Few days in baseball are like Opening Day. Things have been buzzing at the stadium since long before sunrise. Grounds crew members, stadium chefs and many others have been preparing to have 56,000 fans in house in just about few hours. Our department has been here for live shots on just about every TV station in town…
For those coming out to the stadium, please plan to come early and carpool if you can, or take public transit and use the shuttle from Union Station. Your patience is appreciated, as we always have more cars on Opening Day than any other day of the season.
Among the highlights to look out for…
- Pregame ceremonies including a 1981 Opening Day first pitch, a Salute to the Military and the national anthem performed by Placido Domingo
- New food options, including the Doyer Dog (available at Camacho’s) and other new healthier options throughout the stadium, plus the new Dodgertown Deli on the field level
- Remodeled merchandise stands on the left field and right lines of the Loge Level (one is a Nike store and the other is Adidas). Plus the Top of the Park store with lots of new items and the Left Field merchandise tent with all your favorites
- Patches on the uniforms of the players in memory of Duke Snider
- Bill Russell signing autographs beyond center field from 2:30 to 4 p.m. in autograph alley
- For those on the United Club Suites level, an incredible historical exhibit is there for your perusing (for those who aren’t on that level, it will be part of the Dodger Stadium tours
- The Phantom of the Opera, Davis Gaines, will be singing God Bless America
- Oh, and two of the game’s best young pitchers squaring off in one of the game’s greatest rivalries. There’s a special Opening Day edition of Dodgers Magazine with Kershaw and Lincecum on the cover, available today only in stadium!
If we don’t see you today, hopefully you’ll be here for Fireworks tomorrow, the day game on Saturday or Sunday’s 5 p.m. start with sleeved fleece blankets for the first 50,000 fans.
Many of you reading this on Inside the Dodgers have provided feedback for years that have led to the current changes taking place on the MLBlogs network of sites. If you haven’t ever visited the team’s offiicial blog, please bookmark us and come back…why?
Because the kinks are being worked out. I’m told that because ITD has had so much content generated over the past five-plus years, it’s presented a challenge during the switchover. But, I’ve been assured that the end product will be much better for all of you as commenters (and, for many of you, as bloggers yourselves).
So, hang in there for another day or so…we’ll surely be up and running smoothly by Opening Day, which is less than 100 hours away at this point.
Dodger fans watching today’s game saw the team enter the bottom of the ninth, down 5-0, only to score seven runs, capped off by a walk-off three-run shot by A.J. Ellis.
But it’s what happened afterward that prompted this post.
Sitting inside my office at Camelback Ranch, I have a view of Maury’s Pit, the mini field here where the players work on their bunting with Dodger legend, Maury Wills. In the afternoons, it turns into a playground for all the Dodgers’ players kids as they wait for their fathers to get done “at work.” In fact, yesterday a five-year-old Rafael Furcal Jr. was absolutely crushing baseballs using a Major League-sized bat.
Then today, right after watching the ninth inning unfold on TV, I looked outside my window and saw A.J. Ellis’ kids playing around in Maury’s Pit. As he walked up in street clothes, just a few minutes after hitting a game-winning homer in a Major League game (albeit a Spring Training one), there were no congratulatory high fives or adulation…he simply picked up his son and immediately turned back into “Dad.”
Quite often, we forget that these players are actually people just like the rest of us but served as a fantastic reminder, and it couldn’t happen to a nicer person. A.J. is truly one of the most genuine people I’ve ever encountered in the game of baseball and his family is equally as awesome.
Congrats to all of them on their family’s game-winning hit and on having an All-Star dad.
You hear a lot about Dee Gordon these days and as you can imagine, our baseball operations staff is careful not to overhype him. But sometimes, he’s hard to ignore.
Earlier tonight, while we were in the visiting clubhouse at the new D-backs complex at Talking Stick, Dee was talking about the inside-the-park-home-run he seemingly hit in a minor league game yesterday, only to be thrown out at home plate.
Well, the folks from LADodgertalk.com are in town for a few days at Spring Training and as I was talking to them, Mark Timmons said that Jared Massey actually caught the play on tape. So, if you want to see just how fast Dee is, check this out. And for what it’s worth, I agree with Dee that he was safe.
