September 2006

How Sweet It Is…

Growing up in LA, my memories have quite a bit to do with Kirk Gibson yelling out about the fruits of victory after each celebration leading up to the 1988 Championship and it’s hard to describe just how exciting today is for me and everyone in the Dodger organization. There are so many people that put in countless hours, making personal and professional sacrifices, hoping that somehow their team is one of the eight that still gets to play in October and this is such an incredible moment for all of them.

It’s also an amazing day for all of you, who have been dedicated to following this team on the blog all year long. When Scott Reifert at the White Sox first mentioned this to me, I was stunned to hear how many fans were living and dying with the lineups he posted and the thoughts he put up on line. Now I can see just how great it is to be able to reward all of you with some postseason baseball.

Two times in three years. That’s pretty impressive. And I hope we’re far from done. Scott was lucky enough to have his team win the World Series in the first year of Inside the White Sox, so why not us? Right now, I think that any of the eight teams heading to the postseason have a legitimate shot to win it all. We will be going in either having won seven in a row or seven of eight and we’ve been the hottest team in baseball for two months, having won 40 games since July 27. Only Oakland can match that.

Hopefully you all got to see the celebration today on TV. Sorry we couldn’t do it in front of the home crowd, but maybe the next one will be. It was quite a feeling, seeing so many months of hard work pay off.

Tomorrow, we go for the NL West and while we won’t have Derek Lowe on the mound, remember what Eric Stults did the last time he faced the Mets. It’s definitely possible to pull off one more win, so tune in and show your support. You’ve already outlasted my expectations for this blog this year and it can only get better from here!

With gratitude,

The entire Dodger front office

Today's game

Last night was a true team victory. Let’s see if we got two more in us.

Furcal, SS

Lofton, CF

Lugo, 2B

Kent, 1B

Drew, RF

Betemit, 3B

Ethier, LF

Martin, C

Maddux, P

Tonight's game

Posting from the clubhouse and Andre Ethier is standing here and tells me he and his wife, Maggie have officially named the newest addition to their family, an English bulldog, Lil’ Wayne. Congrats. I told him that Westin, the hotels where we stay, offer Heavenly Dog Beds. Hopefully Maggie doesn’t read this or he could be out a thousand bucks.

Here’s tonight’s lineup:

Furcal, SS

Lofton, CF

Nomar, 1B

Kent, 2B

Drew, RF

Martin, C

Anderson, LF

Lugo, 3B

Kuo, P

James Loney gets the night off after yesterday’s absurdity. He’ll be on ESPNews at 4:00 p.m. PT and then on the Good Times radio show on 570 later this afternoon.

Loney in the headlines

About five days ago, I was sitting in Grady’s office when he told me that sometime this week, either James Loney, Matt Kemp or Delywn Young was going to find himself in the headlines. He didn’t know which one it would be or how it would happen, but he had a feeling.

I’m now on the bus, on our way to the airport (gotta love wireless internet cards) and James Loney is about four rows behind me, on the phone with ESPN Radio national after hitting his first grand slam, a second homer, two more hits and a franchise record-tying nine RBI. No one in L.A. history had ever done it…you have to go all the way back to Gil Hodges in 1950 to see what we saw today.

It seems like every day, I’m blogging about something else incredible. Four homers in a row…walk-off grand slams…nine RBI in a game. This has been the most exciting month of baseball I can remember in a long, long time.

And it’s far from over, I know. We still have three huge games left in San Francisco and wouldn’t you know that it would come down to the Giants?

I’m fairly certain you guys set an Inside the Dodgers record with 130-something comments during the game today. Keep it up. Keep watching every pitch, because it’s going to be an exciting weekend.

Day baseball

A sweep sure would be a nice way to head to the Bay Area. Nomar’s got the day off, but is available to pinch-hit. Penny is 5-0 against the Rockies. Here’s hoping it becomes 6-0.

Meanwhile, the team is on fire. Literally. Grady Little just informed us that during last night’s game, while Derek Lowe was waiting to hit, his pant leg actually caught on fire from a small space heater in the dugout. You can’t make this stuff up.

Furcal, SS

Lofton, CF

Anderson, LF

Kent, 2B

Drew, RF

Martin, C

Betemit, 3B

Loney, 1B

Penny, P

Today's lineup

Nomar's back in the lineup and it's pretty much the same group as yesterday.
Furcal, SS
Lofton, CF
Nomar, 1B
Kent, 2B
Drew, RF
Martin, C
Anderson, LF
Betemit, 3B
Lowe, P

Lowe's pretty much been the hottest pitcher in baseball for almost two months. Let's hope he keeps it up. If he can win, we'll have our first two set of 16-game winners since Orel Hershiser and Tim Leary in 1988, a year most people seem to look back upon fondly.

