September 22, 2014

Blockbuster! Gonzalez, Crawford, Beckett, Puto and (of course) Vin Scully

Wow, what a weekend to be a Dodgers fan, huh?  And what a weekend I chose to be up in my family’s remote cabin, away from most technology.  But I couldn’t resist logging in and sharing a few thoughts on this weekend’s developments.

First up, like all Dodger fans, I’m beyond thrilled that Vin is returning for his 63rd season.  It’s a remarkable accomplishment, and something that was in doubt inspired by the recent momentum by the new ownership group.

From the official press release:  “The new ownership of the Dodgers has revitalized the city, the team, the fans and myself,” Scully said. “I am so convinced of their great purpose and leadership that I eagerly look forward to joining them in pursuit of the next Dodgers championship.”

Regardless of the success of the Dodgers, it’s comforting to know that we’ll be treated to at least one more amazing season of listening to the greatest there ever was.  Scully will continue his current schedule, calling all home games at Dodger Stadium, as well as road games in California and Arizona.

And now to the other big news item from the weekend: the Dodgers staggering acquisition of Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto for James Loney, minor league pitcher Allen Webster, infielder Ivan De Jesus and two players to be named later (reportedly including highly-touted prospect Rubby de la Rosa.

“We continue to do everything in our power to strengthen our team for the stretch drive in an effort to reach the postseason,” said Colletti . “This trade today exemplifies ownership’s commitment to making the team as good as possible not only for 2012 but for many seasons to come.”

All you can really say is wow.  It’s a remarkable haul of talent for the Dodgers, while also allowing them to shore up their greatest weakness (power at first base) with a SoCal resident and four-time All Star in Adrian Gonzalez.  Of course, the Dodgers are also hoping a change in scenery will revitalize the disappointing Josh Beckett and also provide a suitable home for Carl Crawford next season once he recovers from Tommy John surgery.  We also picked up the versatile IF/OF Nick Punto who can fill the Jerry Hairston, Jr. role now that he’s out for the season due to surgery.

But the cost is also very high, and I’m not talking about the $262.5 million involved.  The real prizes for the Red Sox are pitchers Allen Webster and Rubby de la Rosa.  While there are highly touted, they are also prospects so are no sure things.  But as Jon Weisman at Dodger Thoughts points out, it makes me shift uncomfortably in my chair a bit to think about de la Rosa in Fenway Park for the foreseeable future.

Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports has a thought-provoking look at the trade and the Dodgers’ rationale for making it, in particular the lack of free agent talent at 1B and 3B in the upcoming offseason, and the impact on ticket sales that the Mexican-American Adrian Gonzalez can uniquely provide.

This was a rare “win win” trade for both teams, and will no doubt create an ongoing debate for years to come.  But really, as LA fans, you’ve got to be inspired by this ownership group’s commitment to trying to win now, as well as in the future.  After all, how can a middle of the order lineup featuring Kemp, Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez and Andre Ethier not inspire you?  We gave up a ton for Gonzalez and the rest, but I’d much rather the Dodgers make this move than none at all. You’ve got to gamble to win, and Mark Walter has proven he’s willing to roll the dice with the best of them.

Photo Credit: Jon SooHoo / LA Dodgers 2012

Notes from the couch…

A theater crowd?
On my way to one of my coaching engagements, I was listening to Tuesday’s game against the Mets…it was classic how Rick Monday and Charley Steiner were describing the crowd…particularly when it was dead silent in the stadium…one of them said it was more like a “theater crowd rather than a baseball crowd”…classic!

Perhaps the pricing at Citi Field is to blame…for the game versus the Dodgers (considered a “Gold” game), the cheapest ticket was $23…at Dodger Stadium, the cheapest seats are $9…the equivalent Loge level seats at Dodger Stadium ($60) go for over twice that at Citi Field ($138)…I guess the Mets have priced themselves out of bringing in the true fans…now, they are tailoring their home crowds to the likes of the theater district…the Dodgers have done a great job of keeping prices low for the fans!

Home Field Advantage…on the road!
From watching parts of the recent series at San Diego on TV, it was great to see the Dodger fans out in force…very similar to what I experienced at the Dodgers/Angels game in Anaheim when the Weaver brothers pitched against each other…our Boys in Blue must feel like they are playing in front of the home crowd when chants of “Let’s go Dodgers!” ring throughout the stadium…

Manny makes fantasy owners happy…
As a Yahoo Fantasy Baseball manager who happens to have Manny Ramirez on his roster, I am pleased that he’s back in my lineup…I was beginning to get sick of my replacement outfielder, JD Drew, sitting every other game and not getting stats for me…in the 4 games since Manny returned, the Dodgers are 3-1 as a team and Manny’s given me 3 hits, a homer, 4 RBI’s and a run scored…I’ll take it!

Hoping for a speedy return!
When news hit that Ronald Belisario returned to Los Angeles after complaining of a stiff elbow, my first reaction was, “Uh oh!”…I saw Saturday’s game at San Diego and how he struggled to throw strikes…chalked it up to simply having a bad day, but hearing the news of his elbow has me concerned…he pitched in 43 of the Dodgers’ first 82 games…add to that the number of times he’s had to get up and warmup in the bullpen and you can see that it’s a lot of pitches thrown for a guy who had Tommy John surgery and sat out the 2005 and 2006 seasons…I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this will pass and he’ll be back in the lineup soon…after all, it’s hard to lose a guy with a 2.42 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and a blazing fastball…

I’ve done my part!
Matt Kemp is still in contention for the last roster spot for next week’s All Star Game in St. Louis…I find it amazing that the Dodgers, with the best record in Major League Baseball, have fewer All Stars (3 – Billingsley, Broxton, Hudson) than the New York Mets (4 – Wright, Beltran, Rodriguez, Santana)…didn’t the Dodgers just beat the Mets, 8-0 on Tuesday???…how did the Dodgers build their 53-30 record with just 3 All Stars and the Mets build their not-so-impressive 39-43 record with 4 All Stars?…oh well, I’ve done my part by voting for Matt Kemp over-n-over via mlb.com…have you?

