Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Post-Game 135 Thread: Padres Swept Away


Sweep, baby! Ted Lilly and the throwback uniforms got the Dodgers the home sweep over the Padres, due in large part to a magnifcent 0-for-2 performance by Eugenio Velez, who is now 0-for-30 on the year. Wait, scratch that; credit should actually go to Rod Barajas (two-run HR in the second inning) and James Loney (2-for-3 with an RBI and a sweet start to a 3-2-6 double play in the third). Matt Kemp also got his 102nd RBI.

Off to Pittsburgh for a one-game (make-up game) "series"--and yet another chance to sweep!

Giants Dump Rowand, Tejada

We have plenty of dead-weight contracts of our own--many of them ex-Giants, too; fancy that--but up north, the Giants have dumped two of their veterans who haven't worked out: Aaron Rowand and Miguel Tejada.

"After much deliberation, including a long night last night and sleeping on it, we felt that this was the right time to set them free. We appreciate their efforts. Sorry it didn't turn out, but again, it's about managing the roster. There's only 40 spots. It's a lot to do with that, including giving somebody like Pill a chance." [GM Brian Sabean]

Rowand, still owed $12 million from the Giants in 2012, batted .233 (77-for-331) with four home runs and 21 RBIs in 108 games. He had four hits in his last 40 at-bats (.100), and he has struck out 26 times since July 5 without drawing a walk. Sabean said he discussed Rowand's contract status with club ownership -- he is owed roughly $14 million between this year and next -- and it wasn't an issue.

The outfielder never turned into the offensive player the Giants hoped he would be when they signed him to a five-year, $60 million contract, never batting higher than .271 or posting an OPS above .750. His role greatly diminished this season with regular time given to outfielders Andres Torres, Cody Ross, Nate Schierholtz, Brandon Belt and Carlos Beltran.

"He was brought here for a reason. He fulfilled his obligation as a professional, to try to put us in a spot to help us win a World Series, and he did just that," Sabean said. "We learned from his work ethic and his commitment and his passion. As I told him, there's no regrets. Did it turn out the way we wanted to in the end? Obviously not. But it's time for both parties to move on."

"I wish things would have turned out differently," Rowand told via text message. "I thank the Giants for the opportunity. I'm gonna miss my teammates and I wish every single one of them the best."

Tejada saw his role equally diminished this season, losing time at shortstop to Mike Fontenot, rookie Brandon Crawford and Trade Deadline acquisition Orlando Cabrera. With Pablo Sandoval holding down third base, Tejada rarely received starts at that position. The 37-year-old former American League MVP even volunteered to play second base earlier this season, and got his first career starts there, just to keep himself in the lineup.

"Everybody knows what I can do in this game, what I can do in a baseball field," Tejada told the Spanish blog, Beisbol por Gotas. "I would have liked it [to try to help the Giants to win]. It just did not happen."

But Tejada's lack of production was just as noticeable as Rowand's. He batted .239 with a .596 OPS. Most recently, Tejada appeared to represent an attitude problem, even though Giants manager Bruce Bochy nixed that idea. Tejada was asked to lay down a sacrifice bunt on Sunday and appeared reluctant, later explaining he wasn't happy with the request, but he went through with the order and later apologized to Bochy and bench coach Ron Wotus.

No word on whether Ned Colletti wants to pick up either player.

Reminder: PCS Puzzle Tomorrow (Sept 1)

Tomorrow is technically NOT an off-day, as the Dodgers will be playing that make-up game in Pittsburgh at 1p PT. However, we've got a PCS puzzle all slated up--and this is from Orel as a special guest-star--so make sure you're here at 7a sharp!

Good luck!

Nathan Adcock: Funny Name, No Badge

Poor Nathan Adcock of the Kansas City Royals.

He's played in 21 games this season. He's got a 1-1 record, and his 4.56 ERA equates to a ERA+ of 88. He's trying, in his first season in the majors.

And yet, he has no badge (screenshot as of 8/31/11 9:23a).

I'm hoping he gets the win today so I can get that smokin' hot "sample badge" for my case! Go, Nathan!

Game 135 Thread: August 31 vs. Padres, 12n

Ted Lilly (8-13, 4.43) vs. Wade LeBlanc (2-3, 5.02)

The Dodgers go for their eighth win in nine games today, and the Padres could be swept altogether (can you believe we're even talking about a sweep in our third consecutive series?). Will Lilly be able to dust off the cobwebs of his sub-par season, and possibly even throw in some brushback pitches if necessary? In today's afternoon matchup (the Dodgers' last half-price non-beer food-and-drink game of the year), we need to hope the Dodgers aren't bristling from the early start.

Sax will NOT be at today's game. However, for those of you out-of-town folk, you're in luck; this is's free game of the day. Don't schedule any meetings from 12n to 3.30p!

Obi-Wan Reacts to Dodgers Season

Just in time for Star Wars night...

ED. NOTE: If these are the kind of changes Lucas has made for the Blu Ray release, then I should have spent my $75 on 9 copies of Howard the Duck.

San Francisco Giants' Organization Continues To Cheat And Lie

From SoSG reader and Phoenix resident Mr. LA Sports Czar comes this tidbit about an unethical front office employee in the San Francisco Giants' organization:

Robin O'Connor worked in the Giants front office for four years. She's 41 years old, married, has two small children, and until last month was a payroll manager for the team with an annual salary of $80,000.

The affidavit from an FBI special agent says she embezzled $1,513,836.28 from the Giants' payroll between June 2010 and June 2011. The formal charges — wire fraud and fraud in connection with a computer.

"They're felonies, so they're not the most serious felonies, but they do carry a penalty of up to five years in federal prison per count," said ABC7 legal analyst Dean Johnson. [...]

Here's how the scheme unraveled. Last month, O'Connor applied for a loan to buy a house in San Diego. The affidavit says she forged a letter from the Giants' HR manager, explaining large deposits into O'Connor's account "Because of her outstanding contributions ... that assisted us in accomplishing our goal of winning the 2010 World Series, she was given two additional payments of compensation in May 2011." $100,090.71 and $200,348.89.

When the lender, Bank of America, sent a copy of the letter to the Giants for confirmation, it was over.

Way to go, Giants. For a video with more detail about this scam, here's a local reporter, with mention of O'Connor's three automobiles in the driveway of her house. (Her neighbors were apparently shocked. Uh huh.)

If Every Dodgers Broadcaster Is Returning, WTF Was The Point Of That Controversial Survey In The First Place

Leave it to the Dodgers. They get everyone all fired up over a survey sent to season ticketholders about the broadcasting teams--and then decide to bring everyone back anyway:

LOS ANGELES -- Vin Scully and Jaime Jarrin announced their plans to return for the 2012 season over the weekend. The rest of the Dodgers' broadcast team followed suit on Tuesday.

In a press release, the club announced the entire eight-man broadcast team will return for next season.

On the radio, Rick Monday enters his 19th season behind the mic with the Dodgers' supporting play-by-play man Charley Steiner, who will be in his eighth season calling games for Los Angeles.

Former Dodger Steve Lyons and play-by-play man Eric Collins, who fill in for Scully for road games in cities outside the National League West, also return for their eighth and fourth seasons, respectively, with the club.In a press release, the club announced the entire eight-man broadcast team will return for next season.

Fernando Valenzuela and Pepe Yñiguez return behind the mic to help Jarrin call the games in Spanish. For Valenzuela, the former Cy Young and 20-game winner with the Dodgers, it's his ninth season calling games, while Yñiguez will step to the mic for his 15th year.

