Friday, January 29, 2016

Welcome Back to the Blue, Howie Kendrick!


Just when I thought you'd be moving on, I find out you'll be playing in LA for another couple of years.

And you know what?

I'm more than happy about that.

It is being reported widely, initially via a tweet by Ken Rosenthal, that second baseman Howie Kendrick will be sticking around.  He has apparently signed a two-year contract, pending a physical.  Furthermore, it's a simple deal with no opt-outs or options attached, and it's team friendly on the dollars-side.  Per Jon Heyman on twitter, it'll be $10 million a season:
That's not too shabby; especially when considering that he turned down a one-year $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Dodgers at the end of the season.  Unfortunately for Howie, it appears the prospect of losing a draft pick to the Dodgers hampered his pursuit for a long-term deal from another team.  On a side note, Kendrick suffered a strained hamstring in late August that forced him onto the DL until mid-September, and it supposedly bothered him the remainder of the season.

Last year Kendrick had a solid first year with the ballclub.  He slashed .295/.336/.409/.746, with 9 home runs, 54 RBI's, 64 runs scored in 495 plate appearances.  Howie also provided some good at-bats during the NLDS against the Mets.  He had six hits in 22 at-bats; including a home run.  He knocked in four runners and scored four times.

This move gives the Dodgers another good problem.  They now have a surplus of second baseman on the roster.  Kendrick will play the position most often with Utley and Hernandez spelling him from time to time.  We also have Guerrero, should the Dodgers get desperate (at this point, I'd be surprised if he remains with the team).

In celebration of his return I made the above fantasy card for him.  I used a photograph taken by Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2015 and the 1972 Topps Baseball card design.

Below are his career stats, via Baseball-Reference:


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Turn on Vin Scully Avenue


This is wonderful news.

Although Mr. Scully himself would likely scoff at the honor, I am sure every Dodger fan throughout the country will cheer the distinction.  As of 11:34 this morning the street leading into the main gates of Dodger Stadium, Elysian Park Avenue, will now be called Vin Scully Avenue. 

As has been widely reported, Los Angeles City Councilman Gil Cedillo cleared the way for a city council to vote for the name change this morning.  So with numerous former and current Dodgers in attendance, the council voted unanimously to rename the street.  Via a tweet from the @Dodgers:
There is no word yet on when the renaming will officially occur, but I suspect it'll happen soon.

UPDATE:  Vin Scully had this to say about the honor, via a series of tweets by the @Dodgers:
I am overwhelmed.  I was raised in the streets of New York and to have a street named after me in Los Angeles is almost too much to comprehend.  I am eternally grateful to the Los Angeles City Council and especially Councilman Gil Cedillo.  A path to Dodger Stadium is a path way to my heart.  For 55 years it has been an honor to walk that road to one of the greatest entertainment centers in the world, a place that has brought so much joy to all of us.  I thank God for this great honor.
Below are a bunch of tweets showing a strong show of force by the Dodgers family:




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Blog Kiosk: 1/29/2016 - Dodgers Links - Spring Gear, Valenzuela and a Brief Time Warner/SportsNet LA Update


"Get 'yer dogs rite here!"

Kike Hernandez, Yasiel Puig and Joc Pederson were at the corner of 7th and Figueroa to hand out Dodger Dogs to fans yesterday as a part of the teams "Love L.A." Community Tour. 

Pic at the very top via @Dodgers on twitter and taken by Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2016Go here to see more photos of the event from Jon.  Below are more links to check out:
“I felt really good,” he said. “I passed enough tests to go outside and see how that goes. Next step is to see how I feel (Friday).”
"It's a great honor for me to be here, to be a citizen and a Presidential Ambassador," said Valenzuela. "In this role, I want to share with the United States and the city of Los Angeles the many rights that come with being a citizen. I'm excited to get to vote in my first presidential election. It's important for the Los Angeles community to know how important it is to vote."

  • Just a brief update on the Time Warner/Charter merger, the California PUC had a public meeting the other day and there was strong opposition.  But... chances of the merger successfully consummating is good.  Most of the opposition didn't want to squash the deal.  Rather, they were looking to add further conditions to it.  
As I've said before, it is unlikely we'll have expansion of the Dodgers SportsNet LA coverage through the Southland without the successful merger.  Once that happens, I suspect coverage expands rapidly.  Time Warner COO added during yesterday's quarterly conference call, via Seeking Alpha:
"We remain hopeful that the approval process in California can be accelerated.

All that said, we're still not in a position to provide you with a specific timetable for closing."
 California PUC approval could extend out to June 10th of this year... Ugh!
  • Here's a fantastic read by NHL enforcer and 2016 NHL All-Star John Scott at the Players Tribune; "A Guy Like Me."  If you don't know, there's bit a controversy about his selection as the Pacific Division Captain; considering he is often called a goon and his selection (from fan balloting) is seen by some as an scar to the league.
And that didn’t happen because of the internet. I busted my ass to be one of them. I’ve skated every day since I was three years old to be one of them. I’ve persevered through Juniors roster cuts, Alaskan bus rides, Advanced Dynamics exams, and — yes — fights, to be one of them.

But I’m one of them. And that means a lot to me.

