Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Post-Game 106 Thread: A Series Of Unfortunate Events

YANKEES 3, DODGERS 0

Let's get this out of the way first: Both Clayton Kershaw and Hiroki Kuroda were amazing tonight. Kuroda went seven, Kershaw eight. Neither gave up a run. Neither got a decision.

It was in the bottom of the eighth that things started to unravel. Juan Uribe singled off Boone Logan to start the inning. It appeared that Kershaw was going to be pinch-hit for by either Mark Ellis or Jerry Hairston. However, Kershaw was allowed to hit and laid down a fantastic bunt. Crawford flied out, Puig was walked intentionally, and AGon flied out to end the "threat."

Despite the plate appearance, Kershaw did not come out to start the ninth. Belisario walked Jeter to lead off the inning, got Cano to ground into a force out, and got Soriano to ground out.

Then, things started spiralling downward FAST. Ichiro pinch hit and was intentionally walked. Mattingly brought in Paco to face Overbay, who immediately went into an 0-2 hole after a check swing that third base ump Bill Miller called a strike. Then Overbay made THE EXACT SAME SWING on the 0-2 pitch, and Miller called no swing. (Mattingly was later ejected for arguing the call.) Paco hung a slider to Overbay, which he poked into center, scoring Cano and putting the Yankees up 1-0.

That was already enough for Mariano Rivera, but the Dodgers wanted to give him a little insurance. Jayson Nix popped up to shallow right. Mark Ellis was tracking it all the way, but Puig was calling him off. The two came together (no real collision), Ellis dropped the ball, and two more runs scored.

Rivera (who was honored in a wonderful ceremony before the game) shut the door, and the Dodgers settle for a split. They also see their lead shrink to 2.5 games after Arizona won.

In post-game comments, Kershaw said he was the one to tell Mattingly to take him out of the game. Also, Ellis owned up to his error (which didn't end up mattering due to Rivera's dominance), so I guess it's just one of those nights.

Bad News on Kemp

Kemp not actually pictured
Per Ken Gurnick:
LOS ANGELES -- Matt Kemp's recovery from a sprained left ankle is progressing slower than the Dodgers hoped, and it's possible the outfielder won't return from the disabled list until September.

Kemp likely won't join fellow outfielders Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Yasiel Puig on the active roster for at least a few more weeks.

"By the time we have the four all ready to play, we'll be a few weeks from the end [of the season]," general manager Ned Colletti said.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said Kemp would not be activated when he's eligible Aug. 6, and the club does not have a timetable for his return.

Kemp has only been able to hit off a tee and play catch since he was injured during an awkward slide at the plate July 21 vs. the Nationals.

"We were hoping this was going to be a simple ankle sprain, but it's a lot more serious than that," Mattingly said. "He's been able to do some things, but is having soreness with that. We're still not where we need to be."

Kemp has been on the disabled list three times this season and has been limited to 62 games.
Photo: WikiHow

Game 106 Thread: July 31 vs. Yankees, 7pm

Ah, memories...

Clayton Kershaw (10-6, 1.91) vs. Hiroki Kuroda (10-6, 2.51)

This is about as close to a dream match as Dodger fans can hope for. (Identical records!) Oh look, it's even been given Ace-Off status by MLB!


Kuroda has been his solid self since joining the Yankees. He's quietly gone 26-17 with 3.05 ERA during his time in pinstripes. Plus, he's just so darn likeable. You want to root for him.

But not tonight. Sure, he beat the Dodgers in New York back on June 19th, but that was three days before they morphed into the juggernaut they are now. Sorry, Kuroda-san. We may still love you, but you're standing on the tracks.

Speaking of guys with K names, someone else is dropping by Dodger Stadium tonight:

Kershaw! Kuroda! Kobe! Kemp! Kenley! Kasten! It's a kornukopia!

USA Today Covers Sue Falsone

Thanks to BJ Killeen for the link: from "Barrier-breaking female trainer a good fit for Dodgers" at USA Today:

She is a role model and takes that seriously.

"I've heard from numerous young women who say, 'I want to have a job like yours. I never thought I could do that, and now I can,' " says Falsone, who is single and lives two blocks from the ocean in Hermosa Beach, Calif., southwest of Los Angeles.

She also knows there are Dodger fans out there tweeting and blogging that she should be fired for all the injuries. It's hurtful, but she takes it in stride and hasn't lost her sense of humor.

"I made one comment in a story that we're constantly talking to experts in the field to try to improve, and someone on Twitter said, 'Well then, we don't want you. We want the expert,' " Falsone says, laughing.

There are also comments from others, mostly anonymously on the Internet, along the lines that a woman doesn't belong in the dugout or the clubhouse. She doesn't laugh these off. She mostly avoids them.

"People are pretty courageous when they can hide behind an anonymous name," Falsone says. "I know I get a lot of flak, but I learned very, very quickly not to read the reader comments below a story that mentions me. That's where a lot of that stuff goes. It's unfortunate."

I love that the Dodgers continue to break barriers. Don't let those internet idiots get you down, Sue! Especially those bloggers — they're the worst!

photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports

So Much Greatness

From before last night's game:

Michael Kay Interviews Vin Scully

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Post-Game 105 Thread: Jeters Never Prosper

Sad Jeter (0-for-4 tonight).

DODGERS 3, YANKEES 2

Deadlocked at 2 since the fourth inning, the Dodgers watched Zack Greinke (7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 7 Ks, 1 HR) match Andy Pettitte (7.0 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3Ks, 1 HR) in a stalemate. Ronald Belisario and Kenley Jensen (who got the win) each pitched a scoreless inning to stretch the Dodger bullpen's streak to 9 1/3 innings of work without yielding a hit.

After Andre Ethier, 0-for-3 and in a 0-for-16 slump, singled to left with one out, Juan Uribe struck out. But tonight's hero was Mark Ellis, who waited for Ethier to steal second (on a 1-1 count; Ethier's fourth SB of the year), and then hit a walk-off single to center on a full count. Dodgers win.

And check out the Dodgers' recent record:

The Dodgers now are 10-1 since the All-Star break for the first time in franchise history, having won their last four. Their 19 wins in July are one short of the Los Angeles record, and they are 29-5 during a 34-game run for the first time since 1953.

But even more important than that:

The 15th sellout crowd of the season included a broad array of entertainers and sportsmen -- from Jay-Z and LL Cool J to Jack Nicholson, Mel Brooks, George Lopez and Ice Cube, as well as Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Keyshawn Johnson and Luc Robitaille. Even owner Magic Johnson, back from his European vacation, made it.

And that's what counts! Hey, I'll take it.

Okay, maybe not all that sad (or unprosperous) after all.

Game 105 Thread: July 30 vs. DEREK JETER (& the Yankees), 7p

Derek Jeter hit a home run on the first pitch of his first at-bat after sitting out 12 games due to injury.

Zack Greinke (8-3, 3.49) vs. Andy Pettitte (7-8, 4.39).

DEREK JETER (& the Yankees) are in town! DEREK JETER (& the Yankees) are in town! Although they're in fourth place in their division, DEREK JETER (& the Yankees) don't figure to roll over for the Dodgers. Newly (re)acquired Alfonso Soriano adds some punch, and there's always the estimable Mariano Rivera to contend with.

After an unsatisfying two-game split in New York last month, let's see if the red-hot Dodgers can win a series against DEREK JETER (& the Yankees). "A special ceremonial first pitch is planned," according to the Dodgers...wonder if they're going to ask DEREK JETER to do the honors?

Dodgers tickets

photo by Kathy Willens/AP

Determined To Fill Team With Washed-Up Giants, Colletti Signs Scourge Brian Wilson

My father used to tell me, if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. So here you go.

