With apologies to Mr. Scully, in a year that been so difficult, an amazing thing has happened.
The last 24 hours are the ultimate reminder of why we love the Dodgers.
It started around 4 p.m. yesterday when we first touched base with Vin Scully about how he planned to let the masses know he was coming back for 2012. Of course, that’s not the sort of secret that stays quiet for very long and you always worry that it’s going to leak out on its own. But sure enough, it stayed quiet and he found a creative and classy way to tell the fans directly that he’ll be back for another season. Immediately, Los Angeles was buzzing…14 hours later, he’s still a trending topic on Twitter and our Facebook post got 4,500 likes, more than anything else all season long. What more can really be said about Vin?
Shortly after that first conversation with Vin, we had another special moment. A woman in our department came up with the idea of having Fernando Valenzuela call Team Mexico before the international championship game at the Little League World Series and it was a memorable moment for both them and him.
Then, of course, there was the game. Trailing 1-0 up until Vin made his announcement, the team turned it on and not only broke out for a big victory, but Matt Kemp reached 30/30 faster than any other player in franchise history — which means faster than Raul Mondesi, the only other guy that’s ever done it as a Dodger. The fans went crazy and it was obviously a moment that Matt — or the fans who were here — will never forget.
The night ended with Friday Night Fireworks on the field (set to the Beatles music in honor of tomorrow’s 45th anniversary of their show at Dodger Stadium). And then early this morning, we invited our season ticket holders who have had seats here for three decades or more to take part in a photo shoot for the cover of the September Dodgers Magazine. It’ll be a keepsake and hopefully a morning that they’ll remember for years to come, too.
Making it all even better, yesterday happened to be the day that the winning bidder for ThinkCure spent the day trailing me in my job, so a wonderfully sweet young Dodger fan got to experience it all first-hand and meet everyone from Vin Scully on the day he made the announcement, to Clayton Kershaw, Matt Kemp and so many others.
So sure, things aren’t quite where we all want them to be on and off the field. We’d all prefer that we be right in the thick of a pennant race right now. But we’ve got the game’s broadcaster, best young pitcher, best young position player and the best fans around. I’ll take that any day.
Over the last few years, Ned Colletti has become very involved in the Guide Dogs of America and about six months ago, he mentioned to KABC’s Peter Tilden in passing that his favorite band was Chicago. Well, KABC stepped up to make a really cool event out of these two seemingly unconnected entities.
On October 22, KABC and Ned Colletti will host a concert at the Saban Theatre and it will serve as a fundraiser for the Guide Dogs of America and The Foundation Fighting Blindness.
Some of our younger readers might not know Chicago or, they think they don’t know Chicago. But given that they’ve sold more than 100 million records, including 21 Top 10 singles, they’re the real deal. Those who know them can affirm that.
And TalkRadio 790 KABC will donate 100% of all ticket sales to Guide Dogs of America and The Foundation Fighting Blindness. It’s really cool that they are doing this and it’s great that Ned has been able to combine a cause close to his heart with a band he really loves.
You can purchase the tickets presale at kabc.com with the password KABC and after that they’ll be available at Ticketmaster.
If you’re frustrated that we’ve lost the first two games of the series, perhaps you can blame the ghosts at our hotel. OK, I guess you can’t really blame them, but there are many who think that the Pfister, where the team stays, is haunted. A quick google search of “haunted” and “pfister” brings up all sorts of funny stories.
In fact, Rick Monday told one on the air the other night that Kenley Jansen isn’t staying at the team hotel because last year, his teammates pulled a trick on him and tied fishing wire to the curtains of the hotel so that they could make them appear that they’re moving when he got back to the room late at night. Years ago, Adrian Beltre also used to believe that the hotel was haunted and could never sleep when we were in town.
Of course, since 2001 the Dodgers are 19-12 in Milwaukee, so it’s hard to blame the first two losses on the ghosts.
Meanwhile, I’ve stayed there several times and never encountered any ghosts but then, perhaps they don’t mind front office folks. It’s actually a unique hotel that’s pretty cool looking so if you’re ever in town, check it out.
