Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Pitching Musical Chairs Continue - Wall Down, Guerra Up - And Other Dodgers News

Josh Wall has been absolutely shelled this year.  He had a good rookie campaign last season in limited play, but took some big lumps this season coming out of the pen.  As a result, the Dodgers have decided to send him back to Albuquerque, and have brought up Javy Guerra.  Per a Dodgers press release:
The Los Angeles Dodgers today recalled right-handed pitcher Javy Guerra (#48) from Triple-A Albuquerque and optioned right-hander Josh Wall to Albuquerque. Guerra, 27, has been in a starting role for the Isotopes this season and has gone 0-2 with a 4.02 ERA in four starts, last pitching on Friday and allowing four runs (two earned) in 5.0 innings (85 pitches). Guerra made three scoreless appearances for the Dodgers during Spring Training before being optioned on March 17, allowing just two hits in 2.2 innings. In two Major League seasons (2011-12), Guerra has gone 4-5 with 29 saves in 36 opportunities and a 2.45 ERA in 92 games with the Dodgers. 
Wall went 0-1 with an 18.00 ERA (14 ER/7.0 IP) in six appearances since his recall on April 15.
Guerra has been starting games in Albuquerque, so he will have a different role with the Dodgers.  I think it's likely he'll be doing some long relief for the team.  After a run of bad games, I suspect this is an especially needed role.
(pic credit: Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2012)

The Dodgers also passed along some daily notes.  Below are some pertinent items:
LEFT IS RIGHT: The Dodgers hope to get back on track tonight against a left-handed starter with the team posting a combined .293 batting average against lefties:
Highest Team Batting Avg. vs. Left-handers
1. Milwaukee Brewers                    .293
2. Los Angeles Dodgers                  .293
3. Kansas City Royals                     .290
4. Detroit Tigers                              .285
5. Cincinnati Reds                           .285

  • Several Los Angeles hitters rank among the league’s best this season against left-handers, including Mark Ellis (.417, T-5th), Adrian Gonzalez (.385, 10th), A.J. Ellis (.350, 15th) and Matt Kemp (.345, 16th).
  • Kemp (10-for-23, 3 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI), Gonzalez (10-for-28, 2 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBI) and Freddy Sanchez tie for the most all-time hits (10) against tonight’s Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa.

A TWEET FEAT: For each strikeout this year, Head & Shoulders will donate $1 to MLB’s Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program as a part of their “Season of Whiff” campaign. Fans can raise more money for the Los Angeles RBI program through the “Season of the Whiff” campaign by tweeting “#Whiff @Dodgers.” The team with the most #whiff tweets at the end of each month of the regular season will win $10,000 for their RBI program. With just one day remaining in April, the Dodgers are in the running for the most #whiff tweets, among MLB teams, so keep tweeting!
HOME COOKING: Carl Crawford went 1-for-3 last night and continues to rank among the National League leaders with a .388 batting average (19-for-49) at home. Crawford has hit safely in 10 of 13 games at Dodger Stadium with seven multi-hit games.
COLORADO CRUSHERS: Matt Kemp is tied with Adrian Beltre for the most homers against Colorado by an active player with 24 home runs, joining Adrian Gonzalez (16 HR, T-5th) on that leaderboard. The duo also ranks among the top run producers against the Rockies:
RBI vs. Colorado, Active Players
1. Adrian Beltre                      94
2. Matt Kemp                         81
3. James Loney                       75
4. Adrian Gonzalez                  71
5. Albert Pujols                       65
10. Andre Ethier                      55
  • Overall, Gonzalez ranks ninth in the NL with a .333 batting average, while ranking among the league leaders in on-base percentage (.404, 9th), hits (30, T-8th), doubles (7, T-10th) and multi-hit games (9, T-9th). Gonzalez also ranks sixth in the NL with a .455 mark with runners in scoring position (10-for-22).
  • #VOTE BLUE: In-stadium All-Star balloting is underway for this year’s Midsummer Classic, which takes place on July 16 at Citi Field in New York. Fans are encouraged to punch paper ballots at home games through June 7 and visit Dodgers.com to cast votes online through July 4 at 8:59 p.m. PT. 
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WooHoo! Kings Playoffs Start Tonight - I'm Happy as a Pig in !!!!

The nicest thing about being a Kings fan this time around is that it becomes a nice diversion from the horrible play the Dodgers have been giving fans so far this season.  For the next several weeks (hopefully!) much of my sports fanaticism is likely to be focused on the ice.

As you may know, today is the start of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the reigning champions look to defend their crown against the St. Louis Blues tonight.  Like last year, the Kings find themselves without home-ice advantage, and underdogs (if you follow the betting lines).

