August 22, 2014

Dodgers-Mariners Pre-Game Notes

Following are a few pre-game quotes from Joe Torre:

On Manny Ramirez in Albuquerque: “He got through it and he didn’t get hurt…he’ll play the next five days, four days and be ready for us next week.  I’m not concerned about statistics.  I’m more interested in having him compete in some games.”

On Juan Pierre’s Upcoming Return to the Bench: “Juan certainly seized the opportunity and made the most out of it.  We’ll just go back and, our original plan coming out of Spring Training was to give Juan a day or two a week in center field and rest Ethier or rest Kemp.  We did it, I think three times, before Manny was suspended, so we’ll continue to do that.  It’s just one of those things.  When you have Kemp in center field, obviously getting better.  Ethier’s been such a big part of our offense. with this National league baseball, there’s not much we can do about it.

On the Dodgers Not Losing Three Games in a Row All Season: “We’ve been lucky a lot.  Our record in close games has been very good.  It just so happens, a lot of those close games were played at home…our bullpen has been doing an amazing job.  And that’s something that when we left Spring Training, we weren’t sure what it was all about.  So I’ve got to credit the bullpen and just the resiliency of this team.  They’ve been fighting and biting and going after things on an everyday basis and we’ve got to keep doing it.”

On Jason Schmidt: “Schmidt’s pitching tonight with no pitch count so we’ll see what that’s like.”

On Jeff Weaver: “Weaver gave us a courageous outing yesterday.  He pitched his tail off, especially that last inning.”

On His First Impressions of Ichiro Suzuki: “Usually people don’t live up to the expectations but he certainly, when we saw him after what we were told about him, he was scary (for the opposition).  He looked like he had a great deal of control over what he was doing.  Defensively, it looked so easy for him.  He’d be under every ball and make a throw right on the money, running fast after two steps, steal a base when he wanted to, and then when you watched him in batting practice you knew he could hit home runs when he wanted to…he’s about as complete a player as you want to find.”

dodgerfan Live From The Pressbox Tonight!

View from the Dodgers' Vin Scully Press Box

View from the Dodgers' Vin Scully Press Box

Keep an eye out for Chris’s upcoming pre-game notes from Joe Torre and live blogging from the pressbox tonight!

From the Press Box to the Cheap Seats: What’s Next?

Yesterday’s experience as a credentialed member of the Dodgers media posse was really quite something.  After having a little time to process everything, I’ve come to appreciate the way the Dodgers set this experience up.  They didn’t over-regulate the experience or tell us what we could or couldn’t do.  Rather, they only asked that we represent their point of view in our coverage of the team (which I certainly hope we always do!).  Beyond that, we were free to roam and explore the stadium, the dugout, the press box and the clubhouse.  Follow the lead of the established media and enjoy.  That was it.

Much like Orel from the Sons of Steve Garvey, I’m hesitant to reveal too much, as I don’t want to taint the experience for other blogs that will go through this same process, but I will say that the entire afternoon and evening was truly was an eye-opening experience that gave me a lot of insight and appreciation for what professional sportswriters do an daily basis.  Just sitting in the Dodger dugout at 4:00 p.m. before the game and watching the interactions of the beat writers and reporters with the players, coaches and front office staff, showed close working relationships.  I hope over time that our coverage will indeed benefit from this access in some small way, much as it has for the mainstream media that are with the Dodgers day in and day out. 

When the Dodgers hosted their first Blogger Night, there was a lot to absorb from our conversations with Frank McCourt and Ned Colletti.  Since that time, we’ve learned how to better use the information that we learned, and apply it in a more thoughtful way leading to better writing and content.  Over time, our coverage  of the Dodgers will continue to get better as we spend more time in the press box and with the team.  We’ll transition from taking in the experience to making the most of the opportunity.  I think right now we’re somewhere in the middle of those two points, but I already have big plans for making the msot out of my next trip to the press box.  But when all is said and done, we’ll always consider ourselves fans first, and our coverage will always reflect that passion and intensity for the team, but yet will be kept in check by doing what’s right from a content perspective.  This is an interesting period in time in the world of social media, and I believe the way forward is still being discovered.

