Baseball Toaster Dodger Thoughts
Monthly archives: September 2007


Congratulating Chad
2007-09-30 09:43
by Jon Weisman

Dodger Thoughts, July 19:

In an interview with this morning, I was asked which Dodger was most likely to have a big stretch run. And I thought, there's Russell Martin, but you'd expect him to taper a bit under his workload by season's end. There's Rafael Furcal, but we don't know whether his ankle will allow it. There's Nomar Garciaparra, who is too due. There's Matt Kemp and James Loney and Andre Ethier, but they're already doing so well that it's almost impossible for them to kick it up a notch.

And my thoughts turned to the pitcher who struggled to get through five innings Wednesday: the one and only Chad Billingsley. He's young but improving. Overall, he's not overworked – in the season's first 95 games, he has thrown 65 2/3 innings and 1,145 pitches. And the closer we get to the end of the season, the more he is going to face NL West teams whose strengths are mostly on the mound and not with the bat.

Not to dismiss the importance of averaging five innings per start as opposed to fewer, but Billingsley is not reliable now. So stipulated. But something more than wishin' and hopin' tells me that he's going to start seeming reliable before the season's out. He's learning, and the difference between him and the likes of Brett Tomko and Mark Hendrickson is, at age 22 23/24ths, Billingsley is already ahead of the curve.

As it happens, Loney had a monster September and Billingsley got only four outs in his final start of the year Saturday. Still, Billingsley had a 3.12 ERA in the second half this season, capping a fine sophomore year and adding to the promise of a great career. As I like to point out, Billingsley is ahead of Don Sutton at this stage of the game.

* * *

From my vantage point at Saturday's meaningless game, thanks to great seats passed to me by Dodger Thoughts commenter LAT, Andy LaRoche looked agile at third, and Matt Kemp hustled. Call me crazy.

The crowd seemed like it was ready to fall in love with Chin-Lung Hu. He wins people over: first with his name, then with his game.

* * *

There is no tomorrow:


Retro Gameday

* * *

NL Smackdown

Marlins at Mets

Nationals at Phillies

Padres at Brewers

Diamondbacks at Rockies

89-72 Padres
88-73 Mets
88-73 Phillies
88-73 Rockies

Savor That Aroma
2007-09-29 15:40
by Jon Weisman

The James Loney '84

* * *

Tonight's game:


Retro Gameday

The Losers' Dividend
2007-09-28 16:15
by Jon Weisman

I've decided to go with the apostrophe in the headline this year, although it's legit with or without.

From September 25, 2005:

The last two Dodger games I have attended, a loss and now today's victory, have been the two most pleasant I've been to all season. Both came after the team's sub-.500 status was assured, a condition that seems to have weeded out the high expecters (expectants? expectationers?) who would only be satisfied by a victory. The best that people hope for now is that a baseball game be played. That's all. Throw the first pitch and we've already won. The Dodgers of September 2005 offer no other guarantees, and so we find ourselves at the major league equivalent of Little League, where it's a celebration when someone doesn't fall on his head and it's considered poor form to rain criticism or curb hope. Call it the Losers Dividend. It's a very relaxing, freeing payoff (abetted by the ease of ingress and egress to Dodger Stadium that the smaller crowds provide), enough to make one up and move to Kansas City or Tampa Bay so this can be reinvested and experienced permanently.

There were a couple of people who violated the spirit of the day. They both seem like nice enough people on the outside and seem to not lack for friends, but still they thumbed their portfolios at the Losers Dividend. One was the chap sitting two seats away from me, who couldn't find any redeeming aspect in what lay before him and almost from the opening pitch was trying to hurry the game along so he could get home to barbecue. For those who have criticized Jim Tracy for benching Hee Seop Choi and for those who have criticized Choi's acquisition, you might find it interesting that this fan had no kind words for either. Choi does "nothing" as a player, and Tracy is the worst manager in baseball, according to this fan. Again, his delivery was easygoing and he struck me as the first guy who would help you change a tire if you were stuck on the side of the road, but for today's game, he packed a full kit of contempt. And you just wanted him to let go a little bit like the rest of us, and take the opportunity to let baseball be baseball.

The other spurner was Tracy. With two on and two out in the sixth inning today in a 2-2 tie, Choi stood in the on-deck circle with Willy Aybar at the plate. As Aybar inched closer to a walk, it occured to myself and others that Choi could have the game's make-or-break at-bat. It also occured to us that with a lefthander on the mound, Tracy might pinch-hit for Choi, even though it would be the perfect opportunity in this meaningless game, during a part of the season that Tracy himself has said he's putting people like Brian Myrow in situations to gain information for 2006, to give Choi a key at-bat against a southpaw. A perfect Little League moment.

Aybar walked to load the bases, and Choi took a couple steps toward home plate. Sitting (thanks - seriously, thanks - to some generous seats from an anonymous Dodger Thoughts reader) in the lower part of the Field Level, I could see and hear Tracy yell at Choi to come back. Either Choi had not gotten an earlier message, or Tracy did not counsel Choi that he wouldn't bat against a lefty with the bases loaded. It added insult to insult. Either way, as Tracy sent Jason Phillips up to pinch-hit, it caused me to have my one bad moment of the game and yell at Tracy like I was the protective father of the 10-year-old Choi. This was not what the game was supposed to be about.

My reaction sprung from the assumption that this was a time for the kids, a time to get a glimpse of the future in the present. Upon reflection, I realized that maybe Tracy was Little Leaguing it after all, that he was trying to get as many guys in the game as possible and this was his best spot for Phillips, who in fact hasn't played much lately. No one thinks Phillips has much more of a future in Los Angeles, but of course, perhaps Choi doesn't either. So I'm going to grudgingly, very grudgingly, let Tracy off the hook on this one. And it has nothing to do with Phillips getting a single that keyed the Dodgers' six-run inning. I think it was objectively the wrong move for the organization and personally disappointing, but Phillips is a human being too. I'm not going to stay mad. That would be my waste of the Dividend.

I'll be at the game Saturday night, catching up with a friend visiting from out of town, a friend I spent a big chunk of the '90s going to Dodger Stadium with. For those three hours, I won't care what place the team is in. Take me out to the ballgame ...

* * *

Tonight's game:


Retro Gameday

But Did She Move a Trash Can?
2007-09-28 11:26
by Jon Weisman

U.S. soccer goalie Hope Solo is rational but brash. If you've been following the Dodgers over the past week, you know where that's getting her.

From Philip Hersh of the Chicago Tribune:

Solo, making her World Cup debut, started the first four games of the tournament, allowing two goals in the first 62 minutes and none in the next 298. But Ryan chose Cup veteran Scurry as goalie for the semifinal based on past performances against Brazil in big games, especially the 2004 Olympic final.

When Scurry delivered an effort of much less quality Thursday, it was too much for Solo.

"It was the wrong decision, and I think anybody that knows anything about the game knows that," Solo said. "There's no doubt in my mind I would have made those saves.

"And the fact of the matter is it's not 2004 anymore. ... It's 2007, and I think you have to live in the present.

"And you can't live by big names. You can't live in the past. It doesn't matter what somebody did in an Olympic gold medal game in the Olympics three years ago. Now is what matters, and that's what I think."

It's Jeff Kent's instigational outspokenness - in a young player! Look out below.

While U.S. women's soccer team coach Greg Ryan admitted that "in hindsight, you can say maybe the easier decision was to do it the other way," that doesn't mean there won't be punishment for the goalie's Sololoquy.

Speaking today at a Shanghai hotel, Ryan made it clear, by implication if not point-blank, that Solo's statements may have cost her not only a start in Sunday's third-place game against Norway but likely jeopardized her status as the U.S. goalie of the future.

Ryan, who became head coach in 2005, said reconciliation is possible if "both parties are sincere." He added, in a hardly veiled threat, "One of the great strengths of American teams is the talent pool of our goaltenders."

Coach made the wrong decision, frustration should have been handled in-house, tensions rise after embarrassing loss, yada yada yada, can't everyone just be smarter next time?

Update: via Bob Timmermann, Solo's apology ... and this Jemele Hill commentary that begins thusly:

U.S. women's soccer coach Greg Ryan has pulled off quite a hat trick. His boneheaded decision to bench young goalkeeper Hope Solo for veteran Briana Scurry torpedoed the United States' bid for a third World Cup, ruined Scurry's legacy and created an unnecessary controversy.

Way to go, coach. Even Grady Little is wondering what on earth you were thinking.

Calming the Waters
2007-09-28 07:30
by Jon Weisman

I originally titled this post "The Youth Movement Fights Back," but perhaps that isn't the best terminology. After all, those of us defending the kids aren't doing so simply because they're young, but because they happen to represent a great chance at building a winning team. It's more like, "Rationality Fights Back."

In any case, in the Times today, Grady Little takes the pro-youth platform ...

"We know the course we're on and we're going to stay the course," Little said of the Dodgers' commitment to youth. "The course they've been taking since they won a World Series here in 1988 is not working. This course we're on right now, we're going to try to make it work."

... while Ross Newhan graces us with this (forgive the unusually long excerpt):

Didn't the younger players basically try to carry the Dodgers down the stretch, such as it was?

Didn't the expensive older players, through injury, inconsistency or both, flame out to a large extent?

Isn't it a misnomer to even say the Dodgers operated with a full-fledged youth movement in 2007?

If this was a full-fledged youth movement, why wasn't James Loney -- who batted .380 in triple A last year and .414 in the spring and whose shoulders are now aching from toting the offensive burden in September -- up from the start rather than being recalled June 10?

If this was a full-fledged youth movement, why weren't Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier playing every day, why not endure Andy LaRoche's third base growing pains for the entire summer, and why sign Luis Gonzalez as a free agent or re-sign Nomar Garciaparra?

For a full-fledged youth movement, look to Arizona and the team that is about to win National League West, although that kind of first-year magic is rare.

Most full-fledged youth movements result in competitive capitulation for a year or longer.

With the Dodgers, who were legitimately alive in the division and wild-card races until mid-September, this was transitional integration -- and it might have led to October if some older players had stayed healthy or performed better. ...

The Dodgers obviously have bridges to rebuild, management issues, approaches and relationships (from the front office down) to re-examine and resolve, but make no mistake:

Although this is a difficult market in which to operate a development camp, the long wait for a nucleus of the current caliber to emerge from what had become a fallow farm system at times justified the 2007 route and demands caution if the club is now thinking it should break up that nucleus.

Trade 23-year-old Kemp and his 10 home runs, 10 stolen bases and .331 average in 94 games? Trade 23-year-old Loney and his 14 homers and 63 RBIs in only a half-season?

I say, bring on Tony Abreu, Delwyn Young, Clayton Kershaw, Chin-Lung Hu, that much more talent and attitude.

I say, forget this semi-youth movement and officially make it full-fledged.

Delwyn Young - History Is Calling
2007-09-27 16:13
by Jon Weisman

All-time Los Angeles Dodger Single-Season leaders in OPS+
Minimum Plate Appearances: 1 Roy Gleason (1963), 769

Minimum Plate Appearances: 2-4 John Hale (1974), 540

Minimum Plate Appearances: 3-8 Pedro Guerrero (1978), 317

Minimum Plate Appearances: 9 Darren Fletcher (1989), 308

Minimum Plate Appearances: 10-14 Cody Ross (2006), 301

Minimum Plate Appearances: 15-17 Tim Bogar (2001), 233

Minimum Plate Appearances: 18-24 Delwyn Young (2007), 213 through Wednesday

Minimum Plate Appearances: 25-73 Marlon Anderson (2006), 207

Minimum Plate Appearances: 74-156 Rick Monday (1981), 196

Minimum Plate Appearances: 157-633 Mike Piazza (1997), 186

Minimum Plate Appearances: 634-657 Adrian Beltre (2004), 163

Minimum Plate Appearances: 658-701 Shawn Green (2001), 155

Minimum Plate Appearances: 702-711 Tommy Davis (1962), 148

Minimum Plate Appearances: 712-714 Shawn Green (2000), 118

Minimum Plate Appearances: 715-730 Brett Butler (1991), 114

Minimum Plate Appearances: 731-736 Rafael Furcal (2006), 107

Minimum Plate Appearances: 737 and up Maury Wills (1962), 99

* * *

Tonight's game:


Retro Gameday

The Pause That Refreshes: Russell Martin
2007-09-26 17:10
by Jon Weisman

In this kidney stone of a September, let's all take a moment and thank our lucky stars for Russell Martin, winner of the Dodgers' Roy Campanella Award for Most Inspirational Player.

Thanks for everything, Russell.

* * *

Tonight's game:


Retro Gameday

Enough Is Enough
2007-09-26 07:36
by Jon Weisman

Today, I read yet another column scapegoating one of the team's most valuable position players, Matt Kemp, for the Dodgers' fall into fourth place - and going on to suggest that he could be traded, maybe should be traded.

The player is being criticized for a bad attitude, even though he is surrounded by veterans with bad attitudes. Different kinds of bad attitudes, perhaps, but bad attitudes nevertheless.

The player is being critcized for speaking out in the press, even though he did so in response to veterans speaking out in the press.

The player is being criticized for on-field mistakes, even though veterans have repeatedly made the same on-field mistakes.

The player is being criticized for perhaps not being willing to learn, even though the veteran that started this whole thing has been one of the most irascible, stubborn people in baseball, whose baserunning in the past two seasons indicates that he hasn't learned nearly as much as he wants us to think.

Headline from inside today's Daily Irony: Sweeney hopes to stay on as a voice of experience

Yes, Mark Sweeney. The veteran who made the single dumbest baserunning mistake of the year.

I have had it with the utter stupidity that has come out of the Dodger clubhouse and local papers this past week.

Bill Plaschke writes that Kemp's "power and speed have been negated by silly at-bats and baserunning mistakes."

Negated?? Are you serious??

The silly at-bats have already been factored into his on-base percentage and slugging percentage, which currently stand at .364 and .509. Yes, those are the numbers of the irresponsible Kemp.

The baserunning mistakes? What have there been, five? Ten? Let's say the latter. Instead of 198 outs in 294 plate appearances, give Kemp 208 outs in 294 plate appearances. Wow, what a change.


