August 22, 2014

Dodgers Unveil 2010 Bobblehead Lineup

The Dodgers have unveiled the lucky players that will be immortalized as bobbleheads in 2o10 (drum roll, please):

May 18 - Andre Ethier

June 8 – Jonathan Broxton

July 20 – James Loney

August 17 – Matt Kemp

I like that the club is focusing on the young stars this year, although I would LOVE to see the team give the fans a vote for a fifth bobblehead.  Everyone remembers the enthusiasm that was generated for the Joe Beimel bobblehead campaign – a fan favorite and an unlikely choice to say the least.

And to get everone in the spirit, once again, here are The Adventures of Lil’ Matt (circa 2009)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4Q02w9MNQU&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

Andre Ethier Reveals a Special Gift from a Teammate

The best moment from today’s media session at Dodger Stadium was when a reporter in the clubhouse asked Andre Ethier about his favorite items in his locker.  Andre responds by reaching in and pulling a bottle of Dom Perignon champagne out of his locker.  He explains that the unopened bottle was a gift from fellow teammate Doug Mientkiewicz – a gift to celebrate Ethier’s first 100 RBI season.  The bottle was inscribed with Ethier’s accomplishment and it was clear the gift meant a lot to him.
A really thoughtful move by the veteran Mientkiewicz.  Great job, Doug!

Dom Perignon...Nice!

Dom Perignon...Nice!

Post-Season Thoughts From Andre Ethier and Jon Garland

Andre Ethier speaks to the media on October 23, 2009

Andre Ethier speaks to the media on October 23, 2009

With the 2009 season at a close, the Dodgers opened up the clubhouse to the media.  Following are a few quotes from Andre Ethier and Jon Garland who were gracious enough to speak to the assembled media as they cleared out their lockers.

Andre Ethier

On not being considered a “kid” anymore:

“It’s nice to start to have the credit and acknowledgement that you’ve grown up and you’re part of this game.  At that same time, there isn’t much leniency for mistakes to be made, because you’re not kids anymore so you’re going to be held responsible a lot more and…[we need to] do things right the first time.  In that sense, it’s going to be a little bit more pressure to get things right , right away.”

On what Andre learned from the Game 5 loss to the Phillies:

“Just how special it is to be in that situation.  Those games are worth playing.  When you’re going through it, you don’t realize the magnitude or what it actually is and then watching the game last night, you see how big the game actually is.  It’s a learning process.”

On talk that the Dodgers need a #1 starter:

“We have one or two good candidates here that could definitely become that person…it takes not only the skill, but also the reputation and mindset to go out there and perform that way.  You can see the way a #1 can perform by that game last night for the Angels.  Go out there and get the job done when he’s [John Lackey] counted on and relied upon.  There are plenty of candidates here that can step up and fill that role.  Hopefully this off-season allows guys to want that and mature into that process a little bit more and be that #1, but we’ll definitely welcome a new guy here if that’s what we need and we can get.”

Jon Garland

On his interest in remaining a Dodger:

“I’ve always said that I want a chance to play the game that I love.  I love going out and competing.  I would love to [stay in LA], but if it didn’t work out and I’m somewhere else, I’m not going to be disappointed.”

On not pitching in the playoffs:

“It’s a little bit hard to sit and watch when the competitor in you wants to get out there and help the team out, but that was the choice that Joe made and I have to live with it.”

On what he would like to see happen to the Dodgers in the off-season:

“It depends if I’m on it or not.  If I’m on it, I’d love to win a World Series.  If I’m not, I don’t want to hurt anybody’s hearts, but I hope we beat ‘em. ”

On potential off-season acquisitions:

“I think this team has everything that it needs.  I don’t think there is much that you have to do.  The pieces are there.  It’s just a matter of putting them together.”

Additional comments from Ned Colletti and Joe Torre coming later tonight.  Finally, it was good to see Roberto from Vin Scully is My Homeboy representing at the media event today.  I also ran into “Steve Sax” from the Sons of Steve Garvey in the team’s gift shop…which begs the question: do the Sons EVER leave Dodger Stadium???

Manny Ramirez and Momentum: The Keys to the Dodgers’ Success in the NLDS?

Manny Ramirez

Manny Ramirez

As the Dodgers prepare to face off against the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS, there are a number of intriguing questions facing the Dodgers, but none more interesting than what is going on with Manny Ramirez and the role momentum plays in the playoffs.

Will the Real Manny Ramirez Show Up?

 It’s becoming increasingly clear that for the Dodgers to win the series and advance to the next round, their bats must come alive against the powerful Cardinal pitching.  We all know about Ethier’s success at home vs. the road (thank God for home field advantage), but the punch Manny can provide can make this series for the Dodgers.  I don’t think he can break the series,  as the Dodgers don’t expect him to be the difference-making he once was.

Consider this: since September 1st, Manny is hitting just .218 with four HR (the last one coming way back on Sept. 18th) and 14 RBI.  He had only two multi-RBI games during this 25 game span.  Ouch.

However, in the playoffs last year, Manny batted .520 with four HR and 10 RBI, and he’s consistently proven to be a player that can deliver in the clutch during the playoffs.  Can he regain the form that opposing pitchers once feared?  Time will tell, but I seriously doubt it.  That role has shifted to Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp.  Opposing pitchers just don’t fear him the way they once did.