Congratulations to the whole Dodgers broadcasting team, not all of whom I think is doing a great job. If I had to lay out the achilles heel of our broadcasters, they often (collectively):

  • fail to discern fly balls from home runs;
  • start giggling uncontrollably, at the cost of game play-by-play;
  • forget to tell the score too often (isn't that what egg timers are for?);
  • insist upon calling players by the infant-level convention [First Name + "y"];
  • are better known for on-field incidents (flag-saving, pants-dropping) rather than career achievements;
  • oftentimes, don't provide insight incremental to what we're seeing in the stadium or watching on TV.

I've got nothing against any of the broadcasting team members (and as a Dodger fan I think Vin Scully is a deity). But surely, this franchise deserves the league's best. That should be the standard for judgment, and not some capricious online survey to season ticket holders.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Post-Game 134 Thread: Eight Is Enough


The Dodgers had an eight-run second inning today, punctuated by Andre Ethier's grand slam. That should be enough to tame the woeful Padres, right? Actually, it ended up being close at the end, causing the Dodgers to employ Javy Guerra to get the save and secure the victory. Hiroki Kuroda (6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 3 Ks and 2 HR) might not have known what to do with all that early run support, but Kenley Jansen was magnificent and the Padres eventually went down, and the Dodgers win their seventh in their last eight games. And eight, is enough, to fill our hearts with love.

Game 134 Thread: August 30 vs. Padres, 7p

It's not so bad, O-Dog. All right, it is so bad.

Hiroki Kuroda (10-14, 2.92) vs. Tim Stauffer (8-10, 3.42).

While Clayton Kershaw keeps making his case for the Cy Young, let's not overlook Hiroki Kuroda, who's quietly having his best season as a Dodger. The Dodgers have won four of his past five starts, and he's suddenly in double digits in wins. Does Ned Colletti try to sign Kuroda in 2012? Even if he's running the Cubs?

Sax's note (4:36p): Turns out Orel and I will be going to the game tonight, field level, right behind home plate. Holler if you'd like to grab a beer.

AP photo

More Post-Game Quotes From Don Mattingly (August 29, 2011)

Hey, look at this. In my stack of papers from last night's game (and I'll talk about this later), I've got a page of "Don Mattingly Post-Game Quotes" that must have been distributed in the press box following the Mattingly post-game session. (I went back up to the press box to "file" the morning post, using the Dodgers' wifi.) Words in italics are straight off the paper:

On Kershaw becoming a 17-game winner:

"He is my first 17 game winner. He was good, especially late. Early on I was hoping to get him through six or seven [innings], and then all [of] the sudden he had an 11-9-and-6 pitch inning. He kind of got cruising and got everything over, which made the decision late easier. Just that he was going so easy, again, made it a lot better."

Hmm, so my recollection of Mattingly's quotes from last night was pretty spot-on. Gotta love the ipad "notes" function, which I opted to type by hand rather than use the voice recorder.

On Andre Ethier coming through tonight:

"He swung the bat good. I was a little nervous on that slide going back into first. He bounced out of that, and swung the bat good tonight."

I remember hearing the "nervous on that slide going back into first" comment and couldn't recall off the top of my head when that happened in the game, so I scratched the quote.

On Kershaw being a potential Cy Young guy:

"There are a lot of good pitchers out, and guys having good years. Clayton is as good as anybody out there. You match him up with any guy and any team, which makes you feel like you've got a shot. He has been that guy all year."

Again, I'm glad I got most of that quote as well. There are also a couple of typos in the paragraph (some which I've printed corrected if they're obvious), so it's clear as I re-type them that they must have been done quickly.

On James Loney having a big night offensively and defensively:

"James, I love it! He made a great play on that bunt, not too many guys make that play like that. He swung the bat good, big home run to give us two extra runs. Even the first ball he hit down the line was smoked. He's right on the ball."

The paper's exclamation point. Not mine. Or Mattingly's, from my perspective.

I was there for all four quotes, so it looks like I was there for the main content.

Post-Game Interviews From The Dodgers Clubhouse (August 29, 2011)

So I rushed down to the clubhouse right after the game. The clubhouse is open basically ten minutes or so after the game ends, and when I got there the only other person who was down there with me was Ken Gurnick of Soon, though, the whole herd was there, and about twenty of us filed into Don Mattingly's office for post-game interviews...

  • Mattingly couldn't be more effusive about Clayton Kershaw's complete game performance tonight. "Kershaw is my first 17 game winner," said Mattingly. "He was good, especially late; he was going so easy late in the game. It was a little rough early and he had a lot of pitches but suddenly he settled in and got into the groove. There might have been negotiations late in the game, but his changeup and slider were getting in there. I think from pitches 70 to 105 he was basically on cruise control."
  • Mattingly did not consider removing Kershaw even when Nick Hundley reached with two out on a ball that ricocheted off of Aaron Miles' glove. (Hundley advanced to second on fielders' (and reporters') indifference, and then got to third on a wild pitch. But Kershaw struck out Logan Forsythe to end the game.
  • One more about Kershaw: Mattingly said "Clayton is as good as anyone out there; he's been 'that guy' all year long."
  • Mattingly liked how Andre Ethier swung the bat tonight (Ethier had a double, his 29th, in the fourth inning and came around to score that inning; Ethier went 3-for-4).
  • Mattingly also praised the play of James Loney tonight, particularly on the fifth-inning double play that Loney started. Mattingly also said "it was a big HR there to get us two runs" regarding Loney's third-inning shot.
  • Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times asked Mattingly if the modest attendance (announced at 29.7K) was disappointing. I'm sure it was, but Mattingly didn't get into details.

Then I went into the clubhouse to catch other players as they gave their comments. The crowd was gathered around Clayton Kershaw, who said the following:

  • "In the sixth/seventh/eighth, it felt good; I was getting my curves and changes over the plate."
  • "The double plays helped. James' DP helped and James had an awesome game tonight."
  • "It's flattering to be mentioned in the Cy Young discussion, but honestly I'm not thinking about it much. I don't have personal goals, I think it's kind of limiting. I will enjoy this win tonight and come back tomorrow...I've got five starts left and a lot can happen."
  • Kershaw talked with the press corps for quite some time and was very articulate reflecting on his game tonight.

Next came Rick Honeycutt, pitching coach. Honeycutt was equally praising of Kershaw, who "didn't try and overdo it" tonight. "There were a lot of great changeups and his slider was good," said Honeycutt. "If the season were to end today, [Kershaw would] get the Cy Young, without a doubt." Honeycutt also referenced the small attendance tonight by saying that "fans should want to see this young man pitch; it's a pleasure to see him work." Rod Barajas also added some insight about Kershaw.

  • "It seems like every time he goes out there, Kershaw really 'pitches,'" said Barajas.
  • "It seemed at times like [Kershaw] didn't have his best stuff, and yet he figures out a way to get it done. As a defensive player you like the quick pace, for a while there we went away from the slider, he didn't have a feel for it until the end of the game (struck out last two guys on It).
  • "Last year catching Kershaw, we relied mainly on the fastball. This year, to have the ability and confidence to use those pitches, it makes him that much better."
  • Barajas was polite about a lot of other NL pitchers but praised Kershaw's consistency. "For me, Kershaw is the best pitcher in the game." Gurnick tried to get Barajas to compare Kershaw to Johnson, and Barajas praised Kershaw's finesse as well as power.

