April 2007

Honoring Jackie

Today is really going to be a special day at Dodger Stadium and throughout baseball. There are actually still tickets available if you want to be a part of an incredible event honoring a truly great man.

There are so many great articles online to read, I can’t begin to point them all out, so instead I’ll post an email that was forwarded to me by someone at Fox and originally written by John Tejada, who is actually the College Basketball Assignment Editor at ESPN.

"On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers broke baseball’s color barrier, ending decades of segregation in America’s national pastime.

I know that if you’ve watched anything in sports or on ESPN for the past couple of weeks, you’ve been pretty much hit in the head by this fact, but as Sunday approaches, please stop and think for a second how this one day truly changed the fabric of America. If there was no Jackie, would there be a Cassius Clay? If there was no Jackie, would there be a Jordan or a Magic or a Kareem? Shaq and Kobe? Would they be household names? Jeter, Reggie, Ortiz, Manny…would any of these guys have a home in our hearts if there was no Jackie?

I never saw the man play, I never met him. All of my memories of Jackie Robinson are old videos of him stealing bases, playing the field, stealing home against the Yankees. That probably is the one thing I wish I got to see most – Jackie Robinson play ball. Just once. I grew up way too late for that. But as a black athelete and as a black coach, I look to him as a hero, not just for playing the game, but for having the courage to withstand the hatred. Unfortunately, that hatred still exists today. We still have members of society who look to minorities as second class citizens, as inferiors.

I’ve seen the hatred and lack of respect on the court and on the strip of fencing, and in my opponents when I’ve coached. 60 years later, a lot has changed, but not nearly enough. Prejudice and segregation still exist today.

So I ask you all, when you get the chance on Sunday, just stop and think about Jack Roosevelt Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodger team he played for in the summer of 1947. Tell your friends. Sit down with them and maybe have conversations about the subject. I’m thankful every day that the world had Jackie Robinson. I just wish I was able to meet him."

Back in First Place

Let’s all hope that yesterday was the last time the Dodgers aren’t atop the standings for the rest of the year. It could be for one day or it could be for the entire season, but it’s nice to see them where they belong.

Here’s today’s lineup:

Furcal, SS (not a bad season debut)

Martin, C (modest five-game hitting streak)

Nomar, 1B

Kent, 2B (hit his first big league homer 15 years ago today)

Gonzalez, LF (ranks among early NL leaders in five categories)

Clark, CF (Don’t worry, Pierre’s consecutive game streak is not a "start" streak)

Ethier, RF (be on the lookout for his email to Buster Olney tomorrow on ESPN.com)

Betemit, 3B

Schmidt, P

Furcal is back

Prior to tonight’s game, we will activate Furcal and option Chin-hui Tsao back to Las Vegas. It’s beginning to look a lot like we thought it would. The last time San Diego was here, we hit four homers in a row…not that you should expect that again tonight. Here’s the lineup:

Furcal, SS

Pierre, CF

Nomar, 1B

Kent, 2B

Gonzo, LF

Martin, C

Clark, RF

Martinez, 3B

Lowe, P

For any of you who speak Spanish, we’ve started a new blog on losdodgers.com, which will include posts from Jaime Jarrín, Pepe Yñiguez and several other Spanish-speaking members of the Dodgers. Both of them, plus Fernando Valenzuela, were at a press conference today where we announced a new partnership with Aeromexico, the largest airline in Latin America.

There’s plenty of Jackie Robinson information at the special landing page from MLB.com. Earlier today, the Los Angeles City Council officially declared April 15 Jackie Robinson Day in the City of Los Angeles. Accepting the resolution was Robinson’s wife, Rachel, his former teammate, Don Newcombe, former Dodger “Sweet” Lou Johnson, City Councilmembers Ed Reyes, Jan Perry, Bernard Parks, Herb Wesson and Dodger Senior Vice President Howard Sunkin.

Tomorrow, Juan Pierre and Marlon Anderson will participate in a clinic at Major League Baseball’s Urban Youth Academy in Compton. The event, will also include former Dodgers Don Newcombe, Ken Landreaux, “Sweet” Lou Johnson and Rudy Law.

