Saturday, December 31, 2011

Car Care / Sun / Fight Hunger / Liberty / Chicken Chain Bowl GameThread, 9a onward

You'd better get your fill of bowl games today, because tomorrow--January 1st, for pete's sake--has ZERO bowl games on the docket. So here's an extra helping of non-ranked team goodness (save Auburn at #25):

  • Texas A&M vs. Northwestern, 9a
  • Georgia Tech vs. Utah, 11a
  • Illinois vs. 6-7 UCLA, 12:30p
  • Cincinnati vs. Vanderbilt, 12:30p
  • Virginia vs. Auburn, 4:30p

Happy New Year, SoSGers! Here's to a better 2012 for our boys in blue.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Armed Fores / Pinstripe / Music City / Insight Bowl GameThread, 9a / 12:20p / 3:40p / 7p

How are you going to follow up a 123-point offensive explosion? With four bowls, that's how: BYU vs. Tulsa; Rutgers vs. Iowa State; Mississippi State vs. Wake Forest; and finally, Iowa vs #14 Oklahoma (the day's only bowl with a ranked team). That's a whole lot of Iowa in one day, by the way. Go nuts.

One Last Thanks For The Best Barber In The World

This isnt a eulogy, though it feels like it a bit. No one has died. And anyway, I'm not very good at writing eulogies, despite the sad fact that I've had to write more than my share given my age. And I certainly have never written one for someone who's still living.

But here we go.

----------------

Los Angeles is home to me, and I find it a friendly town. I continue to have deep, meaningful friendships from the little suburb in which I was raised, including with some of the other authors on this blog. Since moving back to Los Angeles for good right before the millenium, I've been able to make new friends based more in the heart of the city. I'm fortunate to have an eclectic group surrounding me, mixing creative and business types, young and old, single folk and family-types. I have found Los Angeles to be a pretty easy place to make friends.

But I understand that Los Angeles isn't the most friendly, approachable place for a lot of people. We cocoon ourselves in our automobiles, shuttling from home to work without other human contact. Our neighborhoods sometimes change from block to block but the differences are sometimes stark and pronounced. Angelenos are friendly folk, but there's also a slight superficiality about it all, which might be due to the sunshine or the pretty people or the laid-back atmosphere or even the entertainment industry itself. I've always joked that the difference between New York City and Los Angeles is that in LA they say hi to you walking down the street but don't mean it, whereas in NY they don't say hi to you at all.

Anyway, I appreciate that despite all the smiles and sunshine, that this can be a lonely town.

-------------

Now, think about those times when you actually meet someone new out here. Not someone from work, or from church, or from beach volleyball class, or even from traffic school. Someone outside your normal circle, with whom you have a conversation that goes beyond pickup lines and shallow small-talk.

And now think about someone whom you might see regularly, every three to four weeks or so. It's a pretty limited set of people, right? In fact, I can't think of more than a handful of people who would qualify for that screen. But one of those people might be your barber. At least for me, every three weeks, I'm sitting with the same guy, spending 45 minutes of time together in conversation, as he tries to fix my disaster of a Chia Pet hairdo.

Now, the guy who has cut my hair for the last decade isn't just a good barber, he's a fascinating and deeply compelling human being. He's a really worldly guy whose interests and knowledge bases transcend norms and cultures and strata. He reads the New York Times as fervently as LA Weekly and TMZ. He got me hooked on the Battlestar Galactica (the re-imagined TV series). He goes to Burning Man and camps (for real) and does things that are beyond my limitations and constraints, and I enjoy learning about these experiences from him.

I really enjoy seeing Dennis, which is why I have driven way the hell out of my way to come see him on a regular basis, despite job and house and life changes in the interim. And over the duration of the last decade, of course, he's gotten to know about me as well: my kids, my interests, my love of the Dodgers and of baseball in general. I sure as hell know that I'm not all that interesting, but I think I'm nice enough, and my barber feigns interest at least for 45 minutes.

So the relationship can stop there, and in most cases, it normally does. Except a couple of years ago (yes, I'm really late in writing about this on the blog), my barber did something that was incredibly cool.

He drove back to Kansas to help move his elderly mom out of their family house and into a home. In the course of this effort, he was cleaning out the house and preparing it to be sold, and he came upon some old magazines. So he brought them back with him all the way to California, and out of the blue one day, he gave them to me.

And they are absolute treasures.

I kinda had a feeling that I had a pretty cool barber, but this--this was just awesome. They are really cool artifacts of baseball history that are a pleasure to read and admire. And the old Sports Illustrated--the baseball issue after the year the Dodgers won the World Series--is chock full of old-time advertisements (as well as a Roy Campanella interview) that is truly awesome.

I was speechless. It is a truly generous gift that really blew me away. And it reflected to me how cool it was that what could be a purely transactional engagement became a truly personal relationship. The fact that he got to know me that well, and thought of me so much as to lug a pile of old rags back 1500 miles in the chance that I might appreciate them (which I do; they are displayed on my living room bookcase at home), was just as cool to me as the items themselves. You see, you can meet cool people in LA.

And I have the best barber in the world.

--------------

So the reason for this eulogy-of-sorts is that my barber is leaving LA to go return to Hawaii, where he lived some of his life and where he wants to return. It's a great move for him; when he talks about going back, you can see the sparkle in his eye and you can tell how excited he is, almost like he's ready and he knows the right time is now. I remember feeling that way about coming back to Los Angeles after spending some time in other cities, just knowing that the time was finally right. And it's personally energizing to see him so fired up for the impending move.

Now it's a bummer for me. My barber has seen me gray (literally); he's been cutting my hair for so long. And it will suck to find someone else (if you've got any suggestions near Hollywood, let me know).

