March 2009

Ask the booth…

With today’s game on dodgers.com/mlb.com exclusively, we decided to utilize the email address askthebooth@ladodgers.com, which is usually utilized by Ken Levine and Josh Suchon during DodgerTalk on KABC.

Rick and Charley mentioned the address in the first inning and immediately had 30 questions. The next time I dropped by the booth, it was over 100. So it’s good to know you’re out there listening…and asking questions. I’m not quite sure how or if we’ll utilize this during the season, as it’s much easier to veer off the subject of the game during Spring Training, but it’s been an interesting experiment to say the least.

Opening Day is a week away…

This from team historian Mark Langill…

The countdown to Opening Day brings the inevitable spring training roster cuts and the chance for a trade. On March 30, 1981, a Minnesota Twins outfielder walked into the clubhouse at Tinker Field in Orlando and discovered his locker was empty.

“What happened to my stuff?” asked Ken Landreaux, demanding an explanation from the clubhouse attendant. Landreaux was directed to the manager’s office.

“You’re going home, kid,” said John Goryl.

“You’re releasing me?”

At age 26, Landreaux was coming off a banner 1980 season with the Twins in which he batted .281 in 129 games and compiled a 31-game hitting streak, which was the most by an American League player since Boston’s Dom DiMaggio had a 34-game hitting streak in 1949.

But Landreaux filed for salary arbitration during the winter and felt the budget-conscious Twins might trade him before the hearing. Goryl’s “going home” reference to the Compton High School graduate meant a trade to the Dodgers. Los Angeles sent infielder Mickey Hatcher and two minor leaguers to Minnesota for Landreaux.

The trade surprised Landreaux because he never heard rumors of the Dodgers showing any interest. The only memorable interaction as a Twins player was three days earlier when Landreaux hit a triple against the Dodgers in a spring training game at Vero Beach. After sliding into third base, Landreaux says Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda hollered, “You wish you were over here.”

Seven months later, Landreaux was standing in center field at Yankee Stadium in Game 6 of the World Series when he caught the final out of the season to clinch the Dodgers’ first championship since 1965.

Bloggers Tour Camelback…

As promised, those who run Dodger blogs were invited out for a behind-the-scenes tour of Camelback Ranch today and three sites took us up on the offer…

Dodgerdugout.com, TrueBlueLa.com, and dodgerfan.net were all here today and got to meet a number of Dodger people, including Special Advisor to the Chairman Don Newcombe, Hall of Fame broadcaster Jaime Jarrin, new Dodger President Dennis Mannion, broadcaster Charley Steiner and about a 45-minute Q&A with GM Ned Colletti. I’d imagine each will share their thoughts on the weekend so check out their sites in the days (and season) to come.

 

Meanwhile, back at the Ranch…

Been waiting all spring to use that line. We are, in fact, back at the Ranch for the next four days with home games in three of them (plus a “road” game against the Sox tomorrow.

We’ll be hosting some of the Dodger bloggers here for tomorrow’s game and showing them the our new digs and hopefully starting to shore up some of the final roster decisions to be made. Well, I guess we won’t be doing that but our baseball ops staff will be.

Here’s the lineup for today’s game against the Royals…no Casey Blake, as he and his wife are getting ready to have their third kid so congrats to the Blake family.

Furcal, SS

Hudson, 2B

Manny, LF

Ethier, RF

Martin, C

Loney, 1B

Kemp, CF

DeWitt, 3B

Kuroda, P

One last WBC entry from Mark Langill

With more than 50,000 fans in the stands and a worldwide television audience, Monday’s World Baseball Classic thriller between Japan and South Korea arguably is the most significant international event at Dodger Stadium since “The Three Tenors” concert on the eve of the 1994 World Cup soccer final in Pasadena. It also might’ve been the loudest since The Beatles made their second-to-last concert appearance as a group in August 1966. Thunder sticks, flags of all sizes, painted faces, whistles and drums provided an unforgettable setting for Japan’s eventual 5-3 victory in 10 innings.

Nobody could’ve predicted the future nearly 15 years ago when pitchers Chan Ho Park and Hideo Nomo joined the Dodgers in 1994 and 1995, respectively. Park became the first Korean to appear in the Major Leagues, although it took time for him to establish himself as a consistent performer. Off the field, Park was a natural ambassador to the Korean American community. In attendance at Monday’s game was professional golfer Charlie Wi, who grew up in Southern California and excitedly recalled watching Park’s early years with the Dodgers.

Nomo’s career path took a fateful turn after stalled contract negotiations with the Kintetsu Buffaloes following the 1994 season. At the time, free agency did not exist in Japan and no player had appeared overseas in the Major Leagues since Giants pitcher Masanori Murakami in 1964-65. Murakami was a 20-year-old playing for the team’s Single-A Fresno team when a September promotion to the Majors caused both surprise and international drama as Japan didn’t want to lose its player. Murakami missed the first 23 games of the following season while the issue was debated and he eventually returned to Japan after the 1965 season.

When the Buffaloes agreed to release Nomo, it provided an opening to the Major Leagues. The Dodgers didn’t have any active scouting reports on Nomo, but Director of Asian Operations Acey Kohrogi checked his sources in Japan. Fred Claire, the team’s general manager at the time, was impressed someone with Nomo’s credentials in Japan would sign a minor league contract with the Dodgers because in Nomo’s words, “I haven’t proven anything yet.”

