Spring Training is underway…

It’s amazing how quickly the comments ramped up as soon as Spring Training arrived.

We are here in Dodgertown, having arrived last night around 8 p.m. to a welcoming committee at the airport. Actually, those welcoming us at the airport were mostly autograph seekers who make a living putting that stuff on eBay, as Saito and Kuroda were on our flight and they got bombarded as soon as we got into the main area of the Orlando airport. I guess the autograph is worth more if it’s in Japanese, as they were all saying "Kanji," which I guess means, "Japanese." In any event, they were both gracious and signed as much as they could and with that, Spring Training was officially underway.

Also on our flight were the rest of the PR department, Ellen Harrigan from Baseball Operations and Mike Borzello, the new bullpen catcher this year who comes to us from the Yankees. He will join Rob Flippo down there and hopefully bring with him some of the success the Yankees have had over the last 10 years. Mike grew up in Southern California and we actually went to Joe Torre Baseball Camp together in the late 80s, so it’s good to have him in the Dodger family.

The entire clubhouse staff is here and we’ve already seen Mariano Duncan, too. From what I hear, we’ll have about a dozen players here today, with the rest showing up tomorrow. Billy DeLury, who joined the team in 1950, has been here holding down the fort since late January for the start of the two Adult Baseball Camps that just concluded.

As we settle into the office, we’re hoping the weather will cooperate this morning, as we have a media conference scheduled for 1 p.m. ET with Joe Torre. Not surprisingly, there are tons of New York and national media members who have been checking in with me almost daily to see when Joe will first speak here at Dodgertown so they can document it all for the papers in Manhattan.

For those of you who don’t want to wait to read the written reports, ESPN should be carrying it live on one of their multiple channels (maybe "The Ocho"), so be on the lookout for that. I’ll try to post any highlights later this afternoon.

Otherwise, it should be a relatively quiet, albeit exciting, day at Dodgertown.

UPDATE: It’s pouring at Dodgertown, but we have a tid bit of news. Takashi Saito signed a one-year deal today, which was really never in question but nonetheless, is nice to get done.

39 Comments

Thanks Josh for the update. I can’t wait to see the Dodgers play one last time in Dodgertown.

Yeah, these people that get autographs just for the sake of selling them online are just pathetic to me. Not only does it take away from the person who just enjoys having a collection, I have to wonder if the efforts are really all that much worth it.

At any rate, kudos to the Dodgers that took time out to go on the Caravan and sign stuff. I find that the players are always happy to sign something that they know is a personal item to you — in fact, I find that they are even cheerful to do so.

slik, I feel the same way about those autograph seekers that are there just for the sake of selling them. (they are pathetic). I usually can spot them.

I don’t have many autographs, but what I have is displayed on my living room (mantel, bookcase along with my collection of baseball books). I have some pix displayed at work and also a Dodgertown postcard that I got last time I was there.

I’ve never understood autographs on paper. I can understand a signed ball, bat, or glove but a plain paper autograph just means nothing to me.
When watching games in the AFL all the kids do is talk about getting the players broken bats so they can sell them on Ebay. Bat boys.

Hey guys,I have been collecting autographs ever since I was a kid and have hundreds of stuff signed. It’s only for me. I enjoy collecting autographs and it’s something I would like to pass it to my children. I usually go to all the local signings they have here in southern california and to be honest, most of the people there are dealers. They do sell them onliine. I have no problem with them as everyone has a right to do whatever they wish. One more thing, if Takashi and Hiroki sign in Japanse it does add value to the item only because they are Japanase. Last week at the caravan, I got both guys to sign it in english and japanase.

Thanks Josh for the updates, will be reading you all spring training.

http://baseballislife.mlblogs.com/

I do not understand the concept of guys waiting for autographs to sell either.

Still, there seems to be a market for it. Why do people pay money for an autograph obtained by someone else? Authenticity is always a question mark.