But it has been wonderful knowing my barber over the last ten years or so, and though I'll miss our monthly conversations, I'm excited for him in his next adventure. And I'm truly appreciative of his friendship, and generosity, over the last decade.

Thanks, Dennis. And best of luck to you in Hawaii!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Champs Sports / Alamo Bowl GameThread, 2.30p / 6p

Another day, another bowl doubleheader, another chance for a Pac-12 team to embarrass itself on national television! But first, here comes the Champs Sports Bowl, with Florida State facing off against Notre Dame. Later, at the Hall of Justice,...#12 Baylor and its Heisman winner look to vanquish the Washington Huskies in the Alamo Bowl. Which looks a lot like an ashtray to me.

A Confession From A Non-Boycotter

In his column yesterday, the LAT's Bill Plaschke gave thanks to his sportsman of the year: the Dodger fans who opted to stay home in 2011, leading the franchise to a precipitous fall-off in attendance, but sticking it to owner Frank McCourt both publicly / visibly as well as financially:

The most sweeping statement in the history of Los Angeles sports started with a smallest of words.

No.

Maybe you said it. Maybe you were the first one. Maybe last spring somebody offered you a chance to buy Dodgers tickets, and maybe you surprised yourself by thinking about it, and maybe, finally, the idea of giving money to owner Frank McCourt made you physically ill.

Maybe then, for the first time in your long history of instinctively showing up at Chavez Ravine because of your blind love for the Dodgers, you said it.

No.

The word became a mantra. The mantra became a mission. Your refusal became your neighbor's refusal, which grew into your community's refusal, which spread wildly through a city that eventually made one of the most unusual, difficult decisions in the history of the American sports fan.

You decided you loved the Dodgers too much to support them. [...]

You claimed you would never attend another Dodgers game as long as Frank McCourt was the owner and, unimaginably, you didn't. You claimed you would disappear until McCourt disappeared, and, unbelievably, you did.

No, to the three-game ticket package. No, to the annual birthday trip. No, to the fireworks night, the bobblehead giveaway, the one Cubs game with buddies visiting from Chicago.

Countless "no's" turned into thousands of empty seats, which morphed into a summer-long national embarrassment, which caught the attention of Major League Baseball officials, who finally stepped in and finished the job you started.

Today, the worst owner in the history of the Dodgers has agreed to sell the Dodgers, and it is not overstatement to say it never would have happened without you.

For this, Dodgers fans, you are my Los Angeles Sportsmen and Sportswomen of the Year.

One-word "paragraphs" aside, the content of Plaschke's piece was interesting. I had attributed a lot of the attendance decline to the Dodgers' lackluster 2011 performance, given the team was well out of the playoff hunt for the second year running, and the cracks in the dam weren't just showing, they were spewing filth all over the place.

Juan Uribe. Eugenio Velez. Long stretches of unproductivity from James Loney and Andre Ethier. Revolving doors of offensive black holes in left field and catcher. Back-end starting rotations that were dicey at best, and a relief corps that seemed to meltdown more often than shutdown.

All of this makes it hard for even the fervent Dodger fan to want to come out and support the team, especially not with $15/car parking fees, parking lot security issues, and still glacially-slow concession lines. Not even adding to the number of bobblehead promotions was going to save the 2011 season.

But I do think Plaschke has a point, that there were many people who looked at forgoing attendance at the Stadium as their own private boycott against putrid Dodger ownership. And if the 18% attendance decline resulted in a $27M in revenue, maybe half of which was due to the aggregation of personal boycotts--that's still over $10M in revenue sending a message to the man.

Those boycotts were nothing to sneeze at.

Now, on the flipside, I was not one of those 2011 Dodgers boycotters. In fact, I probably deepened my love of the Dodgers last year over the prior disaster of a season (who won the World Series again that year? Somehow, all of those events escape me). I got out to 14 Dodgers games last year, including one glorious road game (@St. Louis) in which the Dodgers came from behind in the ninth in improbable fashion. I took my kids to day and night games. I took my wife to date night at the Stadium. I finally got to cover the game from the press box last year, which was a wonderful experience--even more so because I got to watch Clayton Kershaw deal in one of his Cy Young Award-winning starts.

I had a great time with the Dodgers last year, despite all of the forces that would ordinarily drive one to depression. As bad as it got, I guess I was one of those people who still couldn't give up on the Dodgers. In fact, a couple of times, I kinda had a blast.

Shit, I even signed up for 2012 season tickets again.

So maybe I didn't earn Plaschke's commendation this year, even though I'm glad the rest of you did. Look, the difference in electricity at the Stadium in 2011 was palpable. I know we're at a nadir, probably even one that will extend into one or more seasons from here.

But turn my back on the Dodgers? I can't do it, you know? I'm addicted.

Might The Dodgers Be The Next Evil Empire?

Separated at birth?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Military / Holiday Bowl GameThread, 1.30p / 5p

First up on this bowl Wednesday doubleheader is the Northrop-Grumman-sponsored Military Bowl, starring Air Force (which makes sense) and...Toledo (which I suppose makes sense because they're Rockets). I should warn you that rooting for Toledo means you are anti-American.

Next up is the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl, featuring Cal and Texas, two schools associated with prominent athletes who leave school early (like Vince Young and geometry whiz Jason Kidd). A commitment to education, indeed. Perhaps in "Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl," "Education" is modifying "Holiday"? Yeah, that would make more sense.

