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.
The much anticipated announcement of the various caravan stops is now offiical, as we put out a news release this morning. All the information you need is here.
We’ve actually got great response from the players and current team. Headlined by new skipper Don Mattingly, you’ll also see Rafael Furcal, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, James Loney, Tony Gwynn Jr., Jay Gibbons, Gabe Kapler along with a host of former Dodgers and current Dodger broadcasters.
It’s two days of community service leading right up to the reporting date in Camelback Ranch, so hopefully you’ll find a way to lend a hand during some of the public community service stops and meet some of your favorite Dodger personalities.
I’m sure you’ve seen the news that six of our players are among the leading vote getters in the All-Star balloting. Well, now it’s up to you to get them there. Vote for whoever you think is worthy but keep in mind the strong seasons a number of our players are having. You can vote up to 25 times per email address so show the rest of the baseball world what us Dodger fans can do!
Meanwhile, the team gets underway in a couple hours in Chicago and Rafael Furcal is back atop the lineup, with George Sherrill hitting the DL.
The last road trip ended 6-0…let’s see how we can do on this one.
For those who haven’t seen it yet (or who don’t have a subscription), the new Dodgers Magazine is out today and it features a very cool shot of Matt Kemp on the cover…if you remember the days of Bo Jackson, it’s somewhat reminiscent of that, only Matt’s shirt is on! Check it out…
Also, for those unaware at this point, Rafael Furcal is going to go on the 15-day disabled list to make sure he doesn’t aggravate his injury any further. Nick Green was recalled but is not in the lineup tonight.
And for those of you reading this and commenting on Inside the Dodgers, please know that I did not intend to ignore the comments. I try to read as many of them as I can, but I honestly hadn’t seen your concerns and I can assure you that we take the issue of fan safety more importantly than almost anything else we do. That’s not just lip service, that’s reality and I’ve been in enough meetings discussing it to assure you of this fact. And because of that, I ask those of you with concerns to email them directly to firstname.lastname@example.org. That way, they will be logged into our system and can be addressed by our Fan Services department.
One thing I do know is that on any given night, about 99 percent of the stadium behaves well and represents the Dodgers in the manner we’ve all come to expect. But, we need to make sure that the other one percent does not ruin the experience for others and your comments do not fall on deaf ears.
Here’s tonight’s lineup:
So we had hoped to bring all of you some great footage from Camelback Ranch, as we invited the media to take a tour of the site today along with Andre Ethier and the White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko, who would have been seeing it for the first time, too. But unfortunately, there was tons of rain in Arizona today, so the tour had to be called off. Our video team was there and we were able to get a photo to show you, but it certainly doesn’t really do it justice.
The building behind left field is the Dodger clubhouse and offices and that’s where there’s a very cool area to hang out where the players will walk by on their way to the field. KCAL had the chance to go out there on Monday (without Ethier) and Jim Hill did a great piece for the news last night, which you can see here (you have to look at the video on the right hand side of the screen and click on the one that looks like a Spring complex).
Anyway, that’s the news on the Spring Training front. Obviously we’re still in the mix on Furcal and this thing clearly has taken a lot of twists and turns. We all still have our fingers crossed that it will work out so that we have our infield shored up and can focus on the next topic at hand. If you’re interested in the very latest news, Ned will be on Petros & Money today at 5:30 on KLAC 570 in Los Angeles, so you can hear it straight from him.
First of all, thanks to all of you for the feedback regarding the environment at the stadium, especially dcollins for kicking off the thread. I can assure you that we take all of these comments very seriously and that much like all areas of the Dodger experience, we’ll be reviewing this particular topic closely and working to drastically improve in 2009. It’s a topic that has been discussed at the highest levels of the team and all of your input has been and will continue to be used to make things better.
Regarding Andre’s Dining with ‘Dre blog, yes, I believe he’s planning on continuing it during the offseason but I think it’s only fair that we give him and the other players some down time to hang out with their families. If I haven’t heard from him in a week or two, I’ll hit him up for an entry.
Birthday wishes go out today to Rafael Furcal, who turns 31 (as well as Wilton Guerrero, who is 34 and F.P. Santangelo, who is 44). I’d love to see Raffy back in a Dodger uniform (as would Ned and Joe and Frank) and I know he wants to be back, too. Hopefully we can find a way to make it work.
Meanwhile, with the World Series underway, it’s a good time to point out that the L.A. Times has a “Where are they now” gallery of the ’88 team.
And finally, for those looking for something to do this weekend/next week or more importantly, for a place to pick up a pumpkin, drop by Danny’s Farm in Altadena. The farm was started by former Dodger Jim Gott and his wife, Cathy, and they’re having a Fall Pumpkin Festival on Oct. 26-30 from 4-7 p.m. The farm was named in honor of their son, Danny, who has autism, and is a really cool place to hang out with the animals. Pumpkins are for sale but are also free for families in need. A suggested $5 donation admits one person, but no one will be turned away.
It’s been quite a day, starting with the early morning taping of Chef Jeff, which was attended by Andre Ethier, Sweet Lou Johnson and Tommy Davis. Once we know details of when it will air, we’ll pass them along.
By 10:30, we were on the road to the Union Rescue Mission, where Andre wanted to spend some time volunteering to help feed the homeless. They had a rooftop barbecue with a view of the downtown skyline that rivals that of the Standard Hotel. Of course, served at the BBQ was Dodger Dogs, many of which were grilled up by Mr. Ethier himself. A photo gallery should be on the front of the site relatively soon.
This was all part of his personal community initiative that kicked off today, as did the launch of his new blog, Dining with ‘Dre. I know he had intended to post his first real entry today, but some technical difficulties have us backlogged by a day or so. Let’s just say that he’s been typing the whole thing out on his phone, so we’re getting there. Still, you can check out the site and see what will be coming – a review of Shabu Hachi in Los Angeles.
Back at the ballpark, we’ve made a trade for former AL ROY Angel Berroa for minor leaguer Juan Rivera. Berroa is not currently on the 25-man roster or 40-man roster, but seems like a nice reinforcement up the middle until Raffy gets healthy, provided he does make it to the big leagues with us.
Speaking of Raffy, Joe Torre said he feels better in general and will come with the team to SD, then likely go on rehab after that series for three or four games. Jason Schmidt will be pitching for Vegas this Sunday.
Meanwhile, when we were at the shelter earlier today, we ran into a choir of kids who are in town from Georgia, if I remember correctly, and I told them they could come see Andre play tonight. Turns out, I was wrong, as he’s not in the lineup in favor of DY against the southpaw. My bad. Russell is out, too, as Joe would prefer not to have both him and Jeff out of the lineup on the same day and Jeff will be out tomorrow in the day game after tonight’s night game.
Here’s the lineup:
P.S. There is an insane amount of media here right now because we have about seven sumo wrestlers taking part in pregame ceremonies, including one who will throw out the first pitch. Combine that with Saito, Kuroda pitching and Fukudome and we’ve got quite the contingent of Japanese media on site.