If you are wondering what the schedule is for the Kings, below is a rundown for the first 4 games (this was originally provided by official team blogger Jon Rosen at LA Kings Insider):
Game 1 – Tuesday, April 30 Pregame: Prime Ticket, 4:30 pm
Broadcast: Prime Ticket, CNBC, CBC, 5:00 pm
Post-Game: None
Game 2 – Thursday, May 2 Pregame: None
Broadcast: CNBC, CBC, 6:30 pm
Post-Game: FOX Sports West, 10:30 pm
Game 3 – Saturday, May 4 Pregame: FOX Sports West, 6:30 pm
Broadcast: FOX Sports West, NBC Sports Network, CBC, 7:00 pm
Post-Game: FOX Sports West, 9:30 pm
Game 4 – Monday, May 6 Pregame: FOX Sports West, 6:30 pm
Broadcast: FOX Sports West, NBC Sports Network, CBC, 7:00 pm
Post-Game: FOX Sports West, 9:30 pm
-all times Pacific

As for a little history, the Kings swept the Blues in last years playoff run, so I figure they'll be looking for some payback.  The Blues are a very good team, and are arguably the one team that plays most like the Kings.  It'll be like watching a carbon copy of the Kings on the ice tonight.  Still, the Kings have aptly handled the Blues over the past couple of years, and I see no reason to expect anything different this time around.

Do I expect the Kings to sweep again?

No, I don't think it's reasonable to expect that.  I do believe, though that the Kings will control the tempo of play and the boards.  I believe the Blues will come out hitting and skating quickly just like last year, but will fail to garner much traction against a team that has learned to weather such storms.  My prediction is that the Kings will take the series in 6 games.

Go Kings Go!


BTW, just so I can say this wasn't just a Kings only post, I wanted to pass along the final prices for the three remaining Dodgers' themed hockey jersey's the team wore during a pregame skate last week.  My original post on the auction is here.  The Anze Kopitar jersey sold for $2,075.00.  The Jonathan Quick jersey sold for $1,725.00.  The Dustin Brown jersey sold for $2,325.00.

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Blog Kiosk: 4/30/2013

We can now see Hanley Ramirez, who is ready to play.  It's his bobblehead night tonight, and I suspect he'll be returning to the lineup today.  Pic via twitter @Dodgers.
  • Just to pass along info that I'm sure you already know, Clayton Kershaw has been placed on the bereavement list.  Don't ask me why.  As far as I'm concerned, it's personal business.  In a likewise move, this allows the Dodgers to reinstate Hanley Ramirez from the DL without having to send anyone to the minors- just yet.
  • In news that makes me laugh because I fail to see why it's news.  The Dodgers sent along a press release to let us bloggers/reporters know that the Korean pop sensation PSY will be at the Dodger game today to watch Hyun-Jin Ryu pitch.
  • "Day after arrest, Puig homers, hits walk-off single," via Austin Laymance at MLB.com.
  • Matthew Reichbach at Yahoo writes, "Juan Uribe Is the Los Angeles Dodgers' Best Option for 3B."
  • Nick Green at the Daily Breeze writes about the popularity of bobbleheads in Southern California.  He even highlights a LA area hobby shop that specializes in bobbleheads.
Yet they also are incredibly popular among collectors, akin to a 21st century version of the baseball card before that market became saturated and collapsed.

And Southern California, as it turns out, is arguably the bobblehead epicenter.
  • We might need to convert Skip Schumaker into a reliever.  He came into last nights game to give our pitchers a rest and shut the Rockies down.  Eric Stephen at True Blue LA notes that he is now the Dodgers ERA leader.
  • To make matters worse, Lilly (who started yesterday's game) has back tightness, via Mark Saxon at ESPN.
The Dodgers are accustomed to carefully monitoring the 37-year-old pitcher's health on a start-by-start basis, so in a way this is nothing new. Lilly had felt a bit of tightness in his back after his previous start in New York last week and it returned in the first inning of Monday night's 12-2 loss to the Colorado Rockies, in which Lilly got hit around for three innings. 
I too, however, am entitled to my opinion—and my opinion is that Broussard is a moron. On a day when the first openly gay active American athlete (from a team sport) courageously comes out of the closet, Broussard reacts by … giving us a lecture on homosexuality and sinfulness? Really? Not a lecture on courage, or guts, or what surely must have been a tough decision—but sinfulness? Really?
  • Susan Lulgjuraj at Beckett visited the collection of Dick Perez (maker of the Donruss Diamond Kings cards) Baseball paintings in a New York exhibit and shares a bunch of pics.
  • Talk about taking things personally.  In Japan, a batter asked and was granted a timeout while the pitcher was in the midst of pitching and the pitcher made a wild inadvertent (or was it) throw.  Check out a gif and video at Bob's Blitz.

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Mailbag: I Got a Vintage Baseball Scorer

I not only chase after Baseball cards, but I also love snagging some oddball Baseball collectibles, as well.  Recently, I came across the above early 20th Century circular Baseball scorer on eBay and decided to place a bid.  I've already got a couple of similar scorers in my collection, so I figured this would look great in a wall display I have. 

According to the auction it dates to 1908, but I haven't a clue if that is accurate.  Still, I love the look of it, and it has many of the qualities I look for in a piece purported to be this old.  On the other hand, it could be an elaborate fake.  Considering I took it home for just $16 delivered, I was willing to take the risk.  If anyone happens to know more about it, please pass that information along.