Happy Belated 63rd Birthday, Dad

Leave it to Yahoo's Big League Stew to pick up the birthday of our father, Steve Garvey, which we pathetically missed last week. What's more, they even mention our very own Sons of Steve Garvey blog with a link and a nod:

Claim to Fame: Garvey was a solid regular-season performer, but he was a stud in the playoffs and the All-Star game. Through 11 postseason series, including five World Series (and the bizarre 1981 strike season "Division Series"), he hit .338/.361/.550, with 11 homers and 31 RBIs in 232 plate appearances, and in 10 All-Star games, he hit .393/.433/.821 with two homers and seven RBIs. That ties him with Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey Jr. for eighth-most in All-Star history. He was the NLCS MVP in 1978 and 1984, and also the MVP of the All-Star game in 1974 and 1978.

Off the Field: Steve Garvey was nicknamed "Mr. Clean" for his clean-cut image — and he wanted to be a U.S. Senator after he retired, which seemed eminently likely by the end of the 1970s, as did election to the Hall of Fame — but the end of the 1980s brought revelations of multiple illegitimate children, and dashed all of those hopes. However, it did provide fodder for a bumper sticker that said, "Honk If You're Carrying Steve Garvey's Love Child." It also inspired one of the blogosphere's best blog names.

Thanks for the shout out, BLS (and Alex Remington in particular)!

photo swiped from BLS; uncredited

Very Rich Man In The Running To Succeed McCourt

Not that Frank McCourt is a particularly good-looking chap, but surely there has to be a better picture out there of Steven Cohen. Or at least one that doesn't evoke images of a dying sans-helmet Anakin Skywalker.

Steven Cohen, founder of Connecticut-based hedge-fund SAC Capital Advisors, has apparently submitted a bid to MLB which, if approved, would put him in the running for the next owner of the Dodgers.

Cohen is apparently allied with Populous, an architectural firm which has helped design at least half of MLB's stadia; Arn Tellem, an "influential sports agent" who has represented Kobe Bryant, among others; and Steve Greenberg, a baseball insider. Oh, and Cohen is estimated to have a net worth of over $8B. I will take it that this is a serious bid, from a person who is a serious baseball fan and could put serious money behind it if he so chose:

Cohen is a world-class art collector. So are noted Angelenos Eli Broad and David Geffen, each of whom offered public support to Cohen on Tuesday.

"I've encouraged Steve to buy the Dodgers," Geffen said in an interview. "I think it would be good for Los Angeles and good for the Dodgers. Steve has the resources to make the team all it can be."

Said Broad in a statement: "He's a person of integrity and may well have more financial wherewithal than anyone bidding. He's a lifelong baseball fan, and from all I know, I believe he would be a responsible owner of the Dodgers and would be satisfied with nothing less than eventually winning the World Series."

Cohen explored bidding this year for a minority share of the New York Mets. If he were to buy the Dodgers, he probably would invite local investors, but for now he would be bidding against such local icons as Magic Johnson and Peter O'Malley for a team whose fans appear wary of another out-of-town owner.

"I don't think it matters one way or the other," Geffen said. "What you really need is an owner who has the resources to win, the drive to win and who cares more about winning than he cares about money. Where he lives makes absolutely no difference."

Sure, Cohen may be one who just sees monetary upside from the Dodgers, and (like Frank McCourt himself) is less interested in the team than enhancing his own net worth. On the other hand, very much unlike Frank McCourt, Cohen appears to have treasure troves of his *own* money.

The fact that he's not a native Angeleno doesn't really faze me, relative to his willingness to invest in the Dodgers (both the team and the Stadium). I'm interested to hear what Cohen has to say.

photo: Ronda Churchill / Bloomberg via Getty Images (May 11, 2011)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Little Caesars / Belk Bowl GameThread, 1:30p / 5p

Not wanting to disenfranchise our large readership contingent of pizza-gorging, modern Soithern fashion hounds, here's your combined GT. I am not sure if I will be watching Western Michigan boil some makers, or even the Louisville / NC State matchup this evening. I do know, however, that I won't be at work. Whoo hoo!

Still Dreaming About Fielder: Some Light Reading

Yeah, I know it's not going to happen. But just in case, I remain intrigued by the biggest offensive free agent out there, just waiting for a plus-sized deal. And the 73-page treatise on Fielder unsurprisingly speaks highly of his production (via ESPN insider, no link):

General managers looking for something to read as they kick back and enjoy the long holiday weekend can consider Scott Boras' epic on the virtues of Prince Fielder.

An annual rite of the offseason is a lengthy report by the uber agent on the virtues of his free agent clients as how they would be perfect fit for any GM?s offseason plans. In Monday"s St. Louis Post Dispatch, Derrick Goold details the 73-page treatise on Fielder, the main free agent prize left on the market.

One nugget says only three Hall of Fame first basemen had as many as 200 home runs by the age of 27: Jimmie Foxx, Orlando Cepeda and Killebrew. Fielder has 230.

As for who might bite on Fielder, at least a half dozen teams have shown interest in the first baseman. FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal tweeted that he wouldn't be surprised if Boras was shooting for a deal for Fielder with an average annual salary of $25.5 million. In other words, just north of what Albert Pujols is getting on average (10 years, $254 million) from the Los Angeles Angels. But the teams in play for Fielder appear to be hesitant to offer such a large amount or come close to the 10-year deal he's apparently seeking.

The Seattle Mariners, Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles are believed to be courting Fielder, while Goold says others like the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers are playing coy or playing off their interest.

If Fielder remains unsigned after a few more weeks, FoxSports.com's Jon Morosi syas there will be rumblings that the first baseman might have no choice but to take a short-term, huge-dollar deal. In that event, additional suitors could emerge.

(cries)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Holy Shit, We Made Olney's Top Ten Rotations (Sort Of)

I'm on my iPhone so I can't post the insider-only link right now, but here's the text, in which the Dodgers end up with slot #10b:

10b. Los Angeles Dodgers Oh, sure, some of it's the park, and some of it's the division, and a whole lot of it is Clayton Kershaw, but the Dodgers ranked third in the majors in rotation ERA in 2011. Kershaw is probably the most coveted pitcher in the majors right now, given that he doesn't turn 24 until March and he already has had a season in which he posted baseball's lowest ERA. In the second half of the season, he went 12-1 with a 1.31 ERA, and that's a pretty good guy to have as an anchor to a rotation. Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly are the No. 2 and No. 3 starters for the Dodgers; Hiroki Kuroda will be missed.