One question that I’ve received quite a few times from people is about how we wrere treated by the mainstream media.  The answer is that they couldn’t have been nicer.  In particular, Dylan Hernandez from the Los Angeles Times was a great resource and an even nicer guy, and Kenny and Josh from “Dodger Talk” were their normal easy-going and helpful selves.

Finally, we also learned how many little communities of Dodger fans there are out there!  Let me just tell you that Dodger fans love Twitter, and I’d like to say a special thanks to Alyssa Milano for spreading the word to her fans about our coverage last night.

So for those of you that are new to Dodgerfan.net and just discovered us over the past 24 hours, Alex and I encourage you to keep coming back throughout the season as we continue our dialogue, and we invite you to be part of the conversation.  Check back regualrly and contribute – this is your home, as well as ours.  See you at the Ravine!

Post-Game Thoughts From Torre, Kershaw and Martin

Tough loss for the Dodgers.  Here are the post-game comments.  Needless to say, it was a pretty short session.  Plus, it was Fireworks Night, so the guys either wanted to catch the show or beat the crowds out, depending on who you were listening to.

On the Game as a Whole (Joe Torre): “It was a good baseball game, but a very frustrating baseball game.”

On Missed Opportunities (Joe Torre): “That’s frustrating, but you have to give their pitching a little credit for that.  They missed opportunities too.  They had a man at 3rd base, nobody out.  We were able to get them on a good play.  There were missed opportunities on both sides.  Unfortunately they broke through and we didn’t.”

On Clayton Kershaw (Joe Torre): “You know what, he bends, but he doesn’t break.  He still was able to right the ship.  He’s paying a heavy price here, running that pitch count early.  But this kid doesn’t melt away and that’s certainly a step in the right direction.”

On the Offense (Joe Torre): “Yeah, we’ve been scuffling.  The longer it goes, the worse it gets because everyone puts pressure on themselves, saying, ‘I have to do it here.  I have to do it here.’  I don’t think the pressure of the game is getting to anybody.  I think it’s just the pressure that we’ve been scuffling and each guy is probably trying to do a little bit more than they’re capable of doing.”

On the Offense (Russell Martin): “You get guys on third base, less than two outs, you’re supposed to put the ball in play and get the run in.  Some days it works, some days it doesn’t.  Today is obviously a day when it didn’t work, especially for me.  Maybe tomorrow.”

On Clayton Kershaw (Russel Martin): “He was kind of inconsistent with his location, his command, today, but he battled through it.  Kept them to one run.  You’re going to have days where you don’t have your best stuff and you just gotta compete and that’s what he did today.”

On His Pitching (Clayton Kershaw): “I just didn’t find a rhythm in the first inning.  Really in the second inning I just got fortunate and went deep in the counts.  Just one of those things that you have, probably over 30 pitches…it’s going to be tough to stay in a game past five innings when you do something like that.  So, just gotta figure out a way to minimize my pitches early in the game.”

On Throwing 97 Pitches Today After 112 His Previous Start (Clayton Kershaw): “I don’t think it has any affect at all.  I had four days to recover from it.  I don’t think it matters to be honest with you.  Pitch count is pitch count, but as a starter you get four days off so you can recover.”

Dodgers Credential Bloggers for Press Box; Embrace Social Media

At Dodgerfan.net, we’ve always been interested in the communications side of baseball, as well as what happens on and off the field.  And while the Los Angeles Dodgers have always been  known as one of the most progressive organizations in professional sports, they recently broken new ground in LA (and potentially in the MLB and in other major professional sports), by providing press credentials and full media access to select amateur Dodger bloggers.  What makes this so interesting is that these bloggers are not professional journalists, but rather passionate fans who have developed a forum and following for their opinions and analysis.  I had a chance to talk to Josh Rawitch, Vice President of Communications for the Dodgers, about this intriguing shift in policy.