It means a lot to my family.

So when someone from the NHL calls me and says, “Do you think this is something your kids would be proud of?”

… That’s when they lost me.

That was it, right there. That was the moment.

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

This is Some BS - AGon FanFest Autograph Time Change


I was so excited.

During this past Friday's Dodgers FanFest autograph voucher sale I was able to nail down the one autograph that had eluded me for so long.  I was able to get a voucher for Adrian Gonzalez!

WooHoo!

He was scheduled to sign during session #5 starting in the early afternoon - at 2:10 PM. (You can see the original schedule here)

Now, after receiving an email from the Dodgers that initial excitement has been totally deflated - like pummeled with a brush filled with sharp pointy needles.

Apparently, AGon will not be signing autographs at the previously allotted at time.  It has been changed!

Adrian Gonzalez has been moved to Session #1.  Per an email I received:
Adrian Gonzalez will now be signing autographs with Jerry Hairston Jr. from 10:10-11:00am (instead of 2:10-3:00pm). There are a limited amount of vouchers still available for this session. If you would like to exchange your 2:10-3:00pm voucher for Adrian's new 10:10-11:00am session, you may do so on a first come, first serve basis.
There are instructions to exchange my ticket for the early morning session, but as I write this little post I still remain on-hold waiting to talk to a representative.  Ugh!

Will I be able to make the exchange, or will I be facing another year of autograph hunting futility.  I guess only time will tell.

BTW, the Dodgers sneakily changed the entire autograph schedule on their website.  See it below.  Click on the pic to embiggen.

Below is the original schedule.

Obviously, with Brandon Beachy being outrighted to the minors yesterday having him scheduled to sign in the morning wasn't optimal.  Naturally, they wanted to replace him with somebody... But did they have to move Adrian?

And I know some of you are thinking, "well, Yasmani Grandal ain't bad."  And, yeah, he's fine, but he's no Adrian Gonzalez. 

I'm so irked right now.

UPDATE:  WooHoo!  I'm happy again. I just got off the line with a rep and I was able to exchange my old ticket for a new one.  As of this update (4:58 Pm), as passed along by the rep, there are about 14 tickets left for exchanges. 

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Blog Kiosk: 1/28/2016 - Dodgers Links - Garko, Puig and Corey Seager


Several Dodgers' spent yesterday afternoon with survivors and first responders involved with the recent San Bernardino terrorist attack.  Via Ken Gurnick at MLB.com:
"It's amazing to see," Ethier said. "Being in Arizona, you know what happened, but you can't realize the impact and the magnitude like when you come here and see it first hand, even two months after. You ask them how they're doing and everyone says, 'One day at a time.' You hope you can brighten their day, even though you know they have a long, tough road to recovery."
This was a part of the clubs continuing "Love L.A." Community Tour throughout the Southland. BTW, Andre also commented about losing Zack Greinke in the same article above:
"It hurts big losing Zack," Ethier said. "Personally, he is one of the better friends I had on the team. It hurts a lot to lose a guy like him, but that happens in any sport and especially baseball. But it happens and we've got to move on and figure a way to get better, and we'll see in a couple weeks. 
Photo above via @Dodgers on twitter/Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2016.  Check out more photos from yesterdays event from Jon SooHoo here.  Below are more links to check out:
  • Could something be brewing?  The Dodgers announced yesterday that they have outrighted pitcher Brandon Beachy to their Triple-A roster, with the right-hander still set to appear at big league camp during Spring Training as a non-roster invitee.  This move means they now have 39 players on the 40 man roster.  So, why do they need the extra room on the roster?
  • Listen to Dave Roberts on Inside the Locker Room with Petros and Money, here.
  • Via Cary Osborne at Dodger Insider, "Dodger third-base coach Chris Woodward will make you believe."
“The biggest thing for me is the fight the ballplayer has,” Woodward said. “They look at it from a softball standpoint, where it’s more like a recreational kind of, ‘Let’s go have a few beers after the game.’ The competition part was kind of lacking. That’s one thing I want to create in the ballplayers. It’s an uphill fight, but if you do it right you can establish baseball the right way.”
“This year, 280,” he said in English, breaking into a grin. “I’m so fat.”

After a pause, Puig said he now weighs 240 pounds. That’s 15 pounds lower than his listed weight in last year’s media guide.

“I’m working to slim down,” he said. “Maybe when we go into spring training, 236 or 237.”
  • Guess who's #1 in MLB Pipeline's list of top shorstop prospects?  Corey Seager, of course!  Via Jim Callis at MLB.com, "Top 10 shortstops."
His brother Kyle is an All-Star, and Corey should be even better. He led the Minors in hitting (.349) and doubles (50) in 2014, then batted .337/.425/.561 during a September callup last year -- at age 21. Seager may eventually move to third base, but his combination of a sweet left-handed stroke, bat speed, strength, uncanny feel for hitting and mature approach give him a higher offensive ceiling than any Major League shortstop except for Carlos Correa.
“One of the best parts was I got to play for Bobby Jones. He was a treat to play for. He was in a tough spot because that was a veteran club, a lot of guys going back and forth and didn’t want to be there. But Bobby handled it great. Everybody who has been around Bobby knows what a great baseball guy he is.”

