having a great spring. He had a 7.71 ERA in five appearances, but most of us had simply assumed he was on the team. Rudy had considered retirement a year ago before the Dodgers signed him to a minor-league deal, and he was going to retire last spring if he hadn't made the team, so my guess is that's what he'll do now. He's 38 and has had a nice career, in the majors off and on since 1989.... That probably means Chin-lung Hu makes the club as an extra infielder and a hedge in case both Nomar and Kent start the season on the DL. Rudy had a $550,000 base salary and a $150,000 roster bonus, which basically meant it would cost the Dodgers only $550,000 if they released him before opening day. But because they released him before Friday, the deadline for requesting unconditional release waivers, the club only owes him 45 days' pay, which according to my calculations is $137,500.

Juan Pierre Not Protected In The Lineup

At least, that's what I can glean from reading this New York Times piece, the eleven-thousandth article on the Dodgers' exhibition game vs. the Red Sox in the Coliseum. (That's right, the Red Sox. The RED SOX. The more we say it, the more great Charlie Chowda ads we get!!!)

But back to Pierre. Shades of Adrian Beltre, Juan is playing without a cup:

The Dodgers are celebrating the 50th anniversary of their move to Los Angeles by crashing for a night at the Ping-Pong parlor that put them up for their first four seasons. Some 92,000 fans will fill the gargantuan seating bowl; another 20,000 or more will pay simply to stand and mill and gawk. The players will enter majestically in uniform through the fabled stone arches beyond right-center field, see the Little League left-field line and be overcome with ... um, emotion?

“This is what they’re going to see,” Charles Steinberg, the Dodgers’ executive vice president for marketing and public relations, said last weekend as he surveyed the ridiculously tall net in left and the misshapen field’s other goofiness. “They’re going to walk in and be like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ ”

Juan Pierre thought someone was. Pierre, the Dodgers’ probable left fielder (rather, deep shortstop), said he did not believe the dimensions when he was told of them a few weeks ago. He gradually feared for his safety.

“I’ll be like 180 feet from the hitters, and those Boston guys hit the ball pretty hard,” Pierre said. “I might have to wear a cup.”

Maybe Boston will field an all-right-handed lineup?

Dodger Stadium Upgrades Food Options

Sometime in the middle of last season, I discovered the Camacho's nachos secret of Dodger Stadium. Each game, I'd slither upstairs on the staircase behind home plate, leaving the comfortable confines of field level for a bowl of Camacho's nachos with shredded pork, which apparently was only available on the Loge level. Along with a Dodger Dog and plenty of beer, it was the best food option in the park.

Next year, it looks like the competition is wide open. As Jon linked earlier, Canter's Deli is one of the new establishments to the park next year, along with Ruby's Diner and a Camacho's Cantina. These are all great and the Dodgers should get praise for including a Los Angeles institution like Canter's in the mix:

Traditional ballpark fare has given way to more dining options at baseball stadiums across the country. Dodger Stadium in recent years added California Pizza Kitchen and Panda Express, for example.

For Canter’s, the Dodger Stadium location marks only its second expansion from its home on Fairfax Avenue, where it has been located since 1953. In 2003, a Canter’s opened inside of Treasure Island Hotel in Las Vegas. It used Dodgers memorabilia as decorations.

The new restaurant line-up is the end of the first phase of a $60 million, multi-year revamp by Dallas-based HKS Architects to renovate one of the nation’s oldest baseball stadiums. Field level seating saw the first improvements. The remaining levels are scheduled for a re-do over the next few years.

But the real jewel of the crown is Mrs. Beasley's, a Carson, CA-based bakery that is known for its cupcakes, according to my sister in law. (I have a huge apology to my sister, who told me about Mrs. Beasley's coming to Dodger Stadium months ago, and I spaced out and was summarily scooped on the story. Sorry!) Just check this out. Expensive, perhaps, but they look incredible. And as you can see below, Kelly Preston is a fan (among others). I'll let you know how tasty these cupcakes are on Opening Day...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Kershaw Dazzles Again, Dodgers Tie Again

DODGERS 3, BREWERS 3

Dodgers' Spring Training record: 9-17-3

Has Anyone Seen My Brooklyn Dodgers Cap?

It was last seen approximately one month ago inside my home. Fitted cap, size 7 5/8 (yes, it's a little large). The dog and wife have been questioned, but provide nothing except stares and growls. I'm offering a generous reward - price of a new hat, minus two dollars.

Ethier Still on Fire but Dodgers Lose Again

ROYALS 10, DODGERS 9

Dodgers' Spring Training record: 9-17-2

Coliseum Exhibition Game Promises Moon, Stars

A week-long celebration surrounding the Dodgers' exhibition game against the Red Sox at the Los Angeles Coliseum is highlighting a number of famous Dodger legends, including Wally Moon, Duke Snider, and Don Newcombe, among others. Moon, for one, is especially stoked:

And Moon, the left-handed hitter who became a celebrity in a tinsel town of celebrities for his knack of turning the Coliseum's cozy left-field porch into an opposite-field ally, may even take a crack at launching another of his signature Moon Shots.

"Some lady with the Dodgers called to ask what size I wear now, so I guess they're gonna get me a uniform," Moon said. "I don't mind taking a shot at it. ... I just wouldn't run around the bases after I hit it."

Moon is 77. He is a baby among the Coliseum-era Dodgers who will be the centerpieces of a remarkable weekend-long celebration organized by the club, which informally kicked off Monday with a series of conference calls with these resonant echoes out of the past.

