August 2006

Lineup

Furcal, SS

Lofton, CF

Nomar, 1B

Drew, RF

Kent, 2B

Ethier, LF

Betemit, 3B

Martin, C

Penny, P

A good news day

Last week, Mark Langill, myself and our Sr. VP of Public Affairs, Howard Sunkin, talked to a class of journalism/PR graduate students from USC and I got an interesting question from one of the students. She asked me how I can gauge whether or not we’re doing a good job in PR and my answer was that we’re a lot different from your typical PR firm.

For any of you who might work in PR at a firm, you probably know that the job is to get your client’s name out in the media, wherever and whenever possible. However, the Dodgers are similar to politics and entertainment in that, we have countless media members covering us on a daily basis and therefore, we don’t have to proactively seek coverage that often. While we do plenty of this when there’s a good story to get out there, more often than not, we have to turn down some media requests because the volume is too high.

What I told this student was that one of the ways we really gauge success in our department is if we are able to keep the focus on the field. It’s very obvious that the reason you all come to this blog or follow the Dodgers is because of what goes on down on the field. While our main goals also include providing an unparalleled fan experience and a commitment to the community like never before, those are probably not as important to you guys as a winning team, year-in and year-out, which is our main goal at the Dodgers.

Today, I’d have to say, was a good news day for the Dodgers, as the L.A. Times and Daily News both had front page stories about the club that spanned much of the front section. While I haven’t seen the hard copy of the papers and have only read them online, I was emailed this morning by three people in my office to tell me how cool it looks on the cover of the whole newspaper. And of course, while we’d love to take credit for this in our department, I think it’s pretty clear that when we’re winning, we have a great PR department and when we’re not, we’re pretty lousy – or at least that’s what it looks like. Sure, there are things that we can do to help bring to light a lot of the positive things we do on a daily basis – community visits, renovation to the stadium, feel-good stories about our players, etc. – but there’s a limit to what we can do.  Nonetheless, grab a copy of the local papers if you want to get an overall take on what’s gone on during this recent hot stretch.

A couple other good stories you might want to check out are from Doug Krikorian at the Long Beach Press Telegram and a feature on Ned Colletti in the Chicago Tribune.

Meanwhile, I’ll definitely put the photo of the flags from AT&T Park on the blog once it’s sent to me. Back home in LA, our team president, Jamie McCourt, has emailed the front office to say that everyone can go home at 2 p.m. today, right after they finish their first-place ice cream. If you haven’t heard about that tradition yet, check out the Times story I linked to above.

That’s all for now. Heading to the park in an hour or two and will post the lineup when I get there.

Heading up north

In about two hours, we’ll board the bus for the airport and head up north for a series against our longtime rivals, the Giants. Though I have to admit I really like the city of San Francisco, I could do without the team. Giants PR guys aside, I would love nothing more than to get going again with a three-game sweep in Pac Bell Park/SBC Park/AT&T Park…

As I have mentioned the last few days have been incredibly busy for our offices, as homestands are always busy and unprecedented 17-1 runs make them even crazier. We had just about every national media outlet calling to speak with or cover our players or staff, who have appeared on everything from Baseball Tonight to Rome is Burning, CBSSportsline.com, CNNSI.com (John Donovan’s All-Rookie team) and (Jon Weisman’s in-depth view of Andre Ethier), Yahoo Sports (great article on all the rookies) and countless others. Our guys have been on radio stations from Los Angeles to Canada and local TV stations all across the country. All of this takes coordination, which is really what our department does on a daily basis.

For any of our Spanish-speaking fans, you’ve got to check out Boris Mizrahi’s article about Wilson Betemit. I highlight this article not only because it’s a good read, but also because Boris was extremely helpful to me in 2002 when I covered the Caribbean Series in Caracas and throughout Venezuela. He helped an out-of-town journalist when he didn’t have to and I’m glad to see he’s got a gig writing for MLB.com.

Anyway, between the hospital visit, elementary school visit, autograph sessions, live web chats and much more and there’s certainly been plenty to do around here.

I’ll be interested in seeing just how the FAA’s new regulations affect our charter flight today. We’ve been told that we can’t bring liquids on the plane, much like any normal flight, but I’m sure that air travel in general will be a little strange. I have yet to fly since last week’s terrorism plot was foiled and while I’m not terribly concerned, you’re always a little more careful when things like that happen.

For now, enjoy the day away from the game (who am I kidding, you’re still reading this right now) and we’ll be back at it again tomorrow.

