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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

A Smile to Depend On
2005-05-09 08:59
by Jon Weisman

Thunder Road leading off, Backstreets batting fourth, Born to Run laying low in the five hole, ready to explode, the sick sixth She's the One a dagger, and magnficient Jungleland, of all things, in the No. 8 slot.

In an ideal world, your team's lineup is constucted like the murderer's row of one of your favorite albums, where you think you know who your favorite player is, except no, it's this one - no, it's this one - aw, hell, they're all so damn good. They're good on paper - and then when you see 'em live, wow. Just wow.

And then you hope that the band that put together this playlist can keep it rocking through the years - keep you going - so that it will be one season after another of winners that never stop exciting and transforming you, where you feel like the B sides or bench players would be starters on other albums or teams.

Most of us don't see a record as it's put together, songs conceived and written and rehearsed and played and included or excluded. You might see a "making of" documentary that gives you a glimpse into the process, that shows the thousands of decisions that need making, from what note to play to what art should be on the CD cover. In baseball, though, however much we are sheltered from scouts in minor league dust and executive decisions with speakerphones crackling, we do witness the progress day-by-day. The making of a baseball team is covered by TV and the papers and rogue writers like me and commenters like you. It can be a rich, almost surprisingly operatic drama for something so mundane - from the offseason who-will-they-keep-and-cut to the midseason who-should-they-start.

The Dodgers are 2004 National League West champions and 19-11 to start 2005, and the tension slackens not at all. Many of us can remain as surprised as ever when they win and as bitter or disgusted when they lose. Nearly three years into writing Dodger Thoughts, a fundamental aspect of my raison de fan remains intact:

I'm very happy these days - I have a wonderful wife and a wonderful baby (note: now two!), and you won't catch me regretting the choices I made that allowed those things to happen. But I do have frustrations, and those frustrations, I've come to realize, are played out each time the Dodgers do something. Anything. I'm not just talking about the 162 games; I'm talking about the offseason trades and the decisions to replace the dirt warning track with rubber and the removal of the sandwich station on the Club level of Dodger Stadium. I was raised in an easier time, where things were more often right than wrong, and I haven't shed my addiction to that time. I want things with the Dodgers to be right. That, essentially, is the genesis of this website - to deal with that want.
Slowly, like banging your head against a lyric 10 times before it finally writes itself on the 11th, only to buckle at the song's next line, we watch the Dodgers trying to find their "Born to Run." It won't come this year - not even with a 2005 World Series title would such perfection be revealed - but the songs are being written, the notes tested.

This week, Oscar Robles, an infielder who is younger than Norihiro Nakamura and more versatile and whose path is where "off the beaten path" goes to get away from it all, joins the Dodgers. And Nakamura says so long, for now if not ever, on an almost heartbreaking note (passed along by Steve Henson of the Times) even for those who never believed in him:

"If they told me to go to the minors and get at-bats and come back to the Dodgers, I would feel better, but they didn't say that," a distraught Nakamura told a Japanese reporter.

How easy it would have been to give Nakamura more time in the majors with Jose Valentin disabled, but the pursuit of "can we do better" prevailed. Some will draw a link between Nakamura and Hee Seop Choi, the latter being on the verge of justifying patience during his slumping days. But all that connects the players is that they were born on the same faraway continent. In baseball today, one is Jack and Jill climbing up the hill and the other is a young pail-carrier tumbling after. Choi a young and healthy player rising, compiling stateside travails at a precocious enough age, the other an old and cut-up player fading, mostly unprepared for American pitching. Rest assured that if the Dodgers find a better value than Choi, they will - but as more people are realizing, each time you look around, Choi is looking better.

And so, small progress. Maybe. We don't know. We'll see how Robles does. A month from now, perhaps, he himself will be exiled to a foreign league and Nakamura will return, as Nakamura may well end up back in Las Vegas in the interim. On the other hand, perhaps the Dodgers just want to end the Nakamura experiment here and now and give Willy Aybar all the testing he can handle at third base after Antonio Perez returns to Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, we wait to hear Eric Gagne - our Rosalita - blow everyone away in an encore once again. We wait to see if Jayson Werth and Elmer Dessens hold up over time, or if they are destined for the infamous, ubiquitous "Where Are They Now" file? We wonder when someone might decide that Jason Grabowski isn't a B side, but a C side.

As for tonight, our tour takes us to St. Louis, a place we last visited in October, scared but hopeful, only to play completely out of tune. (Odalis Perez, the villain of last year's Dodger postseason, starts tonight. Scott Erickson, the suspect element of this year's rotation, starts Tuesday.) Both the Dodgers and the Cardinals have 19-11 records. Good, downloadable records. Yet they seem different, don't they? The Cardinals are a mature team with their own "Born to Run" lineup. At some point they will stop aging gracefully, but that point may not have arrived yet. The Dodgers - oh, perhaps we're just too close to this project to really know. Maybe we're devils and dust. Black cowboys. And so on.

I want to stay forever here ...

Summer come and the days grew long. Rainey always had his mother's smile to depend on. Along a street of stray bullets he made his way, to the warmth of her arms at the end of each day.

and not here ...

Then she got lost in the days. The smile Rainey depended on dusted away, the arms that held him were no more his home. He lay at night his head pressed to her chest listening to the ghost in her bones.

We focus plenty on our flaws, on what could be better. We can hear each sour note, and we can taste every sweet one. And our thirst for the sweet ones is insatiable. Isn't it? Their appearance seems so tenuous.

Comments (125)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2005-05-09 10:49:25
1.   bigcpa
Nice piece JW. Boy do I feel left out never owning a Springsteen album. If I go pickup 2 or 3 which ones should I start with?

Odd ESPN telecast last night. You'd think a drastically changed roster starting 19-11 would have some kind of story in there. Not the case- Miller/Morgan sleepwalked through that whole show. I was thrilled to learn that proven RBI-man Kent has been the key so far, taking pressure off guys like Bradley and Drew. Amazing how he does that.

