Sunday, August 31, 2014

Nationals Series Starts Tomorrow - Scheduled Autograph Signings, Game Give Aways and Other Stuff!

The next homestand starts on Monday against the Washington Nationals, and several olde-tyme Dodgers will be in the house to sign free autographs for fans.  Below are the scheduled autograph opportunities and other odds and ends for this upcoming homestand.

BTW, the Extreme Loaded Dog concession stands will be making the Washington Dog, an all-beef hot dog wrapped in Virginia Ham.  It will be available Friday through Sunday at extreme loaded dog concession stands on the Field, Loge and Reserve levels. 

Monday, September 1st at 5:10 PM

Happy Labor Day!  Monday's game starts at 5:10 PM.  Auto gates open at 2:30 PM, and stadium gates open at 3:00 PM.  This afternoon the Dodgers celebrate Josh Beckett's No-Hitter.  The first 40,000 fans will receive an Beckett Commemorative No-Hitter Pin.  Check it out on the right.

As part of his 27,273-mile media tour, Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao, eight-division world champion in boxing, will throw the ceremonial first pitch on Monday.  The Filharmonic, who appeared on NBC’s “The Sing-Off,” will perform prior to Monday’s game and will also sing the national anthem.

Former Dodgers Tim Leary (in right-field pavilion plaza) and Ken Landreaux (in left-field pavilion plaza) will be signing autographs for fans from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM.

  • The Veteran of the Game presented by Bank of America is U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Leon Pierce of Los Angeles. Pierce enlisted in 2002 and served with a Mortar Platoon maintaining personnel and equipment and ensuring his unit was mentally and physically prepared for combat operations. While deployed at Camp Leatherneck in the Helmand Province, Afghanistan, his vehicle was hit by an IED where he sustained several injuries. He is now recovering at the Wounded Warrior Battalion West, Camp Pendleton and hopes to attend SDSU to become a trauma nurse. Pierce’s accolades include the Purple Heart and the Iraq and Afghanistan Campaign Medals. Bank of America Senior Vice President Global Commercial Banking Felix Whittaker will present Pierce with an authenticated flag that has proudly flown over Dodger Stadium and display case.
Tuesday, September 2nd at 7:10 PM

Tueday's game starts at 7:10 PM.  Auto gates open at 4:30 PM, and stadium gates open at 5:00 PM. It is another Dodger bobblehead day. The first 50,000 fans will receive a Magic Johnson Bobblehead.  See the bobblehead on the left.

Dodgers Radio AM 570 Fox Sports LA’s Petros and Money show will broadcast live from the left-field pavilion plaza. R&B singer Jeffrey Osborne will perform the national anthem.

Former Dodgers Dennis Powell (in right-field pavilion plaza) and Derrel Thomas (in left-field pavilion plaza) will be signing autographs for fans from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM.
  • The Veteran of the Game presented by Bank of America is U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Wyatt Waldron of Palmdale. Waldron was a 50 Caliber Heavy Machine Gunner with the 3rd Battalion 4th Marine Infantry and served three combat tours in Iraq. In 2004, his unit fought in the battle of Fallujah, Iraq, and pulled down the statue of Saddam Hussein. Waldron’s accolades include the Purple Heart for injuries he sustained from an IED blast, two Marine Corps Medals with Valor and the Silver Star. 
Wednesday, September 3rd at 12:10 PM

Wednesday's game starts early at 12:10 PM.  Auto gates open at 9:30 AM, and stadium gates open at 10:00 AM.

Singer and songwriter Kim Devine will perform the national anthem. 

Former Dodgers Billy Ashley (in right-field pavilion plaza) and Matt Luke (in left-field pavilion plaza) will be signing autographs for fans from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM.
  • The Veteran of the Game presented by Bank of America is U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant John Smith. In 1961, after hearing President John F. Kennedy’s first inaugural speech in which he stated ‘“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country,” Smith enlisted in the Air Force and served at the School of Aerospace Medicine at Brooks Air Force Base doing medical research. 

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Blog Kiosk: 8/31/2014 - Dodger Links - Losing Tough Again and Ryu & Uribe are Back

Just another tough loss for the Dodgers last night.  The Padres are showing that they are a team not to be ignored.  Sure, they can't hit a lick, but when you can send out hurlers who can pitch effectively it means you are always in the game.  Given some time and proper development we could see this franchise become relevant again.  BTW, four heirs to former Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley are part owners of the Padres, so the focus on pitching shouldn't be a surprise.  The Dodgers won due to pitching, and in a pitchers ballpark like PetCo there's no reason not to start there.

Last night, Zack Greinke matched wits and skills with Padres starting pitcher Ian Kennedy.  They both gave up just one run apiece and didn't figure in the final decision.  Defense ruled the day for the Dodgers.  They made some spectacular plays to help their pitchers along; including a diving catch into the stands by Justin Turner.  Check out some videos of the more remarkable Dodger defensive plays here, via Jon Weisman at Dodger Insider.  The photo above is of Turner making the death-defying catch, via Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2014Go here to see more photos from the game.

For the second straight game these clubs went into extra innings, and the Padres pulled it out again with walkoff victory.  The Dodgers just couldn't capitalize on their opportunities.  They left ten men on base, and only scored because Adrian Gonzalez homered to tie the game in the sixth inning.

They play their rubber match this afternoon.  Hopefully, the Dodgers can salvage the series with a victory.

