July 31, 2014

Five Tweets with…Jon Weisman of ESPN LA’s Dodger Thoughts

Four days ago, the gates of Camelback Ranch swung open for the first time this year, and the Dodgers started their final preparations for the 2010 season.  We’re also finishing our annal tweaks for the dodgerfan.net site, and part of that involves a commitment to social media.  Many of you already follow us on Twitter (@dodgerfan_net), but we’re taking that one step further this year with a new (hopefully weekly) feature that will run through the upcoming season.  It’s called “Five Tweets with…”  Let me explain:

“Five Tweets With…” is designed to be an entertaining way to learn a little more about the people that play, cover, work with, tweet about and cheer on professional baseball teams, with an emphasis on the Dodgers.

“Five Tweets With…” was inspired by reading the Proust Questionnaire (originally developed by the French writer Marcel Proust), along with subsequent versions that appear regularly in Vanity Fair and on the “Inside the Actor’s Studio” television program.

Our “interview” features five short questions.  The questions will not change.  Each week, we’ll select one person from the world of Major League Baseball and then beg, bribe, cajole and/or twist their arm until they participate.  They will then tweet their responses back to us and we’ll post ‘em here.  Of course, if they want to email us longer responses, we’ll take that too!

We’ve got a few exciting people already on board for later in the year, but we couldn’t imagine starting this program off with anyone other than Jon Weisman of the esteemed Dodger Thoughts blog.  Jon began blogging about the Dodgers way back in 2002, and his knowledge, wisdom, insight and opinions are respected not only by us, but by many of you as well.  Ok, enough with the set-up.  Alex and I hope you enjoy the series and let us know what you think!

Five Tweets with…Jon Weisman of ESPN Los Angeles’ Dodger Thoughts

1. What excites you the most about this season?

Just seeing the gang on the field again. Kershaw, Kemp, Billingsley, Broxton, Ethier, Loney, Martin (yes, even Martin), and so on. I’ve been having so much fun watching their careers develop, and can’t wait to see the next steps.

2. What is your biggest concern about this season?

On the field, I am concerned about the older guys in the rotation: Kuroda and Padilla. Off the field, I’m concerned that many fans and media are out for blood – ready to take out their frustration about the McCourts and about the twin NLCS disappointments out at a moment’s notice. It’s going to be a long year if we have to spend each day talking about how cheap the McCourts are. No one likes losing – I certainly don’t – but my hope is that the talent base of this team reminds people that baseball is meant to be fun.

3. What is your earliest baseball memory?

Watching Hank Aaron’s 715th home run on TV while on vacation with my family in Arizona.

4. What is your favorite baseball memory?

That’s just so hard to choose. You know, I was in college during the ’88 season, so I wasn’t at the Kirk Gibson game. I wasn’t at the R.J. Reynolds “Squeeze!” game. I wasn’t at the 4+1 game. I saw them all on TV, but I don’t think I can pick as my favorite memory something I didn’t see in person. I might go with the time when I was a kid that I yelled out in the bottom of the ninth inning to a struggling Rick Monday, “Monday – a homer or your life!” and he hit a game-winning blast. Also, being at Fernando’s no-hitter was something special.

5. Why do you love the game?

I really don’t know. I just got invested in the characters at a young age and I haven’t been able to shake it. I’m not sure why. I do know I enjoy sharing baseball with my dad, and that I want to enjoy that as long as I can.

The Baseball Bookshelf: Dodger Favorites for Spring Training Reading

Maybe it’s the summer-like weather we’ve been having in LA lately, but the anticipation is starting to build around the arrival of Dodgers’ Spring Training games in just a few weeks.  One of my favorite traditions of this time of year is to dust off some of my favorite baseball books, while also looking for some new ones.  Here are a few that I’ve loved over the years, and I welcome you to share your favorites as well! 

Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball
by George Will

This was the book that transformed me from a casual baseball fan into someone who truly loved all of the small nuances of the game.  Will’s look inside at what makes a great manager (Tony La Russa), hitter (Tony Gwinn), pitcher (Orel Hershiser) and defensive player (Cal Ripken, Jr.) is fascinating for any baseball fan (even from a political commentator).  I actually find myself thinking back to many moments in the book throughout every season.  In my mind, it’s a classic.

Wait Till Next Year: A Memoir
by Dorris Kearns Goodwin

While Goodwin is perhaps best known as a Pulitzer Prize-winning presidential historian, her touching memoir describes growing up in New York in the 1950′s and the special relationship she had with her father through their shared love of the Brooklyn Dodgers.  Plus, anyone that masters keeping score at age six is ok with me.  A fantastic look at the Dodger teams of Jackie Robinson, Gil Hodges, Duke Snider, Roy Camanella and Pee Wee Reese through the eyes of a fan.  One of my favorites of all time.