Tonight is the first chance for Dodger fans to see 21-year-old Nathan Eovaldi pitch at home, following his first big league victory this week in Arizona. Fittingly, it comes on the same day that the Dodgers signed their first-round pick, Chris Reed, out of Stanford University.
It’s amazing how quickly these things happen. Nathan signed just three short years ago in 2008 and already he’s here and having an impact. Dee Gordon, selected just seven rounds ahead of Eovaldi, is also making his mark in the big leagues already. And then there’s Clayton Kershaw, who is already an All-Star and Cy Young candidate at age 23.
We meet many of these kids on their first visits to Dodger Stadium shortly after they sign, and it’s really cool to watch them progress through the minors. I can still remember Chad Billingsley showing up here in 2003, wide-eyed and ready to start a pro career and he’s already been in the big leagues now for six seasons.
Of course, some of our youngest players are here now because of injuries or other circumstances, but it’s still incredible to see how quickly they turn into Major League players. That obviously comes with hard work from the player development staff, which is responsible for getting them ready once the scouts go out and identify their talent level as amateurs.
It’s a unique process that you don’t really see in football or basketball because there aren’t really minor leagues the way we have it. But for those who see Chris Reed at tonight’s game, be sure to track his progress through the minors. Hopefully he’ll get here as quickly as some of his recent fellow draftees.
The Dodgers have been so fortunate over the years to have such incredible players wear the uniform and eventually reach the Hall of Fame. Yet there are just 10 who have left such an indelible mark on the franchise that their number is retired and of course, one of those 10 is Duke Snider.
So when he passed away earlier this year, it was an obvious decision to wear a patch in his memory all season long and yet, there was so much more we wanted to do to honor one of the greatest players to ever wear the uniform – and the franchise’s all-time home run leader.
One thing we had never really done as an organization was to put a logo or symbol in the grass and the idea was posed that we put his #4 in center field, where he once roamed. With lots of hard work from our grounds crew, they made it look just right.
We also wanted to pay tribute to the Brooklyn club, with which he spent so much of his career, so the players wore their Brooklyn hats, a fitting tribute.
Of course, we also wanted the family to be involved in the tribute, so not only did we have nearly 40 of them here at the game, we were able to incorporate many of them in the pregame ceremony. Several of Duke’s great grandchildren took the field with the Dodgers, while one of his granddaughter’s sang the anthem and his four kids threw out the ceremonial first pitch. His nephew uttered Vin Scully’s famous words “It’s Time for Dodger Baseball” and Tommy Lasorda was there to present a gift on behalf of the organization.
But it was just as important to involve the fans, so we distributed Duke Snider bobbleheads as a keepsake and we lobbed a call into the Hall of Fame, which rarely lets the plaques leave Cooperstown but immediately said ‘yes’ and allowed us to give fans the opportunity to photograph themselves with the historic piece.
When it was all said and done, we’re hopeful that you all, and his family, found this to be a fitting tribute to a man who meant so much to this organization and who was so beloved by so many. Were any of you on hand for the ceremonies and did you get a chance to take a photo with the plaque? What did you think of the event overall? Would love your feedback to see if it’s something we might do again with our friends in Cooperstown.
There’s something really cool about big league debuts. Presumably, for those of us not on the field, it’s the idea that someone has realized a lifelong dream that really makes these occurrences special. Most teams get to see somewhere between five and 10 a year, so they’re not so rare that they’re like a no-hitter and yet, they’re rare enough that quite often fans remember being at a big league debut for a long time to come.
From a front office perspective, it’s always a unique experience, too. Of course you have the scout who signed the player with the ultimate pride and the coaches and managers and staff who helped him develop. Last night, Ned Colletti, Logan White and De Jon Watson were in the Stadium to watch, as was roving pitching coordinator Rafael Chaves, all of whom have had a hand in getting Nathan Eovaldi here by the young age of 21.
There’s the historical part of it – we always try to get ticket stubs from the game, perhaps the lineup card and if there’s a victory or a hit involved, a baseball signed and dated. All of these items go into the team archives in the event the player goes on to have an All-Star or Hall of Fame career. So, while we have some really amazing artifacts of that nature from great Dodgers in the past, we also have some from guys who might have only played 10 games in the Majors before retiring.
