Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Take a Deep Breath, It's Just the First Game of Spring - Same Can be Said for SportsNet LA

After spending a little bit of time reading various comments on twitter during this afternoons inaugural game, I am reminded that way too many folks take these early Spring contest way too seriously.

You'll need to take a breather and realize that anything you witness in the early goin' must be taken with a grain of salt.  It's very easy to take for granted that nearly every ballplayers that is a cinch to make the Opening Day roster are not necessarily working on getting outs or hitting for average.  They are preparing for when the games count, and at this moment we are many weeks away from that.  So, I would expect pitchers to be working on getting a feel for pitches they haven't thrown competitively in months, and for batters to become more comfortable with a swing they haven't used in ages.  Remember, getting muscle memory in tune with your desired performance level will take time.

I am always reminded of this when I think back to my own visits to Vero Beach for Spring Training many moons ago.  I recall sitting nearly behind the catcher and realizing that the days starting pitcher threw nothing but fastballs.  Not only that, he wasn't varying the speeds all that much.  Instead, it was clear that the pitcher was testing out his feel for the pitch and his ability to locate it where he wanted.

It was an early Spring game, and that pitcher, along with nearly every pitcher that followed, couldn't care less about the results.  They were more interested in making that slow and steady climb towards competitive performance, and not being perfect right out of the gate.

So, with that being said, these early Spring stats are meaningless; whether they be negative or positive.  Case in point, Clayton Kershaw threw his first Spring game this afternoon and he got shelled.  Via a tweet from Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times:

Not a great start, eh?  Fortunately, Jon Weisman of Dodger Insider adds some perspective:

Jon also wrote more about Kershaw's day at Dodger Insider.  Check out his post here.

BTW, the same can be said for Rule 5 Draft pickup Seth Rosin.  Via @Dodgers on twitter:

I don't want to rain on everyone's parade, but this is just the first game of Spring.  I do, on the other hand, agree with what Mike Petriello at Dodgers Digest said on twitter:

I believe it's safe to say that Rosin is earning hard looks by everyone in the front office and coaching staffs.  He could be a diamond in the rough, or he a flash in the pan - only time will tell.

*Pic at the very top via @Dbacks on twitter.
(Vin Scully at SportsNet LA launch, pic via Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2014)

I also wanted to take a moment to briefly comment about last night's opening SportsNet LA broadcast. 

In one word, it was "AWESOME".  There is nothing like knowing that there will be Dodger Baseball available to me 24 hours a day/7 days a week.  I especially loved the opening montage to begin their broadcast that featured a brilliant monolgue by Vin Scully.  You can watch that online here

If you missed it (likely due to issues out of your control - more on that later), I shared one of the stories Vin Scully spoke about during his interview on Access SportsNet: Dodgers.  Go here to see that post.  In that interview, Vin regaled us about a game when he actually wore the Dodgers uniform.  It was hilarious and perfect.

As for many of you folks who could not watch last nights broadcast, all I can suggest is please be patient.  Believe me, the wait is worth it.

We've seen this song and dance many times over the years - whether it be over the recent battles with AMC Networks or ESPN.  In retrospect, this carriage dispute should have been expected, and I suspect it will not be resolved until the very last moment.

In the meantime, hopefully the fine folks from throughout social media (myself included) will share whatever they can to bridge the divide.


Earlier today, Time Warner's PR group sent along some photos from last night's show, so I figured I should pass them along here.  Check them out below.
(Hershiser and Magic on Access SportsNet: Dodgers, photo credit: Jerod Harris/Getty Images)

(Magic as a guest on Access SportsNet: Dodgers, photo credit: Jerod Harris/Getty Images)

(Hershiser and Hartung on Access SportsNet: Dodgers, photo credit: Jerod Harris/Getty Images)

(SVP TWC Sports, News and Local Programming Dan Finnerty, SVP/GM TWC Sports Regional Networks Mark Shuken, EVP, Los Angeles Dodgers Bob Wolfe, Owner/Partner, Los Angeles Dodgers Peter Guber and President, TWC Sports, News and Local Programming David Rone celebrate the launch of SportsNet LA. Photo Credit: Jerod Harris/Getty Images)

(SportsNet LA and Dodger executives watched the SportsNet LA’s ‘Go Live’ moment in El Segundo. 
Photo Credit: Jerod Harris/Getty Images)

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Dodgers Notes from Spring Training: Spring Game 17 / Road Game 1

