Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Injury Updates

From Diamond:

Setup man Jonathan Broxton (lat) threw on flat ground twice, but was unavailable to pitch for a second straight day. "How long it's going to take, I don't know," Manager Joe Torre said.

Third baseman Andy LaRoche (thumb), who was sent to Las Vegas to continue his rehabilitation assignment, fouled a ball off his toe. "That's giving him more problems than his hand," Torre said.

Troubling that LaRoche seems to be becoming an injury magnet.

Why Do I Feel Like the Diamondbacks?

Just Getting the Throwdown Started

Sax, I still don't get why you went with the screenname 'moygeek'...

Dodgers Rank 22nd in SI's Ballpark Rankings

From SI.com:

These are your rankings. They are based solely on results taken from an online survey of baseball fans in March, when we asked readers to rate their hometown ballpark in 10 categories. As a group, these fans know of what they speak: Nearly 15 percent of the responses came from season-ticket holders, and more than half of all the responses came from fans who attend at least five games per season.

MLB Ballpark Rankings: Los Angeles Dodgers

The most interesting question:

Which player on your team is the most worth paying to watch?

Russell Martin 54.6%
Matt Kemp 13.2%
Andruw Jones 6.8%
Brad Penny 5.1%
James Loney 3.1%

No Nomar? No Jeff Kent? Color me surprised.

Rock Out With Another Time-Waster!

Thanks to Kotaku!

Game 27 Thread, April 30 @ Marlins, 4p

Chad Billingsley (0-4) vs. Scott Olsen (3-0).

COMMENTS: Baseball players can be a superstitious lot. Bloggers, not so much—that is, until their team is on a four-game winning streak with a fifth win representing the difference between a losing April and a winning April. SoSG is doing its part to keep the streak alive, because who knows: Maybe, just maybe, the Dodgers' recent success has something to do with Game Threads being posted at four minutes after the hour. Or with me (Orel) writing them. Okay, we're not that deluded, but we're also not going to change our ways until the Dodgers lose.

Could it be today? Billingsley is still looking for his first win despite striking out 12 in his last start. But much more is right than wrong with the Dodgers, starting with the effectiveness of the bullpen, Jonathan Broxton's absence notwithstanding. Russell Martin has gone all EMT on his bat, resuscitating his production and resuming his team-leading ways. Even Andruw Jones has been playing a solid center field—and he's due to rise from the dead today. You heard it here first!

Vin Does Not Wear The Scully Household Pants

Generations of Dodger fans have grown up to the dulcet tones of Vin Scully's voice. In fact, I can't imagine the Dodgers without him. So it is interesting that, regarding the potential of Vin Scully next year to the broadcast booth, the decision does not rest with the McCourts, or FSN or KABC, or legions of Dodger fans everywhere, or even Vin himself.

No, the decision rests with the feelings of his wife, Sandy. According to Vin in today's New York Times, she will determine if Scully returns to call Dodger games next year:

Vin Scully did not — repeat, did not — take the opportunity of receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award in Sports Broadcasting on Tuesday from Fordham University’s WFUV Radio, where he got his start as a sportscaster in 1947, to announce his retirement as the voice of the Dodgers.

He is 80 and said he felt fine. He still loves calling baseball.

But his contract expires after this season, and he said he would follow the advice of his wife, Sandy, about continuing a run that began in Brooklyn in 1950 and has spanned the ownership of the O’Malley family, Rupert Murdoch and Frank McCourt.

“I want to spend a lot of time with her,” he said at the dinner at Sotheby’s that honored him and another renowned Fordham alumnus, Charles Osgood, of CBS News.

“There’s a lot of hoopla in this job, but it’s lonely for the wife,” he said. “So I want to talk seriously with her about her feelings. I want to know what’s in her head. We’ll talk it out over the long summer and then we’ll talk to Frank.”

He said that he did not know what his wife would say. “She’s so selfless,” he said, “that she’ll probably say, ‘Whatever you feel you should do, we’ll do,’ and then we’ll be back at Square 1. It’s a question I get asked a lot at this age.”

Dammit, Vin, you're so darn noble and chivalrous, it's killing us. My wife had better not hear about this.

Post-Game 26 Thread: Knowing When To Celebrate

I suppose this was on the AP wire but I'll pick up the feed from the Deseret Morning News, which I was reading to get my fill of LDS church news. Having "watched" the game on gameday until the seventh, and then stuck listening to Rick Monday and Jerry Reuss on radio for the remainder of the game, I didn't see the Marlins' catcher prematurely celebrating:

MIAMI — When Florida Marlins catcher Mike Rabelo spiked the ball to punctuate an inning-ending play in the eighth inning, the Los Angeles Dodgers took note.

"Excitement from a kid, and he'll probably learn from it," Los Angeles second baseman Jeff Kent said.

An inning later, it was the Dodgers doing the celebrating. Kent's two-out single broke a ninth-inning tie, and the Dodgers won their fourth game in a row Tuesday night, 7-6.

Andre Ethier walked with one out against Kevin Gregg (3-1), took second on a groundout and scored easily on Kent's single. The Dodgers won even though Derek Lowe was unable to protect a 6-1 lead, and with the score 6-all, twice failed to convert scoring chances.

Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla made a strong relay on a double by Mark Sweeney to throw out Blake DeWitt trying to score from first with two out in the eighth. Rabelo held onto the throw despite taking a tumble in a collision with Sweeney, then rose and slammed the ball to the grass as he headed for the dugout.

Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said Rabelo's show of emotion was excessive.

"That's not the way we want to be portrayed as an organization," Gonzalez said. "I spoke to him afterward, and he'll be fine."