2005-05-09 10:49:25
2.   Dello
with respect to Nori, I have to think that the scouts won out over the number crunchers in the end. I know this controversy has been overplayed, but I can't help thinking that any scout, let alone average fan that has seen Nori swing a bat, could have predicted this outcome.
2005-05-09 10:53:40
3.   Gatts
Great post, Jon.
2005-05-09 10:54:43
4.   Bob Timmermann
I wonder if when I go to Japan in July if I'll be seeing Nori manning the hot corner for the expansion Rakuten Golden Eagles.

They're off to an 8-28 start and have been outscored 228-121.

2005-05-09 10:57:11
5.   Jon Weisman
Maybe, Dello. On the other hand, there wasn't a tremendous amount in Nakamura's Japan numbers in recent seasons to suggest he would thrive here - this average fan, if you look through the archives, didn't have high hopes - so perhaps it's the opposite? Maybe this was a flyer on a scout's recommendation?

Big - tabula rasa? Dare I suggest you start in order chronologically - with Greetings from Asbury Park and The Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle? If not, head right into Born to Run and take it from there.

2005-05-09 10:57:29
6.   JJoeScott
Rosalita. Closer. Clever.
2005-05-09 10:58:37
7.   Eric Enders
Black Cowboys is my favorite song on the record other than the brilliant "Long Time Coming," which has been one of my favorites for years.

Actually, some of that song's lyrics might apply to DePo's remaking of the Dodgers:

"Now I'm gonna get birth naked and bury my old soul
And dance on its grave"

2005-05-09 11:03:26
8.   Eric Enders
Nice piece JW. Boy do I feel left out never owning a Springsteen album. If I go pickup 2 or 3 which ones should I start with?

Strangely enough, the only Springsteen album I immediately loved upon first listen was "Greetings From Asbury Park." The rest of them have to grow on you a bit; now I treasure them all.

That said, I think Born to Run, Wild and Innocent, and The River would probably be good starting points.

2005-05-09 11:04:50
9.   scareduck
Choi was born in Japan? Or conversely, was Nakamura born in Korea?
2005-05-09 11:06:21
10.   JJoeScott
Bigcpa - I started with Live 1975-85, which I received after hearing Born in the USA. Then I worked backwards from there.

"The Wild, The Innocent ..." "Born to Run" and "Darkness on the Edge of Town" strike me as the must-owns, along with "The River."

2005-05-09 11:06:58
11.   Bob Timmermann
He just said "same continent" not "same country".
2005-05-09 11:08:37
12.   Jon Weisman
The latest Dodger mea culpa comes from Jeff Gordon of Bob Timmermann's St. Louis:

2005-05-09 11:13:11
13.   Bob Timmermann
We mentioned this in the thread during the game, but I agree with Big that Morgan and Miller just seemed completely disinterested with what was going on during the game. Or at least any issues involving the visiting.

They weren't being partial toward the Reds. It was more like the Dodgers were just sort of there. More discussion about the life of Ken Griffey than anything else.

At our SABR chapter meeting a couple weeks ago, we were discussing Morgan and Miller when they were working the Angels-Athletics game. And the consensus was that the two men just didn't seem to be too interested in discussing that game, which was 0-0 for a long period.

I don't think the midweek ESPN announcers are as bad. I wonder if ESPN is still trying to brand the Sunday Night Game as a "special event" and it just isn't catching on. There's no way one out of 162 games will have the same sense of urgency as 1 out of 16 Monday Night football games.

And people don't seem to care about Monday Night Football as much either.

2005-05-09 11:15:23
14.   Bob Timmermann
A mea culpa from Jeff Gordon is usually a weekly occurrence.

It's more amazing that a St. Louis writer is writing about a team that is not in either Missouri or Illinois.

2005-05-09 11:18:39
15.   SMY
No mea culpa from Steve Phillips in this week's chat, though:

Kirk (L.A.): C'mon Steve! How much longer do the Dodgers have to keep winning before they earn any sort of respect?

Steve Phillips: Smoke and mirrors ... smoke and mirrors. That's what I think the Dodgers have used so far. If they are still winning by June 1, MAYBE I'll start to believe. The formula they are using just isn't conventional enough for me to buy into just yet.

2005-05-09 11:20:53
16.   dzzrtRatt
Jon, I loved this column, and you're right, a baseball lineup is like a well-sequenced album, like all the classics are. There's no such thing as a great album without a great opening track, and development of Cesar Izturis as an effective lead-off hitter has been an under-reported ingredient in the team's success. The heart of the line-up would be the tracks that finish up side one on a climactic not. Side two's first track needs to be as strong as anything on side one, but then the rest of the album, the group might want to experiment a little, just like a baseball team might put its rookies and works-in-progress in the 7th and 8th holes. The 9th track--pure filler, although it might have a memorable moment--like Weaver's RBI double yesterday. Track 10--that's your top pinch hitter. Sometimes he hits it out the park, and usually that means you win. But sometimes he whiffs. The album fizzles out, and you find yourself only playing side one after you've had the album a few weeks. If side one is good enough, it's a contender, but but to be champion, you need some strength at the bottom of the order and on the bench.

(If you've never had a two-sided album and only grew up on CDs, this will make no sense. With all that extra space to fill, it is a rare CD that sustains the quality throughout, and all the good stuff is usually bunched up at the beginning. If you're even younger, and all you do is download, that's more like golf or tennis--songs as individual performers.)

As for buying Springsteen, I'm partial to his early stuff. "The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle" is a work of genius, a musical equivalent to a day on the Jersey boardwalk. "Darkness on the Edge of Town" is the opposite--intense, obsessive, emotionally almost overwhelming. There is not a more moving song in rock than "Racing in the Street." I'm also partial to an album he made out of another emotional black hole, "Tunnel of Love," which documents his troubled first marriage. Those three, plus "Born To Run," are the cream of a very rich crop.

The ones to avoid: "Human Touch," "Lucky Town," and I don't want to start a fight, but I'm not a fan of his allegedly "serious" albums, "The Ghost of Tom Joad" and the new one, "Devils and Dust." They don't sound authentic to me, and the music is dull.