Is third-base coach Rich Donnelly going to be traded in response to the baserunning mistakes on his watch?

Mustering the resilience to read to the end of Plaschke's column, I found that the nuance of the suggestion is that Kemp be traded for a veteran in his prime that won't be worried about losing his playing time to Kemp and therefore won't be resistant to mentoring him. Brilliant idea - except the guy you're worried about mentoring won't be around anymore.

Here's an idea that apparently isn't good enough for the papers: Why not have the manager and coaches do the damn mentoring? Seriously, what else are they there for? If Grady Little and the coaching staff are too weak to do it, then bring in a drill seargent. Hell, bring in Lou Gossett, Jr. and have him go all Sgt. Foley on Kemp.

Apparently not. Apparently, I'm left to understand that the young brats in the Dodger clubhouse won't heed anyone currently in the Dodger organization, but will pay attention to some 28-year-old, $14 million-earning All-Star to be named later? Apparently, this isn't Plaschke's idea, it's the Dodgers' (though none of Plaschke's sources for it are named).

This is our plan for the future?

Look, I get that every player has his price. There are people out there better than Kemp, and if you can get one of them and keep him, that's great. But that's not what we're talking about here. We're talking about a fundamental misunderstanding of what has happened to the Dodgers this year.

Throw the babies out with the bathwater. That's the operating strategy that has been suggested over the past week. Amazing.

* * *

On Tuesday's pregame show, Rick Monday spent five minutes interviewing Rich Donnelly, with both agreeing that chemistry is overrated and winning takes care of it all.

Donnelly says he believes in "team math" over "team chemistry" - in other words, "the math of a three-run home run."

Today in the Times, Dylan Hernandez writes that according to Little, "results were responsible for the revelation of clubhouse tensions."

"I think every team has them," Little told Hernandez. "We had them last year. We made it to postseason. We had them this year. We didn't make it to postseason. You don't hear about a lot of things when you're able to win and you win through them. When you lose, as a result, then they start getting blown away."

The Dodgers know that tales of bad chemistry are the effect, not the cause, of the team's losing. So why are so many pretending otherwise?

* * *

More fun quotes: It's gotten so bad, this almost qualifies as comic relief. From Diamond Leung of the Press-Enterprise:

"The way (Russell Martin) plays, he's bound to be hurt sometime."

- Mike Lieberthal

* * *

Update: The following is from former Dodger Dave Stewart, now an agent:

The fact is there are veterans on (the Dodgers) who played adequate at best all season long. They're a year too late and on their way down. Penny's the only veteran starting pitcher the Dodgers could count on. Lowe has more losses than wins, Wolf and Schmidt got injured, and Hendrickson, and Tomko pitched poorly with ERAs of 5.26 and 5.80 respectively. Chad Billingsley on the other hand, who entered the league last season, has been their stopper since he's been in the rotation. Andre Ethier, who also started playing in the big leagues last year, has been a stabling point for them in the outfield. Another young guy, James Loney, has been nothing but good when they've played him. Relief pitcher, Jonathan Broxton, has only pitched 170 career innings so far, but has been very solid this year (80IP, 2.93ERA, 96K, 1.16WHIP). And, this may only be Russell Martin's second season in the majors, but he's already made an All-Star team (.299BA, 18HR, 85RBI, 85R, 21SB). If anything, the Dodgers have waited too long to play their young guys more.

Bottom line... I think the way Kent handled this whole situation is complete garbage. I wasn't in that clubhouse, but chances are he didn't say a damn thing all year long and waited until they got eliminated to criticize and cry like a baby. If you have concerns speak up. Don't wait until September to let your frustration come to a head. Furthermore, if a veteran player doesn't want to play a leadership role, that's obviously their choice. However, if you don't want to be a leader then you need to shut up.

* * *

Update 2: Check out our heroine, Dodger Thoughts reader Molly Knight of, guesting at the Kamenetzky brothers' Blue Notes.

What a Difference a Week Makes
2007-09-25 17:21
by Jon Weisman

The last time the Dodgers took the field at home, they were serious National League wild-card contenders. Now, the playoffs merely represent the art of the barely possible.

The rookies are under the microscope more than ever from the media's standpoint. Strange, isn't it? Though the season is all but over, though the kids have by numerous measures excelled this season, though they actually deserve the benefit of the doubt because they have the time and ability to improve, the opposite is the case.

Dodger fans, I suspect, are mostly of a different mind. There will be those who only recognize the most recognizable, and will be disappointed to see tonight's lineup missing Nomar Garciaparra, Rafael Furcal and Luis Gonzalez. But more and more people have been exposed to Matt Kemp, James Loney, Russell Martin and friends, and are tantalized by how close the organization is to recreating the mostly homegrown champs of the 1970s and 1980s.

Everyone needs to do their best on the field. That's really the only message that needed to be sent to any player, young and old, in the tumultuous past week. Just do your best on the field. Management needs help, but it doesn't really need the players' help.

There are going to be some big decisions coming up for the Dodgers this offseason. Shortsightedness will be a killer.

* * *

Tonight's game:


Retro Gameday

Two Quick Links
2007-09-25 08:40
by Jon Weisman

Danny McDevitt, who pitched the last game at Ebbets Field for the Dodgers and threw a shutout, gets profiled today in the Times by Jerry Crowe:

When the Dodgers played their final game in Brooklyn, on a Tuesday evening 50 years ago Monday, the sadness enshrouding Ebbets Field was so impenetrable that not even a five-hit shutout by Danny McDevitt could shake it.

Setting the depressing tone, Vin Scully recalls, was the song selection of organist Gladys Goodding, whose music infused the maudlin mood.

"If I remember correctly, the very first song she played was 'My Buddy,' a pretty down song, and it went down from there. All of us in listening to the music were aware of her mental state, and I'm sure she was dipping into the brown bag, and the music kept getting more depressing every third out. ...

"Everybody knew they were done," Scully says of the Dodgers' time in Brooklyn. "There wasn't a soul in New York that thought they were coming back."

Except one, apparently.

McDevitt, a little-known rookie left-hander on a team littered with name stars such as Pee Wee Reese, Duke Snider, Roy Campanella and Gil Hodges, says he had no idea that game would be the Dodgers' Brooklyn swan song. This may explain how McDevitt, who had made his major league debut only three months earlier, effectively maintained his composure on a gloomy Sept. 24, 1957, pitching the Dodgers to a 2-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates in front of 6,702. ...

Crowe's story goes on to note that McDevitt later directed anti-poverty programs in the Mississippi Delta and Mobile, Alabama, at one point living next to Byron De La Beckwith, who was later convicted in the Medgar Evers murder.

"I'm helping these black kids down there and he's my neighbor," McDevitt says of the Klansman. "I used to go to the backyard and he'd make these wax bullets for his .45. I could outshoot him, so he knew that I was dangerous."

* * *

Though not about baseball, this Times article breaking down the post-injury treatment of Buffalo Bills tight end Kevin Everett, whose life and limbs were in jeopardy following a tackle, might fascinate you as much as it did me. The prognosis for Everett (quadriplegia, breathing from a ventilator) has flipped about 180 degrees, and the medical world is trying to discern what conclusions, if any, it can draw from Everett's treatment. (It helps to have the very best, very quickly - that's for sure.)

By Mistake, An Open Chat Thread
2007-09-24 20:03
by Jon Weisman

Crazy Internet.

'Congratulations, Universe - You Win'
2007-09-24 09:30
by Jon Weisman

T.J. Simers is lecturing the Dodgers and their fans about behavior and respect.

T.J. Simers.

* * *

Here's my latest tour of the National League West at's Fungoes.

Also, Dodger Thoughts reader Erin Wilson has a new blog going: Blue Thoughts, though she says she will soon change the name because the blog's scope has expanded beyond the Dodgers.

* * *

The California Parks Foundation is having a charity online auction on September 27th and one of the items is a Dodger fan package including box seats to a game. Proceeds will help to protect and preserve California's state parks, but bidders do not have to live in California to bid.

* * *

Update: Mark Whicker of the Register strikes a blow for sanity:

The fact that they're 22-29 since then is a disaster that James Loney, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Russell Martin and Chad Billingsley have done their best to prevent.

The Dodgers lost because they got one victory out of Jason Schmidt, and because Randy Wolf didn't pitch an inning after July 3, and because Hong-Chih Kuo was gone after June 26, and because Derek Lowe went from 16-8 to 12-13.

They lost because Rafael Furcal and Juan Pierre, the 1-2 hitters, rank 53rd and 57th in NL on-base percentage, and because Jonathan Broxton began throwing home run balls at game-breaking times, and because Nomar Garciaparra had 24 extra-base hits all season, and because there wasn't enough bench to sustain everything.

They did not lose because of their kids — or because of Kent, for that matter, since the second baseman had a scorching July and had a .498 slugging percentage. ...

The Dodgers' instability has traditionally spawned a culture of complaint, and that's a problem Little, Ned Colletti and Frank McCourt must fix.

It's simple self-preservation. Generally, players get more selfish the older they get and the more often they're traded. Bringing in the Wise Old Veteran only works if the WOV can still play. If he can't, he starts politicking for more innings and that one final contract. You could heat the Yukon with all the deadwood that lives in the Dodgers' room.

Youth Movement Bullet Points
2007-09-23 08:54
by Jon Weisman

It does not make sense to blame a youth movement for a team's troubles:

  • if a team for the most part has been acquiring the wrong veterans

  • if the ability of young players to fill key roles frees up money for a team to pursue truly great veterans

  • if a team's young players have been among its most productive, no matter how pampered you perceive them to be

  • if a team's veteran players are more pampered than the younger players, not only through excessive salary but also a sense of entitlement that means they don't need to play well to retain their jobs

  • if a team's younger players are held back by a manager who won't let them contribute as much as they can

  • if a team's true leader is one of its youngest players

  • if a team's chemistry was a non-issue until the losing started, and the losing isn't the fault of the younger players' on-field performance

  • if a team hasn't really committed to a youth movement in past disappointing seasons, because in the past the prospects weren't as good as they are now

    One of the phonier damnations of the Dodger farm system accuses the team of failing to produce a bonafide star from the minor leagues, despite the Dodger system being highly rated for years. The flaw in the argument is that until recently, these so-called high rankings for the Dodger farm system did not exist.

    Both Baseball Weekly and Baseball America had low rankings for the Dodger system as this decade began. As recently as 2002, the Dodgers were considered incompetent at the draft, with their No. 1 pick, two-way player James Loney, an apparent anachronism - a tools player from high school drafted ahead of proven, specialized college talent. That the dim Dodgers were putting Loney at first base instead of on the mound befuddled analysts even further. ...

  • if a team has preached patience with youth in the past but never really practiced it

  • if any idiot can see that the team's future is brighter than its past.

    * * *

    Today's 1:40 p.m. game:


    Retro Gameday

  • Five, Five, Five, Five, Let's Sing a Song of Five
    2007-09-22 16:47
    by Jon Weisman

    Happy birthday to my darling girl.

    * * *

    Tonight's 6:40 p.m. game:


    Retro Gameday

    Spat! The Musical
    2007-09-22 07:06
    by Jon Weisman

    Music by Diamond Leung, Al Balderas, Tony Jackson, Dylan Hernandez and T.J. Simers

    Lyrics by Grady Little, Ned Colletti, James Loney, Matt Kemp and Jeff Kent

    Call Me Responsible
    Everyone has their share of responsibility
    I certainly do as the manager
    I'm the one who makes the lineups.
    I'm the one who pushes the buttons
    And waits to see
    If it's the right or wrong button
    I'm as much responsible as any player we got out there.
    I accept all responsibility
    I did the best I could
    But if I was a fan
    I wouldn't blame them for being really upset
    What with all the expectations here coming into this season
    I think the lineup will be a little bit different this last week of the season

    Losing Is For Losers
    I know how much Jeff Kent
    Wants to win
    And hates to lose

    I think he shares that frustration
    That all of us feel at this point in time
    There aren't many of us who don't feel it

    If I wanted to clarify anything
    I would've done it yesterday
    Are there no reasons we lost?

    The season is over
    And I'm mad
    Look around this clubhouse

    Is there any sense of loss?
    They don't get it.
    There's no sense of failure in here

    The Kids Are Alright
    So basically the young guys don't want to win the game?
    We're busting our (behinds)
    We're used to winning
    And we're not used to losing (in the minors)
    If you want to put the blame on the younger guys
    I guess you have someone to put the blame on

    We're playing hurt
    Our hearts are in it
    We come to play every day
    It's not about age
    Everyone wants to win - young or old
    I haven't played with anybody that doesn't care about winning

    Who said he was a leader?
    If you take the younger guys away
    Do you have a team?

    The younger guys
    We work hard
    We play hard
    We're trying to make a name in the game for ourselves

    The older guys
    They've already made their names for themselves
    We don't want to get that bad rap
    That we don't want to win
    Or we don't want to play hard
    Because you won't make it far in this game

    That's not just in baseball
    That's in life
    Definitely, things get misinterpreted
    You really need to get to learn that person.
    A lot of people don't want to take that time.
    A lot of people are too lazy to do that.

    Having fun is part of the game
    If you came up here
    And you were serious all the time
    That's not fun.
    Joking with your boys, that's fun
    It helps you relax
    You don't have to think of all the pressures
    You think of just having fun
    But we've been serious when we get between the white lines

    Call Me Responsible (Interlude)
    Everyone's got a piece of this
    Including me (said the general manager)

    The results have put
    A lot of people on edge
    People are bound to speak out
    People are bound to be

    We've got a lot of people in there
    That haven't been through this
    At this time of the season
    It's not a good thing
    That you like to

    It'll be fine
    We'll keep going
    But it's only human nature
    That it will be a little bit different
    In this last week of the season
    Maybe we'll win a

    We just have a lot of people
    Who haven't been through
    This time of the season
    Where you aren't still fighting
    For something at the

    It's not a good thing
    There is a lot of frustration
    And understandably so
    But it's like anything else in life
    You deal with it
    We're going to keep

    In a lot of ways
    I think it's a two-way street
    It's like a marriage
    For those who have successful marriages
    That's a two-way street

    (Building cohesion) has been something
    That in some ways could've been better
    We'll do our best for it to be better
    The next time the situation comes up
    But I don't foresee it coming up like this in my life-

    I think the lineup will be a little bit different this last week of the season I think the lineup will be a little bit different this last week of the season I think the lineup will be a little bit different this last week of the season I think the lineup will be a little bit different this last week of the season

    Our 2008 Third Baseman's First Name Should Start With the Letter 'A'
    2007-09-21 17:48
    by Jon Weisman

    Tonight's 6:40 p.m. game:


    Retro Gameday

    The Open Wound: The Day After
    2007-09-21 08:30
    by Jon Weisman

    Okay, I've read Bill Plaschke's Times column on the Jeff Kent quotes three times. And as put off as I was by the way it began, it is worth some scrutiny.