The full list of Dodger legends can be found at the link above. This game is turning out to be quite the event--charity fundraiser, defending World Champion involved, and possible attendance record...what an evening!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Choo-Choo-Choose a Monkey

Sometimes it seems like SI's journalists are just phoning it in. In a recent "Pop Culture Grid" column, SI asked the A's Jack Cust, the Wild's Eric Belanger, and the D-Backs' Bill Murphy what pet they'd most like to own. The unanimous answer: a monkey. Uh, duh. That's like asking "What's your favorite Right Said Fred song?" or "Which former N'Sync member gets the highest-quality tail?"

Enough with these softballs. Let's pose the question everyone is thinking but nobody has the balls to ask: Which fictional cartoon monkey kicks the most ass?

Here are the five candidates, in reverse chronological order:

Fictional Cartoon Monkey
Debut Vehicle, Year
Monkey's BFF
Sample Ass-Kicking
1. Donkey Kong
Donkey Kong video game, 1981
His son, Junior
Skillfully re-shaped public image from imperialistic villian in Donkey Kong to sympathetic victim in Donkey Kong Junior
2. Grape Ape
TV series Tom and Jerry Show, 1975
His alliterative driver, Beegle Beagle
Continues to perform acts of kindness despite battling society's pre-conceptions regarding 40-foot purple apes
3. Chim-Chim
TV series Speed Racer, 1967
Speed's little brother, Spritle
Once found a dead hooker in the trunk of Speed's car
4. Curious George
Children's book Curious George, 1941
The Man in the Yellow Hat
He's a rock star
5. Sun Wukong (a.k.a. The Monkey King)
Epic Chinese novel Journey to the West, c. 1690
The India-bound wandering monk Xuanzang
Can leap 108,000 miles, lift 15,000 lbs, transform into 72 different objects, command the wind, and is impervious to fire

Which fictional cartoon monkey* kicks the most ass?
Donkey Kong
Grape Ape
Chim-Chim
Curious George
Sun Wukong
  
Free polls from Pollhost.com

*Yes, I know some technically aren't monkeys. Hey, it's a frickin' survey about cartoon character primates on an LA Dodgers blog. Get over it.

SoSG Exclusive: An Interview with Will Carroll

Will Carroll, author of several works (including The Juice: The Real Story of Baseball's Drug Problems), a Senior Writer for Baseball Prospectus (where he writes the must-read "Under The Knife" column and reports on trade deadline activity in "Will's Mill"), and friend of Jenn Sterger, recently spent some time answering some questions about the Dodgers' injury situation and his take on what's really happening in Chavez Ravine.


SoSG: As usual (in our post-Beltre world), third base appears to be a black hole for the Dodgers. Any insight on what we can expect from Nomar Garciaparra and Andy LaRoche and their respective injuries?

Will Carroll: Garciaparra's hand isn't good, but neither is it bad. It should remind Torre, Colletti, or whoever's making decisions today that Garciaparra isn't going to hold up as a regular and that if he's to have value, he has to be protected. The LaRoche injury is one of those fluke things that costs him development time or even the chance to have eased into the role in some share with NG. Now, who knows.


SoSG: How do you see the OF situation working out? Is Juan Pierre one of "Joe's Kind of Guys" and, therefore, get ABs to the detriment of Ethier/Kemp? Is there a definite platoon that you can see making sense?

Carroll: I think Jones falling into their lap confused them. Pierre having no market also surprised them, I think. Leaves them with four guys who "have" to start.


SoSG: As former catcher, please give us assurances that Joe Torre will find ways to keep Russell Martin fresh! Other than interleague opportunities to DH, how else can the Dodgers keep from burning out this asset?

Carroll: He's always done very well with Posada, though he seems perfectly willing to have a poor quality backup. Giving him a day off here or there, finding pitchers he matches up poorly against or finding a backup C who has a strength Martin doesn't -- or at least does something differently, so he can give a reason -- would be solid. I'm not terribly worried about Martin's workload, aside from the quicker wearing down over a career. I'm not sure Torre should worry so much about that; his job is to win now.


"Billingsley could be pushed back to the pen by June if Kuroda is what the Dodgers think he is."


SoSG: Any further insights on Jeff Kent's condition? Is it something where the team would be better off putting him on the DL to heal, or will it be one of those chronic, nagging things that he just has to try to play through (with the logic being that Kent at 80% is better than either Abreu or Young at 100%)?

Carroll: He's just Kent. Tends to play through them.


SoSG: Brad Penny seems to wear down every year after the ASB (last year, his ERA went from 2.39 to 3.84) and Kuroda is basically an unknown commodity. What can we expect to see from both of them this year?

Carroll: I like PECOTA on both of these. Kuroda's solid filler and takes some pressure off the back end of the rotation. I think Billingsley could be pushed back to the pen by June if Kuroda is what the Dodgers think he is, because Kuroda and Schmidt aren't going to be pushed back.


SoSG: You've written a few times suggesting that teams be creative in having their starters actually pitch in relief on what would normally be their "throwing" days between starts. Given Penny's limitations (he seems to turn into a pumpkin, or at least Hideki Irabu, after 6 innings), would the Dodgers be served to try to have a guy like Billingsley follow Penny (and, conversely, have Penny track a Billingsley or Kuroda)? Not that I expect Torre to be an innovator, but would something like this make sense for the Dodgers to try?

Carroll: Not the worst idea, though I'd rather see a two inning guy like Brazoban when healthy or even Broxton.


SoSG: ETA on Clayton Kershaw's arrival to the Show? How do you see him being used (relief/setup duty a la Johan, Liriano, Joba)? Does Kershaw have a nickname yet? Would "Kid K" work for you?