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    Wednesday, January 27, 2016

    Weekend Autograph Opportunities: Dodgers FanFest this Saturday! Vouchers Still Available!

    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.


    ---------------------------


    There is only one event to care about in Los Angeles this weekend.  This coming Saturday is the Dodgers FanFest at Dodger Stadium and if you plan on attending you need to get a free admission ticket here.

    There are all kinds of events planned; including autograph sessions with players, coaches and personalities.  Festivities will be from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.and it'll happen "rain or shine."  Parking gates open at 9:30 AM and it is free, as well.  You will enter the event either through the left or right field plaza gates at 10:00 AM.

    Earlier this week the Dodgers started selling their $25.00 voucher tickets for autographs, and most of the top players are already sold out.  There are tickets available though.  Go here to see who's available.  Below is a current listing.

    Session 1
    10:10am-11:00am
    Line 4: Jerry Hairston Jr. and Brandon Beachy
    Session 2
    11:10am-12:00pm
    Line 3: Zach Lee and Chris Hatcher
    Session 3
    12:10pm-1:00pm
    Line 2: Kenny Landreaux and Pedro Baez
    Line 3: Brandon McCarthy and Mickey Hatcher
    Session 5
    2:10pm-3:00pm
    Line 3: Brandon McCarthy and Bill Russell
    BTW, I've attended the past three FanFest's and shared a bunch of photos from those days (these post also include numerous links of post from other bloggers and writers).  Check out the below links to check them out.

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    The Don Drysdale Estate Collection is Coming to Auction in April


    Several months back I was told by the folks at SCP Auctions that Dodgers collectors should expect to see something fantastic soon.  When I queried excitedly, they said the Don Drysdale Collection is coming.

    I was shocked.

    "Really?"

    "Holy Moly," I exclaimed.

    Next to the Kirk Gibson collection SCP sold several years back, this might be the greatest hoard of player memorabilia from a former Dodger player to come to the market in well over a decade.  Based on a handful of preview images provided so far, it looks like it'll include many of his best items.  Below is a small dose of what you should expect to see in a couple of months.
    • Don Drysdale's 1956 Brooklyn Dodgers Game Worn Home Uniform from His Rookie Season

    Blog Kiosk: 1/27/2016 - Dodger Links - Smokeless Tobacco, New Trainers and Dave Roberts


    Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts had quite a busy day yesterday.  As a part of the clubs continuing "Love L.A." Community Tour Roberts visited the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors as an honoree.  He was recognized as the Dodgers first minority manager.  Then, he skipped over to Muir High School in Pasadena to preview a screening of portions of Ken Burns’ upcoming “Jackie Robinson” documentary and to speak with students.  Via Jon Weisman at Dodger Insider:
    “Twenty-eight years ago, I was in your shoes,” Roberts said. “I just want to challenge you all to really have the vision to be great and be leaders. … Find something you love to do, and be great.”
    So far, Roberts is hitting all the right buttons.  He's proving to be a leader in the community, and hopefully this translates well into the Dodgers clubhouse.

    The photo at the very top via Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2016Go here to check out more pics from Jon of yesterdays events.  Below are more links to check out:
    • It's now official.  Smokeless tobacco, affectionately called "chew," is now banned at Dodger Stadium (for both players and fans).  Via Hector Bacerra at the LA Times, "Smokeless tobacco at Dodger Stadium? You're out of here!"
    • The Dodgers officially announced their 2016 training staff yesterday.  Via a press release: 
    The Los Angeles Dodgers today announced their training staff for the 2016 season, with the additions of Neil Rampe as head athletic trainer and Nathan Lucero and Thomas Albert as assistant athletic trainers. Brandon McDaniel (strength & conditioning coach, fourth season), Steve Smith (physical therapist, fifth season) and Yosuke “Possum” Nakajima (massage therapist, second season) will return to the club in their same roles as 2015.
    For the past eight seasons Rampe had been the Diamondbacks manual and performance therapist.  Lucero spent the past seven seasons as the Astros head athletic trainer.  He worked within Houston system the past 23 years.  Albert was the rehab coordinator for the Indians the past four seasons.
    Los Angeles City Councilman Gil Cedillo introduced a motion Tuesday to rename a street near Dodger Stadium after longtime Los Angeles Dodgers announcer Vin Scully.

    The motion would begin the process of renaming Elysian Park Avenue between Sunset Boulevard and Stadium Way as “Vin Scully Avenue.”
    • Via Evan Bladh at Think Blue LA, "Dodgers sign 17-year-old Nicaraguan shortstop Mike Loaisiga."
    • Saturday, February 6th is slated to be National Hockey Card Day, and several southland stores are slated to participate.  As you may know, this is an promotion by Upper Deck and they have made limited edition packs available to local card shops.  Go here for a listing of stores throughout the country. BTW, there are two different sets available (one American and the other Canadian).  Unfortunately, no Kings player is represented.  Boo!!!
    The council voted Tuesday morning to approve an ordinance banning the use of smokeless tobacco products at all baseball fields and other sports venues in the city. The L.A. council vote, in sports vernacular, was a blowout: The motion won 14-0. In a statement, the council said the ordinance was passed “both to set the right example for America’s youth and for the health of the players.”

