Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Thank You

Thanks to the Dodgers for an entertaining 2011 season.  When they were 14 games under the break even mark on July 5th, things looked pretty bleak.  The fact that they picked up 17 games in the last two and a half months was very impressive.
At this moment in time, aside from the Phils and Brewers, I see no better team in the N.L.  Yes, many could argue the Diamondbacks, but the Dodgers can hold their own with them, as proven in the final three games of the season.
Thank you to Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw, for turning out the best two performances in the league this year.  I am convinced that they both should take home the trophies.  Their numbers prove it, no doubt about it.  We’ll see if the East Coast bias costs them those deserving prestigious awards.

Thank you to Dee Gordon, for showing us that the Dodgers have an exciting shortstop to watch for years to come. A stat line of .304 BA, .325 OBP, 24 SB in only 56 games in promising to say the least.  I was a doubter before this season and now I’m a Gordon believer.  Acrobatic defensive plays, the fastest player in the game...Dee Gordon is a threat that will be able to set the table at the top of the Dodger lineup for years to come.
Thank you Ted Lilly.  The final month was a resurgence of the player many of us thought Colletti signed last year.  A quality end of August and September lowered his ERA to 3.97 for the season.  And no homers surrendered for the last month.  That was quite an astounding turn around.
Thank you Kenley Jansen.  A lights out reliever with a cutter that is darting all over the place and confusing hitters.  Jansen has closer stuff and will be on the back end of the Dodger bullpen for years to come.  The nastiest stuff in the National League and after only 2 years as a full-time pitcher.   Amazing.
Thank you Tony Gwynn Jr. for those game saving catches.  Sparkling defense.  A decent bat, blazing speed and a fantastic positive attitude.  I hope he returns.

Thank you Jerry Sands for a great September run and a taste of things to come.  Another year of experience and you’ll be shining as a Dodger and be a legitimate threat in the Dodger outfield.
Thank you James Loney for your comeback.  Though I believe you have spent your last days in a Dodger uniform, I must admit that your performance late in the year was respectable and a pleasant surprise.
Thank you Javy Guerra.  Overwork cost you yesterday, but I’ll say this much.  You’re a closer that isn’t afraid to challenge hitters with your best stuff when everything is on the line.  A gutsy player that has a great future.  The back end of Guerra and Jansen is very promising indeed.
Thank you Jamey Carroll.  For two consecutive years he has left it all on the field.  An all out effort on every play.  If you’ve played your last game as a Dodger, you’ll always be remembered as a player that hustled and gave 100%.
Thank you Casey Blake.  It was a disappointing year, I know.  But you were a solid Dodger.  A great team player and responsible for much of the teams success in ’08 and ’09.  Best of luck in your recovery and future health.
Thank you Hiroki Kuroda, for your best season ever.  Sorry for the lack of run support.  You’re welcome to come back next year.  We’d be thrilled to have you and you’ll get more wins definitely with the kids playing from the outset.
Thank you Don Mattingly and the coaching staff.  This was a unified crew that kept this young team together under the most difficult of circumstances with the ownership problems.  Finishing 82-79 was very respectable with all of the distractions this year. Davey Lopes and Tim Wallach contributed significantly.   No ego-maniacs like Torre and Bowa with this staff.  Trey Hillman is a positive bench coach that didn’t alienate the rising stars like Schaeffer did.  They deserve to all return next year.  Good decision Ned.

As difficult as the McCourt situation has been, these kids played their tails off and made many of us forget the woes that the ownership situation has brought.  The distractions were almost forgotten.  We'd watch Kemp and Kershaw dominate the league.  We saw the kids step up and show that they belong in the show.  2012 is now something I look forward to.  We all should.  I'm just hoping that Ned doesn't make a ridiculous trade or signing that distracts from the amazing chemistry this group of guys have.


One last "thank you" to all the readers of this blog.  It has been an enjoyable ride.  On to the off-season and hot stove.  It'll be a 188-day break away from the greatest game on earth.   Let the countdown begin.

It's a Good Thing that this Loss Didn't Happen in a Pennant Race

A couple of things about last night’s 10th inning debacle.  It would have never happened had Hawksworth covered 1st base.  So maybe it's best to just pretend that he covered first base and they won.
Most importantly, It was much easier to stomach that loss knowing that the Dodgers were not in the pennant race.  Had the Dodgers been in the pennant race, people would be jumping off buildings after that train wreck.