Carroll: See above, June 1 or thereabouts. Kid K? You want to name him the same thing as Kerry Wood? Bad mojo ... I like Vin Scully's "Public Enemy No. 1". Little Chuck D when he enters. . .


SoSG: I didn't know Kerry Wood had dibs on the "Kid K" nickname. You're right about bad mojo! Would "Don't Believe the Hype" be too cheeky of intro music for Kershaw?

Carroll: I like it!


SoSG: Of course, we're both dating ourselves with that Chuck D reference. Kershaw is so young, he probably only knows about Flavor Flav from that "Flavor of Love" show. Sigh.


"Not only does no one seem to know who has the strings on any given day, neither do the Dodgers."


SoSG: How long before Logan White and Kim Ng leave Chavez Ravine and run their own teams?

Carroll: Good question. Ng's very solid, but she's had chances, has filled out her resume and is sliding off people's "hot list." You don't have to be one of the guys always mentioned, but it helps to be in the conversation. White's a more interesting case. I think the confusion in the Dodgers front office isn't helping and as good a job as he's done with development and scouting, I'm not sure his resume is quite as full as Ng's and he's sliding behind guys like Mike Rizzo, AJ Hinch, and RJ Harrison.


SoSG: You've touched on front office discord. Without compromising any sources, can you elucidate a bit? The Lasorda backstabbing of DePo was pretty obvious thanks to Plaschke's articles in the Times; what's the conflict these days? Logan vs. Ned?

Carroll: It's more a McCourt thing, I think. Whoever they're listening to that day -- Logan, Ned, Tommy, Torre, some random guy in the parking lot. There's as many stories as there are possibilities, so the problem is that not only does no one seem to know who has the strings on any given day, neither do the Dodgers.


SoSG: What occurs first: Jason Schmidt pitches in a game for the Dodgers or Alyssa Milano hooks up with Chad Billingsley?

Carroll: I can't speak for Alyssa, but I think Schmidt will be reasonable this year and if he's not, we get an early look at Kershaw!


SoSG: Thanks for the insights, Will. Consider yourself an honorary Son!


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Chadley Still Shaky as Dodgers Lose to Rockies

ROCKIES 8, DODGERS 2

Dodgers' Spring Training record: 9-16-2

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Lowe Sharp in Loss to Angels

ANGELS 4, DODGERS 2

Dodgers' Spring Training record: 9-15-2

Friday, March 21, 2008

Star Explodes Halfway Across Universe; Al Qaeda Claims Responsibility

Star explodes halfway across universe (CNN.com)

Park Finally Touched, Andruw Homers in Loss

DIAMONDBACKS 9, DODGERS 8

Dodgers' Spring Training record: 9-14-2

A Dodgers Dream House

Mrs. Delino and I are currently in the schizo market for a new home, and came across this beauty. Read on, webslingers.

A DODGER FAN'S DREAM COME TRUE! OLD VICTORIAN STYLE HOME LOCATED BEHIND DODGER STADIUM.DETACHED GARAGE BONUS BEDROOM WITHOUT A PERMIT. COZY FRONT PORCH, VERY CUTE HOME, NEEDS YOUR BUYERS T.L.C.

For Dodgers fans, the location is perfect...except for every single home game.

If you decide to bid on this house, and want to make some extra bones during the season, may I recommend the $20 orange cone removal fee charged by the residents near USC?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Penny Earns Opening Day Start

Brad Penny has been named by Joe Torre as the Dodgers' 2008 opening day starter, coming off a strong six-inning showing versus the White Sox today.

PHOENIX -- Brad Penny added six effective innings to the best spring of his career on Thursday, and manager Joe Torre then added to Penny's resume by naming him the Dodgers' Opening Day starting pitcher.

"Why not?" said Torre. "He was pretty good. Barring anything in his last start, we've sort of planned it that way and no reason not to do that."

Penny is likely to be followed by Derek Lowe, Chad Billingsley and Hiroki Kuroda. The Dodgers won't need a fifth starter until April 8, with Esteban Loaiza and Chan Ho Park the finalists. Lowe started the three previous Opening Days for Los Angeles.

The Dodgers open at home Monday, March 31, against the Giants. It will be the first Opening Day assignment for Penny, who is coming off back-to-back 16-win seasons and was the National League starting pitcher in the 2006 All-Star Game.

"I've never done it and I'm sure I'll be excited," said Penny, who allowed one unearned run in the Dodgers' 8-2 win over the White Sox. "I'll go out like a regular start, just get outs. You don't get too emotional for a start like that. I don't compare it to the World Series or a playoff."

It's cool that Brad's so pumped for it. After watching Dodger starters fail to make it to the sixth inning in the last three home openers (Weaver in 2005; Lowe in 2006; and Schmidt in 2007), I'm hopeful that this year, I can see a better starting pitcher performance...against the Giants, no less.

All Lines Are Open, and Barry Bonds Is Standing By...

...waiting for your call. As he said to mlb.com yesterday:

"I'm not going to retire. I don't think that's going to happen," he said by telephone from Los Angeles. "I'm working out, I'm training. If my phone rings, it rings, if it don't, it don't. I have a cell phone. I have a Blackberry. They work. If something comes up, I'm sure they'll let me know. I'll come back in July if I have to. It depends on the circumstances."

Maybe if Barry gave out his telephone number or email address in the article, people would know how to reach him. Heck, I could make some use of that phone number.