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      Tuesday, January 26, 2016

      2015 Leaf Legends of Sport - All the Dodgers Cards

      I thought I'd take a moment to put up this brief checklist of the Dodgers cards found in a set I had neglected to mention.  Here are the Dodgers cards found in packs of Leaf's Legends of Sport set.  As with all Leaf products there are no team logos.  Heck, there isn't even a mention of what team anyone played for.  Therefore, I am only listing the obvious Dodgers players below.  I also include the cards for Magic Johnson since he happens to be in the set and is a team owner.  BTW, former Dodgers players I did not include are Pedro Martinez and Rickey Henderson.  Go here for a complete checklist.

      Base Autographs

      #BA-DS1 Don Sutton                            #BA-MJ1 Magic Johnson

      Blog Kiosk: 1/26/2015 - Dodger Links - Spring Non Roster Invitees, Micah Johnson and SportsNet LA


      The Dodgers kicked off the first leg of their "Love L.A." Community Tour yesterday with visits to several schools throughout the Southland.  Via former Dodger Al Ferrera in a story by Austin Laymance at MLB.com:
      "This is as important as any hit I ever got," Ferrara said after a busy day back in grade school. "There's something about a child and the glint and the smile in their eyes that makes a big guy like me sort of fold a little bit."

      Ferrara also fielded a number of baseball-related questions from the kids, mixed in a story about Jackie Robinson, signed autographs and posed for pictures.

      "I got a kick out of it," he said. "Sometimes I get more intelligent questions from them than I do from adults. They were very into baseball, which makes it easy for me."
      The photo above via @Dodgers on twitter.  Below are more links to check out:
      The distribution problem in L.A. is the product of a negotiation at a table where we don’t have a seat. You can rest assured that we are continuing to have dialogue with the Dodgers, who desperately want that distribution. And also with distributors that we have relationships with in order to get that resolved.
      This is hardly surprising.  The Time Warner/SportsNet LA/Dodgers situation is largely seen as a club issue that needs to be resolved on that level.  As I see it, the only thing that fixes the problem is the closing of Time Warner's merger with Charter.  If that gets done then I think things move swiftly.  Unfortunately, this isn't likely to happen very soon.  The various regulatory agencies (both on the state and federal level) are still in the process of their approvals.
      BTW, I forgot to mention that the California Public Utilities Commission is having a public hearing on the proposed merger today.  No action is expected at this time.  This is just an opportunity for groups to officially voice their views on the matter.  The administrative law judge, though, will likely issue a recommendation (deny, grant or modify the proposal).  It appears things are moving along more swiftly than I initially thought a few weeks ago.  On a side note, the New York Public Utilities Commission has already approved the deal.
      • Card Collectors Universe has preview pics of Topps 2016 Tribute Baseball set; including the autographed Sandy Koufax card seen on the right.  Go here to see more pics.  This set is slated to hit stores on February 24.
      • Via Jon Weisman at Dodger Insider, "Dodgers extend 16 non-roster invites to MLB camp for Spring Training."  Included on that list are top prospects Julio Urias and Jose De Leon.
      • Newly acquired second base prospect Micah Johnson is ranked as the seventh best prospect at his position by MLB Pipeline via Jonathan Mayo at MLB.com.
      Don't use Johnson's brief trial as the White Sox's regular second baseman as a measure of who he can be in the big leagues. He may never be more than an adequate defender, but he can hit, he can get on base and he can run, as evidenced by his .301 average, .368 OBP and 153 stolen bases in 385 Minor League games. Perhaps the change of scenery in Los Angeles, courtesy of the three-team trade that brought Todd Frazier from the Reds to Chicago, will help.

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        Monday, January 25, 2016

        2015 Topps Vault Originals - The Dodger Cards

        On a fairly slow news day I thought I would pass along some photos of most of the 5" x 7" autographed Dodgers cards found in packs of an Topps online exclusive set called "Vault Originals."  Back in October I mentioned that these were available, and included a checklist of four Dodger players.  Unfortunately, I had initially erred in my original post.  There are cards of Valenzuela, Piazza and Pederson, but not of Eddie Murray.  Instead, according to a Topps checklist the fourth Dodger player is of Frank Robinson.

        Which it too cool.  As you may know, the Hall of Famer and current American League President wore Dodger Blue only during the 1972 season; therefore, there are very few cards available on the marketplace showing him in our uniform.  So seeing him on the checklist is a welcome surprise.  Unfortunately, I have not yet seen the card.  As soon as I do I will update this post.

        BTW, these packs were first available at $99.99 each, but have now been discounted to $40.00 a piece.  In each pack you get one on-card autograph. 

        #VO-FR Frank Robinson
        (not yet seen)


        #VO-FV Fernando Valenzuela

        Blog Kiosk: 1/25/2016 - Dodgers Links - Some Odds and Ends


        Bring back the collar!