It’s really amazing what you can find on the web these days. There’s always talk about how the number of mainstream media members covering us has dwindled and yet, you could spend hours and hours each day just following the Dodgers.
For those who saw yesterday’s game from Vegas, it was Vin’s first game of the spring and from what I understand, he’s in midseason form. I guess 62 years of calling games will do that to a man!
It’s the perfect time to share this column, which he recently wrote for an MLB publication that just came out.
Baseball on Television
By Vin Scully
Technology may have changed the quality of television screens and the viewing experience for baseball fans watching at home, but there are a few basic elements still relevant for a broadcaster sitting behind a microphone.
Calling a game on radio is similar to an artist walking into a studio with a blank canvas, a lot of paint and a lot of brushes. You begin to paint the picture, the total picture. You begin to shade a little here and go a little heavy there, and when you’re finished, you put your hands together and say ‘That’s the best I can do.’
With television, the picture is already there. So the first thing, interestingly enough for me, is the audio. It’s a director’s medium, so what we do is follow the director. But the crowd is so important, whether you see them hollering or screaming in joy, or praying and doing everything imaginable. And it’s the same with players, not that they pray or anything like that. But you can see the various looks.
So where radio is the picture and presented by the announcer, television is the picture that is provided by the director. To me, silence on television is more important certain moments than anything I could say. So if you’re home and watching the game and there is a dramatic moment, it’s in the hands of the director. And the wise announcer kind of lays back and lets the director take the close-up of the pitcher or the hitter or the runner base or someone praying in the stands. That’s all part of the enjoyment of the game, besides the actual play itself.
One of the temptations we have today is like the song of the Lorelei, wrecking you on the rocks. So much is provided to you with statistics and information that you run the risk of looking down when a play is taking place. So you really have to be careful about that. Every game has somewhat of a story, an individual or maybe both of the pitchers. Someone is doing something that adds to the story. And then, of course, you can’t go overly dramatic in fourth game of the season with 158 games to go. But everything seems to fall into place in terms of the schedule, the game, where you are, the history of the teams. And they can get dull. Let’s face it – there are some games when nothing happens. And then it’s up to you to come up with a story or a historical aticidote to add a little spice to the telecast.
Even today, the sound of the crowd means everything to me. When I was a kid, I used to crawl under the radio and I’d listen to college football games. That’s about all we had in those days. I’d have the speaker above my head and when the crowd would roar, I’ve said it a trillion times – it was like water flowing out of a shower head. It would pour down over me. And I would get goose bumps and be thrilled by the roar of the crowd. To this day, I still get goose bumps when that crowd lets out some emotional roar. To me, without the crowd, it would be like going to a movie without the music in the background. It would be deadly.
At today’s game at Camelback, we had a moment of silence for the victims of the natural disasters in Japan and you could feel the sadness and concern from Dodger fans for the people of Japan.
Many have asked what they can do to help…well, on Tuesday, Dodger Stadium will be holding a fund drive where fans can stop by from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. and drop off checks or donations to help the victims through the Red Cross.
All the details you need are here.
For anyone who’s ever been to Spring Training in Arizona, they’ve likely heard about Don & Charlie’s, the legendary eatery in Scottsdale. I’ve heard about it for years but never been and last night, I dined there for the first time with one of my mentors in the game of baseball.
We were there for about two hours and during that time, we saw Willie Mays, Frank Robinson, Commissioner Bud Selig and so many other baseball people it was truly astonishing. Following my dinner, I stuck around for a drink with the legendary doctors, Frank Jobe and Lewis Yocum, who have probably done several thousand Tommy John surgeries between them (as well as countless other body parts they’ve put back together).
I was keeping the seat warm for Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who came straight to dinner from the airport and who also has a long history of sports clients that rivals just about anyone in the country (and is our team doctor, too). They were all joined by the medical director of the Kerlan-Jobe Surgery Center.
The place is literally covered in wall to wall sports memorabilia and apparently Ned Colletti used to go there all the time early in his career, as there’s a dish on the menu named after him.
If you make it out to Arizona, you should stop over there and check it out…just make a reservation if you can, as the place was packed all night.
