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About Jon
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1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
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Pilot Season
2005-03-14
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

Spring Training is the pilot season of baseball, when almost every actor gets a look from the majors, knowing that few will be on TV in October.

As a writer, I used to live and die with pilot season, but now it barely registers. And in this, the third March of Dodger Thoughts, I notice that with each passing year I've also taken less interest in guessing who will end up on the Opening Day roster of the Dodgers - and here we're talking about casting an established show, one guaranteed to hit the airwaves next month.

As I've pointed out before, the peculiarities of Spring Training push you to spend disproportionate amounts of time discussing who will be the least important person on the team - the 25th man. (Do we ruminate this much over who will be "Man #4" on Law and Order?) We mitigate this misguided mishigoss with health concerns over a few prominent players (How is Lorraine Brocco of The Sopranos handling her depression?) and the uncertainty over some young talent (Is Jennifer Love Hewitt going to have a real career, or just a body of work?) But otherwise, Spring Training is probably more interesting for the casting calls than the actual casting.

This year, for the first time, most of the Dodger Thoughts readership seems to have adopted the same patient attitude. Whereas fervent appeals for the likes of Terry Shumpert (Somewhere out there, someone is demanding that CBS not cancel Yes Dear) have marked recent preseasons, folks in 2005 seem to have taken a big-picture approach.

Don't get me wrong - I do find it interesting to see who will win a job (tune in for The Apprentice) and I'm certainly paying attention to the daily Spring Training grind. But what you realize is that Spring Training mostly isn't meant to be covered on a daily basis. With players getting so few innings and so few at-bats, momentum swings too sharply. A couple of days ago, Norihiro Nakamura was swinging like the folks from Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City. And now, Nakamura is suddenly as straightforward as Nightline. Tomorrow - who knows?

Jayson Werth, Brad Penny, Dave Ross, Odalis Perez ... there aren't many conclusions we can draw about them on any individual day. It would be like trying to determine from just one of the 162 games whether the Dodgers will win their division.

So I'm liking the balance this year. We're watching Spring Training, but we're not overthinking Spring Training. We're just gearing up for premiere week.

Certainly, the Dodgers don't have great programming in all their time slots - we may be staring smack at Small Wonder at catcher - but overall, we'll get what we need from our pilots, whether they are CSI: Erickson, Law and Order: Repko Victims Unit or The Aquilino Lopez Show.

Comments
2005-03-14 10:22:25
1.   Doug N
I, for one, care very much who Man #4 on L&O will be. This may stem from my lifelong dream of being cast as "Somewhat Aloof Lunatic #3."

Otherwise, I think that Spring Training can reveal something about the team's attitudes towards prospects. I think comparing Navarro's playing time with say, Loney's, may give an indication of who the Dodgers think is closer to being ready. No earth shattering revelation of course...

Three days without a post from Jon is all I can take.

2005-03-14 11:09:29
2.   Jacob L
The Dodgers just don't have that many big stories this spring. We know who's starting at every position. The only things up for grabs are the last spot in the rotation and the last spot on the bench.

Personally, I'm hoping Nakamura beats out Grabowski, but I think our short and long term outfield health questions make that unlikely.

2005-03-14 11:10:41
3.   Marty
I'm hoping Russell Martin makes the team. Catching is really scaring me and from what I've heard on the radio, he sounds good.
2005-03-14 11:17:23
4.   Bob Timmermann
If I were clinically depressed and handling my depression like Lorraine Bracco, I would be going out with a 19-year old.

It seems that all anyone wants to talk about this spring with the Dodgers is the front office, not the players.

I think there seem to be a lot of writers looking for the Dodgers to fall flat on their faces this year.

Strangely, the Giants are perceived as the franchise with all the wonderful acquisitions. Even though, two of the most prominent ones (Matheny and Vizquel) are old guys who don't hit well.

2005-03-14 11:33:45
5.   Jon Weisman
I appreciate that, Doug. I'm just in an incredibly busy stretch right now, but I'll do the best I can to keep the entries coming.
2005-03-14 11:33:56
6.   Dodgerkid
Bob, never underestimate the redemptive value of dating a younger woman.
2005-03-14 11:48:11
7.   scareduck
The one story of ST I find really compelling is the non-health of Jayson Werth. I was ready to give him the benefit of a doubt -- many such, in fact -- before ST, but now I'm really concerned that we've got ourselves another Nick Johnson.
2005-03-14 11:48:12
8.   gvette
I'm part of the "other LA", you know, the part that a gazillionaire like Tom Cruise is amazed exists after Michael Mann forces him to film his next gritty crime on location there.

