Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Some News on the Dodger Stadium Renovations

The Dodgers held a press conference this afternoon within the friendly (albeit, torn up) confines of Dodger Stadium in order to announce what improvements are currently being done.  As you can see from the photo below, tweeted by Patrick O'Neal, this a major construction project.  The above photo was provided by the Dodgers.  It is a artist rendering of the new Dodger Stadium outfield area.  Click on any pic to embiggen.  Jon SooHoo provides even more pics here.  And check out my story from a couple of days ago featuring a promotional video from the company providing the new scoreboards, here.
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From the Dodgers press release sent earlier today:
  • New High Definition video boards in left field and right field.  Existing message boards, including ribbon boards at the Loge level and outfield wall, will be replaced with the new technology as well.  The unique hexagon shape of both scoreboards will be restored.
  • A new sound system directed to minimize echoes and sound migration outside the stadium
  • A state-of-the-art Wi-Fi network and cellular antenna system to support cell-phone and internet connectivity from mobile devices
  • Wider concourses and additional locations for wheelchair bound fans and their companions on all levels
  • Expanded and renovated restrooms with substantially more fixtures
  • Food service enhancements to loge, reserve and upper reserve levels including new stands, cooking facilities and menus.  Details will be announced prior to the start of the season.
  • New Field Level entry plazas and bullpen overlooks to create standing room areas with a view of the game
  • A new home team clubhouse, expanded and enhanced training/conditioning areas, and new batting cages for both teams
From Stan Kasten:
“The mission of Dodger ownership is to create ways to enhance the experience for all of our fans,” Dodger President and CEO Stan Kasten said. “Dodger Stadium is a treasured piece of the Los Angeles community and we will respect that heritage while restoring and enhancing the venue for our fans in the 21st century. When the improvements are completed, the stadium will retain its classic look, but it will have a more comfortable feel.

“This is a most ambitious program for a single off-season. We are grateful to Dodger fans for their input into the improvements that will be most meaningful to their game experience.”
Below are some more details tweeted out, as well.
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 Here are even more details from the press release:
  • The original distinctive hexagonal shape which presently only exists in right field will be restored to both boards.
  • Sound will be directed to each seating section, minimizing echoes and migrating sounds outside the park.
  • Two to four rows of seats will be removed from the back of the Field, Loge, Reserve and Upper Reserve levels to provide greater walking space on each concourse, as well as more wheelchair locations and “drink rails” for fans who may wish to leave their seats during games and explore the stadium. 
  • Family or Unisex restrooms will be created for each level at the stadium.  Restrooms in the outfield will be relocated under the Pavilions which will be more convenient for fans.
  • One of the “most fun things” among the enhancements, according to Smith, is the bullpen overlooks that will enable fans to socialize while watching the game from a location above the bullpens where there will be dramatic field views. Each entrance, including the center-field entrances, is being given careful attention to create better circulation and enhanced concession and retail spaces. 
  • The Dodgers will display many of the team’s historical items for the first time.  Fans will be able to enjoy Dodger memorabilia and artifacts such as MVP awards, Cy Young awards and Gold Gloves awarded to Dodgers.
  • A new retail store will be built at the Top of the Park location behind home plate. This will be open daily on a regular basis along with the Top of the Park ticket office. Tours of Dodger Stadium will be conducted daily from this location.
 This sounds like the kind of improvements we have all been waiting for.  Finally, we have an owner who is doing more than just talking about it- he's doing it!!!

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* Dodgers Blue Heaven home page *

Dodgers Blog Kiosk: 1/8/2013

Panini unveiled some preview pics of their upcoming 2012 National Treasures Baseball set; including the above Jackie Robinson book card.  Go here for more information and pics of this new product.  It is slated to be released on February 13th.
Sandoval is 6-foot-2, 180 pounds and impressed the Dodgers with his potential to hit for both average and power from the right side of the plate. He's an above-average runner who should begin his career in center field, though he has the arm strength to play right field if he outgrows the position.
  • Baseball sabermatrician and recent presidential election stats-guru, Nate Silver, is holding a "Ask Me Anything" session on reddit this morning.  It's likely he'll be talking mostly about the election, but you never know if he'll talk a little Baseball, as well.  Go here to check it out.
  • Craig Calcaterra at Hardball Talk lets us know that the man originally accused of the Bryan Stow beating at Dodger Stadium recently had his lawsuit against the city (maybe for defamation?) dismissed.
  • Topps just unveiled a sneak peek look at the card design for their 2013 Allen & Ginter card set on twitter.  See it at right.
  • This is the most fascinating story I've read so far this year.  Via Rafael Medoff at JNS.org, he tells us about Babe Ruth's role in letting the American public know about the Jewish Holocaust as Hitler rose to power.
By participating in this German-American protest against the Holocaust, Ruth used his powerful name to help attract public attention to the Jews’ plight. Timing is everything, both on the baseball field and beyond, and the timing of Ruth’s protest was crucial: precisely at the moment when U.S. officials were hoping to brush the Jewish refugee problem aside, Babe Ruth helped keep it front and center.
  • Sports Collectors Daily tells us that the 2013 Shrine of the Eternals ballot will include retired Topps executive and Baseball card pioneer Sy Berger.
  • RIP: Huell Howser.  You will be sorely missed.  Check out the below youtube video made in tribute to him.

Video Link:

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* Dodgers Blue Heaven home page *

Hall of Fame Election Results Tomorrow - How I Would Vote

As many of you know, the BBWAA ballot for admittance into the hallowed hall will officially be announced tomorrow.  This is a great annual event that always elicits controversy and endless discussions about merit.  Who deserves to get in?  Should only the elite be 1st ballot winners?  How would PED's change your vote? Etc.

