Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ravech Gives Russell Martin Props

ESPN's Karl Ravech speaks pretty highly of Russell Martin's defensive ability as a catcher--though it is a little weird that one of the two highlights they show in the video is Martin covering third base...

I had the perception that Martin was not that effective at throwing out baserunners at second; perhaps that was wrong? In any event, more rest during the season may give Martin a chance to be even more sharp in 2009. Didja hear that, Torre?

Poll: Best Time of Year Sports-wise

Ah, opening day is right around the corner. There's no feeling quite like it. But let's take this moment to think - between opening day, the Final Four (which this year falls into April), and the upcoming NBA and NHL playoffs, are we approaching the best time of year, sports-wise? Here's a visual approximation of when the major US sports come and go, with both regular season and playoffs indicated:

(click image to enlarge)

What's your favorite quarter of the year, sports-wise?
Quarter 1 - Jan, Feb, Mar
Quarter 2 - Apr, May, June
Quarter 3 - July, Aug, Sept
Quarter 4 - Oct, Nov, Dec
Free polls from Pollhost.com

My personal vote is for Quarter 4. Playoff baseball, the NFL and college football in full swing, and, as gravy, the opening of college and pro hoops all fall in Q4. And if I followed hockey, that would be kicking off too (in fact I hear it still kicks off in Q4 even though I don't follow it).

But that's just me. We want to hear from you. And don't just vote - let us know your specific thoughts in the comments section.

Monday, March 30, 2009

$50 Million?!?!?!?

Getting his b--- squishing vice ready, Boras is about to blow the roof off the rookie market with his rumored $50 million price tag on Stephen Strasburg. The kid sounds like the real deal. Though for that cost, I'd rather get...

Oh, Man

The Dodgers just picked up free agent Will Ohman, nailing the coffin shut on fan favorite and 2008 Dodger Bobblehead recipient Joe Beimel (who signed with the Nationals for $2M recently):

PHOENIX -- The Dodgers signed free-agent left-handed reliever Will Ohman to a one-year Minor League contract plus a one-year option, the club announced Monday.

The deal calls for Ohman to receive $1.35 million plus appearance incentives in 2009 with a $2.2 million option for 2010 or a $200,000 buyout. But it also comes with an April 14 player opt-out clause if he's not in the Major Leagues, because he agreed he won't start the season there.

Ohman has missed all but the last week of Spring Training and the Dodgers feel he needs game action before he's promoted. So, he is scheduled to pitch for the Dodgers on Tuesday in Tucson against the D-backs, go with the club to Los Angeles for exhibition games the rest of this week, then return to Minor League camp and join the Triple-A Albuquerque team for a few more appearances leading up to the April 14 deadline.

Final Four Round, 1st Half: Comment-Time!

(click image to enlarge)


See rules here

Why A 14-17 Record Is Not Cause For Alarm

Today the Sports page of the WSJ had some nice statistics on spring training records, and why the Dodgers' 14-17 record is not a meaningful predictor of 2009 season performance (no link):

At Spring Training this year, the typically horrendous Kansas City Royals have a 16-11 record -- one of the best marks in the American League. Does this mean the Royals will defy all odds this year and make an heroic run at the World Series?

The baseball establishment would tell you not to bet on it. Spring Training, they say, is nothing more than a place to evaluate players, regain your timing and work off the lovehandles. Half the players on the field are nobodies with jersey numbers better suited to a football team. So is it possible they've missed something?

James Cochran, a statistician at Louisiana Tech, calculates that over the last six years the average correlation coefficient between a team's winning percentage in the spring and its winning percentage in the real season is .18.

Simply put, that number is a lot closer to 0.0, which suggests there's no correlation at all, than to 1.0, which it would be if the spring standings and final season standings were always identical. In 2005, the number was slightly negative, meaning teams that did poorly in the spring were actually more likely to do well when it counted.

Not so fast, though: Last season, Tampa Bay went 18-8 in the spring before shocking everyone by making the World Series. The correlation coefficient for that season, overall, was a respectable .32, which wasn't even as high as the .43 recorded in 2003. By way of comparison: a recent College Board study of students found a .53 correlation between their SAT scores and their freshman-year grade point averages.

Dad Was An Aqua Velva Man

Hat tip to Jon W for linking through to this classic Steve Garvey commercial, found by Walkoff Walk:

"Not as big as that hit, my friend!"