    It starts off by saying:

    This youth movement has officially gotten old.

    I thought it would work, I really did, but I admit today that I am wrong.

    Right away, you think you know what the column is going to argue. But then, on the third read, I finally focused on a paragraph I was glossing over.

    A youth movement works only when the veterans are flexible enough to move. The Dodgers veterans, it turns out, were not.

    To me, despite everything else in the column, this means Plaschke is not blaming the youth movement itself. If you read the whole column, he blames - it's hard to say really. Everybody? He seems to be reassert that the team's direction was correct, but within that framework, everyone could have handled things better. And that's a reasonable hypothesis.

    Plaschke goes on to assign partial responsibility for this clubhouse combustion to manager Grady Little, a man who earlier this month he said was handling the transition superbly. Now, Plaschke isn't so sure, but goes on to absolve Little by saying he had an impossible task keeping everyone happy.

    Was it impossible? I want to think not, but I don't know. In any case, I still think having the right players on the field at the right times is more important than keeping them happy in the clubhouse. Not that the latter isn't important at all, it's just less important.

    Anyway, the point Plaschke seems to be going after is subtle - almost too subtle. Here's how the column ends:

    Kent's comments show Little has lost a part of the clubhouse he must win back before that can work.

    As for Kent, he will make noises about retiring, especially since the Dodgers will reduce his playing time next year while playing Tony Abreu. But I've got 9 million reasons he will return, his option having vested on Thursday, not coincidentally the same day he publicly complained.

    In case he is wondering if the Dodgers bosses were listening, I've got three words for him.

    They'd better be.

    What exactly is the message Plaschke wants Dodger leadership to get, and how does he want them to react in tangible terms? Am I being dim? I've read the column four times now, and I still don't really know. Is it, "Do the youth movement, but do it right?" If so, I agree with Plaschke - with the qualifier that I still am not completely sure everyone agrees on what "doing it right" means.

    Update: The copy editors of the Times didn't quite get the subtlety, either. Their print headline for the column's jump: The youth movement is a flop.

    And To Think They Wore All Those Funny Costumes Without Complaint ...
    2007-09-20 17:00
    by Jon Weisman

    Jeff Kent had a fine offensive season, but next to him, Takashi Saito and Brad Penny, it was the kids who kept the Dodgers in contention.

    Apparently, that's not how Kent sees it, according to Diamond Leung of the Press-Enterprise:

    According to Kent, one of the problems was the amount of young players on the team.

    "Especially when you have a lot of them, it's hard to influence a group of them. I don't know why they don't get it - professionalism, how to manufacture runs, how to keep your emotions in it."

    "I'm angry and disappointed and perplexed and bitter."

    Dodger Thoughts commenter BHsportsguy offers this reaction:

    I have heard him say that he thinks there a lot of good young players that can play too (on his Prime Ticket interview).

    I think the frustration blew up over the last couple of weeks starting in San Francisco and ending here.

    Probably what set it off was the continued merry-go-around at third base, by now Loney and Kemp have been around, they make some mistakes but those are outweighed by their talent.

    But my guess is that certain guys felt that Nomar and Gonzo should get most of the time and unless he was tired, Kent probably should play too.

    All this being said, I think it is a poor choice of words and is something that should have been kept in the clubhouse.

    I agree that the Dodgers, young and old, probably have lots of steam to let out over the team's late-summer collapse.

    Still, Dodger rookies have my permission to sit the next hazing ritual out.

    Update: Ken Gurnick has more at

    "Right now, I can't give an answer to the future. I'm trying to get through the emotions of the season right now, rather than about the possibility of next year.

    "We're in a bad spot right now. Elimination time is three games away. Soon, we'll give up the ghost and it's going to be painful. We're close to the end of the season and close to the end of a career for me. I'm running out of time and a lot of kids don't understand that. They haven't been there."

    When you hear there's a split between the older Dodgers and the younger ones, some of it can get a little personal, especially when somebody's inevitably about to take away your job. But for Kent, it's strictly professional. He remembers being a young player that respected veterans and learned from them and he doesn't see that happening with this generation, or at least the large group of 20-somethings in his clubhouse.

    "I don't know what it is, but especially when you have a lot of them, it's hard to influence a lot of them," he said. "Don't get me wrong -- we have a lot of good kids. But it's hard to translate experience. I don't know why they don't get it.

    "It's professionalism. It's manufacturing runs, keeping your emotions in it. Experience can pull you through more than inexperience, experience helps more than inexperience. It's hard to give experience, just like that," Kent said, snapping his fingers.

    Kent seems to be saying that the kids are talented but misbehaved - kind of like my kids. Perhaps the kids aren't respectful enough; perhaps they aren't suffering enough, feeling enough disappointment. Still, I wonder, considering how well the kids performed, how much they contributed to the cause, why is he pointing the finger only at them? And certainly, has the effort of the core kids been any less at all than that put out by the grownups?

    Update 2: Al Balderas' version of Kent's quote in the Register:

    "How do you teach the young kids?" Kent asked. "I don't know if the older guys said that about me when I was a young kid, too. I don't know what it is. Especially when you have a lot of them, it's hard to influence a big group of them. We've got some good kids on this team. Please don't misinterpret my impression of them. But as far as trying to translate experience, I don't know why they don't get it."

    Update 3: And now Kevin Baxter in the Times:

    "You can use all your fingers on your hand and point around," he said. "There's many, many things that have happened that are perplexing. Many things that have happened that are curious. Many things that have happened that are unfortunate.

    "And you can't really put a finger on it. But you can point to it. Those things are disappointing. And frustrating as well."

    Asked if those curious and perplexing things included Manager Grady Little's daily lineups and the coaching staff's game strategy, Kent responded: "Everything." ...

    There has been an obvious and growing tension all season between the Dodgers' veterans and youngsters. Publicly, at least, that discord had remained largely under control and Kent is the only one who has spoken out on the record.

    But as the Dodgers' postseason hopes began to fade, costing both the 39-year-old Kent and 40-year-old Luis Gonzalez what could be their final shot at a second World Series, the tension has bubbled to the surface.

    Little Things Mean a Lot
    2007-09-20 10:41
    by Jon Weisman

    Okay, here it is. It's nothing definitive, other than to remind people that the possibility that sacking the manager is a frying pan-into-the-fire situation. But for, a column I've written on Grady Little:

    The easiest thing to do in baseball is to blame the manager. The hardest thing to do is find someone who can do the job better.

    With the Los Angeles Dodgers tumbling from first place in the National League West on July 29 to fourth place on Thursday morning, despite the highest payroll and arguably the most contributions from the farm system of any team in the division, some Dodgers fans aren't looking for someone to blame. They've already found their man, and folks in the Northeast will probably recognize the name.

    If Grady Little hasn't worn out his welcome in Los Angeles yet, he's worn it down. Thanks to the development of sassily talented young players such as James Loney, Matt Kemp, Russell Martin and Chad Billingsley, there's plenty of hope for the Dodgers in 2008. But after a honeymoon in 2006 that saw Los Angeles reach the playoffs, there's also plenty of doubt as to whether Little is the right manager for the job. ...

    * * *

    Tonight's 12:05 p.m. game:


    Retro Gameday

    Do We Really Need This Level of Stupidity?
    2007-09-20 07:13
    by Jon Weisman


    Perhaps one of the biggest disappointments of 2007 is how little progress the Dodgers have made in reducing their macho, injury-inducing culture.

    From Diamond Leung of the Press-Enterprise:

    (Jonathan) Broxton revealed he's had some soreness in his right arm after appearing in his 80th game -- the fourth-highest total in franchise history.

    "I won't back down," said Broxton, who surrendered his second homer in as many days and his fifth this month. "I'll go until I get hurt."

    This, a day after learning that Rafael Furcal's back problems are the result of him compensating for the bum ankle he hasn't rested in months.


    The Coolbaugh Tragedy
    2007-09-19 20:30
    by Jon Weisman

    There's a powerful story on the death of Rockies coach Mike Coolbaugh in this week's Sports Illustrated.

    * * *

    The Dodgers might take a Spring Training trip to China next year, reports The Associated Press.

    September 19 Game Chat
    2007-09-19 17:17
    by Jon Weisman

    Tonight's 5:35 p.m. game:


    Retro Gameday

    Kiss Me Deadly
    2007-09-18 22:13
    by Jon Weisman

    There's so much I could say now, though most of it would be obvious and therefore pointless.

    On a personal note, I do keep thinking about that error Rafael Furcal made 11 days ago in San Francisco. The team was on such a roll before that inadvertent stumble. For me, so much changed from that point on. It's been uphill ever since.

    And the Dodgers' rivals keep winning.

    Who better, in a way, than Takashi Saito to give up the crushing home run tonight? Someone whom we couldn't possibly be mad at. Someone who falters so rarely that when he does in a critical moment, one strike away from victory, resignation opens the door for you with utter grace. I'm enough of a sap to only tiptoe in, but I'm not looking back.

    It's been a schizophrenic year. It's been a year of transition, a year of potential, and it has just gotten away from us. Everyone will have their opinion of what went wrong. It will be interesting to see how the Dodgers assess it. Some mistakes, like a Furcal error or a 1-2 pitch from Saito to Todd Helton, just happen. Some mistakes don't need to be repeated.

    * * *

    I've had to come to terms with something recently. I tear up at movies. Like, pretty often, not just Brian's Song often. A movie hits me in a certain way, and I'm hopeless. It's the wife and kids that did it to me, and it's done.

    And there is no crying in baseball, not for me. There's moaning and groaning and cursing, but no crying. I've invested ... well, I've invested every day since the 2006 season in this 2007 season, and yet nothing in a day like today moved me as much as the movie I saw for work this morning. Completely off guard, I was forced into surreptitiously wiping at my eyes.

    I used to wonder whether I could ever be as happy when the Dodgers won as I was sad when the Dodgers lost. Not anymore. In all these years since 1988, I've changed. I've learned how to treasure the good in baseball, and fear the worst elsewhere. I'll remember last year's September 18, not this year's. And so even on a day as depressing as today was for the Dodgers, I'm going to keep the faith. I'm still looking forward to when they win.

    Double Singleheader Day
    2007-09-18 11:56
    by Jon Weisman

    Today's first game (12:05 p.m.):


    Retro Gameday

    * * *

    Today's second game (5:35 p.m.):


    Retro Gameday

    Rafael Furcal is day-to-day (or, for the realists out there, season-to-season) with lower-back tightness, reports Kevin Baxter of the Times.

    4+1 ... +1
    2007-09-18 06:35
    by Jon Weisman

    September 18, 2006:

    Your Evening Sedative

    Tonight's Game

    Not to be fatalistic, but if the Dodgers led the National League West by 1 1/2 games after tonight's contest, you probably wouldn't feel completely secure about their chances of holding that lead. So no reason to despair if Jake Peavy and the Padres push the Dodgers down by that much.

    No doubt, a win tonight would be a huge boost for Los Angeles going forward. And I wouldn't dismiss the Dodgers' chances of defeating Peavy tonight. The NL West has been particularly persistent this year in humbling those who think they've got things licked.

    In any event, contrary to popular belief, nothing gets decided tonight except one game.

    Wild one tonight in Philadelphia, home of the Dodgers main wild-card rival. The Phillies are trying to make magic after falling behind to the Cubs, 8-0. A grand slam by ex-Dodger Jose Hernandez boosted Philadelphia to six runs in the bottom of the fourth, but Ryan Howard struck out with the tying runs on.

    * * *

    2006-09-18 22:34:06
    561. Benaiah
    Well, our strategy of using their offense to induce inferior relievers has worked at least.

    2006-09-18 22:34:24
    563. ninjavshippo
    kent is one of the few blue men with a pulse tonight...

    2006-09-18 22:34:39
    565. Steve in Rochester
    Jeff Kent, are you kidding?

    2006-09-18 22:34:56
    566. MSarg29
    I have to be at work in less than 8 hrs and I'm just sick to my stomach. I wont even get any sleep.

    2006-09-18 22:35:00
    567. JoeyP
    Adkins just pulled a Lance Carter.
    Nice set up job.

    2006-09-18 22:35:10
    568. Bob Timmermann
    Condition yellow on the cycle alert.

    2006-09-18 22:35:49
    570. ninjavshippo
    note to self: curb your enthusiasm.

    2006-09-18 22:35:57
    571. Xeifrank
    Is Kent teasing us?
    vr, Xei

    2006-09-18 22:36:03
    572. underdog
    Well, this makes the 3 spot given up in the 9th even more painful.

    Wait, I was supposed to stop watching this game. What's wrong with me?

    2006-09-18 22:36:18
    574. Steve in Rochester
    what the????

    2006-09-18 22:36:38
    575. JoeyP

    This is even more excruciating.

    2006-09-18 22:37:10
    576. underdog
    LOL. I'm sorry, this is hilarious. Even on GameDay it's hilarious.

    2006-09-18 22:37:14
    577. Xeifrank
    A little late for back to back solo jobs.

    vr, Xei
    2006-09-18 22:37:23

    578. Vaudeville Villain
    J.D. Drew and Jeff Kent stop getting my hopes up!

    They're destined to come agonizingly close and then be unable to come through.

    Also, Lugo gets to bat. Blah.

    2006-09-18 22:37:34
    579. ninjavshippo
    maybe hoffman trips and tweaks an ankle on the run from the bullpen to the mound?