Tim Brown, Yahoo! Sports: "Brian Wilson to sign with Dodgers":

Brian Wilson is bringing his game – and his beard – to Hollywood.

The erstwhile closer for the San Francisco Giants has agreed to a contract to finish the season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Yahoo! sources said Tuesday.

The free-agent right-hander had spent more than a year recovering from Tommy John surgery, the second of his career. Wilson is likely to report to the Dodgers’ facility in Arizona, and in about two weeks be major-league ready. Initially, he will set up Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen.

His signature facial hair and quirky personality had become favorites among Giants fans, who with homemade signs and T-shirts warned opposing teams to “Fear the Beard.” He’d been a Giant since draft day 2003, became their fulltime closer in 2008, and was a key figure in the club’s 2010 World Series championship.

ESPN.com: "Brian Wilson has deal with Dodgers"

The Dodgers were one of several teams to scout Wilson's throwing session last Thursday at UCLA.

In an interview with 710 ESPNLA the following day, Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti called the possibility of signing Wilson "intriguing."

Once he joins the Dodgers, Wilson likely will be used in a setup role. Colletti has been searching for another right-handed reliever to go with closer Kenley Jansen and setup men Ronald Belisario and Paco Rodriguez.

Dodgers.com: "Former All-Star Pitcher Brian Wilson expected to sign with Dodgers"

Wilson, 31, is another in a long line of former Giants acquired by Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti, a former Giants exec.

(cries)

UPDATE (10:53p): Deal is for $1M plus performance bonuses.

Welp.

photo from Dodgers Rumors

AJ Ellis Steps Up For Charity After Loney Abandons, Beckett Skips Out

At least, I think that was the point of the article detailing the Dodgers' ninth annual Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation Bowling Extravaganza at Lucky Strike Lanes L.A. LIVE. AJ Ellis hosted the charity auction event, which was targeting $200K in fundraising for the Dodgers Foundation:

"This is more important than what we do on the field," said Ellis, who bowled alongside six children from Children's Hospital Los Angeles. "It's great to get out in the community and make a difference. It's very important to do things like this, raising money and awareness for a very important group of people."

Dodgers pitchers Clayton Kershaw, Chris Capuano, Paco Rodriguez and Chris Withrow were in attendance, as well as first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, second baseman Mark Ellis, catcher Tim Federowicz, manager Don Mattingly, bench coach Trey Hillman and team president and CEO Stan Kasten.

And what about those scrooges, James Loney and Josh Beckett? Why couldn't they attend (besides the fact that Loney now plays for Tampa Bay, of course)?

A.J. Ellis hosted the event for the first time, taking over for former Dodgers first baseman James Loney. Josh Beckett was scheduled to be a co-host, but the starting pitcher was unable to attend because his wife is expecting their second child. Beckett offered his support with a $25,000 donation.

Oh. Hmm, scratch that headline.

Wild Guesses As To Whom Colletti Might Be Chasing

Jim Bowden of ESPN.com thinks the Dodgers might be looking for a right-handed reliever at the trade deadline (link insider only):

Right-handed relievers

Luke Gregerson | San Diego Padres | Odds: 50 percent

Gregerson is one of the best setup relievers in baseball and would be a huge difference-maker for teams like the Oakland Athletics, Tigers, Cincinnati Reds or Los Angeles Dodgers. The asking price is high; the Padres won’t give him away, so someone will have to overpay, but this is one reliever who’s worth it.

Kevin Gregg | Chicago Cubs | Odds: 90 percent

The Cubs have been the clear winners among the sellers so far at this trade deadline, so they might as well complete the task by dealing Gregg, who’s done his part in pitching himself onto a contender. His 22 saves and 2.68 ERA this year have been impressive, although he should expect to return to a setup role in any trade in which he’s involved. The Dodgers would be a good landing spot for him.

Kevin Gregg is 35 so that one would make sense for Colletti to covet. Gregerson is only 29, however...

Dodgers Break Into Top 10 On Power Rankings; Really, It's All Downhill From Here

It's like we're on (cloud) number 9 or something! Wow:

Los Angeles Dodgers: 9 (last week: 11)

Yasiel Puig is heating up again, hitting .435 over his past six games, including Sunday's 11th-inning walk-off home run. The home run came off a changeup, and according to ESPN Stats & Info, it was his sixth homer off an off-speed pitch on the outer half of the plate since his recall from the minors, tied for the most in the majors. -- David Schoenfield, SweetSpot

The Giants have the biggest drop, down four spots to #24.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go drink some milk.

Colletti Poised And Ready To Give Money, Prospects Away

When I read the dodgers.com headline, "Colletti willing to deal, but targets uncertain," I couldn't help but reverse the headline and think, "Targets uncertain, but Colletti willing to deal." And so here we are, at the trade deadline, with Ned getting anxious:

Wednesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline is approaching quickly and Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti is locked and loaded with an itchy trigger finger.

Only one problem -- he's having trouble finding a target.

Oh, no.

Another focus could be a right-handed middle reliever, but Colletti has said he has his doubts how much of an upgrade is out there. The Carlos Marmol experiment is still a work in progress judging from early returns.

I don't think the late returns are going to get any better.

Colletti has repeatedly shown a reliance on vets over kids with almost annual in-season trades for veteran relievers -- Elmer Dessens, Scott Proctor, George Sherrill, Octavio Dotel, Randy Choate and [Brandon] League.

But to get those guys, we gave away Odalis Perez, Wilson Betemit, Josh Bell and Steve Johnson. Randy Choate came over with Hanley Ramirez, at the cost of Nate Eovaldi and Scott McGough. League came over for Leon Landry and Logan Bawcom, which might not have been so bad in itself, except it led to a $22.5M deal a blink of an eye later.

And then there's Dotel, who came at the cost of James McDonald and Andrew Lambo. Ouch.

Somehow, I have this sinking feeling that Brian Wilson is imminent.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Scoreboard Watching: July 29, 2013

I believe the Turner Field scoreboards are somewhat improved from Fulton County Stadium days.

Sure, give a day off to the Dodgers, now that they're 9-1 over their last 10 games since the All-Star Break and finally have some momentum. Where was this break when we were floundering around in late May-early June, playing 20 games in a row?

But I digress.

Other NL West games of note today:

  • Rockies @ Braves, 4p PT. Jorge De La Rosa (10-5, 2.97) vs. Brandon Beachy (0-0, -.--). Beachy comes back from Tommy John elbow reconstructive surgery today, making his first start since June 2012. Rockies have gone 5-5 in their last 10 games, despite playing all 10 at home against the woeful Cubs, the misled Marlins, and the Braun-less Brewers. Braves are in first place by 8.5 games in the East; Rox are 6.0 games behind the Dodgers and in third place.
  • Reds @ Padres, 7p PT. Mike Leake (10-4, 2.73) vs. Sean O'Sullivan (0-2, 4.73). Cincinnati is reeling from losing three straight against the Dodgers this weekend, but are facing a pitcher who hasn't won a game yet in the National League (he's 10-16 lifetime, having pitched for the Angels and Royals). Padres are 9.0 GB the Dodgers, ahead of the last-place Giants by a game.

Arizona opens up a series @ Tampa Bay Tuesday; on Tuesday, the Giants also play @ Phillies.

Jon SooHoo Is A Ten-Foot-Tall Giant

Awesome shot looking down at home plate from yesterday's walk-off win (hat tip, Mr. F):

photo obviously by Jon SooHoo. You aren't paying attention if you need this footnote.

ESPN's Stark: Should Dodgers Consider Trading Matt Kemp?