There were some other players in the clubhouse, many nursing ice packs on one or two extremities. It's that time of the year, I suppose.

Old Friend DeWitt Helps Bury Lincecum, Giants

Blake DeWitt hits a three-run home run off Tim Lincecum last night.


Arizona is now a season-high five games ahead of SF. Way to finish the month off strong, Snakes.

AP photo

Monday, August 29, 2011

More Notes From The Pre-Game Press Corps (August 29, 2011)

Continuing my saga of covering the Dodgers game on August 29, 2011 from the Dodgers' press box (my first time doing so, though the Sons have done this before):

Getting down into the Dodgers' dugout for the pre-game was a little surprising to see all the press there surrounding Mattingly. This press session is decidedly more crowded than the one in St. Louis. Probably because we're the home team, I get it; probably because there's more media outlets for a larger city like Los Angeles. But there's a big difference between being one of four people surrounding Don Mattingly, and being one of thirty.

I stood a couple of rows back when I was in the dugout, partially because I got there late; but the crowd really took me by surprise. It really makes me appreciate the Mattingly session in St. Louis one week ago even more.

But in the press box for the game, it's like I have the best seat in the house. The blog spot is located at the far left side of the box, over by Vin Scully (whom I saw in the box but didn't get a chance to meet). But this seat, which is located right besides the cameramen (and right on top of the round security camera when viewed from the outside of the box), is the best position right behind home plate. All of the other seats go to up the first base line. Very lucky where we are seated.

And I'm not just saying that because I'm sitting beside Ken Levine. Name drop! Josh Suchon is also sitting over my right shoulder and it's clear that Ken and Josh are still a close team (following their team-up on Dodger Talk in years prior). Levine, by the way, is a great guy. I introduced myself to him via Twitter and he was kind enough to pick up on the conversation, and then banter with me throughout the game about the Dodgers, blogging, etc. Really nice guy, very personable not just toward me but toward other journalists in the press box. Here's my first shot of the field once I arrived at the box: you can hear Levine talking in the background:

So let me talk about some of the other journalists I noticed while down in the pit. Joe Block did not look anything like I expected. I can't explain it, but he just doesn't look like what I thought. Dylan, on the other hand, did (probably because of his avatar). but he rubbed his beard more than I thought. Gary Miller is tall and has a really, really deep voice; he waited until after most of the corps had left to ask his question to Mattingly, and once he commanded Mattingly's attention.

ESPN's Ramona Shelburne is also very warm; I caught her roaming the field and she was impressive at getting out there and introducing herself. I suppose one has to do so as a journalist, right? Shelburne recognized Justin Sellers' father from the start and struck up a conversation with him (Sellers' father, former big-league player Jeff, was indeed super-nice, I was lucky enough to do the same though I wanted to wait until after Shelburne was finished).

After the Mattingly session was finished, the reporters scattered. Stan Conte was up the line and was surrounded by a small gaggle of reporters. Here's the scene from the field (panoramic view):

Matt Kemp was greeted by Nancy Bea Hefley (who I believe had some friends in tow), and Kemp was kind enough to greet them politely and spend a couple of minutes talking to them. They congratulated him for 30/30 and he said he was going for 50/50. You know, it's funny; last season the press was circling around Kemp and describing him as a grumpy malcontent. This year, he's broken out AND has the wherewithal to be poised, polite, and charming, amidst all of this success. Kinda makes you think how these public personas are constructed by others, sometimes.

Here's Kemp, in action:

I spent the rest of the time watching batting practice. Trey Hillman was hitting grounders to Justin Sellers, who was then working with Carroll to practice their turns (the Dodgers have turned three DPs as I write this at the end of the fifth inning, so maybe the Hillman practice paid off). Here's some videos of BP:

Andre Ethier taking BP.

Matt Kemp taking BP.

Over near the Dodgers' on-deck circle, there was a USC class (I believe of aspiring journalists) listening to JA Adande interview Tony Gwynn Jr.; Steve Lyons came by and was addressing the USC group after that.

Gwynn and Adande.

I had a long talk with Justin Sellers' dad, Jeff, after Shelburne. He was extremely nice and personable, and you could feel the pride he had in his son just oozing from his smile. I was able to describe how Sellers held himself in St. Louis, and Sellers' father (who had driven up from Huntington Beach) was glad to hear that Justin was cool on the road, as well.

I also wandered over to the Padres' side once they came out for their BP: it was a total thrill to meet Dave Roberts on the field before the game. I told him about how my wife was always a big fan of his when he was a Dodger. And his super-cool response was, "Hey, thank you very much--please give your wife my best." He doesn't even know my wife! At least, I think.

Glad I introduced myself as "Steve Sax." More later.

Earlier: Notes from Don Mattingly's Pre-Game Session

Post-Game 133 Thread: Kershaw Gets His 17th Win


118 pitches was just enough for Clayton Kershaw, who got the CG victory in the Dodgers' 4-1 win over the Padres. Kershaw struggled a bit with his command early on, but was supported by three key double plays in the first five frames, including a great 3-6-4 one started by James Loney in the fifth inning off a Mat Latos bunt attempt. Loney also added a two-run HR in the third, scoring Justin Sellers; Loney went 2-for-4 with 2 RBI and a long double besides the HR to the right field pavilion.

But this was Kershaw's night (he earned his 17th win), and he was awesome, finding a groove late and just coasting from about the sixth inning onward. Shoot, don't take my word for it. Here's Don Mattingly, from the post-game conference (speaking about Kershaw, as well as the team's recent offensive outburst and whether he had envisioned that from the start):

Notes From Mattingly's Pre-Game Media Session

Just got back from the Don Mattingly pre-game session. Here's the highlights:

  • I got there late to the conversation but obviously the big point of discussion was the Andre Ethier kerfuffle. Mattingly answered questions with a largely unfazed demeanor. Dylan Hernandez tried extract some other comments, but Mattingly didn't take the bait.
  • Mattingly did talk, however, about how he was pleased how the team was scoring more runs on their latest clip. "Juan Rivera and Matt Kemp give us some punch, Jamey Carroll and Justin Sellers are getting on...people are getting on base a lot, so it's no surprise that we're scoring more runs."
  • Mattingly also explained Eugenio Velez' AB yesterday (when the Dodgers were rallying in the sixth inning with none out and the bases loaded when he sent up Velez), as saying "I thought Velez wouldn't hit into a DP at the time." Mattingly did not go so far as to say that "it was a good matchup." Okay, so there's that.
  • Clayton Kershaw is obviously having a great year. Mattingly was asked a hypothetical question, if Kershaw were sitting on 19 wins, would he start Kershaw on short rest. "You mean on two days rest or something like that," Mattingly said. "Are you trying to get me fired?"
  • We're going with a six-pitcher rotation here, marked by Nathan Eovaldi's next (and final) start. I think as far as the schedule goes that the sixth batter would play that makeup game coming up for Pittsburgh. The Thursday start was kept mum, but Mattingly said it would not come from the bullpen. And, the unnamed starter is not playing first base. All Mattingly would divulge is that the coaches have talked about who that starter is...but he wasn't telling us.
  • Mattingly was asked about the MVP race, "numbers vs. value". Said Don, "I look at the guy's numbers Matt Kemp is having the best year in the league, that's the way I see it. How do you measure where we'd be without Matt. And even more impressive he's putting up numbers without protection in the lineup all the time. The statistics have to be a consideration; our game is statistically based. If you're the best person in the league...Kemp is my MVP."
  • Mattingly praised the veterans on the team like Jamey Carroll and Casey Blake, for their leadership. He alluded to the younger players on the team and said "they could really benefit from the veterans...if they pay attention." I know what he was saying...but he did say later on that he thought there was "a lot of respect in the game, so [one] has to respect the people who have been there.
  • Mattingly appreciated the whole September call-up thing. "Even for me," Mattingly said, "I went 2-for-12 but learned a lot from watching the games and letting me know I could play."
  • Mattingly also gave a quick injury report. Juan Uribe still trying to build up; there's a chance we might not see Uribe again this year. All he would say was that the injury was below the hip, leading one reporter to reference the Tony Abreu incident of years past. Jonathan Broxton was throwing from flat ground. Dee Gordon played last night and will play tonight, and will be activated for Wednesday or Thursday's game.