The non-World Champion Phillies got #1, with the Angels #3, Giants #4, and Snakes #5.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

He's No Good to Me Dead(ball)

Happy Holidays! Amongst the generous gifts under the Nomo family Christmas tree was this gem from Mrs. Nomo...

SO. AWESOME.

I hope Santa/Hanukkah Harry/Kwanzaa Karl brought you everything you wanted this year. I'm still holding out hope for a new Dodgers owner. I think he's here under the tree somewhere. Maybe behind the Soap on a Rope.

Congratulations To QuadSevens!


The Sons of Steve Garvey and its millions of faithful readers from around the world would like to send a big shoutout and congratulations to QuadSevens and his fiancĂ©e as they celebrate their engagement. We're all very happy for you! Even Dodgers current and former are celebrating the news (pictured above).

Best of luck to you and the future Mrs. 7777!

We Project To Be In The Half Which Will Make The Top Half Possible

According to Dan Szymborski of Baseball Think Factory (based on ZIPS projections and relayed in the 12/18/11 issue of ESPN the Rag), the Dodgers will finish fourth next year in the NL West.

But the good news is, if for some crazy reason they flip to a two-wild card system in 2012, our playoff chances go up from 18.4% to 23.5%!

Actually, the good news is that the projected division leader for the NL West has the lowest playoff percentage of any of the six divisions. So in theory, we are the most winnable division for us. And in this off-season, I'll take it.

Merry Christmas, SoSG Readers

I don't know if I'm ready for some NBA basketball, but I suppose I will give it a try. Let this be a quasi-NBA GameThread.

Happy Christmas to all you, and thank you for reading.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl GameThread, 5p

Argh! What's that hideous hairstyle coming out of a football? Clearly that ball didn't get a good night's sleep on a Westin Heavenly Bed. Let's hope that at least Nevada (7-5) and Southern Mississippi (11-2) at least got a good night's sleep on Christmas Eve Eve (or Christmas Adam, as SoSG Nomo calls it), so that we can see a good game tonight. And then it's off to bed, before Santa gets here!

Frank McCourt Snags Top LA Weekly Honors

Go ahead, look for yourself. Congrats, Frank!

A Star Wars Christmas Video

No, not that horrific Star Wars Christmas TV Special. Watch this, and I promise you will never look at Savage Garden the same way again.

Truly, madly, deeply, awesome.

SoSG FF: Week 16 Smack Thread

And now a word from Santa Marla:

SoSG Fantasy Football 2011 Final Matchup

It's been 15 crazy weeks of fantasy action, but we've made it to the final two contestants: Jason and NicJ. The winner will receive untold riches (technically true), while the loser will receive a vicious verbal lashing (likely false). The Artist Formerly Known as Mr. Customer also has a stake in the outcome of this game; he hitched his wagon to Jason for a prize TBD.

So enjoy the final two weeks of the regular season! Or don't. I couldn't care less.

LA's Greatest Sports Moment: Guess Who

Kirk Gibson, your heroics still rock our world.. As voted by LAT readers:

No. 1: Kirk Gibson's homer (776 first-place votes, 10,629 points)

The Oakland A's were heavily favored to defeat the Dodgers in the 1988 World Series, and it looked like Oakland would move one step closer to the title in Game 1.

With the A's leading, 4-3, closer Dennis Eckersley came on to pitch the ninth inning. After retiring the first two batters, Eckersley issued a walk to pinch-hitter Mike Davis, bringing a hobbled Kirk Gibson to the plate to bat for reliever Alejandro Pena. Gibson had two bad legs (a pulled left hamstring and a swollen right knee) and hadn't been expected to play at all in the game.

Gibson fouled off several Eckersley pitches, hobbling around the plate after every swing. It looked hopeless. Even if he hit the ball, it didn't seem like he would be able to run to first base. With the count 2-and-2, Gibson fouled off several pitches before taking ball 3 as Davis stole second. Gibson then hit the next pitch, a backdoor slider, into the right field bleachers to win the game. The Dodger Stadium crowd was as loud as it has ever been as Gibson limped around the bases, pumping his fist as he rounded second.

The homer gave the Dodgers a 5-4 victory. It was Gibson's only at-bat of the series, which the Dodgers won in five games.

By the time Kirk Gibson reached his locker after Game 1, bullpen coach Mark Cresse had written "R. HOBBS" on a piece of paper and taped it over Gibson's nameplate, a reference to the fictional slugger played by Robert Redford in "The Natural".

In interviews after the game, Gibson said that Dodgers scout Mel Didier had provided a report on Eckersley that claimed with a 3–and-2 count against a left-handed power hitter, one could be absolutely certain that Eckersley would throw a backdoor slider. Gibson said that when the count reached 3–and-2, he stepped out of the batter's box and, in his mind, could hear Didier's voice, with its distinctive Southern drawl, reiterating that same piece of advice.

And that advice led to the greatest moment in L.A. sports history.

Damn skippy.

Friday, December 23, 2011

McCourt Gets Fox-Blocked

Accelerating the sale of the Dodgers' television rights? Not so fast, says the judge.

A federal district court judge Friday granted a request by Fox Sports to stop, for now, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ sale of their TV rights and wrote that a lower court might have erred in letting the process begin.

The Dodgers had received the go-ahead by a federal bankruptcy court judge earlier this month to start marketing their future television rights about a year before their current contract with Fox allowed.

