July 2011

A farewell to Furcal

It’s certainly a weird feeling to be at the trade deadline and dealing players away rather than getting them back, but today the Dodgers dealt Rafael Furcal to the Cardinals for minor league outfielder Alex Castellanos. To say that Raffy will be missed is truly an understatement.

Though he spent much of his time at the Dodgers battling injuries, you’d be hard pressed to find a more caring individual during his six years in Los Angeles. He is beloved by his teammates and everyone around the game because of what he does on the field, but as someone who dealt with him primarily on off-field endeavors, I can assure you that he was even more important to the franchise and to his home country in that regard.

Not only did he donate huge amounts of money to the Dodgers Dream Foundation over the last six years, but I will always recall a conversation we had at the sushi bar in our Pittsburgh hotel at the end of the 2008 season. He never really tells anyone about all that he does back home in his hometown of Loma de Cabrera, but we got to talking about the poverty he grew up around. He made a passing comment about the local hospital and how the residents know that if they can’t afford their bills, the hospital just bills him. It was unfathomable, but in his mind it was simply what he is supposed to do.

That’s also the first time he mentioned that his hometown doesn’t have a firetruck, another concept that’s hard to believe for those of us in the States. When a fire burns here, we pick up the phone, call 911 and people come and help put it out. Down there, they simply don’t have that luxury. That’s when we talked about the fact that if he returned to the Dodgers as a free agent, we would make sure that his hometown gets a firetruck.

Well, it took some time and effort from a lot of people, but there’s now an LAFD firetruck in customs in the Dominican, en route to his hometown and Raffy’s efforts in that regard will truly save lives. And his generosity at the local hospital saves lives. And for those who saw his “Before the Bigs” on Prime Ticket, you truly get a sense of the heartache he’s experienced in his life.

I’m sure he feels like there was unfinished business here on the field, but off the field he’s made his mark and on the field, he was truly a lineup changer whenever he was healthy. And if you’ve had the pleasure of watching a five-year-old Raffy Jr. in a batting cage at Camelback Ranch, you get the sense we’ll be seeing that kid someday in the big leagues.

On behalf of the entire Dodger organization and its fans, good luck, Raffy. You and your family deserve nothing but the best.

Kershaw and Cupcakes

A couple years ago, during the postseason, we had a local bakery called Dots (started by a former Dodger employee) and Mrs. Beasley’s, provide themed cupcakes for the media in the press box and that was when I really realized what an insane craze this had become.

Well, the madness continues tonight as The Food Network’s Cupcake Wars airs a Dodger-themed show they taped a couple months ago, partially at the Stadium. Lee Lacy is a guest judge and the winner got to provide cupcakes to the Dugout Club and man, do these bakers take this stuff seriously.

I’m assuming most of you will be watching Kershaw take on the Rockies tonight as the team goes for four in a row and eight of the last nine home games, so if you’re either at the game or watching it on TV, you should DVR the show. Even if you’re not a food-show fan, this one kind of sucks you in…and makes you hungry.

And for those who are coming down, be sure to come early and snag your Fernandomania bobblehead. He’s the first Dodger to be honored with three bobbleheads since we started giving them away in ’01. Here’s a list of all those that have been distributed over the years.

They say it’s your birthday…

Four Dodgers who have left their marks on the organization were born on this date…

The youngest of those four turns 30 years old today and he’s the current “Dean of the Dodgers.” Remember that term from the 80s, which often referred to the player who was with the team the longest? Well, Hong-Chih Kuo is that guy, having been in the organization since he was drafted as an 18 year old in 1999. His perseverence through physical injuries and this year, mental anguish, have earned him the respect of hundreds of thousands of baseball fans around the globe and he couldn’t be a better representative of this team.

Eight years before Kuo entered the world in Taiwan, Nomar Garciaparra was born and raised here in Los Angeles. He got to play for his hometown team for several years and became an immediate fan favorite. Arguably his most memorable day as a Dodger was the “four-homer game” when the team trailed by four in the bottom of the ninth and hit four consecutive solo shots to tie it, only to lose the lead in the 10th and win it on a Nomar walk-off in the bottom half.

The other two are no longer with us, but far from forgotten.

Don Drysdale would have been 75 today. He won World Championships, set Major League records and reached the Hall of Fame, long before being known to another generation as a Dodger broadcaster. He passed away far too young, in 1993, while on the road with the team. Tonight, more than 50 of his family and friends (plus thousands of his admirers) will be on hand as we celebrate his career and life as a Dodger. His sons, D.J. and Darren, will throw out ceremonial first pitches and his wife (a legend in her own right) Ann Meyers Drysdale will also be on hand.

And coincidentally, another Hall of Famer and Dodger whose number is retired, Pee Wee Reese, was also born on this day in 1918. He played in the third-most games in franchise history (1,918), scored more runs than anyone who ever wore a Dodger uniform (1,338), had more hits than everyone other than Zach Wheat and will always be remembered as one of the original Boys of Summer. He passed away in 1999 and not only did he wear No. 1 on his jersey, but in so many people’s minds, he was No. 1 in their heart, too.

With all that’s gone wrong this season on and off the field, it’s important for us to take a moment and think about four Dodger All-Stars, all born on the same day, all accomplished in their own right, and all who wore (or wear) the uniform with dignity and pride.

