Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Monday, January 30, 2012

Gloves Tossed on the Field...the 1954 Rule Change

In 1954, Major League Baseball adopted a new rule that surprisingly wasn’t a popular move at the time.  It really was a no brainer and I'm surprised that MLB didn't put the rule in place much earlier.
Rule 3.14:  “Members of the offensive team shall carry all gloves and their equipment off the field and to the dugout while their team is at bat.  No equipment shall be left lying on the field, either in fair or foul territory.”
When the rule change was announced it was unpopular and controversial.  "Nobody thought it would work, they thought it was a terrible thing,” said former player and manager Ralph Houk. Critics thought that it would slow up play, with players searching for their equipment between innings.  Now, I simply can’t imagine a game when such a thing would be allowed on the field.  In today's game, if a wayward ball escapes from the bullpen or an object lands on the warning track that a fan throws, the game is stopped cold.  Can you imagine it any other way?

1935 World Series photo, note the gloves sitting on the playing field.
In games that occurred pre-1954, once the side was retired, corner infielders tossed their gloves in foul territory near the bases, middle infielders threw their mitts in the middle of the diamond, just off the infield dirt and outfielders left their gloves in the field near the warning track.  Only catchers and pitchers returned to the dugout with their equipment.
I heard Vin Scully once say during a broadcast that he never once saw a glove on the field interrupt play or effect the outcome of a game, but there are stories out there that say otherwise.  One happened in the 1944 Pacific Coast League Championship.
The San Francisco Seals were playing the Oakland Oaks when a foul ball dribbled up the first base line hit a lying glove in foul territory and deflected inside the field of play where the first baseman fielded it and stepped on first base for the out.  Such a rhubarb resulted that the game was played under protest by Seals Manager Lefty O’Doul.  When his team lost the game in extra-innings, his protest was upheld by PCL President Clarence Rowland.  The game was replayed, this time with a Seals victory.
Gloves weren’t the only things left on the field, so were articles of clothing, such as jackets.  A 1929 game at Wrigley Field between the Cubs and Reds was decided in the ninth inning on what was ruled an inside the park homer down the third baseline.  The ball simply disappeared into thin air.  Or so they thought at the time.    Cincinnati’s relief pitcher, Jack Penner was warming up in the third base line bullpen and he had dropped his jacket on the ground before he began to throw.  The liner was scooped up by the jacket and the left fielder was unable to locate the ball until the winning run crossed the plate.  The ball disappeared from everyone’s view.  Umpires and players searched, trying to determine where it disappeared and it wasn’t until Penner put on his jacket and the ball popped out of his left sleeve that the mystery was solved.
How'd they used to catch with these things?  No wonder some preferred to go bare handed.

But getting back to gloves.  Can you imagine catching a game bare handed? When the sport was in its early stages, players took pride in playing the game with their bare hands.  Putting up with pain was part of the game and many a player dislocated fingers or lost fingernails from fielding that hard sphere that was often so grimy and dark by games end that as it was difficult to see.  It was in 1870 when Doug Allison, a catcher with the Cincinnati Red Stockings, started using a mitt, and he took heat for doing so.  It wasn't manly to wear protection when fielding in those days.  After catching 8 games in 9 days and having taken his lumps with foul tips, Allison had had enough.  The Cincinnati Commercial reports that Allison wore a “pair of buckskin mittens to protect his hands.” Record has it that players continued playing bare handed for another five years.
(Source: Noah Lieberman, Glove Affairs: The Romance, Tradition and History of the Baseball Glove)
Albert Spalding

