December 21, 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

It’s Time for Dodger Baseball!

I love Opening Day.  Especially when it comes at home against the hated San Francisco Giants.  The best day of the year against our most bitter rival.  If that doesn’t get you pumped up, I don’t know what would.

But while I think about all of the reasons that I lvoe Dodger baseball, I can’t help but think about the growing chorus of doubts about the team ownership which have started to creep into days reserved for only true baseball optimists.

First it was the surprising decline in attendance numbers at Camelback Ranch this spring.  According to the Arizona Republic, attendance at Dodgers games was down 17% while attendance at White Sox games went up 12.4%.  Hmm.

Then there was the Bill Plashke article in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times about former season ticket holder Brian Gadinsky who returned his tickets and turned down an opportunity to meet Frank McCourt.  He vowed not to renew until new ownership was in place.  The article has generated 98 comments (with the majority favoring the fan).  Care to guess how many comments there were on Chad Billingsley’s contract extension from the same day?  Zero.  Something’s brewing people.

Finally there was the oddest story of them all: Andre Ethier speaking about potentially leaving the Dodgers.  Per Jim Peltz of the LA Times:

“If I don’t play well, we’ve seen them non-tender guys here, and if you play well, I’ve seen them not offer arbitration because they’re afraid guys are setting their salaries too high,” he said.

When a reporter asked Ethier whether being non-tendered was the only way he could leave after this season, Ethier replied, “Or traded.”

Whoa.  It’s one thing for fans to not have confidence in the ownership, but another for one of their star players to speak out like that.  Fortunately it doesn’t sound like ‘Dre wants to leave, but more like he wouldn’t be surprised if the club non-tendered him after a down year, like his friend Russell Martin (although I seriously doubt anyone really believes that Martin was non-tendered for any reason other than his hip injury and declining production).  Sure, Ethier’s agent walked this statement back, but it made clear that there are lingering questions in the clubhouse about ownership and their ability to field a championship team (to say nothing of the potential impact on free agents wanting to come to LA).

But you know what?  Today I don’t care about any of that.  Hope springs eternal on Opening Day with plenty of tantalizing questions for Dodger fans to ponder including: How will rookie manager Don Mattingly do?  Is this the year that Clayton Kershaw contends for a Cy Young Award?  Will Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier return to form and be the monsters of the lineup?

But most of all, I’m looking forward to slipping on my headphones while in the office, sitting back, closing my eyes and enjoying Vin Scully call yet another Opening Day while delighting and informing us with his unique brand of storytelling.

It’s time for Dodger baseball.  Indeed it is!

Vin Scully to Broadcast for Dodgers in 2011

It’s now official – Vin Scully has announced that he will return to the Dodgers to broadcast their 2011 season. Scully has been signing one-year deals the past few years in order to give him flexibility in his retirement plans.

“I’m just honored and humbled to continue my association with the Dodgers, which has been a major part of my life,” said Scully. “I’m as thrilled as our fans that Vin will be returning,” said Dodger Owner Frank McCourt. “He is not only the greatest broadcaster of all time, but also a wonderful friend.”

Steve Dilbeck had a great write-up on the L.A. Times Dodgers blog that I’ve included in its entirety below. It brought a smile to my face and I wanted to share it with our readers.

Home is wherever Vin Scully is on the air; a scary moment turns celebratory as he announces his return
August 22, 2010 | 12:28 pm
And then, a giant sigh of relief.

A day that had seemed so ominous suddenly filled with an explosion of happiness.

Vin Scully is coming back.

Back to fill our summer evenings, to anchor a troubled franchise, to give us that one familiar, warm verbal embrace.

I have never been so happy to be so wrong about a gut feeling in my professional career.

Vin said Sunday he was embarrassed for any anguish he had caused with fans over the past day because he had left his decision oddly hanging for a night. I don’t understand the mechanics of it — if it was just going to be announced in a morning press release, why not just announce it Saturday and avoid all the Southland hand-wringing? — but right now it doesn’t matter.

What’s matters most is, Los Angeles’ greatest living treasure will return for at least one more season.

“I found in the deep recesses of my mind that I did not want to sever the relationship,” Scully said.

That’s a relationship with the team that goes back 61 years, and every season since the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in 1958. That’s a 52-year relationship with Los Angeles. That’s iconic.

It has to be hard to walk away from. Maybe Vin was going to, too, and then at the eleventh hour changed his mind. Selfishly, you want him to be with the Dodgers forever. But he’s 82 and long ago earned the right to do whatever it is that makes him happy.

And happily for Dodgers fans, this still makes him very happy.

“I just love it so much,” he said. “It’s like a very good marriage. I found when push came to shove, I just did not want to leave. My wife understood it, God bless her. She said, ‘If you love it, do it.’ So I love it and I’m going to do it.”

So the Dodgers win. Their fans win. Baseball wins. All of Los Angeles wins.

And, for at least one more season, we can all exhale.

— Steve Dilbeck

Time to rest easy Dodger fans!

The Impeccable Vin Scully


There’s a nice article on Vin Scully in the current issue of Variety.  One interesting tidbit from the story: Scully has broadcast more than 10,000 games over 59 years with the Dodgers.  Think about it.  59 years!  While those are staggering numbers for any career, it’s even more remarkable when you recall that it’s all with one team in two cities.  I know Tommy Lasorda gets a lot of votes when you talk about who best represents the heart and soul of the Dodgers, but for me no one compares to Vin Scully.

One last tip: if you want to hear Vin call some legendary games from the 50’s and 60’s, be sure and visit the Museum of Television and Radio in either New York or Los Angeles.  In both locations you can visit an audio/visual library and sit and listen to a selection of games they have on file.  It’s an amazing experience and will make you appreciate Vin’s talents all the more.

Is the LA Library Really More Popular than Vin Scully?

Yup.  Well, at that’s the way the readers of Los Angeles Magazine feel.  Check out this great post over at Dodger Thoughts, which outlines the March Madness-like face off between 64 of the “greatest things in LA.”
Seriously, the Library?  All of us at DodgerFan are rooting for In ‘n Out Burger from here on out.