        As pointed out by Super 70's Sports on twitter, former Dodger catcher Johnny Oates looks fantastic with that giant disco-styled collared Dodger jersey in the photo above.  I wonder if it was issued like that, or if he was so bold as to accessorize on his own.  Either way, I think it'd be a gas if a Dodger came out with an alternate jersey sported something like this.  BTW, from left to right starting with the top row is Johnny Oates, Steve Yeager, Mike Scioscia and Joe Ferguson.

        Below are more links to check out:
        • Via Anthony Irwin at Dodgers Nation, "Kershaw Attends Youth Field Dedication."
        • A part of me really misses Juan Uribe and Hanley Ramirez; especially after reading this story.  Tim Rohan at the NY Times, "Where the Stars Get Their Rides," writes about the extravagant car taste of some of Baseball's biggest stars.
        “They did it literally to mess with each other,” Vega said.

        Uribe tried ending it by buying a Mercedes limousine van, the one that cost $175,000. He posted an Instagram video of himself sitting in one of the reclining chairs, a cigar in his hand, broadcasting a message for Ramirez in Spanish. The gist of it was simply: top this.

        And, Vega added, “Hanley came right away and bought a van.”
        The son of former big leaguer Clay Bellinger switched from a line-drive approach and emphasized power last year, resulting in 30 homers and California League-leading totals of 97 runs and 103 RBIs. Bellinger's lanky frame still has room to add a lot of strength, and he's the best athlete and defender on this list.
        The last of his seven children was getting married in Las Vegas last weekend. But when Del Mazzio and his wife returned to their Anaheim Hills residence on Monday night, a terrible surprise awaited. Thieves had broken into their 10-room house and looted it, taking cash, credit cards, jewelry, a heavy safe, and a significant amount of graded sports cards and collectibles.
        • I really enjoyed this.  Via Tom Shieber at the Baseball Researcher, "Identifying Baseball Cards in a Pair of Non-Baseball Photographs."  It started with an photograph that's over 100-years old.

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        Friday, January 22, 2016

        Blog Kiosk: 1/22/2016 - Dodgers Links - Verdugo, Urias and Buy your FanFest Autograph Vouchers Today!


        Get your Dodgers FanFest autograph voucher tickets today.  Go here for information.  All proceeds benefit the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation.  Go here to see my blog post about the sale from last night.

        Below are more links to check out:
        Verdugo has some of the best bat speed in the system, though this can be inconsistent. The obvious change from his high school days to 2015 is the fluidity in his swing. Verdugo has quieted his set up, with low hands and a slightly open stance, and employs a toe tap for timing. Verdugo’s swing is extremely short to the ball, and when right, he shows a high finish and extension, spraying line drives gap to gap.
        "The truth is, I'm proud that they've given me that high praise," Urias said in New York. "It gives me strength to keep working, work harder and achieve the goal I have in my mind."
        "I would love to have these resolved before we begin play again," Manfred said. "The one thing I've learned about these cases is timing is not mine, right? You have to really rely on the criminal process playing out in order to put yourself in a position that you're comfortable to actually know what the facts are."
        • Dan Haren is living the dream, via a tweet:

        • A Reddit user named r/dallenhill shared a fantastic pic of a sample promo-give away that was proposed one year.  It's a Dodger sombrero.  Check out a pic in the thread here.
        • Via Samy's Camera, "Interview: Jon SooHoo – Los Angeles Dodgers Official Team Photographer."
        Q: What was the first Dodgers game you photographed?
        A: Back in the day, when I was a student at USC in 1981, the Trojans traveled to Dodger Stadium to play an exhibition game against the assembled Dodgers.  One of the pitchers for the Dodgers was a young and upcoming left hander from Mexico. Who, during this exhibition, was just another pitcher among the four Dodgers to pitch that game. It took me about 20 years to go back through my negatives to realize that this was the beginning of Fernandomania.
        • Awesome!  Below is a new episode of "The Breaks":

        Video Link:

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        Thursday, January 21, 2016

        Dodgers FanFest Autograph Tickets Go on Sale Tomorrow - Friday!


        The Dodgers fourth annual 2016 FanFest is right around the corner and now you can properly plan for the day.  They have just announced the full schedule for the days activities; including the player autograph sessions.

        The FanFest will happen "rain or shine."  Although, some events may be curtailed should the weather be too poor.  It will be on Saturday, January 30th from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.  You should have already downloaded a "FREE" admission ticket.  If you hadn't go here (link here) to do that.  Parking gates open at 9:30 AM and it is free, as well.  You will enter either through the left or right field plaza gates at 10:00 AM.

        There will be photo opportunities in the Dodger dugout and with the World Series trophy.  The LA Dodger Foundations (LADF) will host its second annual Yard Sale with one-of-a-kind Dodger items for budgets of all sizes; including jerseys, T-shirts and more. There will also be a Mystery Bag Fundraiser where fans can purchase an official Major League baseball autographed by a current or former Dodger for a $40 donation and autographed jerseys for an $80 donation, while supplies last. Proceeds benefit the programs and charitable giving of LADF.

