As most of you have already heard in some way or another, tomorrow is the 30th anniversary of Rick Monday saving the American flag from being burned at Dodger Stadium. The link is to a great article recapping the event, as there’s been no shortage of coverage on this over the last week.
In fact, Rick has actually had to turn down some interview requests tomorrow because he’s booked solid throughout the day with news outlets that want to talk about his memories of that day.
As you might have heard, Rick recently put out a book with Dodger beat writer Ken Gurnick called Tales from the Dodger Dugout about the 1981 championship team and he’s working on another book that has memories from fans about the flag-saving game. Fans who want to share their memories from that day can email them to firstname.lastname@example.org and they could be used in the book.
His budding literary career aside, this anniversary gives me an opportunity to write about Rick Monday the person. I’ve gotten to know Rick pretty well over the past few years and setting aside his solid broadcasting work, he’s truly one of the nicest people you could ever meet. He works hard and has adapted to differing roles and radio partners over the past few seasons, which not everyone can do.
I can also tell you that while many broadcasters let the grind of a 162-game season beat them up from time to time, Rick comes to the ballpark every day with a positive attitude. He is always well prepared and looks to share his expertise from a 19-year big league career with the fans that listen to the broadcast.
Fans love to debate the strengths and weaknesses of baseball broadcasters, but there’s one thing that’s not debatable: Rick Monday is a class act. What he did on April 25, 1976 was just a microcosm of who he is as a person.
Haven’t been able to get you much more than a lineup the last couple days. It’s been busy, but I’ll post more during the week.
For today, we’ve got:
Nomar is back and the lineup that was supposed to come out on Opening Day is playing tonight for the first time:
O. Perez, P
Just a short note from Fresno where I am watching the Las Vegas club this week. Nomar Garciaparra played his first rehab game last night. He led off, playing first base and hit the first pitch of the game to right center for a double. His second at-bat he also lined the first pitch for a single. He later grounded to short. In all, Nomar played five innings and looked like the Nomar of old. Tonight he will play nine innings.
Two very interesting stories came out today and both were hatched in the Dodgers’ Asian Operations Department, something most teams don’t even have. Tony Jackson of the Daily News wrote about Takashi Saito and Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register wrote a great feature on Hong-Chih Kuo. That duo has really been incredible for us this year and will likely play a very big role in 2006 (I’m talking about Kuo and Saito, not Jackson and Plunkett, but I like those guys, too).
As for how Saito got his nickname, he told me the other day that Andre Ethier actually coined it. No one knows why yet, but hopefully we can ask Andre the next time we see him.
For those who heard the rumor out there yesterday, I figured I should clear up the whole Ernie Banks thing. On Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium, the Cubs turned a double play early in the game and I heard cheering coming from the back of the press box. When I looked over, I saw four people that I didn’t recognize and so I went over to explain to them that this is a working press box and that people should not be cheering in there. This is a rule enforced at press boxes around the country by every PR director in the league.
Of course, when I got there, I noticed that sitting next to the four gentlemen was Ernie Banks, the Hall of Fame Cubs’ shortstop. He was not in my sight from my seat in the press box, but once I realized it was him, I immediately told him that while people aren’t supposed to cheer in the press box, of course he could feel free to root for his Cubbies. Being in the 500-home run club does have its privileges.
But, being the classy guy that he is, Ernie and his friends decided to stop cheering and I guess people thought that meant I had told him to "stuff it." At least, that’s what sports talk radio was saying yesterday afternoon when I got several calls and emails from people asking why I had told Ernie Banks he couldn’t root for the Cubs. The report came from our friend Ben Maller, who was sitting nearby in the press box and wrote about it for his sports blog, tongue-in-cheek.
And so the story goes…but, it’s safe to say that I won’t be throwing any Hall of Famers out of the press box anytime soon.
There was an interesting article today in the Daily News about the Dodgers’ Think Blue Rewards program, which is basically like a frequent flier program for an airline, only now you get points for going to Dodger games, purchasing items at local stores in Los Angeles and much more. We invited a few different reporters to Dodger Stadium so they could take batting practice, which is one of the prizes you can redeem your points for if you’re a member of the program.
Well, we wound up using one of our season ticket account executives to throw BP and he drilled T.J. Simers three times. I wish I had been there to see it, but alas, I was busy in the office. From what I heard, though, T.J. actually hit pretty well and by the time I saw him, he was trying to convince Grady that he belonged in the starting lineup.
Meanwhile, it’s an offday at Dodger Stadium so most of us are here trying to catch up on the things that never get done during a homestand. I can finally see my desk!
If you’re itching to hear Nomar’s rehab start you can now do that online.
Otherwise, take a night off and let’s get back to baseball tomorrow. Should be a fun weekend against the Diamondbacks.
In case word hasn’t made it out yet, Nomar is currently driving to Fresno to play for Triple-A Las Vegas tomorrow and Friday. If all goes well, he’ll be back in the starting lineup in LA on Saturday vs. Arizona.