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Blog Kiosk: 4/29/2013

Clayton Kershaw is logging in another great year so far, pic via Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2013.
  • Youthful exuberance or a sign of something worse?  Yasiel Puig was arrested in Tennessee for reckless driving, speeding and having no insurance, via Eric Stephen at True Blue LA.  For now, I'll assume he is just young and stupid, but that could change if he finds himself on the wrong page of the newspaper again.  Heck, I remember being 22, and I am pretty sure I was as dumb as a rock.
  • Tom Hoffarth at Farther of the Wall tells us the results from the sale of Steve Garvey items in the SCP auction.
According to the final results of a 71-item auction on SCP Auctions in Orange County that ended Saturday night, Garvey saw about $315,000 bid on the sale of some things you’d assume to be in the priceless item category, things stored away for decades but finally allowed to be bought by the public.
“He seemed to be getting better as the game went along,” said Manager Don Mattingly. “We feel like he’s on the rise.”
  • "Hanley’s Return Imminent," via Scott Andes at Lasorda's Lair.
  • The NHL Playoffs begin this week, and the Kings start it off on the road against the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday.  See the first round schedule for the Kings, via Jon Rosen at LA Kings Insider.
  • Just as a reminder, this Tuesday is Hanlet Ramirez bobblehead night at Dodger Stadium.  50,000 bobbleheads will be given out that night, and there is a small possibility that Hanley will be ready to play that evening.
  • Howard Megdal at Sports on Earth writes a great feature piece on AJ Ellis.
He served as Russell Martin's understudy in Single-A Vero Beach in 2004, playing just 40 games. Martin moved on in 2005; Ellis stayed in Vero, serving as backup to long-forgotten backstop Edwin Bellorin. And so his minor league career continued, with Ellis playing more than 90 games only once in any season, not due to injuries, but because the Dodgers wanted to see other players get more time. The idea that Ellis might develop into a major leaguer himself seemingly never occurred to them.

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    Sunday, April 28, 2013

    Sunday Dodger Videos: Matt Magill Impresses

    Here are this Sunday's Dodgers videos.

    Matt Magill had a great Major League debut yesterday evening.  Here he is speaking with PrepSportsBULLETIN after the game in the clubhouse.

    Video Link:

    Here, Don Mattingly discusses Matt Magill's stellar debut and gives an update on Mark Ellis' status.

    Video Link:

    Check out this flight tour over Dodger Stadium.

    Video Link:

    Dodgers host Dave Styles and Chef Jason Tingley show fans the special concessions for the homestand against the Brewers.

    Video Link:

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    Saturday, April 27, 2013

    Blog Kiosk: 4/27/2013

    Check out some more great pics from yesterdays game here, via Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2013.
    • Another injury.  Stephen Fife is on the 15 day DL with right shoulder bursitis, and Matt Magill has been called up to replace him.
    Magill will start and wear No. 36 in his Major League debut tonight vs. Milwaukee.

    Magill has posted a 2.84 ERA with 23 strikeouts over 19.0 innings in four starts for the Isotopes this season. The Simi Valley native has held the opposition to a .206 average on the year and last pitched on Monday, making 71 pitches and fanning seven while allowing one run on one hit in 4.0 innings. The 23-year-old was selected by the Dodgers in the 31st round of the 2008 First-Year Draft. He was signed out of Royal High School by then scout and current Dodger bullpen coach Chuck Crim. 

    Fife started Sunday’s game in Baltimore after being recalled on the same day, allowing four runs on seven hits in 4.2 innings in the no-decision. In three starts with the Isotopes this season, the 26-year-old is 1-1 with a 4.61 ERA (7 ER/13.2 IP) and 14 strikeouts. 
    "He's worked really hard on his defense and I don't really want him to come back just to be back," Mattingly said. "I want him to be ready to play, and be able to play at a level that is natural, not where he has to think about throwing and how he's going to grip the ball and things like that. As soon as he's ready for that, we're ready for him."
    I tell you, it seems like a childish thing, a paper airplane. You're out there hitting and a guy's throwing in the mid-90s, and a little white something might distract you? Whoa.
    • Kershaw's Challenge has a new video up.  Go here to check it out.
    • Stealing Home at All Trade Bait, All the Time recently visited Dodger Stadium and shares some nice pics.
    • OK.  This is just awesome.  via Reddit, here are 66 photos chronicling the making of The Empire Strikes Back.
    • Check out this great new shirt that was recently put together by Erin.  She used to run a Dodgers blog called Beantown West (and its many different iterations), and was a part of the original crew of Dodger bloggers that were invited to the teams Blogger Night festivites many moons ago.  Well, she's kinda retired from blogging, but that hasn't stopped her from loving the Dodgers.  Check out her creation here and please consider dropping some dough if you are so inclined.  Go here.

