Monday, January 31, 2011

You Can't Transfer a Legacy Like a 401(k)

(Thanks to SoSG reader Ryan for the heads-up!)

Understanding that no one team can truly lay claim to a man's legacy, this quote nonetheless struck us as...odd. From "Martin Luther King III trying to become part owner of Mets" at the New York Post:

"It's fitting with the legacy of Jackie Robinson essentially transferring to the Mets; what better place to have African-American ownership than with the Mets," [TV executive and investor Larry] Meli said.

(Bolding ours.) At the risk of taking the bait, I'll just say this: Jackie Robinson was signed by the Dodgers, he spent his entire career with the Dodgers, and he won a World Series with the Dodgers.

Matt Kemp Has A Believer (In Fantasy Baseball)

Still, it's a start. Eric Karabell of ESPN fantasy sports thinks 2011 will be a bounce-back year for Kemp (link insider only):

Anyone remember 2009? How about 2008? Yeah, I know it was a really long time ago, but it seems to me having a long memory can be invaluable when attempting to be a smart, well-informed fantasy player, or fantasy analyst. So it was that I found myself in a room with my ESPN fantasy editorial brethren, trying in vain to point out the virtues of what Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp accomplished before 2010. I wasn't literally on my own lonely island fighting for Kemp, but it didn't feel good.

Kemp was a statistical -- read, fantasy -- disappointment in the most recent season, as his batting average dropped to a miserable .249. Hey, it could have been worse. He could have been Carlos Pena or Mark Reynolds. We didn't expect Kemp to drop 48 points off a batting average that wasn't supposed to be a problem in the first place. Kemp also ran less; well, that's not entirely true, he was just successful on a lot fewer stolen base attempts. Add it all up and yes, Kemp, despite a career high in home runs and enough speed to matter, didn't deliver the fantasy goods like the No. 2 outfielder he was supposed to be. Thanks to batting average, he finished as the No. 30 outfielder. It's quite a drop. But it doesn't mean he hits .249 in 2011. That was my point! [...]

I suppose my role, in part, becomes reminding people that the most important year in analyzing players isn't always the most recent season. Trends can be a funny thing, as they aren't always so easy to read. It's certainly possible Kemp hits .249 again. Then again, I think he might hit .297, as he did in 2009. When in doubt, I tend to side with toolsy outfielders who hit for power and steal enough bases to matter. Kemp seems like one of the better bounce-back players in the game. I like quite a few of his Dodgers teammates -- Andre Ethier, Jonathan Broxton, among others -- to return similar value to pre-2010 levels as well. But Kemp has special upside.

For Disgruntled Dodger Russell Martin, Forecasts of Smooooooooth Sailing Ahead in New York

Because New York Yankees legend Jorge Posada is sure to move on to his DH role without a word, according to ESPN:

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. -- Jorge Posada knows he's entering spring training as the Yankees' full-time designated hitter, but he's still going to bring a catcher's glove to Tampa.

Posada, speaking for the first time publicly about his new role as the Yankees' everyday DH, said on Saturday night that he looks forward to his new DH duties. But, make no mistake, Posada expects to catch at some point in 2011.

"You know what, it is what it is," Posada said of his new role. "I look forward to everything I do. I try to help out the team and if that's going to help out the team and if that's what they want then I'm OK with it.

"It's going to be tough during the season to see tough games ... behind the plate," he added. "Obviously that's going to happen. But other than that, if we are doing well and the team is doing well it's going to be a little easier." [...]

"I'll catch, I'll catch. I'll catch this year. You know, I'll DH and then they're going to want me to catch one of those days," Posada said during an appearance at the Hillside Food Outreach benefit, hosted by Bernie Williams. "... I'm keeping open minded; I would love to catch. I'm training like I always do. And if I have to catch, I'll catch."

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman informed Posada in November that he would be the team's full-time designated hitter. Russell Martin will enter spring training as the Yankees' primary catcher. Francisco Cervelli, Jesus Montero and Austin Romine are expected to compete for a reserve role.

Cashman said earlier this week that Posada would only catch in emergency situations. The fiery veteran said on Saturday that he didn't question Cashman's decision back in November.

This is shaping up to be the ultimate battle of .248 hitters. Good luck with that, Russell!

OT: LA Security Company Referral For A Fellow LA Blogger

Had an opportunity to catch up on some reading this weekend, and (through LA Observed) I found an disturbing blogpost over at Table Conversation which detailed the aftermath of a home invasion robbery that just looked sickeningly inhuman. The author of the blog, who has written cookbooks and food/dining articles for Bon Appetit and the LAT, had her house pillaged, with sentimental items strewn everywhere and containers ravaged and broken.

It is so wrong.

And Ms. Hansen is trying to put her life back in order.

Now I know this has nothing to do with the Dodgers, or baseball, or sports, or pop culture, or any of the other myriad things on which we regularly post. Those of you who have read my myriad valentines to Dodger Stadium know that one of the things that I love about the Stadium experience is that it is one of the only places in Los Angeles where a city, separated by neighborhood divisions and solo-driver cocoons and income strata, can come together as one unit for a common cause: to cheer on the good guys.

2010 was a rough year (both on the field and off), and I have no intention of going through another year of sadness. I know, on the one hand, SoSG has nothing to do with Table Conversation; I confess that I had never even read it before this week, I've never met Ms. Hansen, and I don't think I've ever read her work. (I do like wine and travel, though.)