As it now stands, the Dodgers hold a perilous 2.5 game lead over the Giants.  I'm starting to sweat as we come down the stretch.  Now, below are more links to check out:
  • ICYMI, Hyun-Jin Ryu has been activated off the DL to start the game this afternoon.  Carlos Frias is option to AAA, but you should expect that too last long.  Rosters expand on Monday, and I suspect Frias will be immediately brought back then.
  • Juan Uribe has also been reinstated from the DL and will bat sixth in this afternoons lineup.  Infielder Miguel Rojas was optioned, but like Frias you should expect him back once rosters expand on Monday.
  • Via Jon Weisman at Dodger Insider, "Dodgers remain on record strikeout pace."
Back in April – admittedly, when the season wasn’t even a month old – I couldn’t help but comment on the remarkable number of strikeouts that were piling up in Dodger games.
"I started thinking about it the previous at-bat," said Wallach, who left third baseman Justin Turner in his normal spot with the rest of the left side of the infield unprotected. "I thought it for sure was the right thing to do for Smith. Almost every ground ball he hits to the right side."
"The season is long, and it wears you down," Mattingly said. "It's part of learning to regulate yourself here, as far as rest or anything else. We've seen Dee Gordon and how much more consistent his approach is day in and day out now, staying at a certain level. I think Yasiel's really emotional, and it's hard to be really emotional and play 162."
Don Mattingly said: “I don’t know if he’s just getting healthy after a couple years of injuries. Is he getting more confident that he’s been able to stay out there and he’s feeling good, you know? … But he’s definitely getting back to looking like himself.”
  • Holy Mackerel!  Via Mina Kimes at ESPN The Magazine, "Curt Flood's monopoly man."  A single collector has been hoarding 1964 Topps Curt Flood cards for decades, and is thought to own a quarter of all those that exist.  His efforts have caused values to be unreasonably high for set collectors.
  • Via Mark Townsend at Big League Stew, "Japanese high school game spans four days and 50 innings."  Wha...?

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Sunday Dodger Videos: Herges on Urias, Kershaw and Scott Van Slyke

Here are this Sunday's Dodger videos.

Check out this fun fan-made Dodger themed video for the Dropkick Murphy's song "The Boys are Back."

Video Link:

Listen to RC Quakes pitching coach Matt Herges talk about Dodger prospect Julio Urias, via ieProSports.

Video Link:

David Katz at ThePostGame interviews Clayton Kersahw.  He speaks about being an MVP candidate, the Dodgers potential this season, Yasiel Puig's maturity and why everyone should have a 'World Series or Bust' attitude.

Video Link:

Via Stadium Bound, listen to Scott Van Slyke give his testimony at Dodgers' Faith and Family Day at Dodger Stadium.

Video Link:

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Another Dodger Prospect Wins an Award - Jose De Leon Named Pioneer League Pitcher of the Year

Prospect Jose De Leon has had a fantastic year in the Dodger organization.  He began the year hoping to improve on a dismal 2013 rookie season, and improve he did.  De Leon has just been named the Pioneer League's Pitcher of the Year.

In ten appearances with the rookie-ball Pioneer League Ogden Raptors he went 5-0 with a 2.65 ERA, struck out 77 in 54.1 innings and batters were hitting a paltry .217 against him.  Then, he was promoted to the Single-A Great Lake Loons ballclub and got better.  In four starts he went 2-0 with a 1.19 ERA, struck out 42 batters in 22.2 innings and batters hit only .171 against him.

In Dustin Nosler's great article about him on Dodgers Digest he said this about his dramatic turnaround:
“I’m feeling more comfortable, my delivery is cleaner this year. Those could be factors.”
De Leon throws a lively mid-90's fastball, a low-80's slider and a changeup that Nosler reports is his favorite pitch to throw.  As he indicated above, he also made some changes to his delivery that has obviously worked out well for him. 

On the season, he was twice named the Pioneer League Pitcher of the Week.  He won the awards for the week of June 23-29 and August 4-10.  De Leon then set a Great Lakes Loon club record with fourteen strike outs against Fort Wayne in his second start for the team.  BTW, this was two strike outs better than the previous mark held by Clayton Kershaw. 

In celebration of De Leon's accomplishment I made the above fantasy card for him.  The card uses a photo taken from a Raptors story at MiLB and the vintage 1964 Topps Baseball card design.  Below are his career statistics, via Baseball Reference:

In his last start of the year on Friday, Jose De Leon struck out twelve in 5.2 innings pitched.  You can watch strike out number twelve in the video below.

Video Link:

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Blog Kiosk: 8/30/2014 - Dodger Links - Extreme Shifting, Puig's Missing Bat and Praise for Kershaw

In one of the more extreme shifts you'll ever see, the Dodger stacked four infielders on the right side of the infield against Seth Smith of the Padres in the 12th inning of last nights game.  Check out their defensive alignment in the photo above, tweeted out by JP Hoornstra.  Smith, a proven groundball pull hitter, came up with the bases loaded, and did just as they expected (watch it here).  He grounded the ball to Dee Gordon. Unfortunately, the relay throw to home was a little too off the mark to allow for a doubleplay, so the Padres would get another at-bat.  That very next batter slapped a single to the right side to record a walkoff win.