Kemp, Furcal Homer; Penny Strong

DODGERS 8, WHITE SOX 2

Dodgers' Spring Training record: 9-13-2

A Sneak Peek at the Coliseum

photo by Spies of Steve Garvey

Defend Vinny's Honor at Deadspin

Media Approval Ratings: Vin Scully

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Who Will Win the SoSG March Madness Pool?

Here in SoSGville, we have a slightly untraditional take on March Madness. Instead of filling out brackets, four of us (Sax, Pedro, EK, Orel) draft 16 teams each. Drafting teams instead of picking games makes for somewhat of a "Calcutta"-style tournament, allowing players to root for teams to progress through the tournament rather than root for outcomes of specific games. And it always leads to conflicts when you're pulling for one of the teams in your stable, but you hate them otherwise (e.g., Duke); it also allows for a requisite degree of trash-talking in situations like when EK's Butler mounted Pedro's Cougar (usually it's the cougar who is on the prowl, right?).

Half the (theoretical, ahem) pot goes to whoever owns the tournament champion, and half goes to whoever has the most total wins (and we credit first-round games with the same score as later-round games). We also award minor "booby prizes" thrown in for biggest upset winner (by seed) and biggest blowout loser (by points). We draft in reverse order of the previous year's winners, and this is how things shook out this year (by selection order):

SAX
UCLA (1W)
Louisville (3E)
Wisconsin (3M)
Pitt (4S)
Washington St. (4E)
Marquette (6S)
Purdue (6W)
Mississippi St. (8S)
Kent St. (9M)
Davidson (10M)
George Mason (12E)
Siena (13M)
Boise St. (14E)
Georgia (14W)
UMBC (15M)
Mount St. Mary's (16E)

PEDRO
UNC (1E)
Georgetown (2M)
Stanford (3S)
Michigan St. (5S)
Drake (5W)
W. Virginia (7W)
Oregon (9S)
St. Joe's (11E)
Kansas St. (11M)
Baylor (11W)
Villanova (12M)
Austin Peay (15S)
Belmont (15W)
Portland St. (16M)
Texas-Arlington (16S)
Mississippi Valley St. (16W)

EK
Memphis (1S)
Tennessee (2E)
Duke (2W)
UConn (4W)
Notre Dame (5E)
Clemson (5M)
Gonzaga (7M)
Indiana (8E)
UNLV (8M)
Texas A&M (9W)
S. Alabama (10E)
St. Mary's (10S)
Arizona (10W)
Kentucky (11S)
Winthrop (13E)
Cornell (14S)

OREL
Kansas (1M)
Texas (2S)
Xavier (3W)
Vanderbilt (4M)
Oklahoma (6E)
USC (6M)
Butler (7E)
Miami (7S)
BYU (8W)
Arkansas (9E)
Temple (12S)
Western Kentucky (12W)
Orel, er, Oral Roberts (13S)
San Diego (13W)
Cal St. Fullerton (14M)
American (15E)


Since EK wasn't available to participate in tonight's conference call draft, he submitted a preference list. Hence, (1) he was unable to make on-the-fly drafting decisions based on his previous picks, and (2) he ended up with Duke. The consensus among us remaining three players is that EK had the best draft, and he didn't even have to pick up the phone.

What do you think?

Who will win the TOURNAMENT CHAMPION prize in the SoSG March Madness Pool?
Sax
Pedro
EK
Orel
  
Free polls from Pollhost.com

Who will win the MOST TOTAL WINS prize in the SoSG March Madness Pool?
Sax
Pedro
EK
Orel
  
Free polls from Pollhost.com

(Thanks to Sax for the post assist!)

Sarah Marshall, Mellow Out

But here's the problem: Jason Segel is hilarious, and Kristen Bell is a babe!

Argh! Inner conflict, over outdoor advertising!

Bad News on Nomar

From Tony Jackson:

Doesn't appear he's going to play tomorrow, which was [the] goal. It showed a microfracture in a small bone of his right wrist, which trainer Stan Conte likened to a small bone bruise. Nomar got a cortisone shot in the soft tissue to avoid swelling and will be re-examined in a couple of days. It is beginning to look like Ned is going to have to go get a 3B somewhere.

Come Join The Bands

The New York Times had a great article today on the college bands that play at NCAA Tournament games, as well as the forces which impact their repertoires. In a nutshell, the rationale for college bands' apparently narrow songlists stems less from musical capabilities and more from alumni likes:

Step inside an arena where N.C.A.A. tournament games are being played. Close the eyes during timeouts. Listen to the pep bands play their jaunty tunes. And remember what year it is.

Pep bands may provide the N.C.A.A. tournament’s greatest culture clash — giving a time-warped soundtrack to games that decide this year’s champion.

At last weekend’s Pacific-10 Conference tournament in Los Angeles, Staples Center was periodically filled with horn-tooting variations of songs by Bon Jovi (“Livin’ on a Prayer”), Boston (“More Than a Feeling”), Ozzy Osbourne (“Crazy Train”), the Police (“Message in a Bottle”) and KC and the Sunshine Band (“Get Down Tonight”).

Across the country, during the Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden, the well-worn strains of Michael Jackson (“Thriller”), Kansas (“Carry On Wayward Son”), Guns N’ Roses (“Paradise City”) and the Doobie Brothers (“Long Train Runnin’ ”) helped fill the downtime when the court was empty.

It can seem that the pep bands are forever behind the times, playing from song lists borrowed from classic-rock radio stations and wedding-reception D.J.s.

But there is a method to their madness — and to their Madness (“Our House”).

“We try to play songs that not only appeal to the blue-hairs in the crowd, but also to our students,” said Jim Hudson, director of athletic bands at Arizona State.

