August 22, 2014

Lopes, Wallach Highlight 2011 Coaching Staff

The Dodgers officially announced their 2011 coaching staff and, as expected, all of the rumored names were there.  The big one was the return of Dodger legend Davey Lopes as first base coach, but this roster is packed full of major league experience – something that will be of great value to rookie manager Don Mattingly.

The rest of the 2011 staff includes bench coach Trey Hillman (the former manager of the Royals), hitting coach Jeff Pentland, third-base coach Tim Wallach (the Dodgers former Triple-A manager), pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, bullpen coach Ken Howell, hitting instructors Dave Hansen and Manny Mota and bullpen catchers Rob Flippo and Mike Borzello.

“I’m extremely excited about this coaching staff, which has a great combination of experience and youth that will create a positive environment for our team,” said Mattingly in a statement released by the Dodgers. “We’ve been able to reach back and bring in a number of coaches with Dodger roots and that’s one of the things that was very important to us. Not just the quality of the people and the experience they bring with them, but the history of this organization – where it came from and where we want to go.”

Dylan Hernandez has a nice story in today’s paper on the relationship between former Dodger playersDavey Lopes and Dave Stewart.  Apparently Lopes took Kemp’s agent (former Dodger pitcher Dave Stewart) under his wing when Stewart was a young player and the two are best friends today.  Stewart sees Lopes as someone who can do the same for Kemp, while elevating his overall performance with a special emphasis on base-running.  And given Kemp’s rocky relationship with some members of the 2010 coaching staff, the hiring of Lopes could be a critical piece to the puzzle with a needed shift in philosophy.

From Dylan Hernandez:

While Lopes talked about the importance of the Dodgers’ regaining the aura they used to have — “We had the expectation to win every single year,” he said — he said he understands the culture of the game is different than when he was a player.

Lopes said that back in his day, players had to adapt to the coaches.

“Now, it’s reverse,” he said. “You have to adapt to today’s player. You have to be able to communicate.”

Lopes said players benefit from having someone they can speak to on a regular basis. For him, that someone was manager Tom Lasorda.

“You need a guy to build you up,” Lopes said. “That helps elevate a player.”

At the very least, I’m excited to see Davey back in Dodger Blue, along with Dave Hansen and Tim Wallach!

Gibson World Series Items Net Nearly $1.1 Million

Back from a long vacation to the news that Kirk Gibson’s historic bat, which clubbed his Game 1 home run in the 1988 World Series, sold for $575,912.40 early this morning in a special event by SCP Auctions.  The unwashed home jersey that Gibson wore when he hit the legendary homer sold for $303,277.20 and his grimy batting helmet sold for $153,388.80.

Holy cow.  I’m not sure what SCP Auctions and Gibson were looking for these items to fetch, but $1.08 million for the entire slate seems like a healthy haul.

In addition to the premiere items mentioned above, Gibson’s NL most valuable player award sold for $110,293.20, his World Series trophy went for $45,578.40 and his World Series road uniform brought in $9,664.80. The Kirk Gibson Foundation benefited from the proceeds generated from the sale of his World Series trophy and MVP award (a total of $155,871.60), but no word from Gibson on how he plans to use the funds from the sale of the other items ($931,950) or why he chose to sell in the first place.  I suspect Gibson sold in order to establish a new legacy now that he’s been named the official manager of the Diamondbacks, but it’s an odd move nevertheless.

Frankly, I’m more interested in who purchased these items rather than the amounts they sold for.  SCA Auctions did not reveal any names, or if the items were purchased by different bidders or if one bidder managed to scoop up the majority of the memorabilia.  Here’s hoping a mysterious Dodgers benefactor stepped up to purchase the collection and return the Gibson items to where they belong…at Chavez Ravine.

Photo Credit: Credit: John Iacono

Just Say No to the Bacon Wrapped Hot Dog

Has anyone else heard the constant barrage of radio advertisements and seen the online ads (including on this Web site) by Farmer John, touting their campaign to make their Bacon Wrapped Hot Dog “the official hot dog of Los Angeles”?