History in the making

If you’re sitting in your office right now, wondering why you’re at work and not at Dodger Stadium, I don’t blame you. Suddenly you feel a bit of a cold coming on and you walk, sniffling and coughing, into your bosses’ office and tell them that you’re not feeling well and that you’ll have to go home for the day. Somehow, on your way home, you happen to pass Elysian Park Ave. and before you know it, you’re watching history in the making from the reserved level or pavilions.

Does this sort of thing happen every time we have a day game? I don’t think I really have to answer that question.

Here’s the lineup:

Lofton, CF

Lugo, SS (he’s now played 2B, 3B, SS, LF and CF in two weeks)

Nomar, 1B

Drew, RF

Kent, 2B

Ethier, LF

Betemit, 3B

Hall, C

Hendrickson, P (going for his fourth good start in a row)

I just grabbed the lineup card from last night’s game for our archives. If you haven’t seen the latest issue of ESPN the Magazine, there’s a great two-page spread about the incredible historical stuff the Dodgers have saved over the years. This is how stuff like that winds up in the archives. Something big happens and someone in the offices snaps a photo, grabs an item or asks the ticket office for some ticket stock. Hopefully it’ll be on display for all of you to see sometime soon at Dodger Stadium. And then there’s Al LaMacchia, who has witnessed history from a scout’s perspective.

Here are a few game notes to keep people updated:

THREE WEEKS AGO TODAY – On July 26, the Dodgers were in last place, a season-high 7.5 games out of first. In the past 20 days, they have gained 11.0 games in the NL West standings, having won six straight and 17 of their last 18 games. That stretch was preceded by a 1-13 stretch. The Dodgers have either had the division lead or shared it for 23 days this season.

PARTY LIKE IT’S 1899 – In the modern era (since 1900), the Dodgers have never had an 18-game span like their current one. The last time they went 17-1 over 18 games was in May/June, 1899 when they were still called the Superbas and won 20 of 21 games. In fact, over the past 20 years, the only NL team to win 17 of 18 games was the 1986 Mets, who went on to win a World Championship.         Source: Elias Sports Bureau

TO BE 18 AGAIN – During the last 18 games, the Dodgers have hit .297 as a team (181-for-610) with 99 runs scored for an average of 5.5 runs per game. They’ve been paced by Kenny Lofton (.429), Nomar Garciaparra (.350), Rafael Furcal (.347, 12 RBI) and Andre Ethier (.338, 12 RBI). During those 18 games, the pitching staff has a 2.37 ERA (41 ER/156.0 IP) with 136 strikeouts and 50 walks. Leading the way has been Brad Penny (3-0, 3.15), Derek Lowe (3-1, 2.93), Jonathan Broxton (0 ER/10.0 IP) and Greg Maddux (1-0, 0.90 ERA).

LOFTY NUMBERS – Since the start of the 2005 season, only two players in baseball have a better average than Kenny Lofton among big leaguers with 600 or more plate appearances. Albert Pujols (.331) and Miguel Cabrera (.328) are just above Lofton (.326). During that span, Lofton has stolen 43 bases and has been caught just six times for an 88 percent success rate. He also has a .381 on-base percentage since the start of last year.

HE’S ONE HALL OF AN INFLUENCE – Since Greg Maddux joined the Dodgers, the team’s ERA is 2.13 (32 ER/135.0 IP). Prior to that, the team’s ERA was 4.45 (465 ER/941.0 IP). Overall, the Dodger pitching staff has a 4.16 ERA this year, fourth-best in the National League.

Party Like it's 1899!

Yes, it’s another song title but it’s relevant again this time.

With the victory tonight, the Dodgers have won 17 of 18 games for the first time since 1899, when they won 20 of 21. And with the Padres’ loss, the Dodgers now lead the West by 3.5 games, their largest lead of the season.

As you can expect, it’s been really busy around here with media and with a day game tomorrow, I’m not sure how much more I’ll get to write in the morning, but enjoy this victory…the team’s never been hotter in any of our lifetimes.

Today's lineup

Running way late. Here’s the lineup:

Furcal, SS

Lofton, CF

Nomar, 1B

Drew, RF

Kent, 2B

Ethier, LF

Betemit, 3B

Martin, C

Billingsley, P

Lineup

Third post of the day…maybe some kind of record.