Juan Rivera looks up in the stands as Ryan Roberts game winning grand slam homer is deposited in the left field seats

That has probably the worst choke job I have ever seen since this, that coincidently, I wrote about a little over a month ago:

I only hope that ESPN isn’t replaying it 20 years from now.  Being that it was the Dodgers, I’m sure that they will though.  
Hopefully we take the series finale and will be looking at a winning box score for months to come.  I say that because on the dodger web site in the past they posted the results of the last game of the season, and they remain on there for months on end during the winter.  Around Christmas time I’d like to be looking at a box score showing that Kemp hit two homers and the Dodgers won 8-0, something like that.  It would be nice to see them end the year on a positive note.
There was an intriguing interview with Dave Stewart on the Diamondbacks telecast in the bottom of the 5th inning last night.  In the stands, reporter Mark McClune caught up with Dave Stewart, who had some interesting things to say.  What caught my attention was his praising of Mattingly, Lopes and the Dodger coaching staff and without saying it, his dig at Torre/Bowa/Schaeffer from last year.   He didn’t mention the last year staff, but there was no secret in the issues that his client had with them.  Below is a word for word transcript of what was said in the first part of the interview, you be the judge.

McClune: Dave Stewart joining us, taking in Jarrod Parker’s major league debut, watching his client, actually the agent to Matt kemp, Let’s start with Parker, who just went into the dugout.  As you look back on your big league debut in late September if ’78, does it take you back at all, to when you took the mound for the first time?
Stewart:  Well it does, taking the mound for the first time, but we were in different roles.  My first time out was as a reliever and Jarrod’s is as a starting pitcher.  He’s doing an outstanding job.  You can see why they’ve called him to the big leagues and they’ve given him a starting assignment.  I mean he’s got great stuff.  good command of his fastball, It looks like he’s got great composure out there.  He’s doing a good job by following the catcher and hitting his locations.  He’s doing an outstanding job.
McClune: One of the three hits off him tonight is from Matt Kemp, a man that you know very well, getting some serious MVP consideration.  Now there’s the old argument, is it the best player or is it the best player on a winning team that should be the MVP?  Your his agent, so this puts you in an interesting situation.  Where do you come out on it?

Stewart: Well, I’ve not been in an MVP race, but through the years that I played, I mean it’s gone all over the map.  As you know, Kirk Gibson, the manager of this ball club, I think it was the ’88 Dodgers, he didn’t necessarily have tremendous numbers.  He won the MVP for being a clubhouse leader, being a guy that uh, got the Dodgers going that year.  You also have situations like Andre Dawson with the Chicago Cubs.  Where that ball club, traditionally the Cubs have not been a good ball club and that year, I think they took last place.  He had tremendous numbers and he did a great job that year.  his numbers were so outstanding that they had to vote him MVP.  I think in Matt’s case, you’ve got to look at the Dodgers without him, where would they be?  I mean, they are a ball club right now that’s two or three games above .500.  I think without Matt, they’re in a different planet.
McClune: Now Matt has worked closely with Mattingly and with Davey Lopes.  What has been the biggest reason in your opinion for his astronomical season he’s put together.
Stewart:  Well, one, you’ve got to look at his off-season program.  He got right to work as soon as the season was over last year.  He came and he dedicated himself to make himself a better player.  Both physically and he put himself in a  better mental state.  I’m always going to say that though the Dodgers are not winning this year, they’ve got a better coaching staff.  A coaching staff that caters to teaching the players.  A coaching staff that wants players to be successful.   Davey’s done a great job with him.  He’s got great confidence in Don Mattingly.  And, he comes to the ball park and he’s said it a thousand times, he’s happy being at the park.
For a chuckle, O-Dog's reaction to Dee Gordon's Gumby outfit:

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Pose

Matt Kemp homer pose from tonight's 1st inning homer  (Christian Peterson/Getty Images)
We’ve seen it dozens of times this year.  Actually, three dozen plus two.  A fully extended swing, one arm removed from the bat.  Head up, Right arm extended in front, left hand clutching the bat.  A few confident steps out of the box and an admiring gaze as the ball lofts deep into the seats, the left arm extended with the bat pointing to the direction of flight, then he drops the bat and begins his trot. A  vintage Matt Kemp homer.  It’s a beautiful sight.