2005-05-09 11:26:22
17.   Steve
Re: Nakamura. I think the scouts and the stat guys could walk hand in hand on this one, singing Kumbaya. Took a flyer, it didn't work. On to the next replacement level part that might have three weeks of glory.

And you're next, Grabowski.

2005-05-09 11:28:42
18.   Jon Weisman
I think it's safe to say that the best of Human Touch and Lucky Town would have made a good single album. I like Joad although the music is dark. Devils and Dust, frankly, is much more upbeat. And when you're takling about "serious" albums - which I take to mean downbeat, since albums like Tunnel of Love and Rising are nothing if not serious - what about Nebraska?
2005-05-09 11:29:18
19.   DougS
Jon, I feel much the same way as you about Nakamura. He wasn't doing the big club much good, but it's sad all the same to see him go. He obviously invested a great deal in getting to the MLB level, and he seems to be a nice guy in some ways--Vin always going on about how friendly and upbeat he is. I guess showing up in a stretch limo to your first big league game isn't necessarily a good omen after all.

What strikes me about that Jeff Gordon column is that the things that surprise him don't really surprise me, based on my experience of having watched this team closely both last season and during the off-season. For example, I think we (those of us on this board, I mean) knew that Brazoban was close to closer-grade, if not there already, so it's not stunning at all that he's done well as interim closer.

The things that Gordon noticed in forming his first, skeptical opinion, all involved name-brand players--including the one move he liked, signing Kent. It's the sort of stuff you'd notice if you were observing a team only casually, and from afar. It apparently took people who follow the Dodgers more scrupulously and at closer range to see what DePo was doing right this off-season.

2005-05-09 11:31:28
20.   DougS
Interesting catch, SMY. "The formula they are using just isn't conventional enough for me to buy into just yet." Says everything you need to know about Steve Phillips. Sheesh.
2005-05-09 11:40:44
21.   Dello
Springsteen and Nomo are one in the same to me. I adored them both at one time in my life, but their glory days have long passed.
2005-05-09 11:46:06
22.   Eric Enders
Would also recommend getting your hands on a copy of "Roxy Night," which was Springsteen's most legendary L.A. concert and one of the best shows he ever played, period.

2005-05-09 11:47:59
23.   Eric Enders
By the way, the surprisingly stellar play of Dave Ross has moved the Pirates to release Benito Santiago today.
2005-05-09 11:49:07
24.   JSN
It boggles my mind that the Times,, etc, arn't clamoring at your door and begging you to take large amounts of money to write for them. Seriously.
2005-05-09 11:50:34
25.   molokai
Yeah solid starting pitching, solid relief pitching and a team with only one hole at 3b just isn't very conventional as oppossed to the Met teams he built.

Great post Jon, and I'll take Born to Run. It may not be his best LP but it is my favorite.

Hoping for a split with the Card's. Giving them Wednesday so wo need to win tonight.

2005-05-09 11:51:10
26.   SMY
For what it's worth, Steve Phillips is also sticking to his prediction that the Giants will win the West and the Dodgers will finish 4th. Apparently their "winning" formula is more conventional.
2005-05-09 11:54:52
27.   Jon Weisman
That Roxy bootleg was one of the first Springsteen things I ever heard, Eric. To have been there ...
2005-05-09 11:57:28
28.   Bob Timmermann
What's unconventional about the Dodgers way of winning? They win when they score a bunch of runs. They do that better than most teams in the NL.

I don't get what is so unusual about the Dodgers team this year.
Get guys on base. Score runs. Try not to give up as many.

2005-05-09 11:58:56
29.   Eric Enders
That Roxy show was also the subject of what IMO is the best magazine article ever written on Springsteen, Dave Marsh's 8/24/1978 piece in Rolling Stone.
2005-05-09 11:59:02
30.   Bob Timmermann
Jon, being under 10 years old, you may have had a hard time getting into the Roxy concert.
2005-05-09 12:03:37
31.   Improbable88
Seeing Nori go is pretty sad. I was in Arizona for his first hit as a Dodger, and was very excited at the possiblity of this wild-hitting, gold glove caliber third baseman who seemed to really love playing the game, becoming something, at least, somewhat special. There was also something admirable and endearing about his crazy stance and his devotion to it, and in turn, his unwillingness to change it. Unfortunately, it looks like his samurai pride has misled him. I like, however, what Oscar Robles brings to the table, I just don't fully understand where he will play with Edwards and Perez both on the squad.

And as for Bruce Spingzzzzzzzzz.....

2005-05-09 12:04:49
32.   molokai

Quotes from Jeff Kent. Maybe they were already discussed here but for some reason it bothers me that he doesn't love the game.

2005-05-09 12:05:13
33.   Jon Weisman
True, though I did have Neil Diamond and Linda Rondstadt concerts behind me by that point...
2005-05-09 12:06:29
34.   Improbable88
The Roxy is all ages for all live concerts. Had you been allowed bed-time clearance, you coulda been there.
2005-05-09 12:12:47
35.   SMY
#28 -- I don't get it either. It's not like that formula hasn't worked for countless other teams throughout history. Although in Steve Phillips' case, I think a lot of his comments come from bitterness that he's not a GM and these young Ivy League guys are. I wonder if he tried to get considered for the job before DePo was hired.

Either that or he's just a moron with unfettered access to a microphone. Probably both.

2005-05-09 12:14:29
36.   Mark
If anything, the 05 Dodgers are a Chemical Brothers album. Noisy, messy, but you can still watch...
2005-05-09 12:17:17
37.   scareduck
He just said "same continent" not "same country".

I was unaware Japan was part of the Asian mainland. For me, it's a stretch.

2005-05-09 12:17:59
38.   gvette
Does this mean that Svengali Jon Landau is making out the lineup card for the Dodgers now? (or as Jim Tracy would have put it; "Have I seen the future of rock n roll? Well, that's something that we in the coaching staff, and the organization will discuss.")

BTW, the Halloween '80 show at the LA Sports Arena was the best of the five Springsteen shows I saw.

Maybe Tony Jackson's story last week about Nakamura abandoning his short, Spring Training stroke for his longer original batting style was prophetic. Edwards has one fewer hit than Nori after only ten ABs.

