April 2006

Today's game

See what happens when I don’t post a lineup? The team wins two games in a row. Today they’ll go for a three-game sweep and their first three-game winning streak of the year. They haven’t lost more than two in a row either, which has kept them around .500 for most of the first month.

Great piece on J.D. Drew in today’s Daily News. Plus, that paper has asked their beat writer, Tony Jackson, to do a blog, too.

And, though it wasn’t about the Dodgers, I thought Tim Brown’s Sunday column today was a very interesting read.

But, the best news so far is that Eric Gagne is throwing again, which means he could be back in about three to four weeks. Add that to the seemingly unhittable Danys Baez, Takashi Saito and Tim Hamulack and the bullpen could be pretty impressive for the final four months of the season, if these guys can keep it up.

Steve Howe, 1958-2006

I’m sorry to pass along the news that former Dodger All-Star closer Steve Howe died last night in a car accident. As you can imagine, the entire Dodger organization is deeply saddened by the loss and our sympathies go out to his family and friends. Steve was a huge part of the Dodgers’ 1981 World Championship club and he will go down as one of the best closers in franchise history. He will be missed.

Off-day coverage

It’s Friday, which means Eric Gagne should be starting his throwing program today less than three weeks since he underwent surgery to remove a nerve in his right elbow. Fortunately for Eric, he will be bowling left-handed in the annual Eric Gagne Dodgers Dream Foundation Bowling Extravaganza. There are still a few spots left, so if you’re interested in hitting the lanes with Eric, his teammates and a few Hollywood celebs, take a look at the link.

As promised, there were several good off-day features on the Dodgers today.

Tony Jackson of the Daily News wrote about Bill Mueller’s position in the lineup.

Steve Henson of the LA Times writes about Dioner Navarro’s battle to improve at the big league level.

Bill Plunkett of the OC Register covered J.D. Drew’s hot start.

Allison Otto of the Riverside Press Enterprise writes about Maury Wills’ tutelage of Jason Repko.

And Jesse Sanchez, who is covering for MLB.com wrote about Ricky Ledee and Jose Cruz Jr. (Ken Gurnick didn’t make the trip to Houston, but I believe he’ll be covering again in San Diego).

Furcal and the media cycle

Lots of coverage today regarding Rafael Furcal, including stories in the LA Times, Daily News, and the Orange County Register, among others. After making six errors in the first 20 games, Furcal took it upon himself to get extra groundballs with the first base coach, Mariano Duncan, and hopefully this will help him get back on track. As you know, he’s been battling some nagging injuries and today’s day off, as well as yesterday’s, could give him the boost he needs.

For those of you who don’t get to follow the news cycle as much as those of us in the PR world, I figured I’d write a brief post on why it is that you often see the same subjects from the numerous outlets that cover us.

Generally speaking, we have seven people that cover us every day — four daily papers, MLB.com, KFWB and the Associated Press. These are the only ones that travel with us on the road and in the case of the AP, they’ve got someone in each city, so they don’t actually travel.

The clubhouse opens to the media three and a half hours before game time and is open all the way up until 45 minutes before, with the exception of when the team is on the field taking batting practice.  Every day before the game, Grady Little meets with the media and talks about the main subjects of the day while trying to answer any questions that the reporters have. This is why, for the most part, the same subjects come up in all the coverage the following day (or in MLB.com’s case, later that day).

The exception comes when one of the reporters thinks they know something that the others don’t. In that case, they’l ask me or Joe Jareck, our assistant director of public relations, if they can stay after the group media session and ask Grady something on their own. Sometimes they have a real scoop, sometimes it’s nothing major, but it’s a way to differentiate your coverage from the competition.

Another exception will be on a day like today. Without a game, the writers all have "off-day stories," which they will have been working on throughout the week. Usually this is a feature of some sort on one of the players, coaches, staff members, etc. and most of the time, they differ from the other people covering the team.

This is probably more than you care to know about how the team is covered, but with yesterday’s news about a new spokesman in the White House, I thought it might be interesting to explain how news gets made, even in the sports world.