The Dodger fell to the Padres, 3 to 2, and lost a game in the standings to the suddenly surging Giants.  Disappointing, eh?  They coulda, shoulda, won this one.  Haren, although not entirely on the mark last night, pitched six effective innings (watch highlights here).  He sprayed five hits, struck out three, walked one and gave up just two runs (one unearned).  The followup relief crew also held their own until long-man Kevin Correia walked the bases loaded to set up the shift explained above.

The Dodgers offense was helped along by an resurgent Haley Ramirez, who homered for the first time since coming back from the disabled list (watch it here).  Justin Turner continued his hot hitting ways, but that was not enough.  They could only muster two runs on eleven hits.

The Dodgers are now sitting on a 3.5 game lead over the Giants.  Now, below are some links to check out:
“Where has it gone?” McGwire repeated with a laugh when asked about Puig’s power. “You know what — he got off to a fast start with home runs. Once you do that, people think you're a home run hitter. But really it’s all about pitch selection and patience. He’s shown some great stretches with patience and he’s shown some stretches where he’s not patient at all.

“You have to hit strikes. When you simplify the game and stay within your zone, you can get pitches to drive like that. Sometimes he just gets out of that mode and tries too hard. We can’t forget that he's a very young hitter. And young hitters that aren’t really home run hitters that come out hitting home runs — then people try to put things in their mind that they are home run hitters and they try to do too much.”
“His consistency is off the charts good,” Maddux said. “Everybody who wears a major-league uniform is good in their own way. There’s guys who can do it every time they put on the uniform. … Every time you see a player whose bad games are good, it’s special.”
  • Via Jeffrey Long at Beyond the Boxscore, "How to get a hit against Clayton Kershaw."  Check out this advanced scouting report.
  • Chris Olds at Beckett shares some preview pics from Topps 2015 Sticker Baseball set, here.  Check out the Clayton Kershaw sticker on the right.  It is slated to come out on March 4, 2015.
  • The new September edition of Dodger Insider Magazine features Clayton Kershaw on the cover and includes a stories on his Ping Pong 4 Purpose charity event, his MVP candidacy and his unprecedented domination of the strike zone in 2014.  There is also a 15-page special section offering the history behind every Dodger uniform number from 00 to 99.  Go here for ordering information or get a copy at souvenir stands at Dodger Stadium when the next homestand opens on Monday against the Nationals.  Check out the cover on the left.
  • Via David Brown at Big League Stew, "Family of Jackie Robinson Little Leaguer is homeless."
His mother, Devona Benton, says she and Benton's father, a radiator tech who works part-time, could no longer afford their apartment after her hours were cut as a home-care provider for Catholic Charities. She's worked there for six years and sometimes it's been a struggle, but she says this is the first time her family had to split up to survive. She also is responsible for looking after her 16-year-old son, and for helping with the three grandchildren of her grown daughter. She's hoping and praying for more clients, but until that happens, the family will be fractured.
  • OK, fine.  I'm gonna link to a Plaschke article, but only because it's a good one about LA Kings coach Darryl Sutter.  Via Bill Plaschke of the LA Times, "Kings Coach Darryl Sutter is never down on the farm."

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Friday, August 29, 2014

A Ralph Branca Topps Team Legends Auto'd Card for my Collection

I just absolutely love vintage looking Topps reprints autographed by olde-tyme Dodgers.  They are like flashbacks towards a more simple time, while at the same time incorporating the flare that is only found in modern Baseball card issues. 

For instance, take a look at this new card I just received from eBay.  It is a 2001 Topps Team Legends autographed card of Ralph Branca.  It uses the design from his 1952 Topps Baseball card, and has two different shiny gold foil stampings.  How fancy is that, eh? 

The reverse of the card is an exact recreation of the original 1952 card, save the copyright mark on the left corner and the hologram sticker proving the authenticity of Branca's autograph.

I do not quite know which Topps product this card originally came in.  From what I understand, Topps created "Team Topps Legends" autographed cards from 2001 to 2003, and inserted them in as many as fourteen different card brands.  In 2001, they could be found in six different card sets; including a non-sport heavy set called 2001 Topps American Pie.

Also, I came across a really great card while researching this set.  In 2001 Topps created a 50th Anniversary commemorative "The Shot Heard 'Round The World" buy-back card that was autographed by both Ralph Branca and Bobby Thomson.  The buy-back card was the 1991 Bowman "The Shot Heard 'Round The World" card #410, and were exclusively found only in packs of 2001 Topps Series 1 boxes.  I do not know how limited it is since it appears to be an unnumbered autograph insert card.  What I do know is that I have to find it for my collection.  I believe the card on the right is an example of it, but it is priced too high for my pocketbook. 

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Topps Asks You - Which Kershaw Photo Should they Use for his 2015 Baseball Card?

It is always great to get tips for this blog.  After all, I couldn't possibly see everything Dodger related that's out there.  Doubly so for the strange and interesting stuff found on the various social media outlets I have yet to start using.  So, imagine my joy when a Blue Heaven reader named Austin let me know about a Topps contest on Instagram that all Dodger fans should get in on.

A bit earlier today, Topps instagramed (is that the right term) a couple of Clayton Kershaw photos with the following caption:
#ToppsNation, it's time to start picking images for 2015 #ToppsBaseball, and we need your help! We have two images here of the potential #CyYoung and #MVP winner Clayton Ketshaw. Whichever one has the most likes by 6pm EST on September 2nd will be his 2015 Topps card.
(UPDATE:  I just noticed that Topps spelled his name wrong.  What tha....?)  Below are the two different Clayton Kershaw photos available to choose from.

