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?
Each year on April 15, we take time to reflect on just what an incredible role Jackie Robinson played not only in the game of baseball, but in our society today. While the pregame ceremony at tonight’s game will be a moving part of the celebration, we are doing something else today that should really be special.
This morning at Crenshaw High School, 10 former, current and future Dodgers will take part in a panel discussion in front of the entire student body to help future generations understand just what this amazing Dodger and amazing person accomplished in his lifetime. Jackie’s teammate, Don Newcombe, will moderate the discussion, which also includes Tommy Davis, Maury Wills, “Sweet” Lou Johnson, Matt Kemp, James Loney, Marcus Thames, Tony Gwynn Jr. and Xavier Paul.
Trayvon Robinson, who went to Crenshaw High School, was excused from tonight’s game for Triple-A Albuquerque to take part in this event, which says something about how important today really is. As Jackie Robinson famously said, “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives” and 64 years after he first played for the Dodgers, he continues to impact us all every day.
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.
There’s so much coverage out there right now about Duke Snider’s passing, it’s hard to fathom. Rightfully so, of course. He’s arguably the greatest offensive player in franchise history and holds so many team records it’s almost impossible to list them all.
But what’s also somewhat unique is just how long it’s been since we lost one of our legendary Dodgers. There are 10 uniforms retired and prior to yesterday, the Dodgers had not lost any of these great figures since Pee Wee Reese back in August of 1999.
Fortunately, we still have a trio of Hall of Fame legends who are with us today – Tommy Lasorda, Sandy Koufax and Don Sutton, along with legendary broadcasters Vin Scully and Jaime Jarrin. Not to mention legends like Don Newcombe, Tommy Davis, Maury Wills, “Sweet” Lou Johnson, Steve Garvey, Ron Cey, Bill Russell, Davey Lopes, Rick Monday, Fernando Valenzuela, Wes Parker, Dr. Frank Jobe, Billy DeLury and of course, all those who played the majority of their careers in the 80s, 90s and 00s. The list of these legends could go on for pages.
A day like yesterday is the ultimate reminder that we need to learn all we can from these gentlemen while they are here with us. We are so lucky to have all these people at the Stadium on a regular basis and they helped create the franchise we’ve all come to know and love.
If you see them out and about, be sure to tell them how much they mean to you and the Dodgers.
With full fledged workouts going on, the media here to capture the news and Don Mattingly talking Dodger baseball, it finally feels like the season is upon us.
We don’t report to Camelback Ranch until a month from this Sunday, but you wouldn’t know that from the vibe at the park this morning.
Plenty of websites and TV stations will be sharing the newsworthy info that came out of today and we tweeted a ton of it as it was coming out @dodgers so there’s no use recapping it all. Frankly, that’s not the value in this blog.
But what we can tell you is that it feels like the Dodgers have some great things in store for 2011. Hearing Donnie talk about the team and the tradition of this organization was impressive. Seeing Tommy Lasorda, Maury Wills and the return of Davey Lopes to a place he called home for so many years. The players hearing from an All-Star like Shawn Green after the workouts about what it’s like to be a Dodger and a big leaguer. Tommy closing it out with a speech like no one else can deliver.
And tonight, the prospects are having a private dinner with a number of Dodger legends to hear about why the Dodgers are the Dodgers.
It’s all part of this incredible program put together by De Jon Watson, Chris Haydock and the player development department and it’s got a lot of people at the stadium excited about the year to come.
You wouldn’t think that a kid growing up in the 70s, 80s and 90s would come to be such a huge fan of Maury Wills, who did most of his damage in the 60s, but it’s true. It certainly helps that my father, also a native Angeleno, counts Maury among his favorite players, but I can probably only think of a couple Dodgers who I have liked as much as Maury and I guess that’s because he’s such an incredible person.
I’d imagine that any of you who have met him over the years at Dodger functions feel the same way. There’s no doubt in my mind he belongs in the Hall of Fame and his hometown paper, the Washington Post, ran an incredible article on him last weekend. If you haven’t read it, please take the time to do so. You’ll love him even more than you did before.
As for the upcoming weekend, usually during the winter we aren’t at the stadium much but we’ll be hosting the annual 5k walk for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). This is an incredible organization (full disclosure, I’m on the board of directors) and the current president of the local chapter is Todd Zeile, whose daughter suffers from Type 1 diabetes.
Todd got me involved a few years ago and I know that last year when I posted a link here, several of you wanted to donate so feel free to do so again if you’d like. I know a few ITDers will be at the walk this weekend so we look forward to seeing you here.