Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Welcome Back to the Blue, Chase Utley!

It's now official.  He'll be back for another year.  Southern California native and avowed Dodger fan in his youth, Chase Utley will be back to play in Los Angeles for the 2016 season.  He will make a reported $7 million on a one-year deal, and I suspect we'll see him playing a lot of second base - and possibly third base.  He'll also be a good bat off the bench and provide important leadership in the clubhouse.  Per Dave Roberts on Eric Stephen at True Blue LA:
"You look at Chase Utley, the intangibles, I think he's a special player and can make our team better," manager Dave Roberts said on Monday, as seen on MLB Network.
Per a Dodger press release:
Utley, 36, was originally acquired by Los Angeles from Philadelphia on Aug. 19 in exchange for two minor leaguers and batted .202 with three home runs and nine RBI in 34 games with the Dodgers during the 2015 regular season. He appeared in three NLDS games against the Mets and went 1-for-3 with a run scored. Overall, Utley combined to hit .212 with eight home runs and 39 RBI in 107 combined games with the Dodgers and Phillies last year, while appearing in the field at first base, second base and third base.

The six-time All-Star (2006-10, 2014) and four-time National League Silver Slugger winner (2006-09) has a career .281 batting average with 236 home runs and 925 RBI in 13 big league seasons with the Phillies (2003-15) and Dodgers (2015). Utley ranks among the active leaders in games played (1585, 3rd), runs (963, 1st), hits (1648, 3rd), doubles (355, 2nd), home runs (236, 2nd), RBI (925, 2nd), on-base percentage (.365, 1st), slugging percentage (.479, 2nd), extra-base hits (641, 2nd) and total bases (2811, 2nd) as a second baseman.
As I'm sure you recall, Utley still has a two-game suspension hanging over his head from that slide during the playoffs, so he's not likely to be on the Opening Day lineup.  Although, there has yet to be an appeal hearing over the matter, so it is all still in limbo.  As reminder of "The Slide" watch it below.

Video Link:

In celebration of Utley's return to the Dodgers I made the above two fantasy cards of him.  At the very top I used a photograph by Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2015 and the 1982 Topps Baseball card design. Directly above I used the 2015 Topps Baseball card design and a photo grabbed from the LA Times.

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Some Dodger Goodies at Lelands Auctions - Jackie's Personal Hall of Fame Plaque

Lelands 2015 Winter Sports Auction is currently ongoing and there are several notable Dodger-related collectibles that immediately jumped out at me.  In fact, I'm certain I've seen the above Jackie Robinson Hall of Fame plaque before.  It is currently available through Lelands (auction link here) and I suspect it'll sell for a bunch of dough.  In fact, it already had sold for more money than I can imagine, so I guess it's back to see if it can best it's previous value.  As you may recall, this exact item sold last year through SCP Auctions at an astounding $100,001 (see link here).

Above is Jackie Robinson's personal plaque given to him by the Hall of Fame.  It's a one-of-a-kind collectible that represents his accomplishments as a ballplayer and a trailblazer in the game.  Frankly, this item needs to be in a museum, so I'm hopeful it finds its way there.

The below item is a head scratcher.  According to the auction listing this is a 1941 National League Champions belt buckle that was given to Robins/Dodgers hurler Kirbe Higbe; in lieu of a championship ring.  I guess you don't get something shiny for your finger if you don't win the World Series. 

BTW, Higbe had a fantastic season this year.  He won 22 games and came in 7th place in MVP balloting in 1941.
(Auction Link)

I spent so much of my youth lounging around with a copy of MAD Magazine in my hands, so when I came upon this drawing my eyes immediately bulged.  Wow! 

Featured is an original watercolor of an LA Dodger pitcher drawn by legendary Mad Magazine illustrator Jack Davis.  Awesome!
(Auction Link)

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2015 Bowman Draft Baseball - The Dodgers Base Cards

Topps newest release is called 2015 Bowman Draft Baseball, and as the name suggest it focuses on top level prospects throughout the game.  Go here for a complete checklist.

As for the Dodgers, there are six prospects to chase after in the base set.  Check them all out below.  Julio Urias is the obvious big name in the set.  It should also be noted that the Walker Buehler card is an obvious Photoshop job.  He has yet to throw a pitch in any fashion for the Dodgers due to Tommy John surgery.

#46 Walker Buehler                    #87 Andrew Sopko

Weekend Autograph Opportunities: Cey, Lasorda, Brito, Law, Grant and Leary

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.


The Dodger Stadium holiday sale continues at the Top of the Park store with a couple of autograph signings for fans.  Go here for information.  All autographs are free, but you need to get there very early to stand in line.
Saturday, December 12, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.                     Ron Cey
12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.                       Tommy Lasorda

Dodger signings continue at Iguana's in Pico Rivera.  Go here for information.  No cover charge and free parking. Autographs come with a fee.
  • Tim Leary 4-6 PM 
  • Mudcat Grant 4-5 PM 
  • Rudy Law 4-6 PM 
  • Mike Brito 4:30-5:30 PM 
  • Charles White, Rams, 4-6 PM
Iguana's Bar
8528 Rosemead Blvd
Pico Rivera, CA 90660

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Blog Kiosk: 12/9/2015 - Dodger Links - Don't Believe the Hype

"Jumbo" Jim Elliot was a large man.  He stood 6' 3" and weight an hefty 235 lbs during his playing days, but that hamper his abilities.  Over a ten year Major League career he proved to be durable and reliable on the mound.  The left-hander even lead the league in wins one season as a member of the Phillies in 1931.  In the photo above, dated to 1927, he was only 26-years old and just on the cusp of a playing career.  Elliot would spend five season in Brooklyn and record 26 wins with a 3.89 ERA over 608.1 innings.

The above photo was taken by the great Charles Conlon and recently sold at an RMY Auction for $27.  Below are more links to check out:
  • I hate having to say this every time the silly season comes around, but you should take everything you hear and read (especially related to Jose Fernandez stuff) with a grain of salt.  Think of it like high school.  How much of the gossip you heard back was actually true?

“As far as the policy, you know, as awful as this situation is, there are still rights that have to be protected, and so we're very careful in making sure that we respect that and get all the information and then we will proceed accordingly.”
“Everything is factored in when you make personnel decisions,” Friedman said. “Even when I was with the Rays, we put a tremendous amount of work in with guys. You go into any decision with your eyes wide open and constantly talk through things. You look at the pros and cons and see what makes the most sense.”

Hopkins is from Des Moines, Wash, which is near Seattle. She played softball at Central Washington University before graduating and moving into a front office position with the Mariners last season. The Mariners obviously liked what she brought to the table. During the fall, they decided to sponsor Hopkins so she could attend the Major League Scouting Bureau developmental program. She made a strong impression there as well, or at least a good enough impression that the Mariners are comfortable putting her right into scouting field.

“She has it in her blood,” Mariners amateur scouting director Tom McNamara was quoted as saying by Baseball America. “She has good instincts and feel for scouting.”
  • This is interesting.  Here's a listing of the all "The Highest Paid Athlete from Every State," via Matt Shirley at Playboy (SFW, but a playboy link).  Two Dodger players are on the list; Ethier in Arizona and Kershaw in Texas.  Also, Vermont apparently has no current professional athletes.

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