Blasphemy, I know. But in the wake of listening to sports talk radio this morning indicating that Ned Colletti may be inquiring about specific bearded idiot relievers (god forbid, please say this is not true), ESPN.com's Jayson Stark lofts a trial balloon about our franchise player Matt Kemp:

We've seen a lot of speculation that the Dodgers could be open to trading Andre Ethier or Carl Crawford in a big deal. But some people wonder instead: Shouldn't they be more open to trading Matt Kemp? Since the Dodgers caught fire last month, Kemp has made it through an entire game only eight times. So they've essentially been winning without him. Ethier has actually played well in center in Kemp's absence. And the Dodgers have one of the bright lights of the Futures Game, center-field prospect Joc Pederson, just over the horizon. We keep waiting for a huge name to pop onto this market in the final two days before the deadline. So just asking a question others have pondered: Why not Matt Kemp?

I feel the vomit rising in my throat.

In other speculation, Jim Bowden says the second-place Diamondbacks should stand pat:

Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers’ phone never stops ringing because of the team’s stable of young starting pitchers in the major and minor leagues. However, when you’re a midmarket club, you just can’t trade that type of talent for stopgap players at the trade deadline.

The Diamondbacks are a solid blue-collar team that looked like an 85-win team in March and still look like that three days from the trade deadline.

In other words, this is a good team but not a great team. To make significant trades to improve the team, they’d have to mortgage the future because everyone keeps asking for elite pitching prospect Archie Bradley and Tyler Skaggs, and it just doesn’t make sense to trade years of non-arbitration eligibility to try to win now, especially when this team simply isn’t good enough to win a World Series by making those types of deadline deals.

Outside of a small deal for a left-handed reliever, they’re probably better off doing nothing and trying to win over the next several years with the young pitching they have stockpiled.

Oh yeah, and here's that other ire-provoking rumor I mentioned earlier:

Please don't let us be one of those four NL teams.

Brewers Organization Compensates For Braun's Breach

Very cool move on the Brewers organization's behalf, as they offered to give food and concession vouchers to all attending fans forced to suffer through the last two months of the 2013 season, worsened with the news about Ryan Braun's suspension:

Challenged by the news of Ryan Braun's suspension and a disappointing season, Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio is reaching into his wallet.

The team announced Monday that each fan who shows up with a ticket to any of the team's 12 home games in August will receive a $10 voucher that will be good for food, beverages, tickets or merchandise.

"We were finalizing something like this to give back to our loyal fans just as news of Ryan's suspension hit," said the team's chief operating officer, Rick Schlesinger. "Mark decided he wanted to make a dramatic impact that would cost more money."

Despite a 43-61 record, the Brewers have drawn relatively well this season, bringing in an average of more than 31,000 fans per game. Based on those calculations, the vouchers will cost the team more than $3.6 million if they are all used.

Although it is close to the roughly $3 million the team won't have to pay Braun, Schlesinger said that wasn't the intention.

"This is an investment in our fans and an investment in our brand, to do what we can do to mitigate a trying summer," said Schlesinger, noting that this is the first initiative under the team's Fans First campaign.

Schlesinger said the aim of the promotion is to be completely transparent with fans. He said the Brewers will not raise any prices and are allowing fans to combine vouchers that they accumulate throughout the month.

Yahoo! Sports' Big League Stew is more direct in linking Braun's suspension to the Brewers organization's noblesse:

To be more specific, each fan who spins the Miller Park turnstiles during the month of August will receive a $10 voucher that can be used at the stadium's concession stands. With 12 home dates in August and an average expected attendance of 30,000, that's a roughly $3.6 million hit the Brewers are taking with this "Fans First" promotion— or more than the $3.1 million they would have had to pay Ryan Braun had he not been suspended for 65 games after getting caught up in the Biogenesis scandal.

In taking this action, the Brewers have touched upon an existential truth in the fair state of Wisconsin: Nothing says "you're loved and appreciated" like free bratwurst and beer.

Very cool call, Mr. Attanasio.

Diamondbacks On Cold Streak, But Coach Steve Sax Frozen Out

The Diamondbacks might be 4-6 over their last 10, at the same time that the Dodgers have gone 9-1 and have taken over first place in the NL West. But for first base coach Steve Sax (yours truly!), going cold had a whole new meaning:

When Steve Sax returned to baseball this season after nearly 20 years out of uniform, it had to be for moments like this.

The former second baseman, a five-time All-Star for the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees, is in his first season as first-base coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks after making his way in the business world. Sure, you can give motivational speeches, consult with big corporations and write a self-help book, but how can that compare to the thrill of walking onto a major-league field … and finding your glove frozen in a block of ice?

Here's the video:

PCS 6.5: Yankees Edition

I've heard some rumors that the Dodgers' old World Series rivals are coming back to town this week, so I've made the decision to go with a historically-themed puzzle for your enjoyment this week. Solve this puzzle below to clinch your PCS victory!


Puzzle Rules: The solution to the puzzle is a former Dodger. Comment freely in the thread, but if you have the solution, please don't give it away to everyone in the comments section. Instead, do the following:
  • Send me an Email with "PCS" somewhere in the subject line, containing the first and last name of the players, along with your reasoning. Submitted answers without the reasoning, or those submitted with the incorrect reasoning, will count for participation only, even if the answer itself is correct. And please include your screen name somewhere in the email; and
  • Post a comment simply saying you have emailed your solution attempt. We may not be able to reply to your original email promptly, so please be patient and check back on the comment thread for the latest news; we may confirm correct answers there.
Under the new rules, you now have until midnight PT on Saturday to submit your answer. Answer will be posted Sunday morning. Good luck!

26-6 Run May Actually Mean Something. No, Really.

Mark Saxon of ESPN.com wrote exactly what I was thinking after watching Sunday's extra-inning win over the Reds: if you can still win the game after: (1) suffering 20 strikeouts, (2) starting Chris Capuano, (3) forcing Brandon League to pitch two innings of relief, and (4) watching phenom Yasiel Puig get picked off of first base like a third-grader earlier in the game, one might think that the Dodgers might actually be not just lucky, but possibly good:

On the same day the Dodgers set a Los Angeles strikeout record (the wrong side of it), they also tied a Los Angeles record for the team's best 32-game stretch (26-6), equaling the 1977 World Series team.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was unaware his team had struck out so many times until he walked into the interview room after the game and was asked about it.

"You're kind of inning to inning trying to win a game. You're not really paying attention to how they're getting their outs, just that they're getting them," Mattingly said. "It's a good game for us from the standpoint of it's a close game, it's a tough game, it's a tough club.

"It's a game we hung in there and stole a series."

For perfectly justifiable reasons, Mattingly gets antsy when Capuano is still on the mound late in games. He pulled the veteran left-hander after Capuano had given up only three hits, and thrown 83 pitches, with two outs in the seventh inning. Joey Votto was at second base and right-handed hitter Todd Frazier was coming up.

Capuano has rarely gotten to that point in a game, having failed to pitch into the sixth inning in three of his previous four starts. The move worked. After walking the first man he faced, Ronald Belisario struck out Zack Cozart to end the inning.

It was another confident stride for the Dodgers' bullpen. Even as general manager Ned Colletti looks for one more arm, good things are happening. Demoted closer Brandon League, booed routinely at Dodger Stadium a few weeks ago, pitched two scoreless innings. In his past four games, League is 3-0, has thrown 6 2/3 scoreless innings and opponents are batting less than .150 off him.

Throw in Skip Schumaker's unlikely heroics yesterday (only his second HR all year); or Hanley Ramirez' game-winning shot Friday (after a pathetic failed do-se-do at home plate earlier in the same game); or the fact that we don't even have Matt Kemp in the lineup yet: it's really frickin' crazy.

I don't know if I'd go so far as to say the Dodgers are "good." But they sure are remarkable.

