Baseball Toaster Dodger Thoughts
Jon Weisman's outlet
for dealing psychologically
with the Los Angeles Dodgers
and baseball.
Frozen Toast
Google Search
Dodger Thoughts

02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

09  08  07 
About Jon
Thank You For Not ...

1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
2) personally attacking other commenters
3) baiting other commenters
4) arguing for the sake of arguing
5) discussing politics
6) using hyperbole when something less will suffice
7) using sarcasm in a way that can be misinterpreted negatively
8) making the same point over and over again
9) typing "no-hitter" or "perfect game" to describe either in progress
10) being annoyed by the existence of this list
11) commenting under the obvious influence
12) claiming your opinion isn't allowed when it's just being disagreed with

2003-06-06 10:01
by Jon Weisman


I would really like to be at the game tonight to cheer his return to Dodger Stadium when he throws out the first pitch. His debut in 1981 intensified the excitement, if not desperation, I had for season tickets to the Dodgers, which we got the following year. Whenever I see Fernando on TV, in highlights from his career or just this week with his hiring as a Dodger broadcaster, he really does bring an automatic smile to my face. I'm glad he's happy, and happy he's glad to be back with the Dodgers.

I have one comment about the first bookend of his estrangement from the Dodgers.

I was working at the Daily News in 1991 when word came that the Dodgers were releasing Fernando. I remember it clearly because I had the task of compiling a detailed history of his career for the retrospective we published the following day. I can't speak to what the Dodgers were telling Valenzuela during Spring Training, nor whether the Dodgers owed Valenzuela a farewell tour after he wore out his arm on their behalf.

But I can speak to the fact that his release was not much of a surprise, which makes it hard for me to believe that Fernando should have been mad that the Dodgers did not give him time to line up another job.

Despite his no-hitter and .304 batting average (.730 OPS/102 OPS+) in 1990, Valenzuela had the worst ERA (4.59) among Dodger starters that year. Then, his 1991 exhibition stats were awful on a team that would boast a rock-solid starting rotation: Tim Belcher (2.62), Mike Morgan (2.78), Bob Ojeda (3.18), Ramon Martinez (3.27) and a combination of Orel Hershiser (3.46) and Kevin Gross (3.58). Again, I don't know what the Dodgers were telling Fernando that March, but the wall had some prolific writing on it.

A couple of months after his release, Valenzuela signed with the California Angels. I covered his first game back, and there was a lot of excitement as well as the requisite dissonance of seeing him in another uniform (and one that did not highlight his figure nearly as well as the Dodgers' uniform did!). Unfortunately, Fernando allowed five runs and nine hits in five innings of a 5-0 loss, and then lasted only 1 2/3 innings in his second start before the Angels released him.

Fernando (I apologize for switching between his first and last names, but my desires to be familiar and respectful are competing with each other) did not return to the majors until 1993 but did have some productive moments, including a 13-8, 3.62 season with San Diego in 1995. (He also homered twice that year.) However, there's no mistaking that he did not have the stuff to pitch in 1991 - for anyone.

Looking back, I guess it would have been nice if the Dodgers had put Valenzuela on the disabled list in 1991 instead of releasing him. It would have cost them over $2 million to do so, and that was a lot more money back then. It would only have hurt the Dodger pennant efforts. But in hindsight, it might have been a small price to pay for some goodwill and good times that we have missed out on until this week.

Comment status: comments have been closed. Baseball Toaster is now out of business.