Saturday, July 26, 2003
Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday
L.A. 000 000 000 01 010 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 010 000 000-3
Opp 000 000 000 00 000 100 000 000 001 000 010 00x 000 000 000-3
My god, that really, really was the whole season right there, wasn't it. Four games, three runs, two losses, two wins.
(And 44 innings, in case you don't feel like counting. A 0.61 ERA for each team.)
Friday, July 25, 2003
The Great Race Is Over
Remember when the Dodgers almost had more sacrifice hits than home runs?
On June 5, it was 35 homers, 32 sacrifices, and a great embarrassment hovered within sight. Since then, the Dodger sluggers (withhold laughter) have outdone the bunters, 34-11.
Maybe Odalis Perez's problem was that he spoke to American reporters.
Once again coming up with an interesting tidbit that the Los Angeles papers missed, Lee Jenkins and Robert Kuwada of the Orange County Register write today that "Kazuhisa Ishii criticized catcher David Ross to Japanese reporters for his pitch selection in the seven-run sixth inning" of Wednesday's loss to the Rockies.
In discussing the event, Jenkins and Kuwada insightfully note that "although Ross admitted he called the wrong pitch to Rene Reyes, Ishii did not shake him off and declined to explain afterward."
Reports have emerged that the Dodger clubhouse was seething after that defeat, but apparently Thursday's 1-0 victory was enough to defuse the tension. One day at a time, I guess.
"What happened was bad," Ishii said to the Register. "But I don't want to answer any questions about it. It's over."
Until tonight, at least. Perez takes the mound, coming off consecutive starts in which he allowed a combined 11 earned runs in 8 2/3 innings.
But those struggles came against the awesome St. Louis Cardinal lineup, which Baseball Prospectus says has the second-best offense in the majors. Prior to that, Perez shut out tonight's foe, the Diamondbacks, on three hits and no walks over eight innings. Arizona is ranked 20th.
Call Him Up
Is it possible - two days in a row with a Calvin Murray reference?
Tonight, the Dodgers face future Hall-of-Famer and current 1-game winner Randy Johnson. Murray, the Dodgers' AAA outfielder, is 6 for 15 lifetime against Johnson with two doubles and a home run.
How much does Johnson fear Murray? Johnson fears Murray like a childhood nightmare that he no longer remembers but one day could pop back into his consciousness and inflict terror the likes of which he has never experienced except on occasion, terror which if nothing else Johnson would possibly prefer to, well, eschew.
Thursday, July 24, 2003
Ah, the sweet wretched refuse ...
As of today, no hitter on the Dodger bench started the season with the team.
If I made one accurate prediction this year, it was that the amount of time and energy people spent discussing who would make the back end of the Dodger roster would be time and energy wasted on players who would have next-to-no impact.
Nonetheless, on March 14, I took a mid-March look at who would make the Dodgers 25-man roster. At the time, Rodney Myers was ranked 41st on my list out of 41 players.
My comment on the guy above him, Calvin Maduro, was, "Filler for Las Vegas." Myers merited only a "Ditto."
Well, Maduro ended up becoming a Newark Bears teammate of Rickey Henderson, but Myers is now here, following Larry Barnes, David Ross, Steve Colyer, Chin-Feng Chen, Chad Hermansen, Wilkin Ruan, Alfredo Gonzalez and Victor Alvarez as players who answered affirmatively to my question, "See You Midseason?"
(For what it's worth, however, I ranked Tom Martin below all those guys. Who'd have thought he'd be the most impactfulescent of them all?)
Now, we're just waiting for Koyie Hill, Lindsay Gulin and Chris Clapinski. Not to mention spring hitting sensation Calvin Murray.
What of Quilvio Veras, you might ask? His last recorded statistics are with Estrellas, a Dominican Winter League Team. His stats on Baseball America indicate they were updated May 8, but I don't think that date reflects the league actually playing at that time. So after nearly making the Dodgers, Veras may have just quietly called it quits.
Rickey Henderson's average is down to .192, which isn't shocking. Drawing no walks in seven games, though, just shows you that nothing is sacred.
Baseball's all-time leader in walks had one seven-game streak in 2002 without drawing one - nothing longer. Nothing longer in 2001 as well, and I'm going to hazard a wild guess that if he doesn't walk in his next game, that will be the longest such streak of his 25-year career.