What is going ON?!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Post-Game 104 Thread: Wild Horses Edition

Let's be short and to the point:

1) Their pitchers were good.
2) Our pitchers were good.
3) Our batters struck out a lot (20 times).
4) Extra innings.
5) Puig!

Puig struck out three times and was easily caught stealing earlier, but per Vin, right there in the 11th, "One swing corrected everything." That one swing was a walkoff solo HR that was a no-doubter. As Vin also went on to say, "The Wild Horse has led the team to the barn!"

Dodgers take the series 3-1 and, with a D'bags loss, move 2.5 games ahead in first place. Make party, party people!

UPDATE:

6) Gnats 10 games back

Game 104 Thread: July 28 vs. Reds, 1p

Chris Capuano (3-6, 5.03 ERA) vs. Tony Cingrani (4-1, 3.18)

Two southpaws face off in today's final game of the series, with Capuano hoping to find his way after several shaky outings and Cingrani seeking to continue his mostly successful role filling in for the injured Johnny Cueto.

Where things stand: Dodgers are 17-5 in July, which would be one of the franchise's most successful July campaigns. We've won eight of nine coming out of the All-Star break. We've gone 25-6 since June 22, waving at the Giants on our way up to first place as they were on a fast track to last place. We're sitting in first place, 1.5 games ahead the D'bags. And, improbably, we're (mostly) healthy. Hopefully we're not left wondering why we couldn't outright take this series and keep up our winning ways.

No game tomorrow, so let's pack a lot in today!

Hanley Ramirez, The Engine

ESPN.com's Mark Saxon sees the sweetness that Hanley Ramirez's swing (and glove) is providing:

LOS ANGELES -- From 2006-09, Hanley Ramirez won a Rookie of the Year award, a batting title and finished second in MVP voting, all the while batting .316 and averaging 26 home runs and 41 stolen bases a season.

He was an unstoppable force, and his team just kept losing and losing.

Ramirez's career with the Miami Marlins was essentially an exercise in numerical accumulation. It made him rich, but it didn't get his team anywhere. The Marlins had five losing seasons in his seven years there and finished as high as second only once.

Ramirez got a taste for winning in March, when his Dominican Republic team won the World Baseball Classic. You could see the joy in Ramirez's face as he celebrated on the field with his teammates and countrymen, even though he had just torn a ligament in his right thumb.

"You get that trophy in your hands, you want to just keep adding more," Ramirez said. "That's a great feeling."

Imagine how much sweeter it will feel if Ramirez gets his hands -- presumably healthy -- on a different trophy this fall. If there's one player who can carry the Los Angeles Dodgers there, it might be Ramirez. What was shaping up as the Summer of Puig has become the Heyday of Hanley.

He has been the best hitter in baseball since he got off the disabled list in early June. His 1.138 OPS leads all major leaguers with at least 150 at-bats.

"He's one of the more talented players I've ever seen," said Clayton Kershaw, who ought to know.

The talent has never been the issue. Motivation and effort were, but those haven't appeared to be in short supply for Ramirez since he arrived in Los Angeles. Who knows, maybe it just took a little hint of hope and the promise of winning. All those losing seasons can beat you down, one would presume.

It also doesn't hurt that his left shoulder is finally sound, two years removed from invasive surgery.

"Ever since I got here from the trade, everything changed in my life," Ramirez said. "I think differently. I've got teammates supporting me and I've got a lot on my side. That's huge."

Friday might have been the closest thing Ramirez has ever experienced to playoff baseball: a sold-out crowd at Dodger Stadium, Kershaw and Homer Bailey hooked up in a pitcher's duel, the backdrop a meeting of two of the hottest teams in baseball.

Ramirez looked ready for the limelight. He caught a hanging curveball from Bailey and lined it over the left-field wall -- all the scoring Kershaw would need to give the Dodgers a 2-1 win at Dodger Stadium.

For a while, Puig was the cover boy, but Ramirez was the engine. That has become clear, as Puig has gone into a tailspin and the Dodgers have kept winning. In his last 14 games, Puig has two extra-base hits, three RBIs and 22 strikeouts.

Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez have been a formidable one-two punch in the three-four slots in the lineup. And if we can bring Matt Kemp back and healthy? Maybe we haven't even seen how potent these Dodgers could be.

Greinke On Braun: "The Closer You Were To Him, The More He Would Use You"

Dylan Hernandez got Zack Greinke to speak on the record about former teammate and current cheater Ryan Braun, and after weeks of contemplating the situation, Greinke voiced his disappointment:

Zack Greinke declined to say anything about Ryan Braun in the days immediately after his former teammate was suspended for violating baseball's drug policy. Uncertain if he wanted to voice his opinion, Greinke asked for another day to collect his thoughts, then another.

On Friday, Greinke broke his silence.

"I just get nervous talking about this whole situation," Greinke said.

Greinke spoke slowly and quietly, but his message was clear: He was disappointed.

Greinke was on the Milwaukee Brewers in 2011, when Braun tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug in the playoffs. Greinke was also with the Brewers the following spring, when Braun, who successfully overturned a 50-game suspension, told his teammates he never did anything wrong.

"The main thing is, yeah, he lied to us," Greinke said. "He forced us to lie for him, threw people under the bus in order to help himself out and didn't care, blamed others for his mistakes, and it's just a lot of things you don't expect from people. "

Braun publicly attacked Dino Laurenzi Jr., the man who collected his urine sample. Laurenzi's handling of the sample was the key to Braun's appeal.

"The fact that even to this day he hasn't had a real apology is really upsetting to me," Greinke said. "I thought about it a bunch. He still hasn't really apologized." [...]

Oh, yeah, 100% believed him," Greinke said. "Everything was so convincing. He had people to blame. He seemed like a really good guy. He was a good teammate at the time. You don't know the guys that he was pinning it on. I'm not positive, but I think everyone 100% believed him at the time. Especially the next year, he looked just as good as the year before. His numbers his whole career, Hall of Fame numbers. How could you not believe him? He was so convincing."

Asked if his opinion on Braun as a player changed, Greinke replied, "Not even talking about the player. It's just the person. Just the fact that he was willing to use anyone that got in his path. The closer you were to him, the more he would use you. It's just disappointing that a human being could be like that."

Mark Townsend over at Yahoo! Sports' Big League Stew praised Greinke for his candor:

I know Greinke has a tendency to rub people in the wrong way, but I respect him for taking his time to collect his thoughts and sharing them. It's not easy for him to speak publicly under any circumstances, so going to bat for Braun almost two years ago was obviously important to him. Also knowing that, I believe it makes his comments on Friday even stronger. He obviously feels betrayed and used by Braun directly, which is painful enough, but he made it clear that it's just as much about the other people Braun mistreated than it is about Greinke.

photos: USA Today

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Post-Game 103 Thread: Skip To My Ryu

DODGERS 4, REDS 1

For the second time in a week, Skip Schumaker (who wasn't supposed to be here today...Carl Crawford was sick) launched a monster home run. This one was a two-run shot to dead center off Bronson Arroyo, putting the Dodgers up 3-1. He also scored a run on an Adrian Gonzalez single in the seventh.

Ryu was a one-man show too. He went seven strong and only allowed one run (a Jay Bruce solo shot...Stop pitching to him!!!). Then, after a Chris Heisey triple in the third, Ryu retired the next thirteen batters in a row. In fact, no other Reds even reached base the rest of the game, thanks to two strong bullpen innings from Belisario, Paco, and Kenley.

Dodgers move to 1.5 games in first, after Arizona got pummeled by San Diego, and go for the series win tomorrow with Chris Capuano on the mound.