In appealing the bankruptcy court’s decision, Fox Sports, whose Prime Ticket channel has a deal to carry Dodgers games through 2013, wanted to prevent the Dodgers from shopping their next contract to any of Fox’s competitors any earlier than Nov. 30, 2012.

Oh, sure, the Dodgers will appeal. But can we at least please make sure this all resolves before April? Please?

Merry Christmas Adam!

Get it? Christmas Adam? The day before Christmas Eve?

Ah well, what can I say? We're a little hard up for content at the moment.

Oh wait, here's something. Ousted Dodger Talk host Joe Block now has a seat in the "front row" with Bob Uecker calling Brewer games on the radio next year. (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

I had really grown to like Joe Block. He had a way with the Dodger Talk callers. (Not quite the way Ken Levine did, but it was still good.) He brought a level of optimism that the team sorely needed.

Good luck, Joe!

Kennedy image: MLB.com

Thursday, December 22, 2011

MAACO Bowl GameThread, 5p

So wait a minute here. MAACO is a transmission and auto body shop, and its anagrammatic cousin AAMCO is the same. How confusing! I feel like I should be in A COMA as a result. Or perhaps instead I'll watch the 6-6 Arizona State George Hamiltons face off against the 11-1 Boise State Bridesmaids.

Your Holiday Emergency Hotline

Via NPR, quit your yippin' and go ahead and dial (719) 26-OATES.

And push 3, for pete's sake. (Push 1? I can't go for that. No can do.)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Poinsettia Bowl GameThread, 5p

Not to get all Dickensian on us, but god bless (Tiny) Dusty Baker for kicking off the bowl thread season with last night's Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl GT (I can't even write that without laughing). So here we are this evening, with the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, featuring #18 TCU (10-2) vs. Louisiana Tech (8-4).

And with that awful photographic pun, I will now petal my bicycle away and leaf.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl GameThread

Continuing a proud tradition, this will serve as your official Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl thread. We have alerted the Sons IT staff that they may need to work overtime and work up some server load-balancing algorithms for the anticipated massive commenting on one of the most anticipated college football bowls. Here's hoping someone can explain the apostrophe on both sides of the "O" in "Beef 'O' Brady's" and, for bonus points, can explain where one of these establishments actually is.

Florida International vs. Marshall, 5:00pm Pacific.


ps- Jim, I'm pretty sure you weren't the first person to come up with the concept of cooking food and stocking beer to then sell to patrons while they watched sports on televisions you provide.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Blue and The Grabow

Today, The Dodgers signed left-hander John Grabow to a minor-league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. (Speaking of those invitiations, do you think there is a formal printed invitation? "The Los Angeles Dodgers request the honor of your presence at their Spring Training camp in beautiful Glendale, Arizona. Please select meat, fish, or vegetarian and RSVP by February 10th.")

Uh, sorry. So, yeah, Grabow. He's on the wrong side of 30 and in decline. I'm actually stunned it wasn't a two-year backloaded deal. (If someone wrote a book about this Dodger offseason, "Backloaded" would definitely be the title.)

What is there to say about Grabow? (MSTI already beat me to the "Reminds me of Jason Grabowski" gag.) All I know is something is wrong if your own catcher feels the need to plunk you...


Photo: Elsa/Getty Images North America

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sunday Night Blues

LA Times' Dylan Hernandez enticed my inner-masochist tonight with the headline, Dodgers are just about done with shopping. Hernandez breaks down the load of poop that Ned is leaving under the tree this year for us.

This pretty much sums it up:
Mentioning the well-documented financial restraints imposed on the Dodgers and New York Mets' front offices, [Agent Scott] Boras smirked.

"Normally, they're in the steaks sections," he said of the two cash-strapped teams, "and I found them in the fruits and nuts category a lot."
It definitely appears that the roster and lineup are nearly set. Of course, Colletti points to the fact that our foundation is Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp, and he's right - that's not nothin'. But I still can't help but feel like I asked for a shiny new mountain bike for Christmas but all I got was this:


Thus, I'm fragile. So enough with those Prince Fielder rumors. They can't be true, so stop teasing us.

UPDATE: This will also serve as your Monday Blues Thread

Top Photo: Courtesy http://www.tastethefear.com/

SoSG FF: Week 15 Smack Thread

Dual-offense football never really took off.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Ned Colletti Can't Stop Spreading Holiday Cheer

And inside the box, Daisy found a two-year contract.

photo by Juan Ocampo/Dodgers

Ladies and Gentlemen, Your 2011 GIBBY Player Of The Year

Congratulations to Matt Kemp, OUR MVP and now recognized as the 2011 GIBBY Player of the Year. Cheers, Matt!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Dodgers Representing in Hawaii

More travel pictures. This one in Maui, Hawaii with someone sporting the old Dodgers minor league affiliate The Las Vegas 51's (now with the Toronto Blue Jays) on their sunshade. Baseball in Hawaii! Go Blue!