Well, since we are a day away from seeing the results, I thought I would take a moment to list how I vote.  BTW, the MLB Network is airing a 3-hour show tomorrow starting at 9:00 AM PST, so be sure to check it out.  Below is an excerpt of a press release sent to me by the network:
The results of the 2013 National Baseball Hall of Fame ballot will be announced live exclusively on MLB Network and simulcast on MLB.com on Wednesday, January 9 at 2:00 p.m. ET as part of a three-hour announcement show beginning at 12:00 p.m. ET. Featuring National Baseball Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson, coverage will include interviews with electees and be anchored by Greg Amsinger, Brian Kenny and Heidi Watney with MLB Network’s, Al Leiter, Kevin Millar, Harold Reynolds, Hall of Fame award-winning baseball writer Peter Gammons, and Hall of Fame voters Jon Heyman, Ken Rosenthal and Tom Verducci. Hall of Fame coverage and reaction will continue on MLB Network’s Intentional Talk and MLB Tonight starting live at 5:00 p.m. ET.

MLB Network will air the 2013 Hall of Fame Debate on Tuesday, January 8 at 9:00 p.m. ET, a special featuring Costas, Leiter, Reynolds, Verducci, Sports on Earth senior columnist Joe Posnanski and SiriusXM sports radio host Chris “Mad Dog” Russo discussing the highly-debated 2013 ballot.
Now, on to my ballot.

First of all, I already know that my choices will cause many to shake their head and call me an idiot.  And you know what?  I'm OK with that. 

With that in mind, the first player I will address is Jack Morris.  I am a product of the 80's.  I wore the clothes, had the hairdo, and watched the game with an eye towards the Baseball Wizard.  I remember the days when 30 home runs a season was a monumental achievement and when pitchers were valued for longevity, toughness and grit.  I also believe that the great players of an era deserve to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame, and there is no doubt in my mind that Jack Morris fits that bill.  He was the best pitcher of that time, and his achievements between the lines prove that.  I also happened to be good friends with a niece of his in college, and remember vividly telling her how great I thought he was (and no, it wasn't my hormones speaking... well, maybe a little).  Jack Morris is a Hall of Famer in my mind, and no amount of statistical argumentation will sway me.  It's just what I believe.

Alan Trammel, the other Tiger, would get my vote, as well.  I think it's time we pay homage to some great Tiger teams. Besides, he compares favorable to Ozzie Smith- without the flash.

I would vote for Tim Raines on the 2013 ballot.  He was the best at what he did.

Dale Murphy gets my vote purely out of sentimentality.  I feared every time he came up to the plate. 

I didn't initially believe Fred McGriff was Hall of Fame worthy, but recently changed my mind.  The reason is foretelling.  In our day and age, we have become blinded by statistics that have been shaped by PED's.  Our notion of what makes a great hitter has changed, and the expectations we have today far exceeds the non-PED age.  Fred McGriff, who has never been linked to cheating, was consistent- consistently great.  In many ways he was the Bert Blyleven of hitting.  So, he would get my vote.

From here, the well has run dry.  At this time, I would not vote for anyone else into the Hall of Fame.  This is painful to say; especially since Mike Piazza is one of my all-time favorite players.  I would withhold my vote for otherwise worthy candidates who are getting their first shot in this election.  I am one of those old-school folks who believe only the elite of the elite deserve first ballot recognition.  (I know, Idiot!)  With regards to PED's, I would stay away from casting a vote (for the time being) for those who have or are suspected of cheating.  I know that's not fair, but who said Baseball is fair? 

* Please follow on twitter @ernestreyes *
* Dodgers Blue Heaven home page *

eBay: 1956 Dodgers Tour of Japan Memorabilia

I haven't posted anything featuring Dodgers memorabilia on eBay in awhile, so I thought I would start off with a couple of great 1956 Dodgers Tour of Japan collectibles. 

While stumbling around on eBay I ran into this original copy of Baseball Magazine from November 20, 1956.  It features on its cover Tetsuharu Kawakami shaking hands with Roy Campanella.  The Dodgers where on a whirlwind world tour after the 1956 season, and this magazine captures their exploits during their visit to Japan.

Check out some of the great photos within it below.  Go to the auction listing here.
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This the back cover of the magazine.
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Also on auction is this vintage ticket stub to an exhibition game between the Dodgers and some Japanese All-Stars.  It is from a November 10, 1956 ballgame at Korakuen Stadium in Japan.  The Dodgers won this match 8 to 2, both Gil Hodges and Don Zimmer hit home runs, and Carl Erskine won the game.  See the auction here.
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Collection: Andy Pafko Topps Legends Autographed Card

Andy Pafko only played two season in Dodgers Blue, but it happened to coincide with Topps first major Baseball card release.  After putting out a small game-based card set the year prior, Topps decide to go all-in with its Baseball card set in 1952.  That set would soon become the most iconic Baseball set ever made, and standing right in front as card #1 was Dodgers outfielder Andy Pafko.

The card featured in this post is a modern reprint of that card.  It is a 2001 Team Topps Legends card of Andy Pafko, and it has a certified autographed of his on it.

The vintage version of the card is extremely difficult to find in good shape.  As was custom at the time, kids would collect cards and rubberband them together.  This would cause the top and bottom cards to be damaged, as a result.  Since Pafko was card #1, his card was more likely than any other to be on the top of that stack.  As the hobby matured, collectors made this realization as Pafko card after Pafko card would be found severly damaged.  Today, an excellent (EX) or better conditioned card sells for a premium- a huge premium.

A lot of collectors mistakenly believe that this card's high book value is because it is short-printed.  That is not the case.  It's just that a vast majority of Andy Pakfo 1952 Topps Baseball cards are in horrible condition.

Check out Andy Pafko's career stats below, via Baseball Reference.

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