Game 103 Thread: July 27 vs. Reds, 6p

Bronson Arroyo (9-7, 3.19) vs. Hyun-Jin Ryu (8-3, 3.25).

It's tough being Dusty Baker's Toothpick*. For one thing, Dusty doesn't floss all that often. And the halitosis: it's like a bad summer day trapped in the Lincoln Tunnel.

Gnawed upon all game, I'm the one who suffers when our team, the Reds, sits 12 games above .500 but five games back of the Cardinals, in third place in the NL Central. Heck, if our team was in the NL West, we'd be up on the Dodgers by four games and in first. But here in third place we sit; even behind the Pirates. Dusty may be chewing out some of his guys, but he's chewing on me.

Mat Latos did fine for us in the series opener, and Homer Bailey was good but not good enough last night. So that leaves tonight's game to Bronson Arroyo, who's coming off a shutout in SF but is not fond of Chavez Ravine (2-3 with a 4.82 ERA). And he's up against the new Dodger, Hyun-Jin Ryu, who is in contrast 4-1 with a 1.90 ERA at home.

Had we come into town in May or early June, when the Dodgers were injured and flopping around like a dying fish, this four-game series would fine. Now the Dodgers are 7-1 since the All-Star Break, 8-2 over their last 10, and 24-6 over their last 30. I certainly ain't gonna feel like a "splendid splinter" tonight, I tell you. Especially if my Reds get skewered.

Note (*): Not to be mixed up with the SoSG reader by the same handle.

Great Moments in SoSG History: Vol. I, Issue I

From a 3/31/2008 GT:

Brewers Still Protecting That Lying Cheater Who Abandoned Them For The Rest Of The Season

The Milwaukee Brewers organization still appears to be protecting the face of the franchise, even at the cost of fan sarcasm and humor:

MILWAUKEE -- A Wisconsin woman said Friday she is still a Milwaukee Brewers fan, even though security at Miller Park asked her to leave a game after she changed her Ryan Braun jersey to read "FRAUD."

Karen Eidem, 37, of Pewaukee, said she papered over the letters "B" and "N" in Braun's name with the letters "F" and "D" on the back of her Brewers shirt after the slugger accepted a season-ending, 65-game suspension after admitting to violating baseball's rules on performance-enhancing drugs.

"A lot of fans complimented me on the jersey," Eidem told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "It was all meant in good fun. It wasn't meant to be derogatory."

Eidem said security tapped her on the shoulder while she was standing with friends at the ballpark Wednesday night. She said she was told her the modified shirt violated the fan code of conduct, and that she would have to change the shirt or leave the ballpark. Eidem turned the shirt inside out and stayed for the game.

Eidem said she later looked up the code and saw that clothing or body art could not be profane or offensive. She said she didn't understand why the word "FRAUD" would be offensive.

WTMJ radio says the Brewers later issued a statement saying security staff should not have interfered and offered Eidem another game ticket.

"In this case, the fan absolutely should have been able to wear the jersey without any intervention by our staff. We welcome the opportunity for fans to express their opinions," the Brewers said in a statement Thursday. "The only circumstances that would warrant us intervening is if someone were to display a message or item that would be considered offensive to other fans.

"This is not a case where that line was crossed, and we're sorry for the inconvenience to her."

The Brewers organization also went on to say, "As this organization has acknowledged in the past, it is not perfect. It realizes now that it has made some mistakes in its handling of fans. It is willing to accept the consequences of these actions. This situation has taken a toll on the entire Brewers organization, and has been a distraction to the Ryan Braun cheating and using performance enhancing drugs situation."

photo: Karen Eidem

Kemp Aiming For August 6 Return

Take your time, Matt. We need you back, but we need you strong:

LOS ANGELES -- Matt Kemp told the Dodgers his sprained left ankle is feeling better, but the center fielder still had a noticeable limp on Friday and has not yet resumed baseball-related activities.

The Dodgers remain optimistic Kemp will be ready to play when he's eligible to come off the disabled list Aug. 6 against the Cardinals.

"At this point, I'm just kind of hopeful that he's going to be ready to roll in 15 days," manager Don Mattingly said. "He's still limping a little bit. Yesterday, he came in and said he felt really good."

Friday, July 26, 2013

Two Quick Pics

From tonight's game. 

Walter White signing autographs. 


Major party foul. 


Post-Game 102 Thread: ICU

DODGERS 2, REDS 1

I see you, Hanley! All you do is hit.

Clayton Kershaw was absolutely dominant, at this point becoming the stuff of legend at the tender age of 25. He went 8 innings and only gave up one run, bringing his season ERA below 2.0 and moving his record to 10-6. But so was the Reds' Homer Bailey, who was trying to bounce back after a post-no hitter slump. So behind a sell-out crowd that was treated to this great pitching matchup, it was Hanley Ramirez left to make the difference, and he did, taking it deep to left with one on. His two-run home run was the difference, helping keep the Dodgers a half game up in first place after the D'bags had walloped the hapless Padres. Meanwhile, the equally hapless Cubs beat the Gnats 3-2.

Carl Crawford stayed hot, going 3-4 and Kenley Jansen was dominant for his 13th save.

Good bounceback win after last night's tough loss as we round into the second half of this four-game stand.

Game 102 Thread: July 26 vs. Reds, 7p

Clayton Kershaw (9-6, 2.01) vs. Homer Bailey (5-9, 3.84).

Is the concept of a stopper overrated? It hasn't been an issue up to this point in the season, but Kershaw beating the Reds tonight could mean the difference between the Dodgers refusing to relinquish first place and playing a frustrating game of first-place tag with the pesky D'bags.

Bailey threw that (deservedly) celebrated no-hitter against the Giants earlier this month, but followed that performance with three consecutive losses. We know our starting pitching will be solid; the Dodgers need to unrevert (I know it's not a word, English majors) from their wasteful ways on the basepaths if they want to make it four straight Ls for Homer.

Update (Sax): I will be at tonight's game, as will SoSG AC.  Hit us if you want to say hi or down a beer.

Waaaaaaaaaah

Thanks to BJ Killeen for the link. From Arizona Sports:

[Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers] said the Diamondbacks were in on the bidding for pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu, who is 8-3 with a 3.25 ERA this year, and also had interest in Cuban phenom Yasiel Puig. The Dodgers outspent everyone for their services, and are now reaping the dividends.

"When you have that wherewithal financially it doesn't mean you're the best scouting organization, just you have the wherewithal to go out and buy what you want," he said.

Except the Dodgers' international scouting department has a stellar track record, meaning the Dodgers have the skill and the wherewithal. It's a great combination, and nothing to apologize for.

End of the Line for Lilly

Ted Lilly was DFA'd yesterday, and I at least somehow missed the news. It would have made yesterday's loss a little easier.
The Dodgers had questions about Ted Lilly's health and his transition to the bullpen, so they designated the veteran left-hander for assignment on Thursday.

The decision to cut ties with Lilly came one day after he was activated from the disabled list for the third time this season. The Dodgers have 10 days to either place Lilly on waivers, release him or trade him. In a corresponding roster move, the Dodgers promoted utility man Elian Herrera from Triple-A Albuquerque.

"I'm obviously not happy about what happened," said Lilly, who was 0-2 with a 5.09 ERA in five starts. "It's a pretty big turn of events. I went from being activated yesterday to them changing their mind today."
One has to admire his desire to get back out to the mound and help the team, but unfortunately for Lilly, he just didn't have anything left in the tank after a number of injuries and, well, after being like 176 years old.

So long, Theodore Roosevelt Lilly, and thanks for not giving up any more home runs in early innings as a Dodger pitcher.

Photo: Dodgers/2012

Frozen Beer Foamy Goodness

Video from foodbeastTV.