It was Albert Spalding (recognize that name?) a Chicago White Stockings first baseman that got the baseball world hooked on the mitt. He owned a sporting goods store where he began peddling the 1st baseman’s glove between $1.00 and $2.50 per unit.  The popularity eventually caught on and Spalding became a rich man.  Perhaps Spalding encouraged the routine of leaving mitts on the field in an effort to have them wear out sooner, who knows?
Eddie Stanky
With gloves being left on the field in the old days, opposing players used the opportunity to play pranks on their counterparts.  It is said that Eddie "the Brat"  Stanky lived up to his nickname and was known to fill his opposing numbers’ glove with dirt or tobacco chaw.  Washington Senator Ed Yost was notorious for putting dead frogs, mice and other critters in the glove of Phil Rizzuto.  The  antics were endless it is said.  It makes me wonder how they got away with it with so many witnesses simply watching the game.
Though there isn’t much record of it, Houk admits that gloves on the field affected the games outcome, and more than once.  “A batted ball would hit a glove and mess up the game.  I’ve also seen it where a player, especially an infielder, would be running back and step on a glove, and natuarally it would throw him off balance.”
(http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1121759/1/index.htm, article written by Jay Feldmen, February 20, 1984 “Of Mice and Mitts, And of a Rule That Helped To Clean Up Baseball.”)
It is recorded that Hank Greenberg who sat on the Baseball Rules Committee in 1953, was the primary force that pushed strongly for the rule for two reasons: 1) possible hindering of play and 2) objects left on the field looked sloppy.
The New York Times corroborates that story and reports in a November  4, 1953 article : "Another new rule calls for the removal from the playing field of all gloves....Greenberg proposed the change."
Reporter Whitey Martin of the Hartford Current questioned the intelligence of the baseball establishment and had interesting comments about then Giant Manager Leo Durocher regarding the rule change.  In his April 17, 1954 column he said:
“If the report that several clubs intend to defy the rule requiring players to bring in their gloves from the field when the opposing side is retired is true, you begin to wonder about the intelligence of some of the men who are running major league baseball.
“Here is a sensible rule made to protect the payers and to at least help to prevent a game from being won or lost through circumstances not concerned woth the merits of the two teams. 
“More than  once a player has tripped over a carelessly tossed glove, missing a ball or twisting an ankle, and more than once a ball has struck a glove and been deflected, the incident affecting the outcome of the game.  They might as well scatter tombstone out there.
“The players naturally gripe a little at the rule, as it means they must break a lifetime habit, and ballplayers like everybody else, look upon change from an established routine with a jaundiced eye.
“Its just too bad if an athlete left stranded at second base has to trot all the way to the dugout to pick up his glove.  Why, that extra exercise could shorten a man’s career, figuring all the extra steps he might take over a season.

“If Leo Durocher were of suspicious nature he might think the new rule was aimed at him personally.  Durocher for years has had an established routine at the start of every Giant inning.  He would walk to the third base coaching box, pick up the discarded glove of his third baseman, pound his fist into the pocket three times, walk over to the bag and kick it three times, toss down the glove and be ready to master mind.
“If the Giants don’t win the pennant this year he’ll blame it on the rule which prevents him from carrying out his superstitious rigamarole.”
Well, I guess the rule change was actually Durocher’s good luck charm.  His Giants won the World Series under the first year of Rule 3.14.  Fifty-six years later they won their second.  Perhaps it was much of a Giant Good Luck Charm.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Attic Hunting, Some of my Dodger Treasures Found

I mentioned in yesterday's post that one of this weekend's chores was some attic remodeling and I knew what that meant.  There would be time to go through some boxes to search for some treasures.  Over the years I have held on to a lot of old Dodger stuff and i knew there was some cool stuff up there.  I found the '88 Vinyl LP of the 1981 Dodger Season highlights.  Something that I have never played because, who has a record player these days.  There are boxes and boxes of baseball cards, something that I need to sort and organize.  I'm fairly certain I won't be able to do that until after I retire.  I'm not kidding either.  It'll take weeks to complete that project.

So I pulled some things down and decided to photograph some of the findings.  One day, I will dedicate a room in my house to awesome Dodger Collectibles.  It'll be my shrine to the team.  Unfortunately, I thought that a room would be freed up by now, but the adult kids in my home are still here.  I'm not complaining, I love them and all, but I kind of doubt that I'll have a room to display all my stuff anytime soon.

I ran across Newspapers that I saved that were from the day after the Gibson Home Run in Game one of the '88 Series.  I had the foresight to know they would be worth looking at one day.  I located the pages from the Herald Examiner, October 16, 1988.  I haven't located my L.A. Times pages, but I know they are up there in storage too.

They are a bit yellowed, but that gives them more character in my opinion.

Next I ran across this collectibe plate, it’s of Duke Snider.  It isn’t very old, manufactured in 1987.  On the back it is labeled, “Sports Impressions, The Superstar Collector Plate Series,” by Brian Johnson.  I don’t think it is worth much, but I think its kind of cool for display purposes.  I wish I had made the effort to have it signed by Duke before he passed.

I have boxes and boxes of baseball cards up there, but I found a few that I didn’t realize were there.  First is a 1989 Topps Randy Johnson Rookie card in mint condition.   Also, I was shocked that I forgot about this lucky pack pickup I got about 10-11 years ago, an Upper Deck Mickey Mantle Game Worn Uniform Swatch, with a clear pinstripe visible.  I’m not even sure what year it is from, but I believe it is 2001.  It’ll be worth getting both of these rated in my opinion.

Next found was a box of cards I really wanted to locate.  They are signed cards from players of the 1988 championship team.  My plan was to mat and frame them when I started collecting this group about 15 years ago, but I never got around to finishing the project.  (Additionally I was doing the same for the '65. '63 and '59 teams, I knew '55 would be virtually impossible).  With the '88 team, I'm real close to having a complete signed set, missing cards from Mike Davis and Mike Sharperson who is now deceased.