Nine Innings
by Daniel Okrent

You might ask why I have book about a June 1982 game between the Brewers and the Orioles on this list.  What makes this book special is that the author actually disects one game, pitch by pitch, and gives the fan a great insight into the psychology of the game.  Not as great as Men at Work in my opinion, but it’s another writer’s take on the myriad of subtle moments that occur throughout the course of a game.

The Last of the Best
by Jim Murray

Growing up in Los Angeles, I became hooked on both sports and writing through the words and style of the great Jim Murray, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The Los Angeles Times.  One of only four sportswriters to win the Pulitzer, Murray was a master wordsmith that focused on the people behind the moments, rather than what happened during the games themselves.  The Last of the Bestis a collection of Murray’s last 90 columns in the 1990′s and there are a few great ones about Walter O’Malley that are worth the read (to say nothing of the rest of the book).  If you’re a fan of the story behind the action on the field, then this is a great book for you.

Birth of a Fan
edited by Ron Fimrite

This is a neat little collection of essays where writers such as Roger Angell, Roy Blount, Jr., William Kennedy, George Plimpton, Robert Whiting and Jonathan Yardley (among others) recall their early days when they first fell in love with the game of baseball.  It always seems like an appropriate read as Spring Training approaches.

100 Things Dodgers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die
by Jon Weisman

And what list of baseball books would be complete without the latest and greatest by fellow Dodger blogger and author Jon Weisman of the esteemed Dodger Thoughts.  The book is a treasure trove of stories, anecdotes, history and more going back the team’s days in Brooklyn.  It’s hard to describe this book in just a few lines, but it’s safe to say that this is definitely a book that all Dodger fans need to read.

I thought the following quote from Phil Gurnee at True Blue LA summed it up better than I ever could: “I’ve finished the book but chapter five [about the Kirk Gibson home run] alone is worth the book. The title suggests a fluff book but it is anything but a fluff book. In someone else’s hands this book might have been much less then what it is. In Jon’s capable hands he will enlighten and entertain you about the team you love. Anybody who calls themselves a Dodger fan should be ordering this book not only for themselves but for any and all of their Dodger friends and family. The paperback is the perfect companion to read between innings while watching the game on TV or even at the ballpark.”

Now let’s hear from you on your favorite baseball books!

Congratulations to Jon Weisman!

Some of the big news in the Dodger blogosphere today didn’t have any anything to do with the team itself.  Instead, the big news involved one of our own: Jon Weisman, founder of the influential Dodger Thoughts, is taking his blog from the Los Angeles Times (its home for the past year) and moving over to the new ESPN Los Angeles site, starting on Monday.  Tony Jackson will continue on as the Dodger beat writer for the site.

The move has been rumored for some time, and we’re thrilled to see Jon take his column to the next level.  No news yet on who is taking over to the LA Times’ blogger slot for the Dodgers.

Rumored ESPN Los Angeles Team is Full of All-Stars

Like all MLB trade rumors, let’s take the following with a grain of salt until all parties have confirmed or denied the accuracy of The Big Lead’s story below.

From The Big Lead:

A source has leaked us the staff for the new ESPNLA.com team, and Eric Neel, the site’s managing editor, has assembled a talented group of writers. ESPN has done some serious poaching, allegedly stealing writers from the LA Times, LA Daily News, and Sports Illustrated.com. If all the following names are correct, this lineup is stronger than what ESPNBoston, ESPNDallas and ESPNChicago have assembled. The site launches Monday … just in time for ABC to relentlessly promote it during Lakers-Cavaliers on Christmas Day.

According to our source, this is the assembled team:

* J.A. Adande will be a columnist
* Ramona Shelburne is leaving her columnist position at the LA Daily News to be a staff writer
* Andrew Kamenetzky, who was/is a freelancer for ESPN the Magazine and LA Times Lakers blogger will be an ESPNLA staff writer*
* Brian Kamenetzky, who is/was a freelancer for ESPN the Magazine and LA Times Lakers blogger will be an ESPNLA staff writer*
* Dave McMenamin, who is/was at NBA.com, will cover the Lakers
* Jon Weisman, who blogs about the Dodgers for the LA Times 
* Arash Markazi, who is SI.com’s pop culture maven/resident party guy will be a staff writer
* Tony Jackson, formerly of the LA Daily News, will cover the Dodgers for ESPNLA
[UPDATE]: * We hear that Mark Saxon of the OC Register has been hired to cover USC and the Anaheim Angels.

If true, this is one hell of a collection of some of LA’s best sportswriters and a real coup for ESPNLosAngeles.com in collecting so many of them under one banner (or Web address).  If the site shakes out as outlined above, it really does have the opportunity to eventually change the way in which LA fans get news and communicate about their teams.

So far, in the last hour and a half, both Ramona Shelbourme and Arash Markazi have confirmed their moves via Twitter.  Tony Jackson was confirmed about 10 days ago.  Diamond Leung (long a favorite of Dodger fans everywhere) is also going over to ESPN.com as a college hoops writer.

My question is: what about Jon Weisman?  Either way, we’re lucky to have him covering the Dodgers!