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Because If You're Not Rockin' It Like This Guy, You're Just Not Rockin' It

Cut-rate import vehicle + adhesive plastic letters = rock the house. Although the owner must have meant SUZUKI SWIFT. Or did he have another product in mind?

More Freeway Fun at SoSG: Because I♥JDREW Must Have Been Taken, What on God's Green Earth Needs Tires This Big?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Prospecting for Gold

Andrew Lambo in spring training action Thursday.

Who is Andrew Lambo? Only the Dodgers' top prospect, according to Baseball America (via Diamond Leung). Lambo hasn't made it past AA ball, but any minor leaguer who can handle the stick is always worth watching.

Would you like to know more? Prospect Profiles 2009: Andrew Lambo (Fire Ned Colletti Now)

photo by Jon SooHoo/Dodgers

Friday, March 27, 2009

George Brett Speaks His Mind, Loses His...



Okay, I think the point is clear. And it's not about sex. When Mr. Pine Tar was asked if he had a new sponsor in his future, he responded "DEPENDS." Enjoy.

SoSG Baseball: Mid-Tourney Review

Well, the Final Four is set:

Satiating our bottomless need to quantify and rank anything and everything, SoSG's stat department has compiled the following ranking of the fastest commenters, based on average time-to-comment (remaining competitors in bold):

Competitor (seed)
Avg Comment
cigarcow (19)
14 mins
Neeebs (8)
16 mins
Wicks (14)
18 mins
djansson (11)
30 mins
Steve (3)
39 mins
Dave (6)
43 mins
w.d.d.i.m. (4)
1 hr, 5 mins
Loney Fan (1)
1 hr, 6 mins
fanerman (17)
1 hr, 7 mins
Damon (16)
1 hr, 27 mins
M.S.T.I. (12)
1 hr, 28 mins
Brandon (15)
1 hr, 31 mins
QuadSevens (2)
1 hr, 56 mins
Dr. Geek (10)
1 hr, 59 mins
Dusto Magnifico (5)
4 hr, 11 mins
Felix Pardalis (18)
8 hr, 4 mins
DanGarion (7)
8 hr, 11 mins
Alex (9)
Bryan (13)

Here is what this data tells me:

  • The tournament's unquestioned Cinderella - #19 seed cigarcow - is no fluke. Not only has he won more matchups than anyone (three), he's also statistically the fastest commenter, averaging a mere 14 minutes to comment.
  • Seeds mean nothing. Not only is the lowest seed the fastest commenter, but the next three fastest commenters are all seeded 8th or lower: Neeebs (2nd fastest but the 8 seed), Wicks (3rd but the 14 seed), and djansson (4th but the 11 seed).
  • Dr. Geek has reached the Final Four thanks to a cream-puff schedule. He places only #14 in the speed rankings, and his path has traversed only DanGarion (#17 speed ranking) and Brandon (#12). Lucky bastard.
  • On the flipside, the 3rd-fastest commenter Wicks was the victim of a bad draw, having to go up against cigarcow in the Play-In Round.

So now let's see what you think:

Who will win SoSG March Madness?
Dr. Geek
Free polls from Pollhost.com

Anyhow, rest up this weekend in time for the Final Four next week!

1computed from a commenter's 1st comment in each Comment-Time thread, and only while the commenter remains in the competition.

See rules here

Russell Martin Discovers His Mutant Power

top photo by Jon SooHoo/Dodgers
bottom photo by Chris Carlson/AP

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Elite Eight Round, 2nd Half: Comment-Time!

(click image to enlarge)

Will not a single top 7 seed make it to the Final Four? Halftime scores:

  • (8) Neeebs leads (1) Loney Fan by 0:34
  • (12) M.S.T.I. leads (4) w.d.d.i.m. 0:09
  • (19) cigarcow leads (11) djansson by 0:20
  • (10) Dr. Geek leads (15) Brandon by 0:10

Halftime is over. Start commenting. Immediately.

See rules here.

Elite Eight Round, 1st Half: Comment-Time!

(click image to enlarge)

And then there were eight. Comment away, gentlemen...

See rules here.

Stay on Target...

Manny's first spring homer (Dodgers.com)

photo by Jon SooHoo/Dodgers

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Jon & Alyssa, Together at Last

From Jon Weisman at Dodger Thoughts:

"Frost/Nixon," eat your heart out.