Bobbleheads to Anticipate in 2012

From a Dodgers press release:

Dodger Stadium Greats Bobblehead Series

Saturday, April 28 vs. Nationals
Maury Wills with Don Drysdale

Tuesday, May 15 vs. Diamondbacks
Orel Hershiser

Tuesday, May 29 vs. Brewers
The Infield: Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes, Bill Russell and Ron Cey

Tuesday, June 12 vs. Angels
Mike Scioscia

Thursday, June 28 vs. Mets
TBA

Saturday, July 14 vs. Padres
Tommy Lasorda with Walter Alston

Tuesday, July 31 vs. Diamondbacks
TBA

Tuesday, August 7 vs. Rockies
Sandy Koufax

Tuesday, August 21 vs. Giants
Fernando Valenzuela

Thursday, August 30 vs. Diamondbacks
TBA

Looking forward to seeing what those TBA bobbleheads will be. Can you say Chris Capuano Bobblehead Night?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I Got Your Most Valuable Santa Right Here

Matt Kemp handing out goodies at the City of Hope today.

photo by Jon SooHoo/Dodgers

P&A Magazine Issue 35 Is Coming Our Way

It's that time again! The SoSG Solving Team (read: Sax and Stubbs) missed the top ten by the narrowest of margins for Issue 34. We clocked in at a heartbreaking #11, so we're girding our loins and vowing to break through onto the leaderboard for Issue 35. For those interested in nerd glory and/or girding their loins, you can sign up in this thread and we'll grant you access to the Sooper-Secret Solving Spreadsheet. Issue 35 drops this Saturday, 9:00am Pacific. Be there!

If you have no idea what the hell I'm talking about, have a look here for the backstory, then come join in the fun!

Moves By Dodgers Of Yesteryear

Well, we all know that there ain't much more happening in Colletti-land for the rest of this off-season (cries). But at least we can keep up with some former Dodgers and where they're headed!

But wait! I stand corrected; it's not quite completely moribund for the Dodgers, at least if you classify talking with corpses as "action." Apparently, we're interested in Coco Crisp, who hasn't played regularly since 2005 with the Indians. Yep, that sounds like a typical Colletti pickup to me. I'm guessing two years minimum. (We're also still interested in Mike MacDougal and the recently non-tendered Hong-Chih Kuo, reflecting our penchant for self-flagellation.)

(cries)

Lines of Thought

Via Flip Flop Fly Ball (click to enlarge, or better yet explore the site):

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It's Christmas Time In Hollis Queens. And In The Baker Home.

Mrs. Dusty and I were once again feeling festive, noggy, and non-Grinchy, so we revived our tradition of having a Dodgers tree to celebrate the season. I'm fairly certain Prince Fielder won't fit under this tree, but there's always room for some LHWGs under there and hope for some MSBs in our stockings.






Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Kuo, Vadis?

There haven't been many players that I've really, personally wanted to see succeed like I want to see Hong-Chih Kuo succeed. It's hard not to pull for a guy with that kind of injury history but still was able to be as dominant as he was. When he was intact, right-handers couldn't hit him and lefties didn't even have a prayer. That makes the news of his non-tender pretty hard to hear. Still, it seems there's still hope of bringing him back, though it sounds like it's up to him if he wants to put his beleaguered elbow through the rigors of another season.

We're all wishing you a healthy recovery, HCK. You already have a great story, so what's one more comeback, right? If you do decide to hang it up, nobody will dare say it was for lack of effort or willpower. At least we'll always have the bat flip.

Update: 4:26pm Hat tip to Johnny Blanchard for the video link.

Image : MGM

Dodgers: Who's On First?

I know, this isn't much of a burning question, but here's two three perspectives from today's news:

  • It probably isn't going to be Prince Fielder, according to ESPN's Jim Bowden. We don't even rank in the top four likeliest destinations, despite our need for a power bat at the infield corners, and the fact that Albert Pujols just signed with our nearby rival. (On the other hand, the Angels wouldn't have been thought of as a "likely destination" for Pujols until the very end, either! So hope remains, right?!)

  • What's more, another ESPN pundit says that the Dodgers aren't one of the top six teams that could gain the most from Fielder's addition. (link insider only) I'm kinda shocked by that, to tell the truth, given the output (or should that be "putouts"?) of Juan Uribe and James Loney. But hey, math never lies, right?

    In other words, the Rangers' grip on the division is in trouble, but there is one man who can strengthen it: Prince Fielder. I calculated every team's 2012 playoff odds with and without the slugging free-agent first baseman, and no team stands to gain more from signing him than Texas.

    How did I arrive at this conclusion? Well, consider this: Before the Wilson and Pujols signings, the ZiPS projection system had the Rangers with a 62 percent chance of winning the AL West again, with the Angels at 25 percent. After the signings, the Angels become the early favorites, at 50 percent, with the Rangers behind at 44 percent. In essence, adding two players doubled the chances of the Angels winning the division in 2012. For the consolation prize, the wild card, the Angels' odds jump from 6 percent to 21 percent.

  • Meanwhile, Loney has been tendered a contract for 2012. Hong-Chih Kuo, on the other hand, was not so lucky. The LAT's Dylan Hernandez indicates that Loney's recent car wreck didn't affect Ned Colletti's faith in FJL (not that our payroll constraints afforded him many options).

(cries)

And Since It's Now A Referendum, Lilly Votes Kemp, Too

Dodgers pitcher Ted Lilly also thinks Matt Kemp should be awarded the NL MVP title--however to be fair, Lilly thought that all along:

LOS ANGELES -- Even before headlines of Ryan Braun's alleged positive drug test, Dodgers veteran pitcher Ted Lilly charged the Baseball Writers' Association of America with a big, fat error when it didn't name his teammate, Matt Kemp, the National League MVP of 2011.

"They gave it to the wrong guy," Lilly said when the award was announced last month.

"I told you, they gave it to the wrong guy," he said again Sunday. "I would feel that way if Matt Kemp played for Milwaukee and Ryan Braun played for Los Angeles. Kemp was the Most Valuable Player."

Lilly isn't convinced the award shouldn't be revoked and transferred to runner-up Kemp, even though Ken Caminiti and Alex Rodriguez didn't lose their awards when steroid use was revealed.

"There's a first time for everything," said Lilly. "If we're really cleaning up the game, maybe that would be a move in the right direction." [...]

Lilly thinks voters missed the significance and degree of difficulty of Kemp's season compared to Braun's.