        I've attended the past three FanFest's and shared a bunch of photos from those days (these post also include numerous links of post from other bloggers).  Check out the below links to check them out.  Below that are details about the player autograph sessions.
        ----------------

        FanFest autograph tickets officially go on sale on Friday, January 22 at 12:00 p.m. PST.  You will need to go here (www.dodgers.com/fanfest) to get tickets.  This is also where you will go to get tickets for the various VIP Experiences; such as meet and greets, Q&A sessions, pitching lessons, batting lessons, Vin Scully press box tours and Dodger clubhouse tours. BTW, each voucher ticket cost $25.00.  That's a $5.00 increase from last year.

        The scheduled FanFest autograph sessions are as follows and subject to change (link here):

        10:10 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
        Session 1
        Line 1: Scott Van Slyke and Jharel Cotton
        Line 2: Orel Hershiser and Yimi Garcia
        Line 3: Nomar Garciaparra and Micah Johnson
        Line 4: Jerry Hairston Jr. and Brandon Beachy
        11:10 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
        Session 2

        Line 1: Yasiel Puig and Frankie Montas
        Line 2: Fernando Valenzuela and Carlos Frias
        Line 3: Zach Lee and Chris Hatcher
        Line 4: Shawn Green and Ross Stripling
        12:10 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
        Session 3

        Line 1: Kiké Hernandez and Dennis Powell
        Line 2: Pedro Baez and Kenny Landreaux
        Line 3: Brandon McCarthy and Mickey Hatcher
        Line 4: Chase Utley and Bill Russell
        1:10 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
        Session 4

        Line 1: Justin Turner and Josh Ravin
        Line 2: Dave Roberts and Bob Geren
        Line 3: Steve Yeager and Zach Lee
        Line 4: Ron Cey and Kenley Jansen
        2:10 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
        Session 5
        Line 1: Adrian Gonzalez and Austin Barnes
        Line 2: Scott Kazmir and Chase Utley
        Line 3: Brandon McCarthy and Bill Russell
        Line 4: Maury Wills and Adam Liberatore
        3:10 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
        Session 6

        Line 1: Joc Pederson and Trayce Thompson
        Line 2: Dave Roberts and Bob Geren
        Line 3: Yasmani Grandal and Hyun-Jin Ryu
        Line 4: Steve Yeager and Kenley Jansen
        --------------
        VIP scheduled sessions at FanFest are as follows and are subject to change (link here):

        Clubhouse Tour

        Take a peek inside the Dodger clubhouse on this exclusive tour. Highlights also include visiting the Dodger bullpen, looking at the Dodger weight room and batting cage, stopping in the Dodger interview room and viewing the MVP, Cy Young, Silver Slugger and Rookie of the Year awards. Tours are available at 10:15 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:15 p.m., 2:00 p.m., 2:45 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. and last approximately 30 minutes.
        Press Box Tour
        Take a tour of the Vin Scully press box and call your favorite play in Dodger history from Vin Scully’s booth. Fans will be able to watch a memorable play, make the call and have their commentary recorded by AM 570 LA Sports. Tours are available at 10:15 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2:15 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. and last approximately 30 minutes.
        Q&A and Photo
        Participate in an intimate question and answer with current Dodger players in the Dodger interview room and take a picture with them. Two sessions are available: 11:00 a.m. with Scott Van Slyke and Kiké Hernandez and 2:00 p.m. with Joc Pederson and Justin Turner. Each session will be moderated by Dodger historian Mark Langill. This experience will last approximately 50 minutes. Players are subject to change without notice. Limit one (1) photograph per person. No autographs.
        Meet & Greet
        Participate in a meet & greet with a Dodger great, take a photo and receive their autograph. Three sessions are available: Clayton Kershaw at 10:30 a.m., Fernando Valenzuela and Pepe Yñiguez at 12:00 p.m. and Tommy Lasorda at 1:30 p.m. This experience will last approximately 30 minutes. Dodger personnel subject to change without notice. You must bring your own camera for the photo opportunity. Limit one (1) photograph per person. You must also bring your own item to be autographed, limit one (1) per person.
        Batting Lesson
        Take a batting lesson from a former Dodger in the visiting team batting cage. Two sessions are available: 12:30 p.m. with Dodger alum Maury Wills and 2:30 p.m. with Dodger alum Ron Cey. This experience will last approximately one hour. Dodger personnel subject to change without notice.
        Pitching Lesson
        Take a pitching lesson from a former Dodger in the Dodger bullpen. Two sessions are available: 10:30 a.m. with Dennis Powell and 2:30 p.m. with Tim Leary. Plus, a current Dodger pitcher will make an appearance at each session. This experience will last approximately one hour. Dodger personnel subject to change without notice. This experience will change locations if there is inclement weather.

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        * Dodgers Blue Heaven home page *

        A 1932 Brooklyn Dodgers Jacket at Heritage Auctions


        Holy Moly.

        This is fantastic.

