Friday, May 17, 2013

I'm Still Feeling that Kings Magic - And I wonder How it can Apply to the Dodgers

It's been over 12 hours since the Kings stole a victory away from the outstretched arms of the Sharks.  The Kings were down by one goal with less than a couple of minutes to play before drawing a couple of penalties and scoring two goals in dramatic fashion.  It was exciting and awe inspiring.  Better yet, it puts the Kings up two games to none in the seven game series.

A Sharks team that had confidently scored three unanswered goals to take a lead turned from becoming confident masters of their own domain to floundering denizens of the deep.  It was wonderful to witness and this fan still feels the adrenaline rush.

In fact, the first thing I did this morning was watch all the highlight videos.  (Sorry boss, but I couldn't help myself)  If you want to do the same thing go to the KingsVision channel on youtube, here.

The Kings rise to prominence over the past couple of years has been unbelievable.  As a hardcore fan all you can do is cross your fingers and hope that the folks in charge of steering the club know what they are doing.

How do you build a team that can last and flourish?  Do they have a plan in place?  Can they execute it? 

These are the type of questions all fans, no matter the sport, wonder and hope get answered. 

As a long-suffering Kings fan, I witnessed firsthand how this franchise failed on all accounts.  We were laughing stocks and I remember going to games when we all knew it. 

Then, a change happened.  A new focus was instituted after an honest assessment was made.  Heck, management went out of their way to tell fans (season ticket holders) that the Kings have never had a chance.  That the way they did things in the past had failed and much of that had to do with poor prior planning.

That in order to truly build a championship, we needed to change.  And that change included refocusing and starting anew.  So, the team did just that. 

They focused on the young studs who could potentially become our core.  They rebuilt the farm system and started centralizing their playing style while building a new ethic that would become the "Kings Way".  And after promising that this process would last five years before seeing a championship caliber team, they delivered a Stanley Cup.  Better yet, we have a team that looks to be perennial playoff contenders and a potential dynasty in the making.

Now, I'm sure your wondering how does this apply to the Dodgers?

Well, I'll start with a phrase I heard many moons ago while in college.

"Prior Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance"

The above "7 P's" is a simple formula for building success.  Whether it's in your own professional life, or for your favorite team.  The Dodgers need to make a honest assessment of where they are and what they need to do to be a championship caliber team.

Have they done this, as of yet?  Are Plans in place?  Can they execute it?

In my mind, the answer is mixed. 

Certainly, the Dodgers have the financial resources to do what they want, but resources is not the same thing as having the right plan. 

But what should that plan be?

Frankly, I don't know if I have a good answer for that.  I think I've hit my own personal Peter Principle on this matter. 

I am, though open to your suggestions.

Is there a "Dodger Way" anymore.  And if not, how can we build it back to its former glory?  Is our minor league scouting and development where it should be?  Who are the core players, and who are the temporary placeholders?

I think the Dodgers refocus on scouting is obvious, but is it enough?  I fear that the recent haul of high-priced players signed to long term contracts is a potential barrier to success, and wonder who in that bunch would I really consider our core.  (And yes, I would even question whether Matt Kemp should really be in our long term future plans)  More importantly, I am starting to believe that the "Dodger Way" is no more.  And the philosophical ideals behind it need to be reworked and refashioned into something more meaningful.

But, how to do it?

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

A Painted 1956 Big League Stars Figurine of Roy Campanella

Back in the mid-50's Baseball jumped in popularity.  So, it's not surprising that companies did their best to capitalize on the frenzy.  There were Baseball cards sold with gum and ballplayers were able to earn some extra dough lending their name to just about every product under the sun.  I guess you can say that Baseball really became "BIG BUSINESS" during this time.  Well, another product that was made and marketed for the masses were these little 3 inch plastic figurines of some the the Majors biggest stars.

In 1956 both Dairy Queen and a company called Big League Stars produced an 18 player set of these statues.  In fact, they both made the exact same set - likely using the same molds.  The Dairy Queen figurines were given out to customers as premiums while the Big League Stars set was packaged for retail sales.  A key distinguishing factor is that the Dairy Queen versions are white and the Big League Stars statues were painted gold.

Anyway, the other day I ran into a unique example of a Roy Campanella statue on eBay and knew I had to share it here.  See the auction listing here.  It states that it's the Dairy Queen version, but that is clearly wrong.  It is actually the Big League Stars figurine as evidenced by the gold colored base.  Nevertheless, that discrepancy isn't important.  What is important is what a creative fan did to it. 

In what I will label as folk art at its best, someone has painstakingly taken the time to paint it, and it's is wonderful.  Check the photos of it above and below. 

BTW, 4 other Dodgers are in the 18 player set; including Jim Gilliam, Gil Hodges, Pee Wee Reese and Duke Snider.
(eBay Auction Link)

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

Blog Kiosk: 5/17/2013

Check out this great photo shared by the @Dodgers on twitter of Tommy Lasorda meeting Wilt.
  • Mark Saxon of ESPN speaks with AJ Ellis to ask him, "What's it like to catch Clayton Kershaw?"
Q. He’s an intense guy when he’s pitching, I guess. What are visits to the mound like?
A. He’s very to-the-point, very matter of fact, basically, “What are you doing out here? What do you want to talk about?” Basically, that’s it. There’s no room for any fluff or anything else. I rarely have to go out there. He’s so good at staying in the moment and he’s so good at calming himself down when the game gets fast. He’s really good at controlling the pace of the game. He knows when he’s got a good rhythm going, so it’s time to get going, going, going. He knows when it’s time to back off and slow down. My job when he pitches is to stay out of the way and let him do his thing. 
"It's such a life-changing experience and it just humbles you because from where I was last year to where I am this year, it's a whole different world," Rodriguez said this week, glancing around the clubhouse at Dodger Stadium. "I'm living my dream. I'm doing what I love to do. When you see the names going down the line on all these lockers, these guys are big-name guys, so it's awesome just to have this opportunity and be able to learn from these guys."
  • Check out this awesome Scott Van Slyke graphic made by kustomdeluxe on Reddit.  See it on the right.
  • Are you a Wayne Gretzky Fan?  How about a Gretzky collector?  Well, possibly the greatest collection ever amassed goes on auction today.  Read all about it at the Sports Collectors Daily.
  • Via Larry Brown Sports, "Son of Biff from ‘Back to the Future’ emerging as high school pitcher."
  • Via David K at The Victory Formation shows us some incredible Baseball artwork done with legos.  An incredible Derek Jeter portrait is showcased.
  • Here's an awesome video featuring the Clayton Kershaw Fathead being given out on May 27th.

Video Link:

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* Dodgers Blue Heaven home page *