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    A Blog Bat Around: I've Got $1600 Burning in My Pocket and eBay on the Mind

    Many moons ago, the card collector blogger community would occasionally get together for some collective blogging.  Someone would propose a topic or question, and everyone else would provide their answer.  It was a great way to know a little bit about a favorite writer/collector, and I have to admit that I've missed it.  I think I speak for many in saying, "let's get more Blog Bat Around's going again."  To check out past post of mine responding to these questions go here.

    Last week Drop the Gloves decided to bring back the this old tradition with a new question.  Let's pretend you've got $1600.00 ready to burn on eBay.  What would you buy?  Well, below is my answer.

    I have always wanted the below item.  Check out this great 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers figurines.  It was created by the Danbury Mint and can be purchased for $525 on eBay.  That's a little overpriced, but it's the only one available at the moment.

    Here is another collectible I've always wanted for my collection.  Below is a 1913 T200 Fatima team card of the Brooklyn Superbas.  This particular card is currently at $395 on eBay.  Again, it's a little pricey, but it's a "Buy It Now" so that's to be expected.

    Below is another oddball Brooklyn Robins item.  This is a W504 1925 Universal Toy & Novelty team card of the Brooklyn club.  This will run you $205 on eBay.  I currently have the individual player strip cards and this card below is the last item I need to complete my set.  Check out the W504's that I have here, in my photoalbum on facebook.

    I don't think any explanation is needed for this card.  Below is a 1955 Topps rookie card of Sandy Koufax.  It can be purchased for $269.

    And since I'm dreaming about having the cash to do this, I would as my final purchase get this limited edition talking Vin Scully Bobblehead.  He makes his famous call on Kirk Gibson's home run during the 1988 World Series.  Only 3,000 of this version were made, and it's listed at $200 currently.

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    Friday, April 26, 2013

    Blog Kiosk: 4/26/2013

    Nice win yesterday afternoon.  Pic above via Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2013.
    • Andrew Keh at the NY Times writes, "A Korean Visitor Rekindles Memories in Flushing."
    Hyun-Jin Ryu, a 26-year-old Dodgers rookie this season, a Korean roughly my age, saw those games, too. Growing up around Incheon, South Korea, he watched broadcasts of Park’s Dodger outings in the middle of the night, or at dawn. His memories are as vivid and fond as mine. 

    “It wasn’t just me,” Ryu said, sitting inside the visitors’ dugout at Citi Field this week, as the Dodgers played a three-game series against the Mets. “Everyone in Korea who was around my age or the same age as me, we all were inspired by him and watched almost every game.”
    • This is just excellent.  Read Howard Bryant's piece at ESPN, "Righting the wrongs of '42': Film gets important history wrong but leads to larger conversation."
    • Via USA Today, The oldest African-American baseball footage was found at the University of Georgia. The video shows plantation workers playing baseball in Thomasville, Ga.  Go here to check it out.
    • Check out this remarkable colorized photograph of Babe Ruth playing the outfield, pic via Carver1976 on Reddit.

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      Mailbag: A Don Sutton Auto

      Just to prove that vintage cards is not my only focus today, check out a recent eBay purchase of a modern autographed Baseball card of a Dodger Hall of Famer.

      I recently picked up this 2012 Panini National Treasures All-Decade auto/relic card of Don Sutton, and it was a relative bargain.  It arrived at just $11.00 delivered; which appears to be a good deal if you look at recent sale prices.

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      Thursday, April 25, 2013

      Blog Kiosk: 4/25/2013

      Check out this great photo of Kemp's post-home run swing.  Pic via Dodgers on tumblr.
      "We don't panic. We're not worried," Hairston said. "We just want to focus on playing good baseball, that's all we want to do. Obviously we didn't get off to a fast start, but every team goes through certain things throughout the season and hopefully what we've gone through is just that. Hopefully we get red-hot in the months to come and, more importantly, in the second half."

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      It is Rick Monday's Flag Day!

      Today is the 37th Anniversary of the day Rick Monday saved the American flag from the hands of a father and son team bent on destruction.   As such, this is the Dodgers unofficial Flag Day holiday. 

      Watch a video about that moment below.

      Video Link:

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      Dodgers Goodies at Robert Edwards Auctions

      Robert Edwards Auctions or REA has just put up their once-a-year auction extravaganza, and as you might suspect, it's filled with more memorabilia than you can imagine.  There's vintage cards, autographs and rare artifacts worthy of inclusion into the Hall of Fame.  And, there's a bunch of Dodgers collectibles that I've gathered together to show you in this post.  Check them out below.

      BTW, if you don't already know, this firm is by far my favorite sports memorabilia auction house.  They seem to always have the best quality stuff, and have shown that the use of proper ethics within the hobby can reap huge rewards.