Throughout Spring Training the Dodgers PR department sends out helpful daily notes from Camelback Ranch, and I am happy to pass them along.  See what they've written below.
Los Angeles Dodgers (0-0) vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (0-0)
Wednesday, February 26, 2014 – 1:10 p.m. | Talking Stick
LHP Clayton Kershaw vs. RHP Brandon McCarthy
Spring Game 17/Road Game 1

(pic via MLB Fan Cave on twitter)

PLAY BALL!: The Dodgers will play their Cactus League opener today against the D-backs at Talking Stick. Today’s game will be the Dodgers’ first of 21 games in Arizona, with the club playing 25 total exhibitions this spring, including a game against Team Australia (March 20 in Sydney) and the Freeway Series (March 27-29 in Southern California).
(Clayton Kershaw, pic via Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2014)

HILLTOPPERS: Clayton Kershaw will take the mound today after winning his second-career Cy Young Award in 2013, becoming just the second Dodger (Sandy Koufax – 1963, 1965, 1966) and 17th all-time pitcher to win multiple Cy Young Awards. Since the start of the live ball era in 1920, the left-hander has the lowest all-time career ERA (2.60) among pitchers with more than 1,000.0 innings pitched and 100 games started. The Dallas, TX, native led the Majors in ERA in each of the last three seasons, becoming the first pitcher to do so since Greg Maddux (1993-95) and the first-ever Dodger to accomplish the feat. Also appearing in the game today:
  • Seth Rosin (RHP) enters his first season in the Dodger organization after he was acquired through the Rule 5 draft and a trade with New York-NL in December 2013. In 108 professional games (42 GS), Rosin has gone 14-12 with a 4.00 ERA in the Philadelphia and San Francisco organizations.
  • Right-hander Javy Guerra, who spent the majority of 2013 with Triple-A Albuquerque, allowed nine runs (eight earned) in 10.2 innings over nine appearances in his only stint with the Dodgers last season.
  • 23-year-old Jose Dominguez made his Major League debut last season and posted a 2.16 ERA (2 ER/8.1 IP) in nine appearances with Los Angeles. The hard-throwing right-hander was eventually transferred to the 60-day disabled list after being placed on the 15-day DL on July 23 with a left quad strain.
  • Non-roster invitee Ross Stripling is in his first big league camp after posting an 8-4 record with one save and a 2.82 ERA in 27 games (22 GS) between Single-A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Chattanooga in 2013. The right-hander enters 2014 rated by Baseball America as the Dodgers’ No. 10 prospect.
  • Right-handed non-roster invitee Sam Demel has appeared in 72 games at the Major League level with the D-backs (2010-12), posting a 4-4 record with a 4.95 ERA.
  • 27-year-old non-roster invitee Daniel Moskos (LHP) has gone 26-28 with a 4.43 ERA in 207 games (45 GS) in seven minor league seasons with the Pirates (2007-12) and White Sox (2012-13).
(Adrian Gonzalez, pic via Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2014)

GET YOUR BIG LEAGUE ON: The Dodgers will have four minor leaguers joining the club vs. the D-backs today, with infielders Darnell Sweeney (#83) and Jamie Romak (#94), outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker (#83) and right-handed pitcher Stephen Smith (#95) all making the trip.

A WARM WELCOME: Dodger great Shawn Green arrived in camp today and will be in uniform as a guest instructor, joining Sandy Koufax, Tommy Davis and Eric Karros as those who’ve appeared at Camelback Ranch – Glendale this year.
  • Green is a two-time All-Star, Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner, who set the franchise record for the most homers in a single season with 49 in 2001. The following year, Green hit four homers in a single game against the Milwaukee Brewers, joining Gil Hodges as the only Dodgers two hit four homers in a game. Green surpassed 40 home runs, 100 RBI and 100 runs three times in his 15-year Major League career.

OPEN TRYOUT: The Dodgers’ annual open tryout will be held tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. MT (8:00 a.m. registration) on the minor league side of Camelback Ranch – Glendale. Those wishing to participate must not be enrolled in high school, on a collegiate roster or be under contract with any Major League club. Additional information is available on the Dodgers Scouting Hotline at 323-224-1512.

GIVING BACK: Following Friday’s game between the Dodgers and White Sox, Camelback Ranch-Glendale and the two clubs will host a clinic for youngsters from the Glendale Youth Project and Boys & Girls Club of Metro Phoenix. 2014 marks the second year that the clubs have hosted a youth clinic during Spring Training and is just one of the many Camelback Ranch community initiatives, which include food drives, Home Runs for Life (honoring patients at Cancer Treatment Centers of America and Phoenix Children’s Hospital) and a Read Across America Day event at Glendale’s Main Public Library. Dodger prospects Joc Pederson, Zach Lee and Jarret Martin will represent the club at Friday’s event.