But on the other hand, SoSG has everything to do with Table Conversation--we're a Los Angeles blog, too. And this is our community. And if seeing pictures like what Ms. Hansen posted pisses you off just as much as it made my blood boil, then maybe you'll be compelled to lend a hand as well.

So I reached out to her via her site, and we exchanged a couple of emails. She is clearly shaken, which is understandable. Maybe a shout-out from a random stranger is inappropriate after one's space had been so violated, but Ifigured at the very least it might give Ms. Hansen a droplet of restorative hope about humanity, especially here in the big city of LA. Ms. Hansen's only request was for some referrals on a good security company here in LA. It is the least I can do to solicit that request here.

I know there are plenty of good causes out there, and I hope I don't alienate those of you who come to this site for a Dodgers fan-based fix (or aggravate any of you who have had causes in the past that I might not have noted; there was just something about this particular incident that really got me). But ever since starting this blog, I've been absolutely blown away by the SoSG readers' resourcefulness and knowledgebase about everything and anything. I know this post is waaaaaay OT, and I apologize. But I have a deep hunch that you all will rise to the challenge here...

So have at it, dear readers: any recommendations for a fellow Los Angeles blogger in need?


Via FilmDrunk comes this ten-minute clip from the Tamil blockbuster "Endhiran" ("Robot"). It's RoboCop meets the Terminator meets Iron Man meets...Hampster Dance. But, you know, not as realistic. And it's got the sssssmokin'-hot Aishwarya Rai. Enjoy!

"My beauty can't be dulled by all the bad CGI in the world — which this movie has."

Let's Play "Count The Cliches" With Steve Lavin

I love watching Steve Lavin.

I mean, not as the UCLA basketball coach; no, I've seen quite enough of that. But Coach Lavin, in addition to being a gifted recruiter and histrionic sideline pacer (quite unlike his mentor, the understated John Wooden), was always armed and firing much more than a standard quip answer. And after last night's 93-78 upset of #3 Duke, I couldn't help but chuckle as I saw this quote (from the ESPN recap; no link), explaining why he had turned to the St. John's fans mid-game to fire them up like a cheerleader:

"You're caught up in the moment of the game and I wanted St. John's fans to come to the party in terms of supporting the players on the court," Lavin said. "We had this arduous stretch of games and having lost five of six, at that moment it was just wanting to jumper cable the crowd and bring energy for our players because they deserved a pat on the back and some appreciation for the yeoman's effort and the cohesive brand of basketball they had been playing against the defending national champion." [...]

"I thought our team from the outset executed with precision on offense and brought great intensity to the defensive end of the floor," Lavin said, "and we were able to maintain a high level of basketball for 40 minutes and that was the difference." [...]

"This was an interesting stretch as a coach," Lavin said. "I don't think it had ever happened. The mathematical probabilities have got to be one in a zillion. "We've had to temper things with them and be mindful of that frustration. The concern was that our players realize this conference is really tough and you can lose five of six and not be playing bad basketball."

Something tells me the Red Storm is (are?) getting an 8-clap cheer real soon. In all seriousness, nice job, Lavin.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Amazingly, There Is Yet Another Washed-Up Former Dodger Pitcher On The Market

...and Ned Colletti isn't giving chase? So says ESPN's Rumor Central (no link):

The Colorado Rockies are looking for bullpen help, but decided they would not bring back left-hander Joe Beimel, who is headed to Pittsburgh. Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports the Rockies are looking to sign left-hander Mark Hendrickson on a minor-league deal. The 6-9 Hendrickson has been both a starter and a reliever, but was used almost exclusively out of the bullpen for the Orioles last season, going 1-6 with a 5.26 ERA in 52 games.

Oh no, I think I gave Ned an idea. A very, very bad (and tall) idea.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

VG MLB and CP can coexist

That is video games, MLB the Show, and Cerebral Palsy. A nice article about a St. Louis Cardinal's fan that REALLY gets into the game.


  • The Dodgers signed Mike MacDougal to a minor-league deal. Mac The Ninth Sneaks Around Corner, Signs Minor League Deal With Dodgers (True Blue LA)
  • It's not a links page without a JoePo article. This time he takes on the Angels' signing of Vernon Wells. Angels in the Outfield (Joe Blogs)
  • SoSG reader Geof Lickey is raising money for ThinkCure by running in the L.A. Marathon. Here's his story:
    I was a fat ass. A little over a year ago I tipped the scale at almost 400lbs. I lived in the All You Can Eat Pavilion at Dodger games and never found a food that wasn’t my friend. I had some health issues arise and I did something about it. I had a Gastric Bypass. I lost weight, but to make sure I didn’t have a enough loose skin to become a flying squirrel, I started running. Like Forrest, I ran every day.

    Now I have something to run for. Cancer has affected my family directly, three of my grandparents have died from cancer and the fourth survived breast cancer. This disease needs to die. We really need to find a way to cure this once and for all!

    You can help Geof on his mission here. Good luck, Geof!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Just the Two of Us

No (real) football this weekend? No baseball? No problem! For happiness is raining down from the skies like manna... and in pairs.

Two super powers collided on The Office.

Two super pop stars battle on SyFY Channel.

And most exciting of all, two monsters of rock destroy all naysayers in one epic night.

Friday Funlinks

"Do three 2002 ALCS HRs cancel out three sheets to the wind?"

AP photo

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bullet Points for a Thursday Morning

No, that's not Juan Pierre — it's @deegordon.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Book Review: The Soul of Baseball

The lovely Mrs. Orel was kind enough to gift me with a Kindle this Xmas. My first e-book purchase? The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Through Buck O'Neil's America by Sports Illustrated writer Joe Posnanski (not pictured at the left. That's Jeff Bezos).

