February 2011

How lucky are we?

There’s so much coverage out there right now about Duke Snider’s passing, it’s hard to fathom. Rightfully so, of course. He’s arguably the greatest offensive player in franchise history and holds so many team records it’s almost impossible to list them all.

But what’s also somewhat unique is just how long it’s been since we lost one of our legendary Dodgers. There are 10 uniforms retired and prior to yesterday, the Dodgers had not lost any of these great figures since Pee Wee Reese back in August of 1999.

Fortunately, we still have a trio of Hall of Fame legends who are with us today – Tommy Lasorda, Sandy Koufax and Don Sutton, along with legendary broadcasters Vin Scully and Jaime Jarrin. Not to mention legends like Don Newcombe, Tommy Davis, Maury Wills, “Sweet” Lou Johnson, Steve Garvey, Ron Cey, Bill Russell, Davey Lopes, Rick Monday, Fernando Valenzuela, Wes Parker, Dr. Frank Jobe, Billy DeLury and of course, all those who played the majority of their careers in the 80s, 90s and 00s. The list of these legends could go on for pages.

A day like yesterday is the ultimate reminder that we need to learn all we can from these gentlemen while they are here with us. We are so lucky to have all these people at the Stadium on a regular basis and they helped create the franchise we’ve all come to know and love.

If you see them out and about, be sure to tell them how much they mean to you and the Dodgers.

You asked for it, you got it

We announced this morning the winning uniform for the six half-price food and beverage throwback days in 2011. The 1940s blue uniform won by just a few percentage points among nearly 50,000 votes and it really is cool to say that you were the ones to decide which uniform the Dodgers will wear.

We had a few players wear the jerseys today and it really should be a unique environment at Dodger Stadium for those six midweek day games. We even created a special ticket package where the tickets for those six games are half price, too. Hopefully you’ll find a way to skip work, school, or just find your way to the stadium on these games.

Individual tickets for these games, Opening Day and all the other cool promotional nights (and all 81 games) are available starting tomorrow at 10 a.m.

jersey back.jpg

Busy days…

These few days between the full squad reporting date and the first games are easily the busiest for those of us in the front office.

Today alone, we had more than 2,500 items signed by Dodger players for various charitable and civic purposes…

We had a number of guys do their green screen shoots for DodgerVision…

KCAL and Prime Ticket were on site for various interviews and features…

Juan Uribe shot a TV commercial that you’ll see during preseason…

And the regular media corps was on hand for the daily news that comes from Camelback…

To top it all of, the Dodgers are facing the White Sox tonight in softball on the “replica” field here, with the Camelback employees taking part.

Tomorrow morning, we’ll be at Cracker Barrel for our annual PR department breakfast before photo day at 7 a.m…

But the best part of it all is that there’s still just a very good vibe here. It’s really hard to explain, but I keep hearing all the media that comes through here talking about it and you can just feel it. The players are loose but focused on getting ready for the season and games start on Saturday (as does DodgerTalk on KABC 790).

Busy days at Spring Training…

These few days between the full squad reporting date and the first games are easily the busiest for those of us in the front office.

Today alone, we had more than 2,500 items signed by Dodger players for various charitable and civic purposes…

We had a number of guys do their green screen shoots for DodgerVision…

KCAL and Prime Ticket were on site for various interviews and features…

Juan Uribe shot a TV commercial that you’ll see during preseason…

And the regular media corps was on hand for the daily news that comes from Camelback…

To top it all of, the Dodgers are facing the White Sox tonight in softball on the “replica” field here, with the Camelback employees taking part.

Tomorrow morning, we’ll be at Cracker Barrel for our annual PR department breakfast before photo day at 7 a.m…

But the best part of it all is that there’s still just a very good vibe here. It’s really hard to explain, but I keep hearing all the media that comes through here talking about it and you can just feel it. The players are loose but focused on getting ready for the season and games start on Saturday (as does DodgerTalk on KABC 790).

Donnie nailed it…

Many of you have read in recent news reports that Don Mattingly has given a lot of thought over the winter about his first address to the team…well, in my clearly biased opinion, he nailed it this morning. There’s a lot of buzz around camp today about just how smoothly things are running and there’s definitely a tone that Donnie has set that has everyone feeling optimistic about 2011.

mattingly speech.jpg

Don Mattingly, John Wooden and Bob Knight

For an IU grad like myself, it’s been a cool week at Spring Training. On the first day of camp, Don Mattingly got asked about Bob Knight and spent a bunch of time talking about his respect for the Hoosiers’ former coach.

Then today, the late John Wooden’s name came up in the media session, as Donnie has read a lot of his books. Coach Wooden hailed from Martinsville, Indiana, which is near Bloomington.

Clearly those two are legends of the game, so it will be decades before Don could even potentially accomplish what they did as a manager/coach, but it’s still pretty neat to hear so much talk about Indiana.

Tack on Evansville’s Jamey Carroll and there’s no shortage of ties to the Hoosier state around here. Among the most well known Dodgers born there are Gil Hodges, Carl Erskine and Tommy John in addition to more recent Dodgers Eric Stults and Cory Wade.

Why is this relevant? Well, it’s not really. But hearing Donnie talk so much today about Wooden and Indiana made it somewhat noteworthy.

As for the only U.S. President from Indiana…well, that would be Benjamin Harrison, who was actually born in Ohio but spent most of his time in Indiana.

And with that, Happy President’s Day…

Time Warner Dodgers on Demand…

Those who have been following the Dodgers during the past decade have probably seen Tony Kinkela and his crew all over Dodgers on Demand…they do a great job covering the team on a daily basis from a visual standpoint and they’re up for a 2011 Telly Award.