As Kemp lofted his 38th home run deep beyond the centerfield wall tonight, I shook my head in disbelief.  Matt’s late season run has kept us all watching.  The man is unreal.  He’s Matt on an MVP mission.  A player that is trying to hit homers, and he’s doing it.   You aren't supposed to be able to hit home runs when you are trying to.  You overswing, you get fooled by off speed stuff, you get over anxious and swing at stuff outside and away or fastballs up at eye level that you can’t catch up to.  What Kemp is doing is unreal.   In what appeared to be an impossible task, that of hitting 40 homers before the season ended, now appears to be something that Kemp will accomplish.

The MVP is deserved.  Kemp is the best player in baseball in 2011 and he knows it.  He has dominated.  He has that confidence and swagger.  He’s fun to watch.   His enthusiasm is contagious.  His teammates love him.  The fans love him.  He's the reason you press record on the DVR.  You check who is batting and count how many more batters need to step up to the plate before he comes up again.  He’s the envy of other clubs in the league.  He’s the guy that we’d hate to face when the game is in the line.  The player that as a manager you say, “we can’t let that guy beat us.”  

Matt Kemp may have just priced himself as a $20 million/year type player.  He’ll make more than his ex-girl friend.  The kind of contract that is A-Rod-esque.  One that will make Dave Stewart an incredibly happy man.  The type of signing that could drive Frank McCourt away from ownership.  The second coming of Mike Piazza in a Dodger uniform, except this one simply can’t get away.  He must be signed.  This is the type of player that if you let him walk,  he'll come back to haunt the franchise for a full decade after his departure.

This is a ball player that will set records.  A 500 homer man.  Possibly the all-time Dodger home run hitter.  Mike Piazza, Ron Cey, Eric Karros, Roy Campanella, Duke Snider...all in the rear view mirror.  Ten years from now, we’ll be looking at those massive numbers and talk about  a hall of fame induction, and not in the sense that we talk about Steve Garvey where arguments pro and con for induction will take place.  The talk will be about “when” not “if.”  “Is he a first balloter or not?”  That will be the topic of conversation.  It better be discussion about Matt Kemp the "Dodger," otherwise, it'll be another tragic twist in Dodger lore.  The greatest offensive force they've ever had, that got away again.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Would MLB Dare Remove the Dodgers from Major League Baseball?

That is what is being threatened if McCourt is allowed to continue to hold the reigns of leadership and seek a TV deal without their approval.  In what I consider a stunning development, MLB in yesterday’ court filing to the Bankruptcy judge in the McCourt case stated the following:

"No one will pay the [Dodgers] to broadcast Dodgers games if the club is not part of Major League Baseball...Consequently, the [Dodgers'] path in this case is a dead end or worse."

So MLB proposes to go on without the Dodgers.  Are you kidding me?  The most storied franchise in the National League would be removed?  The franchise that broke the color barrier, that was the pioneer in expansion West, that made the primary efforts in bringing Japanese, Korean, and Taiwanese players into the game, that served as am ambassador to the game internationally in several fronts would be ousted from the game?  The organization that has set virtually every attendance record that exists in the game would be cast out? 
Well it has been done before in other sports, but with a built in mechanism to keep the clubs competitive.  I’m talking about soccer, where teams in the highest levels are relegated to lower levels if their performance is not up to par.
The latest was Club Atletico River Plate in Argentina.  River Plate is one of two most prestigious teams in the Argentine Premier League.  They have won the Premier League title a record 33 times and additionally have taken Liberator Cups and even an Intercontinental cup (the one that represents the top club team in the world).  They have had such greats as Enzo Francescoli, Mario Kempes, Ubaldo Fillol, Leopoldo Luque, Daniel Passarella and Claudio Cannigia star for them.  
They own the most famous Stadium in the country, El Monumental,  with the largest seating capacity.  Where the World Cup Final has taken place and the Argentine National Team hosts World Cup Qualifying matches.  
Yet, this year, after their worst season ever, they have been relegated to “B” level status and were ousted from the Premier League.  It would be like the Dodgers being moved to the Pacific Coast League in AAA and continuing to play their home games in Dodger Stadium against the Reno Aces and the Round Rock Express.
This relegation has not been received well with rioting in the stands and streets, (so uncommon for soccer, right?).  Take a look at this River Plate fan in his living room reacting to his teams loss in which the result forced their descent to the “B” league.  The original YouTube video, with literally over a million hits, is about 8 minutes long and is laden with the most offensive profanity, (beware if you’re a Spanish speaker).  I found a shortened version showing the guy  screaming after his team is trailing 2-0 and he realizes that they will be relegated to the B League.  He yells, “Noooooo, we’re in the B (League) we’re in the B (League)!”  The original unedited video is probably one of the funniest things I've ever seen on YouTube.