The point of obtaining the autograph to me has always been a memento to mark the occasion of getting to meet a player you admire.

I have several Dodgers autographs I obtained in person and I remember the occurrence of each one. Most have cool stories that go along with them: the time I got to hang out with Jay Johnstone for awhile; my first meeting with Steve Garvey when I was 12; my first ever Dodger autograph which was from Dusty Baker in 1979; the time I flew on a plane sitting next to Bob Griese and Keith Jackson; a black tie affair with Tommy Lasorda where he kept us all entertained with jokes and stories; things like that. I’ve never felt the need to buy an autograph.

Those guys that re-sell them make it tougher for the kids and true fans because athletes just get tired of it all.

Hey Josh, I heard a report today that the U.S. Olympic Committee is going to provide all the food for the athletes in Bejing as they don’t want them eating the food in China due to all the pesticides, veterinary chemicals and above all STEROIDS in the chicken et al. Have the Dodgers taken that into consideration? Last thing we need is half the team suspended for testing positive just from eating the food.

This is the best time of the year…ST…Happy days are here again.

I agree that the autograph seeker that sells it ruins it for the real collectors. I have a rather large collection that I have acquired thru the years and either get them myself (most gratifying) or buy them off MLB.com. I do it for the enjoyment and to hand to my kids one day.

My favorite pieces are a Cal Ripken and a Eddie Murray signed game bats given to me by Ron Washington in 1987 when he was with the Orioles and that is what got me started. I still have them today and will never sell them.

Unfornately the sellers make it difficult to get autographs because the players become suspicious and sometimes will not sign.

Josh would you ever consider trading careers for a year or so?..lol…..

Thanks, Josh

I’ve got a ball signed by Maris, Mantle, Ford, Berra, Howard, Skowron and others that’s supposed to be worth a lot, but it’s a lot more valuable than money.

Good to hear about the Saito-san signing success. The less open issues the better.

As for autographs, there are sellers only because there are buyers. Here’s a big raspberry to autograph buyers: PHHHHHHHT!

knouff…that is a great piece…

Hey Josh! Thanks for the update. Stay dry and it’s great to have this blog to keep us posted on anything that Bleeds Blue!

Man, the dodgers.com poll is lame:

What is the most important issue for the Dodgers to settle this Spring Training?

a. Can Jason Schmidt still pitch?

b. Who will start at third base?

c. Does Juan Pierre start ahead of Andre Ethier?

d. Does the fire still burn for Joe Torre?

50% have voted for a.!? Bizarre to me. Schmidt’s progress is IRRESPECTIVE of Spring Training; either he’s ready (small miracle) or he’s not (more likely). Hate some of them or not, there are other 5th starter types on the roster (Loaiza, Stults). I severely doubt that the Dodgers *expect* Schmidt to be ready coming out of ST.

d.!? What!? Torre has about 13 million reasons to be motivated, if I may paraphrase Terrell Owens’ former spokeswoman.

The obvious choices should be b. or c., clearly. They are at 26% and 17%, respectively, or, combined 43%, less than the Schmidt answer. Go back to blowing up your beachballs people.

I voted for c :) Ok I’ll ask again since no one answered the last time, when are we going to know which minor leaguers were invited to camp???

ok never mind i found the list of NRIS… as for the poll, im sure schmidt can pitch, just not well.

ACK! Sweeney shows up on the 40-man. Well, I suppose all that really means is that it costs a little more to cut him, but he’s probably here to stay.

Highlight of the BYOF to Bejing article:

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado: The U.S. Olympic Committee has spent the past two years trying to figure out how to handle food-related issues like steroid-tainted chicken at the 2008 Olympics.

When an American caterer working for the U.S. Olympic Committee went to a supermarket in China last year, he encountered a piece of chicken – half of a breast – that measured 14 inches. “Enough to feed a family of eight,” said the caterer, Frank Puleo, who has traveled from New York to China to handle food-related issues.