Uh, Farmer John?  Remember your other world-famous product, the Dodger Dog?  I guess not.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xeh6Rw-bFxI&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

Here’s the copy from their website:

As a local company with over 70 years of experience in Los Angeles, Farmer John is proud to support the efforts to make the Bacon Wrapped Hot Dog the Official Hot Dog of our fair city.

FARMER JOHN® products, including the world famous DODGER DOG®, have been a part of the culinary history of Los Angeles for years.

So it’s truly fitting that the company that produces the highest quality hot dogs and bacon in Southern California is sponsoring the campaign to put the Bacon Wrapped Hot Dog in its rightful place as the Official Hot Dog of Los Angeles.

Sure, this is just an ad campaign and not a real vote, but I find it a little strange that Farmer John of all people is trying to pump their Bacon Wrapped Hot Dog by inadvertently slamming their own signature product: the Dodger Dog!  This may work in other cities, Farmer John, but Angelenos will not stand for such hypocrisy!

Don’t get me wrong, I love a great bacon wrapped hot dog as much as the next guy, but clearly the Dodger Dog is far and away the official hot dog of Los Angeles and in an official vote it would destroy the competition among baseball fas and general consumers.  Maybe I should take on a new job as the campaign director for the “Concerned Citizens to Make the Dodger Dog the Official Hot Dog of Los Angeles.”  Who’s with me???

I challenge Farmer John to launch a true vote for the Best Hot Dog of Los Angeles.  Let the best dog win.

News & Notes (Including Zach Lee & Matt Kemp)

Lots of good stuff from the Dodger blogosphere (even while the team is 12 games out with virtually no shot of the playoffs).  Here are some of my favorites from the past week:

The Signing of Zach Lee

I’ve got to give credit to Ned Colletti and team for this one.  A GREAT signing and a real feather in the cap of Assistant GM Logan White.  Here’s a nice recap of Lee’s potential (as well as the other draft signings) from Tony Jackson.  The Dodgers really did a nice job (and spent quite a bit of money for once) in getting this done.  A potential 2012 lineup of Billingsley, Kershaw and Lee is pretty damn exciting.

There’s also a great video on the Dodger Media Network showing that Zach Lee was Logan White’s great white whale of the draft.  It’s a well done piece, and a nice look behind the scenes.

Criticizing Kemp

Steve Dilbeck wrote an interesting column today about fans’ perceptions about the performance of Matt Kemp and how any writer who criticizes Kemp is immediately jumped on by rabid fans.  I don’t remember this happening when Chad Billingsley stumbled down the stretch last season.

Photo Credit: Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2010

Nancy Bea Hefley Gets Increased Playing Time on Friday Night

One of my favorite parts of going to Dodger games is listening to the sweet sounds of of team organist Nancy Bea Hefley between innings.  Now in her 23rd year with the club, Nancy Bea is a fan favorite, yet sadly, her profession seems to be something of a dying breed among MLB  clubs these days.

But fear not, organ music fans!  During Friday night’s game, Nancy Bea is going to have an increased role throughout the game, playing songs from the 50′s as part of the Dodgers’ “55 Since ’55″ promotion.  The first 20,000 fans in attendance also get a special Vin Scully poster, as seen here.  Tickets are still available, by the way.

In addition, we’re excited to announce that we’re going behind the scenes on Friday night and will be shadowing Nancy throughout this special game, so be sure and check back for Twitter updates all night long.  The full story, including our exclusive interview and photos, will be up on Saturday.  This will be the second in our periodic series of profiles of great Dodger employees that make the fan experience so enjoyable.  For those of you new to our site, be sure and check out our story on Dodger team photographer Jon SooHoo and our experience shadowing him during a Spring Training game earlier this year.

UPDATE: The Nancy Bea Hefley story is up!