And finally, a couple things I noticed while doing game notes today.

Entering play today, 12 of the 16 NL teams are above the .500 mark.

Also entering play today, the ERA in the National League for all 16 teams is just 3.47, 0.39 higher than the Dodgers’ team mark (3.08). The NL’s batting average is just .247, .008 higher than the Dodgers’ team mark (.239). Last season, the NL batted .265 and posted a 4.22 ERA. The sample size is too small to make anything of it, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

Oh, and the Dodgers have made just three errors in their first nine games.

The latest in the blogosphere

As I do regularly, I read DodgerThoughts today and Jon Weisman’s latest post certainly was of interest to me. I guess more than anything, I want everyone that reads this blog and any of the others that are out there to know that we truly empathize with everyone who has experienced growing pains with the new parking system and I don’t know how to make it sound sincere over the Internet, but we are absolutely listening to your comments and in cases where it’s possible, implementing them.

More importantly, I know that Jon made it a point to bold the fact that if this system works, that we will have the last laugh and I want to assure you that no one here is looking for a last laugh. This is not a Dodgers vs. the Fans issue and there will not be anyone here saying "I told you so," if and when this system proves to work out to everyone’s liking. We all come to work each day looking to improve the fan experience and that is really what matters (in addition to winning). Without the fan support, this organization is nothing and I sincerely mean that.

I know that expressing empathy (or sympathy or whatever you want to call it) when it’s asked for by Dodger Thoughts is a little like bringing flowers home to your wife after she’s told you that you never bring her flowers, but I cannot express more strongly that we do listen to your comments and we do try to implement them whenever possible. For example, on Tuesday night, when one of the gates was backed up after the game and another had emptied quickly, we re-routed fans to the open one to help get them exit more easily. And the suggestions for a shuttle from Union Station that were made on this blog continue to be discussed, though I can tell you that the last time we tried to do that, we discontinued the service because so few people used it. These are only two of the many ideas being considered to improve the parking situation. 

We have numerous people who are reading message boards and blogs several times a day and they are talking to fans in the stands every night. We also have several parking experts (who understand this far better than you or I) here until 2 a.m. after night games, meeting with our own staff members and trying to assess every single thing that took place in the parking lots that night.

To Jon’s point, I don’t believe there is anyone here who thinks the "customers are spoiled." That said, we obviously know that when things change, it makes it the most difficult for the people who are the most used to the "old way," which in this case are our long-time fans and season-ticket holders. This is not us blaming them for resisting change. It is the reality of making a change and again, their opinions matter more than anyone realizes.

The entire reason we started Inside the Dodgers was to be able to interact daily with our fans rather than to communicate with you all through the media. There are only three teams in baseball with a forum like this and rest assured, everything you are posting is being read and seriously considered.

In regards to the handicapped parking, I can assure you all that anyone with an actual handicapped placard is accomodating in a lot closest to the stadium, which is the reason why the premium parking lots overflowed on Opening Day.

And finally, more than anything, I agree with Jon on this point: That Sunday night, a large crowd coming is coming to honor the legacy of Jackie Robinson and I hope that he is the focal point of the evening and that eventually, we are all able to move on from parking and that the results will be exactly what the fans and the Dodgers were seeking.

Thanks again for your patience and as soon as I know more on Furcal, I’ll post again (though it probably won’t be until later in the day when he gets to the ballpark).

Today's lineup

Pierre, CF

Martin, C

Nomar, 1B

Kent, 2B

Gonzalez, LF

Valdez, SS

Ethier, RF

Betemit, 3B

Penny, P

Tonight's game

I’ll take a quick break from parking and restaurant reviews and give today’s lineup, as well as the unfortunate news that Matt Kemp is going to go on the disabled list and Chin-hui Tsao has been recalled from Las Vegas. I haven’t been downstairs yet for a medical update on Kemp, but be on the lookout for Ken Gurnick’s notebook, as I’m sure that will have the first bit of news from Grady/Stan Conte, etc.