SoSG readers know we are big fans of Posnanski, who marries a sharp and rational baseball mind with a skill for lucid, convincing writing. He's now one of my favorite sportswriters (along with Gary Smith, Steve Rushin and pre-repeating-himself Rick Reilly). Combine Posnanski's considerable talents with a subject as worthy as Buck O'Neil and the Negro Leagues, and you get one must-read book. Naturally, I got to it three years after it came out.

No matter, as The Soul of Baseball is timeless, despite viewing the Negro Leagues, which had its heyday in the 1930s and 1940s, through the eyes of O'Neil, who was 93 when Posnanski decided to write a book about him. While the pairing came naturally — Posnanski wrote for the Kansas City Star, and O'Neil played for and managed the Kansas City Monarchs (and later scouted for the Royals) — the exact focus of the book was not quite as straightforward.

As Posnanski describes it, his project started as a recollection of one particular Negro League game and morphed into a Buck O'Neil travelogue. History buffs will still find plenty of Negro League-era details; the book does an effective job of detailing the gameplay and personalities of the time. But its shining strength is simply being a first-person account of spending time with Buck O'Neil.

How to describe Buck O'Neil? Words like survivor and irrepressible and optimist come to mind, but they diminish the complexity of a man who played so many roles on and off the field, who endured more than is imaginable — and who nonetheless came through it all with a self-awareness, a sense of humor and a giving nature. Reading about Buck O'Neil will make you want to be a better person.

And reading Joe Posnanski's work will make you weep — either from emotion or despair, because how can we hope to write half this well? Conversational but not casual, Posnanski's writing eschews sentiment — the word plainspoken, but only in the most positive sense, comes to mind — yet his writing somehow makes you feel sentimental.

As an example, please see his non-sports, Harry Potter-related blog post:

If that didn't move you a least a little bit, then you, sir or madam, are a total hardass. But if you liked it, then you'll love The Soul of Baseball. Get your mitts on a copy and get jazzed for a good book, for baseball, and for life in general.

Other book reviews at SoSG:

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Oscar Poll!

Which film should win the Oscar for Best Picture?
Black Swan
The Fighter
The Kids Are All Right
The King's Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter's Bone free polls

Things To Chew On During A Tuesday Morning

Random dribs and drabs (not all of them Dodgers-related):

Torre May Want To Read Fine Print

Saw a piece yesterday on, regarding former Dodger manager Joe Torre's next line of work with MLB:

LOS ANGELES -- Joe Torre may not stay retired much longer.

The former Los Angeles Dodgers manager is leaning toward accepting a job with Commissioner Bud Selig that would allow him to stay in Los Angeles.

"He's got a position that he thinks that I can handle," Torre told The Associated Press on Monday. "I know we're on the same page, and I think it's just a matter of just sort of crossing the Ts and dotting Is at this point in time."

Torre said he's still resolving some questions in his own mind, but he expects to decide in the next two-to-three weeks. Selig's office is based in New York, but Torre says the commissioner hasn't said he couldn't work from Los Angeles.

So what could this job be? At first I thought, for sure this must be LAUSD Superintendent, but it seems they've filled this role. Los Angeles Bigelow Tea Ambassador? Dodger Stadium Special Groundskeeper? Anyone have any idea what job Joe is taking (even if it's not even mentioned in the article at all)?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Round Numbers and Baseball

Saw this over the weekend, from the Jan 22, 2011 WSJ, "The Power of Round Numbers":

A study shows that round numbers pack a psychological punch, motivating both pro baseball players and takers of the SAT.

The researchers examined the batting averages if Major League Baseball hitters from 1975 to 2008, looking for evidence that crossing that crossing the .300 mark inspired unusual effort in a season's final games (including sitting out a game, or an at-bat). If it didn't, the distribution of averages from .298 to .301 would be more or less random. The researchers, however, found that the proportion of players who hit exactly .300 was nearly four times greater than the population who hit .299 (1.4% versus 0.38%).

On that note, I never understood why Adrian Beltre and Shawn Green didn't just sack up during their monster years, and hit a clean 50 home runs.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Yet Another Random Football Poll

Which is the biggest football redemption story this year?
Cam Newton
Ben Roethlisberger
Michael Vick
Free polls from

The Room Sunday Continues

Sax - I see your Room sunday remix, and raise you an Inception Room Trailer.

And for the still highly functioning masses who don't know what The Room is...

Read Entertainment Weekly's coverage here

Or CNN's coverage here

And what I can only assume is Tommy Wiseau's thinly veiled anonymous defense of his opus here

For I'm not only a fan of the Rocky Horror-esque The Room. I'm also the inventor of screaming "ALCATRAZ!!!!!!!" (And yes, I want that written on my tombstone)

NFL Playoffs Day 5 Thread

NFC Championship: Packers at Bears, 12 p.m.
AFC Championship: Jets at Steelers, 3:30 p.m.

Who do you want to see in the Super Bowl?
Packers-Steelers free polls

The Dirt on Dodger Stadium

From the LA Times:

The Dodger Stadium field was covered by 5,000 cubic yards of dirt - about 500 dump-truck loads equal to about 1.5 million pounds - to create a track of berms and moguls and jumps for Saturday night's Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series races, which will be held for the first time at the home of the Dodgers. They also plan a Monster Jam truck event there Feb. 19, so the field will remain covered with Prater's dirt for about five weeks.