    2006-09-18 22:37:34
    580. StolenMonkey86
    I like this hit the ball out of the park idea. We should do it more often

    2006-09-18 22:37:37
    581. Benaiah
    Hmmm... very interesting. If Saito... no I don't even want to say it.

    2006-09-18 22:37:40
    582. Gagne55
    I can't believe Little used Broxton this game. His arm is hanging on by a thread at this point. Nice way to blow it, Little.

    2006-09-18 22:37:59
    583. underdog
    578 Against Hoffman no less. Whee! Back to NBC with me.
    2006-09-18 22:38:09

    584. Bob Timmermann
    19 baserunners for the Dodgers tonight. 21 for the Padres. That's made this game into a Yankees-Red Sox like affair.

    2006-09-18 22:38:10
    585. joekings
    This is just making it worse.

    2006-09-18 22:38:26
    586. ninjavshippo
    581 - i blame grits for using saito in a non-save situation! ;)

    2006-09-18 22:38:26
    587. micktissue
    ugh ... I mean yea!

    2006-09-18 22:38:26
    588. RELX
    As frustrating as those last two homers were, if Saito hadn't given up any runs, Adkins would not have been in the game.

    2006-09-18 22:38:38
    590. Xeifrank
    I don't think Little had anything to do with blowing this game and I'm usually the 3rd person to point out such a thing.
    vr, Xei

    2006-09-18 22:39:10
    592. ninjavshippo
    WHOA! okay, now i can't help myself.. i'm PUMPED!

    2006-09-18 22:39:33
    594. Vaudeville Villain
    Martin hits it out!!!

    Oh for the love of your preferred celestial power!

    2006-09-18 22:40:11
    596. micktissue
    oh my ...

    2006-09-18 22:40:16
    597. StolenMonkey86
    Go Russ!

    2006-09-18 22:40:30
    598. Vaudeville Villain

    Marlon Anderson!!!!
    2006-09-18 22:40:32
    599. capdodger

    This is what happens when I turn Mosaic off...

    2006-09-18 22:40:33
    600. Benaiah
    Restrain you yourself...

    2006-09-18 22:40:33
    601. underdog

    What the heck. I think I'm on drugs -- or the Dodgers are.

    2006-09-18 22:40:40
    602. Bob Timmermann






    2006-09-18 22:40:43
    603. MSarg29
    oh my god

    2006-09-18 22:40:43
    604. Xeifrank
    Gameday seems to be broke. It keeps on saying every Dodger hitter is hitting a home run. Major software bug or something.
    vr, Xei

    2006-09-18 22:40:43
    605. joekings

    2006-09-18 22:40:43
    606. Andrew Shimmin
    Learn your lesson!

    2006-09-18 22:40:58
    607. Steve in Rochester
    this can't be happening.

    2006-09-18 22:41:04
    608. gibsonhobbs88
    521 - Murphy's Law rules when the Dodgers play the Padres this year. No matter what we do, the dice keep coming up craps. I wonder if there is a little voodoo lady living in SD with pins in Dodger dolls somewhere. She only does it when the Padres play the Dodgers to not arouse suspicion.

    2006-09-18 22:41:05
    609. capdodger

    2006-09-18 22:41:18
    610. Benaiah
    OH MY GOD!!!

    2006-09-18 22:41:29
    611. underdog

    Tell me this isn't a dream.

    2006-09-18 22:41:29
    612. JoeyP
    I dont believe what I'm seeing.

    2006-09-18 22:41:32
    614. micktissue
    And my wife is asking me to come to bed now! She just doesn't understand ...

    2006-09-18 22:41:47
    615. skybluestoday
    Pinch me, I'm dreaming.

    2006-09-18 22:41:54
    616. Bob Timmermann
    I would bet sizeable amount of money that in the history of baseball, no team has ever rallied from a 4-run deficit with 4 consecutive home runs.


    2006-09-18 22:41:55
    617. Johnny Nucleo
    I will never forget this. Never.

    2006-09-18 22:41:57
    618. MSarg29
    Gameday is screwing w/ us? Is this really happening?

    2006-09-18 22:42:06
    619. Suffering Bruin
    OH MY GOD!!!

    I can't believe I was watching the Daily Show and missed the first three homeruns.

    2006-09-18 22:42:12
    620. capdodger
    I think I'm about to combust.

    Or get arrested because, to the neighbors it sounds like something horrible is going on here.

    2006-09-18 22:42:13
    621. Greg Brock
    What the hell did I miss.

    Whatever it is, I'm going to keep missing it.

    2006-09-18 22:42:38
    623. Xeifrank
    I am going to start watching on the tv now, so I can jinx this. vr, Xei

    2006-09-18 22:42:39
    624. Benaiah
    Wow. This blows the Finley home run straight out the window.
    2006-09-18 22:42:58

    625. trainwreck
    Doing my best not to swear.
    2006-09-18 22:43:18

    626. Jon Weisman
    I've seen multiple no-hitters, but that may be the most incredible thing I've ever witnessed at a baseball game.
    2006-09-18 22:43:21

    627. RELX
    FRUSTRATION OVER! Bring on Hamulack, this game is blessed/cursed, i don't know which.

    2006-09-18 22:43:51
    628. micktissue
    2006-09-18 22:44:08

    629. Bob Timmermann
    That was just the fourth time a team had ever hit four straight home runs.

    The last time was by Minnesota at KC on May 2, 1964 in the 11th inning.

    2006-09-18 22:44:25
    630. Vaudeville Villain

    4 consecutive home runs to tie it up.

    Jeff Kent, J.D. Drew, Russell Martin, Marlon Anderson.

    2006-09-18 22:44:31
    631. Greg Brock
    We're doing this because I'm not watching.

    I swear to G-d.

    2006-09-18 22:44:45
    632. ninjavshippo
    jeez... if we find a way to lose this game, i will be more crushed than ever... but if we win.... (!)

    2006-09-18 22:45:17
    633. Johnny Nucleo
    Um, anyone watching on TV see something come down that looked like the hand of God?

    2006-09-18 22:45:24
    634. Bob Timmermann
    May 2, 1964.

    2006-09-18 22:45:27
    635. JoeyP
    This is more improbably than Gibson's homer.

    I dont think I've ever seen anything so unbelievable.

    2006-09-18 22:46:21
    636. Vaudeville Villain
    And Furcal...Just...Missed it.
    2006-09-18 22:46:26

    637. Xeifrank
    I just turned the tv back on and saw the three outs in a row. Jinx! vr, Xei
    2006-09-18 22:46:30

    638. RELX
    Does it even matter if we win this thing anymore? Moments like these are why it is great to be a baseball fan!
    2006-09-18 22:46:36

    639. Benaiah
    This is the coolest thing I have ever seen.
    2006-09-18 22:46:50

    640. Gagne55
    OMG, i go to the bathroom, come back, and it's tied. Hoffman's first blown save against the Blue since i think 2001.

    2006-09-18 22:47:11
    642. underdog
    Yeah, I think if they lose this game now, it's going to be particularly cruel. But I'm sure freaking out in a positive way at the moment.

    Btw, this is all because I stopped watching the game on MLBTV on the net, and just followed it on GameDay while watching TV. So you can thank me in part.

    2006-09-18 22:47:12
    643. Linkmeister
    Er, Holy Cow!
    2006-09-18 22:47:19

    644. Uncle Miltie
    what the This game is really distracting me. I'm supposed to be studying for a geology midterm!
    2006-09-18 22:47:56

    645. underdog
    Did Furcal just miss it? I couldn't tell from GameDay. That would have been miraculous.

    2006-09-18 22:47:57
    646. Bob Timmermann
    Aaron Sele - the buzzkill.

    2006-09-18 22:48:01
    647. JoeyP
    The Dodgers have hit 6 solo homers tonite.
    Back-Back-Back-Back in the 9th inning.

    Marlon Anderson is 5-5 with 2HRs tonite.

    2006-09-18 22:48:28
    649. Johnny Nucleo
    Needless to say, all thoughts of going back to thesis-writing have gone by the wayside.

    2006-09-18 22:48:51
    651. ninjavshippo
    647 - this has to go down in history as the "Marlon Anderson" game.

    2006-09-18 22:49:09
    652. RELX
    Because it looks so good, here is Gameday instant replay, brought you to by all the Dodger fans awake at 2AM on the east coast!

    Bottom 9TH B:1 S:0 O:0
    Jeff Kent homers (14) on a fly ball to center field.

    Bottom 9TH B:2 S:1 O:0
    J. D. Drew homers (17) on a fly ball to right field.

    Bottom 9TH B:0 S:0 O:0
    Pitcher Change: Trevor Hoffman replaces Jon Adkins, batting 9th.

    Bottom 9TH B:0 S:0 O:0
    Coaching visit to mound.

    Bottom 9TH B:0 S:0 O:0
    Russell Martin homers (10) on a fly ball to left field.

    Bottom 9TH B:0 S:0 O:0
    Marlon Anderson homers (9) on a fly ball to right field.

    2006-09-18 22:49:15
    653. Gagne55
    647 And all the DT posters were hollering for Andre Ethier. Looks like Little got something right at least.

    2006-09-18 22:49:16
    654. JoeyP
    Put it this way.
    Tonite is baseball history.

    Its lkely you'll never see something like that again ever.

    2006-09-18 22:49:21
    655. Bob Timmermann
    The only NL team prior to tonight that hit four straight home runs was the Braves.

    They lost the game

    2006-09-18 22:49:37
    656. Xeifrank
    645. Furcal hit it near the edge of the warning track. vr, Xei

    2006-09-18 22:49:58
    657. underdog
    Crap, and the hurting begins anew. I'm scared - somebody hold me.
    2006-09-18 22:51:03

    658. StolenMonkey86
    no, that's Manny Alexander on deck, not Mike Piazza.

    2006-09-18 22:51:04
    659. Xeifrank
    655. So you're saying we got a shot!
    vr, Xei

    2006-09-18 22:51:06
    660. Linkmeister
    If it's gotta be extra innings, at least it's at home.

    2006-09-18 22:51:08
    661. Bob Timmermann
    My feelings transcend any thesaurus now.

    2006-09-18 22:52:02
    665. JoeyP
    Even if the Dodgers lose, it doesnt take away the awesomeness of the 9th ining.

    Baseball is supposed to be enterainment, and that was one of the greatest things i've ever seen.

    I dont care how the game finishes at this point. I really dont.

    2006-09-18 22:52:52
    669. Vaudeville Villain
    When I said Marlon Anderson was redundant, I was obviously on crack.

    There was no on else like him alive.
    In his day, he was the mightiest man on earth,
    highborn and powerful.

    Beowulf appropriation.

    2006-09-18 22:53:18
    671. confucius
    I swear to god if the Dodgers bullpen blows this game...

    2006-09-18 22:53:32
    672. underdog
    That's true Joey, it really is. I just think I'll feel a weird sense of frustration if they lose now given the miraculous comeback. But win or lose, it really is unforgettable.

    2006-09-18 22:54:06
    675. joekings
    I think I'm going to be sick.

    2006-09-18 22:54:37
    676. underdog
    {{cursing quietly to self at home}}

    2006-09-18 22:55:08
    677. Xeifrank
    oh well, better luck next ....
    vr, Xei

    2006-09-18 22:59:36
    684. Xeifrank
    ok, back to backs to win it.
    vr, Xei

    2006-09-18 23:00:17
    688. Bob Timmermann
    I don't believe anyone has been retired in order tonight on either side.

    2006-09-18 23:00:55
    689. das411
    WOW. Just scrolled through the last hundred or so Things like this are what makes baseball great...unbelieveable!

    2006-09-18 23:01:14
    690. capdodger
    At least the only have to get one back this time. And against Seanez...
    2006-09-18 23:02:06

    691. Jon Weisman
    Aaron Sele finished the 10th with the Dodgers' 200th pitch.

    2006-09-18 23:02:18
    692. Telemachos
    I'm sorry, everyone. I've jinxed the Dodgers.

    I tuned out in the top of the ninth, to do some work.

    Finished up, thought I would check the GameDay score, and saw 4 consecutive homers.

    Um, WHAT?

    Checked the TiVO and sure enough, it had stopped recording, so I couldn't flip back and watch them.

    So I immediately turned to Prime Ticket and set up recordings later for the replay.

    No sooner did I do that then Sele gave up the run.


    What a game.

    2006-09-18 23:03:35
    695. Johnny Nucleo
    Looking at the title of this thread, I have to laugh.

    2006-09-18 23:03:35
    696. scooplew
    The Seanez I remember throws a straight fastball. We should be able to do something with it.

    2006-09-18 23:03:38
    697. DeucesAreWild
    Nomar's up. I know what you are thinking. Don't say it!

    2006-09-18 23:03:43
    698. KG16
    I haven't really been paying attention the last week or so (in my defense my baby sister got married over the weekend), so let me ask...

    Have I missed anything?

    2006-09-18 23:03:49
    699. Jon Weisman
    Walk's as good as a hit, batter.
    2006-09-18 23:04:15

    700. confucius

    2006-09-18 23:04:43
    701. Greg Brock
    The greatest game ever played.

    2006-09-18 23:04:47
    702. KG16
    Just in time...

    2006-09-18 23:04:51
    703. StolenMonkey86

    2006-09-18 23:04:54
    704. Telemachos



    2006-09-18 23:04:57
    705. Linkmeister

    2006-09-18 23:05:23
    707. micktissue

    2006-09-18 23:05:26
    708. trainwreck
    To beat a dead horse...


    2006-09-18 23:05:37
    709. Uncle Miltie

    2006-09-18 23:05:37
    710. JoeyP
    That was unbelievable.
    Whatever bats the Dodgers used during the 9th/10th innings, they need to keep using those.


    2006-09-18 23:05:45
    712. underdog
    Guys, I don't know you very well, but I think I want to hug all of you right now very very much. I'm both extremely happy, and not a little scared that the end of the world may be nigh.

    2006-09-18 23:06:28
    715. DeucesAreWild
    My head exploded.


    Arms, Legs, and Torso.

    2006-09-18 23:06:59
    716. StolenMonkey86
    What a game!