Game 133 Thread: August 29 vs. Padres, 7p

Padres reliever Anthony Bass in Arizona yesterday.

Clayton Kershaw (16-5, 2.51) vs. Mat Latos (6-12, 3.74).

The Battle for Last Place starts tonight, with the Dodgers 12.0 games behind the first-place Diamondbacks, and the Padres 15.0 games behind. The Padres will need a sweep to escape sole occupancy of the NL West basement, with Cy Young candidate Clayton Kershaw (I love typing that) standing in their way. But Padres starter Mat Latos has thrown five straight QualityStart™s, so don't expect a shootout.

Sax's note: If all goes well, I should be covering the game today from the press box. Give a shout out if you're at the Stadium tonight.

photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Speculating About Ethier's Elba

Yahoo Sports' Big League Stew is taking the Andre Ethier kerfuffle to the next level, speculating where places where a vindictive Ned Colletti could exile Ethier. Yikes:

L.A. probably isn't going to work out for Ethier, who has one arbitration year left before free agency. So for the two sides to part, a trade needs to happen. Ethier would surely prefer to go to a playoff contender. But wouldn't the Dodgers kind of like to deal him to the baseball equivalent of Siberia for some of his recent behavior? If Colletti were feeling vindictive, where could he exile Ethier?

• Houston Astros: Oh, you'd like to play somewhere else, 'Dre? How about the worst team in baseball, one that's probably not leaving the basement anytime soon. They could use a corner outfielder. Just watch out for Tal's Hill during pregame warmups, too. You might hurt that knee. But hey, they're not the only choice .

• Toronto Blue Jays: Here's where the Dodgers could get a little nasty. Not because the Jays will have a hard upward climb toward contention in the AL East. But because they play their games on artificial turf. Oh, your knee hurts, 'Dre? Try playing on fake grass. This could also apply to the Tampa Bay Rays.

• Chicago Cubs: They have a need for a right fielder on the North Side of Chicago. And with a new GM to come, the Cubs' roster will probably get an overhaul. But the payroll is stuck with a couple of albatross contracts that might handcuff the GM's ability to make the necessary changes. And strange things seem to happen to players' careers once they come to the Cubs. Bad things. Unexplainable things.

• Baltimore Orioles: If Ethier is having problems playing for Mattingly in L.A., how would he get along with Buck Showalter? But he could put up some big numbers trying to compensate for a young pitching staff that took a major step back this year.

• Oakland Athletics: Ethier doesn't like playing in front of small crowds at Dodger Stadium? Get a load of the Coliseum! (Small crowds could also apply to the Florida Marlins.) Even if a decent crowd shows up, how could you tell? Ethier was in the A's system until he was traded for Milton Bradley(notes). Can you go home again, 'Dre?

What a mess, in the course only 48 hours. If Woody had gone to the police, this would never have happened.

And We Always Have That Crazy Schadenfreude Thing

From Kevin Baxter in the LA Times, here's a quick update on the Giants' big trade deadline acquisition, Carlos Beltran:

Carlos Beltran was the most sought-after player to change teams at the non-waiver trade deadline last month. And when the punchless San Francisco Giants landed him, it figured to make their path to a second consecutive National League West title a lot easier.

But it hasn't worked out that way. The Giants, who led the division by three games when they acquired Beltran, have gone 10-18 since and entered Saturday three games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks in the division race. And Beltran certainly did little to halt that skid, hitting just one home run and driving in three as a Giant while spending most of August on the disabled list with an injured hand.

I know, why don't I just start a schadenfreude blog and report this news on that blog.

photo: Kyle Terada / US Presswire / August 25, 2011

Mattingly May Now Be As Sore As Ethier

With Andre Ethier noticably out of Sunday's lineup--especially watching some ginger play from substitute Trent Oeltjen out there in right field--it was unsurprising to find out that Ethier's comments to TJ Simers, implying that he has played hurt over his own concerns, rubbed manager Don Mattingly the wrong way:

Colletti, however, insisted the club did not force Ethier to play hurt. Mattingly, in fact, took that inference personally.

"I got kind of blindsided by this," said Mattingly. "That's taking a shot at my integrity, at the organization and training staff and Ned -- and personally that I would put a guy out there that was hurt and risk his career. I'd never do that. That's not in my DNA. I'd rather lose my job than put a guy out there with the chance to hurt himself or his career in a long-term way. We knew 'Dre is banged up. But I always check with him, and he's never said he couldn't play.

"In fact, there was a day game [against Houston], and I told him in the weight room he wasn't playing -- and later he came into my office and said, 'I want to play.'"

Mattingly declined to speculate on whether Ethier's comments in the article were motivated by contractual desires or to serve as an excuse for the outfielder's second-half slump. Instead, Mattingly said if Ethier needs surgery now, "he's better off to get it now."

"He's told me he wanted to keep playing, and it's been his decision to keep playing," said Mattingly. "He never told us he can't go.

"It's pretty easy to pile on the Dodgers now. But this, to me, is off base."

In a disastrous season like this one, I can understand frustrations coming to the surface. We're all frustrated. But this outburst from Ethier, following his second year with a solid first half and a slumpy second half, is really disappointing. I wish Ethier had the type of personal advisors who could help him frame the frustrations in a more politically adept fashion, rather than pointing fingers.

I nfact, even in the Sunday Ken Gurnick / article in which Ethier tried to "backpeddle" [sic] a bit, his words reflecing his desire to stay in Los Angeles seemed half-hearted, at best:

Meanwhile, Ethier rejected speculation that he wants to leave the organization.

"It's still a great organization. But, obviously, a lot of things need to be changed," he said. "For the team, for the fans, for what the place should be. I definitely want to be here. We were going in a great direction before the divorce [of owners Frank and Jamie McCourt]. I can't say an ownership change is warranted. Everyone knows things aren't right, we definitely agree on that. How do you make it better?"

I can think of one place to start.

D'backs Open Up Largest Lead of Season


The Diamondbacks are beating the beatable teams. They've won six straight, taking three of four from the Nats and sweeping the Pads. The Giants, on the other hand, are not beating the beatables. Their last nine games have been against the league-worst Astros and the last-place Padres, and they've gone 4-5. D'backs lead the NL West by four games; they get the Rockies next, while the Giants get the Cubs.

31/34 Ball Is Next

"I'm Matt Kemp, and I approve this achievement."

photo by Jon SooHoo/Dodgers

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Post-Game 132 Thread: Five-Spot Early Stops Dodgers' Win Streak At Five


Jim Tracy snuck out of this visit to Chavez Ravine with only a series-salvaging win, as the Rockies scored five early on starter Nathan Eovaldi (in the first), putting the Dodgers in a hole from which they couldn't dig out. Not that the Dodgers didn't have their opportunities, battling back for six runs and scoring in the first, third, sixth, and seventh innings.