Your Sunday Morning Chill Techno Sampler

(said in a deep voice) That's right, you groovy SoSG readers. This one goes out to all of you hungover cats just jonesing for a NFL playoff game--and especially you, SoSG Delino--crank this up and feel the good vibrations.

(for the uninitiated, this is a decent primer)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Angels Revise Commemorative Baseball for 2011

Earlier: Angels Unveil Commemorative Baseball for 2011

First Look: BobbleClayton

With chinstrap and everything! Via @Dodgers:

What Do A River, A Monkey, And A Beard Have In Common?

According to Steve Dilbeck, they all could be in left field this year for the Dodgers:

"I want to be flexible," [Dodgers coach Don] Mattingly said. "That’s the one thing I think I’ve learned as much as anything in the National League, you have to have a team with some flexibility in its lineup.’’

Which is why even after the signing of outfielder Marcus Thames, the idea of using third baseman Casey Blake in left may not be dead.

There are several scenarios that could have the infield in flux, whether as an occasional change-up in the lineup, or in regular platooning of several players.

Right now, the working assumption is that left-handed Jay Gibbons and the right-handed Thames will platoon in left, with a set infield of first baseman James Loney, second  baseman Juan Uribe, shortstop Rafael Furcal and Blake.

Yet if you had an offense that struggled as badly as the Dodgers’ did in the second half, you’d best be open to plenty of options. And the Dodgers have them. [...]

Before the Dodgers signed Thames, Mattingly said he talked to Blake about playing some left field. He’s played 240 games in the outfield, though only twice since joining the Dodgers in 2008.

"Primarily, I think he’s a third baseman, but I had a little chat with him about possibly playing some outfield," Mattingly said.

Blake is 37, but still runs surprisingly well.

"He’s an interesting guy in that respect," Mattingly said. "He’s really athletic. He’s lean and long, and he runs pretty good. So he’s a valuable guy."

That value goes away if he's injured trying to run one down in the corner, however. I don't know if this is such a good idea.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Dodgers Waded Into Thames, But Angels Dive Deep Into Wells

Angels trade for Vernon Wells (

The Angels traded catcher Mike Napoli and outfielder Juan Rivera to the Jays in order to get Wells. Napoli led the Angels last year with 26 HR. Wells is owed $86M over the next four seasons.

Manny Ramirez Part Of Tampa Two-Step

And former Red Sock Johnny Damon is the other addition to the Rays, along with ManRam:

The Tampa Bay Rays have agreed to one-year deals with free agents Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez, sources confirmed to

Damon agreed to a one-year deal worth $5.25 million plus incentives and Ramirez one year at $2 million, according to Both deals are pending physicals. Damon will likely play left field and Ramirez designated hitter.

So Manny cost the Rays twice the cost of Marcus Thames? Strangely, I don't think Tampa's going to get twice the output.

UPDATE 10:52p: Cot's Baseball Contracts says the Dodgers will pay Manny $3.33M in 2011. So Manny will get 62% of his income next year from us.

Another Random Pro Football Poll

Who is the best Equipment Manager in the UFL?
Ben Ginn, Hartford Colonials
Casey Turley, Florida Tuskers
Patrick Dux, Las Vegas Locomotives
Bruce Wick, Sacramento Mountain Lions
Free polls from

Random NFL Poll

Which of these elite SB-winning QB's is the least elite?
Tom Brady
Drew Brees
Peyton Manning
Ben Roethlisberger
Free polls from

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Fortunately, Stripes are Slimming

The Yankees sign Andruw Jones.

It's hard not to still be a little bitter.... even though Andruw Jones gave us TONS of fodder over the years. Including when I witnessed Jones get an actual hit for the Dodgers.

Graphs Gone Wild: Part 2

It's been awhile, but long-time readers may remember this post from 3 years ago.

Since it was done using a somewhat arbitrary 3-year period, I thought, 3 years later, it was an appropriate time for an update. Here's it is:

(click image to enlarge)

To review what this is all about:

  • The on-field performance* and annual salary** of select Dodgers*** are plotted along the horizontal and vertical axes, respectively.
  • Blue is for hitters, red for pitchers.
  • The players' 2010 performance/salary is represented by the larger, shaded circle.
  • The players' 2007 performance/salary is marked by the smaller, white circle.
  • In a few cases, if the player was a Dodger in '04 (i.e., Lowe, Hendrickson, Pierre), the player's 2004 performance/ caller is marked smallest white circle.
  • In some cases, the player was not on the Dodgers in 2010 (Pierre, Lowe, Penny, Saito, Hendrickson). These players' '10 names are written in grey.
  • The size of the circle corresponds to the age of the player.
  • The players' 3-Year Trendlines ('07-'10 and if the player was an '04 Dodger than '04-'07 as well) is marked by the arrows connecting the dot(s) and the circle.

*Measured by OPS for hitters and ERA for pitchers.
***Main but not necessarily exclusive criteria was if the player was a Dodger in two of the three plotted years ('04, '07, and '10)

There are four primary quadrants, into one of which each player falls, as follows:

  • Upper-right quadrant (Stars) - This represents players who are paid well and perform accordingly. Of the players plotted, Furcal is the only '10 Dodger.
  • Lower-right quadrant (Bargains) - These guys have a relatively low salary yet put up strong numbers. Ethier and Bills (even at his new salary).
  • Lower-left quadrant (Role Players) - This quadrant is where 2nd-tier players with 2nd-tier salaries land. Although I don't really think of Broxton, Kemp, Loney, and Martin as 'role players,' in '10 their salaries were relatively low and their performance, sadly, was not as good as in previous years (more on trending later).
  • Upper-left quadrant (Busts) - These guys signed handsome contracts yet aren't getting it done on the field. Surprisingly none of the plotted players fell into this quadrant in '10 (if we had graphed Ted Lilly's full season, he would have barely made it into bust territory).