Getting back to the Dodgers.  I can’t imagine MLB being serious with this veiled threat in the court filing, but it shows the lengths to which they are willing to go to oust Frank McCourt.  Ironically, MLB Commissioner Selig is the person that fast tracked McCourt's ownership approval acceptance through, bypassing MLB's own rules with regard to debt ratios.  And now MLB would punish Dodger fans after forcing this ownership on us?  Very stupid.  I’m surprised that there isn’t more outrage at MLB's statement from yesterday.
Thirty seven homers and counting.  I didn’t think 40-40 was possible for Kemp, but it’s really happening.  He’s finishing up like he did last year, in an absolute “zone.”  I think the MVP award is his,  whether he wins the Triple Crown or not.

A Cy Young and MVP award from this year's team.  Amazing!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Final Home Game - Taking Out the Gnats!

Hiroki Kuroda, in what may be his final outing ever at Dodger Stadium, was able to come up victorious as the Dodgers took their second game out of three from the Giants in the final home series of 2011.  He did it with ease, awesome stuff and looked very comfortable pitching with a lead for practically the entire night.  He kept the Giants off-balanced the entire night.

Kuroda won his 13th game of the season, in a year where he easily would have won 17-18 games had he had any semblance of run support earlier in the year.  For a guy that is ailing with a neck problem, he showed no signs of being an injured pitcher tonight.  It would really be in the Dodgers best interest to dangle a decent one-year deal out there again for Kuroda for 2012.  He has been a stable force in the L.A. rotation in this troubling season.  The fact that he leads the league in losses with 16 is evidence at how unfair the "win" stat is when you look at the big picture.  Kuroda is one of the top starters in the National League this year.
What more can be said about Matt Kemp?  He blistered the ball 5 times.  Twice he just missed hitting it out.   Then, in his last AB, he got it all.  Granted, it was off Zito, but it still counts.  A homer, three doubles, three runs scored and 2 RBI.  Kemp is now hitting .326 and the triple crown is seriously within reach.  His level of concentration has reached career high focus levels.  The man is simply in a zone and determined to win the MVP.  I just think he may do it.  Krukow and Kuiper were actually singing their praises of him on the Giant telecast and that is not something often heard by them.

Speaking of the Giant broadcasters.  It was interesting to hear Krukow comment on the Dodger youth.  Namely, Dee Gordon.
Immediately after Gordon ripped a line drive into left field for a base hit:
Mike Krukow on Gordon: 
“He’ll need to be able to take lefthanders to left field if he’s going to succeed in this league.” 

In the top of the fourth inning, when Sandoval was forced at second and slid in late to take out Gordon and break up the double play.
“That would not be a pretty picture, Sandoval colliding with Gordon at second.  Sandoval is capable of knocking him into the left field bleachers...the Dodgers would like to see Gordon put on a good 10-15 pounds in the off-season.
After Gordon singled in a run in the bottom of the 4th:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

2011, The Season of “What Ifs”

All the Dodger related blogs have made their points, (See blogroll to the right).  Kershaw is amazing, there’s no doubt about it.  He’ll most likely take home the Cy Young hardware, and that is very special.  But I wonder, was his 2011 performance a tragic waste of phenominal performances to this lifeless team?  