But the frame that basically says everything was the bottom of the sixth inning, when the Dodgers, down 7-2 and rallying with leadoff walks to Rod Barajas, Trent Oeltjen (playing RF in place of the vocal Andre Ethier), AND Jamey Carroll...send up Eugenio 0-for-27 Velez, I suppose to keep the rally alive. He didn't, grounding to short on a fielders' choice that ended up being an undeserving RBI, and making Velez 0-for-28.

I was at the game and when I saw Velez in the on-deck circle, I got that taste of vomit in the back of my throat. Tony Gwynn ended up following Velez with a sac fly, scoring a second run, but Justin Sellers Kd to end the inning and the rally. The Dodgers went 4-for-13 with RISP and left 8 on base.

Velez. The guy who can't even get his jersey spelled right. Sheesh.

Game 132 Thread: August 28 vs. Rockies, 1p

Nathan Eovaldi (1-1, 2.05) vs. Jhoulys Chacin (10-10, 3.49).

Rookie revelation Eovaldi leads the Dodgers as they go for a Rockies sweep, but don't expect him to pitch deep into the game, as the Dodgers are closely monitoring his pitch count. Do expect 31/33 man Matt Kemp to continue being awesome, and expect James Loney to continue to cause awesome amounts of bafflement among Dodger fans.

Sax and I will be at today's game, so ping us if you want to say hi. Better yet, just shout out our names — we'll hear you.

T.J. Simers Says Andre Ethier is Playing Hurt

What happened to Andre Ethier's power? T.J. Simers has a theory. From "Dodgers' treatment of Andre Ethier is baffling" at the LA Times:

Ask Ethier if he should still be playing on a right knee that will require off-season surgery, and he says, "If you're expecting me to do what I've done in the past, no, there's no possible way I can do that right now. You can say tough it out and give it your best shot, but it's not going to happen.

"It's only going to get worse from this point. I've dealt with it all season long, but as the season goes on my body wears down. That's just the way it is — I keep getting put in the lineup, so what am I supposed to do?"

The Dodgers played all season without a left fielder, so why not make a change in right, shut down Ethier and wheel him into the operating room?

"A million-dollar question," Ethier says before catching himself. "But I think there is a value in finishing anything you start." [...]

"What am I supposed to be concerned about?" General Manager Ned Colletti says. "That he has those numbers [since the All-Star break], that he's hurt or contends he's hurt?"

Contends he's hurt?


Even accounting for Simers' penchant for needless provocation, the mistrust and lack of communication on this issue is pretty depressing. Is Ethier trying to play his way into a trade? Is Colletti positioning himself for arbitration? Can't we just act like professionals here?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Post-Game 131 Thread: Super-Kemp Saves The Day

If this screengrab were clear, you'd see Matt Kemp giggling as he was interviewed post-game, following his walk-off HR, while being squirted by water.


Chad Billingsley was inefficient with his pitches, lasting only six innings and 123 pitches and giving up 10 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB and 5 Ks. But he was still in line for the win when the Dodgers, down 4-0, erupted for five runs in the bottom of the sixth to take a 5-4 lead. Hong-Chih Kuo promptly allowed the Rockies back into the lead the following frame on a two-run Troy Tulowitzki laser to left.

Then, the suddenly powerful James Loney homered in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game at six. And two innings later, Matt Kemp did the same, a walk-off solo blast to right field that won the game in extras. Jim Tracy is foiled again, and the Dodgers seek their second consecutive series sweep tomorrow.

Game 131 Thread: August 27 vs. Rockies, 1p

Chad Billingsley (10-10, 4.07) vs. Kevin Millwood (1-1, 4.50).

It's a duel of evenly-balanced starting pitchers! And though it might not be Shazam Captain Marvel vs. Superman, this still could be an entertaining matchup underneath the hot, hot afternoon sun. Should the Dodgers win, they would lay claim to third place in the division, along with the Rockies, as well as their fifth victory in a row. Let's see if Bills can conquer Mills.

SoSG Road Trip: St. Louis (Part 6: View From The Dugout During BP)

Okay, so now we've finished the Don Mattingly pre-game press conference, and the Dodgers have come out to take batting practice. Ken Gurnick and Jim Peltz bolt, probably to go file a story or six. Jon Chapper of the Dodgers PR team stays down in the dugout as the team stretches and throws, and soon the equipment starts to come on the field for batting practice (the Cardinals having gotten in from Chicago the night before, opted not to take outside batting practice prior to this game).

SoSG AC and I could have gone up to the press box to start "filing" our stories, of course. But the Dodgers were on the field. Batting practice had begun. About a hundred fans were circling the areas of the stands around the Dodgers' dugout, hoping to get an autograph or at least a conversation.

And so, AC and I stayed in the dugout. We weren't going to move, not for anything. We were going to take all of this in.

The view from the dugout steps.

The lineup card, taped to the wall of the dugout closest to home plate.

Look at how weathered the wood is on the visitors' dugout bench. And this was for a stadium built in 2006, for pete's sake!

Fox Sports' Patrick O'Neal and Dodgers GM Ned Colletti, shooting the bull.

Like all the pictures I had taken earlier while circumventing the stadium, looking at the people who couldn't get in, I couldn't help myself but take pictures of the fans who were looking down at us. I know, it's mean. But it was so cool, too!

Looking over the top of the dugout, Cardinals fans were trying to figure out what the hell we were doing down IN the dugout.

This Cardinals security staff member was trying to figure it out, too.

Jamey Carroll came down into the dugout as the teams were switching over (half the team fields while the other half bats). A fan asked him for an autograph, but Carroll firmly (but politely) said that he had to go take ground balls then. Seemed reasonable enough.

Carroll's trip into and out of the dugout to change equipment was the first in a parade of Dodgers that came down from the field into the dugout and then back again, with fans screaming at them all the way. Here's what I remember hearing (I took notes):

  • A fan screamed at Matt Kemp, "Matt! I'm from Oklahoma!" To which Matt replied, "Oh yeah? Where?" and the guy didn't have a good answer, so Kemp shook his head, smiled, and walked off. Later on, Chapper asked Kemp what he thought of Oklahoma's pre-season #1 ranking, and Kemp remarked that he thought it was easier to be ranked lower and work one's way up. (Kinda like Kemp's 2010 season transitioning to his breakout year this year, no?)
  • Andre Ethier was breaking out the Japanese charm with a couple of well-timed phrases to some Japanese in the dugout. Well done.
  • James Loney was calm after his 4-for-4 outing the prior game. In fact, in the handful of times I've met Loney, he has always been calm, polite, and super-cool. I don't know if he ever shows much emotion.
  • Everyone in the general vicinity, from cameramen to grounds crew to random security members, pilfered sunflower seeds and dubble bubble gum from the Dodgers' snack tray. I was sitting right next to the snack tray, so I saw a lot of it. I didn't take a thing, by the way.
  • Trent Oeltjen, who had just hit an inside-the-park HR in the prior game, was very polite as well and smiling from ear to ear when I asked about his recent highlight. He talked a lot with stadium staff. His Australian accent goes far.
  • Kemp was absolutely scorching the ball during BP, drilling balls over the fence in center and right almost effortlessly. Violent speed of the bat, with a crack sound that made you stop in your tracks. Incredible. And right after that session, Kemp returned to the dugout wearing his batting helmet backwards, joking with the rabid crowd of autograph hounds, smiling all the way. He really seemed comfortable with himself, which is amazing given the kind of breakout year he's had. And that's remarkable, when you consider what Kemp has to deal with on the road:

Kemp and Ethier, signing autographs for the fans.