AND THEY’RE OFF: The new 24-hour-a-day network of the Dodgers, SportsNet LA, premiered last night with original programming, including the live studio show “Access SportsNet: Dodgers,” the inaugural episode of “Backstage: Dodgers,” back-to-back “Connected With…” interview shows featuring Clayton Kershaw and Don Mattingly and a one-hour retrospective special about last year’s season.
  • SNLA will televise all of this year’s Dodger Cactus League games, with the exception of two split-squad games, giving fans more Spring Training coverage than ever before. Vin Scully will call four Cactus League contests, including games today and Thursday.
(SportsNet LA on-air talent, Jerod Harris/Getty Images)

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2014 Topps Tribute Baseball - The Dodger Relic Cards

To follow yesterday's post that shared the Dodgers' base cards to the newly released 2014 Topps Tribute Baseball card set, I now show the various relic cards that are available.  Check them out below.

Tribute to the Throne Relic

#THRONE-DS Don Sutton

There is also a Jackie Robinson "Tribute to the Throne" relic card (#THRONE-JR), but it is only available through a redemption card.  

Looking at the 1991 Dodgers Unocal Pin Set

Following up on my posts from the past couple of weeks featuring pinbacks from the Dodgers Unocal pin sets, I now share with you the pins from the 1991 set.  Go here to check out my previous post on these sets.

One of the benefits of putting together this checklist of Dodgers' Unocal pins is that I am forced to take a close look at my own sets.  As I was preparing to write this post, I discovered that I had a hole in my collection.  For reasons unbeknown to me, I had a duplicate pin in place of Pin #1 of the 1991 set.  Hopefully, I will soon rectify that error.  In the meantime, take a look at an image I took off of eBay of that pin below.

The theme of the 1991 Dodgers' Unocal pin set are record breaking/setting Dodger accomplishments.
Pin #1 - Record Setting Infield - Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes, Bill Russell and Ron Cey comprised the longest-standing infield in Major League history.  The four men played together from 1973 through 1981.

Pin #2 - Pinch-Hitting Records - Manny Mota set a record with 150 career pinch-hits and hit a remarkable .322 as a pinch-hitter with the Dodgers.  Lee Lacy tied a Major League record by slamming three consecutive inch-hit home runs during May 1978.

Pin #3 - Consecutive Shutout Innings - Don Drysdale's 56 1/3 consecutive shutout innings in 1968 set a record that was broken by Orel Hershiser's 59 straight shutout innings in 1988.  Fernando Valenzuela set a record with 41 1/3 straight shutout innings at the start of a season (1985).

Pin #4 - No-Hitters in LA - Sandy Koufax, Bill Singer, Jerry Reuss and Fernando Valenzuela have hurled no-hitters for the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Koufax tossed four no-hitters in all, including a perfect game against the Cubs at Dodger Stadium on September 9, 1965.

Pin #5 - Four Teammates with 30 Homers - Steve Garvey (33), Reggie Smith (32), Ron Cey (30) and Dusty Baker (30) are the only foursome in Major League history to each hit 30 or more homers in a single season (1977).

Pin #6 - 18 Strikeouts in a Game - Sandy Koufax tied a Major League record by striking out 18 Chicago Cubs on August 31, 1959, at the Los Angeles Coliseum.  Ramon Martinez duplicated Koufax' feat against the Atlanta Braves at Dodger Stadium on June 4, 1990.

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Blog Kiosk: 2/26/2014 - Dodgers Links - Dee Gordon, Moneyball as a College Course and an Interview with AJ Ellis

Check out some Dodgers' pitchers warming up, pic via Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2014.
“I’ve spent a lot of time with students interested in the business of sports, which is no different than the business of business,” said Fred Claire, co-instructor of the class and former general manager of the Dodgers. “Some people have a passion for sports, and this is a way to stay involved.”
Q. What did you think, specifically, about Zack’s comment about having “zero excitement” for going to pitch in Australia?
A. I love how Zack is himself. I love how Zack is very honest. When I get off an airplane in a city and I’m looking for somebody to have a meal with, I’m looking for Zack because it’s going to be a great conversation, he’s going to tell you exactly how it feels and it’s going to be a great time.
  • Via Eric Stephen at True Blue LA, "The time Steve Yeager stole home".
  • Whaaa...?  Via Kashmira Gander at The Independent, a Northern California couple found 1,427 mint uncirculated vintage gold coins buried on their property.  The approximate value is $10Mil.  Below is a pic of one of the canisters they found.

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