It probably wasn't that big of a deal, but it was funny to see that Jeff Kent commented about it. During his ninth-inning at bat in which he hit the go-ahead run in with a double, the sparse crowds at Dolphin Stadium allowed a clearly audible heckler to scream "Why don't you retire?" to Kent in the batter's box. Rick Monday even called this out on the radio broadcast, after Kent was standing on second base and the Dodgers were up by a run. Funny stuff.

Also, nice to see Saito with a 1-2-3 inning, including two Ks. I hope that he's getting back in the swing of things with his old form, but I've got to hand it to the relief corps of the Dodgers, including Joe Beimel, Jonathan Broxton, and Scott Proctor as well as the unlikely Chan Ho Park--these guys have kept us in the games late, which has led to our four-game win streak. Keep up the great work!

Scramble Puzzle

Can you identify the Dodger in the sliding scramble puzzle below?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Sax's Frustration in Sax's Own Words (Sort Of). He Too Is Frustrated

Astute SoSG readers may have noticed that Steve Sax has not posted for five days now. The truth is, like Nomar Garciaparra, I'm on the DL. And man, is it frustrating. As I wrote on Sax: Return to DL is Frustrating at MLBbloggers.com:

It's an unfair statement to say that I too am extremely frustrated to be back on the blogger's disabled list.

I was just starting to feel pretty good in my role as anonymous blogger. Posts were starting to structure and flow for me the way I wanted. My Game Thread postings were attracting 250-300 comments each game. I was trying to help the blog. That's all I cared about. Then this happened.

As soon as it happened, I knew I had a case of writer's block. When I tried to type up a post this weekend on how AT&T Park has been fumigated to remove every lingering odor of Barry Bonds, I felt it right away. I stopped and had a glass of wine to see if I could break through the writer's block. Ideally, I wanted to get through the rest of the post and then take a nap. I tried to shake it off, but I couldn't. At that point, I knew I was in trouble.

It doesn't matter if I hurt myself on an innocent sarcasm-free post or a incisive, biting criticism of management. It's still a devastating thing. When it first happened, I didn't want to talk to anybody about it. I had worked so hard to get back to regular postings, then to have something like this just put me right back on the DL--it was just too frustrating.

This injury seems similar to a procrastination tendency I had in college around term paper time, from which it would take about one spring break to get back (we were on the quarter system). Every time it happes it can be different, though, so you never know. I don't know how long it will take this time. Last year, once I came back to SoSG posting after having a child, the time off didn't really bother me. I was all right. Time will tell now how difficult overcoming writer's block will be this time.

I didn't feel any worse the day after the injury than I thought I might. That's good. On the other hand, it never feels great when you have trouble writing. I don't have my normal 85 wpm typing pace or anything. The first order will be to rest to get the creative juices flowing again.

When you do come back from a writer's block injury, you try not to protect yourself from reading other blogs or think about posting subconsciously. But sometimes your body does that instinctively. That's why sometimes you see a blogger at a cafe suddenly start drumming his or her fingers on the table. Everything is connected (especially with a laptop and wi-fi access).

The plan for me now is to stay back, take it easy, and just slowly work my way back into regular posing on SoSG. That way, I can get rejuvenated about blogging again and do other things that I need to do (like my day job).

As for blogging activity, I can obviously post, but I think I will probably be less funny or bitter than I normally am for a week, at least. It's not about putting any stress on my wrists for fear of contracting carpal tunnel. The first order of the rehab process is rest, then watching a game or two on television with a beer in hand, and then you build your blogging strength back up.

My Prized Possession

I'm not sure how this came into existence. Maybe it was dark. Or he needed a quick buck. Perhaps it's just a fake. Whatever the reasoning, I present to you, the loyal readers of SoSG, a photo of the famous Bill Buckner error signed by Red Sox Pitcher BOB "THE STEAMER" STANLEY: The very pitcher responsible for throwing the ball in the dirt which tied the game, and opened the door for Buckner's recently completed turmoil.

I defy all sports fans to come up with a signed piece of memorabilia more representative of abject failure.

Game 26 Thread: April 29 @ Marlins, 4p

Derek Lowe (2-1) vs. Andrew Miller (1-2).

COMMENTS: "Right now, the goal is .500," said Joe Torre nine days ago, when the Dodgers were 7-11 and in last place. Gentlemen, the goal is reachable today. In fact, the Dodgers could escape April with a winning record—but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Derek Lowe and his tight elbow start for the Dodgers; Andrew Miller, a key component in Florida's trade of Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to Detroit, starts for the Marlins. So while we remain on alert for the dreaded green pitcher effect, we also remember this is a newly ballsy Dodger team (although we must wait one more day for Andruw Jones to show up).

A Girl of Summer—Almost

After reading Mrs. Orel's At-Game Recap, our friend Linda Bergman kindly contributes this story of an encounter with Vin Scully.

(It's a busy time for Vin: He's getting ready to appear onstage with John Wooden and he's receiving honors left and right. And head on over to Dodger Thoughts to see a priceless photo of Vin from his Fordham University yearbook: Vincent Scully '49.)

Brava Orel's wife!!!! Her story of the oppressive heat Dodger fans willingly endure reminded me of another story that took place many years ago.