Kemp and Ethier were the two Dodger players to actually enter the camera pit, right in the thick of things amidst the fans, and spend a good five minutes each signing autographs and interacting. Ethier was a bit more understated than Kemp. Both were signing as quickly as they could.

What must it be like to be under 30, and see this sort of scene very day of your professional career? What's it like having 50 people vying for 15 seconds of your time? I stood there and watched Kemp and Ethier sign for quite some time.

No one yelled "Sax!", so I didn't do much signing. Dee Gordon also got a lot of calls from the crowd, which might be because "Dee!" is such an easy cheer.

Finally, we're getting close to game time. The sounds system cranked up a notch as videos started being played.

Finally, BP was over, and Chapper told us that he'd meet us up in the press box. We got the hint, and we left the field the same way we came down, behind home plate.

Passing the Cardinals' clubhouse. There's a security guard right through the doors, by the way.

Before heading up to the press box on the fourth floor, however, we entered the media dining room. It was spartan, with about ten tables set out for media and Cardinals employees, and a buffet lining one wall with salad, chicken breasts and hot entrees, and some desserts. SoSG AC and I powered down a dinner, eating with only each other. We saw Charley Steiner, Rick Monday, and Jaime Jarrin all sitting together and chatting. It was interesting to me that all three were dressed pretty nicely, given they are radio broadcasters and could call the game in shorts and a t-shirt.

I've already talked about the experience in the Busch Stadium press box. Here's a video, though, of the view: Albert Pujols flying out to end the third inning:

Also in one corner of the dining room was this podium in front of a step-and-repeat. Tony La Russa does his post-game conferences here.

I bring up this last point not only because it was conspicuous in the dining room, but also because, following the game, AC and I were dawdling in the press box before we realized (as it was being transmitted over closed-circuit systems into the box) that La Russa was giving a press conference at that moment. Given the Cardinals' breakdown in the ninth inning, which was earmarked by the typical La Russa revolving door to the bullpen--the reporters were going for the jugular on La Russa in the post-game media session. Why did he bring in pitcher X, pitcher Y, pitcher Z.

And La Russa, whom we could hear via the press room speakers but could not see, was getting increasingly testy about it. "I've already answered that question," La Russa said a bunch of times. Eep.

So that's it; from then on, most of what transpired was already caught in Part 0 from the press box. Following the game, we ended up going over to the store (almost told by one security guard, as we were walking around the concourse, that we had to exit immediately--but I showed my media credentials and in no time at all we were past her), buying a couple of things, and then finally walking back to the hotel.

AC and I went down to the hotel bar for a nightcap. And there we found Colletti, Mattingly, broadcaster Steve Lyons, pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, Casey Blake and Clayton Kershaw in casual attire (you honestly almost couldn't pick them out, they blended in so well). AC and I started giggling again. What access! What a great, once-in-a-lifetime experience. What a great game, a ninth-inning comeback to steal victory!

What a great time. Thanks, St. Louis!

Earlier: Part 0, Quick Thoughts From The Cardinals Press Box; Part 1, Getting to St. Louis; Part 2, Press Pass Access Onto The Field; Part 3, Inside Busch Stadium, Before Anyone Else; Part 4, Pre-Game Banter With Mattingly, And An Overdue Apology To Jim Peltz; Part 5, Mattingly In The Dugout, Pre-Game

Friday, August 26, 2011

Post-Game 130 Thread: Yet Another Come-From-Behind Victory


One shaky inning (the seventh) felled Esmil Rogers and the Rockies, thanks in no part to Andre Ethier, whose charge home from third on a Jamey Carroll fly ball to shallow center field ran right past the outstretched arms of Dodgers 3B Coach Tim Wallach, and straight into a double play at home. Nice.

But Rogers, who had walked Ethier and Aaron Miles to start the inning (and had let Rod Barajas single to set up that aforementioned rancho ardiendo situation), was done in by himself. His intentional walk to Tony Gwynn was followed by a balck, scoring Miles and tying the game. Then Sellers continued his AB and singled to right, scoring two and putting the Dodgers up 3-1.

James Loney came up next and homered to right (his seventh), putting the Dodgers up 5-1. And Matt Kemp followed with his 30th HR to deep center field, ricocheting off the camera pit, to give the Dodgers an even six runs. That was all the team needed; Ted Lilly went seven strong innings with three hits and only one run (a Carlos Gonzalez solo shot), earning the win. Dodgers now have won four in a row and are a game back of Colorado for third place in the NL West.

Oh, and Vin Scully announced he is coming back next year. In a year of the depressable, the delightable has happened.

Life Just Got a Little Brighter: Vin Back in 2012

From a Dodgers press release:

"I don't want to make a big deal out of it, you and I have been friends for a long time," Scully told the audience on PRIME TICKET. "But after a lot of soul searching and a few prayers, we've decided that we will come back with the Dodgers for next year. God's been awfully good to me, allowing me to do the things I love to do. I asked him one more year at least and he said okay."

We couldn't be happier, Vin.

Game 130 Thread: August 26 vs. Rockies, 7p

Smile, Esmil!

Ted Lilly (7-13, 4.58) vs. Esmil Rogers (6-2, 6.00).

Fresh off a sweep of the Cardinals, the Dodgers look to Lilly to see if they can start this series on the right foot and get our fourth win in a row. In fact, if we sweep the Rockies, we could vault into third place in the NL West, possibly even dropping into single digits in the GB for the first time since August 6.

Of course, for this to happen, Lilly is going to have to pitch better than he did on August 20, when he faced Rogers and didn't even last through the fifth inning (in a game we ultimately lost). But I've got a lucky feeling about tonight for Ted. Let's see if I'm right.

SoSG Road Trip: St. Louis (Part 5: Mattingly In The Dugout, Pre-Game UPDATED)

Here are a couple of videos I took of Dodgers coach Don Mattingly from the pre-game media session in the dugout of Busch Stadium, on August 22, 2011. Both involve him talking about rookie Nathan Eovaldi, who ended up pitching a good game that evening though he did not register the win.

It was interesting for me to see how collegial Mattingly, Gurnick, and the LA Times' Jim Peltz all were in the session. I mean, I know Mattingly sees these guys every day, but still it was impressive to see the level of rapport among that trio. Mattingly is very comfortable in these sessions, as you can see from the videos.

It's too bad; I have a third video in which's Ken Gurnick asks about Rod Barajas (who was back in the starting lineup for this evening's game), and Mattingly says that Barajas received the green light from the trainer Stan Conte. And then Gurnick goes on to clarify that it's not the green light for stealing bases, to which everyone laughed.

Unfortunately the dialogue goes on and discusses some things that I can't publish, so I'll have to leave it at that.