The brass-heavy 30-piece ensembles (the tournament allows no amplification — meaning no electric guitars — and only 30 band members for each team) are typically subsets of the university’s much larger marching band. And there are plenty of reasons why the song lists (most bands arrive ready to play 40 to 60 songs) can seem dated.

Mostly, it is because fans want it that way. Bands are looking to get toes tapping and chins wagging no matter the listener’s age.

There are other reasons. Rock anthems, with their catchy melodies and complex chord progressions, often lend themselves to arrangements better than other genres. Older songs have become part of each band’s familiar repertory and never leave. Copyright issues and costs can limit the possibilities for fresh tunes.

So exactly how does a song get added to the slate? Here's UCLA's approach:

Updating the songbook is an annual tug-of-war. Most bands hold year-end votes for band members. At U.C.L.A., the bottom five songs are dropped. Five new ones are added.

“ ‘Build Me Up Buttercup’ is the most controversial song we have,” said Reesa Jones, the undergraduate teaching assistant leading U.C.L.A.’s band at the Pac-10 tournament. “Some love it, some hate it. Tubas love it, because it’s their one chance for a solo. But a lot of others just hate it.”

U.C.L.A. recently added songs by the Red Hot Chili Peppers (“Can’t Stop”) and Matchbox Twenty (“How Far We’ve Come”). The band also regularly plays the theme song from the 1970s television show “The Jeffersons” (“Movin’ on Up”).

I was at the UCLA/Stanford game in Pauley Pavilion a couple of weeks back, and I noticed they were playing Matchbox Twenty's recent hit. The band also seems really partial to the Offspring. Overall, I like the UCLA band's arrangements and songlist, which I've heard for years and have always marveled at how updated it seemed to be.

I also like the Stanford band with all of its irreverence and non-conformist humor. Their halftime routines are priceless, especially when juxtaposed against a goose-stepping regiment like Cal's or USC's bands. But I have to say, I always thought the Stanford playlist was pretty weak, further eroded by the fact the band members always seemed to be too drunk or distracted to play the songs clearly (with the exception of "All Right Now," the unofficial fight song (played after touchdowns, or more recently, after field goals (or even first downs?))).

Finally, the article talked about rights restrictions on the song. Technically, one is not supposed to hear Van Halen's "Jump" or any John Williams composition (themes from Star Wars, Jaws, or Raiders of the Lost Ark, among many). That can't be right; I could have sworn I heard one of these tunes before. But maybe I'm hallucinating.

I remember seeing a game at Wrigley Field in which a four- or six-piece old-time band came out in between innings and played a tune or two, and I thought it was great. I'll try and find the picture later. I love the fact that sports can hearken back to yesteryear, with all of its nostalgia, when done thoughtfully, and that holds for college hoops as well as major league baseball, my two favorite sports.

I'm a Loser, Baby...

Dear Dodger Fan,

Recently you registered on dodgers.com for a chance to purchase tickets for Opening Day 2008 at Dodger Stadium. Unfortunately, your entry was not selected for this ticket purchase opportunity.

To say "Thank You" for participating in this purchase opportunity, the Dodgers would like to offer you a ticket discount to two great April matchups against the NL West rival Giants and Padres.

Get Lower Reserve tickets for just $8 (reg. $20) and Infield Reserve tickets for just $16 (reg. $28) on April 2 vs. Giants and April 13 vs. Padres.

Here's how to order:

• Click the Purchase Tickets button above next to the game you wish to attend.

• Select the number of seats and enter your password.

• Your password is: CARLSJR

Thank you for participating. We look forward to celebrating 50 Years in Los Angeles with you at Dodger Stadium!

Red Sox Fight the Power

From "Red Sox vote not to play final spring game or board plane for Japan" at ESPN.com:

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Boston Red Sox refused to take the field for their final spring training game in Florida on Wednesday and threatened to boycott their flight to Japan for their season openers unless their coaches and other staff are paid for the trip.

Fans filled the stadium, the national anthems were sung and the Boston and Toronto Blue Jays lineups were announced, but the game did not begin at its 12:07 p.m. scheduled start.

Baseball spokesman Rich Levin said the sport's lawyers were dealing with the situation.

"We're trying to work it out," he said.

Mike Lowell told The Boston Globe the team voted unanimously not to take the field for their final spring game or to board the plane later Wednesday for Japan.

Manager Terry Francona and his players were upset after learning staff members are not going to get a $40,000 stipend. The Boston Herald reported players insisted part of their agreement to make the trip included the fee -- for them and the coaches.

I'm no Red Sox fan, but this is cool. Eagerly awaiting the inevitable fallout.

UPDATE:

Red Sox, MLB resolve dispute over coaches' pay after team takes stand (ESPN.com)

The New Face of Evil

I've bought many a Beatles CD (and audio tape) in my day. And now, a big chunk of my allowance money is in her pocket!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Yes, We Can...not Use MLB Typefaces

SoSG is going to steer clear of political endorsements. However, The Smoking Gun (and how often do we get to cite thesmokinggun.com? (don't get any bright ideas, current Dodgers)) reports today that MLB has forced closure of a Wharton MBA student's online business operations, after creating and selling t-shirts saying "Obama" in the typefaces of MLB teams.

MARCH 18--Major League Baseball has forced the closure of an online business run by a Barack Obama supporter who tweaked team logos to create t-shirts promoting the Illinois Democrat's presidential bid. The web site Obamaofdreams.com began selling the $19.99 shirts last month and had more than a dozen versions available when an MLB lawyer sent proprietor Morris Levin a cease and desist letter threatening legal action.