“As we all know, [the] world of information consumption is changing dramatically and as an organization, we recognize that many of you who are dedicated fans also have the ability to speak to other fans around the world,” said Rawitch.  “We want you to be as informed as possible and the best way to do that, as the mainstream media has known for centuries, is with access to those who make news and make decisions.”

The Dodgers first official engagement with the team’s leading bloggers was in April of 2008 when Rawitch hosted a “Blogger Night” at a regular season game.  The team provided a luxury box as the venue and offered an open forum with owner Frank McCourt, General Manager Ned Colletti and Special Advisor to the Chairman (and Dodger legend)  Tommy Lasorda.  The team followed up with a similar event in March 2009 at the new Camelback Ranch Spring Training facility and then again in May 2009 at the second Blogger Night at Dodger Stadium where Colletti and  Executive Vice President of Creative and Communications Dr. Charles Steinberg answered questions from the bloggers in attendance.

“We have had full support throughout the organization on this from ownership on down,” said Rawitch.  “As you know, the first Blogger Night even presented an opportunity for you all to meet with Frank McCourt, so obviously he and Jamie, our CEO, are extremely welcoming of this new medium, as are Dennis (Mannion, President and CEO of the Dodgers) and Charles (Steinberg).”

Neither the Dodgerfan.net staff nor Josh Rawitch could cite any examples of many other major sports organizations going to such lengths to embrace social media, with the lone exception being the New York Islanders’ “Blog Box” program which, comparitively, is not as extensive as what the Dodgers are unveiling in 2009, as contact to players, coaches and traditional media is limited.  With the Dodgers’ program, the participating bloggers have complete media access and are trusted to act in a professional and respective manner (i.e.: no team clothing or cheering – something that is surprisingly hard to do).

But in the grand scheme of communciations, what does this all really mean?  In my opinion, the Dodgers are embracing all outlets (regardless of medium) that are serious about discussing their brand, and they are providing access and information that allows those of us that communciate about the team to be as  informed and educated as possible.  I can say without a doubt that our stories here on Dodgerfan.net are better as a result of this access, but we go to great pains to make sure that it doesn’t cloud our own editorial decision-making.

Rawitch agrees, “…there’s a very exciting buzz online about extending our reach into the world of social media.  As long as our fans are informed and talking about the Dodgers and sharing their passion for the team – the highs and lows – it has the chance to be a really good thing.  In addition, it connects the Dodger brand to fans around the globe (and those who aren’t even fans yet), which is important to us organizationally.”

Major League Baseball is also watching.  “They were very supportive,” said Rawitch. “Pat Courtney, Vice President of Communications at Major League Baseball, basically said, ‘Good for you…let us know how it goes.’  I’d imagine they’re going to keep an eye on this, as it’s a topic we’ve all talked about regularly at our annual PR meetings for a couple of years now and this is part of the natural progression.”

Regardless of your views on whether or not this is a good thing, it will be very interesting to see how social media evolves and changes the way we communicate as a people.

When asked about the future of social media within the world sports, Rawitch responded, “I really think it’s going to become part of the culture at sporting events to the point where fans on the field will be ‘chatting’ with fans in the pavillions and all around the stadium during games.  It’s already taking place to some extent, in raw form.  But college kids today (and anyone younger than them) have pretty much grown up knowing nothing other than the Internet, and it will be the sports industry’s job to adapt to the way they live their lives, not the other way around.  We have to be cognizant of the fact that not all of our fans will get their information through social media, which is why the traditional media still plays an extremely important role in information dissemination.  But none of us know how how the majority of the world will get its ‘news’ 10 years from now.  I’m just not that smart!”

Maybe not smart enough to predict the future of communication, but smart enough to embrace how people are communciating today, with an eye towards the future - something that all professional sports organizations can appreciate and learn from as they court a younger audience.

Ok, back to the game…

View from the Dodgers' Vin Scully Press Box

View from the Dodgers' Vin Scully Press Box