And, be sure to keep in mind that it has to flow with the design Topps will be using for their 2015 flagship Baseball card set.  You can see that below.

You have until Tuesday, September 2nd to let your voice be heard.  Which photo do you want to see on Kershaw's 2015 Topps Baseball card?

Go here for the photo on the left, or here for the photo on the right.  Below are the embeds.


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Blog Kiosk: 8/29/2014 - Dodger Links - Dodger Prospects Threw Two No Hitters Yesterday

It was an amazing day for Dodger minor league pitchers yesterday.  Not only did their Arizona League (rookie class) Dodgers throw a combined four-pitcher no hitter in the afternoon, but Chattanooga Lookouts (AA affiliate) hurler Andres Santiago also threw a 1 to 0 no hitter against the Tennessee Smokies.  Holy Cow!

Via Eric Stephen at True Blue LA:
Santiago struck out a season-high 12 on the night, and flirted with a perfect game. He retired the first 22 batters before Christian Villanueva walked with one out in the eighth inning. Two pitches before the walk, Villaneuva nearly had the first hit of the game for the Smokies, a roller up the third base line that went foul just before reaching the bag.
Andres Santiago is 24-years old and is from Catano, Puerto Rico.  He was drafted by the Dodgers in 2007 in the 16th Round, and has slowly risen up the ranks since then.  Santiago has spent the last three seasons in Chattanooga.  The photo above is of Santiago speaking to the crowd after his accomplishment, via the Chattanooga Lookouts on twitter.

The first no hitter of day was performed by the Dodgers rookie league affiliate Arizona Dodgers.  Via Teddy Cahill at
Left-hander Jairo Pacheco combined with three relievers -- Kam Uter, Yeuri Gonzalez and Harlan Richter -- for a no-hitter Thursday, and the Rookie-level Dodgers defeated the Brewers, 10-0.
Jon Wesiman at Dodger Insider shares a photo of the no hitter battery, here.

Who thought that 2014 would be the year of the no hitter for the Dodgers? On a side note, I wonder if any franchise has recorded four no hitters, from low minors to the Majors, in one season.  Anybody know?

Since the Giants won their Thursday afternoon game against the Rockies, the Dodgers lead over them shrinks slightly to 4.5 games.  Now, below are some links to check out:
"It's a pretty humbling award that I got to win," Pederson said of being PCL MVP. "I mean it's exciting, I've never won a player of the year award. It's my first, I feel good about it. It's kind of a relief for all the hard work I've put in. It's a nice cap at the end of the season."
“I don’t even know how you calculate [WAR] or what, exactly, it means,” Turner said. “I know sabermetrics is a big part of it nowadays and I know that’s a big sabermetric number, but I don’t really pay attention to it. Any time you have success, it’s gratifying, especially when you know how difficult the game is.”

It goes beyond those numbers, though. For the second time this season, Turner has filled in for one of the Dodgers’ most unsung players, Juan Uribe, and made his absence virtually invisible.

“Shoot, to be honest with you, I’m not sure where we’d be if he hadn’t been here,” Wallach said. 
De Leon uses a fastball that sits in the 91-94 MPH range and maxes out at 96 MPH. The thing that separates it from many other fastballs in the organization is the movement. It’s a running fastball that hasn’t yet correlated to a high ground ball rate, but it could. If nothing else, it has enough movement to get hitters to miss it or make weak contact with it.
  • Topps just released their 2014 Throwback Collection poster cards on their website and it includes a couple of Dodgers in the set: Clayton Kershaw and Yasiel Puig.  Check them both out below.  The prints measure 10" x 14" and are printed on 16pt trading card stock.  Go here to check them out.  The Kershaw print on the left is limited to #/49 copies, and the Puig card on the right is the "Aqua Edition" limited to only #/10 copies.  The "1 of 1" parallel cards called the "Gold Edition" have already been sold.

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    Thursday, August 28, 2014

    Joc is Our PCL MVP

    Joc Pederson is having a season for the ages. 

    Over the past week, Joc has been named to the All-PCL Team and won the Pacific Coast League Rookie of the Year award.  Today we learn that he can also add the Most Valuable Player Award to his mantle.  Per a Isotopes press release:
    The 22-year-old outfielder received more than half of the votes from the 16 field managers as well as media representatives from across the league to be named the 78th PCL MVP in league history.

    Pederson's MVP recognition is just another in his trophy case for the 2014 season. On Tuesday, he was named the PCL's Rookie of the Year, just one day after earning All-PCL Team honors. Last Saturday, Pederson became the first player in 80 years to record a 30-30 season in the PCL.

    Ranked the Los Angeles Dodgers' top-overall prospect entering the season according to Baseball America, Pederson leads the PCL in home runs (33), on-base percentage (.434), runs scored (101), total bases (256) and walks (96). His .590 slugging percentage currently ranks second in the league. The outfielder's 96 walks and 101 runs scored are Isotopes single-season records.
    Sure, his numbers might be aided a bit by a very hitter-friendly home ballpark, but who cares?  That's just a bunch of rabble from hater's who would rather spend their time knocking someone down.  Instead, let's cheer and clap our hands for the kid. 

    Congrats, Joc!