There are more and several duplicates from players.  I think it is time to mail off a card to Mike Davis for signature and take a trip to Michael's Arts and Craft Store to complete this frame.  When done, I'll show the finished project.

In a classic Brian Sabean type move, the San Francisco Giants signed journeyman infielder Ryan Theriot to a one year contract for $1.25 million.  Am I surprised?  Only that Ned Colletti didn’t sign him first.  Theriot batted .271 for the Cardinals last year and saw action in 132 games.  The Giants will probably be playing Theriot at shortsop this year.  He played 91 games at short for the World Champion Cardinals and moved over to second base after Rafael Furcal arrived in a mid season trade.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

An Active Week in Dodger Related News

It’s has been an active week and will be an eventful weekend. Quite a bit has gone on in Dodgerland for a late January. 
Getting top billing is the Dodger ownership transfer process.  The Dodger ownership bids moved forward, with the elimination of some worthy bidders.  Discussed by Chad Moriyama and Jon Weisman.

the Annual SABR DAY events are in full swing,
word is out that the Dodgers were in on the Prince Fielder derby, covered here by Eric Stephen.
Dustin Nosler's take on Hiroki Kuroda coming forward and subtley stating he wished he could have remained a Dodger is linked here.

Kershaw got the Warren Spahn Award and Kemp and Kershaw are being honored by the Negro League Hall of Fame Legacy Awards.
Scott Andes at Lasorda’s Lair writes an open letter to the next Dodgers owner.
So with all this news and so much going on, I get to spend the weekend with a list of “Honey Do’s” to complete.  Clean out the garage, install some plywood sheeting in the attic, do some yard work, and general pre-spring cleaning tasks.  There isn’t enough time in this life for me to ever complete all the tasks at hand. 
As I start getting ready for a long day ahead of menial tasks with the hope that I can wrap them up before dark, I can’t help but  wonder:
“How is it that Colletti could muster up the courage to offer Prince Fielder a multi-million dollar deal for seven years that surpassed Kemp money, but refused to kick in an extra two or three million to keep Kuroda?”
That is completely insane.  Now where is my freaking mop?  I gotta clean the garage floor.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Macciello Continues Forward

The underdog continues on

Based on this tweet, it looks to me that Joshua Macciello’s bid made it to the second round.  The underdog is still in this race:
love That Pearl Jam song "I'm still alive"

In addition to Macciello, others continuing on in the process are the Joe Torre/Rick Caruso Group, the Steve Cohen Group, the Magic Johnson/Guggenheim Partners Group, the O'Malley Group, the Disney/Stanley Gold Group (that apparently has not teamed with O'Malley afterall), Stan Kroenke (owner of the Rams), Leo Hindrey, Mark Utay.

Those not making the cut: Dennis Gilbert's Group and Mark Cuban.

Unknown: Garvey/Hershiser

This is certainly getting interesting.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Daly's Comments to T.J. Simers - Well He Didn't Hold Back Anything

I always liked Bob Daly and thought he was a stand up guy during a tumultuous time in Dodger history.
I liked Bob because he told the Giants to stick it in 2001 when they asked the Dodgers to wear throwback Brooklyn jerseys at Pac Bell Park to commemorate the ’51 Bobby Thompson homer.  You know, “the shot heard round the world because they cheated and used a telescope to tip off pitches for the last six weeks of the season?”   That home run.  Yes, the San Francisco Giants had the audacity to ask Daly to cooperate and have the Dodgers wear the old duds.  “To relive one of the darkest days in franchise history...it was like, ‘Are you kidding?’” said Daly.  “
(Note: Bill Plascke retells the story of the ’51 penant race controversy linked here. )

On a personal note, In 2003 when the Dodgers were on the verge of being sold and Daly was on his way out, I mailed him an invitation to my son’s Eagle Scout Court of honor.    Not only did he respond, but he got Tommy Lasorda and Vin Scully to send him congratualtory letters too.  I thought that was real classy of him and something that he actually made an effort to respond to above and beyond his daily responsibilities with the team.

Scanned copy of letter Daly sent to my son, congratulating him for receiving his Eagle Scout award
Daly was a Dodger fan, and a good one too.  He recalls the torture of dealing with the 1951 pennant collapse while he was in High School back in Brooklyn.  His passion for the Dodgers was palpable and he certainly deserved a better fate than that of having to deal with the foibles of the Fox ownership.  I thought he did a respectable job of attempting to right the ship.  If you remember, he inherited Kevin Malone as his general Manager.  Yesterday’s quotes from Daly lead us to believe that he thinks he failed when he turned the stewardship of the team over to McCourt.  If you read T.J. Simers' article L.A. Times article yesterday, you'll see that he really let Frank have it.