As kids and Dodger fans in the 60's, my older brother Dick and I would listen to the games on his little Zenith portable radio for hours on end to take us out of the oppressive heat of the San Fernando Valley and the torture of Mom's sticky, yellow vinyl sofa. Dick, unbeknownst to his friends (who would destroy him for hanging out with his kid sister), taught me how to score games listening to Vin Scully. He patiently showed me how to draw the baseball diamond and record the balls and strikes and errors. I was a compulsive learner and caught on fast. Mostly, I loved being close to him without getting punched or teased and I attributed his benevolence to the calm that Vinny's voice always seemed to restore to our chaotic household. In my mind, Vinny bonded us as secret friends. I can never, to this day, hear his voice and not think of brother Dick and me head-to-head in our house on Hart Street.

Fast forward to some thirty years later. It was the 90's and I had arranged with the Dodgers organization to sit with Vinny to research a script I was writing. "Toot Toot Tootsie Goodbye," based on Ron Powers' book of the same name, was about a legendary baseball announcer nearing the end of his career.

My heart raced with excitement as I took the elevator up high above the crowds to the broadcast booth and I just about melted when I sat down in front of the console and saw the vista of the park spread out before me. Vinny's Vista. The way he saw it. The view that inspired him to draw the voice pictures that transported us—the radio fans—to the park and beyond.

For me, Vinny WAS the character in the film, L.C. Fanning. Like Fanning, Vinny was a master storyteller able to give us nuanced verbal histories on every player. With a brilliant turn of phrase, he could take us to the players' hometowns, to where their mothers and grannies made homemade apple pie, to where they first threw that slider and how, with hard work and spit, they became true boys of summer. When Vinny called a game, you could smell that pie.

He was such a gentleman and made me so comfortable. I told him the story I just told you. "My brother would never believe this," I whispered. Vinny grinned and leaned back in his chair.

"Well, let's get him on the phone."

My hands shook as I dialed, praying Dick was sitting in the stands with the radio to his ear or at home listening to it. Eureka! I could barely contain myself when I heard his familiar " 'Lo" and blurted out, "You'll never guess where I am sitting!"

He guessed the usual haunts. A movie theatre? A bar? Getting your toes done? No. NO. NO.

"Where, then?"

When I told him I was at Dodger Stadium in Vinny's booth, there was a long silence. Finally, with his usual command of the English language, he snorted.

"Horseshit."

Oh boy, I had him now, I thought and handed the phone to Vinny sitting so close I could smell the remnant of dry cleaning fluid in his sports jacket.

"Hi there, Richard!" Scully chirped in that unmistakable baritone.

And so, history for this Valley Girl was made.

Sealed in the sanctity of the announcer's booth and the magic of Nancy Bea Hefley, the organ lady, not fifteen feet away, I was Queen of the May and Queen for a Day at the same time.

To top it off, Don Drysdale was also doing color that night. Resplendent in his Hawaiian shirt and bloodshot baby blues, he too got in on the act, talking game to Dick and flattering me for writing a movie about baseball.

And so I became more than a little sister.

Finally, in my older brother's eyes, I was someone to be reckoned with. An authentic girl of summer, almost, on a night that ended far too soon.

Thanks, Linda!

You Heard It Here First

While I do not profess to have a brilliant baseball mind, nor (publicly) claim to possess magical powers, I do hereby guarantee that Andruw Jones will break out of his slump tomorrow, April 30, or the first game in which he plays thereafter.

Rocky Lives

As hard as it is to take your eyes off Andruw Jones's Battle for Mendoza Mediocrity and Nomar Garciaparra's keeping half of Cedars Sinai in the black, I recommend you shuffle over to TNT and the Vs. Network (which no longer just shows lower-tiered wrestling). There's some real tussling going on, in the never-ending basketball and hockey playoffs. The Lakers might have made Carmelo... mmm, Caramelo... look like me after a bender, but not every high-ranked team is having it so easy.

Something funny happened during the Celtics march to inevitability - they met a scrappy Atlanta Hawks squad that NOBODY knew had even made the playoffs. Suddenly, the series is tied 2-2, and Beantown's getting ready to dust off their "woe is me" kvetching.

Delino's not just proud of his sixth-ranked ass kicking Flyers. He's considering putting some money on them while in Vegas. Now if there was only a spread for "giving up two goal leads in under two minutes," the Flyers would be the most sure bet since the Black Sox.

If the Sixers win every game for the rest of the playoffs, they'll still barely be over .500. And yet they're demonstrating the resolve and never-say-die attitude of American Idol's Sanjaya. If Igoudala can hit more than one basket in a row, Philly might just stick around to Game 7.

Side note: I'm writing this while watching Classic Boxing on "Vs." Sugar Ray Leonard came out for his fight against Hearns to Michael Jackson's "Leave Me Alone." Oh my.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Nomar's Frustration in Nomar's Own Frustrated Words. He's Frustrated

From "Nomar: Return to DL is frustrating" at MLBPLAYERS.com:

It's an understatement to say I'm extremely frustrated to be back on the disabled list.

I was starting to feel pretty good in my return from my hand injury. Things were starting to work for me the way I wanted. I was on the field, trying to help the team. That's all I cared about. Then this happened.

As soon as it happened, I knew I had pulled my calf. When I lunged after the ball I felt it right away. I walked around to see how it would feel. Ideally, I wanted to get through the rest of the inning and get checked out in the dugout. I tried to walk it off, but I couldn't. At that point, I knew I was in trouble.

It doesn't matter if I hurt myself on an innocent-looking play or a tough play. It's still a devastating thing. When it first happened, I didn't want to talk to anybody about it. I had worked so hard to get back, then to have something like this just put me right back on the DL -- it was just too frustrating.

This injury seems similar to a calf injury I had last year from which it took about two weeks to get back. Every time it happens it can be different, though, so you never know. I don't know how long it will take this time. Last year, once I came back, it didn't really bother me. I was all right. Time will tell how the injury reacts this time.