        Heritage Auctions has various preview images up for their upcoming Platinum February auction and it includes this rare circa 1932 Brooklyn Dodgers warm-up jacket said to have once been owned by All-Star outfielder Lefty O'Doul.  Per the auction description:
        Extraordinarily rare garment is a white whale for the advanced Dodgers collector, as the team wore this rather staid version of the logo letter "B" on its uniforms only two seasons--1931-32--otherwise favoring the familiar Old English style that held sway throughout the bulk of their Ebbets Field residency. Our consignor reports that he acquired the jacket from "Jersey Joe" Stripp, a third baseman who represented the Dodgers for the bulk of his eleven Major League seasons. Stripp reported that O'Doul left the jacket with him at the conclusion of a shared fishing trip following the 1932 season.
        Unfortunately, the jacket is far from being in great condition.  It is missing the leather sleeves, interior lining and a manufacturer's label.  Also missing is any actual physical attributions linking it to O'Doul.  Therefore, clear provenance is lacking.  Still, it's a rare example of a highly desirable style.  You rarely see the red, white and blue colors of the old Brooklyn team.

        As for Lefty O'Doul, the California native spent much of his career playing ball in the Pacific Coast League, but eventually took his skills to the Majors with five different clubs over an eleven year career.  In three season with Brooklyn he slashed an amazing .340/.399/.505/.904 while coming in third place in MPV voting for his exploits during the 1932 season.  O'Doul batted a league leading .368 while hitting 21 home runs and driving in 90 runs that year.

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        Celebrating #NationalHugDay with some Fantasy Baseball Cards


        I am constantly amazed by the variety of "National Days" that exist.  It's mind-blowing, and a constant reminder that it's a good thing to take a moment each day to celebrate something... Anything.

        So, when I discovered that today is #NationalHugDay I felt compelled to celebrate it the best way I know how - by making a bunch of fantasy Baseball cards.  Featured here are some of the creations I put together this morning

        Starting at the very top is the legendary Sandy Koufax in the midst of a hug with Clayton Kershaw after defeating the Braves during the 2013 NLDS.  I'm fairly sure this was a photo taken by Dodger photographer Jon SooHoo.  I was reminded of the pic, though, by DodgersBeat on twitter.

        The below card features former skipper Joe Torre embracing Manny Ramirez in a 2007 Topps Baseball card.  I grabbed the pic from an ESPN story focused on "Great Hugs in Baseball History."

        BFF's!

        Hyun-Jin Ryu and Yasiel Puig hug it out on the bench in the 1959 Topps fantasy Baseball card on the below left.  The photo was found thought a SportsNetLA tweet this morning.  AJ Ellis and Clayton Kershaw did their hugging on the field in the 1979 Topps fantasy card on the bottom right.  This photo was taken from a tweet by @MattDodgerBlue

        Puig just loves to hug. So much so, I had to capture him hugging in a couple more cards.  On the bottom left is banana aficionado, Kiké Hernandez, getting man-handled by Puig on the 1982 Topps fantasy card.  This photo was from an Kiké tweet.  The card on the bottom right is a little flashback.  It featured Puig giving a bear-hug to former Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez.  This photo was from a post by Matt Monagan at MLB.com that ranks, "10 of the most huggable figures in baseball today."

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

        2015 Panini National Treasures - The Booklet Cards and Other Scarcities

        Here is a final look at Panini's National Treasures Baseball card set.  Below are pics of many of the booklet cards.  I also provide a listing of all the other scarcities that are available; like the bat knobs, barrels and glove relic pieces.  Click this link to see all of my other post on this set.

        As for the booklet cards, there are various different parallels available, and it's unlikely I have pics of all them below.  So, this is hardly a complete visual checklist.  Still, this should provide a good look at whats available.  My favorite booklet card is probably the below vertical Corey Seager card.

        Armory Booklet

        #4 Corey Seager (#/25)

        Blog Kiosk: 1/21/2016 - Dodgers Links - Urias, Rizzo and Clayton Kershaw


        Ya know what's happenin' right now in Glendale, Arizona?

        Fantasy camp... And hangin' out with the fantasy ballplayers is the above motley crew of former Dodger players.  Pic above via @TommyLasorda on twitter.  BTW, Jon Weisman at Dodger Insider wrote a great piece about the current fantasy camp happenings that you can check out right here.
        “The uniforms, they’re like butter,” he said. “I feel almost like I’m naked, because they’re so comfortable.”
        Below are more links to check out:
        • Julio Urias continues to impress.  He took MLBPipeline.com's top spot as the leagues best left-handed pitching prospect.  Via Jonathan Mayo at MLB.com:
        He doesn't turn 20 until August, and he's already knocking on the door. Urias has an outstanding combination of stuff and pitchability well beyond his years. He has three plus pitches with outstanding command. The only thing he doesn't have is innings. Urias has yet to top even 90 innings in a season, but that shouldn't hold him back for too long.
        “I’m kind of torn. I think obviously some of the greater hitters of our game are DHs. You see David Ortiz and Edgar Martinez when you go back, and different guys like this are some of the better hitters. But at the same time, my mentality is baseball is a two-way sport. You have to be able to put a glove on your hand and go out there and play in the field to be a baseball player. I definitely would not take it away. I want the pitcher to hit. I guess my easy answer is keep it the way it is and deal with it in the World Series.”
        There’s a 1980 Youngblood, for example, that’s all creased up. As soon as I saw it, I remembered finding it on the Lakeview Elementary blacktop and sticking it in my pocket. Only I didn’t merely remember. I felt it. Like, the emotions and texture of 8-year-old Jeffrey Pearlman hit me. Only for a second. But I felt it. I did.
        Moore is one of several lemonade vendors at the Cactus League’s most beautiful ballpark and it should come as no surprise that he was recently voted the best vendor in Major League Baseball by fans. His schtick is a simple one and it tugs at the hearts of baseball fans from across the country – “Lemonade! Lemonade! Just like grandma made!” – and it works.