    2006-09-18 23:07:32
    717. DeucesAreWild
    My head exploded.


    Arms, Legs, and Torso.

    (p.s. I think we broke The Toaster.)

    2006-09-18 23:07:49
    718. confucius
    Go crazy!!

    2006-09-18 23:08:16
    719. StolenMonkey86
    What a game!

    2006-09-18 23:09:04
    722. Bob Timmermann
    Win #8 for Aaron Sele.

    2006-09-18 23:09:46
    723. capdodger
    So I went upstairs for a blue gatorade and came back down to "Nomar Garciaparra homers (18) on a fly ball to left field. Kenny Lofton scores."

    Even though it is but salt, sugar, and filtered water I think that it will have to be savored.

    2006-09-18 23:11:29
    726. Johnny Nucleo
    712-Yes, I feel that a group hug is in order.

    2006-09-18 23:11:54
    727. scooplew
    I saw my first game on July 3, 1955, at Ebbets Field. I was 7. I am in my 52nd season of being a Dodgers fan. I just told my daughter, who is 19, that tonight's game may have been the greatest game in major league history.

    2006-09-18 23:11:58
    728. micktissue

    That was definitely the most amazing game I've ever, uh, heard

    2006-09-18 23:11:59
    729. Xeifrank
    Best Dodger game since the Gibson HR.
    vr, Xei

    2006-09-18 23:12:20
    730. underdog
    Highlights on Sportscenter - NOW.

    2006-09-18 23:14:00
    733. NPB
    This is the second-greatest moment in Dodgers history. And that may have been the greatest single baseball game of all time. It was certainly the greatest comeback of all time. Oh man.

    2006-09-18 23:14:27
    734. Steve in Rochester
    this I can say is unequivocally the greatest experience of my sports watching life.

    2006-09-18 23:14:33
    735. Bob Timmermann
    The Dodgers are no longer last in the NL in home runs.

    Last time the Dodgers hit seven home runs at Dodger Stadium.

    2006-09-18 23:14:51
    736. Blue in SF
    I am moving back to LA...
    2006-09-18 23:15:00

    737. Uncle Miltie
    Just saw the highlights. Incredible.

    2006-09-18 23:15:11
    739. Greg Brock
    No words...Should have sent a poet.

    Plus, I think the hamster that powers the Toaster just died of exhaustion on the wheel.

    2006-09-18 23:15:17
    740. MSarg29
    I cant believe it. Before I got word on Gameday, my Mom called me to give me the news. Gotta love that she is up in NJ watching the game. Unbelievable!

    2006-09-18 23:15:44
    741. confucius
    That was the best game I'll ever watch.

    2006-09-18 23:16:06
    743. towerofpower



    2006-09-18 23:17:20
    745. Benaiah
    I think that if I jumped off a building right now I would float down as softly as a feather. After all, I must be dreaming.

    2006-09-18 23:17:29
    746. Ken Arneson
    The next time the Dodgers to a comeback this crazy, y'all need to warn me so I can adjust the server settings for the traffic spike.

    2006-09-18 23:17:38
    748. Linkmeister
    739 You thinkin' WH Auden's "the center cannot hold?"

    2006-09-18 23:17:50
    749. underdog
    I think we're overloading the DodgerThoughts server and causing it to implode with our group hugging.

    2006-09-18 23:18:26
    751. das411
    OK, that was officially insane. Live it up guys, if ever a group of people deserved a game like this it was you DTers. You'll forever savor the Dodger legends of Jeff Kent, JD Drew, Russ Martin, Marlon Anderson, and Nomah Garciaparra :)

    2006-09-18 23:18:43
    752. ninjavshippo
    still stunned

    2006-09-18 23:18:51
    753. Bob Timmermann
    Hold #30 for Scott Linebrink.

    2006-09-18 23:18:58
    754. confucius
    I just got text messages from everyone I know.

    2006-09-18 23:19:01
    755. Benaiah
    I want to see the Win Probability Added stats for this game.
    2006-09-18 23:19:11

    756. RELX
    739. Yeats said that--but he never hit four straight HR's to tie a game!!
    2006-09-18 23:19:19

    757. micktissue
    I'm going to do something I thought I'd never do. Because I don't have cable and I have to listen to all the games via

    I'm gonna buy that game!

    2006-09-18 23:19:36
    761. ninjavshippo
    751 - here here. as weird as it is to say, since i couldn't be with my local contingent of dodger crazies, i wouldn't have wanted to share it with anyone other than the DTers.

    2006-09-18 23:20:28
    764. RELX
    I want to play another game--NOW! Start Hamulack--we have no fear!

    2006-09-18 23:22:44
    767. Nick Iyengar
    I remember that a while back we were talking about how Jose Valentin managed to create a few memories in a Dodger uniform during his short stint in L.A., but Marlon Anderson has topped him by far. As strange as it is, it'll be a long time before we forget that Marlon Anderson was once a Dodger hero.

    2006-09-18 23:24:17
    769. RELX
    I watched Anderson play with the Mets last year, and he was a clutch player. I think he has earned another season in Dodger blue. Oh, and another start tomorrow night.

    2006-09-18 23:33:28
    777. popup
    What a gem of a game.

    Stan from Tacoma

    2006-09-19 01:34:33
    787. spacebrother
    Doing my part to run the comments to 1000-

    I was actually there tonight. Throughout the game, I kept telling my sister (a Padres fan) not to worry, the Dodgers would find some way to lose. I felt that, if I truly kept up this attitude, they had a chance, but I would have to TRULY believe that they would tank.

    My season tickets are shared with another guy, and he had the tix for tonight, so I bought some in section 52, next to the Pad's bullpen. Hoffman and the other guy (who was it that gave up the first 2 homers?) were warming up and with each hiss of the incoming ball and subsequent "thwack!" I saw the Dodgers going down.

    I even told my sister not to worry after the back-to-back-to-back-to-back. Our Dodgers would find a way to tank. When Sele came out in the 10th, and gave up the run, I was SURE of my prediction.

    Like one of the other posters said, a thesaurus does no good at times like this. Maybe I won't have to return all those post season tix I bought after all.

    Did anyone hear Nomah on KFWB after the game? He was right on the edge of tears. Listening to him brought me there too.

    Thanks to everyone and Jon for all the great stuff on this blog during this season. It always brings a smile, even when the Dodgers are falling by the wayside.

    2006-09-20 09:15:08
    790. Blaine
    I know that since this is at the end of this thread which is a few days old that no one may ever read this.

    I read through this thread a couple of days after the fact. What an awesome read. I love the comments about how worthless Nomar was early in the thread. I also loved how many times people gave up and vowed to watch a different TV show. I wonder how many people will regret watching the premiere of a TV show that will be forgotten in 10 years versus watching probably the greatest regular season non-pennant deciding game in Dodger history.

    It was funny to watch all of the fans in the parking lot trying to get back into the game when they heard the continual roar of the crowd from inside the stadium. It was just as amusing seeing the comments of people who went to have dinner, fell asleep or put the kids to bed to come back and realize that they missed a piece of history.

    On the game, this was my second greatest Dodger moment ever. I still vividly remember watching the Gibson homerun with my church youth group and how huge that celebration was. This time around, I was alone at home. My kids were in bed and my wife was on the computer (which is why I read the thread later) and she couldn't understand why I was yelling in the living room about something that "I have never seen before."

    While many DTers missed the heroics, my story is in reverse. I checked out of school a little bit early tonight and came home just in time to watch the most magical three innings that I had ever seen. The rest of my classmates were stuck in a classroom watching the big giant "homerun" come across their computer screens.

    Haha (say it quick, rather triumphantly.)

    What a game.

    11:10 p.m.
    Almost ... Almost ... YES!

    It has been a Friday night and Saturday night combined emotionally, but now it's starting to feel like Monday. ...

    This crowd is beside itself with joy. You can come down the wall now. ...

    A lot of the folks that left have decided to come back, so welcome back. ...


    A high fly ball to left field - it is a-way out and gone! The Dodgers win it, 11-10! Ha ha ha - unbelievable!



    I forgot to tell you. The Dodgers are in first place.

    - Vin Scully

    * * *

    The most intense game of the year, the most incredible game of many a year, ends in elation ... almost.

    The Dodgers exorcise the ghosts of April 30 ... almost.

    Down four in the ninth, four consecutive home runs - a first by a major league team since 1964, according to Vinny on the broadcast. And all it is is ... almost.

    Exactly 200 pitches thrown by Dodger pitchers and still alive ... almost.

    Rafael Furcal, Jeff Kent, J.D. Drew and Marlon Anderson all OPSing over .950 in September, and ... almost. Hold the Padres to two runs on Sunday, score nine runs on Monday ... almost.

    Almost nothing. YES!

    Perhaps the greatest game at Dodger Stadium since, or including, the September 11, 1983 game. The moment doesn't surpass Kirk Gibson, maybe not even Steve Finley, factoring in context. But the game surpasses their games. The game was stunning.

    Seven home runs, tying a Dodger Stadium home record - practically a footnote.

    How can you not be trembling?

    Remember your evening sedative? You may need to induce a coma to calm Dodger fans now.

    SD 400 000 023 1 - 10 15 0
    LA 112 000 014 2 - 11 19 2
    * * *

    More memories provided by Ramona Shelburne of the Daily News.

    * * *

    Back to the present. Dylan Hernandez of the Times and Diamond Leung of the Press-Enterprise each have features today on James Loney.

    Biding Their Time
    2007-09-17 20:12
    by Jon Weisman

    From Al Balderas of the Register:

    Most of the players who received their September promotions are spending more time trying to find ways to keep themselves busy, fresh, in shape and ready. ...

    Pitchers Eric Hull and Jonathan Meloan have their own ideas about how to stay ready. Hull plays catch every day and throws regular bullpen sessions. Meloan goes out to the bullpen hours before each game and works on his windup and delivery, without throwing the ball.

    "It's just something I do every day," Meloan said. "I like to get on the mound and do some reps so that if I do get the call, I feel like I can get ready faster.

    "If I've already got a feel for it, I just have to get my arm loose. I'll throw a few pitches and I'm ready to go. I feel like if I don't do that, I've got to stay on the mound and find it (the feel). I don't want to be doing that when it's game time. Also I'm not pitching a lot right now so I'm just trying to stay fresh and know how it feels to throw from the mound."

    Hull added, "You do need to face hitters to stay completely fresh and to get better, but you can work on stuff without hitters in there too."

    The Dodgers bullpen and dugout might be at standing-room-only levels this time of year, but Little can be sure his seldom-used players will be ready to answer the call — whenever it might come.

    Gaping Generation Gap
    2007-09-17 14:25
    by Jon Weisman

    The team's top two position players and top starting pitcher in September are 23 or younger. And so, of course, gives us the following headline:

    "Dodgers rely on vets in stretch run"

    And, of course, Roberto Hernandez (eight outs recorded this month) gets mentioned in the second paragraph, which asks the question, "So what will prevent this team from fading into obscurity as the season winds down?"

    And, of course, Luis Gonzalez is there in the fourth paragraph to make like Clarissa and explain it all:

    "Playing long enough, you can see when the rope is slipping away. Guys start pressing and trying to do too much," said Gonzalez, who was eliminated from the playoffs last season in September as a member of the D-backs. "That's where you hope that experience that guys have takes over, because those guys have been there before and learned from it. That's what carries a team down the stretch."

    And, of course, though the contributions of less experienced players are mentioned, Hernandez is able to put it all in perspective:

    "This is where veteran guys like Nomar, Jeff Kent and Gonzalez step up and lead by example," said veteran reliever Hernandez, who has been to the playoffs four times in his career. "The good thing about the young guys is that they're hungry. Those kids are excited and this is their first time experiencing this. You can feel the energy."

    Indeed, as the article goes on to concede, "The youngsters have provided a boost as well."

    Is it not safe to say that the Dodgers wouldn't even have a stretch run to contemplate if not, first and foremost, for the September efforts of first- and second-year players Kemp, Loney, Billingsley and Takashi Saito?

    There's actually a story here. It's not that some of the veterans aren't helping, but it's that the kids are clearly leading the way. But why report actual news when you can pass along a cliche?

    Arizona's Latest Magic Number: 58
    2007-09-17 09:19
    by Jon Weisman

    At Fungoes on, I almost went as far as to hand the Arizona Diamondbacks their playoff spot.

    Those Arizona Diamondbacks are wacky, but they're about to have the last laugh.

    Sunday in Los Angeles, Arizona starting pitcher Edgar Gonzalez threw 58 pitches but got the victory -- the fewest pitches that any winning starting pitcher in baseball has thrown this season (verified by

    In fact, the Diamondbacks have three of the five unhardest-working winning starting pitchers on the list. Randy Johnson is No. 2 with 61 pitches on May 30, and Gonzalez is No. 5 with 63 pitches on June 16.

    It's all part of a season in which, as has been well-documented by now, Arizona has been outscored but is within .001 of boasting the best record in the National League. As recently as Sunday morning, the Diamondbacks looked like they would finally be heading toward their comeuppance after losing to the Dodgers twice in a row. But a 6-1 victory over Los Angeles moved Arizona much closer to its taste of the postseason since 2002.

    The Diamondbacks have a 3 1/2-game lead over the second-place team in the NL wild-card race, Philadelphia, with 12 games to play. As Jack Magruder of the East Valley Tribune wrote, "The Diamondbacks can differ on the importance of their Sunday victory over the Dodgers, but the fact that they could debate the point made their plane ride home so much more palatable." ...

    The fact is, any NL team is capable of a 12-game collapse, so I'm not really assuming the Diamondbacks are in - just that the odds are with 'em.

    * * *

    Quick thought about Esteban Loaiza: It's entirely possible that he's going through the dead-arm period common to pitchers in April, and that he'll make a triumphant return to adequacy. It also seems almost certain that unless he were truly injured, he is going to get his next start, because it's a little too soon for Dodger general manager Ned Colletti to concede a problem in his $8 million acquisition.

    But the Dodgers shouldn't act as if there are no alternatives to Loaiza. Neither Eric Stults nor D.J. Houlton has pitched as poorly for the Dodgers this year as Loaiza in his past two starts, and the pair could easily combine for six innings.

