October 2007

What a way to come back…

I can’t say that I expected to come back to the office on Monday to all of the craziness of the past few days, but needless to say, it’s been quite the whirlwind.

Thanks to all of you on the well wishes. I’m happy to report that everyone is great back home and life has gotten infinitely better. Anyone with kids can certainly attest to that.

As for things here in Dodgerland, I want to thank Grady for everything he’s done for the organization and for me, personally, over the past two years. While many of you seem to be happy with the change and have been advocating for it, most of you have also let it be known that your opinions are not personal towards him and I’m glad to know that. I really think that you’d be hard pressed to find a finer person in any walk of life. He’s honest, loyal, hard-working and the consummate professional. The sort of burnout that happens in this game has been seen numerous times, most recently up in Seattle back in July, and I applaud Grady for his actions.

While there’s been a ton written about us over the past few days, I believe Tim Brown’s account on Yahoo is the closest I’ve seen to being accurate. That’s not to say it’s perfect but I’ve long respected him for getting the story right and I think he did that here.

I’m obviously not in a position to comment on any negotiations currently going on, but we’re all hopeful that this gets resolved soon and that we can move forward as an organization and start improving the other areas of the team that need improvement.

As soon as I have more information that I can share, I certainly will and hope to start updating the blog on a regular, if not daily basis.

A brief break from blogging

I noticed a couple days ago that Josh Segal, the guy who runs Dodgerblues.com, got married and went on a honeymoon (yes, I read that site for a laugh just like the rest of you). He took a couple of weeks off from posting and our congrats go out to him and his wife.

Well, he’s not the only Dodger blogging Josh to take a break, as I’ll be gone starting Monday for a couple weeks with the pending birth of our first child. I should be back in the office in late October, so in the meantime, I hope you all will moderate the comments and put new topics up for discussion from time to time so the site doesn’t go stale. In fact, three of the great women who work in our department got an outfit for the soon-to-be-born child that says, "Check out my daddy’s blog" so hopefully you’ll take that advice.

Meanwhile, I played poker last night with the same group of guys I played poker with last year during the NLCS and I learned two things. The first is that I hate playing poker during the NLCS. I’d much rather be working games at Dodger Stadium than watching another team on TV. The second thing is that someone asked me last night what I did for a living and the topic of conversation shifted to the Dodgers for a bit. He is a huge fan and was a season-ticket holder until about five years ago. When I asked him what he thought we should or would do this offseason, he said that he thought we’d sign a big-name free agent just so that we can fill up the stadium but that it won’t help us win.

That actually made me really sad to think that some real Dodger fans – no matter how many or few – truly believe that anyone here is satisfied with just setting attendance records. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I know that all of you won’t necessarily agree with how everyone here goes about trying to win, but as someone who spends more than 3,000 hours a year at this stadium, I’d like to leave you with one assurance: That everyone here – from ownership to baseball operations to the team on the field and those of us on the business side of the organization – wants nothing more than to celebrate a World Championship with the fans of Los Angeles. You deserve it and we will all work as hard as humanly possible in the coming months and years to make it come to fruition.

Enjoy the next couple of weeks and Go Dodgers!

Josh

All in a day's work…

Many of you have commented in the past about how you like to get an idea of what the job is like that we do here, so here’s an idea of what today was like.

This morning I went with Takashi Saito to the Nishiyamato Academy in Torrance, a school for Japanese students. Mostly it’s for the kids of Japanese nationals who work in Los Angeles. He also did this last year and it was a really interesting cultural experience for me, as I got to see Saito in his element – something that rarely happens during the year.

As I was watching Sammy get animated at the front of the room, it dawned on me that what I was seeing is exactly what he sees all day, every day, for the past two seasons. Everywhere he goes, no one speaks his language and everything that goes on around him is hard to understand. He’s one of the best players on our team and I truly wish there were a way to show his personality to all of you, so I’ll make that a goal for next season.

On a side note, all of you should keep your fingers crossed that he passes his driver’s test tomorrow, as he’s trying to get a California license. He has to take the written and driving test and we were joking about how he’ll be more nervous about that than pitching in front of 56,000 fans at Dodger Stadium.

In the early afternoon, we invited media to come down to the stadium to photograph and videotape the demolition that is taking place on the field level as part of the concourse renovation. For those of you on the field level, you’ll barely recognize the interior when you come back on Opening Day and we really believe this will be a huge step towards eliminating lines throughout that level, which is one of the biggest complaints we get at the Dodgers.

Then, much like all of you, I spent the afternoon in a meeting. For me, we were meeting with Liberman Broadcasting, who own and operate KHJ, our new Spanish-language radio station as well as several other local stations on radio and TV. The other part of my job that’s not public relations is broadcasting, and as we start a new partnership with them for the next three years, today we got the chance to go over all the different ways we can help one another and utilize their resources to reach Dodger fans and our resources to reach their listeners.

We’re also cranking through the rest of that Season in Review guide that I mentioned before, as well as hopefully tying up the loose ends on an English radio deal. We appreciate all your feedback over the past couple years and have certainly taken it into account as we try to find a radio home for Dodger baseball on the radio in 2008 and beyond.

Fifty Years Ago Today

I know we’ve got plenty of East Coast fans who still check out this blog and I’ll apologize in advance for opening any wounds that have finally closed. That said, it was 50 years ago today that one of my esteemed predecessors, Red Patterson, handed reporters a press release at a Brooklyn hotel to announce that the team was leaving for Los Angeles (a reminder of how media has changed as well as the game of baseball over the past half century).