Dodgers Go 13-0 at Home; Show Bloggers the Love

What a game, eh?  I think what I love the most about this team are the variety of ways they get the job done.  Tonight’s game looked to be a pitchers duel and then bam!, here come the runs. In all fairness, it could have been a lot worse for the Nationals…I think Manny came to the plate twice with the bases loaded, right?

And while the streak is nice, one of the things that I like most about it is that it has fans caring more than they normally do about Dodger baseball in early May.  It was cool to be at the game tonight.   The Kardashian girls threw out the first pitches….Larry King was in the house (giving yours truly a knowing head nod outside the suites)…and Jon Weisman from Dodger Thoughts was there too!

Tonight was also the Dodgers second annual Blogger Night at Dodger Stadium and the turnout was fantastic.  I’m estimating that there was nearly double the attendance of last year, with all of your favorite blogs representing, including Dodger Thoughts, the Sons of Steve Garvey, True Blue LA, Dodger Dugout, The Trolley Dodger and Blue Heaven,  plus some blogs new to the Dodgers scene (or maybe just to me) like LAist (who knew they were this into the Dodgers?), isportsweb.com, Baseball Savvy and Bleacher Bums.  If I left out your blog, drop me a line!  Let’s just say that the Dodgers are building a nice community here based out of respect and mutual admiration.  There is some fantastic writing going on here – check it out.

Big props to PR Guru Josh Rawitch and his team, including Drew and Amy, for their hospitality.  Dodger fans, let me tell you, this team gets social media.  Lots to talk about in the weeks and months ahead, but let me just say now, this is one progressive communications team.  Personally, I’m very excited to be apart of it all, and I can’t thank them enough for the insight they provide to our site and others on an ongoing basis.  The value of perspective is an important thing, and it doesn’t mean we’re “selling out” when we express the Dodgers’ point of view.  Rather, it allows us to create more informed pieces of content that are still anchored in our personal opinions, but are pieces that are also balanced by the other side (whether that’s in print or not).

Anyway, tonight started out with a visit by General Manager Ned Colletti. I wish I had more to report here, but I was stuck in traffic so missed hearing Ned’s reflections on the team.  Next up was Chief Marketing Officer Dr. Charles Steinberg.  As a fellow marketer, I really appreciated this guy’s point of view and his belief in the fans to serve as the guiding light for the franchise.  More to come on Charlie in future blog posts, but he’s quickly becoming one of my favorite front office guys.  Next up was KABC “DodgerTalk” broadcasters Ken Levine and Josh Suchon.  Both guys were great, knowledgeable and very personable.  And if you weren’t aware, Ken and Josh have one of the local bloggers on every Sunday as part of their show.  The Dodgerfan.net guys have heard nothing but great things from their fellow bloggers about the experience and we’re looking forward to sharing our unique point of view later in the season!

Ok, it’s late, but there will be more posts, photos and video from tonight’s game coming tomorrow.  Thanks again Dodgers PR Team – you’re setting a great example for PR in Los Angeles and it’s fun to be along for the ride.  Now let’s go out and make it 14-0 tomorrow night!

Bring Vin Scully With You When You’re On The Road

Yup, it’s true.  While Alex and his wife were settling in at home with their new daughter, I was on vacation in Hawaii.  Of course I needed to get my daily Dodgers fix, and with that I give you the Major League Baseball’s iPhone application At Bat 2009

It’s on the spendy side at $9.99, but that, my friends, is truly a small price to pay for having the opportunity to select the live radio broadcast of ANY ongoing game in the major leagues (no blackouts – if the game’s going on, you can listen).  I found it fascinating to listen to Vin call a play, and then immediately after a big moment, I’d switch over to hear the opposing broadcast team react.  Pretty damn cool.  And if you didn’t appreciate the beautiful cadence and rhythm of Scully’s storytelling, then this is the service that will make you appreciate it.

Lot’s of other people love this app too.  Apparently MLB and Apple have sold more than 130,000 copies in less than one month since it was released.

Oh, the app does a ton of other cool things for the inner baseball geek in all of us: scoreboard updates, pitch-by-pitch summaries, game recaps, etc.  This has got to my favorite new iPhone application…frankly, there’s nothing better than lying on the beaches of Oah’u in the late afternoon after a long day of surfing and hear that distinctive voice say those immortal words: “It’s time for Dodger baseball!”

Pretty damn cool, indeed.

Jaime Jarrin: A Broadcasting Legend

 

You know, it’s pretty incredible that Dodger fans are lucky enough to have a HOF broadcaster who has called the majority of their games over their 50 years in Los Angeles.  What’s even amazing is to have two broadcasters working for the same club.

Tonight, Jaime Jarrin is being honored for his 50 years of service as the Spanish voice of the Dodgers.  Today’s LA Times article is a great look into the life of this legend. 

I also happened to catch Charlie Steiner’s pre-game interview with Jarrin and learned that the Ecuadorian broadcaster started out calling boxing matches in LA, before taking on world championship fights all over the world.  Pretty cool stuff.

Congratulations Jaime!