The parade up north is over, which means baseball season is finally done. Certainly not the way any of us had mapped it out, but what’s in the past is now behind us and it’s time to start looking forward again.
I just spent a couple days in Arizona with Don Mattingly at the Arizona Fall League and his energy and excitement for the upcoming season is palpable. You can see a genuine hunger for what he’s trying to accomplish out there and how our team will go about playing the game in 2011.
For those who have never seen the Fall League, it’s a very cool but strange way to watch games…most of the top prospects in the game and yet the stadiums are mostly empty, there’s very little cheering, and most of the people in the stands work for one of the 30 teams.
But it’s real baseball and legit players. I got to see Link and Elbert both pitch very well, plus about eight ABs each from Trayvon Robinson, Ivan DeJesus and Jerry Sands. If you live in Arizona, make sure to stop over there. Amazingly, last year’s Fall League had guys like Buster Posey, Jayson Heyward and Stephen Strasburg playing, among others who are already in the bigs.
We’ll do our best here at Inside the Dodgers to start posting more often. It’s just not much fun to post while other teams are playing in the playoffs, but there’s usually some sort of interesting thing to pass along and we’ll do our best to put it here.
In the meantime, go ahead and put down your wish list for the Dodgers’ offseason in the comments section…obviously Lilly is already locked up, but it’ll be cool to look back in a year and see if the players you thought we should get (or get rid of) turned out the way you had hoped. If I think back to last offseason, most of the guys whose names were bandied about did not exactly turn out to be huge performers, but that’s the fun of the Hot Stove League.
In the past year, the 80s have made a surprising surge back to relevance in Hollywood. Movie remakes of 80s movies (Clash of the Titans), 80s toys turned into movies (Transformers), 80s TV shows turned into movies (A-Team), even movies about returning to the 80s (Hot Tub Time Machine).
We’ve decided to ride the wave back to the days of Space Invaders, the Delorean and of course, the King of Pop as we celebrate 80s Night in less than two weeks at Dodger Stadium (August 6th for those keeping track).
In honor of the decade that brought us Bon Jovi and Big Hair, the entertainment for the evening will have an acid-washed tint to it. In addition, the first 20,000 fans will take home a limited-edition poster featuring Matt Kemp. We penciled in Kemp as the 80s poster-boy back in January, however, we didn’t determine the exact direction for its design until about a month ago.
Kemp was happy to lend his likeness to the poster, but I don’t think he knew exactly what he was getting in to when we agreed to take part in the photo shoot on Friday. We had a full wardrobe ready, with an authentic (read: costume shop replica) red leather jacket, aviators, fedora, white v-neck and of course, a silver glove! Matt already has a gold one to go with it, but once he slid the glove on, donned the fedora, and looked into the camera, MK channeled MJ pretty quickly. Using my iPhone as the soundtrack (hopefully DMN can enhance the audio on the Inside Dodgertown piece coming soon) Kemp gave us a few “he-heee’s” as he struck poses under the direction of Jon SooHoo.
The shot to be used is still to be determined, but Matt gave us plenty to work with and we’ll release the design on dodgers.com later this week. For now, start digging out the legwarmers and parachute pants (in Dodger blue of course) and plan on joining us August 6th as the Nationals come to town on 80s Night with their prodigal pitcher, Stephen Strasburg (born in 1988!), scheduled to pitch (perhaps against Kershaw, given that he’s also scheduled to pitch on Sunday due to his suspension). Here’s hoping Kemp proves to be the king of pop at the plate when the two face each other.
Just noticed that Stephen Strasburg got another win last night and as a few of us were talking in the office today, it seems more and more likely that he’s going to be starting for the Nationals against the Dodgers during our next homestand in our first game against Washington (Aug. 6).
As much as it would be nice to miss him, I’m actually looking forward to seeing him pitch just to witness the hype. And if we can beat Ubaldo (the only ones to do it so far), who’s to say we can’t beat this young phenom? To be the best, you’ve got to beat the best! Anyway, I’d imagine tickets will start flying for that game once people realize that he’s scheduled to pitch so don’t say we didn’t warn you!
Meanwhile, as impressive as he’s been, he hasn’t had a complete game yet (or a shutout), which is exactly what Chad Billingsley did last night when we needed it most. He was very impressive and gave the Dodgers their first complete game of the season.
Incredibly, we looked it up and over the last 10 years, 19 different teams have had one or no complete games in a season and six have gone to the playoffs – the Yankees in ’04, ’07 and ’08, the Dodgers in ’06 and ’09 and the Twins in ’06. So, while it would be nice to have a bunch of complete games, not having many clearly doesn’t preclude you from reaching the postseason.
I’d imagine each of those teams had pretty impressive bullpens but I wonder if any had two All-Stars on the back end like Kuo and Broxton.
Gotta keep it going tonight…