No, I won't be uncovering any Watergate secrets, but I will be interviewing actress, clothing czar, blogger and now author Alyssa Milano about her new book, Safe at Home: Confessions of a Baseball Fanatic at this year's Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. This will take place April 25 at 1 p.m. on the UCLA campus, at the Festival's L.A. Times stage.

The some-but-not-all-holds-barred interview is scheduled to last approximately 30-35 minutes, followed by five minutes of audience questions and then a booksigning for both Milano and myself. So for those of you who can't make the May 2 Dodger Thoughts/100 Things gathering, here's an alternative. Come to see this once-in-a-lifetime pairing.

That last five minutes could get pretty interesting! What would you ask Alyssa? Or Jon, for that matter?

Andre Picks Up Nomar's Torch

Vin Scully Is My Homeboy had it first: Carne Asada Sundays will continue...under Andre Ethier's watchful eyes. The first event is May 3; information and ticket links here.

Eric Collins Joining Dodgers TV Broadcast Team for 2009

Taking the place of Charley Steiner (who has moved to radio only), Eric Collins will join Steve Lyons in the booth for 38 Dodgers road games this year (covering when Vin Scully does not travel with the team).

The Dodgers.com article is here. But I kid you not, the press release squeezed an extra paragraph in between the second and third graphs that was conveniently left off the website news item:

Collins, 39, was the lead play-by-play announcer for NBC in its baseball coverage of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. For the past five years, he has called ESPN’s College Baseball Super Regionals, and also performed radio and television play by play for the Chicago White Sox on occasions in 2004 and 2008.

One of the nation’s preeminent voices for women’s softball, the Cleveland native has called the sport’s World Cup for ESPN in each of the past three seasons and served as a play-by-play announcer at the Women’s College World Series in 2007 and 2008.

“I’m thrilled to be joining the broadcasting team of the Los Angeles Dodgers, a legendary franchise with a legacy of pioneering and innovation,” said Collins. “I cherish this opportunity. I’m humbled to join an organization with such class, professionalism, and tradition.”

I know Steiner can't discern a high infield fly ball from a home run. But does replacing him with one of the nation's preeminent women's softball voices really represent an upgrade? I suppose we'll find out soon enough.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sweet Sixteen Round, 2nd Half: Comment-Time!

(click to enlarge image)

Sweet Sixteen 1st half results:

  • (1) Loney Fan leads (17) fanerman by 1:04
  • (8) Neeebs leads (9) Alex by ???
  • (12) M.S.T.I. leads (5) Dusto by 1:45
  • (4) w.d.d.i.m. leads (13) Bryan by ???
  • (11) djansson leads (6) Dave by 0:09
  • (19) cigarcow leads (3) Steve by 0:06
  • (10) Dr. Geek leads (7) DanGarion by 9:25
  • (15) Brandon leads (2) QuadSevens by 0:24

Time for the 2nd half!

Huh? What is this post all about?? Find out here.

Classic Tommy

I love Tommy, but I think he is getting up there in age and he is losing his filter. Sure there were some technical difficulties at the start, but this was sort of painful to sit through. Thanks for the words of wisdom, coach!

Monday, March 23, 2009

An Extra-Innings Classic at Dodger Stadium

JAPAN 5, KOREA 3 (MLB.com)

photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Sweet Sixteen Round, 1st Half: Comment-Time!

(click image to enlarge)

On to the Sweet Sixteen!

Huh? What is this post all about?? Find out here.

Diamond Back

Baseball bloggers rejoice! Diamond Leung has started a blog, Diamond Notes:

Two weeks after losing my job as Dodgers beat writer, I was back at the stadium to catch up with old friends that I won’t get see as much of in the future.

I’ll still be writing, at least on this blog. But I’m moving home to San Francisco.

It’s been overwhelming to hear from people in the industry - and especially the readers. It gives me great hope that there is a future in a business I still believe in. I’m not sure what’s next for me, but I’ll always remember the kind words.

Welcome back, Diamond! We've updated our sidebar links for what's sure to be another daily read.

The SoSG Annals of Incompleteness: Dodgers Pocket Schedules

Inspired by last week's dip into the SoSG annals, we are pleased to present our latest retrospective: Dodgers pocket schedules! As always, feel free to send us scans that will fill in missing years (I'm looking at you, Natalie!).