Daly expressed regret that he didn’t ever get to celebrate in a Dodger champagne doused locker room.  He also thinks he overvalued the farm system and should have traded some prospects for a bat in 2002 and he has his regrets about McCourt.  Daly, a Dodger fan until this day had mixed feelings, wanting McCourt to fail but his Dodgers to win.  It is something that many of us are familiar with the past few years.
He expressed anger at McCourt for letting people go who were Dodger employees for decades telling them that “they’ve been like a family as so if he he wanted to make changes, do so with respect.”
We all know that McCourt released lifetime dodger employees with the subtlety of a freight train going through a glass house.  Daly says, “I told him off,” regarding the way McCourt dismissed so many employees unceremoniously.  I wonder if the Ross Porter dismissal is what the was referring to.  Porter and Tommy Hawkins were two of the higher profile names that left early in the McCourt regime, but there were many that were hurt by his slash and burn management style.  Others like Derrick Hall abandoned ship when he saw the writing on the wall.  Some weren’t lucky enough to get out earlier.

Daly had an ability to reach out and mend fences.  This was exemplified by the stormy contract negotiation sessions with Gary Sheffield prior to the 2001 season.  When Sheffield decided to take their differences to the media spotlight, it was Daly that reasoned with him and who Sheffield publicly said he preferred to negotiate with and not G.M. Kevin Malone.  Daly had opened up his home to Sheffield and invited his fiance, an up an coming singer to meet  Daly’s wife, singer/song writer Carole Bayer-Sager, to provide counsel and assistance to her career. Ironically, when Sheffield pinned the Dodgers in a corner and demanded a trade following the ’02 season, it was Daly that demanded he be moved.  Sheff had  criticized his teammates and management for spending money foolishly.  You didn’t turn on the organization with Daly at the helm.  He was loyal to you, but if you blind sided him, you were toast.  
Out of all the points made in Simers' piece yesterday, one factoid that I found Interesting was that Daly’s invested more cash into the Dodgers during the Fox tenure than McCourt when he bought the team, and Daly only owned a 10% share.  It gives us all an idea how highly leveraged the McCourt purchase was. 

Bob was a stand up guy and Dodger executive that probably deserved to see some Dodger success.  He hired Dan Evans to replace Kevin Malone and most fans these days would say that it was Evans that started to turn things around.  Logan White joined the organization during the Daly years and I think we'd all agree how valuable he is.    Unfortunately, both Evans and Daly would not be around to celebrate some of the successes that they were responsible in creating.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I Think I'm Actually Rooting for Josh Macciello to Get the Team

The more I read about Josh Macciello, the more I want him as owner of the Dodgers.  I have waivered over which potential ownership group I support over the past year.  Looking back over the past 8-9 months I can see how my emotions ebbed and flowed and matured over time.

Joshua Macciello

Initially when Steve Garvey expressed interest, I was for it...based on emotion from all the McCourt mess and the fact that a “Dodger” wanted the team.  (  Article linked here ) Eventually, common sense entered into the picture and I steered away from that idea when considering Gravey’s past problems in the public eye.
I then favored  a return of the O'Malley family.  I interviewed Walter O's grandson, Tom Seidler,  and attempted to gain some public sentiment in that direction.  With Tom’s uncle Peter entering into the fray, I thought that would be the way to go.   Remembrances of the O’Malley family in charge are positive for the most part.  But with so many bidders with so much money that far surpass the O’Malley family wealth, they don’t look like a good fit.  Additionally, if you look at Peter’s ownership during the last 8-9 years with the club, things were deteriorating quickly for the Dodgers towards the end of his ownership.  Now with the Disney family joining that group, who knows?
Mark Cuban caught my interest.  I love his passion and desire to win.  But when he started talking about the asking price possibly being too high, I started to look elsewhere.  I want a guy that can spend.  It looks lie Cuban doesn;t have the funding to continue spending once the purchase is made.  We are the 2nd largest market in the country and we need to spend like it.
Steven Cohen, the Wall Street hedge fund guy looked interesting.  He certainly has the big bucks.  But he brings baggage.  A company with some ethics issues (though he isn’t tied to them).  The fact that he’s never even been to Dodger Stadium is bothersome.  Who needs another carpetbagger?  And one from the Big Apple to boot.  Memories of Chase Carey return.
Dennis Gilbert is no carpetbagger.  Heck, he sits in the first row behind home plate for every game.  A Dodger fan, a billionaire and a man knowledgeable about the game (former minor league player and agent).  Not a bad fit.  But not as rich as some other bidders.
I like Magic Johnson.  He is L.A.  He is loved here.  Better said, he is revered here.  Magic says he’ll recruit free agents himself.  That brings some attraction, and Kasten and the Guggenheim group behind him are worth billions.  A good fit.  He may be my favorite.
I never have liked the Torre group.  I have expressed my feelings for Torre many times on this blog before.  Alan Casden’s desire to level Dodger Stadium during the last ownership run turned me off to the idea of him owning the team.  The Fred Claire group, don’t know enough about them. 
But then an unknown named Josh Macciello enters the fray and over the past few months, his interest intrigues me more and more.  This is a man that has done his homework and sincerely wants to turn the Dodgers into the most elite franchise in the game.  Today he is saying that he thinks he might have submitted the highest bid,  Is it possible that he offered something crazy like $2 billion?  How would MLB react if the Dodger bid comes in at $2 billion.  You’d have giddiness prevailing in ownership booths around the country because everyone’s franchise value has just gone up.
Today The Sporting News', Anthony Witrado,  has an intriguing article on Josh Macciello that is a  must read for everyone following thw Dodger ownership saga.  Macciello’s story is quite extraordinary.  A rags to riches tale in the span of 6-7 years.  It is the kind of story that makes you realize that if you truly pursue your dreams, you can achieve anything.  I find what he has done as quite admirable.  It makes me want to kick myself for not having the guts to take risks and going for my dreams at an earlier time in my life.  And its also the type of story that is motivational in nature too, proving that hard work and effort can result in amazing things.
Mets Blog Links Up My Piazza Post and a Few Comments Come In
The popular Mets blog, (www.metsblog.com),  linked up my Piazza piece  and I found that there are interesting comments from the Met faithful that address something I never really brought up: Which cap should Piazza be wearing on his Hall of Fame plaque?