I didn't feel any worse the day after the injury than I thought I might. That's good. On the other hand, it never feels great when you have trouble walking. I don't have my normal gallop or anything. The first order will be rest to get the swelling down.

When you do come back from an injury, you try not to protect yourself or think about it subconsciously. But sometimes your body does that instinctively. That's why sometimes you see a pitcher with a sprained ankle suddenly hurt his shoulder. Everything is connected.

The plan for me now is to stay back from the East Coast road trip. That way I can get treatment all day and do what I need to do.

As for baseball activity, I can obviously throw, but I think I will be off baseball activity for a week, at least. It's about not putting any stress on the calf. The first order of the rehab process is rest, then you build your strength back up.

Roger to Ronaldo: Thanks, Buddy

Report: Clemens, singer had relationship (ESPN.com)

Cops question Ronaldo regarding transvestites (AP/ESPN.com)

Shocker: Giants Send Zito to Bullpen

"Hmmm, what rhymes with 'Lidge'?"


From "After 0-6 start, Giants move $126M ace Zito to bullpen" at ESPN.com:

The highest paid pitcher in Major League Baseball is out of a starting job.

San Francisco moved $126 million ace Barry Zito into the bullpen on Monday. The move was first reported by ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney.

Zito, who signed the seven-year deal with the team before last season, is now 0-6 this season with a 7.53 ERA. He was informed of the move in a meeting with manager Bruce Bochy.

Bochy did not give a timetable for Zito's return to the rotation.

First the Blue Jays release Frank Thomas, then the Pirates release Matt Morris. Now this—accepting sunk costs has become downright fashionable in the major leagues. Dodger fans can only wonder if Joe Torre and Ned Colletti are taking notes.

Diamondbacks Threatening Ned Colletti's Job Security?

The recent firing of Reds GM Wayne Krivsky after only two years on the job is a fresh reminder of the volatility in baseball front offices, especially those of teams with a "win-now" mandate. SoSG has already examined the payroll disparity in the NL West, specifically, that between the Dodgers and everyone else. Now the Arizona Diamondbacks—with the division's lowest payroll and baseball's best record (18-7) and largest run differential (148-93)—are part of the reason why some baseball writers are questioning the job security of Dodgers GM Ned Colletti. The latest writer to wonder out loud is SI.com's Jon Heyman. From "Will any GM join Krivsky on unemployment line?":

Ned Colletti, Dodgers. This baseball lifer waited a long time to get his dream job, and it was a hire applauded in many circles. [Giants GM Brian] Sabean's right-hand man during the Giants' heyday also previously worked as a PR man and sportswriter (not a bad Dodger formula, as Fred Claire, another ex-writer, did a decent job as L.A.'s GM).

Colletti's first year, 2006, brought some wise deadline deals, including one for Greg Maddux that helped pushed L.A. into the playoffs. But the Dodgers have done a lot of disappointing lately, perhaps partly because of a lack of clubhouse cohesiveness. A few notable free-agent missteps haven't helped, though, especially the signings of Juan Pierre and ex-Giant Jason Schmidt, whose arm has bothered him practically since hitting L.A.

Meanwhile, Diamondbacks GM Josh Byrnes just signed an eight-year contract extension through 2015. Colletti, whose contract ends in 2009, currently has the public support of Frank McCourt, but it will be interesting to see how much of an effect the media has on McCourt's support if the Dodgers produce another season without a trip to the playoffs.

T.J. Simers Does at Least One Thing Right

T.J. Simers: Scully and Wooden, together on one stage

Tickets go on sale May 7.

Dodgers Showing Chutzpah

It seemed all too familiar at the time: Tie game, eighth inning. The Dodgers' defensive specialist second baseman makes a brainfart error on a ground ball that screams double play; instead of bases empty with two out, it's men on second and third with no out. Game over, right? Maybe last year. This year, Chin-lung Hu shook off his error the very next play, taking Garrett Atkins' hard grounder and looking Todd Helton back to third before throwing to first for the out. Then future closer Jonathan Broxton goes 3-0 to Troy Tulowitzki, and instead of walking in the go-ahead run fights back and gets Tulowitzki to hit into a double play. After two shutout innings by Takashi Saito and Joe Beimel, and after hitting into two double plays of their own, the Dodgers win when James Loney singles with the bases loaded in the tenth. Final: Dodgers 3, Rockies 2.

The win gives the Dodgers their first three-game winning streak of the season and moves them to within one game of .500 (12-13). It's too early to call this a "statement game," but if—er, when—the Dodgers' fortunes improve in May, this game will be remembered as the starting point.


top photo: Jon SooHoo/Dodgers
bottom photo: Kevork Djansezian/AP

Hey Danica: This is What a Hot Race Car Champion Looks Like

Dear Danica,

While I have unbounded respect for your world-class driving skills and acknowledge that you are more attractive than the average race car driver (see: Dale Earnhardt, Jr), unfortunately Ashley Force's victory has bumped you to a distant No. 2 on the hot female race car champion list. And you're a Milka Duno victory away from being an even more distant No. 3. I thus ask that you continue kicking ass in your races, but please leave all future FHM photoshoots to those better equipped to handle them.

Respectfully Yours,

SoSG Karros


PS - Agree or disagree, you can still vote here

Sunday, April 27, 2008

At-Game 25 Recap: Melted Out

A missive from Mrs. Orel:

Once a year, for his birthday in April, I buy my husband Dodger tickets for us to attend a game together.

I like baseball. I don't breathe baseball, but I like the in-person experience of our All-American pastime. I like the crowd, the seventh-inning stretch, the peanuts, the Dodger Dogs. I like peppering my husband with questions he can't answer.