2005-05-09 12:19:58
39.   scareduck
As to Phillips: how sad it is that he isn't still the GM for the Mets. What Angel fan couldn't love the Appier/Vaughn trade? And how many like that did he execute? I don't know, but the finding out would be interesting. Every other GM has to be still laughing about his judgement in that capacity, and hoping to find another patsy to replace him.
2005-05-09 12:26:41
40.   dzzrtRatt
You all know that part of the Roxy concert forms the first 11 tracks of Bruce's official "Live 1975-85" collection? My younger brother, an even bigger fan by that time, taped it on my parents' reel to reel when it was broadcast live by KLOS.

I put scare quotes around "serious" to describe the "Devils and Dust" and "Tom Joad" because they both feel to me like Bruce is putting on airs, Addressing the Nation.

You're right, Bruce is deadly serious on "Darkness..." "Tunnel of Love" and "Nebraska." But all three of these albums have their lighter moments--even "Nebraska" is funny in spots.

The Springsteen who reeled me in was the guy who was an opening act for Dr. John at the Santa Monica Civic in 1974. I had his albums (no one else in California seemed to know who he was at that time), and I was curious. There are no words to describe what that show was like. Although it wasn't out yet, he played "Born to Run" and it was everything you could want a song to be. I feel like I've watched him grow up since then, for better and for worse. Sometimes he's embarrassed me, but in the end, he always pulls it off. What a character.

2005-05-09 12:30:09
41.   DepoBall
#32: Kent comes off like that crotchety old man, the one kids would be afraid to get their ball back from if it went into his yard.

I like the honesty; and he has never been anything different through the years. It seems to me that you have to love your work in some way to be as good at it as he is; I guess it could just be pride and pigheadedness...

2005-05-09 12:31:07
42.   Jon Weisman
I'm a little surprised I'm having to defend Japan being part of Asia.

"As the planet's largest continent, Asia includes (44) countries and assorted island dependencies."

2005-05-09 12:32:07
43.   Bob Timmermann
You've got to stop thinking geologically and start thinking politically.

If Japan isn't part of Asia then much of World War II was about some freakish island country taking over the rest of Asia.

The Philippines are considered part of Asia. As is Indonesia.

2005-05-09 12:33:00
44.   dzzrtRatt
Re: Jeff Kent. I don't think it's that uncommon for a successful ballplayer to have no fan-like interest in baseball, baseball history. It would be a fun project to collect quotes from all the current players who at one point said "I don't know who Mickey Mantle is." But I also think Kent's not being quite honest. He likes being seen as a kind of outlaw, and the surest way to piss off a baseball scribe is to make him feel like a geek for collecting baseball cards, etc. You can't play as well as he has over the years by accident.
2005-05-09 12:34:47
45.   Shlomo
Jon, since you mentioned Jason G:

I know Grabowski is a left-handed batter, but to be called a left-handed "hitter", doesn't he have to get a few hits first?

How long can a player remain on a roster just because he stands on a certain side of the plate?

Each time he is sent to the plate, I am reminded of the Simpsons episode where Homer Simpson, a righty, is sent in to pinch hit for Daryl Strawberry because Mr. Burns wants to "play the percentages".

What has Grabowski done since coming to the Dodgers that would justify keeping him on the roster and sending Repko down when Jayson Werth returns?

2005-05-09 12:38:07
46.   DepoBall
good point dzzrtRatt; Kent does like to play up his rebel image. I have to admit, his attitude is easier to take when he's on the team you root for. Part of my tolerance for him is his commentary is interesting, whether it comes from a desire to be different or not.
2005-05-09 12:38:24
47.   DougS
Japan has always been considered to be a part of Asia. Even if you want to quibble about geographical definitions, it shares much with Korea (and China, for that matter) in terms of cultural and ethnographic links.

Since we're still on Springsteen, I might as well chime in with own opinion that he's as great a prophet of youthful exuberance (everything up to Born to Run) as well as personal despair (Darkness on the Edge of Town, The River, Nebraska) as rock 'n roll has ever had. But I think he went kind of flat after that (the rock star ages?), and I agree with dRatt that his most recent work has an air of self-importance, the need to make "statements" that doesn't quite seem right.

Myself, I just listen to Carmina Burana over and over these days. ;-)

2005-05-09 12:39:39
48.   Bob Timmermann
Of course, if we went by tectonic plates instead of just what is above the surface, most of us would be in the same continent as Kamchatka.

Except for those of us who are on the Pacific Plate.

Notice how Japan has one big fault line running right through it. Ahh, nothing like knowing that the world underneath your feet could rise up, shake uncontrollably and send us all to our deaths.

2005-05-09 12:40:26
49.   Bob Timmermann
Myself, I just listen to Carmina Burana over and over these days. ;-)

You mean the music from "Gladiator"?

2005-05-09 12:40:49
50.   Eric L
When I read the stuff with Kent the other day, the first thought that came to my mind was

"Wow, this is the guy who cried at his press conference when he was introduced as a Dodger?"

Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2005-05-09 12:41:33
51.   Eric Enders
scareduck: If it's not part of Asia, what continent does Japan belong to?
2005-05-09 12:43:14
52.   doogie
If he becomes a free agent, I'd love to see Nori join the Japan Samurai Bears of the GBL.

What higher honor is there than to be in the same league as Rickey Henderson?

2005-05-09 12:43:33
53.   dzzrtRatt
Re: Jeff Gordon's mea culpa.

When people write about Yhency Brazoban's success, I keep waiting for someone to give Jim Colborn the credit he deserves, not just for Yhency, but for Carrara, Sanchez, Wunsch, Shmoll, and before them pitchers like Herges, Quantrill, Shuey and Mota, and his biggest achievement, Eric Gagne. Colborn molds effective bullpen pitchers out of whatever clay they give him. And, it doesn't seem like they maintain quite the same level after they leave LA.