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

          Wednesday, January 20, 2016

          Our 2015 #1 Draft Pick Walker Buehler did a Reddit AMA


          The Dodgers fanatics on Reddit somehow convinced Walker Buehler to join them on an AMA ("Ask Me Anything") session, and it's filled all the craziness you might expect.  Sure, there were some serious questions.  But let's face it, you shouldn't expect a Pulitzer to emerge from this exchange.  Instead, it was a fun little chat with a kid who has the expectations of Dodger Nation behind him.  Go here to check out the entire thread on the r/Dodgers subreddit.

          Below are some of my favorite Q&A's.  Click on any pic to embiggen.

          Of course it would start off with an Chuck Norris reference. 

          Then this came up.

          What?  No ducks!

          Oh...

          2015 Panini National Treasures - The Notable Nickname, Made In and Die-Cut Dodgers Cards

          Here are even more Dodgers cards that can be found in packs of Panini's 2015 National Treasures packs.  This time I share pics of the Notable Nickname, Made In, Game Ball Signatures and various other Die-Cut Dodgers cards.  Go here to see all of my previous post on this set.

          Notable Nickname

          #29 Adrian Gonzalez (#/25)                 #44 Frank Howard (#/25)

          Weekend Autograph Opportunities: Osteen, Burright, Hines, Scioscia, Valenzuela and Julio Cesar Chavez

          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.

          ---------------------------

          This event happens tomorrow, so if you're interest I suggest getting a hold of the organizers right away.  Go here for information.

          Art of the Game, those folks with the memorabilia kiosk at Dodger Stadium, is hosting an evening talk with Fernando Valenzuela and Mike Scioscia.  It should be an interesting night.

          ---------------------------

          Three old time Dodgers will be at El Tepeyac Cafe in the City of Industry on Saturday from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM.  Go here for information. 
          El Tepeyac Cafe
          13131 Crossroads
          City of Industry, California 91746

          ---------------------------

          Fernando Valenzuela and Julio Cesar Chavez will usher in the opening of a brand new WSS Shoes store in Los Angeles on Sunday.  The festivities begin at 10:00 AM.  I am uncertain how long they will be there to sign with fans.  Needless to say, you should probably be there early.  Go here for more information.
          WSS Shoes
          2711 E. Olympic Blvd.
          Los Angeles, CA 90023
          (310) 715-9300
          Hat Tip: Roberto at Vin Scully is My Homeboy

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          Blog Kiosk: 1/20/2016 - Dodgers Links - Koufax, Maeda and Jose DeLeon


          Immediately following his retirement from the game in 1966, Sandy Koufax signed a 10-year contract for $1 Million to broadcast games on NBC's Saturday Game of the Week.  He was paired with fellow former Dodger Pee Wee Reese to do color commentating til 1968.  Unfortunately, Sandy would only stay on the job for six years; having walked away before the beginning of the 1973 Baseball season.  It is said that he never felt comfortable in front of the camera.  Featured above is an NBC press photo of Koufax as a rookie broadcaster in 1967 that was for sale at an RMY Auction recently. 

          Below are more links to check out:
          “I call it the greatest team never seen,” he said, noting his own anger over Scully’s absence from LA airwaves. “I mean, this guy is a national treasure. That $8.35bn is what’s most important, not the fans.”
          "We're talking about very few (black) coaches, very few managers ... so there's room for real progress, where people can come into the sport and feel they're going to be respected and given opportunities," Rachel Robinson said.
          “One of the nicest young men that I met over there. He’s also like a big kid, likes to have a lot of fun. Joking around with him is easy. He had a Hi-Chew (candy) rep on speed dial. I asked him to hook it up. Each sleeve has five (candies), each box has 12 sleeves, each case has 12 boxes. He comes back with four cases. I was handing them out left and right. That’s just off the field stuff. 
          • Blowout Buzz has some preview pics from Topps 2016 Archives set; expected to be in stores in June.  One of the insert sets will focus on the movie Bull Durham.  Check out the Nuke LaLoosh card on the right.  Check out more preview cards here.
          • Dodgers prospect Jose DeLeon was named by MLBPipeline.com as the #5 top right-handed pitching prospect in the game.  Via Jim Callis at MLB.com:
          De Leon has skyrocketed from his lowly Draft status and a 6.96 ERA in his pro debut to leading the Minors with 12.8 strikeouts per nine innings and reaching Double-A in 2015, just two years later. De Leon's stuff and command have gotten a lot better since he improved his conditioning and mechanics, giving him a riding 92-96 mph fastball, a plus changeup and an effective if inconsistent slider.
          • Just a fun story about the kid who got away.  Via Mark Sandritter at Lookit, "Dee Gordon signed a $50 million contract and immediately went to get McNuggets."
          • Ha!  Via Blowout Buzz, "Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton among politicians getting Garbage Pail Kids treatment from Topps."

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