Mike Piazza departs Dodger Stadium on the day he was traded to Florida.  Note the mural of Mike on the Stadium facade in the backgound.

I can see arguments for both sides.  Piazza’s numbers as a Dodger were simply astounding and earth shattering for a catcher.  Mike’s accomplishments as a Met successful from a team stand point.  As a Dodger fan, I hope he goes in as a Dodger, but we are all aware of Mike’s statements with regard to the matter.  He prefers to go in as a Met.  The entire situation makes me loath Chase Carey all the more because he was our “can’t miss” Hall of Famer.

What many Met fans are probably unaware of is that Piazza was the face of the Dodger franchise for five years (’93-until his trade in ’98).  Dodger marketing was focused around him.  The Kids Fan Club was centered around him.  He was by far the most popular Dodger and the most feared hitter in the line up.  As much as they love him in New York, I can argue that he was equally valued and revered as a Dodger.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ryan Braun Had His Chance to Right a Wrong, and He Blew It

Well Ryan Braun did it, he formally accepted the MVP award at a Black Tie Dinner last night in New York City before the BBWAA.  And he blew it in my opinion.  He could have made things right.  He could have re-earned the respect that he’ll never again have in his Major League career.  This was his opportunity at redemption.   Now those boos he’ll hear all season long and the heckling at visiting ballparks will be well deserved.   He chose to go another route and accept the award in a tainted fashion.

How would you have felt about Braun if during his acceptance speech he had said something along the lines of, “I’m sorry for the controversy I caused.  There is one person that had an extraordinary season, and without a failed drug test, and that’s Matt Kemp.  He deserves this award and I’d like to present it to him.”
Now that would have brought headlines.  That would have earned him respect.  That would have made inroads at resurrecting his reputation.  
In his acceptance speech Braun is quoted as saying, “Sometimes in life, we all deal with challenges we never expected to endure.   We have an opportunity to look at those challenges and view them either as obstacles or as opportunities, and I’ve chosen to view every challenge I’ve ever faced as an opportunity and this will be no different.  I have always believed that a person’s character is revealed through the way they deal with those moments of adversity.”  It should be noted that Braun refused to take questions from reporters after the ceremony.

Hmm, Ryan.  Had you lived by the words you just spoke, you would have not accepted the award.  You had the opportunity to make things right before you, but I guess that’s not in your character.  Not like Matt Kemp, who when asked about the controversy, he took the high road and claimed you are the MVP, though deep down inside, he knows what we all know...you cheated.  Now that’s a true MVP in my opinion, A Most Valuable Person.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Meet Joe Buck

One of the perks of my job is that once in a while I get to meet celebrities.  Today it was my turn with Joe Buck.  It wasn't more than a 5 minute meet and greet while working, but he was kind enough to quickly pose for a photograph.  I guess he thought what I said was funny, based on the grin.  I must say though, he really is a nice man and very respectful.  He's in S.F. for the NFC Championship broadcast this Sunday


Mark Timmons at L.A. Dodgertalk.com posts an interesting quote from Jason Stark that hints that MLB executives fear the Dodgers and their buying power after a new owner is in place.  Read about it HERE

I so hope this is true.  I have to believe it is true.  Will the Dodgers soon be the West Coast version of the Yankees when it comes to spending?  I believe that all depends on who ends up with the club.  April 1st can't come soon enough.