The media aspect of it always drives part of the day, too. As a starting pitcher, the media is not supposed to talk to the guy until after the game. For a position player, that doesn’t ever seem to be an issue, which is always an interesting dichotomy but just one of the unwritten rules the game. The pitcher has so much he has to think about, the last thing we want to do is bog him down with other questions and people to meet, so we let him go about his business quietly.
In this case, it meant that we didn’t find out until postgame that the ‘o’ in his last name is silent. His name is simply pronounced E-Valdee. At least we got the Nathan part right, as he prefers that to Nate.
With Nathan already in the clubhouse late in the game, I had to go downstairs in the top of the ninth to see if we could coax him out on the field postgame for a live interview with PRIME Ticket. Of course, you don’t want to jinx anything by saying, “Hey, if we win can you go out on the field?” and yet you have to still do it or you miss a big opportunity.
After realizing that it wasn’t an interview on the big screen board, Nathan agreed to do it and as you can imagine, when the D-backs started to threaten in the ninth, I thought I had jinxed it and blown this poor kid’s first big league victory.
Fortunately, Elbert came through and the team held on so after the last out, we got Nathan to head out to the field, just in time for Blake Hawksworth to give him a shaving cream pie in the face. Hopefully, it’ll be a moment to remember for him and 20 years from now, having it all on video will be well worth it.
Now he gets to spend four days watching big league baseball, taking it all in, and yet working hard for his next start, whenever that comes. But for those who were on hand to see it, it’s likely something they’ll remember for many years to come.
There are people in this world who are seemingly put here to inspire others and the Los Angeles Dodgers were fortunate enough to meet one of those people today.
Anthony Robles, the much-heralded ASU wrestler who won a national championship this year despite being born with just one leg, had a room full of tough-guy big leaguers in awe this afternoon when he spoke to them before batting practice.
This came about after Ted Lilly saw Anthony’s story back in Spring Training. Anthony was not in town when we were here last month, but he was gracious enough to come by for the first game of the series and offer his inspiring words. His entire story was amazing, but you could hear a pin drop in the room when he finished his talk by reciting a poem he wrote and later read at the ESPYs.
“Every soul who comes to earth with a leg or two at birth, must wrestle his opponents knowing its not what is, but what can be that measures worth. Make it hard, just make it possible and through pain, I won’t complain. My spirit is unconquerable. Fearless I will face each foe for I know I am capable. I don’t care what’s probable, through blood, sweat and tears I am unstoppable.”
He finished his chat and nearly every player on the team came over to shake his hand or take a picture with him. It was a truly humbling moment for everyone in the room.
Given that he’s now seeking to make a career as a motivational speaker, I jokingly told him afterward that it would help his cause if the Dodgers came out and won, 15-0. If we lost, we’d have to tell people he spoke to the team on a different day.
Sure enough, in the third inning the Dodgers scored six runs, equaling their most on the season and had seven hits, their largest total in an inning in exactly two years.
Suffice to say, he’s welcome back any time.
For more info, visit his website anthonyrobles.com or follow him on Twitter @arobles125
There’s no sugar-coating the fact that this season has not been anything like what we all had hoped back in February, but there are some bright spots that are impossible to ignore. In fact, the performances of Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw last night once again put their names among those that have to be considered for Cy Young and Most Valuable Player in the National League.
The Dodgers haven’t had that happen since 1988 when Kirk Gibson and Orel Hershiser pulled it off and it hadn’t happened before that in Los Angeles since 1974 with Steve Garvey and Mike Marshall. Of course, we got spoiled in the early 60s when Maury Wills and Don Drysdale did it in 1962, followed by Koufax winning both awards in 1963. Don Newcombe pulled off the double-feat in 1956 back in Brooklyn, the first year the Cy Young Award was given out.
Meanwhile, it hasn’t happened to any team in the NL since Pujols and Carpenter did it for St. Louis in 2005 and the last time it happened in the bigs was when Minnesota did it with Morneau and Santana in 2006.
If the season ended today, do you think they’d both take home these coveted awards?