The direction of the players' 3-Year Trendlines also might provide some insight. Again, there are roughly four categories (let's focus only on the '07-'10 trendlines. The '04-'07 ones that are included are just for fun):

  • Up and to the Right (Approaching Prime) - Presumably players approaching or in their prime who show on-field improvement and receive a corresponding improvement in salary. Basically Ethier.
  • Down and to the Left (Past Prime) - Theoretically, a trendline in this direction would represent a player past their prime - i.e., one who is showing a decline in both output and salary. The two guys in this category were non-Dodgers in '10: Penny and Hendrickson.
  • Down and to the Right (Players Getting Screwed by Their Ballclubs) - These players are getting a raw deal salary-wise from their team, as they are being paid less over the years despite putting up better numbers. Furcal is the only '10 Dodger in this group, but since he fell into the 'bust' quadrant in '07, one could argue that rather than getting screwed, he's just reverting to what he merits. Regardless, his performance improvement pushed him from 'bust' to 'star' over the 3 years.
  • Up and to the Left (Players Screwing Their Ballclubs) - Players who have managed to get larger contracts from their current ballclub despite performance decreases. Alas, the difference between 2007 promise and 2010 disappointment is reflected in the size and youth of this club: Loney, Martin, Kemp, Bills, and Brox. Most tellingly, all these guys went from 'Bargains' in '07 to 'Busts' in '10. Yikes.

There you have it. Obviously lots of flaws and the scale/quadrant borders could use some work (most notably I think the salary dividing line is too high), but I think the general framework is quite interesting. Thoughts, criticisms, or additional river puns are always welcome!


(Thanks to Dusty Baker for the tip!)

The evidence, and the graphs, are incontrovertible:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ken Levine Sailing for Aqua-er Seas?

From "Mariners to use committee to fill Niehaus' spot" at (via @MikeSciosciasTI and @dodgerthoughts):

The Mariners have made a decision on how best to replace Hall of Fame broadcaster Dave Niehaus, with the answer being to use a group of familiar personalities to fill the void created by the passing of the franchise's longtime voice.

Randy Adamack, the Mariners' vice president of communications, confirmed Wednesday that the club will employ at least five announcers with prior experience in the booth on a rotating basis to work primarily with Rick Rizzs on radio broadcasts for the upcoming season.

Rizzs, who worked alongside Niehaus for 25 years, will be the main play-by-play man on radio. His partners will be Ron Fairly, Ken Levine, Ken Wilson, Dave Valle and Dan Wilson, with more names possibly being added to that list, Adamack said.

(Bolding ours.) How this affects Josh Suchon and DodgerTalk remains to be seen, but congratulations to Ken Levine on his return to the play-by-play booth. We hope there'll still be room for his humor somewhere on the Dodger airwaves.

UPDATE: From @dodgerthoughts:

Clarification: @KenLevine will be a part-time color commentator, fill-in PBP man for Mariners.

Bills Gets Plenty of Bills

As Orel picked up on a tweet yesterday, Chad Billingsley got paid yesterday (with a sizable raise from 2010); meanwhile, James Loney and Hong-Chih Kuo are exchanging numbers (assumingly, each with the Dodgers, rather than with each other):

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers and pitcher Chad Billingsley reached an agreement on a one-year contract for $6.275 million on Tuesday, then the club exchanged arbitration numbers with first baseman James Loney and reliever Hong-Chih Kuo.

Loney is asking for $5.25 million and the club is offering $4.7 million. Kuo is asking for $3.075 million and the club is offering $2.55 million. Kuo is coming off a 2010 salary of $975,000, while Loney earned $3.1 million.

Billingsley went 12-11 with a 3.57 ERA last year, bouncing back from a second-half slump in 2009. The right-hander earned $3.85 million in 2010. [...]

Since the inception of salary arbitration 35 years ago, the Dodgers are 14-6 in cases decided by a hearing and 6-1 in their last seven cases dating to 1991. That includes the most recent wins over Joe Beimel in 2007 and Eric Gagne in 2004 by assistant general manager Kim Ng, who is in charge of the club's cases.

The last player to win a hearing with the Dodgers was Terry Adams in 2001. The club's first arbitration case was in 1975, when Ron Cey was awarded a salary of $56,000 instead of the club's submission of $47,000.

Kim Ng has a pretty solid streak here; that's gotta be pretty strong incentive for a player to not wait until February, right?

photo swiped from this "pitching mechanic" blog

They Made Us Feel Right at Home

The gentlemen's restroom door at Father's Office in Culver City.

Milton Bradley Continues to Ruin His Life

I have a soft spot for Milton Bradley. Looks like I'm going to have to get over that, starting...a couple of meltdowns ago.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

This Is What Being Classy Gets You

From "Tigers Designate Galarraga For Assignment" at MLBTR:

One day after agreeing to terms with him on a $2.3MM contract for 2011, the Tigers have designated Armando Galarraga for assignment. The team announced the move on Twitter, while making its deal with Brad Penny official.

And Galarraga's being replaced by Brad Penny, who's dating some "Dancing with the Stars" babe. There is no justice in the world.