"Is Loney married?"

"Don't know."

"But you're supposed to be some kind of Dodger know-it-all."

"Why does it matter if he's married?"

"I like him and I want him to have a happy home life. You should find that out."

"Right."


I notice paramedics wheeling a gurney with a young woman utterly wilted in the steamy heat.


In 2004 we were away from Los Angeles for a few months. We were in Hong Kong and occasionally managed to see a Dodger game on television. I was never homesick until I saw the silhouettes of those palm trees surrounding the stadium. "Oh," I sighed to my husband, "look, it's a sunset game...perfect...let's go home."

I especially like night games, but this year our date was for a Sunday afternoon game. It is my ritual to go to the park in March and buy the tickets in person. I picked good seats. Loge, on the aisle, and in the shade.

It all started so well. We had cold water and Coke, we had peanuts and in keeping with ballpark tradition, we threw caution to the wind and indulged in those grilled Dodger Dogs. I make a confession to my husband:

"Later I'm going to have a soft-serve ice-cream or maybe a soft yogurt cone."

"Are you?"

"Yes, I am. Fat and carbs be damned, we're in Dodger Stadium and it's your birthday!"

By the fifth inning the game was tied.

"Extra innings?" I ask. "What d'ya think?"

"Nope," he says.

"Yeah, there will be," I argue. "I'm sure of it."

I'm sure of it because I've planned that frozen treat with care. I know when I'm going to get it. Bottom of the seventh.

And it's the day for it. It's hot. The temperature is in the low nineties, San Bernadino is burning up in a wildfire that shouldn't be happening until October, my skin glows, it's sticky and a low-grade headache is coming on. I make my move.

"I'm going for that cone," I say and leap up the stairs.


I'm as parched as Lawrence when he came upon Aqaba.


There is exactly one frozen yogurt stand on the Loge level. I notice they don’t serve cones, only cups, which is a disappointment, but more alarming is the mile-long lineup of overheated baseball fans salivating for the dessert.

I'll come back, I think, and return to my seat. Bottom of the eighth and back I go. Fantastic, no lineup. I get my cash ready and a man inside the booth runs an index finger across his neck.

"Sold out!" he mouths to me.

What?

Okay, seriously, forget the fat and sugar. I'll get one of those frozen malts.

Sold out.

Frozen lemonade.

Sold out.

I dash from one food stand to the next, desperate for what I cannot have. Alongside me, I notice paramedics wheeling a gurney with a young woman utterly wilted in the steamy heat.

An ice cream! I want to scream. Give the girl a double scoop of Rocky Road, she'll be up in a flash.

Come on, these are the Los Angeles Dodgers, not the Anchorage Dodgers. For crying out loud, we're not ready. This is Southern California. It's hot. We're not ready. How can we be sold out of frozen treats when the stadium isn’t even nearly full? How can that be?

In the tenth inning we win the game. "Told you," I grouse because I'm as parched as Lawrence when he came upon Aqaba.

As the crowd thins, we watch Frank McCourt meet-and-greet below us in the VIP section. Mothers rush to him with their babies. He holds the infants like a politician and pictures are taken.

Heads up, Mr. McCourt...here's a tip...you know what those babies would like far more than a snapshot of the two of you? A sweet, icy, drippy cone filled with an All-American treat.

I know because I'm one of those babies.

Happy Birthday, Orel.

Thanks, honey!

Game 25 Thread: April 27 vs. Rockies, 1p

Esteban Loaiza (1-2) vs. Jeff Francis (0-2).

COMMENTS: SoSG will be representin' on the Loge level (free caps!) as the Dodgers try to complete the sweep of Colorado—unlikely given that Rockies ace (and pride of Vancouver, BC) Francis is going up against nominal Dodger starter Loaiza, and that the Dodgers have not yet won three in a row. Strangely, yesterday's 10-run first-inning outburst may cost the Dodgers today, as Rockies manager Clint Hurdle forced Mark Redman to serve penance for another five innings (in which he ironically held the Dodgers scoreless). Now the Rockies bullpen will be rested for today's game.

As for the bats, the only starter without a hit yesterday was...wait for it...Andruw Jones, who did draw two walks to beef up his OBP and whose glove continues to pay dividends. If Matt Kemp hasn't earned a spot in today's starting lineup after his first career grand slam yesterday, then there is no justice in the world. As Erin from Beantown West noted, Kemp's five RBIs in the first inning were "more than Jones has had all year."

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Matt Kemp. Grand Slam. Two Flavors That Were Meant to Be Together

Matt Kemp as he hits his first career grand slam.


Juan Pierre and Kemp give each other pointers.


photos by Mark J. Terrill/AP

Kerwin Danley Update

From Dodgers.com:

Home-plate umpire Kerwin Danley briefly lost consciousness after being hit under the jaw with a 96 mph fastball in the fourth inning of the Dodgers-Rockies game on Saturday night, and after a delay was taken from the field on an ambulance.

[...]

The ball hit him on the jaw and he lost consciousness "for a couple of seconds," according to a member of the Dodgers' public relations staff, adding that when the ambulance took him away, he was coherent, breathing and conscious. Danley was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital, and Dodgers medical personnel went with him.

Best wishes to Danley and his family from everyone at Sons of Steve Garvey!

UPDATE:

From Dodgers.com:

Umpire Kerwin Danley was released from a Los Angeles hospital early Sunday morning, hours after he took a Brad Penny fastball to the jaw.