      The first item is probably the best Dodgers related collectible in their whole catalog.  Here is a 1963 game-worn road jersey of Sandy Koufax.  As you know, Sandy won both the MVP and Cy Young awards this season, so it is certainly a key Koufax collectible.  Heck, it's a rarity, as well.  As the auction description says, this is one of only 8 known real game-used Koufax jersey's known to exist, and 1 of only 3 graded by MEARS (a premier game-worn authenticity firm).  At the time of this post it is already at $100,000.00, and I suspect it will go for much more.
      (Auction Link)

      Here is a great oddball Jackie Robinson item.  It is a 1952 Wheaties Tin Tray Proof of Jackie.  The Tin Trays were originally affixed to the back of Wheaties cereal boxes, and were beveled around the edges to made a frame.  In the below example, it has not been beveled and clearly appears to have been cut from a metal proof sheet by someone involved in the production of the set.  It currently sits at $500.00.
      (Auction Link)

      Here is another unusual Jackie Robinson collectible.  It is a 1957 "Time To Score For Civil Rights" poster featuring Jackie Robinson "going to bat" for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).  It originally came directly from Jackie's wife, Rachel Robinson for a 2006 auction, so it once resided within the estate of Jackie Robinson.  It is currently at $3,250.00.
      (Auction Link)

      Long since forgotten, Wilbert "Uncle Robbie" Robinson was a beloved Brooklyn manager at the start of the 20th Century.  From 1914 to 1931 he captained the team to the delight of fans, as Brooklynites reveled in the error-prone machinations of their hometown boys.  Soon, fans would call the team the "Robins" in his honor and delight at the wackiness of "Uncle Robbie's Daffiness Boys".  The Dodgers back then were bad, so bad they were good- good for some great laughs and some better times at the ballpark. 

      Featured below is a 19th Century team cabinet card of the 1888 Philadelphia Athletics, and shown on the middle row, far left is a young Wilbert Robinson.  This cabinet card measure 4.25" x 6.5".  It is currently at $1,600.00.
      (Auction Link)

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      Wednesday, April 24, 2013

      New Commercial Featuring Clayton Kershaw for ESPN SportsCenter

      ESPN has always had a knack for creating clever and funny commercials.  This new one features our very own Clayton Kershaw.  Watch it below.
      When Clayton Kershaw is bored at work, everyone is in danger.

      Video Link:

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      Rollie Fingers Could've Been a Dodger?

      I learn new things everyday.  For instance, while looking through the SCP catalog I came across a vintage Dodgers uniform connected to a future Hall of Famer who I was not aware had a Dodger connection.

      Well, let me clarify that.  This man never played for the Dodgers, but he did give up one of the most dramatic home runs to a Dodger in team history.

      Rollie Fingers was a highly sought after pitching prospect out of Southern California in the mid-60's.  He had attended high school in Upland and spent a semester at Chaffey Junior College in Rancho Cucamonga. 

      As you can imagine, with Fingers right in the Dodgers backyard they naturally chased after him.  So, in 1964, at the age of 17, he was invited to the Dodgers rookie training camp and impressed the brass.  So much so, that they offered him a contract with a $20,000 signing bonus.  In addition, Rollie took home the vintage Dodgers jersey featured in this post - although it's unclear if it was actually given to him, or if he decided to take a five finger discount. 

      At that point, Rollie Fingers weighed his options and did the unthinkable- especially at the time.  He decided to pass on the Dodgers, instead opting to take a lower bonus to play somewhere else.  Why would he do that, you ask?

      Well, the Dodgers were well stocked with premium starting pitching already (Koufax and Drysdale) and had a good stockpile of talent ready to come up (Sutton and Bill Singer were in the wings), so he reasoned that his path the the Majors would be slowed if he signed with the Dodgers.  I don't know if that rationale is necessarily true - after all, talent trumps all.  Nevertheless, on Christmas Eve in 1964 Rollie Fingers signed a contract with the Kansas City Athletics for $13,000. 

      At this time, the uniform is on auction at SCP with a current bid of $2,144
      (auction link)

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      Blog Kiosk: 4/24/2013

      Check out the winning photo for the MLB FanCave Dodgers photo contest taken by Despina Kritiko above.  She got a free trip to NYC to the MLBFanCave.  Here is a pic with her there.  Pic provided by twitter @Dodgers.
       “If we hang on,'' he declared at one point, “we can still have a good season.''
      "This is all I ever wanted to be when I grew up. I grew up in New York, the first game I ever went to was at Ebbets Field, the first voice I listened to and wanted to emulate was Vin Scully," said Steiner, who stopped by the MLB.com headquarters to field questions from fans via social media and a live video stream inside the Edward Jones Chatting Cage. "I always wanted to be the Dodgers' announcer, but then they moved when I was 8 years old and my childhood dreams were dashed.
      "It's been awhile since I had this feeling, no doubt," he says. "Since 2010 with the Rays. It feels good just to feel like my old self again. I'm enjoying every day of it, I'll tell you that."
      "With nearly three weeks of the season gone by, I'm convinced that the Dodgers should trade manager Don Mattingly to the Angels for manager Mike Scioscia."
      So the once-mighty Dodgers rotation is suddenly reduced to Kershaw and a number of unproven options. It’s critical for the team that Ryu steps up to the occasion because Boston Red Sox wash-up Josh Beckett and ailing veteran Ted Lilly can’t be described as reliable.
      • How rough has our pitching woes been?  Well, Ken Gurnick at MLB.com writes, "Dodgers to Us Eight Starting Pitchers in First 20 Games."