Tues. Notes

UPDATE: From @dylanohernandez:

#Dodgers, Chad Billingsley avoid arbitration, agree to one-year, $6.275 million deal.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Dodgers Dip Into Thames

From @dylanohernandez:

The #Dodgers have reached an agreement on a deal with Marcus Thames. Contract could be finalized tomorrow.


The #Dodgers are also close to signing Gabe Kapler to a minor-league contract.

So much for Tony Gwynn Jr. starting in CF?

Oh, and apparently it's pronounced "Timms."

Your Sly Understatement Amuses Us Not, Jon Heyman

From Jon Heyman at

The support among other owners for Dodgers co-owner Frank McCourt is at an alltime low, and ultimately his ownership could be doomed, though there's a major question as to whether Jamie would have MLB's support, either. Neither McCourt is believed to have enough money to own the team by themselves, so either is thought to ultimately need to take on a partner and Jamie McCourt is said by sources to have richer friends who could prop her up. THIS SOAP OPERA CARRIES THE POTENTIAL TO DRAG ON A LITTLE WHILE.

(Italics mine.) (Bolding mine.) (All-capsing mine.) Gee, you think? Dodger fans have been living with this divorce nightmare since October of 2009. It's just another daily kick in the 'nads for us. There isn't much exciting about the 2011 Dodgers, yet at least watching this team will take our minds off this ridiculous ownership situation. So thanks for telling us what we already know, Heyman.

Frank Robinson Angered; Sandoval, Yankees Dropping Dead Weight

Hijacked from ESPN's Truth and Rumors column (link insider only), here's three noteworthy posts:

  • Torre overtures irk Robinson: Commissioner Bud Selig confirmed last week that he is actively involved in discussions with former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre about a front office position, a job that has been widely reported to be that of vice president of baseball operations.

    That apparently isn't sitting well with Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, who is currently serving as an overseer of the umpires situation at the behest of Selig. Bill Madden reports that Robinson is livid with Selig's overtures to Torre and the fact that he was not approached about the job.

You can't please all of the people all of the time.

  • It is mid-January, time to check in as to whether the Giants' Pablo Sandoval is winning his annual Battle of the Bulge. The Giants want Sandoval to control his weight, and the San Francisco Chronicle reports there is evidence on Twitter that the Kung Fu Panda has indeed shed many pounds.

Don't be fooled. That's a wide-angle lens.

  • Once the New York Yankees landed reliever Rafael Soriano, the future of Joba Chamberlain quickly became a hot topic.

    A report in Saturday's New York Daily News says Hal and Hank Steinbrenners were bothered by GM Brian Cashman's plan to use Chamberlain as the primary set-up man for Mariano Rivera and made the deal for Soriano.

    Could Chamberlain be traded? According to Brian Costello of the New York Post, the Yankees have no plans of trading Chamberlain right now, but they would listen to offers.

The Dodgers want to trade Darren Dreifort, too.

Angels Unveil Commemorative Baseball for 2011

Angels to add 50th anniversary logo to baseballs for 2011 (The Fabulous Forum)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

NFL Playoffs Day 4 Thread

Seahawks at Bears, 10a

Jets at Patriots, 1.30p

Holy foot fetish, Batman! We've got a grudge match going on here!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Sat. Notes, Cash Infusion Edition

NFL Playoffs Day 3 Thread

Ravens at Steelers, 1:30p.

Packers at Falcons, 5p.

I didn't even know that there were other playoff games besides the Jets-Patriots game. But I'm sure some of you will watch, anyway.

Why Expand Playoffs, If We've Already Got Parity?

Finally caught up with a Tyler Kepner piece in the NYT that compares baseball playoffs to football playoffs, and concludes that baseball's playoffs reflect the league's superior parity:

I love the NFL, and especially the playoffs. Every game is an elimination game, and every game starts at a reasonable hour on the East Coast. Of the 11 NFL postseason games every year, only two begin after 8 p.m. Baseball playoff games tend to start later, and of the last 43 postseason series, stretching back to the 2004 World Series, only five have produced a winner-take-all game.

But (and you knew that was coming), it’s in baseball, not the NFL, that teams have a better chance to compete for the championship.

Consider the eight NFL teams still alive, and compare them to the eight teams in the 2010 baseball postseason. The season of the team’s previous appearance in a conference championship game or league championship series is in parentheses.

NFL: New England (2007), Jets (2009), Pittsburgh (2008), Baltimore (2008), Atlanta (1998), Green Bay (2007), Chicago (2006), Seattle (2005).

MLB: Tampa Bay (2008), Texas (never), Yankees (2009), Minnesota (2002), Philadelphia (2010), Cincinnati (1995), San Francisco (2002), Atlanta (2001).

So in the NFL, only one of the eight teams has gone more than five years since its last appearance in a conference title game. In baseball, five of the eight had waited at least that long. And the World Series featured the Rangers, who had never been there before, against the Giants, who had not been in eight years.

In the N.F.L., 24 of 32 teams have made the playoffs over the past five seasons. That’s 75 percent. In baseball, 22 of 30 have made the playoffs in the same time span. That’s 73.3 percent, despite the fact that the NFL awards 12 playoff spots each season, and baseball – for now, anyway – awards only eight.

Jayson Stark over at ESPN has some other factoids implying the MLB playoffs should not be expanded in the name of "parity", which already exists (link insider only):

Let's start by reminding you that 50 percent more teams make the playoffs in football than make it in baseball (12, versus eight). So this deck is already stacked.