At breakfast this morning at our hotel, I ran into our Executive Director of Asian Operations Acey Kohrogi and our primary scout in Japan, Keichi Kojima and as you might imagine, all anyone can talk about is the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan.
Acey was up much of the night following the news and I can only imagine how hard this is on someone like KK, who isn’t home in Japan and has to follow all the coverage on TV. We also know former Dodger Takashi Saito is from the town where this hit and as you can imagine, it’s been impossible for guys to call Japan and speak to anyone right now.
Kuroda learned of the earthquake online first thing this morning and said he was shocked by the photos he saw. His family mostly lives in the West, but he has a lot of friends on the Rakuten Eagles, which are based in Sendai, where the damage appears to be worst.
Even though this is taking place on the other side of the world, it’s amazing that the impact can be felt in Southern California, where very large waves are expected to be hitting the coast.
For those of us who lived through the Northridge, Whittier or even the Sylmar earthquakes over the last 30 years or so, you can somewhat understand what the quake itself felt like but there’s simply no way to understand the sort of damage that has occurred there.
We are all hoping and praying that the worst is behind the people of Japan and that the process of putting back together their lives and these towns starts to get underway quickly.
People talk all the time about mixed emotions when someone departs a company for a promotion someplace else and while it’s a cliche, there’s no better way to describe the way I feel today and the way many people at the Dodgers feel.
Kim Ng, who has been with us for the last nine-plus years and has played an enormous role in our four postseason appearances and two NLCS appearances, is the new Sr. Vice President of Baseball Operations at Major League Baseball. That’s an incredible position with huge responsibility and oversight for the sport we all love. We couldn’t be more proud.
It’s also somewhat ironic that on International Women’s Day, Ng becomes (I believe) the highest-ranking female in the history of the game of baseball. How cool is that? Of course, I hesitate even writing about her gender because frankly, I think it’s a tired story and an easy one to fall back on when someone is looking for an angle to write about. Kim deserves to be recognized as a top-notch baseball executive, independent of the fact that she’s a minority as both a woman and an Asian. She just gets it and she goes about her business in the most professional manner you could ever imagine. She’s a great leader, a great baseball mind and she will be a huge asset to the league. Consider this: in her 13 seasons as an Assistant GM, she has reached the postseason eight times, the LCS six times and won three World Championships. I’m pretty sure that’s unparalleled.
So, of course, we will miss her. I’ve learned so much from her both personally and professsionally over the years…at the Dodger Stadium offices and as a roommate (we have rented a house, along with another baseball operations executive for the last five Springs) and the perspective she brings to anything she’s discussing is invaluable.
I know she’ll be working for the Commissioner’s Office and for Joe Torre, but she’ll always be a Dodger and we’re honored to consider her a friend.
One year ago today, we posted here about a young man named Christopher Ramirez who was the talk of Spring Training. When Make-a-Wish called us to tell us about a huge Dodger fan from San Francisco, it was expected that this 17-year-old might not make it to see Opening Day. Sadly, with so many of the Make-a-Wish kids we’re fortunate enough to encounter, that is the case.
Christopher came with his sister and his mother to visit Camelback Ranch. Under Ned Colletti’s orders, we treated him like a big leaguer for a day. He took infield/outfield with the team, he took batting practice and he sat in the dugout for a big league Spring game. His story was covered by many media outlets and those of us who spent any time with him took great joy and amazement in his positive outlook, given the circumstances.
Throughout last season, we received updates from him via email about how the inoperable brain tumor he had has been shrinking and we stayed cautiously optimistic. We even got to see him at a game up North in San Francisco. But when he arrived at camp yesterday, with his cancer fully in remission, it was easily the best news to come out of Camelback all year. It was the epitome of ThinkCure!
I’ve written it here before and it’s worth repeating…these are the best parts of this job. The incredible things that the Dodger organization can do for others are what makes this franchise unique. We’ve seen it time and time again – maybe not quite as clear as Christopher’s story – but I believe I speak for all my colleagues when I say that we are humbled to work for such an incredible franchise.
In case you missed the original video and article from last year, check it out and please continue to keep Christopher and his family in your thoughts.