    The Isotope season is coming to a rapid close, so Albuquerqueans will have just one final chance to watch their MVP.  Their last homestand begins tonight against the Las Vegas 51's and ends on Monday.  Pederson is also expected to join the Dodgers for a September call-up.

    Oh... And, on Friday one lucky fan will win Joc Pederson's car.  Yeah, that's right... Someone out there will drive away in Joc's hooptie - a 1994 Buick Century.  It is nicknamed "Little Chucky."  Go here for details about this contest.

    In celebration of Joc's MVP trophy I made the two two fantasy cards for him (both above and below).  The card at the top uses a photo taken by a fan named Wrigley Gilkison (which might be the best name ever) and put up on Pinterest and I used the vintage 1971 Topps Baseball card design (template provided by Alex Markle at Chavez Ravining).  I made the below card just because I thought the photo taken by Tyler Maun / was fantastic.  BTW, you can check out other fantasy cards I made of Joc here and here.

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    2014 Topps Factory Set Inserts - Sandy Koufax Chrome Refractor Cards

    Since I've made it my mission to share pics of all of the new Dodger cards created for fans, I figured it was high time that I focus on a handful insert cards packaged exclusively into Topps factory complete sets.

    This season, there are several different exclusive Factory Set Inserts available, but only one of them features a Dodger.  A Chrome Refractor Sandy Koufax Reprint card have been randomly inserted into marked sets (as you can see in the example above).  There are three different Koufax reprints available.  Check them out below.  They reprinted the 1956 Topps, 1957 Topps and 1958 Topps cards.  (BTW, the recently released 2014 Topps Chrome set includes a reprint of the 1955 Topps Sandy Koufax rookie card)

    Just for reference purposes, I figured I'd provide a checklist of the other factory set inserts that are available.  Check that out below.

    In addition to the Sandy Koufax reprints, Topps also made Ted Williams Chrome Refractor reprint cards.  That set includes reprints of the 1951 Bowman, 1954 Bowman & 1954 Topps cards.

    There are also two different 5-card variation sets inserted into factory sets.  There is the All-Star Edition set and the Rookie Photo Variation set.  Below is a checklist for both.

    All-Star Edition: #AS-1 Andrew McClutchen, #AS-2 Derek Jeter, #AS-3 Miguel Cabrera, #AS-4 Joe Mauer & #AS-5 Mike Trout

    Rookie Photo Variations: #36 Billy Hamilton, #133 Xander Bogaerts, #195 Nick Castellanos, #496 Jose Abreu & #661 Masahiro Tanaka

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    Blog Kiosk: 8/28/2014 - Dodger Links - Kershaw's League Leading Win and Ryu Ready to Pitch

    What more can you say about Clayton Kershaw?  He's magnificent and virtually a lock for a win whenever he pitches - even on night's he said he had a bad start.  Last night he went eight innings versus the Diamondbacks; striking out 10, walking just two and allowing just one earned run (unearned).  His ERA falls to a minuscule 1.73, and he now leads the league with 16 wins on the season. 

    As for the Dodgers offense for the evening, they did all of their damage in the third inning.  Matt Kemp played the hero again by driving in two wins on a double to right centerfield.  Scott Van Slyke added another run with a solo home run to left center.  BTW, Kenley Jansen recorded his 38th save of the season and 100th for his career.  To all those naysayers who doubted his role as the teams closer at the start of the season can now all just shut up - you are a bunch of reactionary know nothings.

    The photo at the top is of Hello Kitty - who is not a cat.  Via Carolina A. Miranda at the LA Times,
    "That's one correction Sanrio made for my script for the show. Hello Kitty is not a cat. She's a cartoon character. She is a little girl. She is a friend. But she is not a cat. She's never depicted on all fours. She walks and sits like a two-legged creature. She does have a pet cat of her own, however, and it's called Charmmy Kitty."
    Who knew?  Pic via Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2014.

    The Dodgers 3 to 1 victory allowed them to maintain their 5.0 game lead ahead of the Giants.  Now, below are some links to check out:
    (Via Ned Colletti) “It’s a function of how many teams are in the playoff hunt and our place in the order. We’ve claimed – what’s a good word, droves? Many? Very many? … We’ve claimed a lot of players and they never get to us.”
    • Children's Hospital Los Angeles was actively involved in ThinkCure! Weekend at Dodger Stadium and they just shared the story of a couple of their patients on their website.  Check that out here.  
    • Via Ken Gurnick at, "Ryu free of pain after sim game; return near."
    Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu said he felt no pain while throwing a two-inning simulated game on Wednesday and could return to the starting rotation on Sunday or Monday.
    • Via Dustin Nosler at Dodgers Digest, "Stop it: Julio Urias isn’t making his MLB debut in 2014." 
    • An FYI, Monday, September 8th will be LA Kings Night at Dodger Stadium.  Go here for information.  I am uncertain if any King players will be in attendance, but fans attending through a special ticket package to sit in the all-you-can-eat right-field pavilion will get a cool little t-shirt (as seen on right).
    • Via Mike Oz at Big League Stew, "Dodgers fan gets hassled over T-shirt at D-backs game, but social media prevails."  Those fans (security & other staff members) in Arizona sure are a bunch of whiny little kids.  The only person there with any sort of rational understanding of things is Josh Rawitch - Diamondbacks VP of Communications.  Good job, Josh, on getting it figured out.
    • GCRL shares some more Steve Garvey oddball baseball cards.  Awesome!