“We had it tested and it was so full of steroids that we never could have given it to athletes,” Puleo said of the chicken meat that measured about 35 centimeters. “They all would have tested positive.”

Whole article:

http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/02/10/sports/OLY.php

All I can say is that must have been one big-*** chicken.

Josh,

I went to Joe Torre’s Baseball Camp too in the 80’s with Mike – probably you too. That was a great time.

I’m an adult autograph-seeker. One of my peeves is that they restrict autographs to kids under 15. Half the fun in getting a signature, IMNSHO, is the chase. My only source for player signatures now is hanging out on the third base side of the field level and trying to get signatures there. (Before the renovation, one could also hang out in Aisle 31, which is next to the Dodger dugout. Brett Butler and Jose Lima are two guys who would come out and sign.) Many times if you ask a player, “Could you sign, please?” (not forgetting the last word in that sentence) they just might stop.

If people are rude – yelling at the player – I don’t blame guys who refuse to give autographs under that condition.

I think I will vote for “C”…

Definately C!!

old fogey is right. Who is voting for Schmidt? Idiots!

Colletti: Look at our pole Joe. Fans aren’t worried about Pierre.

Torre: Perfect! Now we can focus on that consecutive game streak he has and trade Ethier for Brett Tomko.

Kanji is the pictographic version of Japanese that’s written with Chinese-style characters. It’s how signatures are written in Japan, like with the red stamp you see on Japanese paintings.

It’s the last day of the off-season. It feels good knowing that.

I was just thinking of these autograph hounds…how do they know when the plane is arriving and in Orlando….Is it Thursday yet and the boys out on the field.

C

I am an adult autograph collector and I do it because I love baseball and the Dodgers. The autographs in my collection are not for sale. It’s likely that the vocal minority of people at the airport were dealers, but it’s dangerous to make that assumption about everyone. In my experience the adults are often true fans, and the children are frequently working for dealers. I live on the east coast and I’m really looking forward to one last trip to see the Dodgers play at home in my time zone. I hope to add a few new Dodgers autographs to my collection to be proudly displayed in my home. Thank you to the majority of the players who are very gracious when politely asked for an autograph at the appropriate place and time.

stopwa2000, I think we’re trusting that Josh, as a professional in the PR business, generally can discern pro autograph seekers collecting for resale from true fan collectors. If Josh writes, “those welcoming us at the airport were mostly autograph seekers who make a living putting that stuff on eBay”, as he did, I’m inclined to believe him unless it is disproven.

I feel sad when I think of Vero Beach & Dodgertown. It was so synonomous with the team and I know most of the “old” Dodger fans feel the same. Especially if their in the East and rooted for Brooklyn. So we got another Yankee, Mike Borzello bullpen catcher. I often wonder if it rubs off on us. I remember telling my daughter how good it was for her Mets to get Willie Randolph. If it’s true, I hope that “Yankee Luck” spills all over us with Joe Torre. Speaking of Joe, that N.Y. Media spreads the news all over N.Y. not only in Manhattan. Well we got Olmedo the killer tomato in our back yard. The change should do the Pride of Panama good. We had some snow, ice & rain over here in the East. LET’S GO 20-1 ODDS DODGERS only 10-1 to win the Pennant.

Willie Randolph wasn’t much of a good-luck charm for the 1989 Dodgers though. However, early in 1990 he was traded for Stan Javier who turned out to be a useful piece (118 OPS+ in CF – what we would have give for that last season!) on a 2nd place Dodgers team.

What was it they use to say about luck? ****Luck is when talent meets opportunity***or words to that effect.

Randolph’s talent was definitely on the wane. The start of the second baseman parade that led to the infamous Delino for Pedro trade.

Dylan Hernandez of the Times on the roster:

http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-dodgers14feb14,1,2481100.story?page=1&ctrack=5&cset=true

He seems to think both Pierre and Nomar will be starting, 12 pitchers will start the season on the roster, and that LaRoche will be starting also, but in Vegas.

