February 2009

Camelback Ranch – open for business

Yesterday was a great day of introductory meetings and a news conference, but today is the actual opening of Camelback Ranch – Glendale. There’s still quite a bit of construction going on at the Ballpark, but the practice fields are ready to go and we’re set up in our new offices.

And, in keeping with the “first day” theme, here’s a post from historian Mark Langill…

“One of the most unique Dodger spring training photos was snapped on the first day of training camp in 1970 and featured manager Walter Alston on a bicycle with such youngsters as Steve Garvey, Bobby Valentine, Bill Russell and Tom Paciorek tagging along and riding two-per-bicycle. Most of the prospects enjoyed long careers, including Paciorek, who has spent more than three decades in pro ball as a player and broadcaster. But that was the only day Paciorek would be pictured wearing uniform No. 53, which had belonged to pitcher Don Drysdale from 1956 to 1969 and later was retired by the ballclub upon Drysdale’s election to the Hall of Fame in 1984. According to Paciorek, he walked into the clubhouse the next day and found uniform No. 17 in his locker. He asked clubhouse attendant Nobe Kawano about the change from Drysdale’s famous number. “I saw you play, kid,” Kawano replied. “You’re not that good.”

Who's coming with me?

Sitting at LAX, ready to head to Camelback Ranch – Glendale. Hard to believe it’s here, but I can’t wait to see the place. It’s changed dramatically since I was there in November.

Be sure to keep checking back regularly for updates as well as watching the Inside Dodgertown webisodes that are on dodgers.com (if you’ve disabled autoplay on your home page, you have to make sure to click on it to watch them). The video group from the Dodgers has been doing some great work on a daily basis and there will be new video from Arizona daily.

Meanwhile, if I hadn’t booked my flight a month ago, I would have hopped on the Lasorda bus, which departed from Dodger Stadium this morning at 10 a.m. They’ve got to be closing in on Arizona by now even with their stop for six-dollar burgers at Carl’s Jr. and a gas fill-up at 76 (got to plug our sponsors, right?). I can only imagine the stories being told on that bus but keep an eye out for updates on KABC from Josh Suchon all day long; a story on dodgers.com from Rhett Bollinger, who is riding along; reports on KCAL with Gary Miller; and a column by the Daily News’ Ramona Shelburne. I’m sure Tommy will post a blog about the trip, too.

Tomorrow there will be tons of coverage from Arizona, as Joe Torre will meet with the media around 2 p.m. and Inside Dodgertown is hoping to catch with him first thing in the morning before the entire baseball operations staff sits down together for the first time this spring.

Counting down…

Several people are already there and I head out on Thursday. Physicals for pitchers and catchers are on Friday and the first workout is Saturday.

I know I’ve been talking a lot about Camelback Ranch so I’ll let someone else do the talking. This is from today’s Arizona Republic.

Dodgers on Game Shows…

It is somewhat ironic, I think, that the Dodgers recently visited the “Price is Right” set, given the last three months of trying to find the right price for Manny. As you surely know by now, he granted his first interview in a while to the LA Times and it was great to hear from him and know how much he enjoyed playing in Los Angeles. As you can imagine, it’s not always easy to work through intermediaries in any business sense, but it’s a necessary part of the game and his agent is very good at what he does. That said, I hope that Manny’s comments are an indication that we can work something out (hopefully before the Price is Right episode airs in mid-March!!!)

Meanwhile, our team historian, Mark Langill, has been a contributor to this blog from time to time and I’ve asked him to send us a weekly post that touches on something historical from the club. Sometimes it’ll be an anniversary, sometimes it’ll be a relevant piece of history tied to current events and they’ll vary in length, I’m sure. But, there’s so much knowledge kicking around in his head, we want to make sure you guys all enjoy it, too. So, here’s his first weekly post…

The Dodgers’ recent winter caravan included a visit to “The Price Is Right” game show with host Drew Carey at CBS Studios, rekindling memories of a time when Dodger personnel often appeared on the non-baseball airwaves on game shows, variety specials and even in the movies.

During their tenure in Brooklyn, the New York-based game show “What’s My Line?” included mystery guests from the world of sports, including Dodger catcher Roy Campanella and Duke Snider.

In Los Angeles, sitcoms in the early 1960s featured Dodger coach Leo Durocher in a “manager” role because acting didn’t appeal to the low-key Walter Alston. Durocher appeared on “The Beverly Hillbillies,” scouting Jethro as a pitcher; “The Munsters,” scouting Herman Munster as a power hitter; and received advice from a talking horse on “Mister Ed.”

Arguably the most versatile Dodger in an acting role was pitcher Don Drysdale, who could appear as a gun-toting villain in such shows at “The Rifleman” and then wear a tuxedo and sing love songs, like he did after the 1963 World Series on “The Joey Bishop Show.”