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    Wednesday, August 27, 2014

    Four Dodgers Set to Play in Arizona Fall League - Check Out some AFL Fantasy Baseball Cards

    Winter Ball is fast approaching and so is the opportunity to check out each clubs best and brightest minor league prospects.  For a month and a half, starting in early October, the Arizona Fall League opens its doors, and for those luck enough to participate it usually means that "The Show" is not too far away. 

    For the Dodgers four players are slated to go to Arizona and will play for the Glendale Desert Dogs.  They are infielders Corey Seager and Darnell Sweeney, outfielder Scott Schebler and left-handed pitcher Mike Thomas.  They will join a team that will include other top prospects like Devon Travis and Steven Moya of the Tigers, Time Anderson of the White Sox, Zach Davies of the Orioles and Tyrone Taylor of the Brewers. 

    In celebration of these players next step in their maturation process I made several fantasy cards for them.  The photos I used are from either Dodgers photographer Jon SooHoo's photog website or photographs grabbed from the Dodger Insider blog.  I also used the vintage 1970 Topps Baseball card design.

    The AFL website can be viewed here.

    Below is a brief synopsis of each player:

    Corey Seager, 20, was drafted by the Dodgers in the 1st Round in 2012 and is now regarded as a Top-20 prospect in all of Baseball.  He was recently named the 2014 California League MVP for his play with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes.  He slashed 352/.411/.633with 18 home runs and 70 RBI's before being promoted to AA Chattanooga.  Below are his career statistics, via Baseball Reference:

    Scott Schebler, 23, was drafted by the Dodgers in the 26th Round in 2010.  He has had two outstanding consecutive years for the Dodgers in the minor leagues.  In 2013 with the Quakes he slashed .296/.360/.581 with 27 home runs and 91 RBI's.  In 2014 with the AA Lookouts he slashed .281/.367/.558 with 27 home runs and 72 RBI's.  Below are his career statistics, via Baseball Reference:

    Darnell Sweeney, 23, was drafted in 2012 in the 13th Round and is from the University of Central Florida.  With the Lookouts he slashed .285/.384/.461 with 14 home runs and 55 RBI's.  Below are his career statistics, via Baseball Reference:

    Mike Thomas, 25, was a 35th Round pick in 2011 draft.  He has been Chattanooga's left-handed reliever out of the 'pen.  In 2014 he has gone 4-3 with a 2.75 ERA, with 3 saves and a strike out per nine innings ratio of 11.6.   Unfortunately, he tends to walk far too many batters.  He pitched for the Desert Dogs last year; pitching in 5 games.  Below are his career statistics, via Baseball Reference:

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    Weekend Autograph Opportunities: Ladarius Green in San Diego

    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.


    Unfortunately, this is the only signing event I am aware of.  If you know of anything else please let me know.

    San Diego tight end Ladarius Green will be signing autographs in San Diego for the Deluxe Signature Collection.  It will be held at the Fox Sports Grill.  It is $20.00 per autograph.    Go here for information
    Fox Sports Grill
    Deluxe Signature Collection
    1 Park Boulevard
    San Diego, CA 92101

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    Blog Kiosk: 8/27/2014 - Dodger Links - Offense Came Alive and Puig's Lack of Power

    Roberto Hernandez had another quality start for the Dodgers yesterday afternoon, despite having runners in scoring position in four of his six innings.  He struck out three, walked two, gave up six hits and allowed only three earned runs.  I wonder if the results of his work in Blue has made a potential trade for Bartolo Colon less likely.  Graphic above via @Dodgers on twitter.

    Furthermore, the Dodgers offense exploded against the Diamondbacks.  They racked up nine runs on fourteen hits, and every starting player, except for Puig, recorded a hit.  Six different players drove in a run, and Matt Kemp hit his sixteenth homer of the season.  Overall, the Dodgers displayed a well-balanced attack.  They were even helped along by a couple of Instant replays that went our way during the six run fourth inning.  Ken Gurnick at has a good rundown on what happened there, here.