Steve Springer of the L.A. Times has spent the last few months researching the period when the Brooklyn Dodgers became the Los Angeles Dodgers and his fantastic two-day, four-story piece was in yesterday’s paper and today’s. For those who missed it, it’s some very interesting reading that also clarifies some of the circumstances around those who resided in Chavez Ravine before the Dodgers did.

Article 1

Article 2

Article 3 (Vin Scully’s recollections)

Article 4

And over on Yahoo.com, the Springer family continues the look back at the move, as Steve’s son Alan, has a video piece with Tommy Lasorda on his memories.

For the real history buffs, our friends at walteromalley.com have put together an awesome site filled with photos, documents and stories about the man who is almost single-handedly responsible for the expansion of baseball to the West Coast. One of these days, the Hall of Fame will induct him posthumously in Cooperstown. Until then, it’s up to all of us to remember how this franchise came to be the one we all live, breath and love every day.

A week in the office…

Much like many of you, this has been a somewhat normal week in the office. We took our interns to lunch to thank them for their hard work this season and we’re playing catch up on emails and other things that have sat on our to-do lists for months. As you can imagine, there’s not a lot of down time during the season despite the fact that days can start at 9 a.m. and go until 11 p.m. on a regular basis.

We’re also hard at work on the Season in Review guide and we’ll post the PDFs when they’re finished like last season. When the team goes to the playoffs, everyone stays through the night to make sure it’s ready by Game 1 of the Division Series but we’re able to take more time now to ensure that it has less (hopefully no) errors in it. This will serve as a guide for the media until the new 2008 Information Guide comes out in early March.

We’re also hard at work starting to plan for the 50th anniversary celebration, which will be a huge part of next season at Dodger Stadium. This will take the hard work of countless people in the front office, as will the numerous other initiatives that will be unveiled or introduced in the weeks and months to come.

Demolition has also started taking place on the Field Level, which will look completely different next year and hopefully provide the fans with many of the amenities that are in other ballparks across the country. It should also decrease the time spent waiting in line dramatically, which is one of the biggest complaints we’ve received over the 10-plus years I’ve been here.  If you don’t usually sit on the field level, please be patient, as we’ll be working our way up during future offseasons.

Otherwise, it’s relatively quiet around here, which is never fun in October. But just like the fans, we’re watching the postseason every day and I, for one, am glad to see the NL West representing well so far. As we all know, anything can happen (just ask Derek Lowe, Dave Roberts and the rest of the 2004 Red Sox), so I’m not counting the Phillies or Cubs out just yet.

Anyone care to place their predictions for the postseason in the comments? At least you’ll have proof that you "called the Indians over the Cubs in the World Series" when and if it actually happens.

That’s about it for now. Have a good weekend.

Medical update

Rafael Furcal had an MRI yesterday on his ankle and everything came back as expected. No need for surgery, but rest and rehab this winter should have him back at 100 percent by Spring Training, which is great news.

Tony Abreu is in Philadelphia right now where he saw a specialist on sports hernias earlier today and he will have surgery tomorrow to repair it. He’s expected to need about six to eight weeks of recovery time and can then resume his normal offseason conditioning and also be fully ready for Spring Training.

As much as I can, I’ll post these updates for you throughout the winter so you have the latest news available to you. Obviously I won’t always remember and sometimes you’ll read about it elsewhere first, but be sure to check back regularly for news.

And thank you to the fan for feedback on Fan Appreciation Day. I can assure you that there were significantly more than 50 prizes given away (I believe it was about five times that many throughout the game), but not everyone can win. I do like your idea of having some sort of thank you to all fans, not just those who win prizes. I can’t guarantee that will happen, but I’ll take the idea to the appropriate people here.

I can tell you that as a kid, I used to come to Fan Appreciation Day with my great uncle every year and it became a great family tradition despite the fact that we never actually won anything (if I remember correctly, the closest we ever got was about five seats away and the guy won a set of 10 ties).  As my uncle currently battles cancer and is unlikely to live much longer, it’s the memories of going to the game with him that I treasure far more than had I won an autographed ball or a night in a suite (oh wait, there weren’t suites back then).

Anyway, I wasn’t looking to dampen anyone’s day, just remind everyone how much a day at the ballpark can create lifelong memories…I do appreciate the feedback on things like that so keep it coming.

Back to the beginning…

On the first day of the 2008 season (at least it is for us), we start to focus all of our attention forward. But as I’m cleaning through a bunch of emails I’ve saved over the season, I just came across one with all the predictions of the "experts" at the beginning of the 2007 season and found it interesting.

Some have done pretty well with their predictions, others were more than just a little off. No one actually got them all right, but it makes for interesting reading…

ESPN’s experts (full 2007 predicted standings) and Dan Patrick

USA Today

Yahoo Sports

Baseball Prospectus

Hardball Times

CBSSports.com

Wall Street Journal

Sporting News

Sports Illustrated

Some of the others like Fox Sports and NBC Sports are now dead links so you can’t go back and check them out.

And Diamond Leung of the Press Enterprise posted this link a while back that actually has standings based on predictions. It hasn’t been updated yet this week, though.

I almost forgot how many people were picking us to win at the beginning of the year, but as they say, that’s why they play the games on the field, not on paper.

Anyway, it’s something to look back before we turn all our attention forward.

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