What if Kershaw and Kemp had simply had a few more pieces around them? What if the kids had been allowed to play earlier on in the season?  What if the Dodgers had received a power bat to accompany Kemp in the middle of the order?  What if the McCourt ownership problems were not an issue and the Dodgers could have spent money like the large market team that they are?
2011 will be remembered by me as the season of “what ifs.”
I hate to throw negativity into the mix, especially considering that last night’s win was possibly the most satisfying of the year, but man, this could have been an incredible year for the Dodgers had they been able to mix some more solid contributions in with the Kemp and Kershaw seasons.  I get some relief seeing that they have a good chance of finishing over .500.  Now a sweep of the Giants to close off their home schedule is next on the agenda.
Interesting  to note, without the Giants in the league who are the worst offensive club in baseball, Kershaw’s numbers wouldn’t be under consideration for the Cy Young Award.  Let’s put things into consideration here.  The Giants had Mark DeRosa batting clean-up last night.  They have scored on 542 runs and their Pythagorean record puts them at 78-76, a full five games less than their current win total.  They are last in runs scored, last in OBP,  second to last in OPS and batting average.  This is a bad offensive team and Kershaw was able to take advantage of their awful assemblage of talent.  
As a legitmate Giant hater and one that revels in their misery, I must say that I enjoy their ineptitude and am happy to see them fall on their faces.  Kershaw will forever be a Dodger favorite to me because he absolutely owns them.  Just as former Dodgers that owned the Gnats in the past are favorites.  Ron Cey, Bob Welch, Jerry Reuss, and Paul LoDuca come to mind. 
Here’s to the Giants being eliminated from post season play by Thursday at Dodger Stadium. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Kershaw-Lincecum Matchups are Becoming Legendary

March 31, 2011
Dodgers 1, Giants 0
7  4   0   0   1   9
7  5   1   0   3   5
July 20, 2011
Dodgers 1, Giants 0
8  3   0   0   1   12
7  5   1   1   4   7
September 9, 2011
Dodgers 2, Giants 1
8  3   1   0   1   9
8  6   1   1   2   6
Such are the basic stat lines for Kershaw and Lincecum in head to head matchups this season, with Clayton coming out on top in all three games.  Tomorrow night we are treated to the fourth of the year.  Amazing that the stars lined up as they did and the two aces faced each other so frequently.
To my surprise, the Giants have gathered themselves and made a last ditch effort to remain alive in the playoff hunt, with an 8 game winning streak and resurgent offense that is scoring runs.  They looked dead when the Dodgers faced them in San Francisco 9 or 10 days ago.

The G men are playing for their playoff lives and doing well.  Tomorrow they confront their biggest challenge as the opponent on the mound has owned them all season.  Additionally, Kershaw has the extra motivation as he goes for his 20th win of the season and the Cy Young Award.
Tomorrow night’s game is for all the marbles and something will have to give.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

What Next?

First it is finishing with a record over .500.  That means the Dodgers need six victories in their final 10 games since this year they’ll end up playing a 161 game schedule, with the rainout in Washington not being made up.  I think it is doable with the following games left: 1 at home vs. Pittsburgh, 3 at home vs. San Francisco, 3 at San Diego and 3 at Arizona.  I'd like to see them finish 7-3 with a 82-79 record.  It just looks so much better than 6-4, and 81-80.
Second, eliminate the Giants from the playoffs.  Also, it is very likely that they play spoilers.  At present, the San Francisco magic "elimination" number is 6 for the division and 6 for the wild card.  By the time they arrive to town on Tuesday for the Lincecum/Kershaw matchup, those numbers may have trickled down a few notches.  I don’t get too excited about eliminating Frisco from post season play, like they do when they eliminate us, but I’ll take it if that is what we have in front of us.  As long as we don’t play the highlights of it on the jumbotron year after year as it was an accomplishment like the Giants do with the 1982 Morgan homer.

Third, get Kershaw that 20th victory and soon.  We don’t want to be in the position that Mattingly is tempted to bring back Kershaw on short rest to pitch the final game of the season in order to get him that 20th win.  You know if he has 19 at the end, he’ll be asking for that last start.  I would hope that the organization shuts him down and thinks of his long term health rather than the individual milestone.  A win on Tuesday night will solve that dilemma.
Fourth, see Matt Kemp go on a tear in the final 10 games to run away with the MVP award.  From what I see, that is what he’ll need to do to outright win it. Ryan Braun reaching the 30 homer milestone has improved his chances.  If Matt were to put up player of the week numbers, the trophy is his.  It’ll be  a tough chore having to go against Lincecum, Bumgarner, Vogelsong and playing 3 in San Diego’s cavernous ballpark.  Let’s hope that he is focused enough to step it up a notch.  Regardless, it has been an amazing comeback for Matt.