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      Weekend Autograph Opportunities: Kings Announcer Bob Miller

      Here are this weekends autograph opportunities and events throughout the Southland. As always, be sure to check the Blue Heaven Calendar for other events (a link can always be found on the tab at the top of this page, just left of center), and always confirm with the establishment. Everything is subject to change.  Please email me with any tips about upcoming events in Southern California.  As the rest of the week progresses I'll update this post with other events (if there are any) as I become aware of them.  Also, I don't always list every event below, so be sure to check my Calendar.  I always try to favor free signing events over paying events.  Click on any pic to embiggen.

      It appear to be a slow weekend for autograph hounds.  The below Bob Miller signing is the only event I am aware of.  If you know of any others please let me know.


      Kings Hall of Fame announcer Bob Miller is doing a book signing tomorrow, Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 7:00 PM.  Get more information here
      In Tales from the Los Angeles Kings Locker Room, Bob Miller, the voice of the Los Angeles Kings, shares 40 years of Hollywood hockey with fans, reminding them of the highs and lows of Los Angeles hockey. This is a must for hockey fans.
      Barnes & Noble Bookstore
      The Grove at Farmers Market
      189 The Grove Drive Suite K 30
      Los Angeles, CA 90036

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      Tuesday, April 23, 2013

      A 19th Century Victorian Baseball Trade Card Purchase

      Since the start of this blog in 2006 I have periodically shared my collection and love of Victorian-era Baseball-themed trade cards.  See my past post focused on Victorian Era Trade Cards here.  These are little known collectibles that came out in the late 1800's, and ushered in the beginning of card collecting in America.  From something I previously written,
      Trade Cards are one of the more interesting hobbies to crop up in American history. It originally started in the late 1870's and thrived throughout the rest of the century (as well as several decades into the 20th Century). It became one of America's early fads and collecting crazes. They started out as business/ advertising cards given away to customers. The name of the establishment would be printed on the front with a simple design around the edges. Soon the designs became more ornate and customers started collecting them to put into scrapbooks. This started the age of Victorian scrapbooking in America.

      The design and themes of the cards became supreme. Cards where as small as a modern business cards to as large as a piece of notebook paper. They came in every color in the rainbow. Printing companies where marketing special art work and themes to storefronts across the country. Flowers, landscapes, babies, children playing are the most common themes. Less common are politicians, buildings, Black Americana and sporting activities. Sporting activities include roller skating, tennis, curling, ice skating, horse racing and baseball, among others. It really is an early example of card collecting in America.
      Featured above is a Baseball trade card that I recently purchased through an auction house that specializes in trade cards.  It is the 2nd different variation of this design that I have in my collection.  The above card measures approx. 5" x 8", is on fairly thick cardboard stock, and is blanked-backed.  Furthermore, there is writing on the reverse (possibly from the original previous owner) saying:
      "Warren Stover, from your teacher
      Bessie Bevins"
      Over the coming months I will endeavor to share more trade cards from my collection, so stay tuned.

      BTW, below is a scan of the other variation of this card in my collection.  The below card is on thin stock and much smaller than  the above card.  It measures about 2.5" x 4.5" - a more traditional size for trade cards.  Also, you can see advertising printed on the front for White Sewing Machine out of Cleveland, Ohio.

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      Billingsley Has a Date with Tommy John Surgery - Are his Dodgers Days Done?

      As has been widely reported all over the 'net, Chad Billinglsey's recent medical examination on his sore right throwing elbow did not go well.  He will have Tommy John Surgery to repair his torn ligament, and it is likely to happen as soon as tomorrow.

      This is a huge blow to an already battered Dodgers starting rotation.  After performing a little makeover over the Winter that included stockpiling starters as a safe-gap, we suddenly find that sometimes you just can't prepare enough.  Who would've thought that having 8 potential starting pitchers in Spring Training wouldn't be enough?

      Over the past month, we've seen the Dodgers lose Greinke to a broken collarbone, Chris Capuano to a strained calf muscle that is related to the ensuing scuffle that followed Greinke's break, and now Billinglsey.  Furthermore, Ted Lilly will be returning to the rotation after spending the first part of the season on a rehab assignment, so there is no guarantee he will provide any solution.

      Of note, we may have seen the last of Chad as an effective starting pitcher in Dodger Blue.  His currently contract expires at the end of 2014 season, and an option for 2015 exist.  If recent trends hold true, then Billingsley will not be back on the mound for the Dodgers for another year, and you can count on another year after that before he is truly back to his old self.  So, you can say goodbye to 2013 and hello to a subpar 2014.  For the 2015 season the team will have to decide whether to exercise their team option for $14Mil, or buy him out for $3Mil.  Of course, there is always the chance they do the latter and resign him for much less.

      This has been a very taxing year to be a Dodger fan.  Below are Billingsley's career stats, via Baseball Reference.