Thanks to Natalie for providing scans for 2002 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008! Now with commentary!


Thanks to Roberto of Vin Scully Is My Homeboy for two of the 2009 pocket schedules!

"Remember 1992? That was a good time, completely unimaginable that it would be 20+ years before we were even close to being in another World Series. Losing 99 games didn't hurt too bad."

1992 pocket schedule, alternate cover. Highly collectible.

"Mike Piazza hit 35 home runs in 1993. Let's show him fielding on the cover of the 1994 pocket schedule!"
—some genius Dodger executive

Nothing's sexier than potential.

"The Piazza on the '97 schedule was definitely juicing."
"That Piazza on the '97 schedule was definitely hetero."
—SoSG Sax

Hideo Nomo was really just paving the way for Kaz Ishii.

Where have you gone, Shawn Green?
Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you
Woo woo woo
What's that you say, Mr. Robinson?
Slugging Shawn has left and gone away
Hey hey hey

Good Times, Part I!

Good Times, Part II!

Good Times, Part III!

Who knew Jeff Kent would actually be a breath of fresh air?

Since removing player names from the back of Dodger jerseys worked so well, Frank McCourt decided to remove the numbers from the front.

This is it: The Official 2007 Dodgers Preliminary Pocket Schedule. Highly collectible.

"You can almost feel the sweat looking at Derek Lowe."
—SoSG Sax

Sandy Koufax is relegated to his proper place: Derek Lowe's armpit.

Thus endeth our retrospective. Who do you think will grace the cover of the Dodgers' 2009 pocket schedule? Hmmm, I wonder. Question answered!

If The US Falls In The WBC And Doesn't Make A Sound,...

Look, I've already posted that I have been interested in the World Baseball Classic, and tonight's 9-4 loss to the Japanese was disappointing from my perspective but probably a lot more depressing to the fine folks over at ESPN (who are televising tomorrow night's WBC Championship).

Or do they care, either? As if we needed any more evidence that the WBC marketing team at ESPN is too busy watching March Madness, just like the rest of America:

Okay. I'll put $100 on "Championship" to win.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

WBC Semifinals Cornucopia of Trivia

One of the pleasures of being a recognized-by but not affiliated-with blog of the Dodgers, is that you get emails for each of the Dodgers' press releases. And there has been nothing like the cavalcade of emails shooting from the computer of Dodger PR representative Amy Summers, who has overloaded our mailbox with emails about this weekend's games. Someone, please take the Red Bull away from Amy. And no sudden movements.

But in all seriousness, here's a top-line on WBC info the Dodgers have shoved down our gullet like a foie gras hors d'ouevres preparation:

  • Winner of tonight's USA/Japan game plays tomorrow night against Korea for the WBC Championship. No pressure.
  • The US starts Roy Oswalt, and Japan starts Daisuke Matsuzaka.
  • The last time these two teams met, in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the US won 8-4 to claim the bronze medal. The US has beat Japan in its most recent four meetings, dating back to 2006.
  • A slate of six ESPN "experts" pick Japan to win it all, but it's a little unclear if the methodology was sound as the accompanying flags make it look like the respondents just filled in their scantron sheets with red marker. Special thanks to Peter Gammons for his one-sentence, 14-word insightful analysis of the competition. Yet another salty Boston Red Sox fan, lamenting Dustin Pedroia's WBC injury (Pedroia's replacement, Brian Roberts, went 3-for-3 in the US' 9-3 victory over the Netherlands).
  • Jonathan Broxton is the only Los Angeles Dodger on the squad, wearing his Dodger #51. Seven teams are tied with the most number of players on the USA WBC roster, with two. The Giants have none.
  • Evan Longoria has replaced the injured Chipper Jones on the USA roster.
  • David Wright took the bat he used to clinch victory over Puerto Rico in the USA's dramatic three-run bottom-of-the-ninth comeback in the second round, and donated that bat to Cooperstown. Way to go, David, whom SoSG already likes for being a shrewd VitaminWater mogul.
  • Yes, the "backwards-facing" USA flag on the jerseys is correct, and authorized by the US Department of Defense. The star is allowed to "face forward" to make the flag appear as if it is flying in the breeze as the wearer moves forward.
  • Tommy Lasorda and Fernando Valenzuela will throw out the first pitch tonight.
  • Earlier this afternoon, Frank McCourt gave interested media a tour of a hill near Dodger Stadium Parking Lot 6, where the Dodgers have unceremoniously dumped a commemorative stone lantern that was given to the Dodgers by Sotaro Suzuki, a Japanese sportswriter, in 1962. If this doesn't sound like the lamest "WBC-related event" ever, just think how ridiculous it was to type this press release in the first place.