UPDATE 10:50p: Shoot, I just found the notes I took on my ipad from the session. Here's some other things Mattingly said:

  • Dee Gordon was possible for the weekend series with the Rockies.
  • Hiroki Kuroda was "a win machine now." Gurnick asked if this had anything to do with his decision to stay with the Dodgers, and Mattingly said it was "admirable", and that it told a lot about Kuroda's character. "He's pitching good every time, he's solid. I figure if we get three runs on the board, we are there," Mattingly said.
  • Regarding the lineup change, Mattingly was unfazed. "It's not that dramatic to move Matt Kemp up a spot [to third]. [Juan] Rivera is consistent, which helps. I don't envision James [Loney] always in the two-hole, but it seemed like it made sense today."
  • Peltz and Mattingly had a great riff going about the midwest, how Mattingly loved it and Peltz was dismissive. "God's country" was the term Mattingly kept using, with Peltz shaking his head.

Earlier: Part 0, Quick Thoughts From The Cardinals Press Box; Part 1, Getting to St. Louis; Part 2, Press Pass Access Onto The Field; Part 3, Inside Busch Stadium, Before Anyone Else; Part 4, Pre-Game Banter With Mattingly, And An Overdue Apology To Jim Peltz

SoSG Road Trip: St. Louis (Part 4: Pre-Game Banter With Mattingly, And An Overdue Apology To Jim Peltz)

Jon Chapper of the Dodgers' PR motioned us over to the visitors dugout at Busch Stadium, right up the third-base line. As we got there, Dodgers coach Don Mattingly was coming up the clubhouse steps, so SoSG AC and I almost bumped into him. He shook our hand, we introduced ourselves, and he also laughed at the name of our blog. He made his way over to the dugout bench, put on his sunglasses, and sat on the top of the bench's back.

Out of nowhere, reporters started to gather around Mattingly. But there weren't many, which may be because we were on the road in St. Louis, or maybe because the Dodgers are a last-place team, or both. But I soon found myself standing there, among Patrick O'Neal from Fox Sports West (O'Neal was with cameraman, and the two of them didn't stay very long at the pre-game interview), Ken Gurnick from, and Jim Peltz from the LA Times.

And this is where I want to digress a bit. Before I get into what Mattingly said, I want to talk about Peltz.


First, let me set the stage. Gurnick, a veteran of the now-defunct Los Angeles Herald Examiner, stood most of the time that Mattingly spoke, with his pen and notepad at the ready. Gurnick was positioned just like you would picture reporters from the 1940s covering sports, sans fedora and cigar. From his vantage point, he was asking questions up to Mattingly. (SoSG AC and I were flanking Gurnick for most of the pre-game interview period.) Peltz, on the other hand, was sitting next to Mattingly's left, holding out a small voice recorder in one hand, and holding his notepad with the other.

I can't remember if Peltz was writing with his left hand or not, but I do recall that his position beside Mattingly almost put him at ease, like he was a pal of Donnie's getting ready to shoot the bull. The voice recorder Peltz held was so small in the palm of Peltz' hand, it wasn't really all that noticeable or intrusive. And for much of the interview session, Peltz didn't say much.

Mattingly was the focus, with Peltz sitting to his left and Gurnick standing in front of him.

Gurnick did most of the talking; Peltz spoke, but was a bit more reserved and mostly sat for this session (Chapper is in the background).

About ten minutes into the interview session, I hadn't said a word. I was listening to Mattingly speak mostly about the unusual lineup changes (Kemp batted third for the first time this year), and after filming Mattingly's responses for a while, I remember looking up at Peltz and wondering what he was thinking during the interview, what angle Peltz might be taking for the pre-game story he would write for publication the next day.

And then Peltz looked squarely at me.


I remember when we first started blogging about the Dodgers back in 2006, it was for us. And then Sons of Steve Garvey started getting picked up by other magazines and traditional media, and we started to find our voice: ardent Dodger fans in our undying support, but also bitingly sarcastic critics of the team and management--not to be disruptive or corrosive to the Dodgers, but more to articulate the good and bad times with equal passion and fervor.

We gained a wonderful community of readers and commenters who interacted with us with equally barbed wit. Soon, the site soon became more like the neighborhood bar, filled with an infinite number of empty virtual barstools allowing all of us to watch the games "together" and share the ups and downs with other like-minded folk.

The democratization of media through blogging (as well as the internet in general) has been an amazing revolution for content. Content is everywhere. Content is free. Good content is rewarded with eyeballs and traffic and stickiness to websites, but even still, multinational corporations chock full of analytic braniacs (as well as tiny little blogs publishing for fun) are still trying to figure out how to monetize all of that traffic, what the tipping points are, and what "sells."

Blogging also has given a sturdy soapbox to the single voice who might not have the opportunity to speak his or her opinion in decades past. It has given access to the masses, and for the masses. No longer do you necessarily need the training and background and credentials to air your point of view. The internet puts experienced journalists and untrained individuals together, side by side in the starting blocks, and though cream rises to the top eventually, it's clear that many of the barriers to entry have been removed.

So in 2008, when Josh Rawitch of the Dodgers invited us, along with a handful of other bloggers, "into the fold" alongside mainstream press covering the Dodgers, things ratcheted up a significant notch. Suddenly, we had access to the players and team and management like we had never had before. We had press box access. We had field access. We had clubhouse access. We had Dodgers access, in ways we could not have dreamed ten years prior.

And now, for the first time in this blog's history, we had been granted field access on the road, 1,827 miles away from home. I'm not sure if the Cardinals franchise invites Cardinals bloggers with media credentials--I didn't see any Cardinals bloggers in the press box--but it felt pretty special to be on the Busch Stadium field, let alone in the dugout. I was standing there, alongside only two reporters from "real" mainstream media institutions, talking with the manager of one of the crown jewel franchises in all of Major League Baseball, let alone all of sport.

I was standing in a dream position, in the spot of a place one could argue I did not earn. I was enjoying a club membership having paid a fraction of the requisite dues--if any at all--paid by the peers around me.

What gives me the right to stand with them?


I don't know if I have ever gotten into this personal detail on the blog, but at one point I thought I might pursue a serious career in journalism. I first learned journalism in high school, taking that elective all four years and ending up co-editing the high school newspaper, a bi-weekly eight page half-sheet, in my senior year.

I learned the craft on monstrous big blue typesetting machines that spit out words in specified column format and pica measurement. I honed the craft during late night production sessions, as well as high school journalism competitions that included "headline competitions" which forced competitors to come up with two-line headlines that not only were filled with brevity and wit, but also fit the arcane mathematical space constraints of aggregating the headline letters' widths ("i" was counted as a half a point, "e" was a full point, "w" was a point and a half). I snagged a trophy or two in these competitions. The school paper published on time all year long, with only minor incidents with the principal here and there.

By the time I was a high school junior, we had started converting to little boxy Macintoshes and the word processing program "Ready, Set, Go!", which allowed one to fit your headlines and adjust ones font sizes on screen. No more counting letter widths; you could size the font to fit your headline, rather than the other way around. Sure, there were still x-acto knives for amnual cutting and pasting on the 11" x 17" boards, and blue wax pencils for editing mistakes.

But the big blue typesetting machines had already become dinosaurs. Journalism was moving onward on the back of technological advancement. Process and equipment barriers to entry were already starting to crumble.

I then went to college, and fell into journalism again at school, first as a side extracurricular. Given my addictive personality, a five-hours-a-week venture metastasized into something more. Writing for the university daily was a decent gig, paying stipends to its editors as well as additional dollars for every article written. The stipends didn't come out to a decent hourly wage when juxtaposed against the myriad late nights spent around the grungy, fluorescent-lamp lit offices. But the camaraderie of the editorial staff, coupled with endless amounts of pizza and Coca-Cola, compensated well with intangibles. And every weekday morning, one could wake up and see the product of one's hard work.

