May 2009

A round of golf

Spent yesterday exploring Trump National Golf Club at the Dodgers Dream Foundation Charity Golf Invitational.  Our five-some headed up by Ken Smith didn’t win the thing … but we had a blast.  The course is tricked out and tough, with pin placements that were worthy of a Masters Sunday.  But I guess it wasn’t that hard for Ken Landreaux’s group.  They finished 17-under to come in first.  Mixed into that score was a hole-in-one … one of two aces posted on the day.  Hard to believe, but true.

A couple of thoughts from the day:  My partner Steve Lyons can talk the talk and walk the walk.  He’s a world-class chirper … but he can swing the sticks.  He’s got an impressive game.  I’m starting to think that he is just a real good athlete.  If there is anything on the line, I won’t even play him in darts.

A who’s who of Dodger legends showed up.  Billy Ashley (he can crush the ball), Rudy Law (no one has more fun), Eric Karros (a handshake like a vise grip), Bobby Castillo (he promised to teach me the screwball), Rick Monday (surprisingly plays right-handed), Bill Russell, Bob Welch, Fernando Valenzuela and a bunch more.

Chad Billingsley and Randy Wolf headed their groups.   I’m told that Randy just picked up the game but he’s going to be good pretty soon.  His swing looked smooth.  It’s my belief that pitchers are better golfers than hitters.    I don’t know why that is.  Actually taking it a step further … pitchers, hockey players and place-kickers seem to be at the top of the golfing heap.    Rick Rhoden, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux are all elite golfers.  Maybe it’s all the time between starts.  Glavine also has the benefit of being a former high-level hockey player.  I wonder if he can place-kick?

On the subject of pitcher/golfers I’m reminded of one of the most stunning athletic feats I’ve ever witnessed.   Ten years ago this summer I played a round of golf with former Chicago White Sox and Cub pitcher Greg Hibbard.  Hibby was a couple of years removed from his playing days and had taken up golf to try and fill the athletic void.  We played a course in Sioux Falls, SD and Hibby shot an even-par round of 72 … without a birdie or eagle!  He parred all 18 holes.  It was amazing.  He really didn’t have too many makeable birdie looks.  He just drove the ball straight (and short), hit the green (anywhere) and two-putted.  Amazing consistency.   I should have learned something that day … but I didn’t.

Trumped

Figured I’d throw up a quick new post from the Dodgers Dream Foundation Golf Tournament, which is taking place today at Trump National in Palos Verdes. Tee time is in about an hour and it’s always a really cool day for those who come out.

As for the team, it’s hard not to get overly excited about how well we’re playing. It’s even harder to fathom playing this well without our Opening Day starter, superstar left fielder, setup man of the year, and with so many of our guys still searching for their consistent strokes. But sometimes you just don’t ask why…you accept it, appreciate it, and remember it when things turn the other way.

So enjoy the “off day.” We sure will… 

Tune in tonight if you're not coming out for Casey…

DT-EBLAST_mets.jpg

Hopefully you’re all coming tonight…I remember a few people wondering why we picked Casey Blake as our first bobblehead rather than others on the team and last night, he showed why. The honest truth is that Joe Torre said that our team changed the day he got here and our of respect for this veteran who gets after it, we made him the first bobbler of the year. He’s clearly made it look like a smart decision, leading the team in homers and telling Ken Gurnick how much it means to him to be immortalized ceramically.

If you can’t make it, be sure to tune in for the series finale. 

And finally, I spent some time yesterday updating the links on the right side of this blog, so check out some of the great new sites that have popped up online.

UPDATE:

Here’s tonight’s lineup

Pierre, LF

Furcal, SS

Hudson, 2B

Ethier, RF

Martin, C

Loney, 1B

Paul, CF

Blake, 3B

Weaver, P

On appeal…

Last night’s failure of a Mets runner to touch third base in the late innings brought back memories of the Dodgers’ first home game on the West Coast. A record crowd of more than 78,000 fans at the Los Angeles Coliseum on April 18, 1958 watched the Dodgers and Giants wage a tight battle into the ninth inning. Trailing 6-4, the Giants began a rally when rookie Jim Davenport’s double chased starter Carl Erskine. Willie Kirkland greeted reliever Clem Labine with an apparent RBI triple.

