Dodger Baseball Archives

April 18, 2004

The Season's Still Young, But ...

We're just two weeks into the 2004 season, but the Los Angeles Dodgers seem to be firing on all cylinders -- an unusual occurrence for a team known for starting slow. Pitching, defense, and even timely hitting have come together, the latter of which has always been an issue despite having one of the league's highest payrolls: The Dodgers have won four in a row after an 8-3 loss at San Diego on Tuesday, good for a 4-1 start on a nine-game, 10-day trip against the National League West. They're feeling good at 8-3, and even Bonds' towering solo homer on a 95-mph fastball from reliever Darren Dreifort in the eighth couldn't dampen their mood. "It's just momentum," Bradley said. "Momentum can switch at any time, but we've got it right now." Most fascinating is the performance over the past two seasons of closer Eric Gagne, a failed starter at...

October 3, 2004

Dodgers Slam Giants To Win The West

As any Dodger fan will tell you, the final weekend of a pennant race in Los Angeles evokes thrills and chills -- thrills for the possibility of the Boys in Blue getting a playoff slot, and chills because inevitably we have to go through the hated San Francisco Giants to get there. When only one of the two rivals have a shot at the playoffs, the other always relishes the opportunity to send them home for an early vacation. But when they're fighting each other for that spot, the tension can be unbearable. This weekend, the Dodgers needed only to win one game against the Giants to clinch the division, and they lost the first one on Friday. I was prepared to write a celebratory post on Friday night -- stayed up late to do it -- but unfortunately, the Giants hung tough. Yesterday's game looked like it would bring...

October 5, 2004

Dodgers In Playoffs: Triple Play Of Good News

The sports wires carry a three-bagger of good news for the Los Angeles Dodgers on the eve of their first playoff game in years. The first comes from the Dodgers' front office itself, announcing that outfielder Milton Bradley will be allowed to play after serving a team-enforced suspension after Bradley threw a bottle into the stands: Bradley will return from his five-game suspension Tuesday against the Cardinals in Game 1 of the NLDS, the Dodgers' official site reports. ... "We as an organization and he as an individual recognize the fact that he made a mistake. He paid for it," manager Jim Tracy said. "He served his sentence, and we're going to move forward." This comes as no surprise; the Dodgers got into the playoffs on Bradley's bat and his fire. Hopefully they can get him to channel that in more productive ways during the playoffs. The other two items...

March 27, 2005

How To Treat A Legend

For decades, no one has embodied the spirit of the Los Angeles Dodgers more than Tommy Lasorda. As a player, his heart far outstripped his talent, despite his oft-repeated (and hilarious) claims that the Dodgers would have been better off optioning off Sandy Koufax and keeping him on their major-league roster. As a talent scout and a minor-league coach, he developed some of the Hall of Fame talent that he later coached to two World Series with Walter Alston, and himself led the team to four World Series appearances in twenty years, winning two of them. But more than his impressive record, Lasorda has imprinted his personality on his beloved Dodgers and the Los Angeles region. He still lives with his family in the middle-class neighborhood of Fullerton instead of tony digs in Bel Air or Beverly Hills, and rather than shut himself off from baseball's fans, he seems to...

April 22, 2005

Dodgers Roar To Life

After an off-season marked by odd moves, stranger negotiations, and the dismantling of what appeared to be a pretty good 2004 team, Dodger fans could be forgiven for anticipating a meltdown in the first few games as the new squad found its way around the clubhouse and the field together. After having won its first playoff game since 1988, we figured we might well have to wait another couple of years for the next one after that. However, Paul DiPodesta has delivered a real team to Dodger Stadium -- one that has gone on a historic rip for the first two weeks of the season, much to the delight of Dodger Blue fans: And so they have rolled, through nutty deficits and nerve-rattling errors, with five different first basemen and a couple of different Jose Valentins and only one solid, steady, smiling Milton Bradley. And so they have rolled, nameless...

May 13, 2005

My Blue Heaven

Tommy Lasorda has a blog. Yesterday he offered some "Fatherly Advice": My father had five sons, and one day he called a family meeting, sat us down, and told us he wanted to bring his brotherís son, Mario, to America. He told us to treat him as an equal because he was family. When Mario arrived, my father told Mario he could live with him so while he worked hard, he could save his money and eventually bring his own family to America too. Mario was lazy; he did not work hard, he did not save any money and his trip to America was a failure. When he returned to Italy, he blamed his failure on my father instead of taking responsibility for his own actions. I was so mad at Mario, I wanted to go to Italy, find him, and throw him into the Adriatic Sea for ruining my...

June 26, 2005

Bicentennial Rick, Old Glory, And Dodger Stadium

My friends and colleagues at Power Line and Shot In The Dark post today about one of the many memorable moments from Dodger Stadium. Rather than a baseball play or a championship season, though, they recall the heroic actions of then-Chicago Cubs outfielder Rick Monday on April 25, 1976, when he rescued the flag from protestors who had run onto the field to burn it. Make sure you read both posts, but being the lifelong Dodger fan that I am, I'd like to add another perspective to this story. First, here's the story from Larry Henry, a sportswriter from the Everett Herald in Washington, written in 1998 to celebrate Flag Day: On this spring day in '76, he was on a Cubs team that was headed for a fourth-place finish in the National League East. It was the fourth inning with the Dodgers batting. The Vietnam War had ended a...