2005-05-09 12:45:57
54.   DepoBall
re 51:



2005-05-09 12:47:54
55.   dzzrtRatt
The discussion about whether Japan is part of Asia reminds me of the line by, I think, Woody Allen about why he preferred to live in Manhattan. Manhattan, he was pleased to say, is not really part of the United States. It's actually an island off the coast of the United States.
2005-05-09 12:50:02
56.   DepoBall
re: Colburn

That's an impressive list of arms turned into effective relief. Did Colburn do as well with talent at his previous team?

2005-05-09 12:55:38
57.   Jon Weisman
Follow-up to Steve Phillips. Tim Kurkijan chat:


curtis;Reno,NV: Hi Tim, Steve Phillips says the Dodgers are going it with smoke and mirrors..Good picthing and solid offense..Maybe he's the one smoking?

Tim Kurkjian: (3:12 PM ET ) I don't know how the Dodgers do it, either! But they've been doing it now for four years and five weeks. Maybe it's time to stop underestimating them. I see all the flaws that everyone else sees, and they were similar flaws in place last year, but the Dodgers found a way to win the division and they have a chance again this year. Four teams, including the Dodgers, have a shot at that NL West.


This recalls a point I made last month on the site, I believe. Many analysts became so fixated on flaws with the Dodgers - which they have - that they failed to notice that other teams have flaws too.

2005-05-09 13:00:58
58.   bigcpa
The Kent quotes remind me of a quote from Eddie Vedder in 1998 that rubbed this fanboy the wrong way.

Q: How often do you listen to Pearl Jam records?

A: "Not often, but I did this week... I made a little pilgrimage to see where our legacy
stood. [mentions 3 tracks he likes] but the other stuff is not really the kind of music I listen to, to be honest."

I complained to the alt-nerds and got flamed for questioning an artist's right to comment on his own work ojectively blah blah. Obviously he was embarrassed to be a rock star and wanted to maintain street cred.

I think Kent geniunely loves to play- baseball just isn't the center of his universe.

2005-05-09 13:01:16
59.   DepoBall
answering my own question -- bio data on Colburn. I hadn't realized how long he'd been with the dodgers...

Coaching Career: Named the Dodgers' pitching coach on November 21, 2000...has served the past five seasons as the Director of Pacific Rim Scouting for the Seattle Mariners and was instrumental in the signings of 2000 American League Rookie of the Year Kazuhiro Sasaki and Ichiro Suzuki...has worked as a professional coach and manager from 1984-96, including spending 1990-93 as pitching coach for the Orix Blue Wave of the Japanese Pacific League.

2005-05-09 13:01:31
60.   Bob Timmermann
The Padres are going to need a new fifth starter I believe as Tim Redding left the Padres' shellacking early with a bad shoulder.

I think the Giants need to worry about Jason Schmidt. He certainly hasn't pitched like Jason Schmidt.

The DBacks dropped 3 of 4 at home to the Pirates and gave up 16 runs to one of the worst offenses in the NL.

If the Dodgers come back home from St. Louis with a split, I would be quite happy.

2005-05-09 13:04:53
61.   bigcpa
Re: 57
Great observation by Kurkjian that 4 teams can win the West. Let's see, 4 teams can win the NL East, the AL West, the AL Central and maybe even the AL East. You're taking my $40, just tell us who you think is going to win it. The team with the Killer C's Counsell/Clayton/Clark? Or maybe the team with Lawrence/Redding in the back of the rotation? Or maybe the team of a thousand groin pulls and the 90 year old manager?
2005-05-09 13:06:43
62.   franklin
What has Grabowski done since coming to the Dodgers that would justify keeping him on the roster and sending Repko down when Jayson Werth returns?

Grabooski is probably still on the team due to his production last year with men on base. Overall numbers were ugly, but the component stats looked pretty good (esp. if said batter performs that way in late inning pinch hit situations). Unless last year's Grabo begins to show up, get Royster on the horn and tell him we found him a backup for CFC!

from 2004 season (
Bases empty
Runners on

2005-05-09 13:07:12
63.   franklin
if he keeps playing this way...


2005-05-09 13:13:06
64.   Jon Weisman
Padres purchase the contracts of Tim Stauffer and ... Brian Falkenborg:

2005-05-09 13:15:06
65.   Bob Timmermann
That would be "old friend" Brian Falkenborg.

Since I may have been the only person who's ever clicked on that link, but the sidebar link for Jason Phillips to baseballcube goes to Jason Phillips the pitcher, not the catcher.

2005-05-09 13:21:42
66.   Jon Weisman
All is now well in ever-popular Phillips land.
2005-05-09 13:21:57
67.   Bob Timmermann
Gee, I must have been mistaken about Jason Phillips.
2005-05-09 13:25:38
68.   Linkmeister
Completely off-topic, but I just found this interesting article about children's inability to hit slow pitches. I wonder if it could be extrapolated to adults and knuckleballs.

Now back to the regular discussion.

Oh, thanks to whoever suggested that tinyurl could be added to a toolbar. That's a nifty tool.

2005-05-09 13:27:51
69.   molokai
Our old friend Falkenborg, destined to pitch for the Giants or Diamondback's next year.
2005-05-09 13:32:28
70.   SMY
Man, Arizona's run differential is -16. If anyone's doing it with smoke and mirrors, it's them.
2005-05-09 13:37:43
71.   Bob Timmermann
The DBacks are 18-14 although their expected record should be 14-18.

The Marlins and Rockies are both 3 games worse than expected. The White Sox are 3 games better.

But early in the year, a rout can really skew the Pythagorean records. The Marlins have played a lot of close games. The Rockies get blown out.

2005-05-09 13:43:35
72.   MSarg29
Good to see Jose Nunez getting mentioned today by Jim Colborn. I was just wondering about whatever happened to him.,1413,200~28569~2859178,00.html
2005-05-09 13:54:22
73.   Aug C
Here's a note from Will Carroll's daily Under the Knife column:

"Morgan Ensberg would look good in blue, don't you think..."

I'd say I agree, although I'm not saying he's all-star material or anything like that.