And one more thing: It's amazing how competitively balanced you can make yourself look if you start letting sub-.500 teams into your playoff party.

OK, now that we've got that out of the way, a few facts you should know:

  • Seven of the 12 teams that made the NFL playoffs this year also got to the playoffs last year. That's 58 percent of the field. Last time more than half of baseball's playoff teams repeated? All the way back in 2005.
  • And one of those five new NFL playoff juggernauts this year was a team with a 7-9 record (i.e., the Seahawks). Let the record show that in baseball, a sport that has been through 106 postseasons, no team with a losing record has ever been allowed to play a postseason game.
  • Over the last five postseasons, only 15 of baseball's 40 playoff teams repeated. That's 37.5 percent. In the NFL, 29 of the 60 playoff teams repeated. That's 48.3 percent.
  • Want to take this back farther? Let's go back to 2004, the year baseball's current revenue-sharing system began to seriously kick in. Over the last seven postseasons, just 25 of 56 playoff teams repeated in MLB. That's 44.6 percent. In the NFL, 41 of 84 repeated. That's 48.8 percent.
  • Or we could go back through the entire wild-card era, even though baseball was working on a totally different economic model for half of that period. Over the last 15 postseasons, 61 of baseball's 120 playoff teams repeated. That's 50.8 percent.

And how does that compare with the NFL, through this stretch it's touting so ecstatically? Exactly half (90 of 180) of the NFL playoff teams repeated during that same period. In other words, it's almost identical.

Doug Mittler at also concurs that expanding the playoffs would lower MLB's bar too far (link insider only):

Most speculation suggests that the new format will be the following: Add one wild-card team per league, with the two wild cards playing either a one-game, winner-take-all or a best-of-three format. Proponents say it will legitimize the regular season, forcing potential playoff teams from the same division to actually compete instead of coasting in September when at least a wild-card berth looks secure.

We propose that Bud look back at the past few years and to see some unintended consequences. He would notice things like a play-in to the play-in and a 95-win team playing an 87-win team. Maybe this isn't so perfectly symmetrical after all.

I'm a purist when it comes to baseball. But even though I didn't like the idea of a three-division realignment and a wild card, the concept has really grown on me and I admit now that it's good for baseball, perhaps even the finest highlight of Bud Selig's shrug-filled tenure as MLB Commissioner. But adding yet another playoff team to the mix seems like a bad idea, again. We'll see if Bud Selig makes me try this on for size anyway.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Barajas Escapes Heyman's Top 20 Overpays

Rod Barajas (2010 salary with Mets: $500,000; 2011 salary with Dodgers: $3.25M) is not one of the 20 most overpaid players signed this winter, writes Jon Heyman of

The Dodgers actually have more players in the "Underpays" column than the "Overpays" (although this list obviously doesn't include deferred payments). A nice article to check out for those of us who scratch our heads at some of Ned Colletti's deals.

Dodgers' 2011 Bobblehead Lineup Also Heavy on Pitching

From @Dodgers:

JUST ANNOUNCED: The 3rd Bobblehead of 2011 will be #Dodgers @AllStarGame reliever, Hong-Chih Kuo! (view all promos @
That makes our 2011 Bobblehead Lineup: Kershaw (5/17), Mattingly (6/1), Kuo (6/14), Ethier (7/7), Fernandomania (7/26) & one TBD (8/9)

It's finally Kuo's turn in the bobblehead spotlight. Hell, he may even be the closer by then.

Five Faces to Watch in 2011

1. Vin. There were too many curses to count in 2010, so I'm starting 2011 by counting our blessings. And our #1 blessing is Vin Scully. Not many things remain consistently pure throughout life: taking that first swig of a freshly opened Coke...scritching a dog behind its ears...listening to Vin Scully. As long as Vin is on, life is good.
2. Don Mattingly. If change begins at the top, then there's hope for the Dodgers. Donnie Baseball is the Dodgers' first rookie manager since Jim Tracy, and maybe this tabula rasa will deflect some heat from some of the over-scrutinized younger players. (Okay, Matt Kemp.)
3. Davey Lopes. Davey's back! Along with Trey Hillman, he's a coach with major league managerial experience. He's got the departed Larry Bowa's old-school credentials plus genuine Dodger Blue bona fides. Mattingly's handed him the keys to the Dodgers' running game. And it doesn't hurt that he's BFF with Dave Stewart, Kemp's agent.
4. Clayton Kershaw (lock him up already, Ned!). Outside of his stellar numbers (212 K's and an ERA+ of 132 in 2010), the newly hitched Kershaw possesses a poise beyond his 22 years — which is why he could be the clubhouse leader of the future (especially now that Russell Martin is gone). He already knows how to lead by example; will Mattingly bring out Kershaw's more demonstrative side?
5. Youse guys. If you're reading this blog, you're not a casual fan. If you're reading this blog, you're not a bandwagon fan. How will the rest of our fellow fans react after one of the more painful seasons in recent history? It's said that Dodger fans don't vote with their wallets. So let's see how much they get behind this young 2011 team.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Hearty congrats to Mr Customer for getting us over the goal line! With contributions from Jason, ubragg, ubragg's friend, myself, and a friend of mine who is going as "Andruw Jones"*, the Sons of Steve Garvey team was able to secure a top-ten finish for issue #30.

(*) clearly, my puzzling friend does not follow the Dodgers.