In other news:

Brad Hawpe signs a minor league deal with the Rangers.  Frankly I'm glad he's out of the National League because he always seemed to do well against the Dodgers.  

Enrique Rojas from ESPN Deportes Tweets that the Oakland A's are interested in Manny Ramirez.  Ramirez's comments: "Cada dia que pasa me arrepiento de las decisiones que tome'." (Translation: "Each day that passes I regret the decisions that I made.") 

The latest Dodger signing at Frank and Son, City of Industry: Dee Gordon, tomorrow, 11:00 to 1:00 PM.

Mark Cuban the topic of Steve Dilbeck's L.A. Times  post, quoting the Maverick's Owner that "L.A. would never be the same," if he owned the club.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Mike Piazza - It Sure Would Be Nice if He Would Agree to Participate In the 50 Year Festivities

What would it take to get Mike Piazza to return to Dodger Stadium and receive some recognition and appreciation from the fans?  With the announcement of several Bobblehead dolls issued this year commemorating the 50 years of Dodger Stadium, I have to believe that Piazza was approached with the idea and he turned it down.  Sadly, I almost believe that Mike is still holding a grudge against the organization and the fans all these years later.  It is no secret that Piazza was not happy with being booed by Dodger fans early in ’98 when contract talks broke down.  Shortly afterward, Chase Carey traded him to Florida and he never put on a Dodger uniform again.
I happened to be present when Mike Piazza returned to Dodger Stadium as a Met in 2008 for the first time. It was August 28th and 52,154 fans showed up for a Friday night game in which a .500 Dodger team found itself 21 games behind in the standings.  Piazza, came to the plate for his first at bat as a Met at Dodger Stadium and received a standing ovation.  Something he certainly deserved.  He then ripped a pitch deep to right center field where Gary Sheffield caught it on the warning track.  He received a standing ovation as he returned to the dugout following the out.
On August 28, 1998, Mike Piazza tips his cap to Dodger fans that gave him a standing ovation as he returned to Dodger Stadium for the first time in a visiting uniform.
The oddest part of the game was yet to come though.  With the Dodgers leading 4-0 in the top of the sixth, Piazza led off the inning.  First ball swinging off of Carlos Perez, he lined a home run into the Left Field Pavilion.  It was a classic Piazza shot that we had seen so many times.  Exiting the playing field in a matter of a second or two.  And then it happened, it was a gradual swell that erupted into a tremendous ovation.   Yeah there were a few boos, but they were drowned out by the majority of fans that stood and cheered as an opposing player circled the bases at Dodger Stadium.  I distinctly remember a young boy seated in the row next to me, wearing his Dodger Blue Crew T-shirt that he had obtained from the previous year with Mike’s image prominently displayed on the front.  He was wearing a Mets cap.  The kid and his mom hugged each other in excitement as Piazza crossed home plate in that Mets uni.
I believe its safe to say that never before or since has a visiting player competing against the Dodgers received such a positive reception at Dodger Stadium.  I stood and applauded too, but I didn’t feel too bad about doing so, because the Dodgers still led 4-1.  As that lead slowly evaporated and the Dodgers eventually went to extra innings in a 4-4 tie, I started to feel a bit different about the feel good story of Piazza’s return.  The Mets eventually scored what turned out to be the winning run as Piazza slid across the plate in the 10th inning when Eric Karros failed to cleanly field a grounder in an attempt to cut down Mike from scoring.  Again, fans stood and cheered.  Piazza came out a winner and the Dodgers, well, they were done for the evening.
A diplomatic Piazza told L.A. TImes Dodger beat writer Jason Reid only positive things in the games aftermath.  “The fans have always been good to me here.  That’s something you never forget.”
As the years have gone by, that statement from 1998 looks to have been forgotten by Piazza.  It seems like Mike wants to distance himself from his Dodger days.  “The bulk of my career was with the Mets,” he told Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk in 2010. “  After going through the trade and then the drama of 9/11, I’ll never forget my Dodger days, but my time with the Mets is what I’ll remember most about my career.”

It sure would be nice to see him return for one night, put on the Dodger jersey and step to the mound in the pre-game ceremony and one more time, tip that cap to Dodger fans that were appreciative of his contributions.  In my opinion he was by far the biggest offensive force to ever wear a Dodger uniform.  His departure was a major contributor to the Dodgers demise that followed between '98-'03.  In some sense, I believe it can be argued that they have never recovered from that trade with Florida.