    The Dodgers victory allowed them to maintain their 5.0 game lead ahead of the Giants.  Now, below are some links to check out:
    Of course, the chances that the Dodgers will bring up Urias are roughly equivalent to the odds that the franchise will move back to Brooklyn. The reasons are many: he's barely 18, he's three levels away from the Majors, they don't want to add more stress on his arm, he doesn't have to be protected on the 40-man roster until after the 2016 season. If he did get the call, Urias would be the youngest player in the big leagues since Willie Montanez in 1966 and the youngest pitcher since Larry Dierker in '64.
    Even with the scary corresponding timing between the hip injury and the power loss, we should be cautious about assigning the injury as the only cause for Puig’s struggles. There’s the whole “correlation does not mean causation” thing, and as Chad noted in the excerpt above, Puig’s mean fly ball distance almost matches last season. A few of the longer hits have been classified as line drives, too. This could just be regression to the mean, using arbitrary endpoints to describe a story. In other words, it could be a coincidence. Puig hasn’t been visually impacted by his hip in some time.
    • The other day Chris Olds at Beckett unveiled some early preview picks from Topps 2014 Heritage Baseball card set slated to come out in Early March.  Go here to check those out.  To the right is a Kershaw insert card.
    • Here's a scouting report fron FanGraphs.  Via Ron Shah at FanGgraphs, "Dodgers Righty Chris Anderson Flashes Big Stuff."
    • This is a very interesting article that I think is worth reading and studying for modern day Baseball card collectors.  Check out what Jeff Hwang at Sports Collectors Daily says about, "The Upside of the Modern Baseball Card."
    In The Modern Baseball Card Investor, we used the term multiple expansion to describe the widening spread in values between premium-grade (PSA or BGS Gem Mint+ in modern issues) and ungraded cards, and also the spread between premium limited print, serialized parallels and base cards in Chrome Era modern issues (1993/1996-present), generally as a function of some combination of increasing demand due to growing star power; the card removal effect; and/or grade scarcity. Multiple expansion is not hypothetical conjecture, but a very real concept, with the clearest evidence of its existence present in the values of vintage issues.
    So premium graded modern scarcities can and have already experienced multiple expansion in values with the added caveat that beta (to borrow a financial term for risk) is significantly higher due to the players standing in the hobby.  In other words, as long as a player is deemed to be a legitimate Hall of Fame-caliber player the values for their scarce issues should continue to be strong.
    A great example of this are the prices for scarce and high-graded Michael Jordan cards.  I am constantly amazed at the values certain low-numbered cards regularly receive.  So, ten to twenty years from now can you imagine the kind of values a Mike Trout scarce rookie card might achieve if he continues being a monster at the plate, or a Clayton Kershaw?  I'm not saying you should run out and become a card investor, I just think it's interesting to think about.
    On a side note, if I had the discretionary funds to spend significant dollars on cards I would focus my attention on vintage (in particular pre-war cards).  As the article intimates, there is less risk involved with those issues.  Modern scarcities may represent a potential higher return, but they also represent the greatest risk.
    • Following up on the above article, Tom Bartsch at Sports Collectors Digest notes that, "High Grades Lead to Skyrocketing Market Values for Modern Cards."  He notes that a PSA10 1971 Topps Steve Garvey rookie card recently sold for $25,393.  Wow!  I know that issue is extremely difficult in high grades, but that is amazing.  Another card to look at are the OPC Wayne Gretzky cards.  I've been told that they are absolutely on fire.

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    Tuesday, August 26, 2014

    Joc's Cabinet is Starting to Fill Up - Honored with All-PCL Team and ROY

    It's got to be an exciting time for Joc Pederson.

    A few days ago he joined the illustrious Pacific Coast League 30/30 Club, and in just a matter of days he should be heading out west to join the Dodgers for a "cup of coffee."  In the meantime, he is being showered with some awards that only place more shine on what looks to be an already polished product.

    Yesterday, it was announced that Joc Pederson has been elected to the All-PCL Team by the league's field managers and media.  Today, we find out that he beat out a strong contingent of rising prospects to win the Pacific Coast Leagues Rookie of the Year Award.

    Congrats, Joc!

    In celebration of Joc's newest accomplishments I made the above two fantasy cards for him.  The photos are from the Albuquerque Isotopes and I used the vintage 1971 Topps Baseball card design (template provided by Alex Markle at Chavez Ravining).

    If you can't tell I'm getting all-jazzed up about Joc's impending play in a Dodger uniform.  It denotes a time of hope and excitement.  There's nothing like seeing what a homegrown highly-touted kid can do for the club.

    Below are his minor league statistics, via Baseball Reference:

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    Blog Kiosk: 8/26/2014 Dodger Links - Time Warner Seeking $3.84 per Subscriber

    So, what do you think?  Is that a good draft card?  AJ Ellis did some early congratulating on twitter when he saw Clayton Kershaw's NFL draft card that you can see above.  See his tweet here.
    • Mark Saxon at writes, "Don Mattingly is managing his finest season," and I do not disagree.  Saxon makes some good points that include Don's ability to juggle so many egos and how the team seems to respond positively when he publicly expresses frustration at them.
    • Via Ryan Romano at Beyond the Boxscore, "Your guide to Clayton Kershaw's insane 2014 season."
    • I guess we now know the real number.  Via Joe Lucia at Awful Announcing, "SportsNet LA may help kill a potential Comcast-Time Warner merger."
    We finally have a solid answer on the rate that Time Warner is asking from its customers for SportsNet LA – $3.84 per month per subscriber, which is a simply massive amount. Only five RSNs in the country ask for more money out of subscribers – Fox Sports North, CSN Mid-Atlantic, NESN, CSN Philadelphia, and TWC SportsNet. Of course, all but one of those RSNs has the rights to multiple big four teams, and the one that doesn’t is in the same market as SportsNet LA and is also owned by Time Warner. Gee, if only they were packaged together…
    BTW, if a side benefit of this entire mess is that the merger doesn't happen, then we should all be happy with that.  Could you just imagine how horrible a combined Comcast-Time Warner company would be?  
    • AM570 Fox Sports shares a bunch of photos of Ron Cey's autograph appearance this past weekend in Mission Hills.
    • Panini America provides more preview pics from their 2014 Immaculate Baseball set coming out in September.  Go here to check those out.  Below are previews of a Kershaw and Puig card.
    • Finally, some clarity on the "blocking home plate" thing.  Via Carrie Muskat at, "Discussion with Torre clarifies Rule 7.13 for Cubs."
    "What we were told," Baker said, "was that if our left foot is in fair territory, not touching the base line, then we're offering a lane for the player to slide. If the ball is thrown and we make a read on that ball, and that ball takes us into the base line, then we won't be found at fault for trying to block the plate."
    So, it's all about where the catcher positions himself before the play at home that determines things.
    • My favorite King of All-Time speaks with Katie Strang at, "(Marcel) Dionne likes Kings' confidence, character."
    “It depends how hungry they are, because their time is so short,” Dionne said of the team’s truncated summer following a long postseason run. “To get back and recharge the batteries is very, very difficult, but they’ve been there [before]. To me, the character-building in their last Stanley Cup was absolutely incredible. They are confident. They are very, very confident.”