    Update: On the eve of the anniversary of the 4+1 game - or as True Blue L.A. calls it, Sean's game - a must-read remembrance.

    Killing Two Myths
    2007-09-16 23:36
    by Jon Weisman

    The last thing I expected to read in the Ned Colletti cure-all era was that the Dodger clubhouse has poor chemistry, but Paul Oberjuerge of the San Bernadino Sun levies the charge:

    Watch this team interact. On the field and off. Ask people who spend time with them on a daily basis. And the analysis is pretty much the same.

    The Dodgers have an unhappy clubhouse.

    They are a team in only one sense: They wear the same uniform. (At least until the next clubhouse-churning trade.)

    The Dodgers' 2007 motto might as well be "All for one and none for all." It's every man for himself.

    All you need do is spend a few hours in the dismal and dreary cellblock that is the Dodgers clubhouse to pick up the energy-sapping vibe. ...

    And if they all wanted to talk about it, not that they really do, serious issues of language arise in a clubhouse where English, Spanish, Japanese and Cantonese are native tongues.

    And, anyway, perhaps all they might agree on is this: They have little respect for management.

    Oberjuerge moves on from this to question whether team chemistry actually leads to more victories, which of course, is eminently worth questioning. It's one of the oldest axioms of Dodger Thoughts: Winning breeds chemistry.

    Despite Colletti's reputation for emphasizing chemistry and character, we've all seen him bring in players who strike you as something less than Mother Theresa - yet, he's gotten about a hundredth of the attention in this area that his predecessor received. Still, I can't say I'm not surprised by the piece - a pretty broad broadside it be. Widespread animus, widespread disrespect for the bosses? We'll see if denials or confirmations follow.

    Update: Diamond Leung of the Press-Enterprise disagrees with the notion that the Dodger clubhouse is unhappy:

    A recent article claiming the Dodgers have an unhappy clubhouse has come to my attention. That same article also claims that Cantonese is one of the numerous languages spoken in that unhappy clubhouse. Since I'm the only Cantonese speaker in that unhappy clubhouse, I wonder if I've said something to myself out loud that would lead someone to believe that the clubhouse would be unhappy. Probably not because I don't believe it to be true. Then again, what do I know? I'm a writer who actually walks through that unhappy clubhouse and talks to the players nearly every day.

    I hear Spanish-speaking players unhappily joking around with English-speaking players. Some of them even speak both languages! I see Mandarin-speaking Taiwanese players unhappily playing cards and speaking English with Dominican players and American players. I've seen a Japanese closer communicate through the universal language of showing off a sword. I've seen Spanish-speaking players try their hand at the Japanese puzzle Sudoku.

    * * *

    Meanwhile, Sam Anderson in New York Magazine has had enough of Brooklynites mourning the departure of the Dodgers to Los Angeles:

    The story of the Brooklyn Dodgers is very likely the most mythologized nostalgia bath in the entire 400-year history of New York. The official version—a legend you've probably fallen asleep to during late-night documentaries or wondered vaguely about while barreling down the Jackie Robinson Parkway—goes roughly like this. A hundred years ago, Brooklyn was the meltiest part of the New York melting pot. In Bay Ridge and Crown Heights and Midwood, mustachioed fathers with giant Old-World biceps gratefully worked themselves to death so their newly American kids could play stickball and mainline egg creams. The only force strong enough to unite all of the fractured cultures was baseball ...

    This is the origin myth of modern Brooklyn, a story hammered as deep into the borough's collective psyche as the Odyssey to the ancient Greeks': The Dodgers united a multicultural Eden, but O'Money ate Southern California's forbidden fruit, and the borough fell into darkness.

    My first instinct as a skeptical modern inheritor of this legend is to punch it full of revisionist holes. The Dodger myth strikes me as one of the more self-indulgent stories a generation has ever cooked up in ahistorical homage to itself—an evergreen excuse for Manhattan's power elite to wax nostalgic about the colorful poverty of their Brooklyn childhoods. The Dodgers have been so persistently overinvested with meaning—so puffed up on lofty flights of jock metaphysics—that they're not even a baseball team anymore. They're every big idea you've ever heard of: Equality, Democracy, Community, America.

    Fortunately, revisionism turns out to be fairly easy. ...

    Be Quick, But Don't Hurry
    2007-09-16 11:35
    by Jon Weisman

    Countdown to 81 wins: just two more.

    Today's game:


    Retro Gameday

    An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
    2007-09-15 11:49
    by Jon Weisman

    Countdown to 81 wins: just three more.

    Today's game:


    Retro Gameday

    Make Hay While the Sun Shines
    2007-09-14 18:43
    by Jon Weisman

    Countdown to 81 wins: just four more.

    Tonight's game:


    Retro Gameday

    2008 vs. 1974
    2007-09-14 12:30
    by Jon Weisman

    In 1973, the Dodgers suffered a profoundly disappointing September collapse, not completely different from the bad August stretch the 2007 team had.

    The '73 Dodgers lost nine consective games and 11 of 12 from August 31 to September 12 to blow a four-game lead in the National League West. It was a year in which Davey Lopes and Ron Cey played their first full seasons as starters, and Bill Russell his second. Steve Garvey finalized his transition to first base.

    In 1974, the core of the 1970s Dodgers began playing together in earnest, winning 102 games and the National League pennant. Except for center fielder Jimmy Wynn, the entire starting lineup consisted of homegrown talent.

    Here's how the '74 Dodgers compare to the prospective 2008 Dodgers.

    Position/Year1974 starters1974 EQA/ERA+2008 starters (?)2007 OPS+/ERA+
    First baseGarvey.294Loney.295
    Second baseLopes.295Kent.296
    Third baseCey.282Garciaparra/LaRoche.243/.266
    Left fieldBuckner.285Ethier.275
    Center fieldWynn.317Pierre.253
    Right fieldCrawford.298Kemp.302
    Starting pitcher #1Messersmith132Billingsley143
    Starting pitcher #2John132Penny160
    Starting pitcher #3Sutton106Lowe118
    Starting pitcher #4Downing/Zahn93/168Loaiza103
    Starting pitcher #5Rau92Schmidt71
    Relief pitcher #1Marshall141Saito356
    Relief pitcher #2Hough91Broxton188

    Statistics courtesy of Baseball Prospectus and

    Catcher: Yeager and Ferguson combined for a great offensive year, but Martin certainly stands tall alongside them.

    First base: Loney has been out of his mind lately, but he's certainly within the ballpark of the '74 NL MVP.

    Second base: The two look even on paper, but Kent will be 11 years older than the '74 Lopes.

    Shortstop: Although Furcal appears to lose this battle, there's little reason to think he won't be better in '08 than the'74 Russell.

    Third base: Huge advantage for the '74 Dodgers assuming that Garciaparra gets the Opening Day call, but Ned Colletti might make a move here.

    Left field: Not much potential difference here.

    Center field: Another huge advantage for '74.

    Right field: Kemp will need to stay on his game to keep ahead of Crawford, who was in his prime.

    Pitching: The 2008 Dodger pitching looks potentially superior, but keep in mind that Dodger starters in '74 pitched a higher quantity of innings.

    I could take this analysis a lot deeper, but all in all, the 2008 Dodgers really just need a toy cannon to emerge.

    2007-09-14 09:03
    by Jon Weisman

    Whether we're talking about the final 16 games of the 2007 season or the first 162 of the 2008 season, Andy LaRoche is going to have to convince the Dodgers of his resiliency – physically and mentally

    From Diamond Leung of the Press-Enterprise:

    LaRoche joked on his 24th birthday (Thursday) that he felt old. The way his bad back has acted up of late would seem to support that notion.
    LaRoche blamed the latest flareup on a day off. He said he spent Monday "laying around" and neglecting to do the 30 minutes of exercises his back requires every day. He aggravated it Tuesday fielding grounders in batting practice.

    The third baseman has resumed taking ground balls.

    "I don't feel anything at all," he said.

    The Dodgers are a team that will use any excuse, real or invented, to reduce the playing time of any player not named Juan. Baseball doesn't offer many days off, so I understand the whole lying around thing, but to not muster the energy for half an hour of physical effort, with so much on the line for himself and the team, is worthy of some concern. If there is work to be done at this time of year and you can do it, you should do it.

    LaRoche made a mistake. Moving forward, the key question is whether the Dodgers will compound that mistake. If LaRoche does do the work moving forward, if he makes amends, how quickly will the team respond by getting him back in the lineup? Will they be slow to use him, then regret not going to him sooner – the same regrets they should have with a number of younger players whom we were told earlier this year, incorrectly, weren't ready.

    This goes back to the fundamental question I asked earlier this month, which I still don't think has been answered:

    Is the way the Dodgers limit the playing time of their young players at the outset of their careers an actual contributor to their ultimate success? Or are the Dodgers just missing out on opportunities to cash in on their prospect fortune?
    Please let me emphasize that no one is saying that LaRoche is the second coming of Alex Rodriguez. The point right now, with a playoff spot still within reach but an uphill fight, is nothing more than to get the best available players on the field, and even though LaRoche has looked overeager at times at the plate, there's still nothing to indicate that he isn't the best option at third base on the current Dodger roster. In his brief appearances, LaRoche has looked less overmatched on the field than Nomar Garciaparra, Tony Abreu, Shea Hillenbrand and Ramon Martinez, and for the next 16 games, that's all that matters.

    LaRoche has to do his part, and the Dodgers have to do theirs. And then, either way, we'll start all over after the season.

    * * *

    It's exciting to see the Dodgers get off the mat. But this weekend, they play a first-place team while the Padres play a last-place team. The pitching matchups might actually favor the Dodgers, but you know that looking good on paper doesn't mean much in any given moment. You need to perform, and you need luck.

    Just Like Last Time, Only Better
    2007-09-13 16:40
    by Jon Weisman

    Countdown to 81 wins: just five more.

    Tonight's game:


    Retro Gameday

    * * *

    Update: For those not watching in the bottom of the third inning, with James Loney on second and Jeff Kent on first and one out, Luis Gonzalez singled to left-center field. Scott Hairston had to range to his left to get the ball, meaning that Loney, even with his slowness, could score easily. However, it was also clear that Kent should not be trying to go from first to third. Nevertheless, there was Kent, stumbling toward third, ready to kill the inning for no reason. Only a terrible throw from Hairston enabled Kent to reach third base safely. He would have been out by 15 feet otherwise.

    On the next play, Kent was thrown out trying to score on a fly ball to short center field by Russell Martin. Mike Cameron broke the wrong way on the ball, thus enticing Kent to go, but still threw him out easily.

    Even on a night in which the Dodgers have started out wonderfully, leading 4-0 against Greg Maddux, we can't escape that there is something simply fundamentally wrong about how they run the bases. It is not just Matt Kemp. It permeates the entire club. The coaches and the baserunners just can't seem to grasp the obvious.

    Meanwhile, James Loney's career OPS as I write this, at age 23 and after 414 career plate appearances, is .904. Astonishing.

    Update 2: In the bottom of the fourth, Kemp was on second base when David Wells singled. Kemp was looking down to make sure he touched third base and ran through Rich Donnelly's proper stop sign, only to jam on the brakes and scramble back to third. Kemp is no saint on the bases, to be sure. But he fits right in.

    But the hit by Wells is the 10th off Greg Maddux in 3 1/3 innings, and he is knocked out of the game.

    Update 3: .907!

    LaRoche, Lowe, DeJesus All Healing
    2007-09-12 18:59
    by Jon Weisman

    Derek Lowe will pitch no sooner than Saturday, according to The Associated Press. But there is doubt as to whether he could make the start, leaving open the possibility of the return of Eric Stults or some other audible.

    And finally, an answer on Andy LaRoche - and new news of an injury to a minor leaguer - from Tony Jackson of the Daily News:

    LaRoche is limited to pinch hitting because his chronic back problem has become an issue again. LaRoche is unable to bend over to field ground balls and thus hasn't appeared in a game in a week.

    "It's not serious," (Dodger manager Grady) Little said. "He seems to be OK swinging a bat, but fielding ground balls is a little bit of a bother right now, so it will probably be a couple of days before he is available (defensively)."

    Meanwhile, shortstop prospect Ivan DeJesus Jr. was at Dodger Stadium for a visit with friend and fellow Puerto Rican Ramon Martinez, but DeJesus had a bandage on his left wrist. He underwent surgery last week to repair torn ligaments he suffered when his hand collided with a sliding baserunner's helmet late in the season at Single-A Inland Empire.

    "I was going to go to (the Arizona Fall League), but now I'm just going to rest and let this heal," DeJesus said. "I want to be 100 percent and ready for spring training."

    DeJesus, 20, was the Dodgers' second-round pick in the 2005 amateur draft. He had a solid year with the 66ers, batting .287 with 22 doubles, 52 RBI and a .371 on-base percentage, and could be in line for an invitation to big-league camp next spring.

    Let's Try a Different Approach and See What Happens
    2007-09-12 17:35
    by Jon Weisman

    Countdown to 81 wins: just six more.

    Tonight's game:


    Retro Gameday

    50 Awaits
    2007-09-12 14:51
    by Jon Weisman

    The Dodgers have begun preparing for next year's 50th anniversary celebration of the team's first season in Los Angeles. Click the link for lots of details. Of course, it will also be the 20th anniversary of the team's last World Series title, unless there's a nifty comeback in the next 18 days.

    * * *

    Derek Lowe will miss tonight's start as a result of Tuesday's pregame hand injury, according to Inside the Dodgers. Chad Billingsley will take the mound on four days' rest.

    Andy LaRoche has been disappeared (figuratively) without explanation. Tony Abreu will start at third base.

    Sunday, September 30, Bottom of the Fourth
    2007-09-11 23:00
    by Jon Weisman

    Hu, SS
    Young, LF
    Kemp, CF
    Loney, 1B
    Ethier, RF
    Martin, C
    LaRoche, 3B
    Abreu, 2B
    Stults, P

    A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes
    2007-09-11 17:40
    by Jon Weisman

    Tonight's game:


    Retro Gameday

    A Happier 9/11
    2007-09-11 01:32
    by Jon Weisman

    Originally published September 11, 2003

    Twenty years ago today, Dodger Stadium hosted its greatest game.