Does Momentum Really Matter?

I’ve always found the subject of momentum heading into the playoffs a fascinating topic.  Here’s where I net out on this: momentum from series to series means very little to professional athletes in the playoffs, as each game is broken down into much smaller increments.  In the playoffs, momentum is defined inning to inning, at bat to at bat and pitch to pitch (and sometimes game to game), with incredible individual athletic achievements causing emotional swings that sometimes simply cannot be overcome.

Remember the 1988 New York Mets?  They had beaten the Dodgers 10 out of 11 times during the regular season.  With the Mets up two games to one in the NLCS, game four was in Shea Stadium.  The Dodgers were losing 4-2 in the top of the ninth inning and on the brink of going down three games to one in the series, when they came back to score two runs to tie the game before Kirk Gibson hit a solo home run in the top of the 12th inning to give the team a precarious one run lead.  Orel Hershiser then came into the game in the bottom of the 12th with the bases loaded and two outs.  Remember that Hershiser started the previous day’s game, but he managed to get Kevin McReynolds to fly out to end the game, evening up the series and swinging momentum to the Dodgers from the heavily favored Mets.  The Dodgers rode the momentum generated from these gritty performances and went on to win two of the next three games to dispatch the Mets in a thrilling seven game series.

In game one of the 1988 World Series, Kirk Gibson’s home run over pitcher Dennis Eckersley  shattered the confidence of the much more powerful Oakland lineup, and made the fact that the A’s were a superior offensive team obsolete, beating them in five games.  From Wikipedia:

But anything can happen in a short series, as proven by these 1988 Los Angeles Dodgers,  who out-hit (41–28, .246–.177), out-muscled (5 HRs–2 HRs), and out-pitched (2.03–3.92) the seemingly unbeatable Oakland Athletics, incredibly winning the Series in five games, outscoring the A’s, 21–11.

Momentum can be a fragile and mysterious force with fantastic psychological effects that can hamper or help even the most skilled professional athlete.  All it takes is one swing of the bat or one critical pitch to turn a series on its ear.  While many pundits are picking the powerful Cardinals to place a beat down on the Dodgers, I for one believe that it will be the critical swings of momentum during the game that ultimately will define this series, and if the Dodger bats can respond the way they have in the past (remember Ethier’s incredible number of game-winning home runs?) then they are poised for success .  Let’s go Blue!

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Monday’s great game!

Andre Ethier's Game Winning Homer vs. Rockies

Click on image to see a larger version!

Sorry for posting this the day after the fact…it was a long night that finished the right way – with a Dodger victory!

Thanks to a guy named “Doc” at work, I was able to watch Monday night’s game from a great position – loge level, first base side, row A…fantastic seats in foul ball territory (one landed one aisle over and about 5-6 more were in our “area”)…of course, the only souvenirs I walked away with were a soda cup and a white Dodger soft serve helmet…

The game got off to a great start as Randy Wolf pitched 3 perfect innings before giving up a hit to leadoff the 4th inning…even though Wolf gave up a 2-run homer in the top of the 5th, he made up for it with a 2-run single in the bottom of the 5th!

The bullpen went to work in the 7th inning when Ronald Belisario came in and struck out the first two batters he faced…it was great to see the Rockies a bit off balance – seeing Randy Wolf and his high 60′s curveball for six innings and then facing Belisario and his mid-90′s heat in the seventh…

It was then Ramon Troncoso’s turn in the 8th, pitching a scoreless frame and then handing the ball to Jonathan Broxton who was throwing even more heat (high 90′s with a couple of pitches reaching triple digits on the Dodger Stadium radar gun)…

The only inning where we got into trouble was the 10th when Jeff Weaver gave up hits to the first two batters he faced, but proceeded to strikeout the side to get out of the jam…the fans were going crazy!!!

Brent Leach, Guillermo Mota and James McDonald each pitched a perfect inning to setup the heroics in the bottom of the 13th…

Casey Blake led off with a single to right field that Brad Hawpe trapped on a diving attempt…Andre Ethier, the Dodger’s leading “walk off man” with three game winners this season, stepped to the plate…

Strike one called…everyone in the stadium disagreed with the call…

Ball one…low and away…

Strike two called…another questionable call from the fans’ perspective, but we all have a worse view compared to the home plate umpire…

Pitch #4 was fouled away…

It was at this point that my friend put on his jacket and called it the “rally jacket”…I told him he should have put it on in the 9th inning so we could have gone home earlier…

The 5th pitch was a thing of beauty – for Dodger fans…Ethier ripped a line drive to right field that I thought was going to hit the wall…so did Brad Hawpe as he stopped and prepared to play the rebound off the wall…

…except the rebound never came…

The ball barely cleared the wall in right field…HOME RUN!

The crowd was going crazy…the Dodger bench emptied onto the field, awaiting Ethier at home plate…the helmet was off…the grin was ear-to-ear…he was pointing to someone at home plate…the final leap to touch the plate was complete…the dogpile began…what a game, what a game…

While Ethier stole the headlines in the paper this morning, the true heroes of this game were the guys coming out of the bullpen…in fact, the entire pitching staff…

17 strikeouts were recorded in the 13-inning game…the bullpen did not allow a run in the final 7 innings…the ONLY hits the Rockies got came off Jeff Weaver in the 10th…we brought the heat and the Rockies could do nothing with it…I love it!