Huge weekend in San Fran

Seems as though I’m often apologizing these days for the infrequent posts on Inside the Dodgers so here goes another one. I hope that many of you are also keeping up on Facebook and Twitter, which is where I’ve focused much of the team’s attention when it comes to social media. The die-hards on this blog deserve more regular content from us – there’s no doubt about that, and in that regard, I’ve been downright awful this season.  I’ll keep trying to come up with unique content for this blog, as opposed to what we post elsewhere, and I appreciate everyone’s patience. I still do read the comments (good and bad) and take them to heart.

Of course, this weekend is about as big as they come for the 2011 Dodgers. A sweep would give incredible momentum and move us back within 10 games which at this point, is imperative. Time is running out but it’s never too late to make a run at it and as we’ve all seen, crazy things happen in this game all the time. I’ve got to keep believing that we can pull this off…

Thanks again for everyone’s patience.

All-Star Game Tonight!

Hope you’ll be tuning in tonight to the All-Star Game. Kemp batting third and playing CF with Kershaw and Ethier ready to contribute and hopefully extend the NL’s “winning streak.”

Matt had a tough time last night at the Home Run Derby, hitting just two longballs and both came with nine “outs” already but it seems he enjoyed it quite a bit and hopefully he’s saving his pop for the second half of the season.

Andre Ethier: Thank you, Dodger Fans

On behalf of Andre and everyone at the Dodger organization, we can’t thank you all enough for trying to get Andre to Phoenix for the All-Star Game next week. It was arguably the biggest push we have ever made, and our All-Star campaigns go back to the days of Cesar Izturis, Russell Martin, Nomar Garciaparra and many more. But what made this one the best is how much you all embraced it.

Andre was downstairs in the clubhouse earlier today and telling people how grateful he was that you all took this to heart. Seeing some of the chatter on this blog, Twitter and Facebook, there were some of you that literally voted thousands of times, which is unfathomable. From the #VoteAndre TweetSuite to the clubouse t-shirts and the various celebs who threw their Twitter endorsements behind him, it was a fun four days. Ideas came from clubhouse attendants, team execs, fans and just about everyone who wanted to see him play in front of his home crowd.

So thank you! And let’s keep pulling for Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw, who will be there to represent your team.

In the meantime, hope many of you are at Andre’s Throwback Bobblehead tonight…should be a crowd over 50,000.

How the Sox and Dodgers teamed up to #VoteAndre

You guys came through big time for Matt Kemp, vaulting him into the starting lineup at the All-Star Game so your help is needed once more this week.

With 10 teams in baseball starting to put on a campaign to vote for their respective player in the Final Vote, we want to use every advantage we can and that’s how the Dodgers and White Sox (and Inside the Dodgers and Inside the White Sox) have teamed up to help our players.

When the Final Vote players were named yesterday, we immediately heard from Scott Reifert, the VP of Communications at the White Sox and the guy behind Inside the White Sox. His blog was the inspiration for this one and he’s always thinking creatively, so we immediately set out to join forces and help our guys. It works out great that not only do we share a Spring Training complex at Camelback Ranch, but both guys are Arizona natives.

Many of you probably remember Konerko from his days as a top Dodger prospect who was traded back in 1997 for Jeff Shaw (who, coincidentally, joined the Dodgers during the All-Star Break and wore the Dodger uniform for the first time at the All-Star Game). This game clearly means a lot to both guys, as you can imagine what it might be like to grow up and have the opportunity to play an All-Star Game in front of your home crowd.

Both guys recorded videos today for one another and there’s all sorts of campaigning going on this week, so please help Andre and vote as often as possible at dodgers.com.

What does #RPOD mean @dodgers?

If you’re not yet on Twitter, or you are but don’t follow @dodgers, today would be a good day to start.

Going forward, we will be posting a Random Photo of the Day there from the treasure trove of archived photos we have here at the Stadium. Some will be baseball photos (action and non), others will be from pre or postgame events, concerts or behind-the-scenes, never-before-seen candid photos that have been taken over the years with unprecedented access.

To organize it and make it easy to share, we’ll use the hashtag #RPOD (Random Photo of Day…not very creative, sorry). From what I can tell, that hashtag is only being used by someone speaking Russian (or perhaps it’s Greek…I can’t tell on my computer and unfortunately, I don’t speak either language).  If you’ve got a cool #RPOD, feel free to share it and use the hashtag for fellow Dodger fans to see.

On occasion, these photos will be relevant like today’s first one, which features Fernando Valenzuela (he’s throwing out tonight’s first pitch against the Angels). It’s a candid shot taken in the early 1980s with the late Steve Howe, Jerry Reuss and Terry Forster.

These photos will come from the great Dodgers photographers over the years, from Herb Scharfman, Andrew Bernstein, Richard Kee, Mark Malone, Darryl Norenberg, Andy Castle and Art Foxall, to the last quarter century of Jon SooHoo and his talented colleagues, Juan Ocampo, Jill Weisleder, Larry Goren and Amber Matsumoto. Surely there are others who have contributed photos to our archives over the years, so hopefully you’ll enjoy their work.

And as always, please let us know what you think of these shots.

 

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