In 25 at-bats with the Dodgers, Henderson has had only three three-ball counts - and none at 3-0 or 3-1. Here are the counts on which his at-bats have ended:
0-0.......1 for 2
0-1.......0 for 2
1-0.......2 for 2 (HR)
1-1.......0 for 2
1-2.......0 for 8
2-1.......0 for 2
2-2.......1 for 4 (HR)
3-2.......1 for 3
So far, for all of Rickey's knowledge of the strike zone, and even with him remaining a home-run threat, pitchers have been attacking him, getting ahead on the count. The ball still jumps off Henderson's bat, but so far, most of the time, it's jumping right into opposing gloves.
I didn't expect Rickey to run wild on the bases, but him not walking is like Wayne Brady not improvising. That's his game.
As in, The End Is ...
After today's 12:10 p.m. game against Colorado, the Dodgers voyage to Arizona and Philadelphia to play six games in seven days against their top two rivals for the National League Wild Card. Those games take the Dodgers to the July 31 trading deadline.
Though that wall we all know and love may have some writing on it, there is really no need to rush to judgment before those games are played out. But should the trip go poorly for the Dodgers, should they fall to a .500 record and find themselves seven or eight or nine games out of the wild card race, will they have the courage to concede the 2003 season and prepare for 2004?
Wednesday, July 23, 2003
News: Jesse Orosco traded to the Yankees
And here we are, World Series, Game 7...
At the plate, 44-year-old Rickey Henderson ...
On the mound, 46-year-old Jesse Orosco ...
The duel we've been waiting for all our lives. And then some ...
At the Corner of Thunder Road and Stadium Way
Talk about two great tastes that taste great together.
Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band are coming to Dodger Stadium on Sunday, August 17. Ticket sales begin (and, no doubt, end) Monday.
Did I call this, in a weird way? I doubt they'll play Wreck on the Highway, but in the shadow of lost seasons since 1988, you can bet the Dodger farm on Glory Days.
My Springsteen attendance record is as follows:
To see Springsteen at Dodger Stadium would, you can imagine, be about as special for me as if he were to play in my own backyard. (And since I don't have my own backyard, all the better.) Right now, though, I'm pessimistic about it happening. Spending money on concert tickets less than 12 months after having seen The Boss live is just not what I should be doing right now.
- 1984, Los Angeles Sports Arena
- 1985, Oakland Coliseum
- 1988, Shoreline Ampitheater, Mountain View
- 1995, Wiltern Theater, Los Angeles
- 1999, Staples Center, Los Angeles
- 2002, Forum, Inglewood
Sigh. It's so hard to be a saint when you're just a boy out on the street.
Tuesday, July 22, 2003
Ph.D in Rickey
I was only halfway through Aaron Gleeman's doctoral disseration on Rickey Henderson when I realized I would have to link to it. Then, at the end, came the twist - Aaron had chosen Dodger Thoughts as his Link of the Day. So double thanks, Aaron - for the recognition and for the great article.
Since I'm passing out the thankuze on this anniversary celebration, I'd also like to send some to my friends in the baseball blogging world - particularly John Wiebe at John's Dodger Blog, Christian Ruzich at The Cub Reporter, Michael at View From the 700 Level, Alex Belth at Bronx Banter and Gregg Rosenthal at Gregg's Baseball, Etc. Their links, along with links to other great blogs, are in the right-hand column - check them out and say hi to them for me.
And to Robert at Priorities and Frivolities: Goodness gracious! Get well soon.
Dodger Thoughts: 1.003 Years Later
The first post was writ as humble as the pie the Dodgers have been eating for the past 14 1/2 years:
Sunday, July 21, 2002
The next day, 1.000 years ago, I wrote my inaugural "State of the Dodgers" address. Fascinatingly, the team has changed so little in the past year that I could pretty much rerun that column as fresh material today (which, essentially, is what I'm going to do).
This is where I will vent, and, if I can ever feel so comfortable, exult about the Dodgers and baseball in general.
Some excerpts from July 22, 2002:
So, with a Dodger team that overachieved in the first half of the season and has underachieved in the second half, what do you do?
You kind of get the feeling that I might get a few more years out of those paragraphs. But in the midst of these eightysomething win seasons, there have been the emotional highs and lows that have made this site the therapeutic outlet I was looking for. I hope it's provided some enjoyment for the rest of you.