In one scene, Drysdale masterfully performed “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” until he suddenly stopped when starting the song’s last line which began, “Your golden sun …” The supposedly startled Bishop approached Drysdale and the pair staged a conversation away from the microphone. Like a manager, Bishop then summoned relief pitcher Ron Perranoski, who slowly walked onstage in his Dodger uniform, complete with warmup jacket slung over his shoulder. Perranoski handed his jacket to Drysdale, who walked off the stage. “There’s another one Don couldn’t finish,” Bishop joked. Perranoski quickly sang the song’s final four words, “… will shine for me” to get the save.

Back in the Valley…

Welcome back to El Camino Real’s own Randy Wolf, who is back in the mix on a one-year deal. He’s a favorite of many because of his local ties and he fits very nicely into the rotation with Billingsley, Kuroda, Kershaw and a fifth starter to be named later (at least those are the names we all assume are going to be in there…can’t say I’ve personally talked about it with Joe Torre).




Vamos a Mexico!

It was great seeing some of the ITD faithful out at Canter’s Deli yesterday. I didn’t get to make it over to The Price is Right, but I heard it was awesome and can’t wait to see it on air on March 18.

The caravan heads really far south now, as I’m blogging from an SUV en route to Mexicali, where we’re announcing that we’ll host the two top teams from the Mexican League at Dodger Stadium on May 16. Should be a really unique event and I hope you’ll all be out there. We’ve got Fernando, Jaime and Pepe with us and anytime you can trek into Mexico with Fernando, who is the biggest name in Mexican baseball history, it’s a pretty special event. Tickets go on sale today on dodgers.com and will be as low as $5 for the family section (alcohol free pavilions)…

And congratulations are in order for former Dodger groundskeeper Larry DiVito, who was named as the Twins’ head groundskeeper yesterday. It’s always great to see former Dodgers moving up throughout baseball and our own Guru of the Grounds, Eric Hansen, has proteges around the league, which is why our field is considered by many players to be the best in baseball. Of course, Larry was already the head guy in Washington before making the move, so apparently he likes starting new stadiums! Congrats, Larry. 


The next Jim Morris…

Some of you probably recall the former left-handed pitcher Jim Morris, who was as a professional pitcher in 1983 before being released in 1989 and becoming a high school coach, only to return to the Majors in 2000 (including a brief stint with the Dodgers in Spring Training the following year).

Well, the blogosphere has it’s own version of Jim Morris. Meet Jon Weisman. A budding superstar of a sportswriter back in the day, he took his talents to a more intimate setting and created Dodger Thoughts many years ago and turned it into a must-read blog for Dodger fans.

Now, out of the blue, the big leagues came calling again. DodgerThoughts will now be hosted by the LA Times and Jon explains the decision-making process on his site. Congrats to him on the call-up! I wonder who would play him in the movie version (it was Dennis Quaid who played Jim Morris in “The Rookie.”) Perhaps his friends at the Daily Variety can create a cast.

Meanwhile, that means that the Brothers Kamenetzky, who have the most popular Laker blog out there, will get the chance to focus on that while also contributing their witty Dodger content to a different LA Times blog, The Fabulous Forum. Plus, you’ll still see their stuff in ESPN the Mag, so we’re happy that they’ll be around quite a bit at the stadium, too.

And, in sticking with the blog theme, I just learned that the Isotopes, our Triple-A affiliate in Albuquerque, will also be hosting a blog this season so be sure to check them out, too.

The Caravan has left Dodger Stadium this morning and is on its way to City of Hope, one of our two partners in ThinkCure. I did see one question posted as to why the Caravan only stays in the general Los Angeles area rather than venturing to the outlying communities like the Inland Empire and the answer is simply that with Los Angeles being as large as it is, it’s very tough to make multiple stops if you have to travel more than an hour to get to each one.

But, that’s not to say it’s out of the question. I will definitely bring the suggestion up when we plan next year’s event and appreciate the feedback.

We taught them everything they know…

I remember that day back in September, when Cory Wade, Joe Beimel and I popped by Steelers practice. I took Santonio Holmes over to a side field and we went through some drills, showing him how to catch passes in the corner of the end zone while dragging his toes in bounds. It looks like he finally took to heart the lesson.

OK, so maybe that didn’t happen, but because of our visit to their practice facility and the kindness of their staff in opening their doors to Cory and Joe, two lifelong Steelers fans, that’s who I was rooting for yesterday and it turned out to be an amazing game. Congratulations to that entire organization on an unprecedented sixth title (coincidentally, the same number as the Dodger franchise).

Meanwhile, a group of fans from around the community had a chance to come out to Dodger Stadium and watch the big game from the Baseline Box Club in our second annual Superbowl party. So, with the completion of that game, it’s official. Baseball season is upon us – sure, there’s NBA, the NHL, and college hoops still going on, but we leave for Camelback Ranch – Glendale a week from tomorrow and everyone’s getting pretty fired up.

Hope to see some of you out at our caravan stops tomorrow and Wednesday.