Baseball officials contended that the clever shirts [...] violated the league's trademarks. Baseball officials have aggressively used legal threats to dissuade such reinterpretations of its logos, and apparently did not consider the Obama shirts as protected political speech or as transformative of its trademarks. While he briefly continued to operate the site after being contacted by the MLB attorney, Levin, 31, shuttered his t-shirt operation earlier this month.

Levin, an MBA candidate at the University of Pennsylvania's prestigious Wharton School, has said that he was "inspired by Obama's message" and sought to show his support "with cool t-shirts." The Obama shirts--which carried the number "08" on their backs--were a mash-up of the candidate's name and distinctive logos for teams like the Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, and Chicago White Sox (Obama's favorite team). Additionally, Hillary Clinton's favorite teams--the Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees--were also given the Obama t-shirt treatment.

Guess we won't be updating that SoSG logo any time soon. We especially like the circa 1980s White Sox shirt, as well.

As for obamaofdreams.com, I guess if you build it, they will come...threatening a lawsuit until you take down your damn website.

And that does it for tonight's crappy quotes offset...by ellipses!

What The Heck Do I Do With This Now, Orel?

Earlier: "...Ends 7-11 Gag"

James Loney Has Balls

photo by Juan Ocampo/Dodgers

Kershaw Gets 3-Inning Save, Ends 7-11 Gag Streak

DODGERS 2, MARLINS 1

Dodgers' Spring Training record: 8-13-2

Monday, March 17, 2008

"Douchebag" Has Jumped the Shark, You Douchebags

"Douchebag." A good insult. A relatively modern insult (although it originated in the 60's, according to the never-wrong Wikipedia). An insult that escapes the mouth with a pleasant whoosh. Also, progenitor of other equally effective insults related to vaginal irrigation: "douche," "douchenozzle," "douchebucket" (which I just made up!). Everyone knows a douchebag, but no one will admit to being one.

But "douchebag," you have lost your edge, worn out your welcome, jumped the shark (unlike those three clich├ęs I just used!). You're all over television. You've inspired popular websites (Hot Chicks with Douchebags). Best-selling novelist Stephen King is name-checking you. You have 145 definitions over at Urban Dictionary. Even though the esteemed Ken Tremendous of Fire Joe Morgan still uses you (in their comments section, anyway), you are no longer the cringe-inducing, burnworthy moniker you once were. You have become Safe For Work.

So in this age of information, where meaning can change in an Internet minute, we search for a new insult. An insult that connotes bodily functions without stooping to actual vulgarities. An insult so cool it'll befuddle your parents and enrapture Jon Stewart. An insult of our own. I don't know what this word or phrase will be, but I can promise this: After hearing it, I will use it proudly for at least two months, maybe three. Like a true douchebag would.

Syrupy? Sure. But Still Kinda Cool

earlier: Why One Shouldn't Read The Last Paragraphs First, Dodgertown's Final Days Brings Tears, Syrupy Journalism

photo by Sam Wolfe/AP

Why One Shouldn't Read The Last Paragraphs First

Coming across another piece of "syrupy journalism", I scanned the AP article on ESPN.com headlined, "Dodgers say goodbye to famed minor league complex". And when I got to the end of the article, I read these words and feared for Tommy Lasorda's life:

Lasorda managed the Dodgers for a week while Joe Torre took the team to China, and went 1-6 in his stint.

He did everything to try to win his last game, putting runners in motion and calling for a suicide squeeze. Like his players, he wore a lucky green hat on St. Patrick's Day.

David Newhan hit one of Houston's five home runs. As a boy, he sometimes came to Dodgertown with his dad, longtime Los Angeles Times writer and Hall honoree Ross Newhan.

"It was a day in history," Newhan said after homering. [The Astros won, 12-10.]

When it was over, Lasorda walked toward the clubhouse and the Dodgers waited with their bats. The tradition is older than the manager himself and mostly reserved for minor leaguers getting married and movies like "Bull Durham."

Oh my gosh, I thought, the Dodgers finally had enough of Lasorda's 1-6 record and decided to beat the heck out of them a la Al Capone in The Untouchables. "Part of a team. Teamwork.... Looks, throws, catches, hustles. Part of one big team...." Yikes! Visions of angry Dodgers filled my head. "I'll show you a suicide squeeze, Tommy," said Nomar Garciaparra. "If you're gonna make me ride the pine next year, you're going to feel that pine--on your skull," said Andre Ethier. "This is how we wash our trucks in San Francisco," said Jeff Kent.

But then I went back and read the lead that I'd skipped:

VERO BEACH, Fla. -- His eyes red, his steps slow, Tom Lasorda waved to the fans for the final time at Dodgertown. Down in the right-field corner, his players and coaches silently gathered and formed two lines.

They had their own way of helping him say goodbye to an old friend.

Gulp....

Crossing bats overhead in a sacred baseball tradition, they formed an arch to let Lasorda close this special place the Dodgers called their spring home for 60 years.

"These guys want me to cry," the Hall of Fame manager said.

Whew! Tommy's safe! Pass the syrup, and pass the marinara sauce!

Jet Li Shows You His Four-Seam Crane Fist

After posing with Andruw Jones, Jet Li proceeded to kick the ass of that guy standing behind him.


After throwing out the ceremonial first pitch, Li kicked the asses of the Swinging Friar, the cameraman, the boom mike operator, that guy with his back to us, and that guy whose left leg you can barely see in the background.