      Pic Credit Above: Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2013

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      George Sisler's Brooklyn Dodgers 1947 NL Championship Ring

      I finally had a chance to really dive into the SCP catalog, and I was happy to find several other Dodgers related memorabilia items that I knew I had to share right away.  As you may know, George Sisler was a Hall of Fame 1st Baseman for the St. Louis Browns, but did you know that he was also a scout for the Brooklyn Dodgers? In fact, he helped scout Jackie Robinson for Branch Rickey, and assisted him on his transition to Major League Baseball.  Heck, Sisler even helped him with his swing - showing him how to hit the ball to all fields.

      Currently up for auction is his 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers (the year Jackie broke the color barrier) National League Championship ring.  It comes directly from the family of George Sisler.  I suspect that this will sell for a bunch of dough.
      (auction link)

      Also in the SCP auction is a 1950 4-page letter written by George Sisler to his son, who was a executive in the International League at the time.  It includes some great Baseball content, and I had plans on passing along the exact words in this post.  Unfortunately, as you'll notice in the pic, Sisler's handwriting is illegible.  I can't make out much of it.  Heck, it's worse than my doctors handwriting.  So instead, I'll just let the auction description tells us what it says.
      The letter includes fascinating content concerning Sisler's longtime friend and mentor, Brach Rickey, who at the time of the letter - October 31, 1950 - had only recently declined to return as Dodgers club president and general manager and sold his share of the team to Walter O'Malley. Sisler Sr., who had worked with Rickey for many years as a special assignment scout and front-office aide, talks to his son about the prospect of discussing salary arrangements with O'Malley, whose negotations with ballplayers and club staffers was legendary in its penurious penny pinching. He also talks to his son about the possibility of George Jr. going into the Army and even asks his advice about several matter. Toward the end of the letter, he provides details to George Jr. about several insurance policies, noting the need for his son to have the information in the event of Sr.'s passing (George Sr. was 57 at the time; he would live another 23 years).
      (auction link)

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      Blog Kiosk: 4/23/2013 - Dodgers Spring Training Hero Doc Jacobs Gets a Baseball Card

      On the day off, Don Mattingly visited with Yogi Berra at the Yogi Berra Museum and made sure to bring along Dodger photographer Jon SooHoo.  Check out his pics here.
      • Do you recall Purple Heart recipient Doc Jacobs trying out for the Dodgers during Spring Training?  He lost his left leg below the knee and suffered serious hand and foot injuries when an IED exploded beneath him in 2006.  Well, Upper Deck has decided to make a Baseball card for him that will be inserted in their upcoming 2013 Goodwin Champions set.  Story via Chris Olds at Beckett.  Click on the pic on the right to embiggen.  At the very bottom is a video featuring Tommy Lasorda and Doc Jacobs.
      “He’s a hero,” Lasorda said. ”A lot of youngsters have baseball players as their heroes. One of a man who’s given his leg and toes and hands and everything, deserves a card.”
      • The legendary Dodger broadcaster tells NBC4's Fred Roggin about the time Walter Alston called him to manage the team. It didn't take Scully long to hand back the reins.  See the video here.  In a second video Vin Scully tells Roggin about his first job.  See that video here.  (Hat Tip: Dodgers Beat on twitter)
      • Mark Saxon at ESPN interviews John Suchon about his book on the 1988 Dodgers.
      • "Carlos Quentin returns from eight-game suspension tonight," via Aaron Gleeman at Hardball Talk.
      • An active collector by the name of Chris Sullivan has decided to put up for sale on eBay some items from his personal collection in order to donate it to the Boston Marathon Relief Fund, and Legendary Auctions has decided to match the combined proceeds from the auctions.  Go here to see the items.  Chris notes in the auction:
      Please note that 100% of the proceeds from this sale will go to the Boston Marathon Relief Fund. Our hearts have been broken by these unspeakable acts of senseless violence and loss of life. What should have been a glorious day in Boston turned into a horrific scene of carnage. These proceeds will be but a small token of support for those who have suffered so much. In addition our deepest appreciation goes out to the many Police, Fire, first responders, volunteers, and medical staffs who have undoubtedly saved countless other lives through their quick and professional responses to this tragedy.
      • Daniel "Doc" Jacobs had a dream come true on February 28 when he not only met baseball icon Tommy Lasorda, but got a major league tryout at Spring Training for Los Angeles. Doc got his shot and it was a memorable one to say the least because not only is he a veteran, but he is also a double amputee who lost his left leg, the toes on his right foot and two fingertips on his left hand after being injured during service in Iraq by an improvised explosive device. On Saturday, April 20 Upper Deck reunited Jacobs and Lasorda to make another dream come true for this inspirational athlete by presenting Doc with his first-ever baseball card.

      Video Link:

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      The Other Part of the Alex Cora 18-Pitch Home Run Story

      I've been wanting to post this up for a few weeks now, but had gotten hung up on other things.  Besides, I think this story is well worth the wait.

      A few weeks ago I ran into a interesting video featuring Dave Austin at Extreme Focus.  Watch it below.  In it, he tells an interesting backstory to the still-unbelievable 18-pitch Alex Cora home run in 2004.