Checking In on My New Year's Resolutions

First off, apologies for my recent absence from this blog. I got busy, then sick, then lazy. But mostly lazy. And a big thank you to SoSG Sax for carrying the load — in appreciation, here's a VIP card for the Crazy Horse Too in Las Vegas, courtesy of Neeebs. Enjoy!

Oh, and happy 2011! What, I'm weeks late? That brings me to my first resolution:

1. Stay timely. This post was due last week. Never mind.

2. Don't complain about Ned Colletti's moves. Hey, not every team can afford Cliff Lee. Or Jayson Werth. Or Adrian Beltre. What? Our second baseman for THE NEXT THREE YEARS is Juan Uribe?


3. Don't clog up posts with hyperlinks. Not that there's a lot going on right now (pictures here). Some are looking to the future, while others ponder the past. Us? We're right here waiting for you.

4. Don't kiss ass. Hey, have I mentioned what a great job Dodgers Vice President of Communications Josh Rawitch and his staff are doing? Keep it up, guys!

5. Less gratuitousness. Less gratuitousness? Check.

New Yorker Zings Spidey Musical

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Pete Carroll Getting His Inner-Milano On

Shouldn't he be, like, practicing? I'm getting more updates from him on Twitter than all the LA Food Trucks combined!

The Big Winner is...


Indeed, the mystery movie was Predator 2. Here's the rest of the ad! (Alas, I did not live in Los Angeles in 1997, so I can't really speak to its veracity)

Why Don't They Just Call It The BPCS: Bill Plaschke Championship Series

So Auburn goes out and wins the college football championship game Monday night, beating Oregon 22-19, in a at-times exciting but not consistently thrilling game.

Some writers used the opportunity to praise Auburn. Some writers used the opportunity to lament Oregon. Some writers used the opportunity to reflect upon the "twisted season" in college football this year. And some even pointed out Brent Musburger's pathetic product placement call.

But the LA Times' Bill Plaschke? For him, it's not about the players on the field or the coaches on the sideline or the fans in the stands. It's all about him. Bill Plaschke. This game is about HIM.

Down on the field, the winning kick sailed through the uprights at exactly 10:12 p.m.

Up in the press box, the first e-mails sailed into my inbox at, well, exactly 10:12 p.m.

Down on the field, there's drama unfolding. Up in the press box, sits a little man writing about the drama.

Down in the article, there's a lead being buried. Up in the article, there's a tired contrasting-sentences structure cliche being placed.

Up on the housetop, reindeer pause; out jumps good old Santa Claus. Down through the chimney with lots of toys; all for the little ones, Christmas joys.

That's e-mails, plural, both sent at the exact moment Wes Byrum's 19-yard field goal gave Auburn a 22-19 victory over Oregon on Monday night in the BCS national championship game.

Holy shit, you mean to tell me you got two emails sent to you at once? How incredible is that! I mean, that never happens to us ordinary mortals (unless we're forwarding email from our gmail accounts to work since the firewall at work keeps us from accessing the gmail account on our own (but then there's always our smartphones, so take that!, man who is keeping us down)).

Two emails at once: wow, that is indeed noteworthy of a sports page column. Go on.

Revenge was exact. Revenge was immediate. The Auburn and SEC fans were Nick Fairley, and I was an Oregon offensive lineman, and the bull rush was on.

And now Plaschke is George Plimpton (save the Intellivision shilling), actually imagining himself as a player on the field. Which he's not. Because he's a reporter, who is supposed to be covering a story--but in this case, the story happens to be him, so why the hell shouldn't he be an Oregon offensive lineman? Except for the fact that he didn't play in the game, didn't prepare for the game, he didn't expend an iota of energy in the game.

Sure, he can be a lineman. In fact, he can be whomever he wants in this ridiculous metaphor.

How about, the Auburn and SEC fans are Superman, and Plaschke is Mr. Mxyzptlk. Or the Auburn and SEC fans are truth, and Plaschke is lies. Or Auburn / SEC fans are chocolate, and Plaschke is peanut butter. Wait, scratch that last one.

"In honor of you, Mr. Bill, Waffle House has just announced a new feature item on their menu: Roasted Duck," wrote Steve in a striking first shot.

Which is an awesome (albeit not "striking") first shot, since I've eaten at a Waffle House and I don't think they serve duck. I'm not even sure if they serve real meat.

Literally seconds later, another one appeared. [...] Two rips in the first minute. Another rip just one minute later. [...]

There were 10 e-mails in the first 10 minutes, 50 by the end of the night, and as I'm writing this column Tuesday afternoon, more than 250 folks have e-mailed to remind me of something that was very clear through Monday night's chaos and confetti.

Now, Bill Plaschke getting a volume of emails may indeed be noteworthy, since I don't think many other people leave comments for the homeless guy with the tattered cardboard sign ranting to himself at the bottom of a Harbor Freeway off-ramp. Usually, when confronted by muttering lunatics, people just avert their eyes and move on. Plaschke may be shocked to find out that people actually read his earlier piece predicting an Oregon victory.

But people who make predictions sometimes miss predictions. It's not a big deal. It certainly doesn't merit 884 words, 17 of which are "I". A whole article reflecting on comments about another article one wrote earlier seems rather self-absorbed. Who does Plaschke think he is? Joel Stein?

There was a college football championship game going on, and Plaschke totally missed it because he was checking his own email account.

I thought that the whole idea why press boxes are situated high above the field at the center of the stadium, was to give the sportswriters the best vantage points to view the game in its entirety.

Apparently, BIll Plaschke's seat was situated squarely in front of a mirror.