Today's lineup

Furcal, SS

Lofton, CF

Nomar, 1B

Kent, 2B

Drew, RF

Martin, C

Anderson, LF

Betemit, 3B

Maddux, P

Pizza and pitching

In today’s Orange County Register, Takashi Saito tells Bill Plunkett that he’s amazed at the strength American players get from eating pizza and bread. It’s safe to say he’d be flabbergasted if he saw my daily diet during the season and appalled at the Fox Sports Net employee who finished off eight Dodger Dogs in the press box on Saturday night, setting a new media record. Nonetheless, it’s an interesting off-day read about our newfound closer in the OCR.

Another very cool article is the long feature by Steve Henson in today’s L.A. Times about Ned Colletti’s upbringing. Steve went all around Ned’s hometown with him when we were in Chicago and the result is a great read. Check it out if you need to pass the time before tonight’s game.

We traveled yesterday, so I didn’t get a chance to point it out, but I’m really impressed with the Monday sports section of the Daily News. They have done an awesome job of creating a tabloid-style section that really gives readers a lot of bang for their buck. Check it out if you live around LA.

As for us, our office will be hard at work preparing the postseason media guide, which every team that is in contention must do. It’s about a 125-page book of information that the media uses to cover the playoffs and their respective teams during the offseason. It’s quite an undertaking, as is the credential process and all the other planning for potential playoff games, but it’s all a part of our daily jobs. Six teams are currently doing it and only four of us will be playing a week from today. Let’s hope we’re one of them.

Here at the Westin in Denver, there’s a huge clock tower outside my window and it just chimed 11 times, reminding me that I’ve got a lot left to do before I leave for the yard in a bit.

Six games. Four wins. That’s my prediction for what it will take to make it. And I believe we’ll do it.

For a set of four baseline tickets to a game next April, here’s something fun to do. Post your predictions on how this will play out (only us, SD and PHI). You can just give each team’s record in the final six games and who will make the postseason. Or if you have more time to spare, break it down day by day. But most of all, enjoy this. There are a lot of teams in baseball whose fans would love to be in our shoes today and it’d be a shame if we didn’t all enjoy this final week.

Playoff tickets are on sale now

I was just out in Lot 10 where more than 1,000 people are on hand to purchase tickets for potential postseason games. After yesterday’s win, there’s a lot of excitement in the air, even if we are 1/2 a game out of the hunt right now. With six games left, so much is still possible, it’s hard to even keep track of all the scenarios.

You can buy tickets over the phone at 866.DODGERS or online at dodgers.com.

Today's game

Last night leaving the stadium was definitely a bummer. After holding a playoff spot for the past month, suddenly needing some help from other teams is not exactly where you want to be going into the season’s final week.

But the other thing that crossed my mind as I was leaving the parking lot was this: That if we do make it to the playoffs now, it’ll be all the sweeter. Every winning team faces adversity and the fact that we’ve fallen out of our top spot this past week means we’ll just have to be that much better in the coming week. It’s that simple. But in a weird way, the pressure is now on the other teams. If one of them "blows" their playoff spot in the final week to us, they’ll be the ones who couldn’t come up big when they had to.

This is why we all get so invested in a baseball season. Yes, it’s just a game but we all seem to live and die for this final week, when every game means more than the previous one. So sit back and enjoy the game with your family or come on down and be part of Fan Appreciation Day. There are very few tickets left, but if you leave now, you might snatch up the last ones.

Finally, our heartiest congratulations go out to Rafael Furcal, who was voted by his teammates as the winner of the inaugural Roy Campanella Award, which essentially goes to the Most Inspirational Dodger. He truly has been everything we had asked for and more this season.

Furcal, SS

Lofton, CF

Nomar, 1B

Kent, 2B

Drew, RF

Betemit, 3B

Anderson, LF

Martin, C

Kuo, P

LAST HOME GAME – A victory today would give the Dodgers 49 victories at Dodger Stadium, the same total they had during their NL West Division-winning season of 2004. The last time they had more home wins was 1991 (54).

THIEVERY CORPORATION – The Dodgers stole two bases last night to give them 121 on the season, the most since the 1999 Dodgers stole 167 bases. The duo of Rafael Furcal (36) and Kenny Lofton (28) have swiped 64 bases, the most for a  Dodger duo since 1999 when Eric Young (51) and Raul Mondesi (36) stole a combined 87 bases.

NOT SHORT ON RBI – Rafael Furcal has a career-high 63 RBI, the most by a Dodger shortstop since Bill Russell had 65 in 1974 and 1976. Russell currently holds the L.A. Dodger record for RBI in a season by a shortstop while Glenn Wright has the franchise mark dating back to Brooklyn (126 in 1930).

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