With no connection to the Entertainment Industry, I'm bemused by a culture that bestows such a sense of entitlement that the now unemployed former third lead of Beverly Hills 90210 thinks that he/she can still demand immediate seating at a restaurant ahead of those waiting with reservations.

That said, maybe you CAN use the showbiz analogy to Spring Training. After all,isn't this the time when we find out whether the phenoms are either Ashlee Simpson (manufactured out of hype, with no real talent), or Alicia Keyes.

At the same time, we see the baseball version of Jim Belushi, or John Stamos. You know, guys who have been around forever, are always employed, but no one knows why, like Erickson and Bako.

Does all of this mean that Joe Thurston's role has now been reduced to playing the dead guy poked and prodded on the coroner's table in a CSI episode?

2005-03-14 11:52:51
9.   Jon Weisman
Gvette, it's like they always say, "Catchers make the best directors."
2005-03-14 12:05:56
10.   gvette
Jon, is that the mantra alleged director killer Kevin Costner (aka Crash Davis)lives by?

Man, I've GOT to stop reading my wife's People Magazine.

2005-03-14 12:42:55
11.   trshea
Congrats on the new blog location! I was shocked to learn that Dioner Navarro is really Vicky the Robot! HOW did that happen?

A robot at catcher makes sense, due to the grinding nature of the position...

2005-03-14 13:08:36
12.   FirstMohican
Off the subject: does anyone have info on the game that was rained out today?
2005-03-14 13:13:53
13.   Bob Timmermann
A 50-year old woman and a 30-year old man can talk about things and enjoy relatively similar activities.

What I could talk about with a 19-year old is pretty limited unless it's a really nerdy baseball fan. I suppose I could I show the 19-year old girl the ancient music I have on my iPOD. And tell her about how my mom got on my case for buying a CD player as a graduation present for myself in 1987. It cost $99. She thought it was too extravagant.

2005-03-14 13:16:15
14.   Jon Weisman
On the surface, that seems like a strange question. Did you want to know the level of precipitation?

But it appears they did get two innings in:

http://losangeles.dodgers.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/news/article.jsp?ymd=20050314&content_id=966791&vkey=spt2005gamer&fext=.jsp&c_id=la

This might be a rare case of a starting pitcher getting shelled but wishing the game hadn't been rained out. If they had gone nine, perhaps Edwin Jackson's bad performance wouldn't have been the heart of the story.

2005-03-14 13:26:32
15.   molokai
Seems to me that Jose Lima and Jose Hernandez were pretty important parts to the Dodger season last year after coming to ST as non-roster invitees winning jobs as the 24th and 25th players.
This year it looks like Scott Erickson and A Lopez could play important roles. I'm hoping Nakamura shows enough to knock Saenz off the roster and not Grabowksi.
2005-03-14 13:27:32
16.   Doug N
Mohican;
Steiner & Monday said that Jackson was all mixed up, but the real "story" was some horrible defense. Bad throw by Jackson, and pitches getting away from Ross, though that was blamed on Jackson getting his signals crossed. Oh, and David Ross struck out again. 0-for-14. I know spring training isnt supposed to be a big deal, but this guy is not helping himself out.
2005-03-14 13:37:10
17.   FirstMohican
Thanks, I was able to find the exact level of precipitation with www.weather.com.

Yeah it looks like EJack's going to be a midseason callup?

2005-03-14 13:43:52
18.   FirstMohican
"I know spring training isnt supposed to be a big deal, but this guy is not helping himself out."

Anyone else find it hard to believe that a guy with Ross' history can have a position (albiet platoon) almost locked up after he hits 0-14? Wait, "hits" 0-14?

He was released by Licey after posting a .111 average.

Is he really an above average defensive/game-calling catcher?

2005-03-14 14:51:28
19.   Andrew Kachaturian
The David Ross/Small Wonder analogy is just so depressing. I cannot imagine anything as unwatchable as that "sitcom about a sassy robot" (in the words of a Simpsons character). New motivation for David Ross: Be more entertaining than Small Wonder.
2005-03-15 07:12:27
20.   Colorado Blue
molokai: Ok, I'm not a stats guy, so I may get buried here:

"I'm hoping Nakamura shows enough to knock Saenz off the roster and not Grabowksi."

My observations from last season was the Grabowski struck-out more than Saenz. Also, it appeared that Saenz did a much better job coming cold off the bench. Am I wrong? I think I would take Saenz...

2005-03-15 13:39:55
21.   fernandomania
Bob,

19 year old girls just wanna talk about themselves. Nothing else. Nod your head, do your best to listen, once in a while buy her something cute and completely useless and then wait patiently between episodes of nudity. That's all it takes to date a 19 year old.

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