2005-05-09 13:54:39
74.   FirstMohican
Re: 64

A year ago today, Dodgers 9, Pirates 7, Falkenborg (1-0)

2005-05-09 13:54:45
75.   bigcpa
I think the White Sox have to get the Smoke & Mirrors award playing .774 with the 9th ranked AL offense. They're 13-3 in 1-run games, 9-0 vs. KC and the Toronto Hillenbrands, dodging Halladay of course.
2005-05-09 13:57:09
76.   Robert Fiore
Not that I'm a huge fan these days, but I do have the original version of "Welcome to Asbury Park, New Jersey" where the postcard deal folds out, so there. I tried to go to his first show in L.A. opening for Dr. John, but I couldn't arrange the transportation. Concerts haven't been the same since he stopped closing with the Rosalita medley, and the last time I saw him I couldn't help but notice that his audience was less likely to be riding the mansions of glory in suicide machines as driving SUVs from Newport Beach.

Anyway, as a simulacrum of a baseball lineup you could do far worse with The Who Sell Out (fake commercials removed):

Armenia City In The Sky
Mary Anne With The Shaky Hands
Our Love Was
I Can See For Miles
I Can't Reach You
Silas Stingy

Structured to climax at the 5/6 spot rather than the 3/4, but I Can See For Miles/I Can't Reach You is a solid power core in any man's league.

2005-05-09 13:58:17
77.   SMY
I agree, but the White Sox play "smallball" and are therefore above reproach by the mainstream media.

I heard Harold Reynolds say on BBTN over the weekend that .190-hitting Paul Konerko was having a great season.

2005-05-09 14:01:38
78.   DodgerBlueBruce
I wonder why Jim Tracy spent at least ten minutes with Nori before Sunday's game hitting him grounders. Odd for someone about to be jettisoned.
Borchard 504: Where did you sit? I would have loved to have seen a Team DePo shirt. I am always impressed with the sheer number of Dodger fans in Cinci. Nicest guy all weekend for signing autographs; none other than Milton Bradley.
bigcpa: Tunnel of Love, 1987 still gets airplay in my house.
2005-05-09 14:04:38
79.   Jon Weisman
Would The Who Sell Out beat Who's Next in a best-of-seven series? Baba O'Riley is an incredible leadoff hitter, and Won't Get Fooled Again is more than a sneaky threat at the bottom of the order.

The Who had few banjo hitters, but they did have that ukelele song: Blue, Red and Grey, right?

2005-05-09 14:07:28
80.   Fearing Blue
Looks like today's start for Edwin Jackson didn't work out so well. Sacramento is playing at Las Vegas and the score is 19-13 in the top of the 8th. Don't you just love the PCL?

Jackson: 3.0IP 10H 8R 8ER 2BB 1K 1HR

Jackson's line is bad, though it's not as bad as these three pitching lines also from today's game:

Sylvester: 0.0IP 0H 3R 3ER 3BB 0K 0HR
Smyth: 0.0IP 3H 5R 5ER 2BB 0K 0HR

Las Vegas:
Farmer: 1.2IP 9H 9R 9ER 1BB 1K 0HR

I think someone needs to check the balls for steroids.

2005-05-09 14:11:13
81.   Jon Weisman
In that game, the 51s are rallying from a 19-3 deficit. They gave up 11 in the fifth but scored nine in the sixth.

Antonio Perez is 2 for 3. Jayson Werth is 1 for 3.

2005-05-09 14:15:56
82.   Fearing Blue
In other news from the 51s box score, today is Flores' first day back in the lineup, starting at SS. He's 0/1 with a Walk and a HBP. Not really significant, but he does give us another option as a backup infielder if Robles doesn't pan out.
2005-05-09 14:17:06
83.   dzzrtRatt
Re #73...just to illustrate the point about Jeff Kent seemingly disconnected from baseball...I walked into a local take-out place one Sunday afternoon last September, and the guy behind the counter asked me if I had heard any football scores. Well, I pay no attention to the NFL until after the World Series, so I told him, no, I'd been listening to a baseball game.

"Oh, yeah, baseball's still going on, right. You into baseball?" Yes, I said. "Yeah, my brother's into baseball. In fact he plays baseball." Really, where? "In Houston, he plays for the Astros, I think?"

This was right in the thick of Astros' furious chase of the Cubs for last year's Wild Card spot. So I asked him who his brother was. "Morgan Engberg." I started babbling about the Astros, and that his brother was doing really well filling in for another third baseman who got hurt, and that the Astros after a crappy start were in contention for the playoffs now.

"Yeah, I heard something about that from him. I guess they're doing pretty well. Yeah, we both played some ball at Bla Bla High School." Very disengaged.

I know what my brothers do for a living, but I couldn't tell you what they're doing right now, today. I guess that's how Morgan Ensberg's brother felt about his brother being in a pennant race.

2005-05-09 14:18:05
84.   Wayne Wei-siang Hsieh
I feel bad for Nori. I kinda wish we gave him some more at bats, and I'd still rather have him than Grabowski, who seems unsuited for the sporadic play of a 5th OF, but it's hard to craft a strong argument for Nori to stay.

I wonder if he'll get claimed by another team. Probably not I assume, maybe he can then get better acclimated to American pitching in AAA and we call him up later if another position player goes down, or if Grabowski is finally cut loose. The fact that he isn't a lefty is an issue, but if Ledee is returned to the bench after Werth comes back, maybe the organization will be willing to have only one lefty bat on the bench.

BTW, regarding the long-dead discussion of Japan's place in Asia, it's always been my impression that China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan are part of "East Asia," cultures that were all affected in large part by Chinese civilization. I've never heard of Japan being considered separate.


2005-05-09 14:18:33
85.   DXMachina
# 76: Anyway, as a simulacrum of a baseball lineup you could do far worse with The Who Sell Out

It's a great lineup, one of the best, plus with the extra tracks on the current CD version, it got a helluva deep bench.

2005-05-09 14:20:00
86.   Fearing Blue
#82: Correction, Flores came in to the game as a defensive substitution in the 6th. Werth was also taken out of the game at that point.
2005-05-09 14:24:16
87.   Eric Enders
Sacramento wins.

It was a nice comeback, anyway, from 19-3 to 19-13.