Victor Decolongon/Getty Images
Fifth, watch the kids play.  Federowitz, Sands, Sellers, Gordon, and Lindblom.  Lots of playing time and significant playing time on each part, sort of gives them all an audition for next year’s starting spots.  A 10 game sprint to the end is a small sample size, but it’s still an opportunity to observe the kids at the highest level.
Sixth, will Eugenio Velez get a hit this season?  Poor guy.  This has to be the end of his career.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

My Opinion: MLB Ordered the Ejection

Mattingly, Barajas an Kershaw argue with plate umpire Bill Welke

There’s a Giant fan friend of mine named Bob that lives and dies baseball.  He is knowledgeable about the game and holds strong opinions about how it should be run.  Like me, he prefers the National League style of ball, and he’s partial to clubs that build through the infrastructure of their minor league system.  He hates trading deadline moves and particularly those involving the movement of numerous prospects for 2 month rentals.  Those topics could be discussed at length, but that isn’t where I’m going with this posting.
Bob and I strongly disagree on one topic.  That is the gamesmanship that has been developed throughout the history of baseball with the “brush back” pitch, retaliation, and ejections surrounding what are perceived by umpires as “bean balls.”  Bob thinks there is no place in the game for purposefully throwing at or near a hitter.  I think he’s dead wrong.

My new "favorite" player, Gerardo Parra
Gerardo Parra in my opinion is a punk.  I don’t know the guy from Adam, but his actions on the field the past two nights were “punkish” in my opinion.  Yet, he did more to impact the game in the last two nights than any other player on the field.  His head games he worked to his and the Arizona Diamondbacks advantage, and as a result, he almost stole two games from the Dodgers in the process with what I considered to be unprofessional and unethical behavior that merited punishment by MLB.  Instead, he got in the Dodgers heads and almost pulled it off. 
Here is what I think happened.  After Tuesday night’s Kuo “brushback” or “wildness,” whatever you perceived it to be,  Parra, showboated in offending style.  We’ve seen it before.  The Barry Bonds pirouette, the Sammy Sosa hop, heck, even Hong Chih-Kuo did it with his only major league homer with his bat toss.  It is showing up the opponent, and for years, baseball had it’s way of rectifying those situations with a little minuet called “Chin Music.”  But for some reason, Bud Selig and his minions have got it in their heads that there is no place for it in the game.
Though they glorify the history of the game by honoring such head hunters as Marichal, Gibson, Drysdale, and others with hall of fame inductions.  Those same players would have had the intimidation factor removed from their arsenals if they were pitching today.  I’m about 99% convinced that last night’s umpiring crew was instructed to toss Kershaw if he plunked Parra last night.  How else can you explain his immediate ejection after that irritant was struck on the elbow last night?  The decision was made before game time and it had been directed from above.  I’m convinced of it. 

St. Louis Cardinal Hall of Famer, Bob Gibson
Rhubarbs are so discouraged nowadays that baseball is suffering from what I call the “wussification” of the sport.  Disputes used to be settled with one brushback pitch by each side.  Now, the constant ejections have caused these disputes to linger on for game after game, because they rarely get settled as they should.  Do you think that this matter between the Dodgers and Diamondbacks was settled last night when Kershaw was ejected?  No way.  In fact, I foresee more fireworks in the future.  Perhaps in the meaningless 3 game series in Arizona to close out the season, but most likely it’ll be sometime next year, when MLB officials memories start to fade on the issue.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers are ticked.  Kershaw may face a suspension which could impact his Cy Young award chances and Gerardo Parra?  Nothing is going to happen to him.  He is allowed to make obscene gestures, mouth off and instigate the whole thing.  In the end he gets rewarded for it.  Kershaw, who did the honorable thing by sticking up for his teammate is the one that gets punished, and the fans that were there to watch his mastery on the mound were punished too.
In the 60’s, Parra would have been hit and that would have been the end of it.  They understood back then that his showboating wouldn’t be tolerated and that there would be payback for that behavior, but today, with MLB’s protection of this abhorrent behavior, they have exacerbated the problem and encouraged other showboats to engage in their offensive and unsportsmanlike behavior.
Josh Lindblom gets the game MVP for last night.  Turning what could have been a disaster into calm as he shut down the D-Backs for his two innings of work.  Striking out 5 of the 7 hitters he faced, Josh was instrumental in keeping the Dodgers focused on victory and not the fiasco of the two unjustified ejections.  That was incredible poise for the youngster who I hope has solidified his roster spot for next year. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Who would you want sitting beside you in the foxhole?