An instant classic…

It’s hard to put into the words the incredible vibe that was in the stadium tonight for the final. Japan just defeated Korea for their second WBC title and this place was as electric as any sporting event I’ve ever witnessed. More than 50,000 people screaming for nine innings straight and then, when Korea was down to its last out, they tied it up and sent it to extras, only to lose it in the 10th.

They’re celebrating down on the field right now and the stadium is still going nuts outside the offices. More than 400 media members were on site for the three-game set here and it’s been an incredible experience for everyone involved. Here’s hoping four years from now, it’s the United States that is celebrating…

And now, it’s back to Glendale in the morning for the final 10 days of Spring Training. We’ve got a night game tomorrow and PRIME TICKET is going to pick up the feed from FSN Northwest starting at about 7:30 p.m., so tune in for more Dodger baseball.

WBC, Eric Collins, KCAL 9 and lots more…a busy day

I hope that many of you made it out here last night for the game between Korea and Venezuela…while it was not the closest of games, the atmosphere was really, really cool and I’d expect tonight to be even better, with the US squaring off against Japan for the right to play Korea for the title tomorrow night. They’re practicing the Opening Ceremony of tomorrow night’s game right now on the field outside my office and it gave me chills just watching it without the stadium full. I can only imagine how exciting it’ll be tomorrow.

As many of you noted in the comments yesterday, we hired Eric Collins from ESPN to join Steve Lyons on the 38 games or so that Vin doesn’t do. Eric did the Olympics for NBC and impressed every person in came in contact with throughout the process and we’re excited to have him on board. We hope you’ll all enjoy listening to him and Steve and you’ll even get the chance to interact with them, as they plan to host a blog. More details on that to follow…

Back in Arizona, lots still going on. Today’s game can be seen on KCAL 9 with Vin calling the game from Camelback Ranch at 1 p.m. It’s his last game of the spring (from Arizona, that is) so be sure to tune in. And if you’re not in front of your TV, KABC 790 has the game, too (and the great Sunday night show with Ken Levine and Josh Suchon).

If you’re up for it, you can watch/listen to baseball all day long! Hope to see you all here tonight or tomorrow for the final…let’s get behind the U.S. and bring the trophy back home.

Another historical entry from Mark Langill

This weekend’s World Baseball Classic with teams from the United States, Venezuela, Japan and Korea highlight the international ties to Dodger Stadium.

When the ballpark was built in 1962, the dean of Japanese sportswriters, Sotaro Suzuki, was invited by the Dodgers to the dedication ceremonies on April 9 and the first game the following afternoon against the Cincinnati Reds. Suzuki returned to Japan and commissioned a stone lantern to mark the opening of Dodger Stadium.

During his career, Suzuki played a major role in the Dodgers’ relationship with Japan, often serving as a liaison when the Dodgers traveled overseas. The Brooklyn Dodgers toured Japan following the 1956 season and returned 10 years later as the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Tokyo Giants sent three players to the Dodgers’ spring training in 1957, with Suzuki serving as an interpreter, and the entire Giants team trained in Florida in 1961, 1967, 1971, 1975 and 1981.

The stone lantern from Suzuki was shipped to Dodger Stadium in the winter of 1965. The 10-foot tall, 3,921-pound stone lantern was built by the Shimizugumi Stone Works Company. The lantern was the centerpiece for a Japanese garden in the 1960s and 1970s that was maintained by local gardeners and contained two cherry blossom trees, river-rock paths and pine trees cut Japanese style.

The lantern was placed on a hill adjacent to Parking Lot 37, which later was re-named Parking Lot 6 beyond the Right Field Pavilion.

 

Picture 362.jpgAlongside the Japanese stone lantern is a bronze plaque from Korean American Community Night at Dodger Stadium on Aug. 20, 2003, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Korean Immigration to America.

The most famous Dodgers from Japan and Korea are both pitchers. Chan Ho Park in 1994 became the first native of South Korean to appear in a Major League game. In 1995, Hideo Nomo became the first Japanese professional player to appear in the Majors in 30 years.

The all-time Dodger roster features many players from Venezuela, including Vic Davalillo, Carlos Hernandez, Omar Daal, Roger Cedeno, Giovanni Carrara, Cesar Izturis, Dioner Navarro and Luis Maza.

   

Kuroda to start Opening Day…

After Kuroda is Wolf, Billingsley, then Kershaw.

Billingsley has the home opener on April 13…

 

WBC and the Price is Right

I’ll bet those two things have never been written in the same sentence before. But there’s a first for everything.

I’m back in Los Angeles to help prepare for this weekend’s semis and finals of the WBC, so the updates from Camelback Ranch might be a little more irregular this week (though I know we set a Cactus League single-game attendance record today). And at the present time, the US and Puerto Rico are tied, 3-3 in the top of the 5th of an elimination game, so here’s hoping we can pull out the victory and take part in the fesitivities at Dodger Stadium. Just seeing the way the stadium looks right now, I can tell this is going to be a special event with the whole world watching and hopefully you’ll all come out and be a part of it.

As for the Price is Right, you might recall that at the Community Caravan in February, several current and former Dodgers took part in a taping of the show and it airs TOMORROW (Wednesday). Check your local listings for the team’s big showcase showdown!

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