But Dodger rookie third baseman Dick Gray called for the ball after the play. Gray told umpire Hal Dixon that Davenport didn’t touch third base en route to scoring. According to Gray, Dixon smiled and said, “I wondered if you were going to notice.”

Davenport was called out on the appeal, a critical play because the Giants’ comeback fell short after Willie Mays’ infield single scored Kirkland and the Dodgers escaped with a 6-5 victory.

– Mark Langill

And don’t forget to keep checking Psychollingy on a regular basis, as Steve Lyons posted some responses to the comments you all are leaving for him and Eric Collins.

UPDATE: Lineup… 

Pierre, LF

Furcal, SS

Hudson, 2B

Ethier, RF

Martin, C

Loney, 1B

Kemp, CF

Blake, 3B

Billingsley, P

Back home again…

Very good to be back in Los Angeles…hoping you’ll all make it out here at some point this homestand, as lots of cool stuff is coming up.

Over at Psychollingy, Eric weighs in following the road trip and we’ll hear more from him and Steve this week during the homestand.

And time is running out to nominate the All-Stars in your community (or yourself) for a chance to go to St. Louis for the All-Star Game and be featured in People magazine. I’m not sure if you’re the People-reading crowd, but perhaps some of you are choosing between a subscription to that mag or to Dodgers Mag

Here’s tonight’s lineup: (UPDATE: LINEUP CHANGE)

Pierre, LF

Furcal, SS

Hudson, 2B

Ethier, RF

Martin, C

Loney, 1B

Kemp, CF

Castro, 3B

Wolf, P

Torre’s pregame with media:

On Stults: he’s 50/50 to make his next start. It’s stiff. He will throw his bullpen today and we’ll see. Weaver would go in his place.

On Pierre: We all feel good for him. The work he puts in speaks volumes about the individual he is. He’s really made the top of our lineup productive. Chances are when July rolls around he’ll go back to playing off the bench.

On Casey Blake: The last at-bat on Saturday, he felt something in his hammy. We feel he could benefit with 2 days off. He was running earlier. He would be available if we needed him.

I like Castro over at third so that we can use Loretta off the bench.

On Kuroda’s sim game: It was fine. If he comes out ok tomorrow and his next time, we can think about a rehab at the end of the week. He didn’t feel a thing. I still think he’ll need 2 rehab starts at a minimum.

Schmidt will have to take as much rehab time as they’ll allow us.

On Mota: His stuff has been good. He needs to be more consistent with command and breaking ball. I’m not concerned.

 

Sunny Sunday…

Rumor has it, June gloom started early in Los Angeles but so far here in Miami, it’s sunny, warm and muggy, which is par for the course in this town.

Clayton Kershaw takes the mound today and hopefully can turn things around a bit. While we were in Philadelphia last week, former Dodger Joe Moeller was there keeping an eye on Clayton. Joe is an advance scout for the Marlins and he’s one of the few people in the world who knows what it’s like to be in Clayton’s shoes. Moeller was the youngest starting pitcher in Los Angeles Dodger history back in 1962 when he was just over 19 years old.

Meanwhile, It’s hard to even fathom how well Juan Pierre is playing these days. I know that he’s been a lightning rod for discussion in this two-plus years here but I’m personally thrilled to see him making the most of this opportunity. He works harder than just about anyone I’ve ever seen and he’s handled the changes of the last year and a half with class. Now, he’s helping keep us atop the standings and today, he’s atop the lineup yet again.

Pierre, LF

Loretta, 3B

Hudson, 2B

Kemp, CF

Loney, 1B

Ausmus, C (day off for Martin)

Paul, RF (first big league start)

Castro, SS (day off for Furcal)

Kershaw, P

On the Road

A team winning its first 13 games at home will bring inevitable comparisons to its success on the road. And keeping the 13-0 start at Dodger Stadium in perspective is easy when considering the 1911 Detroit Tigers won their first 12 home games en route to a second-place finish in the American League, 13 ½ games behind the Philadelphia Athletics.

So what does a road record mean for a team hoping to make the playoffs? In the case of the Dodgers, Los Angeles has posted four consecutive losing records on the road, but two of those seasons resulted in trips to the playoffs.