    It began swathed in bright blue skies and triple-digit temperatures. When it ended, 228 crazy brilliant minutes later, shadows palmed most of the playing field, and every Dodger fan who witnessed the spectacle found themselves near joyous collapse.

    The game was between the Dodgers of Steve Sax and Pedro Guerrero, of Greg Brock and Mike Marshall ... and the Braves of Dale Murphy, of Bruce Benedict, of Brad Komminsk.

    In the end, however, it came down to one man. A rookie named R.J. Reynolds.
    Continue reading...

    So Weird: Racing for Home
    2007-09-10 20:05
    by Jon Weisman

    For fun on an off day, here's a clip from the opening scene of an episode that I wrote for the Disney Channel series So Weird back in the late 1990s. In this scene, you'll see a fairly accurate depiction of the most unusual play I ever witnessed in person at a baseball game. (The real-life version was the final play of a 1989 high school playoff game I covered in Palo Alto.)

    * * *

    At U.S.S. Mariner, David Cameron assesses Seattle's Adrian Beltre signing, nearly three years later:

    Obviously, that first year was rough. He couldn't have started his Mariner career any worse. His first two months in Seattle, he received 199 at-bats and hit a staggeringly terrible .236/.264/.357. Since most of baseball was already convinced that his 2004 season was a massive fluke, the early struggles simply fit into the already written narrative about a bad player who had a contract year and was now one of the worst free agent signings in baseball history. The story of the Adrian Beltre contract was written two months into a five year deal, and in general, the national perception of the contract hasn't changed much at all, as Beltre is often referred to as overpaid or disappointing. users will remember the last Rangers series in Texas for Tom Grieve's constant whipping of Beltre in particular.

    Well, that story was wrong then and it's wrong now. The only better third baseman in the American League is some guy named Rodriguez who is running away with the MVP award and is already practicing his hall of fame induction speach. The only Mariner players who helps puts wins on the board with more regularity are Ichiro and J.J. Putz, and they both can lay a claim to being the best in baseball at their respective positions.

    Adrian Beltre is a star, an underrated asset whose remaining two years on his contract are nothing short of a bargain. ...

    Some Injuries Aren't Physical
    2007-09-10 11:00
    by Jon Weisman

    Yep, the Dodgers had a winning week, but oh, what might have been. From's Fungoes:

    Injuries rocked three of the four National League West playoff contenders over the past week -- but the one club to make it through unscathed could only take partial advantage. ...

    Smile! Saito Says He Will Return to Dodgers in '08
    2007-09-09 14:14
    by Jon Weisman

    Takashi Saito has committed to returning to the Dodgers for another season instead of retiring, according to Ken Gurnick of

    It might have been more negotiating ploy than anything, but a year ago Takashi Saito was noncommittal about returning for his second season in the Major Leagues.

    A year later, Saito said he's planning to return to the Dodgers for a third season in 2008.

    "I've thought about it and I want to play for the Dodgers next season," said Saito, who has emerged as the most reliable closer in baseball, less than two years after making the club on a Minor League contract after an All-Star career in Japan.

    Coming off a rookie season when he went from the Triple-A Las Vegas roster to closer in two months, Saito received $1 million for this year. He's already earned $100,000 in additional incentives with another $150,000 possible for games finished.

    "I'll let my agent handle the contract," Saito said. "Last year, I hadn't talked to my family about returning. I've already had that conversation this year. So if the Dodgers want me to play, I want to play." ...

    Saito has been just remarkable this year, allowing eight runs in 57 innings (1.26 ERA, 355 ERA+), striking out 71 while walking 10. Though this should be taken with a grain of salt considering his short MLB career, it's fun to note that Saito's career major-league ERA in 135 1/3 innings is 1.73, the lowest in Dodger history for anyone with 135 or more innings, according to (Saito's career ERA+ of 263 is by far the best in Dodger history for someone with 135 or more innings, and it's second-best in MLB history behind Boston's Jonathan Papelbon.)

    Does the Management Make the Men?
    2007-09-09 08:53
    by Jon Weisman

    Is the way the Dodgers limit the playing time of their young players at the outset of their careers an actual contributor to their ultimate success? Or are the Dodgers just missing out on opportunities to cash in on their prospect fortune?

    Once promoted, Russell Martin was thrown into the starting lineup without hesitation, but James Loney, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Andy LaRoche (not to mention Chad Billingsley) each have had to claw their way into their starting roles. We know why Martin was treated differently - the Dodgers really had no other catcher to turn to - but would Loney et al (and, in turn, the Dodgers) have suffered if they had gotten the Martin treatment? It's a valid question, though I have my own suspicions about the answer.

    LaRoche is the person in this group whose playing time is most in question right now. The occasional day off for LaRoche, who only recently suffered from disk problems in his back and may still be learning to manage them, doesn't bother me. But when he doesn't start for two days in a row, one has to wonder about the rationale.

    Is any other third baseman on the Dodgers better than LaRoche at:

  • getting on base? No.
  • hitting with power? No. LaRoche has yet to hit his first major-league home run, but he projects to be a better power hitter at this stage than any of his current rivals. In the meantime, he has shown as much doubles power as any other Dodger third baseman.
  • fielding? Ramon Martinez, and perhaps Tony Abreu - but he hasn't gotten any starts at third base since returning to the team, either.

    Perhaps the Dodgers are afraid to break in a player during the final month of a pennant race. But LaRoche had his first taste of the bigs in the calmer months early this season. In his short career, whenever he has struggled in a game, he has bounced back - sometimes in the very same game.

    It may be that whoever plays third base for the Dodgers will not make or break their playoff hopes, so I'm not sure how much I should care about the short remainder of LaRoche's 2007 season specifically. What I do care about is that I suspect that there is a lesson to be learned from the Martin/Kemp/Loney/Ethier/Billingsley examples. And I'm just wondering if the Dodgers have learned the right one.

    * * *

    Loney credited deposed Dodger hitting coach Eddie Murray for some improvements in his batting, according to Diamond Leung of the Press-Enterprise.

    Loney has made small changes in his swing since being recalled in June. He uses his hands and hips to generate power and has a short swing -- techniques he credits former hitting coach Eddie Murray for drilling in him. Of keeping his swing consistent, Loney said, "It comes with experience."

    * * *

    Today's game:


    Retro Gameday

  • September 8 Game Chat
    2007-09-08 11:54
    by Jon Weisman

    Today's 12:55 p.m. game:


    Retro Gameday

    Oh ... Oh No ...
    2007-09-08 07:36
    by Jon Weisman

    For all the consternation that one might have about some of Grady Little's decisions, for me Friday night's game was all about pure baseball highs and lows: The exhilaration of James Loney's second home run, tying the game in the ninth inning, nearly offsetting the spirit-melting depression I felt when Rafael Furcal made his seventh-inning error. I can't remember the last time I felt so knocked off my feet by a misplay - I guess I had gotten caught up in the fever of the Dodgers continuing their comeback up the standings this week and the sublime pleasure of watching Loney, Matt Kemp and Chad Billingsley put the Dodgers in position to move another step closer to the wild-card lead. But with that low Furcal throw that Jeff Kent couldn't handle, everything seemed to just fall apart; MacArthur Park melting in the dark, all that sweet green icing flowing down. Not even Dan Ortmeier's game-winning homer for the Giants in the bottom of the ninth felt worse; that didn't take away a game the Dodgers had in the bag. The error, the error.

    Your New Season Pass
    2007-09-07 17:19
    by Jon Weisman

    Today, Variety launched Season Pass, a new blog devoted to thoughts and musings about television, particularly prime-time series. I'm proud to be one of eight contributors (perhaps more later) to the new site.

    To commemorate the launch, we put together a chart with our initial thoughts about the new shows for this fall season. If you scroll your cursor over some of the ratings, which range from two thumbs up to two thumbs down, you'll also see brief comments about the shows. But we'll get to expand on these thoughts in the main blog.

    The presence of Season Pass solves one of my ongoing problems with Screen Jam, namely finding time to post on it. That's because I now am compelled to contribute TV-related blog posts to Season Pass, so there's really no choice in the matter. For now, I'm going to keep Screen Jam alive for posts related to entertainment (including TV posts that don't fit the Season Pass mold), but it's possible that down the road, I might just consolidate my personal blogging back into Dodger Thoughts. (I experimented with allowing some film chat on Dodger Thoughts Thursday night, just to begin to assess the impact.)

    In any case, I am hoping that many of you will check out Season Pass and bring some of that Dodger Thoughts community over there in the comments section. Of course, some of you will be limited in your input before the new fall season officially begins, but I do look forward to seeing your thoughts on the web pages of Variety.

    Warning: The first person who mentions Juan Pierre at Season Pass gets a paddlin'.

    * * *

    Tonight's game:


    Retro Gameday

    You May Now Flip
    2007-09-07 13:25
    by Jon Weisman

    Regular season tiebreaker scenarios involving the Dodgers, courtesy of the MLB Coin-Flipping Department and reported by

    NL West
    Dodgers at Diamondbacks
    Padres at Dodgers
    Dodgers at Rockies

    NL Wild Card
    Dodgers at Padres
    Phillies at Dodgers
    Dodgers at Rockies
    Cubs at Dodgers
    Dodgers at Brewers

    I'm not sure why there's no scenario for the Diamondbacks and Dodgers being tied for the wild card, let alone why there is Dodgers-Cubs and Dodgers-Brewers but not Dodgers-Cardinals. And MLB was really not inspired by the Braves' rally over Philadelphia the other day.

    Lock the Door and Throw Away the Key - And Slip a Big Raise Underneath
    2007-09-06 23:18
    by Jon Weisman

    The Houston Astros asked permission to interview Dodgers assistant GM of scouting Logan White for their vacant general manager position.

    - Diamond Leung, Press-Enterprise

    Sounds Like a Man With the Right Spirit - And a Good Dental Plan
    2007-09-06 19:46
    by Jon Weisman

    "I broke a tooth playing tag in fifth grade in France, where I went to school for two years," he says. "I fell right on my face and broke my tooth. I had to get it glued back together, and I have had to have it redone two or three times since. But I have never really minded. I would rather break my tooth than get tagged."

    - Russell Martin in Sports Illustrated

    It's Not Second-Guessing; It's a Philosophy ... But Third Acts Are Welcome
    2007-09-06 13:21
    by Jon Weisman

    Dodgers lead, 2-1, top of the seventh inning, two runners on, two out, starting pitcher Derek Lowe due up.

    From Dodger Thoughts, June 3, 2005:

    Let me say this again: The starter who was a better pitcher than the reliever when the game began, who was a better pitcher than the reliever in the second, third, fourth and fifth innings, in most cases goes from better to worse as the game enters the final innings.

    So the bargain you strike when you let that starter pitch in the late innings - trying to eke out another effective inning from the guy who has already thrown five to seven, trying to spare your bullpen an extra inning of work, is like blowing your bubble gum past its breaking point. Your starting pitcher might not make it through his next inning, you'll have to go to your bullpen anyway, and you're facing a larger deficit - one sticky mess. If you sacrificed a pinch-hitting opportunity in the process, call up Don Rickles so that he can add the perfect insult to your injury.

    So today, even if the pinch-hitter for Lowe were to strike out, it still very likely would have been a better move than expecting Lowe to keep the Cubs off the scoreboard into the seventh and eighth innings. Especially in September, you have to go for the runs and pinch-hit.

    As it happens, Lowe (Mike Fontenot single, Cliff Floyd walk) and Jonathan Broxton (Alfonso Soriano three-run home run) have combined to nullify James Loney's homer/double/two-RBI heroics, and the Dodgers trail Chicago, 4-2, entering the eighth.

    Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
    After Matt Kemp homers in the eighth, Russell Martin and Loney single and pinch-hitter Andre Ethier hits a three-run homer in the ninth to put the Dodgers up, 6-4. Takashi Saito then closes out a 7-4 victory, moving the Dodgers within 2 1/2 games of the Padres in the wild-card race.

    Loney, Kemp and Ethier homer. Oh my.

    Martin Returns to Lineup
    2007-09-06 08:53
    by Jon Weisman

    Russell Martin has a sprained left knee and is day-to-day, with that day perhaps being today. Tony Abreu makes his first start since his recall, giving Jeff Kent a rest.

    Rafael Furcal, SS
    Juan Pierre, CF
    Matt Kemp, RF
    Luis Gonzalez, LF
    Russell Martin, C
    James Loney, 1B
    Andy LaRoche, 3B
    Tony Abreu, 2B
    Derek Lowe, P

    * * *

    Today's 11:20 a.m. game:


    Retro Gameday

    Update: Meant to mention this earlier, but the Dodgers have not homered since August 29.

    Philday, Bloody Philday
    2007-09-05 14:01
    by Jon Weisman

    It happens: Philadelphia blew leads of 8-2 in the eighth inning and 8-6 with two out and the bases empty in the ninth, losing to Atlanta and falling a half-game behind the Dodgers in the National League wild-card race.

    A victory tonight would put Los Angeles within two games of the wild-card lead. Colorado, hosting San Francisco later this evening, could move within three games of a playoff spot.

    Remember when the Dodgers' biggest problem was runners left on base? Now it is runners getting thrown out on the bases. This too shall pass ... to make way for another problem to overcome. It's baseball, folks.

    * * *

    Update: Russell Martin is not starting tonight. From Inside the Dodgers:

    (Martin) went for a precautionary MRI on his left knee because of the way he went into home plate yesterday, but we still have no results. From what it sounds like, no one seems terribly concerned, but since Grady was planning for an off day tonight, it made sense to make sure everything is ok in there.

    Without explanation, Shea Hillenbrand is batting sixth.

    Update 2: I have to say, I am having nervous thoughts about Martin. I'm glad the Dodgers are having the MRI instead of just wondering about the knee, but I don't feel it's really in their history to run an MRI unless there's more reason for concern then they're letting on. Just have to hope.

    Update 3: Randy Wolf did have a frayed labrum, Ken Gurnick of reports. The good news is that it wasn't detached.