Any ideas what we could do to convince him to return?  I have to believe that Mike Piazza would receive an extremely positive and warm response if he did.  Come back home Mike.  L.A. fans that hated that trade would like to acknowledge you for your accomplishments as a Dodger.   In case we all forgot, the youtube video below reminds us all what a force he was in his prime.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Ethier Gets A Big PayDay, Not Bad for a Guy that Can't Hit Lefties

So I see that Ethier was signed for just short of $11 million this year.  Hopefully he puts up numbers that that salary deserves.  I have always liked Andre.  I think he’s a class act and his community service is amongst the best on the club.  I must admit though that his performance against left handers should move him to a platoon role and $11 million a year isn’t the salary that a typical platoon player gets.  This leaves me to assume that Colletti is planning on Ethier as the everyday Dodger right fielder and a platoon is not being considered.

These are the past three years splits for Ethier, and trust me, if you go back more years, the picture doesn’t get prettier.
Vs. Right handed pitching
2009 431 AB, .302 BA, .390 OBP, .960 OPS, .571 SLG, 25 HR, 81 RBI
2010 358 AB, .318 BA, .396 OBP, .960 OPS, .564 SLG,  20 HR, 63 RBI
2011 346 AB, .321 BA, .410 OBP, .878 OPS, .468 SLG, 10 HR, 49 RBI
Vs. Left handed pitching
2009 165 AB, .194 BA, .283 OBP, .629 OPS, .345 SLG, 6 HR, 25 RBI
2010 159 AB, .233 BA, .292 OBP, .625 OPS, .333 SLG, 3 HR, 19 RBI
2011 141 AB, .220 BA, .258 OBP, .563 OPS, .305 SLG, 1 HR, 13 RBI
Ethier’s career splits have him with .909 OPS vs. righties and .662 OPS against southpaws.  His career on base percentage against right handers is .386 while lefties strangle him to a .302 OBP.   The big picture is that Andre needs to platoon.  He needs to accept that fact and play 80% of the time, whenever a right hander is on the mound.  there’s nothing wrong with that.  He can be valuable in that role, but as an everyday player and a tempermental one at that, who pouts at the mere mention of being lifted for a pinch hitter, he’s going to continue killing us against lefties.
I know, the walk off homers really got us wrapped up in the emotional game ending heroics that he accomplished.  It was amazing what he did a few years ago.  But it has really clouded many a Dodger fans clear thinking.   His last walk off homer was May of 2010 and if you review all 11 walk-off hits between '08-11 only two were off of lefties and many occurred in late extra innings when the opposition had already used up the closer.  Some of the household names that Ethier had walk offs against were Villanueva, Durbin, Peralta, Dumatrait, a struggling Brad Lidge, Boyer and Parisi.
Lefthander Michael Dunn of the Marlins has just struck out Ethier in this April 27, 2011 game in Miami.

The fact is, Andre can’t hit lefties.  Never has, and never will.  Yeah, I know his dad learned to pitch left handed so that he could learn to hit lefties at an early age.  It’s a great story and it was a good idea, but have you ever thrown, let alone pitched with your weak side?  I have, and it aint pretty.   I’ve got to hand it to Andre’s dad Byron, a fine ballplayer at the JC level level himself, for learning to pitch from the left side.  But  please, it was probably real easy to hit off dad who was tossing lollypops to him from over there. 
A platoon of Jerry Sands/Andre Ethier would be a prudent move and worth a few wins in the standings IF Ethier would agree to get on board with it and not sulk.  Does Mattingly have the guts to make such a bold move for the good of the club?  Is Andre honest enough with himself to realize that the club would benefit from having a right handed hitter batting in his place against left handers?  On both fronts, I highly doubt it.

James Loney was signed for a one-year deal worth $6.375 million plus incentives.  Not bad for him considering his sub-par year and  turbulent off-season activities.


Try to figure this one out.  In this 1994 Topps Stadium Club card of Orel Hershiser, his second to last year on the Dodgers.  Does anybody know what is he doing?  He has a clump of sod in his hand, and there is a shopping cart involved.  Additionally based on the other uniformed player who is unidentified, he is in Pittsburgh.  No need to do any groundskeeping at old Three Rivers Stadium that had artificial turf.
So my question is:  What is he doing? Who is the Pittsburgh player, or is it their bat boy?  Topps puts out a mystery card every now and then, but what were they trying to do here?
Anyone that can solve this riddle gets a Opinion of Kingman’s Performance T-shirt, one of 3 or 4 remaining that I have in stock.  And if you are XXL, you’re out of luck, unless you want to use it for a rag.  I think I have 2 mediums and a large left.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Reggie and Tommy in the Booth.

 Two years ago there was an exchange in the Fox Sports Saturday Game of the Week between Tommy Lasorda and Reggie Jackson that I wish I had recorded.  What is provided below is a sanitized version of a heated exchange between the two that this video doesn’t accurately portray.
What really went down?
Lasorda said, “You stuck your backside into the baseball, Reggie, tell the truth.”  When Jackson refused to acknowledge that he had done so Lasorda responded saying, “He should have been decked. He was a liar then and he’s a liar now!”

