Today marks what would have been Jackie Robinson’s 90th birthday, and the Dodgers organization (along with some of Robinson’s former teammates) welcomed over 200 elementary school kids to Jackie Robinson Legacy Day: A Celebration of Life at Dodger Stadium, the kickoff to the team’s eight-day Community Caravan through the Southland.
Former Dodger great Don Newcombe, always a class act, had this to say “As long as God allows me to be on this earth I’ll do whatever I can to promote some remembrance of this great American named Jackie Robinson…I’ll never forget what he did for me and my career and my life. And I don’t think he should ever be forgotten, and the Dodgers are always in the right frame of mind to do something to remember Jackie.”
I, for one, am glad that the Dodgers are honoring Jackie Robinson on the eve of black history month – particularly with kids that deserve to learn about his life and the barriers that he broke for many in this country.
I looked back, and here’s what we said about Jeff Kent in December of 2007:
One signing that hasn’t gotten nearly the amount of publicity it deserves due in recent days is the return of Jeff Kent. This guy is a gamer, a future HOFer and exactly the type of player that the Dodgers need. He’s the linchpin of the infield and a fantastic role model for kids playing any sport. I think the friction with the Dodgers’ “kids” at the end of last year was definitely an issue, but the fact of the matter is that the Dodgers need someone who won’t take any crap and is willing to come out and hustle every day. Sure, Kent likes to be by himself in the clubhouse and isn’t one to socialize with his teammates, but in past radio interviews I’ve heard with him on KLAC-AM with Times columnist T.J. Simers,he’s always said it’s not because he’s anti-social, but that in order for him to be successful he needs to keep his game face on every single moment that he’s at the park. He’s afraid that if he lets his intensity level down before a game that it might carry over on to the field. Knowing that only makes me respect the guy more. He knows what works for him and he’s sticking with it. After all, he’s the all time leader in home runs for a second baseman and led the Dodgers with 20 HRs at the age of 39.
One last thought on Jeff: I really think the combination of Kent and Joe Torre will go a long way in establishing some much needed clubhouse chemistry and keeping the younger guys in check. At the very least, you know Jeff was psyched to hear about the Andruw Jones signing!
Ok, so we were a little off on the Andruw Jones front, but I’m looking forward to hearing what T.J. has to say about Kent’s retirement. The two genuinely seemed to get along and while the radio show wasn’t that great, Simers was able to get the best interviews I ever heard from Jeff Kent. Can’t wait to hear what Kent has to say tomorrow at the retirement ceremony.
Jeff, congratulations on a fantastic career with the Dodgers and others. We’ll miss your bat and we’ll see you in Cooperstown!
So ESPN is reporting that the $20-$25 million per year isn’t the issue, it’s the length of the contract, with Ned pushing for two years instead of five or six.
My take is that this is a smart move by Ned for several reasons: one, this is a negotiation. We all know a five or six-year deal for Manny makes absolutely no sense for a NL team. Where’s he going to hit when his knees break down? At 33, Manny’s no spring chicken! Two, the team has been burned by long-term contracts in the past. Does Darren Dreifort’s infamous five-year, $55 million contract in 2000 ring any bells? Personally, I’d take Manny for three years at A-Rod money. He proved a lot to me during his short stint in LA, and the effect he had on the players both on and off the field was undeniable.
Plus, Ned has shown that he likes short-term contracts while in LA, and it probably kept him from getting fired this off-season. Could you imagine if the Andruw Jones and Jason Schmidt deals were for 4+ years??
I’m sure we’ll now see Scott Boras start talking about mythical offers from “unnamed clubs” in an effort to get Ned to bid against himself, but I think we’re long past the Boras shenanigans of old working in 2008 (God, at least I hope we are).
Your move, Manny…
Like you guys, I’m psyched for this series against the Fightin’ Phils! A deeper analysis of the NLCS will be coming in the next day or so, but needless to say, it’s going to be damn tough - especially when you take into account the numerous match-up problems (something that the Cubs couldn’t offer up). In the meantime, I wanted to highlight three guys that are probably more psyched than all of us for this series: Larry Bowa, Davey Lopes (1972-81) and Milt Thompson (1996) – all coaches for the opposition. Josh Rawitch offers up the following facts on Bowa’s career over at Inside the Dodgers, plus a few additional tidbits on other ties between the two clubs:
- Remember Charlie Manuel as a Dodger? He was a reserve outfielder with the club for parts of the ’74 and ’75 seasons
- Fan favorite OF Jayson Werth and reliever Rudy Seanez both played for Big Blue recently (2004-06 and 1994-95, 2007, respectively)
- Dodgers Chief Operating Officer Dennis Mannion worked for the Phillies from 1982-97
- Third base coach Larry Bowa not only was a HOF legend as a player, bur managed the club from 2001-04
Now our regular readers know that we love to see what the opposition thinks about the Dodgers, so following is a link to The Phillies Zone, a blog by The Philadelphia Daily News’ Todd Zolecki. I’m recommending that we all keep an eye on it throughout the series, as Todd offers up a ton of great info and links.
Finally, we’re working on getting a Philly blogger to post on Dodgerfan.net periodically throughout the series with his or her thoughts. While we all bleed Dodger Blue over here, we thought it would be interesting to get a view of the game from the opposing press box (we’ll let you know if we get a reciprocal offer).
Series analysis coming later tonight…