I wrote some articles. I joined the beat of one of the sports teams on campus. I picked up editing the entertainment section, then advanced to become a news editor, in charge of a stand-alone full-sheet entertainment section each week. And by the time of my junior year in college, I had advanced far enough to find myself at the precipice of figuring out whether I wanted to really pursue journalism, not as an extra-curricular but as a professional career. This decision required commitment; Editors-in-chief stopped out of school for a semester in order to perform the full-time job. I needed to make the call if this was going to be my path for the next forty years of my life.

The decision ultimately ended up being made for me, for reasons I won't get into on this blog. But it wasn't because of anything journalism couldn't provide me, certainly not intellectually. I actually loved having the access that a press pass afforded, the verbal gymnastics of trying to ask the right question to provoke the necessary response or get to the core issue at hand, the challenge of slamming out thirty column inches at deadline and distilling complex issues into the most meaningful, salient, and sometimes controversial pieces.

Journalism requires being a great communicator, both listening as well as expressing. And there's a certain high to writing that is infectious, a challenging responsibility to communicate what you see and hear and sense with both vivid tones as well as accurate recall. I recall journalism being a pretty fun gig.

Years later, I've chosen a wildly different professional path. But I still enjoy writing, which is a lot of the reason why I've kept up this blog. But then, I never had to write for a living.

I'm not a professional. I'm no Jim Peltz.


Fast forward a bit. After SoSG Alex Cora and I left the St. Louis game, Dodgers victory in hand, I called up SoSG Orel from my hotel and told him about the awesome day we'd had covering the Dodgers @ Cardinals game from the Busch Stadium press box. I told him about getting on the field, about meeting the players, about sitting in the press box. (SoSG Orel has covered many games from the Dodger Stadium press box, an experience I've not yet had.)

I told Orel about how I listened to Mattingly's pre-game press conference and how I stood beside Gurnick and Peltz.

"You stood beside Peltz?!", Orel asked, aghast. "Don't you remember what you wrote about his writing, a while back?" Orel is one of those guys who has a memory like a steel trap (an attribute which contributed to making him a great journalist, as well).

And then it came back to me. Two years ago, Peltz had written an article for the LA Times opening up James Loney to criticism, during a season where the Dodgers were rolling and would go on to sweep the Cardinals in the playoffs before succumbing (again) to the Phillies in the NLCS. In 2009, there were a lot of offensive problems in the lineup, but Peltz was pointing out that Loney's lack of power was becoming a real liability even as early as July. And I took issue with Peltz' spotlight on Loney, and said so in a post.

Soon after that post, Orel had told me that the next time he had covered a Dodgers game as media, he had heard (I think through another reporter) that Peltz wasn't happy about my post. I don't think Peltz ever spoke to Orel directly about it. I certainly hadn't met him before, either.

But I understand, right? Here's this amateur blogger, firing a potshot from a laptop computer miles from the stadium, shielded by the anonymity of a ridiculous pseudonym.

What the hell is this? What right does he have to even voice his counterpoint, let alone hide from discussion and debate?

Who the heck does "Steve Sax" think he is?


What's more, Peltz' opinion two years ago...has proved to be pretty on the mark. In this woeful 2011 season, there continue to be offensive liabilities littering almost the entirety of the Dodgers' lineup, from catcher to second base to shortstop to third base to left field to even right field in the second half of the season. James Loney has had the extra problem, besides what is proving to be an unfortunately persistent lack of power, of batting utter inconsistency this year at first base.

Loney's lengthy start-of-year slump seemed to be getting back on track after the All-Star break, but then plummeted again, before more recently ticking back upward. Right now he's batting .271 with an OPS of 64, giving him an OPS+ of 89, his worst season score. But even if Loney was consistent as a .285 hitter (his career batting average, coupled with a career .767 OPS), he'd rank in the bottom half of NL first basemen for average, and in the bottom quartile for OPS. His career 105 OPS+ is decidedly average. And at a position traditionally known for its power, having a player who struggles to hit extra-base hits is simply a liability we can't afford, certainly not when the rest of the offense is struggling at seven other positions.

I like James Loney, and have liked him since he started as a Dodger. In fact, we Sons like to think that our campaign helped Loney get out from underneath Nomar Garciaparra and into a starting position. But Peltz was right; situated in a sorry lineup, James Loney can't be the right fit. Two years later, I understand that.

You were right, Jim Peltz.


On Monday at Busch Stadium, Peltz didn't say a word to me in the dugout, but since he was largely stoic during the Mattingly pre-game interview, I really didn't notice. When our clan of reporters got up to the press box, however, Gurnick and O'Neal were both so open and welcoming that Peltz' silence was a bit more palpable. (To be fair, I was sitting farthest away from Peltz, making idle conversation logistically more challenging.)

Peltz spent most of the game typing on his laptop or rifling through the press box papers, watching the game through glasses perched at the tip of his nose. His work area had stuff all over the place, but it seemed organized at the same time. He's clearly a veteran, reflected in the piece he submitted post-game, a story which required a quick late re-write as Aaron Miles' ninth-inning RBI triple and run at home changed the narrative completely.

Peltz is a member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, and it's clear Peltz knows his craft, much better than any of my amateur forays into journalism ever would have taught. Peltz mostly kept to himself in the press box, but talked to Gurnick every once in a while.

So midway through the game, I got up and introduced myself to Peltz as "Steve Sax" from Sons of Steve Garvey, and he smiled. I told him I liked reading his work from the LA Times (which is true). He politely thanked me, and that was about it. A pleasant thirty-second exchange.

I have no idea if he remembered me or my post of two years ago. I have no idea if Peltz even reads Sons of Steve Garvey in the first place. I don't know what he thinks of bloggers, if he thinks I'm just a poser in the press box, or a threat to his way of livelihood and income stream, or just an annoyance. Or maybe all three. Or maybe none of the above.

I do know, though, that even with the press credentials in St. Louis, that my being in the press box and dugout was a rare privilege, and I treated it as such. I'm no journalist, not by a long shot. I am lucky to have had the opportunity to even be situated amongst the professionals, and to have had a lot of fun doing so. But I know that a lot of that luck derives from the advancement of media and media platforms, moreso than the little bits of journalism skills I have picked up along the way.

I will continue to enjoy writing my opinions and thoughts on this blog, reflecting my passion for the Dodgers and love of the game. It's certainly a lot of fun, even if it's not always LA Times-grade material, if ever. Heck, most of the time, I don't even have time to proofread the post before publishing. But I think some of the stuff is pretty good. And I know there's value in airing my opinions, too; I believe our avid audience of followers and rabid community reflects that value.

But the real reporting? Yeah, that should probably go to the professional journalists first. I agree.

--- 30 ---

Earlier: Part 0, Quick Thoughts From The Cardinals Press Box; Part 1, Getting to St. Louis; Part 2, Press Pass Access Onto The Field; Part 3, Inside Busch Stadium, Before Anyone Else

Star Wars Night Becoming a Dodger Stadium Tradition


Star Wars Night at Dodger Stadium is BACK on September 16th at 7:10 pm as the Dodgers take on the Pirates. Star Wars characters will mingle with fans who purchase this package in the Right Field Pavilion, and the fireworks will be set to Star Wars movie music!

Now is your chance to participate in the Star Wars experience! Each ticket includes food in the All-You-Can-Eat Pavilion and a Star Wars Night t-shirt! Attend the game and celebrate the release of Star Wars: The Complete Saga on Blu-Ray September 16th.