Let's play ball! Go USA! (For comments in a GameThread, go here.)

WBC Semifinals Game Thread: USA vs. Japan, 5p

LaTroy Hawkins, Curtis Granderson, Jimmy Rollins and Derek Jeter visiting the Urban Youth Academy in Compton yesterday.

As for today's game...

Mutual respect between US and Japan (MLB.com)

photo by Ben Platt/MLB.com

What You Missed at Dodger Stadium Last Night

I guess we know what Derek Jeter's Korean name is.

'Duk's at Dodger Stadium! Fun and fresh: Koreans keep love alive in WBC semifinal win (Big League Stew)

second photo: BLS

The Greatest

From Tony Jackson:

Muhammad Ali, who lives nearby, showed up for tonight's Dodgers-Royals tilt and was honored in a pregame, on-field ceremony near the Royals dugout. He didn't go over to the Dodgers' side, but Joe Torre and a handful of players -- James Loney, Matt Kemp, Delwyn Young, Xavier Paul and Stephen Randolph -- walked across the field to meet him and pose for a group photo with him. Torre then posed for a SECOND group photo with Ali, Wayne Gretzky and George Brett. A little bit of strength there.

photo by Jon SooHoo/Dodgers

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Are You Ready for This?

Oswalt to square off vs. Dice-K (MLB.com)

Dodger Stadium sees its first World Baseball Classic action tomorrow night tonight (Korea vs. Venezuela semifinal). Are you planning on watching on television? You're not alone. From a WBC press release:

The game between the United States and Venezuela on Sunday, March 8 posted a 2.0 rating with 2,645,000 viewers tuning in, ranking as the most watched World Baseball Classic game ever, eclipsing the 2006 second round game between Mexico and the U.S. which was seen by 2,458,000 people. In addition, it was the most watched sporting event on basic cable for the week.

Domestic television ratings for the 2009 World Baseball Classic Round One games broadcast on ESPN averaged a 1.3 rating, up over 40% from 2006. The four games averaged 1,745,000 viewers, up almost 90% compared to 2006 Round One games.

Are you planning on going to the games? Let us hear about your experience at Dodger Stadium—we want pictures too!

photo by Ben Platt/MLB.com

Friday, March 20, 2009

Play-In Round, 2nd Half: Comment-Time!

(click image to enlarge)

Here's the chance for those trailing at the half to catch up. Play-In Round 1st-half results:

  • (17) Fanerman leads (16) Damon by 2 hrs, 23 mins
  • (19) Cigarcow leads (14) Wicks by 22 mins
  • (15) Brandon leads (18) Felix P by 1 hr, 47 mins

Comment away!

Huh? What is this post all about?? Find out here.

Back to the Future

How's this for a cool shot? (Inside the Dodgers)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Caption Contest: Queen's Edition

Yes, that's Manny Ramirez playing Britain's favourite pastime, cricket. Daft, innit? He donned the pads to shoot a DirecTV advert for their international cricket programmes. Caption what you think Manny is thinking whilst pulling off this sticky wicket of a manoeuvre. Here's one to get you started, luv.

"Can't wait for the seventh inning tea interval."

Ramirez takes a swing at cricket (AP/Yahoo! Sports)

Chirping in (LA Times)

BLS video: A second career? Manny gets his cricket on (Big League Stew)

AP photo

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Play-In Round, 1st Half: Comment-Time!

And the madness begins!

Remember, this is the Play-In Round, relevant only for the bottom 6 seeds: (14) Wicks, (15) Brandon, (16) Damon, (17) fanerman, (18) Felix Pardalis, and (19) Cigarcow. Comment away, gents. All you other folks are welcome to comment as well, but needn't feel the urgency until Monday (or maybe thereafter....?).

Ladies and Gentlemen, Your Garage Door Opener

All right, this joke may have run its course...

(By the way, this is NOT a PCS prize. Nor is the can opener. You guys are vultures.)