Don't believe me? Watch this:

top photo by Jon SooHoo/Dodgers
bottom photo by Guang Niu/Getty Images

Ethier Continues Torrid Spring Pace


ASTROS 12, DODGERS 10

Dodgers' Spring Training record: 7-13-2

McCourt Shuts Doors on Vero Beach Using Smoke, Mirrors, Rationalization

The Dodgers' latest press release is one of the weakest spin campaigns I have ever seen, as once again Frank McCourt is all blather and no substance. I really feel for Josh Rawitch when he's fed drivel like this and he's asked to put lipstick on this pig. Let's start with the lead:

VERO BEACH, FL – Dodger Owner Frank McCourt said today that the “Dodgers will not leave Dodgertown; we will take Dodgertown with us to Los Angeles.”

McCourt made the revelation on the day of the club’s final Florida home date in 2008. The club celebrated its 60th anniversary in Vero Beach, FL, this spring.

Okay, I'm intrigued. What does this "revelation" mean, tangibly speaking, Frankie? Are we moving any historic pieces of the facilities? The Dodger-named street signs? The home plates from the Vero Beach baseball diamonds? The front facade reading "Dodgertown"? Do tell!

“This complex, with its history of the Dodgers, overwhelms you. You can’t fathom leaving it behind. Yet at the same time, it breaks our hearts to know that so many in Los Angeles cannot make the cross-country trek with their families to see it first hand. And make no mistake, that is the driving force behind the move to Arizona.

“As our family prepares to move from this neighborhood, it strikes us that we can incorporate so many elements of this place in our home in Los Angeles. After all, Dodger Stadium is Dodgertown, and for that matter, LA is Dodgertown.”

Actually, Frank, Vero Beach is Dodgertown--or maybe you haven't noticed that huge sign up front. Here's a hint: it looks like this (photo courtesy USA Today):

I've never seen a sign like that over at Chavez Ravine, which houses Dodger Stadium, and not Dodgertown. Exactly how is Los Angeles "Dodgertown," except in your mind?

But okay, I'll go with your promise and take the leap of faith here. So tell me exactly what "elements" of Vero Beach will be "incorporated" here in Los Angeles?

Some elements may well move to the club’s new Spring Training site in Arizona.

“Some elements may transfer well there, but, that said, Arizona has its own style, its own feel,” McCourt said. “The copper and cactus and Camelback culture has a western feel all its own. We’ll start a new history there, one that comfortably welcomes families who can make a five-hour drive or catch a one-hour flight.

Answer: NONE of the elements.

“But the stories and the legends live in Dodgertown’s lounge, dining room, photos, street signs, and even in the light posts with those baseballs on top. It would be wonderful to capture the friendliness, the spirit, and the love of the game that is inherent here and bring it home with us.

Wait a minute here. You're not incorporating ANYTHING! In fact, you're highlighting starting a brand new tradition in Arizona, devoid of any of the Vero Beach elements! "It sure would be wonderful," you say, but no actions or promises back up these words! Hmm...

“It’s a real estate opportunity, which I of course love. We can create a plan to make this happen before too long.”

That's right, the press release ends with your true motivation: it's a real estate play, and NOT a fan play. If you did care about the fans in Vero Beach, you would back up your words with a concrete action that indicates how the traditions of Vero Beach will continue. Instead, behind the hyperbole, there is nothing tangible--typical for a McCourt statement.

Look, Frank, this particular Son happens to be just fine with the Dodgers' spring training move from Florida, whether it's a real estate play or a proximity-to-Los-Angeles play or whatever. I'm fine with upgrading the spring training facilities which by all accounts needed a refurbishment.

But if you're going to speak of tradition, you're going to have to mention how you are going to uphold tradition--and if you're going to make sweeping comments like "we will take Dodgertown with us to Los Angeles,” you'd better have at least one simple tangible example to back it up. Otherwise, it's nothing but hot air.

Dodgertown's Final Days Brings Tears, Syrupy Journalism

Sixty years ago, the world was introduced to future "Meet Me Halfway (Theme from Over the Top)" scribe Kenny Loggins, and Vero Beach celebrated the arrival of Da' New York Baseball Bums. But like Kenny Loggins's career, all good things must pass.

With the final few games playing at revered Dodgertown (where Master Blaster rules), fans and reporters are coming out in droves. Tears are being shed. Games are being lost. And cheese is being applied. From MLB's Tom Singer, who just might be the most sensitive man this side of Freddie Prinze Jr.

DODGERTOWN, Fla. -- They have made the pilgrimage all month, paying their last respects on both sides of the foul line, players and fans alike filing by for the final public viewing.

Soon, the place will be laid to its final rest.

But you can already feel the ghosts. Here, Roy Campanella enthralls young players gathered at the tracks of his wheelchair. There, Walt Alston growls at messed-up rundown drills and Al Campanis talks about coconut snatching. Everywhere, hundreds of uniformed fuzzy-cheeked kids amble about, dreaming of The Call.

Soon, the ghosts will have their own town.

Variety just reported that MLB's Tom Singer has been tapped to write the sequel to Beaches.

PS - Congratulations to Sons of Steve Garvey on reaching 2000 posts!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

An Ethier/Or Situation

You know Andre Ethier should be the Dodgers' starting left fielder. I know Andre Ethier should be the Dodgers' starting left fielder. But Andre Ethier is not going to be the Dodgers' starting left fielder. Here are some reasons why:

Spring training stats count for squat. Yes, Ethier leads the Dodgers in ST home runs while Juan Pierre is OPSing a lousy .480 (before today's game). But Esteban Loaiza leads the team in K's and Chan Ho Park has a 0.00 ERA. Think those trends are going to continue? Also, it's easier for a team to spin ST stats against young players ("He won't be able to sustain that pace during the regular season") and for veterans ("He's always been a slow starter").