2005-05-09 14:25:07
88.   Shlomo
"Grabooski is probably still on the team due to his production last year with men on base."

If you want to see amazing bases empty / men on base stats, look at Repko's numbers for this year. Even with the small number of at bats, the contrast is amazing:

Bases empty: 33 AB, 0 R, 0 RBI, OPS .408
Runners on base: 22 AB, 12 R, 9 RBI, OPS 1.326


2005-05-09 14:28:32
89.   FirstMohican
Actually it seems like Repko only does well with a man on 1st =)
2005-05-09 14:30:07
90.   Eric Enders
"Edwin Jackson got off to a rough start, but it wasn't all his doing -- the wind was howling out."
--LV announcer
2005-05-09 14:33:48
91.   JJoeScott
Of course you could craft other lineups from other artists. Take Madonna, for instance:

1. Lucky Star
2. Into the Groove
3. Ray of Light
4. Like A Prayer
5. Open Your Heart
6. Material Girl
7. Vogue
8. Music
9. Express Yourself

Wham! would be harder to do.

2005-05-09 14:35:13
92.   Jon Weisman
Well, now, if you're going to start mixing from different albums by an artist, that's a whole new ballgame.
2005-05-09 14:35:40
93.   JJoeScott
(I neglected to mention that Borderline would be the closer, with Holiday taking on the Jason Grabowski role.)
2005-05-09 14:36:23
94.   Xeifrank
Was busy this weekend and didn't watch any of the three games vs Cincy this weekend, did catch the scores and a quick glance at the box scores. Would appreciate if someone could fill me in on the third base situation. What happened to Nakamura? And how/who are the other replacements at 3b and how is each one doing? Edwards? Perez? Robles? Hero Guy?




2005-05-09 14:36:50
95.   JJoeScott
(I also neglected to mention that, yes, I really did put some thought into that order. Sad, I know.)
2005-05-09 14:49:38
96.   Marty
The Sex Pistols changed music for me. Give me "Nevermind the Bollocks" for a lineup:

Holidays in the Sun
No Feelings
God Save the Queen
Anarchy in the UK
Pretty Vacant

2005-05-09 15:01:39
97.   dzzrtRatt
I could win with this lineup of tricky players:

Tears of Rage
To Kingdom Come
In a Station
Caledonia Mission
The Weight
We Can Talk
Long Black Veil
Chest Fever
Lonesome Suzie
This Wheel's on Fire
I Shall Be Released

And if I could sneak this one past the random drug tests...

Brown Sugar
Wild Horses
Can't You Hear Me Knocking
You Gotta Move
I Got The Blues
Sister Morphine
Dead Flowers
Moonlight Mile

2005-05-09 15:03:28
98.   Marty
I would have never thought you could sneak Sticky Fingers past a drug test :-)
2005-05-09 15:10:10
99.   Paul B
Re: 83

Yeah, we both played some ball at Bla Bla High School

Just for the sake of completeness (and despite the implicit doff of the cap to our bitter crosstown rivals) Bla Bla was actually Redondo Union High School. Other notable alumni include the likely-to-be-drafted former Bruin Dijon Thompson and the no-additional-introduction-needed Ms. Traci Lords.

2005-05-09 15:14:34
100.   Icaros
Well, now, if you're going to start mixing from different albums by an artist, that's a whole new ballgame.

You won't see Bob T, or his brother, playing along. They both hate all-star games.

Show/Hide Comments 101-150
2005-05-09 15:18:07
101.   Bob Timmermann
I'm glad someone remembered reading my brother's column about All-Star games. I'm sure now everyone is else is closely following his stories about the St. Louis Steamers.
2005-05-09 15:24:02
102.   MSarg29
DZZRat re:97

Those are two amazing lineups. I was about to run Sticky Fingers out myself and you beat me to it.

Though you couldnt go wrong w/ Let It Bleed.

1. Gimme Shelter
2. Love in Vain
3. Country Honk
4. Live With Me
5. Let It Bleed
6. Midnight Rambler
7. You Got the Silver
8. Monkey Man
9.You Can't Always Get What You Want

2005-05-09 15:27:44
103.   Bob Timmermann
Since I'm heading out early today I have to put this in the early thread:
Random Dodger game callback

May 9, 2002

After winning the first two games in Atlanta, the Dodgers lost the final game of the series 6-2 after the Braves got a trio of home runs from Vinny Castilla, Gary Sheffield, and Chipper Jones. The Dodgers scored single runs in the first and second against Braves starter Damian Moss, but couldn't score the rest of the way off of Moss, Albie Lopez, Darren Holmes, and John Smoltz.

2002 was one of the few years, that Ashby was able to stay healthy for the Dodgers. Kevin Malone signed him to a surprisingly lucrative free agent contract. Ashby was earning $8 million for the 2002 season, but he could manage just a 9-13 record in 30 starts with a 3.91 ERA. The next year, Ashby would pitch in just 21 games and start 12 of them before an injury ended his Dodgers career.

The 2002 Dodgers were pretty consistent, going 46-35 both at home and on the road to finish at 92-70. But that was good for just third place 6 games behind Arizona and 3 ½ behind wild card and NL pennant winning San Francisco. The Dodgers had a 19-8 June followed by a 10-16 July and were never able to get over the top in the NL West.

The biggest question mark coming into the 2002 season was who would replace closer Jeff Shaw. Manager Jim Tracy decided that failed starter Eric Gagne would be a good fit for the job. And when the season was over Gagne had 52 saves, a 1.97 ERA and 114 Ks in just 82 1/3 IP.

But 2002 will be remembered best for Dodgers fans getting the chance to see Hiram Bocachica, Tyler Houston, and Jeff Reboulet play.

OK, maybe Shawn Green's 4-homer game against the Brewers, but that wasn't televised!