Danley, a Los Angeles native, was resting comfortably at home, crew chief Greg Gibson said Sunday. Danley did not umpire Sunday afternoon's finale of the Dodgers-Rockies series, Minor League umpire Mike Muchlinski was summoned from the Pacific Coast League and worked first base.

Five Things That Will Happen This Season

1. Clayton Kershaw will pitch for the Dodgers. Pretty obvious, sure, but made more urgent because the Dodgers lack a true number-five starter, forcing them to carry 12 pitchers on the roster and do silly things like play Russell Martin at third base. The only question is when Kershaw is promoted: Bill Plaschke says sooner; common sense says later.

2. Jonathan Broxton will become the Dodgers' closer. The era of the dominant closer is over, and the Dodgers are not exempt. Takashi Saito and his 65 career saves have been a bargain and a blessing for the Dodgers, but he's already reached half his blown saves total from last year (4). Meanwhile, Broxton has been quietly effective as Saito's setup man. Expect those roles to switch.

3. Nomar Garciaparra will play his last game. Ever. Too brittle for everyday play and lacking the power to DH, Nomar will find little interest in the free-agent market. And why would he want to move wife Mia Hamm and their twins to another city? Nomar's status as a Los Angeles fan favorite means he'll always have a home in the Dodger organization. And a paycheck, too—the Dodgers are paying him a $2.5 million signing bonus over 2009-10.

4. Blake DeWitt and Andy LaRoche will do battle for sole proprietorship of third base. DeWitt has the head start—that is, if all that airline food doesn't do him in—putting up serviceable numbers and playing (anecdotally) above-average defense. LaRoche has the weight of pre-season expectations but also a higher immediate upside. A healthy LaRoche wins this battle.

5. Rafael Furcal will get extended. One of Ned Colletti's first deals was also one of his best ("I came to the Dodgers because they gave the better deal to me," said Furcal, refreshingly B.S.-free). Now Furcal is saying he wants to finish his career a Dodger and Colletti has indicated interest might be mutual, although such a deal would be outside his short-contract comfort zone. But if Furcal re-signs, he would anchor a defensively outstanding infield that could benefit the team for years.

Game 24 Thread: April 26 vs. Rockies, 7p

Brad Penny (3-2) vs. Mark Redman (2-1).

COMMENTS: After last night's 13-inning exhibition game between the Las Vegas 51s and Colorado Springs Sky Sox, the Dodgers and Rockies hope to play a major league game tonight.

That gaffe-palooza may force Joe Torre to quit lineup juggling and field his best available team, with Nomar Garciaparra, favorite of fans and physical therapists alike, again headed to the DL and Blake DeWitt eligible to replace him. Additionally, Andruw Jones is day-to-day with a bruised calf, meaning tonight's outfield will likely be Andre Ethier, Juan Pierre (1-for-3 with two RBIs last night) and Matt Kemp.

Russell Martin, presumably resuming his catching duties, is heating up like a sidewalk egg (.276/.411/.408) while Rafael Furcal (.366/.459/.602) is the straw that stirs the drink (apologies to Reggie and Darryl).

The Dodgers' pitching continues to provide mixed results, with Hiroki Kuroda turning in a disappointing start but Chan Ho Park earning the win with three scoreless innings. Takashi Saito, who we prematurely declared was back to his 2007 form, suffered his second blown save of the season and apparently isn't over his spring training injuries. Jonathan Broxton, with three holds and a 2.53 ERA, may be the closer before long.

With Brad Penny owning the Rockies (12-2 with a 2.92 ERA lifetime), tonight's game is eminently winnable if the Dodgers can knock out Rockies starter Mark Redman early and get to the soft, gooey underbelly of the Colorado bullpen.

UPDATE:

The lineup:

Furcal, SS
Pierre, LF
Kemp, RF
Kent, 2B
Martin, C
Loney, 1B
Jones, CF
DeWitt, 3B
Penny, P

Jones in at the expense of Ethier. Didn't expect that.

Hops

Chin-lung Hu throws out Garrett Atkins in the tenth inning of last night's Dodger victory.


AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Injury Updates

From Tony Jackson:

Andruw left the game with a bruise and tightness in his left calf, Nomar left with a strained left calf. Nomar's injury sounds serious, which probably means Blake DeWitt is on his way back to the majors. He doesn't have to stay in the minors the minimum 10 days if Nomar goes on the DL.

From Kevin Pearson at Diamond's blog:

One thing to keep in mind when the Dodgers explore 3B options is that if Nomar Garciaparra does not go on the DL, Blake DeWitt can not be called up for 10 days after he was optioned down to the minors. If Garciaparra is a DL situation, DeWitt can come up right away.

Other options for the short-term if Garciaparra does not go on the DL but will be out for a few days could be Andy LaRoche, who is rehabbing in Class AA Jacksonville, or Ramon Martinez, who is in Class AAA Las Vegas after not making the club out of spring training.

Let's Play Spot the Superstition(s)

And they must have worked: Russell Martin was 4-for-4 with two walks and the game-winning RBI Friday night. Oh, and he played a little third base as well.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Game 23 Thread: April 25 vs. Rockies, 7.40p

Hiroki Kuroda (1-2) vs. Ubaldo Jimenez (1-2).

COMMENTS: Can you believe the Dodgers have been shut out only once this season? Problem is, they've also scored only one run six times—all losses. Alternating losses and wins the past five games, the Dodgers have demonstrated it's gnot about gnomes and there's no mo' momentum. Rather, it's about batting average with runners in scoring position (.254) and opponent batting average with men on (.287).