This ain't fantasy league. The political fallout from relegating Pierre to 4th outfielder status would be significant. Even if Pierre didn't sulk—and who would blame him if he did?—the media could turn the issue into a daily clubhouse and front office distraction. Pierre could demand a trade, thereby lowering his own trade value. Which brings us to...

Money money money money money. The Dodgers owe Pierre $9 million a year for the next four years. Ned Colletti insists he acquired Pierre for his batting average, speed and work ethic—which Colletti wanted so much he was willing to violate his own policy of handing out shorter-term contracts. The front office's credibility is at stake, even beyond the parameters of this season.

This isn't to say that Ethier will never crack the starting lineup, but Joe Torre would need a concrete (i.e., face-saving) reason to make the move. Only three scenarios would work: (1) Pierre plays poorly for an extended stretch, (2) Pierre gets injured, or (3) Pierre gets traded.

Place your bets.

earlier: Speed vs. Power

UPDATE:

Dodger Thoughts: Hot Spring Training Isn’t Reason for Ethier To Start

Lowe Still Shaky but Pierre Heating Up


MARLINS 7, DODGERS 6

Dodgers' Spring Training record: 7-12-2

Dodgers Still Winless in China


PADRES 6, DODGERS 3

Dodgers' Spring Training record: 7-11-2

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Ethier, Penny, Saito Shine in Win

DODGERS 6, NATIONALS 1

Dodgers' Spring Training record: 7-10-2

Dodgers, Padres Take Edict to "Establish Baseball Ties in China" a Bit Too Literally

DODGERS 3, PADRES 3

Dodgers' Spring Training record: 6-10-2

CHINA GAME NOTES:

"SD" > "LA"? From Dodgers.com:

Li-hua Yuan, a 22-year-old student, was given a free ticket by a friend before the game. She admitted, though an interrupter [sic], that she didn't know the first thing about baseball, but was curious to see how her fellow Chinese countrymen responded to this new sport.

"Most people I know like soccer, they like Ping-Pong. They don't know baseball," she said, between bites of a soft pretzel, another hot item on Saturday. "I will cheer for the San Diego team. I like their hats better."

And that interrupter should mind his manners!

Beijing = LA? From Ken Gurnick:

The stadium was nearly empty 15 minutes before game time, but only pockets of empty seats remained once the game was underway.

"I was wondering what was going on, but it was like any other Dodgers game," said designated hitter Matt Kemp. "They didn't show up until the second inning. It's just like playing in Dodger Stadium. But I was a little worried."

A Chinese baseball tradition we could use in the States. From the AP article covering the game:

The game at the new Olympic venue drew an announced crowd of 12,224 - a near sellout - and had many of the touches of home: vendors selling peanuts, hot dogs, beer, soft drinks or - and this is China - plastic bottles of tea. The concessions were cheaper than the U.S. - about $1.50 for a soft drink or a beer, and $3 for a bag of peanuts.

Chan Ho Park (5.0 IP, 0 ER) shows a little of the heart he'd been missing. From Dylan Hernandez at the LA Times (reg.):

As it was, Park, who gave up one unearned run in five innings, caused a serious commotion on his way out of the ballpark. Met by a mob of Korean fans outside of the Dodgers' clubhouse, Park insisted on signing the baseballs and photographs they held over the heads of the security guards. That led to a heated discussion with baseball and Dodgers officials, who wanted him to get on the team bus.

"They came from Korea to get an autograph," Park said. "I'm going to take a taxi back to the hotel."

Park was eventually convinced to tell the fans that he would sign for them on Sunday. He boarded the bus without further incident.

(Thanks to Jon Weisman for the links.)

photo by Jon SooHoo/Dodgers

In a Word, OW!

The ESPN headline seemed innocuous enough: Matsui to have surgery; Astros hope to keep second baseman off DL. I assumed he pulled a muscle, or dislocated a finger. Nope. As ESPN fearlessly reported,

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Houston Astros second baseman Kazuo Matsui will undergo surgery to repair an anal fissure on Monday in Houston.

Matsui has struggled with the health problem for much of spring training and was diagnosed with the condition earlier this week. The expected recovery time after the surgery is two weeks.

Ironically, an anal fissure is exactly what he once brought to the Mets infield.

PS Never Google-Image "Anal Fissure." Trust me.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Hu's The Better Comparison?

So sometime during the day today, I finally came to the conclusion that Chin-Lung Hu looks a lot like Shaobo Qin, Yen from the Ocean's Eleven series of movies. This was not necessarily original material, having been referenced before over at Blue Heaven, where ernest had made this connection back in September 2007 (when looking at SoSG's rookie hazing pictures, no less; it all comes full circle!).

Now, cognizant that Deadspin's ombudsman had already made this caution in the post, "Not Every Black Man in America Is Martin Lawrence," I thought I should be careful with such a "separated at birth?" comparison that hinges upon race. After all, we live in Los Angeles, one of the most diverse cities in America, where different people from different races intermingle each day and certainly in the crowd of each game at Dodger Stadium. SoSG, in turn, is also color blind (except for pro-Dodger blue and anti-orange, that is), and we want to make sure that we look well beyond racial lines.

So with that in mind, let's leave it to the SoSG readers in a new poll: Chin-Lung Hu Looks Like Which Ocean's Eleven Cast Member?

George Clooney?


Matt Damon?


Shaobo Qin?


Bernie Mac?

Chin-Lung Hu looks like which Ocean's Eleven cast member?
George Clooney
Matt Damon
Shaobo Qin
Bernie Mac
  
Free polls from Pollhost.com