Here’s the lineup:

Pierre, CF

Martin, C

Nomar, 1B

Kent, 2B

Gonzalez, LF

Valdez, SS

Ethier, RF

Betemit, 3B

Tomko, P

One last thought on the restuarant critics…if they write off of their first visit, how is it that they can weigh in on five or six different appetizers, entrees and desserts? They just take one bite of everything and then give their opinion? Or do they leave every meal stuffed beyond all belief? Anyway…

Day Two

For anyone who made it out to yesterday’s game, I certainly hope you enjoyed the festivities, if not the game. Obviously the outcome wasn’t what we had all wanted, but the good news is that Jason Schmidt should be fine for his next start and that Matt Kemp’s X-rays came back negative, which is actually a positive. Rafael Furcal is heading to Rancho Cucamonga tonight to play for the Inland Empire 66ers against Bartolo Colon (and tomorrow against Jered Weaver), so hopefully he’s close to returning to the lineup.

I noticed that the comment section in yesterday’s post only included two comments on parking: one positive and one negative. I guess that’s about the same as an early peek of the morning media, as the L.A. Times seemed to have found a lot of fans who were frustrated, while the Daily News seemed to have spoken with those who thought it was better than in years past. And among my friends who came to the came, some said it was easier than ever while others battled heavy traffic on the streets before getting into the parking lot. I think that’s to be expected on Opening Day, when parking is at its absolute worst, particularly as the crowd lets out onto freeways that are backed up already from regular afternoon traffic. But, thank you to everyone for their patience and hopefully everyone will wait to see how the new parking plan works under normal circumstances. I can tell you this much – every Dodger employee parked offsite and was shuttled in to try and make more spots for the fans, so any parking issues were certainly not from a lack of effort. We are committed to fixing a problem that has lasted nearly 50 years and as always, we welcome everyone’s feedback.

Meanwhile, the aforementioned L.A. Times article seemed to give positive reviews to the All-You-Can-Eat Right Field Pavilion, which was certainly a hot topic during the winter.

And of course, there are probably 50 articles on the various media websites that we check each day, so rather than link to all of them, feel free to peruse them yourself at dodgers.com, L.A. Times.com, Daily News.com, Orange County Register and Riverside Press Enterprise, among others.

JrposterFinally, as you’ve probably seen on the site all week, Brett Tomko will be chatting with the fans today at 2 p.m., where you can ask him about tonight’s start, Spring Training or even the incredible Jackie Robinson poster he drew in charcoal that fans will get this Sunday at the April 15 game.

Home Opener

Glad to see everyone getting excited about the team, whether you’re in favor of the lineup or not. For what it’s worth, today’s is the same as yesterday’s below. And yes, we will begin removing all of the comments from anyone who swears in their posts.

Meanwhile, with Jason Schmidt starting today, readers of the L.A. Times were treated to a very interesting article about him from Steve Henson.

Over at the Daily News, the front page of the paper has an article about Nettie Berkson, who will be attending her 50th home opener this year at Dodger Stadium. In a nutshell, this is what Dodger fans are all about. I hope that many of you make it out here today for the first game of the season and that the winning streak continues.

In the meantime, everyone in the front office will be extremely busy, looking to ensure that you have an awesome time at Dodger Stadium. The first employees showed up in the wee hours of the morning and most of our office was here by about 6:45.  Let’s hope it all pays off at the end of the day.

Sunday morning

Happy Easter to those celebrating…here’s hoping we can get out of town with another victory.

Pierre, CF

Martin, C

Nomar, 1B

Kent, 2B

Gonzalez, LF

Kemp, RF

Valdez, SS

Martinez, 3B

Wolf, P

In case I don’t get a chance to post again before tomorrow, remember to get to the park early, as it’s always a hectic day on Opening Day. There are special benefits to getting to the stadium early tomorrow, so check it out.

Saturday's game on FOX

National TV today, with Josh Lewin and Eric Karros on the call.

Here’s the lineup:

Pierre, CF

Valdez, SS

Nomar, 1B

Kent, 2B

Gonzalez, LF

Lieberthal, C (first Dodger start – his dad used to be a Giants’ scout!)

Ethier, RF

Betemit, 3B

Lowe, P

Looking to make it three in a row and seven straight here in SF

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.