Thanks to the Atlanta Constitution, and Retrosheet

2005-05-09 15:29:03
104.   dzzrtRatt
RE:99--I thought I recalled Ensberg's brother said Redondo Union but I didn't trust my memory.
2005-05-09 15:30:55
105.   Icaros
If the St. Louis Steamers were a really bad team, I imagine that beat writers and columnists could have a lot of scatological fun with their name.
2005-05-09 15:37:04
106.   Marty
I believe the Smothers Brothers came out of Redondo Union too.
2005-05-09 15:38:27
107.   mcrawford
The problem with making lineups out of a lot of albums (Let It Bleed being a good example) is that the last track is often one of the strongest. It's always a good idea to put a great track at the end, so the listener leaves with a good impression of the whole album, and wants to hear it again. The Beatles were great at this.
2005-05-09 15:39:00
108.   LetsGoDodgers
Never was a big fan of Springsteen, but I gotta agree with Marty in #96. "Pretty Vacant" did it for me oh so many years ago.

Sorry to see Nakamura the Fielder leave the squad, but watching Nakamura the Hitter at the plate was horrific.

I don't have high expectations for Robles; if he is all that then why isn't he already in the majors on another roster instead of toiling away south of the border? However, now I do have high hopes that DePo can acquire Smoke and Mirror for a PTBNL to play at 3B, hopefully for the rest of the season and put Valentin on the bench.

And Steve Phillips is filling the part of "bombastic fool" nicely. Keep up the good work, philanderer.

2005-05-09 15:44:32
109.   Fearing Blue
Hi Xeifrank. Here's my summary of the 3B situation this weekend.

Nakamura didn't get much playing time this weekend. He came in to replace Izturis at SS and then moved over to 2B after we had a 12-0 lead in the 7th on Friday. Nakamura has been designated for assignment, though assuming he clears waivers, I'm not sure where he would play for AAA.

Edwards played surprisingly well, starting both Saturday's and Sunday's games. He went 2/4 on Saturday and 1/4 on Sunday. He seems to have a nice, quick, clean stroke (think anti-Nakamura). He now has 1 less H (4 vs. 3) and as many TB (7) as Nakamura in 29 less ABs (10 vs. 39).

Saenz started at 3B on Friday and was 1/4 with a double. It still scares me whenever the ball is hit anywhere near him.

Robles' contract was just purchased today, though it sounds like the transaction has been in the works since Valentin went down.

Here's the link to my assessment of our 3B prospect situation:

Unfortunately, the comment linking doesn't work right with the new expando-comments.

2005-05-09 15:53:35
110.   Fearing Blue
#108: I agree. Robles should be a good backup middle-infielder, but not much else. His statistics are impressive so far, but take a look at the statistics for his teammates:
There are 5 regulars with an OBP over .400 and 6 regulars with a SLG over .500. Unless this is the Mexican All-Star team, I don't think it's a very tough league to hit in.
2005-05-09 15:57:21
111.   regfairfield
You would be correct.

A park factor of 100 is average. Coors Field is 111. Mexico City is 119.

2005-05-09 15:58:22
112.   Jacob L
You could do far worse than a classic album named "Los Angeles" with a hit-and-run expert in the 2 hole. Lot of speed up and down the lineup. Would probably be better moving some of the heavy hitters up from the bottom.

Your Phone's Off the Hook (But You're Not)
Johny Hit and Run Paulene
Soul Kitchen
Los Angeles
Sex And Dying In High Society
The Unheard Music
The World's A Mess, It's In My Kiss

2005-05-09 15:58:39
113.   Eric L
Aside from Valentin being hurt, I don't think there are very many guys that may become available that would push him to the bench.
2005-05-09 16:01:19
114.   Vic
Returning to actual baseball lineups -- no Drew for the second night in a row. Any word on an injury, or is Tracy even more L-R match-up obsessed than we'd assumed?

Izturis ss
Repko rf
Bradley cf
Kent 2b
Saenz 1b
Phillips c
Ledee lf
Edwards 3b
Perez p

2005-05-09 16:02:24
115.   Marty
Nice call on X Jacob. I saw them a lot back in the day.
2005-05-09 16:05:50
116.   Suffering Bruin

"We tried everything. Curves and fastballs. In, out, up, down," recalled Jeff Torborg. "Nothing worked. (Player name) owned Sandy Koufax."

Fill in the blank with our mystery player who, I promise, all of you have heard of.

Answer after I get the computer back from my son a.k.a. Anakin Skywalker. And that may be awhile...

2005-05-09 16:08:00
117.   Jon Weisman
Game chat is open...I'll repost SB's trivia question there.
2005-05-09 16:09:57
118.   Xeifrank
Dodger win expectancy is currently at 48.4% for tonights game at St Louis. Win expectancy finder, looks at previously played games back to the 1979-1990 season and computes the number of times a team won given the current score differential, outs and runners on base.



2005-05-09 16:11:03
119.   Jacob L
Responding to a few comments from earlier, today seems to be the day that everyone has notice run differentials. Every team in the divsion is negative except for the Dodgers. (Thank you Rockies!)

My other random observation, those Marlins have been even more stingy than I thought. Perhaps its their cather's leadership and pitch calling.

2005-05-09 16:18:09
120.   Mr Customer
Off topic here, but of general interest.

Per the official website, the procedure that Chuck Tiffany underwent was the removal of a melanoma.

I won't say what I really think of this being classified as "Back Surgery".

2005-05-09 16:25:30
121.   Jim Hitchcock
Re #68: You're welcome, Link.
2005-05-09 16:26:43
122.   Jim Hitchcock
Re # 68: You're welcome, Link.
2005-05-09 16:50:58
123.   LetsGoDodgers
RE: 112

Good call, Jacob L. Great LP's, even better live.

2005-05-10 05:03:00
124.   Karl
RE: 116

Hank Aaron.

Sandy consistently says that Aaron was the toughest out for him. I just remember the Braves beating the Dodgers an awful lot of the time.

2005-05-10 05:27:37
125.   CT Bum
Great piece Jon! I love the Bruce/Dodger "mash-ups"! Keep up the good work.

I like the new album (speaking of Bruce here) more than I thought I would. Tom Joad is my least favorite album, and I feared D&D would be more of the same, but I was pleasantly surprised to hear D&D is more closely (musically at least) related to Tunnel.

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