This demands an SoSG taste test. A frozen foam-topped beer that stays cold for 30 minutes? According to Fox Sports West:

The foam is made from Kirin beer and goes through a process called "frozen agitation" in which air is blown in the beer as it's stirred and chilled to 23 degrees Fahrenheit. A special frozen beer foam machine is used to create the foam. [...]

Frozen beer was introduced last year in Japan but is only available in the U.S. at Think Blue Bars on the loge and field level at Dodger Stadium and at the Chaya's Summer Beer Garden downtown and Katsuya at the Americana at Brand in Glendale.

Who's going to take a bullet and be the first to try one of these foamy beers? SoSG wants to know!

A Five-Hanky Moment

The Dodgers paid tribute to Vin Scully with his second bobblehead last night. Did he mention it on the air? Of course not; he would say a bobblehead is a modest thing, but thine own, Dodger fans. But there was an opportunity for the sellout crowd of 53,275 to recognize Vin with an extended round of applause, and he returned the love. Chills.

1: Mark J. Terrill/AP; 2: @VinScullyTweet

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Post-Game 101 Thread: Aced Out

REDS 5, DODGERS 2

Ace-off? More like aced out.

The Dodgers became the last team to lose its first game since the All-Star Break tonight, falling to the Reds' Mat Latos, who went 7.2 IP and held the Dodgers to 8 H, 1 ER, 1 BB and 4 Ks. Meanwhile, Zack Greinke didn't have his best stuff tonight, yielding a solo HR to Xavier Paul in the first and a two-run shot to Jay Bruce in the sixth. (So maybe there is something to that pre-game headline: Latos seemed like an ace; Greinke was a little off.)

Throw in a shaky top of the ninth from Carlos Marmol, and you've got the Dodgers' first loss in seven games.

Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez both had two hits tonight; Andre Ethier and AJ Ellis each went 0-for-4 in the 5- and 6-holes, which didn't help. No worries, we've got these guys for three more games on this series. Let's rest up and get 'em.

Game 101 Thread: July 25 vs. Reds, 7p

"It's tiiiiime for Dodger baseball!"

Mat Latos (9-3, 3.53) vs. Zack Greinke (8-2, 3.36).

Happy Vin Scully Day! The red-hot Dodgers come home to face the just-plain-red Reds and old friend Dusty Baker. In what Dodgers.com is selling as an "Ace-Off"...

...former Padre Latos takes on Greinke, who Dodger fans are hoping will become Drysdale to Kershaw's Koufax. A solid start against a Cincinnati lineup loaded for bear (Choo, Votto, Phillips, Bruce, et al.) would help.

But no matter the outcome, we're here to celebrate Vin Scully with his second bobblehead. Remember what happened when they gave him his first one? May the heavens shine upon you forever, Vin.

Dodgers tickets

Kemp To Disabled List, Part 3

As was reported yesterday at gametime, Matt Kemp is back on the DL with that ankle injury suffered in Washington:

After a brief stint of being healthy, Matt Kemp is heading back to the disabled list for the third time this season.

The Los Angeles Dodgers placed Kemp on the 15-day DL Wednesday with a sprained left ankle and activated left-hander Ted Lilly.

Out of the lineup for 11 games with a sore left shoulder, Kemp came off the DL before Sunday's 9-2 win against the Washington Nationals. He went 3-for-4 with a home run, but limped off the field after sliding into home plate on a force play in the ninth inning and has not played since.

"That thing just didn't go anywhere for us," manager Don Mattingly said of Kemp's sore ankle. "We were hoping over 48 hours it would get a lot better. It hasn't."

Mattingly said Kemp did not fight the decision to return to the DL.

"Matt knew once it didn't go anywhere for him that we had to do this," he said.

Kemp's DL stint is backdated to July 22, meaning he's eligible to return Aug. 6, but Mattingly said Kemp might need more time.

The way the Dodgers are rolling, it may not be that bad. But we've got four against Cincinnati, two vs. the Yankees, and then we hit the road for four at the Cubs and four at St. Louis. Kemp could return as early as Game 2 of the St. Louis series.

Get well soon, Matt!

Puig, Ryu, And The Noogie

Some great tomfoolery between Yasiel Puig and Hyun-Jin Ryu from last night's game, when the Dodgers took a five-run lead in the tenth inning:

The full video is here. Make sure to get a laugh from Eric Collins' cackling:

Wow, What An Awesome Roadtrip

Canadian National, get it?

The Dodgers wrapped up a 6-0 roadtrip, including a sweep against the Nationals and Canada's Blue Jays. Four of them were come-from-behind victories, including two big late come-from-behind victories. Two extra-inning wins.

The first two games were tight victories won by the Dodgers in their final frame. The last four games had Dodger offensive explosions, with one of them being a nail-biter at the end.

The Dodgers outscored their opponents 47-22. Take that, run differential!

And, the Dodgers pull into first place by 1.5 games. I don't expect Cincinnati to be as welcoming for the next four games. But at least we're at home!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Post-Game 100 Thread: Canadian Sweep


DODGERS 8, BLUE JAYS 3

This team. This fucking team. This is getting downright ridiculous.

This did not look like a game the Dodgers were going to win. There were what felt like dozens of wasted scoring opportunities. Sure, Nolasco had a no-hitter going for a while, but that dissolved fairly quickly after he served up a two-run double in the fifth. The Blue Jays went ahead 3-2 in the eighth after an A-Gon error. Hanley had gone 0-5 by the top of the ninth.

Then, down to their last strike, something nutty happened. (It's always something nutty lately.) Ethier hit a single to center that would have just moved Puig (who had walked...nutty!) over to third. But the ball took an Astroturf-powered super bounce over the head of Colby Rasmus and Puig scored the tying run.

After a second scoreless inning from Brandon League (Miraculously nutty!), the Dodgers broke the game open for good in the tenth. Two-run home run by Mark Ellis, solo shot by Puig, a walk by A-Gon, a double by Hanley, and a two-run single by Ethier. Whew!

Kenley Jansen wrapped things up (Don't question Donnie here, the alternative was Marmol.) and the Dodgers won their tenth straight road game. Happy flight home to face the Reds for four. At the time of this writing, the Cubs were up on Arizona, but first place is assured regardless.

THIS TEAM!

Game 100 Thread: July 24 @ Blue Jays, 4p

"I once caught a fish THISBIG!"

Ricky Nolasco (6-9, 3.75) vs. Esmil Rogers (3-4, 3.84).

What in the name of holy heck is going on here? The Dodgers are currently invincible — down 8-3 after Capuano and Marmol torched the place? No problem! — and are in position for their second straight sweep against an east coast team. They could use the momentum, too, because the Cincinnati not-nearly-as-sucky-as-Toronto Reds will be waiting at Dodger Stadium tomorrow evening.

The Blue Jays held a players-only meeting before yesterday's game, so they figure to be especially desperate today. No word if they've promised Esmil Rogers that they'll rename the Rogers Centre for him if he wins.

Dodgers tickets

photo by Jon Blacker / AP/The Canadian Press

Taiwanese Animators Also Shave Ryan Braun

The Onion Shaves Braun (x2)

Two Ryan Braun stories from the Onion.