Last night’s good old fashioned rhubarb reminded me of what a @%$# Kirk Gibson can actually be and how it’s good to have a @%$# on your side.  Wow, that man is intense and he still has that fire in his belly, all these years after his playing career has ended.
What few people are mentioning were the gestures from Gerardo Parra after the inside pitch that he took so much offense to.  Here is the sequence that I photographed from my TV that showed the Arizona Fox telecast.
Parra squares to bunt and a wild Kuo comes up an in on him.
Now, first off.  Kuo was wild.  Even the Diamondback announcers (Sutton and Grace) acknowledged that Kuo wasn't throwing at Parra on that first pitch.  It got away from him as so many pitches have this season.  Parra overreacted and should have realized that Kuo didn't want to lose him with 2 out and none on in the 7th inning.  Perhaps that was the fuel Parra needed to get his juices going.
Then Parra proceeds to initiate these two gestures.  1st, he licks his lips and then.

He does the Michael Jackson crotch grab.
I don’t need a class in cross cultural communications to understand the message he was sending to Kuo, who if he had noticed, would now at least have a reason to REALLY put a pitch in his ear.

So four pitches later, we all know that Parra deposits a pitch in the right field pavilion.  He admired the homer from home plate for about 2 1/2 minutes, before starting his home run trot.  A.J. Ellis takes offense and has a few choice words for Parra.

Tonight's starter Clayton Kershaw takes offense and goes ape in the dugout.

Manager Kirk Gibson was not happy and he responded.

Now my question is, who would you want coming to your defense?  Gibby? Kershaw? Ellis?  The whole episode made good theatre last night, even though the Dodgers were on the losing end when the game finsihed.  I can't help but wish we had that fierce Gibson displaying that intense personality in the Dodger dugout.

I can't wait for tonight's story to unfold.  It should be very interesting.

Monday, September 12, 2011

This Loss to the Dodger Front Office Really Hurts

Josh Rawitch leaving the Dodgers is a big loss.
I attended bloggers night back in July, incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be in the presence of fellow bloggers that were much more experienced and savvy that I.  I had the chance to converse with Al Ferrara, Ron Cey, Mark Langill, Ben Platt Josh Suchon, Dylan Hernandez and the entire public relations staff of the Dodgers, led of course by Public Relations Department pioneer Josh Rawitch.  I call him a P.R. pioneer for a number of reasons that will follow in this posting.
Josh is awake to the technology of today.  He understands marketing in the 2010‘s. While many other organizations are slow to embrace the internet and social media,  Rawitch has his staff fully engaged in it.  While I conversed with Adam Chodzko, a sharp young man hired by Josh away from the Angels this past off-season, I was told that Rawitch is an outside the box thinker.  His daily staff meetings would encourage his P.R. department to come up innovative marketing ideas to activate the Dodger fan base.  
That particular day in July, someone on his staff came up with the idea to have the first five fans that responded on twitter or facebook to be placed in a Dodger Stadium Club suite to vote over and over again for Andre Ethier on the All-Star game ballot.  It was  an interesting idea and received by everyone positively.  Such are the types of innovative creations of the Josh Rawitch staff.  Josh understood the value of social media, Facebook, Twitter, message boards, email and blogs.
In an age where anyone with a laptop and internet connection can create a blog and run off on a rampage with inaccurate and irresponsible postings, Rawitch recognized the value of bloggers and the audience they reach.  It was a risky move on his part to embrace us, and I’m sure that there are some of us out there that he would prefer not to have to interact with.  But I think that Josh believes that Dodger blogger positive traits outweigh the negative.    
He started out blogger’s night asking us how we got ideas for our postings and the latest news.  He wanted to also know how we reached our maximum audience.  He wanted ideas.  He wanted opinions.  He was interested in what we thought worked and what didn’t.  He mentioned how Roberto Baly at Vin Scully is my Homeboy had reached a popularity level that rivaled anything out there and specifically brought up how Roberto’s blog was influential in getting the Dodgers to agree to repair Vin Scully’s Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