      Video Link:

      That's right folks.  He says that Alex Cora's focus and determination that lead to one of the more dramatic home runs in Dodgers history may very well have to do with some of the things he spoke to the team about.  Better yet, we may have his son to thank for it all.

      Naturally, I had to find out more about this, so I emailed Dave for some clarification.  After all, the timing of the events in question wasn't exactly clear.  Did Cora meet Dave's son on that fateful day, or was it in Spring Training?  Below is what he had to say.
      My good friend Jim Colborn, who was the Dodgers pitching coach, asked me to come talk to his pitching staff at Dodger stadium during an off season work out. From there, Jim Tracy talked the front office into bringing me out to Spring training at Dodgertown. Paul Depodesta, the new GM, decided not to keep the program going, so Jim kept it going in his own way.
      The night Alex had that amazing at-bat is the night he looked into Daniel's eyes. In spring training, I told them to look into the eyes of a champion, and I told them Daniel's story. So, when we get back to LA, if you wanted to look into the eyes of a true champion grab Daniel and stare into his eyes. Daniel was given no chance of survival at birth. It was medically impossible to live, yet he is 14 today. Alex really took that to heart, but I didn't bring Daniel down on the field until that fateful night. When Alex saw Daniel he ran up to him and stared into his eyes for a full minute, and then said "I am ready."
      So, Daniel Austin inspired Alex Cora, and that inspiration allowed Cora to focus more acutely than he ever has before, resulting in one of the most talked about at-bats in recent memory.  Now, I haven't received additional confirmation of this, but I don't really think it's necessary.  After all, this moment in Dodgers history is now the thing of legends, and anything that adds to its the aura and mystique is worth passing around.

      In case you're interesting in reliving that Alex Cora home run moment watch the video below.

      Video Link:


      I just receive a tweet directly from Alex Cora about this post.  See what he wrote me below.  Considering the passage of time, I'm not surprised any memory of this has disappeared.  Still, like I indicated above, the legend is often what really matters most.
      (tweet link)

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      Monday, April 22, 2013

      Mailbag: A Couple of Vintage Dodgers Stamps

      As I've written a few times now, I've taken a strong turn towards vintage Dodgers collectibles.  That's not to say that I'm ignoring modern cards all together, it's just that there's something more meaningful (maybe historic is a better word) about the old stuff.

      Recently, I made a small purchase of a couple of new items to my collection, and they are a couple of vintage stamps.

      Check out the 1964 Wheaties Baseball stamp of hurler and future Dodgers pitching coach Ron Perronoski below.  This is my very first Wheaties stamp.

      I also took home a 1962 Topps stamp of Johnny Roseboro.  In all, I paid $4 delivered for both of them.

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      SCP Withdraws Jersey Reggie Wore When He Hit 3 Homers off Dodgers in 1977 World Series

      (Lot 843. Jackson Jersey for sale)

      I am writing this post to give credit where credit is due.  Besides, anytime I can make light of Reggie Jackson's 3 bombs that he hit against us in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series is a good thing.

      As you may know, SCP Auctions HAD a supposed Game 6 1977 World Series game-worn jersey by Reggie Jackson up for auction.  It would no doubt garner a bunch of interest, as well as disdain from the Dodger faithful.  In fact, Steve Garvey (who is also selling all of his personal memorabilia at SCP) spoke about buying it for the sole purpose of burning it (see that interview here).

      (1977 All-Star Game - matches jersey)
      Anyway, I emphasized the word "HAD" above because it now is no longer available for auction.  It has been withdrawn.  SCP and Reggie recently pulled it since it appears that it isn't the jersey Jackson wore to belt those home runs.  On the snarky side, we shouldn't be surprised that the fellow who faked accidentally being pelted by a ball on a play at 1st in the World Series would try to sell a fake jersey.  Per an email from SCP:
      SCP Auctions, in agreement with Reggie Jackson, has decided to withdraw his 1977 Yankees jersey attributed to Game 6 of the 1977 World Series from our current auction. Photographic evidence indicates that this jersey was worn by Reggie in the Yankees clubhouse after Game 6 of the 1977 World Series, however, further detailed analysis of video footage of the game shows some subtle inconsistencies between this jersey and the one he wore on the field during the game. This is based primarily on analysis of the pinstripe alignment relative to the sewn on “NY” crest on the front of the jersey. Since taking this jersey home from Yankee Stadium on the night of October 18, 1977, Reggie has kept this jersey for 35 years believing it to be the one he wore on the field. However, SCP Auctions and Reggie Jackson are in agreement that further research is required to positively validate this jersey as his game worn jersey from that night.
      In a time when several well-known sports memorabilia auctioneers are facing jail time for nefarious dealings it's nice to hear that there are some auction houses willing to step up the plate when information becomes available showing it's not the real thing.

      Good for you, SCP!

      Below are some pics clearly showing that the jersey for sale is not the same one worn on the field by Jackson.
      (Game 6 video still)
      (Game 6 post-game interview - matches jersey)

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