Here are the Dodger road records during the past 10 seasons: 2008 (36-45), 2007 (39-42), 2006 (39-42), 2005 (31-50), 2004 (44-37), 2003 (39-42), 2002 (46-35), 2001 (42-39), 2000 (42-39), 1999 (40-41).

Now check out the regular-season road records for the past 10 World Series winning teams: 2008 Phillies (44-37), 2007 Red Sox (45-36), 2006 Cardinals (34-47), 2005 White Sox (52-29), 2004 Red Sox (43-38), 2003 Marlins (38-43), 2002 Angels (45-36), 2001 Diamondbacks (44-37), 2000 Yankees (43-38), 1999 Yankees (50-31).

- Mark Langill

Speaking of being on the road, “On the Road” author Jack Kerouac, a favorite of mine, apparently was a fantasy baseball player. Sort of. Check out this story in today’s NY Times. Makes me even more proud of the Kerouac bobblehead that sits on my desk back at Dodger Stadium. 

Here’s tonight’s lineup:

Pierre, LF

Furcal, SS

Hudson, 2B

Ethier, RF

Martin, C

Loney, 1B

Kemp, CF

Blake, 3B

Milton, P

Trump Is Getting Lots of Advertising These Days…

I guess that’s what happens when you own most of the world!

First it was the Miss California in the Miss USA pageant…today it was Manny’s meeting with the team at the Trump Sonesta Resort here in Miami…and Thursday it will be our Dodgers Dream Foundation Golf Tournament at Trump National in Palos Verdes (a few spots still remain if you’re a golfer by calling 323.224.1413). Everywhere I turn, Trump is there!

All trumping aside, Manny obviously spoke to the team today and while there’s tons of coverage around the country on that piece of today’s news (ESPNews is taking Joe Torre’s pregame media chat live in about 45 minutes), we of course have a game tonight here in Miami so that’s where players’ minds seem to be focused at the moment.

Same lineup as the last couple nights…with Stults on the mound this time. And with Eric Milton moving into the rotation, we’ll have four lefties starting consecutively for the Dodgers for the first time since 1986 (thanks Dave Smith at retrosheet for that fast fact).

That’s about it for now here at sunny Land Shark Stadium in South Florida. Joe Torre will be the guest on the pregame show on KABC 790 with Rick Monday and he’ll also touch base with Steve Lyons and Eric Collins on the KCAL broadcast right at the start of the game.

The tarp is off…

Upon exiting the hotel here in Philly, you got the feeling that today might get rained out or at least delayed. But the tarp is being taken off the field here at Citizens Bank Park and the grounds crew is hard at work down below getting this place ready for a game. If there is anyone at a ballpark who is under appreciated, I’ve got to think it’s the members of the grounds crew. I’ve written before about how good Eric Hansen and his staff is in LA but it can never be pointed out enough. These guys have degrees in turf management and probably spend more time at stadiums than almost anyone else. And by the time the stadium opens to the fans, they’re rarely seen – with the exception of the between-inning dragging of the field or changing of the bases. So here’s to them!

Last night was a great win. Randy Wolf pitched very well in returning to Philly and James Loney went deep for the key hit of the game. But aggressive baserunning, timely hitting and great defense contributed to another victory to get us back atop the big leagues with the best record.

Today, we try to make it two out of three from the defending World Champs. I’m guessing you’ll all be keeping tabs on the game at work. Here’s the lineup:

Pierre, LF

Furcal, SS

Hudson, 2B

Ethier, RF

Martin, C

Loney, 1B

Kemp, CF

Blake, 3B

Billingsley, P (tied with Ted Lilly for the second-most wins in baseball – 21 – going back to the end of last April…only Roy Halladay has more)

Game 2 in Philly…

Eric Collins weighed in over at Psychollingy and as you can see, his mind works in random ways…

As for tonight’s game, here’s the lineup…I hope to post more after Joe’s talk with the media in an hour or two…

Pierre, LF

Furcal, SS

Hudson, 2B

Ethier, RF

Martin, C

Loney, 1B

Kemp, CF

Blake, 3B

Wolf, P

 

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