Kuroda has been steady but unspectacular in his first four starts as a Dodger, averaging just over six innings a start with a 2.92 ERA. Jimenez struggled in his last Dodger Stadium appearance, giving up five earned runs in four innings. Conditions are ripe for a Dodger win, if only to perpetuate the frustrating L-W-L-W-L pattern.

Tonight's lineup:

Furcal, SS
Jones, CF
Garciaparra, 3B
Kent, 2B
Loney, 1B
Martin, C
Ethier, RF
Pierre, LF
Kuroda, P

Is it a coincidence Matt Kemp misplayed a fly ball and struck out with the bases loaded yesterday and Juan Pierre's in the lineup today? Meanwhile, Andruw Jones is inexplicably batting second in the order for a third straight game.

Caption Contest


AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Start Counting

That's the Diamondbacks' magic number.

NL West a Division of Extremes

Only one team with a winning record (and the league's best record, at that)? The Giants in third place? It's early in the season, but it's never too early for us to start griping.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Graphing Russell Martin, Part 3

Graphing Russell Martin, Part 2

Need to Kill an Hour or Ten?

Via Kotaku comes the latest addictive online time-killer: TypeRacer!

Game 22 Thread: April 24 vs. Snakes, 7p

Chad Billingsley (0-3) vs. Edgar Gonzalez (0-1).

COMMENTS: A win tonight would give the Dodgers their first series sweep of the season. What? It's only a two-game series? And winless Billingsley is on the mound, meaning that somewhere in his first five innings, he's bound to lose control (Bills was coasting during his last start in Atlanta until a rough 35-pitch fifth inning)? Well, now that we're the second-place Dodgers (and only four games out of the wild card with a mere 140 to play), let's see if our luck will turn against Gonzalez and his 4.50 ERA (in line with his stats from 2006 and 2007).

Marching Toward Mendoza, Part 2: Jones' Slow Start Without Parallel Among Peers

ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick added Andruw Jones to his top-nine "slow starters" list, and Jones "leads the list" with the lowest batting average of any of the other candidates:

Andruw Jones, Dodgers CF (.156, one homer in 64 at-bats)

Jones' early travails rekindle bad memories from last season, when his .222 batting average, .724 OPS and penchant for killing rallies made it a tough sales job for agent Scott Boras.

Jones turns 31 Wednesday, so it's hard to believe his bat speed has vanished. But he messed himself up swinging for the fences in the quest for big money a year ago, and it might require an overhaul to resurrect the old Andruw.

"He's in a horrible habit where he has no back-side pivot to unlock his hips, and every swing is an uppercut swing," said a scout. "It's a grooved swing, and if you happen to hit his bat, he's swinging ... so hard that he can do some damage. But there's very little adjustment to be a good hitter."

Just weeks into Jones' tenure with the Dodgers, the team's fans are already booing him with fervor. He has also become a target for acerbic Los Angeles Times columnist T.J. Simers, who dared him to climb on a scale last week and began referring to him as "Tubbo" when Jones' weight popped up at 248. So much for a Southern California honeymoon.

Concern level: 7.5 [on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being "PANIC"; this is also the highest number of any candidate in the column]. Hitting coach Mike Easler has his work cut out for him.

Yikes, "Marching Toward Mendoza" could be a longer campaign than we at SoSG had anticipated.

What's that? You want an updated graph? Okay, if you insist.

SoSG's Pop Culture Grid, Part II

In case Part I left you wanting more, here's Part II (if Part I didn't leave you wanting more, you get Part II anyway). And just FYI, all Sons answered the questions independently and without knowledge of others' answers.

Apparently our common interests aren't limited to the Dodgers...

(click on image to enlarge)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Game 21 Thread: April 23 vs. Snakes, 7p

Derek Lowe (1-1) vs. Dan Haren (3-0).

COMMENTS: Oh, where to begin. Lowe has given the Dodgers three quality starts in four attempts, but has only won the game in which the Dodgers knocked in 11 runs. But the Dodgers who we just saw limp out of a 1-4 roadtrip could muster only one run in four of their last five games (according to Rick Monday last nignt, Larry Bowa felt "lonely" at the third base box, having been visited only two times all night). If we're 1-4 against the weakest Braves arms and the impotent Reds, it's not a stretch to think that Haren, who is on fire since coming over to the D-backs this year, will mow us down no matter what lineup Torre trots out there.

Even still, we'll be cheering along. Go Dodgers!

UPDATE: Andruw Jones is 10-for-64 this year. If he can bat 4-for-4 tonight (from the two-hole, no less), he'll complete his March Toward Mendoza! (yeah, right).

Graphing Russell Martin

Inspired by Sax's graph of the "Druw Jones Industrial Average", I decided to take a closer look at the conventional wisdom that says Russell Martin's '07 was superb until the last month, at which point the wear and tear of the season took its toll.

Certainly a perfunctory look at his batting average by month seems to support this theory:

Month
Average
April '07
0.314
May '07
0.293
June '07
0.284
July '07
0.303
Aug '07
0.300
Sept '07
0.259

Why, he batted no lower than 0.284 in any month until his horrid 0.259 in September! Furthermore, looking at his running cumulative average, one might fixate on the fact that throughout the season his average wavered between 0.366 and 0.288, and conclude that because his season-ending average of 0.293 was near the nadir, it further supports the theory that he got worse as the season wore on.

While both monthly average and cumulative batting average are oft-used and easy-to-digest metrics when attempting to identify temporal trends, I dislike both. I dislike monthly average because:

  • The analysis ends up being defined by arbitrary boundaries (i.e., when each month begins and ends).
  • It removes any continuity. Analysis becomes limited to 6 discreet data points, which removes the ability to see any intra-monthly and almost all inter-monthly trends.