It’s a YouTube competition where you all can vote for your favorite video so check it out and hopefully you’ll give it a thumbs up.

Otherwise, a relatively quiet day at camp. Lots of position players have reported early. Billingsley and Broxton were among those who threw bullpen sessions today and Manny Mota and Jamey Carroll both celebrated birthdays. No sign of a cake anywhere.

 

What you missed today at Camelback…

If you’re a Dodger fan, now is an incredible time to get down here to Camelback Ranch. I think I saw about 30 fans, at most, watching batting practice, bullpen sessions and close-up drills with the team a mere dozen feet away. And tons of the players sign autographs…it’s some of the best access you can ever imagine.

I get the feeling that it still hasn’t sunk in to many that Spring is here…and, of course, I know a lot of people have to be at work or school. But it’s completely free and those who take advantage of it will probably get to meet some of their favorite players and see big league action closer than they’re used to seeing it. It’s especially great for kids.

For those who did come, they got to see our newly announced Opening Day starter, Clayton Kershaw, throw his first ‘pen of the spring, in addition to Kuroda, Lilly and Garland. Lots of conditioning drills to start the day, and the first injury of the spring, as lefty non-roster candidate Dana Eveland strained his hamstring.

One thing you can’t see, if you come out, is the private clubhouse meetings but I can tell you, Don Mattingly was impressive this morning. His first time addressing the team as their manager and he really seems to have made an impression. I wish I was allowed to tell you all that he said but you’ll just have to trust me. This guy is really going to make Dodger fans proud.

And finally, if you haven’t yet voted for which uniform the Dodgers will wear on the six half-price food/drink throwback games this year, today is the last time to do it. We’ll announce the winner one week from tomorrow.

 
mattingly.jpg
 

Caravan ends, Spring Training begins…

As the final stop of the two-day Community Caravan came to an end yesterday, a TV reporter asked me simply, “What’s the goal of this whole thing?”

It was a fairly basic question but the answer is worth noting. The goal of the community caravan is to bring our players, former players and staff into the community to do good work and get the city excited about baseball season again. To that end, I think the last two days have been wildly successful.

And in this case, it literally ended just as Spring Training begins. Immediately after yesterday’s five-stop caravan, I headed straight for Burbank airport to hop a flight to Arizona, where pitchers and catchers reported this morning. In fact, this blog post was written from the airplane (though I couldn’t post until this morning). Meanwhile, your intrepid Dodgers.com beat reporter, Ken Gurnick, actually started driving to Glendale as soon as he got back to Dodger Stadium from the caravan and yet, was still at Camelback by 8 a.m. this morning to start bringing you all the news and information you’ve come to expect from Spring Training.

Tomorrow, we’ll write about Spring but for today, it’s really all about the Caravan. A huge thank you goes to the players who turned out in great numbers over the last two days (Furcal, Kemp, Ethier, Loney, Gwynn, Gibbons, Kapler), former players (way too many to list), broadcasters Charley Steiner and Steve Lyons and of course, new manager Don Mattingly and GM Ned Colletti. The Community Relations department put together a really cool two-day event and for those of you who made it out to the L.A. River cleanup yesterday or the Heal the Bay event in Santa Monica today, thanks to each of you, too.

In addition to those two stops, today we got to take Gabe Kapler back to his old high school, Taft High, to surprise the baseball and softball teams with some up-close-and-personal instruction. We stopped at the West valley Police Station to pay tribute to those who protect and serve and they were extremely gracious hosts. We dedicated the 10th Dodgers Dreamfield at Northridge Park, which was especially cool because I grew up playing there (and no, I didn’t pick the site!). And the day started early with a stop at the downtown Fire Station, where Rafael Furcal was on hand to see the firetruck that will be heading to his hometown in the Dominican Republic, which has never had a firetruck.

Think about that. When a fire breaks out here, we take for granted that calling 911 will bring a crew of yellow-clad firefighters on a giant red truck to help extinguish the fire. In Loma de Cabrera, they have no such thing…until now. Raffy seemed genuinely moved by all the people who came together to get this done and all of our players were gracious participants.

And now, it’s all Camelback, all the time. We’ll be blogging, tweeting, facebooking and just about every other imaginable form of communication possible with the fans, including good ol’ fashioned face-to-face chats, with unmatched access to the players and staff that anyone who has ever visited has come to expect.

We hope many of you will make it out here to see us.

Caravan cruising across L.A.

So far, it’s been a succesful first day of the annual community caravan. I got to visit the first stop, at the L.A. River cleanup, and lots of Dodger fans were there with Don Mattingly, Andre Ethier, James Loney and a whole crew of former Dodgers, who were doing their best to Think Blue and Act Green.

The caravan continued on to USC University Hospital, followed by King Middle School and will also make a visit to Lopez Tonight, so tune in this evening to see these guys on the late night talk circuit.

We’re back at it tomorrow morning with plenty more stops, so keep your eye out on the roads for a blue bus with the Dodgers Caravan across the side of it. Or follow the caravan virtually on twitter @dodgers, where we’re sending out photos all day.

Also, in response to the question of whether or not we’d wear the Brooklyn uniforms on the road in NY…I’m pretty sure that has to come with MLB approval well in advance and at the request of the home team. So, unless the Mets asked us to do this, I don’t think we can just show up in Brooklyn uniforms for their game. It’s an interesting thought though for down the road and something we can look into. Appreciate the idea…and for those who haven’t voted, check out dodgers.com/throwback and vote…it’s very close between two choices and only four days left to weigh in.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.