Right now, the Dodgers are just playing poorly - making errors and bad pitches to match their poor hitting. The players on this team are good enough to win if they’re playing solidly, bad enough to lose if they’re playing poorly, and I don’t see that any addition is going to change that in 2002.
Long before Fox made the absurd move of trading Piazza, reasonable minds would wonder what it would take for the Dodgers to elevate a perennial 90-game winning team into a team that could win a World Series. This legitimate approach has been erased by a philosophy of trying to build a team that can somehow sneak into the playoffs and maybe luck into a World Series, with the hope I guess that Kirk Gibson will limp to the plate at age 46 and homer. I have long advocated that the Dodgers go back to trying to build a legitimate World Series champion, through a solid farm system and solid trades, even if it means tearing the current team apart.
Think of it this way: The Dodgers price/earnings ratio is still inflated, and this is still a bear market. If any trades are being made in baseball over the next month, the Dodgers should be selling, not buying.
At the intersection of Memory Lane and Stadium Way, here are my favorite entries:
I also can't express enough how much I've enjoyed the great letters I've received from readers of this site. This whole thing has just been a lot of fun. Thanks for indulging me.
Monday, July 21, 2003
The Record They Broke
Here's the boxscore from the previous Dodger Stadium home run record. When the scoreboard announced Sunday that this record had been broken, I recalled the 1979 game, which I listened to on the radio, and realized this: Apparently, you don't set this record without a pitcher hitting a home run. Rick Sutcliffe then, Woody Williams now.
Final score went a little more the Dodgers' way then, however.
Beltre for Mora Rumors
I'm not passing on this rumor because I believe it will happen, but for the subtext. Ken Rosenthal of The Sporting News reports:
The Dodgers continue to target Melvin Mora, and the Orioles might be willing to take third baseman Adrian Beltre if they also received quality prospects in the deal.
I think my cheek is actually quivering as I read this. Beltre could benefit from a different hitting instructor? Hmm - where have I heard that one before?
Mora, the American League's second-leading hitter, would be an ideal fit for the Dodgers; he can play second base, shortstop and even third, plus all three outfield positions.
Beltre will receive a significant increase from $3.7 million next season in his final year of arbitration, but he's still only 24 and could benefit from the tutelage of Orioles hitting instructor Terry Crowley. Mora, 31, might never have greater value; he doesn't become a free agent until after the 2005 season.
Rosenthal also passes along this story - seems apocryphal but I'll take it at face value.
Baseball men often will say of a washed-up player, "You couldn't trade him for a bag of balls." Technically, the Dodgers didn't trade for Rickey Henderson. But they did give up a bag of balls.
The Newark Bears, an independent minor league team, were contractually obligated to release Henderson, 44, if a major league club wanted him. But when Henderson departed, the Bears made a special request of the Dodgers, asking for a shipment of balls.
The Dodgers happily obliged with six dozen, establishing a new going rate for a future Hall of Famer: Approximately $130,000 -- the pro-rated portion of the minimum salary that the Dodgers will pay Henderson -- plus six dozen balls.
She will only be 10 months Tuesday, but my daughter has already established solid credentials in the game.
Making her third appearance of the season, she has yet to be outlasted by any starting pitcher she has seen all year, going 7 1/2 innings on Opening Day, 9 innings in May (admittedly, during a rapid-fire Kevin Brown complete game) and now 7 2/3 innings in a long slugfest.
She did start to suffer a small meltdown in the bottom of the eighth Sunday, enough that we decided to remove her from the game in the middle of an at-bat - with the count 0-2 to Adrian Beltre. However, she did see Beltre hit the Dodger Stadium record ninth home run before we headed off.
What a gamer.
As for me ... if there are any of you at all who pay attention to the "Games Jon Attended" standings, you may have noticed my big slump. Despite the Dodgers' overall .540 record at home, I've fallen to 7-8, and am winless since May.
You Earned It
Jocular were the St. Louis Cardinal fans that sat in the next aisle. And jockle they did after one of them caught a foul ball off a Redbird bat in the second inning with a single bare hand.