"Matt didn't have Prince Fielder in the lineup," he said. "That's a huge difference. Matt didn't play in a hitter's park, which Miller Park is and Dodger Stadium isn't. Matt plays center field, so there are more defensive demands.

"I'm not saying that Braun didn't have a great season, but if he got the award just because his team went to the postseason, that's no reason to penalize Matt, who had a better season and was more important to the Dodgers. Think of where we'd have been without him."

BREAKING NEWS: Jose Bautista is Juicing

I have been traveling alot and was up in Vancouver Canada and walked by this at a bus stop. FIrst Braun, now Bautista? Boy are they blatant about their baseball stars taking supplements.

ESPN's Glanville: Strip Braun, Knight Kemp

His colleague Jayson Stark doesn't agree, but ESPN's Doug Glanville says if Ryan Braun is guilty, the NL MVP award should be awarded to our very own Matt Kemp:

After Ryan Braun's appeal of his positive test, if it is concluded that he broke the MLB's drug policy during the 2011 regular season, why can't we take back the MVP award?

I understand what the head of the BBWAA is saying. His voters decided on an MVP with the information they had in front of them. That is all anyone can ask, but since they may be in the unprecedented position of being able to attribute Braun's season to a test that happened in the same season, I think it is at least grounds to revisit the rules about having do-overs.

If Braun's reasons and circumstances give him a hall pass -- he can even argue the test was in the postseason and not during the regular season -- then so be it, but even so, this conversation should still happen. What would a player have to do to have an award stripped from him? Agree or disagree, it has happened in the Olympics, and it has happened in the Miss America pageant. College football goes into time machines and changes its history (see Reggie Bush). This certainly should be able to happen in baseball, especially with the past 20 years of PED use still looming large over everything that happens today.

Sure, it would be tough to take away Cy Young awards from Roger Clemens or MVP awards from Barry Bonds. To do so, we would have to go back in time and attribute their drug policy-breaking behavior to a specific incident, moment and season. That would be hard to do: They never tested positive for PEDs, playing most of their careers when there was no mandatory testing.

But in Braun's case, if he's guilty, this wouldn't be hard at all. Everything would be right in front of us, in plain view. Just a short time before he got the award, he had failed the drug test; it was a banned substance, banned for the reason that it supposedly creates an advantage. Therefore, his season was advantaged. His MVP award was not based on playing within the rules, so why can't the award be taken away?

Yes, we all talk about a slippery slope, but everything is a slippery slope. It is a slippery slope if let your daughter skip a nap one day. It is a slippery slope to pay a landscaper for work you know you could have done yourself. It is slippery slope to take Advil if you have a history of addiction.

Slippery slopes only stop being slippery when you take a stand, when you take off your skis and put on some mountain-climbing boots. So let's go against the grain with a precedent-breaking, unapologetic stand. It is hard, it bucks the system, but no greater exclamation point could be made on the steroid era than this. It is not like we would be asking to void contracts and World Series titles (ideas welcome, however). People still got paid and paid well for making the PED choice.

I get it. I love baseball too and I hate that the records are tarnished. I hate thinking about the racism that Hank Aaron endured to be a home run champ, only to watch it get asterisked away. Baseball fans don't really like change very much. We are slow to adapt, and we like to know where we are in the big picture. I also get it that every baseball era had its issues: The exclusion of people from the game based on race, or war-time challenges, not to mention cocaine, the deadball era and gambling. Today's players are no more or less morally sound than those of yesterday -- that is the stuff of wishful nostalgia -- but we can take another dramatic step in a no-tolerance drug culture, today.

If Matt Kemp were to be the new MVP, sure he already lost a special moment. He lost the ability to get that call and hear, "Congratulations, you are the National League MVP!" But it would be a big step in lining up with what a USADA task force says is "rewarding what we value." At least what we say we value: clean play. But our actions have not really matched that. Contracts were still showered on players in the Mitchell report because they were productive and willing to do whatever it takes to earn that paycheck. So maybe we actually value something other than clean play. If that is the case, then let's say that.

For the sake of baseball and Ryan Braun and the Brewers, I hope that it was an honest mistake. Certainly false positives are possible in any drug test. Even a positive that can be explained by something legitimate. Braun should get his day to explain it, but should his explanation be insufficient, I think it is fair to reconvene the MVP voters to take a second vote.

Maybe the voters would still decide to let Braun still have the award, but I would like to hear everyone's reason for voting the way they voted. Maybe we could all learn something about the process, maybe figure out where we all stand on the issue of PEDs in sports, because maybe we find out that sticking to our decisions, even if they were based on deception, is more important to us than moving forward with a new standard.

It's hard for me to look at this without the rosiest of glasses around Matt Kemp, whom I believe had a better season than Braun, but got saddled with two big detractors: (1) being on a non-playoff contender, and (2) watching teammate Clayton Kershaw secure the Cy Young Award earlier that postseason.

I've got nothing against Braun per se (I actually like the guy), and I probably wouldn't strip him of the MVP award based on what I know today. Plus, I love the fact that Braun's winning the award already "created a monster" in Kemp, as it is. Maybe this gets Matt even more motivated?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Tony Gwynn Jr. Is Coming (Back) to Town

From @dylanohernandez:

Tony Gwynn Jr.'s deal with the #Dodgers is for $2 million over two years. He will earn $850,000 next season and $1.15 million in 2013.

ESPN's Jim Bowden Predicts Kuroda to Yankees

In his column "10 moves that might happen", Bowden doesn't have much mention of the Dodgers, besides what we would lose (link insider only):

4. Hiroki Kuroda signs with the New York Yankees for one year, $13 million

One of the most underrated pitchers in the free-agent market, Kuroda would fit in nicely with the New York Yankees. He and a healthy Phil Hughes would offer depth to the Yankees' rotation behind CC Sabathia. The Los Angeles Dodgers inexplicably used the money to sign Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano. The Boston Red Sox also are still a possibility.