So as the night wore on and Josh spent some time visiting with bloggers, we couldn’t help but notice the sparce crowd.  It was the only time that I had a hard time agreeing with what he was saying.  He spoke of the Dodger injuries and the hard luck the team was having in that area.  He primarily blamed the low Dodger attendance on the horrible misfortunes they were having in the injury department.  I had a hard time buying it and I’m pretty sure that others were thinking the same as I.  But was was he to do?  Frank McCourt was his employer.  It was a tough spot to be in.  And here we were, enjoying a night on the Dodgers, thanks to Mr. Rawitch.  I wasn’t about to tell him that I thought he was way off base and that the ownership was the real reason for the dwindling attendance.
I guess now, once the season ends, Mr. Rawitch will finally be free of the nightmare ownership that is the Dodgers of today.  He can join the likes of Derrick Hall over in Arizona, where he can deal with trying to market a team that is dedicated 100% to putting a winning product on the field.  Rawitch will no longer have to make excuses for ownership that is borrowing money, battling MLB, trying to make payroll and dealing with a disenchanted fan base that feels betrayed and angered.
The Dodgers have lost a class act and loyal employee.  This is another sad day for the Los Angeles Dodgers organization.  I can’t blame Josh Rawitch though for moving on to somewhere where he won’t have to deal with the circus that has become the volatile ownership situation.

Just How Good Has Kenley Jansen Been?

photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

He was off to a horrible start this season,  one so bad, that it looked like he wouldn’t be able to recover enough to make his stat line respectable.  All that caused by two or three rough outings in April and May that caused a demotion to the minor leagues.  However, his rebound to effectiveness has been remarkable.  Since June, Kenley Jansen is arguably the most successful relief pitcher in the game.
In his last 22 appearances dating back to June 18th Jansen has posted an ERA of 0.36.   His strikeouts per nine innings pitched is 15.32.  He has allowed only 6 hits and 10 walks during that same time span.  It could easily be argued that Jansen should be the closer, but Javy Guerra has been stellar in that department too.
Kenley Jansen's arm strength caught everyone's attention after he threw out numerous Dominican Republic base stealers in the 2009 World Baseball Classic for the Netherlands.  By 2010 he was converted to a pitcher.
The tandem of Jansen-Guerra could be amongst the best in the game and certainly is a welcome sight to Dodger fans that lost both potential closers (Broxton and Padilla) early in the year to injury.  With reports that Guerra is nursing a split fingernail that doesn’t appear to be healing, sliding Jansen into the closer’s role does not appear to be a major concern to the team.
Jansen’s irregular heartbeat problem back in July seems to have been corrected.  Let’s hope that he remains healthy for years to come because Kenley will be a vital piece to the Dodger’s future success.
And speaking of the future, with potential departures to several key players this year, as we look towards 2012, there could be some major roster changes that the blue crew will face next year.   Aaron Miles, Jamey Carroll, Tony Gwynn, Jon Garland, Vicente Padilla, Jonathan Broxton, Rod Barajas, Hiroki Kuroda and Casey Blake are not signed through next year.  Loney is up in the air with regards to being tendered a contract.
I tend to think that Miles returns, based on what I overheard him telling his Antioch, CA neighbors along the first base line prior to Friday night’s game.  (“Mattingly likes me, and the organization is happy with the year I’ve had,” he said).  Gwynn also will probably be offered a deal in the low 6 figure range.  But I see Carroll getting a deal elsewhere, Kuroda returning home to Japan and the others mentioned above are as good as gone.
With the pursestrings tied up due to the ownership fiasco, there isn’t a prayer of the Dodgers signing Albert Pujols to a worthy deal that would make him the highest paid player in the game and as much as I think Prince Fielder is a perfect fit, the money isn’t there with this ownership.  Making payroll in 2012 will again be on McCourt’s mind.
As long as Frank McCourt continues to hold the reigns of ownership, the Dodgers will field a team as if they are a small market club.  The boycott has shown McCourt that the fans won’t put up with the shenanigans, but it hasn’t done the trick in ousting the ownership.  I fear 2012 will be another sub par year.  But we should get to see the kids play unless Colletti goes out and signs the likes of Aaron Roward, Justin Miller, William Van Landingham and Shawon Dunstin.
Come to think of it, if Ned is still in charge, we probably won’t see some of the kids play.