And I dislike looking at cumulative averages because as the season goes on and at-bats pile up, one's batting average becomes less and less sensitive, which removes both chronological symmetry and the ability to decipher much past the all-star break.

So let's take a look at my preferred metric - the progressive average of Martin's trailing 20 games - and graph it against cumulative average:

(click graph to enlarge)

With the cumulative average, you will see the wide swings at the beginning, but once you get to about August, the at-bat denominator gets so big that his average hardly moves and any trend becomes very difficult to identify. However, with the trailing twenty games average, you can see that while he definitely sucked the last two weeks if the season, he had two earlier periods of equal or greater suckitude, and each time came back strong.

Presented another way, if one looked only at the cumulative average graph, could Martin's early-August swoon be spotted? After all, his average hovered just below 0.300 that whole time. And similarly, looking at only monthly averages, his 0.303 July and 0.300 August also completely hide this swoon.

Anyhow, I am very late for a meeting and don't want to get fired today so I will leave it at this.

Dissatisfied with Splitting Two with Dodgers, Reds Fire GM

Krivsky fired after less than three years as Reds' GM (ESPN.com)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Post-Game 20 Thread: Fire the Gnome

REDS 8, DODGERS 1

Somebody's not pulling their weight, and it's pretty obvious who it is.

Earlier: Touch the Gnome!

Attention Josh Rawitch

Jackie Chan was great and all, but c'mon! I think the players would agree with us on this one.

UPDATE:

Attention Joe Torre

From Deadspin:

The Yankees contacted the visiting clubhouse manager of every stadium where they play and asked that the candy and ice cream be removed before the team comes to town. The clubhouse in Tampa Bay replaced all the candy with nuts, dried fruit and granola. It was hilarious to watch as guys smuggled in candy bars and ate them furtively at their lockers.

LET'S GO FLYERS!!!!

One/Seventh of the net's most dangerous Dodgers Blog officially endorses The Philadelphia Flyers to avoid another massive 3-1 playoff choke and send those Caps right back to the swamp.

Andruw Jones: Marching Toward Mendoza

No, not "munching" toward Mendoza--"marching" toward Mendoza. Since April 4 (game 4 of the season), Andruw Jones has not matched or surpassed the .200 batting average level, commonly known as the Mendoza Line. That's a streak of 15 games below .200 for the $18MM man ($36 over two years).

We here at SoSG are graph-crazy, so as a public service we are tracking Jones' batting average progress, as well as (more recently) regress. Here's the latest, after 19 games:

(click on graph for larger, Andruw-sized image)

Game 20 Thread: April 22 @ Reds, 4p

Hong-Chih Kuo (0-0) vs. Edinson Volquez (2-0).

COMMENTS: Orel says it's all about momentum, but I say it's simply about survival. The Dodgers are 0-3 vs. the NL East and 5-7 vs. the NL West, but we the one division we can beat is the NL Central (3-1). In our last game against the NL Central until May 9 (Astros), it would be nice to grab one more victory against the Reds today.

Kuo's tight pitch count and 33-pitch first inning gave him the early hook last Tuesday, disqualifying him for the victory (which was wrapped up with a bow for Esteban Loiaza and his five-inning relief appearance). He needs to be more efficient tonight against the Reds. Volquez sports a 1.17 ERA though he is also said to get deep into counts.

Which Dodgers offense will show up today?

UPDATE: Tonight's lineup: Gnomar stays in the three-hole, and Jones won't have much time to march toward Mendoza (details in the comments).

Delino Strikes Back

It started as an innocent text message - "Delino, you're in the LA Times." My mind raced with headline possibilities - "Delino, Known for Charity Work, Elected New Pope!" "Delino (again) Saves Puppies and Babies from a Fire." "Delino Reads LA Times!" Excited, I raced to LA Times website, only to find my good name besmirched by the left-leaning sports writers of LA's fifth best newspaper.

This deal was a heartbreaker for Dodgers. The L.A. Dodgers' worst trade ever? For many fans, and one Hall of Fame baseball writer, the choice is clear: Pedro Martinez for Delino DeShields in 1993.

The worst trade in the 50 years that the Dodgers have been in Los Angeles? From casual fans to dedicated seamheads, no prompting is needed. The 1993 trade that sent Pedro Martinez to Montreal for Delino DeShields continues to produce the loudest moans, with obvious justification.

Second baseman DeShields was a three-year bust in Los Angeles while Martinez, caught amid varying opinions by Dodgers officials regarding his long-term durability and whether he was best suited to start or relieve, has won two Cy Young awards in the American League, one in the National, and posted a 199-87 record in 14 seasons since the trade.

Though the LA Times concedes that...

Unfortunately for the Dodgers, DeShields didn't perform like an All-Star in Los Angeles. He batted .250, .256 and .224, although he did manage to steal 27, 39 and 48 bases. Also, in a touch of irony, he turned in the key defensive play as Ramon Martinez, Pedro's brother, pitched a 7-0 no-hitter against the Florida Marlins in 1995.

Does nobody remember the laughter Delino brought? Without Delino, there would be no "Not About Delino DeShields" (Which, ironically, is actually not about Delino). Do the teenagers who write for the LA Times not remember 1997, when the Delino hit just shy of .300 and stole 55 bases. F-ing ingrates. Wait, that was was the year after I left LA. Um, scratch that.

Did you really want Pedro on the Dodgers? He viciously attacks old men.

He always hid a little person in his carry-on.

And right now, Pedro's nothing more than 206 Bones kept together by chewing gum. But Delino the Delaware Destroyer (not to be confused with George Thorogood and the Delaware Destroyers) is forever!