First, Ryan Braun: 'Never Believe Any Of Us':

MILWAUKEE—In his first statement after receiving a 65-game suspension from baseball, Brewers slugger Ryan Braun called on fans Tuesday to remember that every single word that he or any other baseball player accused of using steroids has ever said publicly is a lie. “Please be aware that nothing we ever say is true, and when I said that I would ‘bet my life’ I didn’t take steroids, you should have stopped right there and assumed that I took them,” said the former NL MVP, who went on to ask fans whether they really believed that someone who narrowly avoided a 50-game ban for elevated testosterone levels on a technicality could be wrongfully incriminated a second time in two years. “If faced with either telling the truth and losing millions of dollars or lying and keeping our millions of dollars, we’re going to choose to betray the confidence and trust of everyone around us. Even when we make a confession, the truth is that we did so in a strategic attempt to prevent you from digging any deeper and discovering the really despicable stuff we did.” Braun concluded his remarks by asking why reporters bothered to write down a single word from his speech since the entire thing was, in all likelihood, also one giant lie.

Second, Brewers Worried Ryan Braun Suspension Might Put Season In Jeopardy:

MILWAUKEE—Following news that Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun will sit out the rest of 2013 due to his alleged involvement with performance-enhancing drug supplier Biogenesis, the power hitter's teammates told reporters Tuesday that they were concerned his suspension could put the remainder of the 41-57 ball club’s season in jeopardy. “This team is built around Ryan, and I can already tell that we’re going to face an uphill battle without him,” said starting second baseman Rickie Weeks, emphasizing that he “just couldn't imagine” the team that currently possesses the second-worst record in the National League lasting very long in the postseason without the five-time All-Star. “Obviously, there’s a lot of talent in this clubhouse, but the fact is that everything we’ve been able to do so far this season has been because of Ryan. No doubt about it, we’re in trouble. I don’t know how we could play in the World Series without him.” When reached for comment, Braun told reporters that he believed his team would be able to perform just as well without him.

Nice.

Dominguez Ills; Marmol Allayed?

As reported by the Dodgers yesterday (and witnessed by fans watching the train wreck three-run sixth inning last night, the Dodgers have placed Jose Dominguez on the 15-day DL to bring up disgraced Cub closer Carlos Marmol from his post in the Dodgers' minor-league circuit:

TORONTO -- The Dodgers called up veteran right-handed reliever Carlos Marmol from Double-A Chattanooga on Tuesday and placed Jose Dominguez on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left quad muscle after initially announcing they would option the rookie reliever to Triple-A Albuquerque.

Marmol was acquired on July 2 from the Cubs, along with financial considerations that included $209,700 in international signing space. In return, the Cubs received reliever Matt Guerrier, who, like Marmol, had been designated for assignment.

Marmol waived his no-trade clause to accept the deal.

"I like the team, it wins every day," Marmol said. "With all the players here, it's a good team. How can I say no? Better than Chicago."

He was tested immediately on Tuesday, relieving starter Chris Capuano in the fifth and allowing three runs on four hits, including a Jose Reyes homer, in 1 2/3 innings in the Dodgers' 10-9 come-from-behind win over the Blue Jays.

"You can tell he gets going fast and he gets going everywhere," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "He gave up a home run but got three outs. A little good, a little bad."

Actually, that was more of the bad part than the good part, Donnie. But after seeing Dominguez come up a little gimpy in Monday's game, it seems like as good a time as any to see if Marmol has any stuff worth keeping. (So far, it doesn't look like much.)

Matt Kemp Is Not Lobbying For The 2011 NL MVP Award

The media conflagration about this is really pissing me off. As of yesterday afternoon before the game, reports started swirling that Matt Kemp believes he should get the 2011 National League MVP award, which was given to cheater Ryan Braun 18 months ago:

Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, who finished runner-up to Ryan Braun in voting for the 2011 National League Most Valuable Player award, thinks the suspended Milwaukee Brewers slugger should be stripped of the honor.

Braun finished with 388 points and 20 first-place votes, to 332 and 10 for Kemp. Major League Baseball attempted to suspend Braun following a positive test that October for elevated testosterone, but the penalty was overturned by an arbitrator who ruled Braun's urine sample was handled improperly.

Braun agreed Monday to a 65-game suspension for unspecified violations of baseball's drug rules and labor contract.

Asked Tuesday whether the award should be taken away from Braun, Kemp responded: "I mean, yeah, I do," pausing and adding, "I feel like it should be, but that's not for me to decide, you know?"

Kemp said people feel "betrayed" by Braun.

"I'm disappointed," Kemp said. "I talked to Braun before any of this happened, we had conversations and I considered him a friend. I don't think anybody likes to be lied to and I feel like a lot of people have felt betrayed. That's not just me, that's the whole Brewers organization, a lot of his teammates. I think a lot of people feel that way."

Now if you watch the video embedded in the above link (go ahead, I'll wait right here), you can see that Kemp is reluctantly answering a question posed to him by a press corps desperate to stoke controversy. Kemp is nonchalant about the award itself. Sure, he'd love it. But he's not standing on a soapbox screaming for it, nor is he coming at Braun for anything more than the parade of hollow lies that came of Braun's mouth over the past year and a half.

Kemp isn't even remarking about Braun's PED usage. He's just saying he feels badly--which we all feel--about being deceived by Braun for so long.

That's it.

What I'd like to see happen is for Kemp to stop commenting on this altogether, as there's really no upside here.

Kemp needn't worry about 2011. He's going to have other MVP awards on his shelf in due time.

Let Braun keep his own 2011 asterisk (and $127M, I suppose).

How to Raise a Baby Blue Fan

The beginning of a beautiful relationship...and a lot of brainwashing.

On Monday we posted an update from Ron Johnstone, father of young superfan Casey. This prompted SoSG reader Orlando Zepeda (above) to ask Ron for advice on how to raise a true blue baby in enemy territory. Ron's response was brilliant:

If you are willing to commit, it's pretty easy, actually.
  • Brainwash early and often -- array of blue toddler shirts, Kemp Fathead on the wall, bedtime stories about Kirk Gibson, etc.
  • When the kid resists going to sleep during the fourth inning of a weeknight game, promise to wake him/her up with good news when the Dodgers win.
  • Constructive conversations about honesty and integrity every time a Giant gets suspended or indicted for substance abuse, and if you live anywhere near Burlingame, take a field trip to the old BALCO offices and tell stories from the car about a star player allowing his childhood friend (who had young children himself) to spend a year in jail.
  • Suggest Jackie Robinson as topic for biography book reports, and show the movie "42."
  • Get the MLB package from Directv so that when baseball is on in the background during the evening, young kids hear the soft, sweet sound of Vin instead of the Krukow / Kuiper din.
  • Most important, however, is instilling enough self-confidence to withstand unending razzing from schoolmates, parents, coaches, etc. -- if your kid doesn't appreciate and enjoy their independence enough to beam with pride when a total stranger in the supermarket checkout line gives him/her crap about wearing a LA hat, there is no chance a Bay Area kid makes it past age 6 as a Dodgers fan.

If ever there were a manual for Dodger fans living in Giants territory, this is it. Of course additional suggestions are welcome in the comments!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Post-Game 99 Thread: Ain't Nothin' Gonna Break My Stride

DODGERS 10, BLUE JAYS 9

On a day when the SoSG Game Thread was earmarked with this, it's only fitting to use a worse song for the PGT. But here we were, with the Dodgers down 8-3 entering the seventh inning, having notched a record of 1-35 when trailing after six frames (prior to this game).

But buoyed by a three-run seventh inning (bases loaded walk by Andre Ethier, and a two-RBI single from Mark Ellis), and an eighth inning capped by a three-run homer by Adrian Gonzalez (not to mention a solo shot by Ethier), the Dodgers rolled to a 10-8 lead.

Kenley Jansen had a slightly shaky ninth, yielding one run, but keeping the Dodgers from losing the game in regulation. We should talk about the ineffectiveness of recent call-up Carlos Marmol, who went 1.2 IP with 3 ER and was by all accounts a disaster in his Dodger debut. But hey, we're 5-0 on this road trip, with a chance to make the roadtrip undefeated tomorrow. So we're not going to break our stride here.