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    Monday, August 25, 2014

    2014 Topps Mini Baseball - All the Dodger Cards

    At the National Sports Collectors Convention in Cleveland a few weeks ago Topps unveiled their  2014 Topps Mini boxes for the masses.  As you may know, this product is a smaller (hence mini) version of the flagship Baseball card set.  They are the exact same cards and use the same checklist as Topps Series 1 and Series 2 sets.  So, I won't bother sharing what they look here.  Go here to see a complete checklist.

    There are also "The Future is Now" insert cards in this set, but that too is just a mini copy of the insert set that exist in the flagship product. 

    What is new and different in the mini set are the autograph and relic cards.  So, check them out below.

    BTW, boxes are still available for sale through the Topps website.  Go here to check that out.

    There are only two Dodger autographed cards available, but I have only seen one of them so far.  Below is the Bill Buckner mini autographed card.  There is also a Adrian Gonzalez (#MA-AG) mini autographed card. 

    Mini Autographs Set

    #MA-BBU Bill Buckner

    Here are the Dodger relic cards that are available.

    Mini Relics Set

    #MR-AG Adrian Gonzalez                   #MR-CK Clayton Kershaw

    #MR-HJR Hyun-Jin Ryu                        #MR-HR Hanley Ramirez

    #MR-MK Matt Kemp                           #MR-YP Yasiel Puig

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    Blog Kiosk: 8/25/2014 - Dodger Links - Some Odds and Ends from the Weekend

    Kevin Correia served up some beachballs yesterday afternoon before finally getting pulled from the game after just three innings of work.  Overall, he served up three home runs and seven runs total.  What disaster!

    Adding insult to injury, the Mets recorded a triple play against the Dodgers in the sixth inning - all thanks to a far too aggressive Yasiel Puig.  Watch it below

    Video Link:

    This is the second triple play against the Dodgers this season.  The Cleveland Indians did it against us in July.  You would think this would be a bad omen, but as Jon Weisman at Dodger Insider explains it isn't.  The last time this happened to the Dodgers was in 1955; when they won their first World Series in franchise history.

    BTW, Correia is expected to go to the bullpen once Ryu comes back, so we won't have to (hopefully) witness that again.  Also, I should note that Adrian Gonzalez continues his hot ways.  After leading the Dodgers with two hits, a home run and five RBI's in Saturday's victory, he recorded another three hits on Sunday; including a double.  The photo at the very top of Adrian was taken by Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2014Go here to check out more photos from yesterday.

    Fortunately, this recent loss did not hurt us in the standings.  The Dodgers are 4.5 games ahead of the Giants.  Now, below are some links to check out:
    • ICYMI:  Hanley Ramirez was reinstated to the Dodgers roster.  Erisbel Arruebarrena was optioned to Rancho Cucamonga.  Arruebarrena should only be down for a short while.  He will definately be back up when the rosters expand.
    • Via Dustin Nosler at Dodgers Digest, "Chris Anderson’s late-season improvement reason for optimism."
    The Dodgers made some mechanical changes with Anderson’s delivery a couple months ago, which could account for the improvement. One thing that hasn’t changed is his velocity. When I saw him in person, he was sitting at 93-96 MPH and topped out at 99 MPH. Friday night, Anderson hit 97 MPH a few times. As a pitcher who will live off his fastball, this is encouraging. He also has improved his off-speed pitches as the season has progressed. His slider will always be his go-to secondary offering, but his changeup has improved to the point where it could be a usable third pitch.
    Campbell joined the Loons on June 20th and soon made his mark with the Dodgers affiliate. In his first five games, he had six scoreless innings giving up three hits while walking one and striking out five. On the season he has now pitched 29 innings over 22 appearances with an ERA of 1.55 and a WHIP of 1.00. He has struck out 36 and walked 8. He has yet to serve up a home run.
    • Via KUNR public radio, "Bob Motley, Last Surviving Negro League Ump, Recalls Baseball History."  Listen and learn.
    • Watch a talk about the Negro Leagues and Kansas City Monarchs via Phil Dixon on CSPAN.  He speaks about the history of the Monarchs, the longest-running franchise in the history of baseball’s Negro Leagues. Mr. Dixon talks about the significance of the Kansas City Monarchs to the baseball world, fielding a number of future Hall of Fame players and inspiring several new innovations to the game, including the use of lights for night games. The Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum hosted this event.  Video here.
    • BTW, before the start of Sunday's game, Clayton Kershaw was presented with the trophy for the Warren Spahn Award for the 2013 season.  This award is given to the best left-handed pitcher in MLB by the Oklahoma Sports Museum.  Below is a photo of him holding it.  This is the second time he has won the Warren Spahn Award.  He also won it during his first Cy Young season in 2011.
    (pic via Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2014)

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