Jackson mentioned that he earlier in the week  called Lasorda’s office in an attempt to get some tickets and that the voice mail message from Lasorda ended with the quote from Tommy saying that if you don’t root for the Dodgers, you won’t get into heaven.  In reference to the “heaven” quote, Lasorda said that Jackson also won’t get into heaven “for lying.”
Jackson was jovial throughout the exchange while Lasorda maintained that serious demeanor and showed anger that has festered within him for years over that play in 1978.  Tommy was in no mood to joke, saying Jackson was “about as funny as a bloody nose.”  When Buck asked him to acknowledge Reggie’s greatness, referring to the three homer game in the ’77 World Series, Lasorda responded with, “A blind pig will always find an acorn.”

It isn’t really seen in the video clip that was edited by Fox, but there was a sense of awkwardness in the booth.  Both Buck and McCarver weren’t comfortable, with Buck continually attempting play the peacemaker and get Lasorda to admit he was playing around.  Tommy wouldn’t do that.  He was steamed, 32 years after the fact, his wound was not healed.
The only hint that I have that this incident was staged was at the end when they hugged and you can see Lasorda briefly grinning.  Either way, it was an interesting five minutes of television.
The Day Reggie Jackson Hit on My Wife
In late 1988, before we ever met, (in fact it was 8 years before that).  My wife needed needed a car and somehow ended up Reggie Jackson Volkswagon in Palo Alto, California.  She went in and test drove the Jetta.  It was a good fit for her and her young family.  A roomy car with a lot of pep, she just needed to work out the details of the financing.  

While waiting for the deal to be completed, Reggie Jackson spent a good hour talking with my wife.  Now, she’s a hottie and always will be in my opinion.  On top of that, she’s got a lot of spunk and an outgoing personality, so it is easy for someone to be attracted to her interesting and dynamic demeanor.  The guy owned the dealership, or at least lent his name to it.  It wasn’t as if he was hob-nobbing with all the potential buyers, because ALL his attention was on this twenty-seven year old attractive woman.
Long story short, she bought the car...but Reggie didn’t get a date, she turned him down.  He only batted .500 that day, got the sale, missed out on the date.  A Win/Lose for Reggie.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Excellent Post on Steve Howe at Classic Minnesota Twins Blog

As I sit here at SFO waiting to fly out again, I was perusing my emails and came across a message from Michael Busch, fellow blogger, and the ultimate Minnesota Twins fan.  Over the past week Michael and I have been corresponding because he has asked me numerous questions about my recollections of Steve Howe from his days with the Dodgers.  Michael’s blog, classicminnesotatwins.blogspot.com is a very well put together site that has numerous gems of information.  He was working on a Steve Howe piece.
In early 2010 I posted about Rod Carew and his amazing ability to steal home and Michael liked my post and we corresponded.  So I was happy to oblige with the Steve Howe information, even though my memory of his departure from the team in 1985 is starting to get foggy.  Anyway, this morning I see that his article is out and it is very well done.  Take a look at it if you get a chance. LINKED HERE

Additional recollections of Howe
I believe if I had to list the most disappointing Dodger of all-time, Steve Howe just might top the list.  The man had intimidating stuff and was as good as any lefty reliever in the game.  His entry into a game was about as automatic as I remember, and this predated today’s one-inning save situations.  Howe would go two and sometimes three innings.  Just look at his numbers with the Dodgers from 1980-83.  Had Steve just been able to stay away from the cocaine, he was on a possible track to the Hall of Fame.  
Posting ERAs of 2.66, 2.50, 2.08 and 1.44 in his first four seasons.  It is no wonder that Campanis and Lasorda were rushing him back on the roster as soon as they could.  From 80-83, the Dodgers were in the hunt each year and Howe was a key component to their success.  Who can forget the attempts of the Dodgers to replace him after his departure.  (See Ed Van De Berg, Matt Young, Carlos Diaz).  Nobody came close to Steve Howe.

To me, the thing that stings about Steve is that many say he was given so many opportunities, yet, now with our better understanding of substance abuse, he really was thrown back out there on the field way too soon.  He’d clean up for a few weeks and we’d all say, “Okay, Steve’s good to go again,” and then he’d relapse.  There really should have been a 24 hour guide with him at all times, something similar to the Josh Hamilton situation of today.
His story is such a tragic tale about a good teammate and ultimate competitor.  His death in 2006 was way too soon and you’ll find some insight on that in this excellent piece written by Cary Osborne in 2009 for the Santa Clarita Valley Signal.  It’s an inspiring story of his son Brian, who learning of his father’s death, went out that same day and got the save in his high school game for Valencia High.
Michael asked me questions about the sentiment of Dodger fans when Howe departed.  I gave him the best recollection I could, but I’d be interested in knowing what others think.  Feel free to comment if you remember the Steve Howe years.