So we not only will lose Hiro, but also get lambasted for the signings of Harang and Capuano! Yay Ned Colletti!

Off-Season Puzzle: Help Us Fill Out Our Softball Lineup Card

(Sorry, no PCS points for this one.) There's still time to join the team (see below)! But if you can't play with us, you can at least help SoSG represent at the 2012 Dodger blogger softball tournament organized by theLFP.com:

player
possible positions
Central Valley Fan*OF
Dusty Baker3B, OF
Dusty Baker's ToothpickP, 1B, 2B, OF
el montanero*OF
G-woman1B, 2B
Friend of G-womanOF
Johnny BlanchardC, 3B, OF
John GP, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS
Josh S.1B, 2B, OF
Mr. CustomerC, 1B, 2B, OF
Neeebs*P
rbnlawP, OF
SoSG Orel2B, 3B, SS

List your lineup suggestions in the comments!

The details:

Earlier at SoSG:

The Force Will Be with You...Wallways

From the Fox lot:

Sunday, December 11, 2011

If I Had Only One Wish

From @FoxSportsWest:

Well, That's Kinda Depressing

Apparently the Lindsay Lohan Playboy pictorial is underwhelming. At least I get my December 16 back, I suppose...

SoSG FF: Week 14 Smack Thread

"Final Fantasy Football" via Shirt.Woot

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Ryan Braun, PEDestrian?

"I deny this allegation this much!"

From "Ryan Braun tests positive for PED" at ESPN.com:

National League MVP Ryan Braun, who last season led the Milwaukee Brewers to their first division title in nearly three decades, has tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug and faces a 50-game suspension if the initial finding is upheld, two sources familiar with the case told "Outside the Lines."

Major League Baseball has not announced the positive test because Braun is disputing the result through arbitration.

A spokesman for Braun issued a statement Saturday: "There are highly unusual circumstances surrounding this case which will support Ryan's complete innocence and demonstrate there was absolutely no intentional violation of the program. While Ryan has impeccable character and no previous history, unfortunately, because of the process we have to maintain confidentiality and are not able to discuss it any further, but we are confident he will ultimately be exonerated."

The 28-year-old Braun had to provide a urine sample for testing during the playoffs, and he was notified of the positive test sometime in late October -- about a month before he was named the National League's most valuable player.

The positive result was triggered by elevated levels of testosterone in Braun's system, the sources also told "Outside the Lines." A subsequent, more comprehensive test revealed the testosterone was synthetic -- not produced by Braun's body.

Holy smokes! This is serious stuff, but I can't help but think about the NL MVP award....

photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Meet the New Angels

photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Stubbs Licks a Stat


Well, here we are then. It seemed clear what our off-season needs were pretty much the instant the season's final out was recorded. Now we're well into Hot Stove territory and... we still know exactly what our off-season needs are. What I'm having trouble with is figuring out just what kind of team we're trying to be.
Early moves suggested that we might be going for stars-and-scrubs strategy when we signed Mr. Kemp to that sizable and well-deserved contract. It's not ideal, but I could live with that. We certainly had an surge at the end of the year once some of the young guys got a shot. There are a few crummy contracts and those pesky deferred payments, but overall, the team wasn't looking too bad, even going into ownership limbo. I thought that a couple of clever signings might put us in contention, something that would certainly appeal to whomever the club's new ownership group might be.
However, as things have progressed, I find I'm just confused. Let's go to the game tape.
  • Chris Capuano, 1.6 WAR, $3M next year.
  • Mark Ellis, 1.3 WAR, $2.5M next year.
  • Jerry Hairston, Jr., 1.2 WAR, $2.25M next year.
  • Matt Treanor, 0.7 WAR, $1M next year.
  • Aaron Harang, 0.6 WAR, $3M next year
  • Adam Kennedy, 0.1 WAR, $.8M next year
  • Juan Rivera, 0.7 WAR, $4.5M next year.
That's a shade over $17M for just five and a half wins, if all perform as well as last year (and if such fancy-pants stats can be believed). The last three alone are costing $8.3 for less than a win and a half! By comparison, Jamey Carroll and Rod Barajas (remember them?) accounted for 3.5 wins last year, and are making $6.75M this year. Yes, that is counting only the discounted first year rate, only.
In my (admittedly limited) mind, there are exactly two sensible strategies Ned could employ regarding on the upcoming team sale. He could spend the smallest amount of money possible, thus minimizing future costs, which he is clearly not doing. He could also spend a larger amount of money in a way that immediately improves the product on the field, thereby bringing fans back to the park and increasing revenues, which he is also CLEARLY NOT DOING.
Look, I consider myself a reasonable man. I acknowledge there's more to baseball than can be summarized on a spreadsheet. However, I do require some indication that we have a coherent strategy going forward before this winter wanders completely into TIDU territory. If there is some master plan here, I'm not seeing it.

James Loney Frees Himself

James Loney has conducted an interview regarding the November traffic incident that has been the subject of much speculation over the last several days. As disappointed as I may be in his lack of power hitting, I think he's a great kid (and one of the best defensive 1B in the league) and am glad that this is turning out not to be anything stupid that he inflicted on himself.

Loney after the traffic accident

Hit the weights, hit the batting cage, and we'll be there to cheer you on in April, JLo.

Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Friday, December 09, 2011

What I Got In My Mega Bloks Star Trek "Festivus Countdown" Calendar

Day 1: The Gorn

Day 2: A Tribble

That's it. A Festivus Countdown calendar only has two days on it.

Awww, Yeah

Lindsay Lohan in the next issue of Playboy: a pre-Christmas treat, apparently (issues hit stands in late December).