I think he’s wrong on several counts. I think they start with 11 pitchers, not 12, Brazonban will be in AAA and LaRoche will be on the roster, starting or not.

old_fogey: you’re right, I didn’t mean my comments to be a criticism of Josh. I’m sure he can tell the difference, and the odds of the airport crowd being dealers is probably higher than other places. Although I just checked ebay and there aren’t any of those autographs from last night listed… yet. :) Anyway, just wanted to suggest that people shouldn’t jump to conclusions based on appearance alone. BTW, I also totally agree with you that LaRoche makes the opening day roster in LA. Ah, just two weeks until the first spring game.

I am starting a Fantasy Baseball League on Yahoo. If you are a frequent blogger and want to join, email me for the league id and password.

dodgerdude17@yahoo.com

great idea. I am in. i’ll e-mail ya.

I can assure you no announcer will be saying:

With the first (or 25th) pick in the draft jungar chooses juan pierre…

Dylan is way off on his projections. First of all, there is no way Nomar can play an effective 3rd base everyday (therefore LaRoche must make the team). Also, Brazoban has a long way to go before he’s recovered from his assortment of arm problems. He still has minor league options as well.

I know a lot of people here also read DodgerThoughts. I lurk over there too, because it’s quite good. But never posted. Then I saw Jon’s question about the most memorable obscure home run. I wanted to post, but am waiting for my registration to be complete, so I’ll share my thoughts here, and feel free to cross-post it, because I have the answer.

The first one I thought of was the one that Jon mentioned in the post–Eric Karros’s 3-run pinch hit home run against the Pirates on May 23, 1992. I was at the game. Karros was a rookie first baseman with loads of talent, but whose playing time was being blocked by a PVL–Kal Daniels (senselessly). Just like now, I was rooting for the kid to get some playing time, and even started a write-in All-Star campaign for him (with the hope that the number of votes he got would catch the attention of the management–I probably wrote-in Karros 500 times that year–the next year when he was on the ballot, I got a box of ballots and a drill). I had put up signs around the Top Deck.

Karros had gotten a key pinch hit earlier that week, but was not starting. Trailing by two, he comes up and works the count full. The annoying Pirate fan two rows ahead of me says he’s going to strike out. “No,” I say, “he’s going to hit a home run.” Even at 16, I knew this was bold and foolish talk. But on the 3-2 pitch, Karros blasted it over the 360 foot sign in left field. Dodgers Win! I throw my hat 20 feet into the air, never to be retrieved (I bought a new one that night–my “Eric Karros hat,” which I had for most of his time on the team, though it started crumbling at the end).

And just so you don’t think it’s merely a personal memory, that home run had meaning. Karros, who had been relegated to the bench for much of the first two months, started the next afternoon, and pretty much every day thereafter for the rest of the season–and for the next decade. He won the rookie of the Year Award, which opened the door to the Dodgers last youth movement, and the beginning of 5 straight Rookie of the Year Awards. Memorable, and obscure, I think that’s the winner.

But, if it’s not, then there is another Eric Karros home run that probably works–obscure enough that I don’t remember exactly when, but I think it was 2002 when Karros hit his 229th career home run, to pass Ron Cey as the all-time LA Dodger home run leader. By this time, Karros was nearing the tail end of his career, and the Piazza/Karros/Mondesi heyday was gone. And the home run was so obscure that my brother, a friend of mine, and I all chanted “2-2-9″ every time Karros came to bat that night, to the great confusion of everyone on the Top Deck. And we refused to tell anyone what it meant. As luck would have it, Karros blasted it out, and sure enough, it flashed on Dodger Vision that Karros had just set the all-time LA Dodger Home Run record. Karros got a standing ovation for the record, and a number of fans in the Top Deck, realizing what we had been cheering for, gave us our own well-though-not-equally-deserved ovation. And that probably is the winner for the most obscure but memorable home run in Dodger history.

Good story, leekfink.

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