    Disabled pitcher Randy Wolf underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder Wednesday, and doctors debrided frayed labrum and cleaned scarring on the bursa. The bursa scarring was anticipated. The labrum issue did not show up on previous MRIs, however, it is relatively minor compared to detached or torn labrum. Frayed labrum is usually trimmed, but detached or torn labrum requires anchors or sutures and a longer recovery.

    "It's good news for Randy because nothing was structurally wrong," said Conte. "It's the best scenario for what we thought. He'll start rehabilitating in a week, and it should be six to eight weeks. He should be fully competitive by the beginning of Spring Training."

    Where Wolf will be in Spring Training is an unknown. The Dodgers have a $9 million option on Wolf that can be bought out for $500,000.

    * * *

    Tonight's 5:05 p.m. game:


    Retro Gameday

    De Facto Wells-Tomko Trade Completed
    2007-09-04 15:03
    by Jon Weisman

    Brett Tomko is heading to a more hospitable pitching environment in San Diego. We'll see if it helps.

    And now you know the rest of the story.

    * * *
    September Dodger Roster
    Catcher: Russell Martin, Mike Lieberthal, Chad Moeller
    First base: James Loney, Shea Hillenbrand, Olmedo Saenz, Mark Sweeney, Ramon Martinez, Nomar Garciaparra, Jeff Kent
    Second base: Jeff Kent, Tony Abreu, Ramon Martinez, Delwyn Young, Chin-Lung Hu, Wilson Valdez
    Shortstop: Rafael Furcal, Chin-Lung Hu, Ramon Martinez, Wilson Valdez
    Third base: Andy LaRoche, Nomar Garciaparra, Shea Hillenbrand, Tony Abreu, Ramon Martinez, Olmedo Saenz, Wilson Valdez
    Outfield: Juan Pierre, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Luis Gonzalez, Delwyn Young, Wilson Valdez, Manny Mota
    Starting pitchers: Brad Penny, Derek Lowe, Chad Billingsley, Esteban Loaiza, David Wells (when suspension ends),
    Swingmen: Eric Stults, D.J. Houlton
    Bullpen: Takashi Saito, Jonathan Broxton, Joe Beimel, Rudy Seanez, Scott Proctor, Mark Hendrickson, Roberto Hernandez, Jonathan Meloan, Eric Hull

    * * *

    Tonight's 5:05 p.m. game:


    Retro Gameday

    * * *

    Update: Notes from Diamond Leung of the Press Enterprise reiterate that Garciaparra is only available to pinch-hit for now, and add that Hong-Chih Kuo had a throwing session scrapped today because of elbow soreness. Also, Tony Abreu appears to be completely healthy but asked for a day before talking to the press about it.

    Go to Leung's blog to read one more amusing note concerning the perils of roster expansion.

    LaRoche Forced To Be Disk Jockey
    2007-09-04 07:41
    by Jon Weisman

    Andy LaRoche will need to be diligent in taking care of his back problems for the remainder of his career, writes Diamond Leung of the Press-Enterprise:

    LaRoche suffered a partially protruded disk in his back this season, an injury that he will have to monitor for the remainder of his career.

    "The doctor said as long as I keep exercising it, it should be fine," LaRoche said. "There is a small chance it can get worse."

    LaRoche said a minor back issue he thought he had dealt with during the spring worsened during a season that saw him receive his first major league call-up in May and end up spending time on the disabled list after returning to Class AAA Las Vegas.

  • Jerry Crasnick of asks of the Padres the question Dodger fans became familiar with this summer: Is it the hitting coach or the personnel?

    Update: Something I had never focused on before regarding the whirlwind joy of Pedro Astacio's first major league game, of which I've written about frequently - Astacio's pitch count. From Tom Verducci of

    Once there was a day -- July 3, 1992, to be exact -- when a manager (Tommy Lasorda) gave the ball to a 21-year-old rookie (Pedro Astacio) for his first major-league start, said, "Go get 'em," and let him throw 144 pitches -- for a team hopelessly out of the race, mind you.

    Honestly, I'm so happy I didn't pay attention to pitch counts back then. Not that pitch-counts have been recorded for every major league debut, but Astacio's is the second-highest of all that have been recorded, according to, trailing only Tim Wakefield. Ramon Martinez is 10th on the list.

    Astacio's Game Score in his debut is the fifth-best in major-league history since 1957.

    1) Juan Marichal, 7/19/60 - nine innings, no runs, one hit, one walk, 12 strikeouts, game score of 96
    2) Steve Woodard, 7/28/07 - eight innings, no runs, one hit, one walk, 12 strikeouts, game score of 91
    3) Jimmy Jones, 9/21/96 - nine innings, no runs, one hit, no walks, five strikeouts, game score of 90
    4) Rudy May, 4/18/65 - nine innings, one unearned run, one hit, five walks, 10 strikeouts, game score of 88
    5) Pedro Astacio, 7/3/92 - nine innings, no runs, three hits, four walks, 10 strikeouts, game score of 87

    Update 2: A quick look at the stretch-run schedules of the NL West playoff contenders at my latest Fungoes posting at Also, there's an audience-participation segment at the bottom!

    Update 3: This year's free agent hitters get a preview from Rich Lederer at Baseball Analysts.

  • 127!
    2007-09-04 07:36
    by Jon Weisman

    Pedro Martinez struck out his 3,000th batter Monday. I don't know how this didn't merit a headline in the Times - but it's a big deal, and I congratulate Los Angeles' Mr. What Might Have Been.

    By One Measure ...
    2007-09-03 08:03
    by Jon Weisman

    MLB ERA Leaders, age 25 and under, minimum 80 innings pitched:

    1) Chad Billingsley (age 23), 3.30

    * * *

    Today's game:


    Retro Gameday

    Encarnacion's Career in Jeopardy
    2007-09-02 20:10
    by Jon Weisman

    The career of Juan Encarnacion, who played for the Dodgers in 2004 (it seems so long ago now), may be over after he was hit in the eye by a foul ball. From The Associated Press:

    The damage a foul ball did to Juan Encarnacion's left eye was the worst the St. Louis Cardinals' medical director has ever seen to a baseball player.

    Dr. George Paletta was not optimistic Sunday that the outfielder will regain full vision after his frightening injury and resume his career.

    "It's the worst trauma I've seen. Absolutely," Paletta said, adding that the future holds no guarantees. "You hope the best for Juan, but he suffered a severe injury with a very guarded prognosis.

    "It's way too early to say whether he will or he won't, and if he doesn't what percentage of vision loss he may have."

    Paletta said the eye socket was essentially crushed on impact, comparing the injured area to the disintegration of an egg shell or ice cream cone, and that the optic nerve had sustained severe trauma. Reconstructive surgery may not take place for several days while doctors wait for swelling to subside. ...

    Wishing Juan all the best. The Dodgers know on-deck circle injuries, of course: Steve Yeager was nearly killed when shards of Bill Russell's shattered bat lodged in his neck. Yeager later invented the now widely used catcher's throat guard to protect himself.

    Update: Ross Porter e-mails to say that it was former Dodger trainer Bill Buehler who actually created the throat guard.

    There's Fever in the Funkhouse Now
    2007-09-02 11:21
    by Jon Weisman

    Furcal, SS
    Pierre, CF
    Kemp, RF
    Kent, 2B
    Ethier, LF
    Martin, C
    Loney, 1B
    LaRoche, 3B
    Billingsley, P

    Today's game:


    Retro Gameday

    2007-09-01 15:49
    by Jon Weisman

    Diamond Leung of the Press-Enterprise says it's "official" - joining the Dodgers from Las Vegas today are infielder Chin-lung Hu, pitchers D.J. Houlton and Jonathan Meloan (finally) and catcher Chad Moeller. No Andy LaRoche. Not even to pinch-hit.

    The Moeller callup, by the way, frees Mike Lieberthal to pinch-hit before the 16th inning.

    Update: In a bit of unexpected news, David Wells tonight began to serve the seven-game suspension he kept putting off as a Padre. The Dodgers have no off days this week, so they're going to need a starting pitcher Wednesday. (Esteban Loaiza is scheduled to pitch Monday.)

    No announcement was made immediately, but Eric Stults will be back on the roster by then.

    Update 2: According to Ken Gurnick of, Grady Little said LaRoche and Tony Abreu "were not promoted with Saturday's group to allow them a few extra games and innings in the remaining games for Las Vegas." If you say so ...

    * * *

    Tonight's game:


    Retro Gameday

    A Plea
    2007-09-01 05:38
    by Jon Weisman

    Be fair. Just be fair.

    Twenty players in the National League have more walks as a No. 8 hitter in the lineup than Andy LaRoche.

    LaRoche has 24 plate appearances with the Dodgers this year as a No. 8 hitter. The fewest plate appearance for someone with more walks than LaRoche as a No. 8 hitter is Rickie Weeks, who has 86.

    Not a single No. 8 hitter in the NL has walked at a higher rate in 2007 than Andy LaRoche.

    LaRoche won't continue to walk at this rate no matter where he bats in the lineup, but I remind you that to conclude his walks are a product of his batting in the No. 8 slot is a complete fallacy.

    From Dodger Thoughts, May 19:

    As more people have become aware of Andy LaRoche's preternatural walking ability since arriving in the major leagues, more people have written it off under the assumption that pitchers are working around him to get to the pitcher's spot.

    So what's the explanation for LaRoche walking more often than any other No. 8 hitter in the National League? ... Take away LaRoche's four intentional walks, and he'd still have five walks in 19 plate appearances at No. 8 - and three walks in nine plate appearances as a No. 6 hitter. The guy's a rookie who was batting .235 in AAA - with 11 walks in a little more than 100 plate appearances. Is there a reason opposing pitchers would be more careful with him than any other No. 8 hitter? Why doesn't Andre Ethier, usually batting No. 7, have more than 10 walks in 138 plate appearances?

    It's not as if LaRoche's ability to walk came out of nowhere. LaRoche walked 66 times in about 500 plate appearances in the minor leagues last year. That doesn't make him Ted Williams, but it counts for something.

    In addition, the No. 9 hitter isn't always a Dodger pitcher - sometimes, it's Olmedo Saenz or red-hot pinch-hitter Wilson Betemit. Overall, Dodger No. 9 hitters are fifth in the NL in OPS and OBP, so there isn't much more reason to pitch around the team's No. 8 hitters than any other team's.

    So let's not be in such a hurry to write off La Roche's walks. Yes, batting slot has played some part, and he won't maintain a .488 on-base percentage for the season, but the walks are something legitimate to tout. After all, he could be chasing bad pitches rather than taking those jogs to first.

    Friday, LaRoche went 4 for 6 with two home runs at Salt Lake. He doubled and scored the tying run in the ninth inning, then hit a game-winning two-run home run in the 11th. For the season in the minors, his on-base percentage is .399 and his slugging percentage is .594. Even accounting for Pacific Coast League inflation, this is big stuff. Since returning from the disabled list, he is 9 for 26 with five walks - a .452 on-base percentage.

    Nomar Garciaparra is ready only for pinch-hitting duties at best; his attempts to run "have been met with sharp pain," according to Diamond Leung of the Press-Enterprise. Shea Hillenbrand has shown average-to-below-average range at third base while posting a .271 on-base percentage and a .382 slugging percentage. Hillenbrand has had a few big at-bats for the Dodgers, but fewer than we have a reasonable reason to expect from LaRoche.

    Let's not waste any more time. Let's give LaRoche his shot - the shot that will not only give him a head start into 2008, but that will also give the Dodgers more of a chance of salvaging 2007.

    (I should note that Tony Abreu has a .397 on-base percentage and .518 slugging percentage for Las Vegas.)

    * * *

    Be fair. Just be fair.

    In the top of the first Friday, Jeff Kent broke a baseball custom by making the final out of the inning at third base. In the bottom of the first, Kent could not get a glove on a slow-rolling Adrian Gonzalez grounder to right field, a play that if made would have forestalled Juan Pierre costing the Dodgers two more runs by losing a pop fly in the nighttime sky.

    His presence in the first inning helped bring the Dodgers one run and cost them three. And the team lost by two.

    I point this out not to denigrate Kent, who at age 39 1/2 has the second-highest OPS+ and VORP of any Dodger hitter this season. I point this out because the Dodger beat writers did not. Yet those same writers are all over Matt Kemp whenever he makes a mistake.

    To excuse them in part, it might be because Dodger manager Grady Little and some of the coaching staff indulge them with numerous quotes about how much work Kemp has to do (though maybe the Dodgers are just trying for some tough love with a young ballplayer).

    In any case, the perception from inside the Dodgers that Kemp is not a complete ballplayer has apparently prevented the offensively challenged team from playing its best hitter every day. He does play most of the time, now, but is there any reason to rest him at all?

    Choose your weapon. No Dodger (other than Delwyn Young with 14 plate appearances) has a higher batting average, slugging percentage, EQA or OPS+ than Kemp. Heck, even if clutch hitting is your thing, no Dodger has more RBI per plate appearance than Kemp, and only James Loney has a higher OPS with runners on base.

    Kent has been thrown out more than once on the bases this week. Kent was one of two runners thrown out on one play at the plate in the opening game of the 2006 playoffs. In general, Kent's declining physical ability fills most of his baserunning and fielding attempts with unpleasant suspense. Whatever limitations Kemp has in his running and fielding, Kent has more. This is an objective fact. It is also true that Kemp's baserunning outs have been characteristic of a bad week or two but not of his play the entire year.

    And Kemp is the better hitter. Today.

    We forgive Kent because the good still outweighs the bad. Can the press and the Dodgers themselves finally begin to do the same for Kemp?

    Pierre flubs, however innocently or sweetly, and he's a lock to be in the lineup the next day - despite an EQA that, even with Pierre's recent hot hitting, is still 49 points below Kemp's and a batting average that is 40 points lower. Citizen-hero Luis Gonzalez sighs about being phased out by Kemp and Andre Ethier, and he's back in the lineup the next day.

    Matt Kemp, the Dodgers' best hitter, gets thrown out on the bases, and he's the one who has to prove himself all over again.

    Be fair. Just be fair.

    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