JR

Today's lineup

Repko, CF

Cruz, LF

Drew, RF

Garciaparra, 1B

Mueller, 3B

Martinez, SS

Navarro, C

Robles, 2B

Perez, P

Must be something about Houston

Last night’s 14-inning contest was nothing close to the 14-inning marathon we played at the Astrodome in 1989.

You can find the box score at the Retrosheet website, but I remember listening to the game on the radio and hearing that Eddie Murray, who’s now our hitting coach, was at third base and Fernando Valenzuela, now a broadcaster, was our first baseman. John Shelby, our former first base coach for several years, went 0-for-10 in the loss. Jeff Hamilton, a third baseman, wound up on the mound and took the loss.

Incredibly, Craig Biggio played in both games, going 2-for-3 as a catcher in the game 17 years ago and 1-for-6 as a second baseman last year.

JR

Report from the minors – Roy Smith

I spent last week in Sacramento and Fresno following the Las Vegas team. I was with them from Monday through Friday, including a double header in Sacramento on Monday so it was six games in total. The team is off to a very good start at 13-6. This is most encouraging considering that the core of the team, Joel Guzman, Andre Ethier, Russell Martin, Chad Billingsley, Eric Stults, Delwyn Young, Jonathan Broxton and James Loney (now that he is there) are all in their first full year of Triple-A baseball.

I witnessed a good run through the starting rotation with Billingsley, D.J. Houlton, Stults, Aaron Sele and Harold Eckert all having good starts. Broxton is getting more and more comfortable in his relief role as he recorded three saves during the week. Veteran left-hander Joe Beimel is doing a good job setting up for Broxton.

Offensively, Ethier, Guzman, Martin and Willy Aybar all off to excellent starts. Thursday and Friday Nomar Garciaparra came to Fresno for his rehab assignment, which added a bit of a buzz to the games in Fresno.  All in all, we are very pleased with the team. Manager Jerry Royster and coaches Steve Yeager and Kenny Howell (all ex-Dodgers) are doing a great job.

On another note, yesterday we traded Cody Ross to the Reds for a player to be named later. Generally speaking, what this means is that we will receive a player from the Reds on or before a specified date. While I am not at liberty to go into specifics about this particular transaction, sometimes this is done to give an organization time to scout players and make a choice between an agreed upon group. Sometimes it is done to allow a player who is injured to get healthy and then traded. Often a predetermined amount of cash is added to the agreement in case a deal involving players cannot be reached. The caveat, as it pertains to players to be named, is that the player or players in question can not appear in the Major Leagues that year before they become “the player to be named.”

Years ago, a player in the minor leagues had his last name legally changed. Rocky Bridges was quoted as saying "this is truly the player to be named later."               

Today's lineup

Furcal, SS

Lofton, CF

Drew, RF

Kent, 2B

Garciaparra, 1B

Mueller, 3B

Ledee, LF

Navarro, C

Penny, P

Tuesday is Monday's Day

Yesterday I posted some information on Rick Monday and the anniversary of saving the flag and today, the actual anniversary, I’m adding a little bit more.

Monday_photo_flag I was sitting in the press box on Sunday when I turned to one of our writers and said that I thought an interesting angle on this story would be to see if someone could track down the guys who had run out onto the field. Well, sure enough Bob Nightengale of USA Today tried to do that but wasn’t able to. He also gives a sad update on what happened to the photographer who took the famous shot posted in the blog below.

On dodgers.com right now you can check out the video footage of Monday’s heroics and Vin Scully’s incredible call of the moment, as well as a story about the event and photo album from that day.

Ray McNulty of the Vero Beach Press Journal also wrote a great article about Rick in today’s paper.

We’re all ecstatic with the way yesterday’s game turned out but what Rick Monday did was much larger than a ninth-inning grand slam or near no-hitter.

Thirty years after it happened, people are still talking about it…

Today's lineup

Furcal, SS

Lofton, CF

Drew, RF

Kent, 2B

Garciaparra, 1B

Mueller, 3B

Cruz, LF

Navarro, C

Lowe, P

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