Furcal, SS

Lugo, LF

Garciaparra, 1B

Kent, 2B

Drew, RF

Betemit, 3B

Martin, C

Repko, CF

Lowe, P

Vintage Maddux – Roy Smith

After last night’s game against the Giants, I have to make a few comments about Greg Maddux and about what a masterfully pitched game it was on both sides.  Jason Schmidt and Greg Maddux are completely different pitchers, one a classic power pitcher, the other the epitome of finesse. However, both pitchers’ base philosophy is the same — work quick, throw strikes, change speeds. The philosophy is age old and was never more evident than last night.

Jim Kaat once said to me that pitching is an art, not a science.  I believe that and Greg Maddux was Picasso last night. What Jim was saying is that pitching is as much feel as it is game planning. What Greg does better than anyone possibly in history is control the speed of the bat. In order to do that he attacks with his good sinking fastball, establishing his optimum speed in the hitters’ mind, then reacts from there. If he gets a groundball out early in the count, great. If the pitch is taken or fouled off, he decides his next pitch by the reaction of the hitter. He also takes into account his history with that hitter and the count, the score and what he has working that particular day. In other words, he is always the one dictating and it is almost impossible for the hitter to guess what’s coming because he can get all of his pitches over for strikes on any count. I read an article written before Hank Aaron faced Al Downing the night Aaron hit his 715th home run. Downing was asked what he was going to throw Hammerin’ Hank. Al said “You’ll have to tell me what the previous pitch was.” That is Maddux.

Whitey Ford once said that he felt like he held an invisible string attached to the hitters stride foot with which he either pulled it or left it taut whenever he wanted. That is also Maddux.

Manic Monday

No, it’s not another 80s tune from my XM Radio. Just a feeling I’m getting that today is going to be quite crazy around here. It’s going to be hard to top yesterday’s excitement, as that was truly one of the greatest games I’ve ever witnessed. A 1-0 battle between a Hall of Famer and one of the top pitchers in the game and to think Greg needed just 68 pitches in eight inning – utterly amazing.

The first matchup ever between a 300-game winner and 700-homer guy didn’t disappoint, with Maddux leaping to spear a line drive back at the mound and retiring Barry Bonds, the first of 22 consecutive batters he set down.

More than 55,000 people in the house and the place was rocking like it was the 2004 playoffs and Lima was on the mound. It’s not surprising that Dodger fans are on the way to setting a record for attendance here at Dodger Stadium.

Of course, all of these wins mean that the media requests continue to pour in from all around the country, as the Dodgers are the talk of the baseball world. As it should be. Needless to say, our department will be busy today.

On a totally unrelated note, I went to MLBlogs.com today and noticed that my old colleague from MLB.com, Mark Feinsand, is blogging about the Yankees. He’s a great guy and a very good writer and it appears he’s got some sort of following on his blog. He had something like 1,000 comments, which is pretty impressive. I’m not sure what that says about this one and I hate to point out a Yankee anything on this site, but I have to say, as someone who didn’t really understand the blogging world until about a year ago, you are all quite a dedicated group of fans.

It's a beautiful day…

Or at least that’s what U2 was singing about on my way to the ballpark. Which made me think of the old Dodger radio classic "It’s a Beautiful Day for a Ballgame."

As most Angelenos can relate, there are some days when the commute to work can be a pain, but driving in this morning, I couldn’t help but think what a great game this should be. On a picturesque late afternoon at the greatest ballpark setting in the country, a worldwide audience on ESPN will be tuning in to watch Greg Maddux vs. Jason Schmidt and the Dodgers vs. the Giants. We haven’t swept the Giants at home since June 22-25, 1995 or about a month after I started working here and we have a chance to put our rivals in a position of being 7.5 games out of first place with six weeks left.

Add to that the intrigue of Maddux looking to tie Steve Carlton for 10th place and you don’t have to go back to Tuesday’s post to see how rare a feat like that really is. If you haven’t bought tickets yet, there’s still a chance to get down here in the next five hours (it’s only noon right now). Plus, it’s autograph day, so bring the kids down to the parking lot early and see which Dodger player they might get to meet.

The other thing I heard on my XM Radio as I drove to the stadium just now was Katrina and the Waves’ "Walking on Sunshine," which hearkens back memories of the early 90s pennant races with the Braves. Don’t ask me why…it must have been a video montage that the team put together back then, but every time I hear that song, I think of a weekend series in 1991 at Dodger Stadium. Does anyone else associate that song with that season or am I nuts?

Anyway, here’s the lineup:

Furcal, SS

Lofton, CF

Nomar, 1B

Kent, 2B

Ethier, LF

Betemit, 3B

Lugo, RF

Martin, C

Maddux, P

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