December 13, 2005

A True World Series And Its Best Possible Ambassador

Baseball has decided to embrace a world vision this year by creating an international tournament of national teams, based loosely on the format used by the Olympics in past years. Instead of those Olympic competitions, which occurred in the middle of the major-league season and wound up as amateur and minor-league tournaments, the World Baseball Classic will feature the best players in the world competing for their native countries -- the US, Japan, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Canada, Mexico, and others. The venues will be in Japan, Puerto Rico, and the US, with the final games in San Diego's Petco Park. MLB has selected one of my favorite baseball legends for its ambassador to the first WBC: Tommy Lasorda. As I wrote in a comment on his site, who better to represent the love and passion we Americans have for our national pastime than the Hall of Fame manager who...

April 25, 2006

An American Anniversary

The Washington Post reminds its readers of one of the finest moments in baseball history, an event that celebrates its thirtieth anniversary today. It wasn't a record-breaking home run or a perfect game, but a singular moment in an era of cynicism and doubt that for one moment united us and reminded us of the best of America ... and it happened in Dodger Stadium: Rick Monday never tires of answering questions about that memorable day 30 years ago, when he performed his own Patriot Act and unwittingly became an icon to millions of American war heroes and their loved ones. Monday was playing center field for the Chicago Cubs on April 25, 1976, at Dodger Stadium when he noticed two protesters kneeling on the grass in left-center, intending to burn the American flag. He immediately bolted toward them and snatched it away. Rick Monday never tires of answering questions...

October 2, 2006

My Teams Make The Playoffs

It came down to the end of the baseball season, but the two teams I follow both made the playoffs, which means I will have to watch some playoff games this year. For my favorite baseball team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the wild card spot tasted even sweeter as they clinched it at the end of a San Francisco sweep. The Dodgers finished off their traditional rivals and got to celebrate on their turf: Los Angeles beat San Francisco 4-3 in what might've been Barry Bonds' last game for the Giants, and ended up even in the standings with San Diego. The Padres held the tiebreaker based on head-to-head record and earned the West crown. "We're looking forward to getting this thing started," Los Angeles manager Grady Little said. "What's taken place here started last year. Everything has been positive." The Dodgers could have won the divisional championship had San...

April 9, 2007

Dodgers Find Their Footing At The Best Possible Time

The Los Angeles Dodgers had started off the season with two straight losses, and fans -- even out here in Minnesota -- wondered how they could climb off the canvas against their most hated rivals, the San Francisco Giants. The team rebounded in the road series, taking Barry Bonds and the Bay Area for a sweep this weekend: Luis Gonzalez hit his first two home runs in Dodger Blue and Randy Wolf gave the Dodgers a third straight standout pitching performance to pull off a three-game sweep of the San Francisco Giants during a 10-4 victory this afternoon. Gonzalez connected for a solo shot and three-run homer in his 26th career multihomer game, and Wolf (1-1) outpitched $126-million fellow left-hander Barry Zito in the Dodgers' eighth consecutive victory in San Francisco. Matt Kemp had three hits, two RBIs and scored twice for the well-rounded Dodgers, who have dominated in the...

July 13, 2007

Same Old Song From Shef

Gary Sheffield has a book to promote, and the obnoxious superstar has fallen back on one of his tried-and-true attention-grabbing schemes -- accuse a former manager of racism. Sheffield accused Yankees skipper Joe Torre of treating blacks different than whites and claims that Jeter wasn't "black enough" to notice the difference: New York Yankees manager Joe Torre treats black players on his team worse than white players, controversial baseball player Gary Sheffield has charged. "I know when I was [with the Yankees], the couple of blacks that were there, every one of them had an issue with the organization," Sheffield, who played outfield for the Yankees between 2004 and 2006, told Andrea Kremer in an interview that airs Tuesday on HBO's "Real Sports." When pressed on who specifically within the organization black players were upset with, Sheffield said, "They had an issue with Joe Torre." "They weren't treated liked everybody...

September 13, 2007

My Blue Heaven

I moved out of California almost ten years ago, and besides my family, I rarely miss it. It's not that I dislike the Los Angeles area, but I prefer the pace of Minnesota living. The weather has its ups and downs -- waaaaaay ups and waaaaaay downs -- but it's cleaner, less crowded, and more personable. Certain things just don't transfer, though, and one of them is Dodger Stadium and Dodger baseball. It's been ten years since I've last been to Chavez Ravine, but I'll be going tonight to watch the Dodgers battle the San Diego Padres for the wild-card spot. We have baseball in Minnesota, but as fun as a Twins game can be, there is no better spot to watch a major-league game than Dodger Stadium. The stadium sits in Chavez Ravine like a crown in the hills. It has a spectacular view even without the baseball game....

November 1, 2007

Wait 'Til Next Year!

Hey, New York! Guess who the Dodgers found looking for a job? Joe Torre was hired Thursday to manage the Los Angeles Dodgers, taking the job two weeks after walking away from the New York Yankees. Torre moved from one storied franchise to another, getting a three-year contract. He takes over a team that finished fourth in the NL West this season and hasn't won the World Series since 1988. The 67-year-old Torre becomes the Dodgers' eighth manager since they moved west from Brooklyn for the 1958 season. Torre grew up in Brooklyn, rooting for the rival New York Giants and detesting the Dodgers. "As a kid growing up, you didn't like them," Torre said on WFAN radio in New York less than an hour before the hiring was announced. "As a player, to me the Dodgers were the Yankees of the National League because ... you either loved them...