At first, an unaffiliated guy nearby started yelling for the fan to throw the ball back - until realizing that the Cardinal fan would want to keep a ball from one of his boys. Then, a guy from within the St. Louis Fan Clan exhorted this fan, who had made a terrific catch, to give the ball to a kid. In fact, he started an entire cheer that gained bipartisan Dodger/Cardinal fan participation - "Give it to a kid!"
I can't say that I understand the Oliver Twist element here at all. While it's cool to get any ball that was actually used in a major-league game, the value of catching the ball yourself trumps all associated values.
Plus, a "kid" has the rest of his or her life to get a ball. Who knows if a grown man will ever get another shot at one?
The guy kept his ball, and I was glad.
Five innings later, a foul ball came to the stands - in almost the exact same spot - and our new friend who had campaigned for the ball giveaway before was the guy who caught it now. The crowd immediately rose up to see if he would live up to his politics. And he did. He even eschewed a middle-aged kid (that would be a teenager) and found a true tyke.
More power to him, I guess. But for me, no amount of cheers or jeers will pry that treasure from my hands.
Players who were not on the 25-man-roster when the season began - Rickey Henderson, Jeromy Burnitz and David Ross - hit the first four of the five Dodger home runs Sunday.
Henderson has extended his godsend streak into Week 2 - providing not only a lift on the field, but the biggest excitement for the fans outside of an Eric Gagne appearance.
And the trivia! Here are two great Henderson items to take with you:
The Dodgers won't get to see Fred McGriff hit his 500th home run, but it looks like we may get No. 300 out of Rickey. He now stands at 297.
- Henderson broke free of Ty Cobb to become the first player to homer in 25 consecutive years. (Courtesy of Lee Sinins.)
- What did Henderson do in his first Dodger Stadium at-bat? Grounded out - Ray Knight to Keith Hernandez - off Bruce Sutter on July 8, 1980 in the All-Star Game. (Courtesy of Vin Scully and Retrosheet.
Burnitz, meanwhile, does look like he can hit the ball, but his outfield play remains a question. He's already making errors, and on plays I wasn't even worried about - balls hit in front of him.
Sunday, Jim Tracy backed off the idea of moving Shawn Green to first base when Dave Roberts returns - on the theory that Green has too much to worry about at the plate to take on a position change. This strikes me as hogwash - will a position change actually make Green more disappointing at the plate?
An alternate theory would posit that Green would be galvanized by making a move that might help the team. Because while Dave Roberts may not return at full-strength offensively, the Dodgers could really use his defense.
No, Rickey probably can't play every day - I disagree with Bill Plaschke's column Sunday that argued that the 95-degree heat was no excuse to keep Henderson on the bench - but the Dodgers probably will not want to bench Henderson too many games.
Until there is a new McGriff sighting, I think the choice of how to align the Dodgers when Roberts comes back comes down to whether you think the Dodgers will benefit more from having Roberts' defense in the lineup, or Ross' bat, since he would be the domino that topples on a Green move to first base.
I'll accept the idea that given the Dodgers' offensive needs, Roberts' defense isn't supremely important, but I'm sorry, I won't accept that the Dodgers' $15-million man can't handle a move to the easiest of all defensive positions.
How About a Little Pitching to Support That Offense
So we arrived at twilight Sunday expecting to see a sedate little opera, and instead we got Tommy.
Nine home runs - a Dodger Stadium record. And using your Dr. Hindsight goggles, you can see how it would happen. The vestiges of a warm, humid week. Odalis Perez pitching like a pyromaniac, Woody Williams flaunting his lead like a lottery-winner tipping with hundreds.
Most of all, you realize that the St. Louis Cardinals are more like Coors Field than Coors Field itself. They're like a high-altitude road show - snowflake pitching backed by an avalanche lineup.
Albert Pujols - forget it. And Scott Rolen - boy, did I underestimate him when the Rolen-to-Dodgers rumors flew last year. Sunday night, Pujols and Rolen scored six runs on three hits.
And Edgar Renteria - their shortstop, batting fifth - I now get Edgar Renteria. He puts up great numbers on offense and backs it by fielding like a dreamboat.
Not that the Dodgers didn't put on a show of their own, but you have to put in context with their opponent. I guarantee that when the Rockies arrive in town today, the offensive fireworks will defuse. I'm so confident, I'm not even going to look up statistics that will support my case and make it more credible to you, the discerning reader :)