Oh, no. We've got to keep on moving.

Game 99 Thread: July 23 @ Blue Jays, 4p

J Cap, get it?

Chris Capuano (3-6, 4.63) vs. Todd Redmond (1-1, 4.32).

The first-place Dodgers haven't lost in nine days, and are 4-0 since the All-Star Break (one of four undefeated teams since the break, along with the Rays, Orioles, and Mariners). So if there's any way to push the baseball gods about as far as they can go, it's by starting Chris Capuano, who won his last start (July 11, a 6-1 victory where Cap went 6.1 scoreless innings with 8 Ks), but hasn't lasted seven innings since May 18 (the only time he made it all year).

As for the Blue Jays, still playing on that shag-carpet-like worn astroturf: I guess they've got a diamond, and they've got nine men. So "let's play ball", with all the baseball gusto that Canada's last remaining MLB team can muster:

Oh man, I think I'm gonna puke.

Another J-Cap, get it?

Puig's Canadian Following

Those of you watching yesterday's Dodgers-Blue Jays game saw that Hyun-Jin Ryu had a lot of fans out in the Rogers Centre stands cheering for him. Here's a great shot of a Yasiel Puig fan at the game, from his Skydome hotel room:

Puigmania's gone international! (Which is great, since Kemp is sidelined in Toronto.)

photo: Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Headley Help At The Hot Corner?

ESPN.com's Jim Bowden says the Padres' Chase Headley may get dealt at the deadline, and the Dodgers would be one of many teams desiring his services (link insider only):

There is a possibility -- albeit slim -- that one of these five players that no one is expecting will get traded in a blockbuster over the next week:

Chase Headley 3B, | San Diego Padres

The Padres have told me that they’re not trading Headley or signing him to an extension before July 31. Perhaps they think there will be more of a market at the winter meetings, or that the price will come down considerably after his subpar season.

I think the best trade value is almost always at the deadline because that is when teams get desperate, and with so many teams needing a third baseman, the Padres could be better off striking now.

Just think, the Angels and Dodgers are getting nothing at the hot corner; the Yankees would love a replacement for Alex Rodriguez; the Pirates could put Headley at third, move Pedro Alvarez to first and Garrett Jones to right field; the Reds could use the switch-hitting bat at third and move Todd Frazier to left.

Furthermore, it's not as if Headley is going to settle for a below-market deal with the Padres this winter. If the club isn't convinced Headley will re-sign, now could be the time to deal.

Bowden also mentions the Giants' RF Hunter Pence, the Blue Jays' RF Jose Bautista, the Mariners' RHP Hisashi Iwakuma, and the Royals' RHP Ervin Santana.

Kemp Out For Toronto Series, Maybe Even More

As many Sons and SoSG readers have pointed out, Don Mattingly isn't the best at estimating when a player would be returning from injury. But as of last night, the Dodgers were hoping Matt Kemp was only lost for three games:

Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp is expected to miss the three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays after spraining his left ankle.

Out of the lineup for 11 games with a sore left shoulder, Kemp came off the 15-day disabled list before Sunday's 9-2 win over the Washington Nationals. He went 3-for-4 with a home run, but limped off the field after sliding into home plate on a force play in the ninth inning.

Kemp is expected to have X-rays on Monday night, but the team believes he does not have either a fracture or ligament damage.

Manager Don Mattingly said Monday he was less optimistic that Kemp would avoid a return to the DL. He said the team hoped to have a clearer picture of Kemp's status Tuesday.

"I'm probably not feeling as good about it as I did yesterday," Mattingly said. "It could go the wrong direction. Either this thing's going to get [better] and we'll know pretty quickly or it's going to be a little more severe."

Mattingly said Kemp came to the stadium at noon Monday and spent the afternoon undergoing treatment. He was expected to do the same Tuesday.

MLB.com's Ken Gurnick was much more pessimistic, saying a trip to the DL for Kemp wouldn't be out of the question:

X-rays on Matt Kemp's sprained left ankle were negative Monday night, but he left the clubhouse wearing an immobilizing boot and seems headed back to the disabled list.

Manager Don Mattingly said Kemp would likely miss the three-game series with the Blue Jays. He added that a decision on whether Kemp would need to be disabled would probably be made Tuesday.

But Mattingly added that he was less confident on Monday that Kemp would avoid a return to the disabled list than he was Sunday after Kemp injured the ankle with an awkward slide into home plate in the ninth inning of the Dodgers' 9-2 win in Washington.

Yikes. I'd almost rather do the DL for Kemp now, while the rest of the team is rolling, then have him struggle for a week or so while it starts healing, risking further injury. We need you strong, Kemp. Take your time!

Zack Greinke, #2 Starter And PH Threat?

I remember facing Micah Owings back when he was on the Diamondbacks and Padres, and how Owings was a threat from the plate (even more so from the mound). But maybe now, the Dodgers have their own pitcher / hitter threat, in Zack Greinke, whom Fangraphs' Jeff Sullivan says is having a "Babe Ruth-like season" (hat tip, Mr. F):

On Saturday in DC, there was a showdown between the Dodgers and the Nationals, as two teams with high expectations looked to kick-start strong second halves. The Dodgers won 3-1, but that’s not important, for this. The matchup on the mound was Zack Greinke vs. Gio Gonzalez. In the top of the third, Greinke batted and led off with a first-pitch double to deep center. Mark Ellis, Yasiel Puig, and Adrian Gonzalez would leave him stranded. In the top of the fifth, Greinke batted again and drilled a second-pitch single up the middle. Around him, Tim Federowicz, Ellis, and Puig struck out swinging. That night, Hanley Ramirez led the Dodgers with three hits, and Greinke was alone in second with two.

By now you might’ve heard something about this. After reading that first paragraph, you’ve certainly heard something about this. Zack Greinke has been having a hell of a year at the plate. Obviously with pitchers batting the samples are always tiny, but that generally doesn’t stop pitchers from posting miserable offensive statistics. Greinke, at this writing, is batting .406. No other pitcher in baseball is batting at least .400. No other pitcher in baseball is batting at least .300. No other pitcher in baseball has a wRC+ in the triple digits.

The highest wOBA of all time was posted by Babe Ruth in 1920. That year, his wOBA was 250 points higher than the league average. So far this year, Zack Greinke’s wOBA is 267 points higher than the league average, for National League pitchers. That’s how Greinke’s offense has already been worth 0.9 wins above replacement, while his pitching comes in at 1.1. Astros position players have been worth -0.6 WAR. Marlins position players have been worth 0.7. Zack Greinke, as a position player, has been more valuable than the Astros, and the Marlins, and the Astros and Marlins combined. Greinke stands some chance of being a contributing pitcher to end a year with a higher offensive WAR than pitching WAR. It’s not unprecedented, and for Greinke it probably won’t happen, but these are extraordinary circumstances.

The piece gets a lot of help from some animated gif files, comparing Greinke's swing with the swing of the Giants' albatross, Barry Zito:

It’s interesting to examine Greinke’s statistics. A third of his balls in play have been line drives. He’s taken 55 swings, and missed just five times. That’s good enough to rank Greinke second in contact rate among regular pitchers, behind only Barry Zito. And let’s compare and contrast some Greinke swings with a Zito swing:

Greinke isn’t afraid to take a real swing, to try to do real damage. Zito’s whole approach is that he just wants to be able to touch the baseball with the bat, and he swings gently so as to simply make the defense make a play. For Zito, the goal is making contact. For Greinke, the goal is reaching base, and he happens to make contact along the way.

Sullivan goes on to outline how Greinke really seems to pride himself on his plate performance, now that he's over in the National League. Pretty cool piece; worth a read!