Thursday, March 13, 2014

All is Right in the World - I Finally have my First Clayton Kershaw Autographed Card

I can't believe it has taken me this long.

After racking my brain wondering how I could have never gotten one in the past, I finally have a Kershaw autographed card to call my own.

It is a 2009 Topps Tribute Autographed Relic Blue Refractor Parallel card.  It is numbered to 75 copies.

With Clayton earning his 2nd Cy Young and with the likelihood that more will come, I figured it was about time to right this wrong.  Besides, I don't think my pocketbook could withstand waiting another couple of years.  His cards could go through the roof.

On the other hand, considering what a Puig card sells for today, this Clayton Kershaw card, that I paid $35 for, is a veritable bargain.

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Dodgers Notes from Spring Training: Spring Game 17/Home Game 9

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.
 Cincinnati Reds (4-12) at LOS ANGELES DODGERS (5-7-4)
Thursday, March 13, 2014 – 1:05 p.m. | Glendale
RHP Alfredo Simon (0-1, 5.00) vs. LHP Paul Maholm (0-0, 1.80)
Spring Game 17/Home Game 9
Television/Radio: SNLA/None

(Dodger Fans!, pic via Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2014)

COLOR WAR: The Dodgers and Reds face off for the second and final time this spring after Los Angeles scored a 10-3 win over Cincinnati in Goodyear on March 5. The Dodgers dropped the 2013 season series to the Reds, 4-3, but hold a 35-19 (.648) advantage over Cincinnati since 2006, which is the second-best mark among NL clubs in that span (Philadelphia, 36-19, .655).
  • Los Angeles opens the 2014 season in just nine days against the D-backs in MLB’s Opening Series in Sydney, Australia.
  • Outfielder Matt Kemp is scheduled to play in a minor league intrasquad game again today at 12:30 p.m. on the back fields of Camelback Ranch – Glendale. Kemp had six at-bats and played in the field for the first time yesterday in a minor league intrasquad game, playing six outs in center field, and ran the bases.
  • Minor league position players suiting up today include RHP Red Patterson (#78), LHP Fu-Te Ni (#83), RHP Juan Gonzalez (#94), C Kyle Farmer (#92), INF Darnell Sweeney (#84), INF Ozzie Martinez (#87), INF Daniel Mayora (#88), INF Jamie Romak (#90), OF Jon Garcia (#89), OF Trayvon Robinson (#91) and OF Aaron Bates (#95).
(Matt Kemp, pic via Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2014)

ON THE HILL: Paul Maholm will make his third appearance (second start) of the spring today after allowing one run on three hits in 3.0 innings on Saturday against the Rangers. The 31-year-old has allowed just one run in 5.0 innings (1.80 ERA) this spring, while limiting opposing hitters to a .235 batting average (4-for-17). During the course of his career, Maholm has been especially tough against lefties, holding them to a .225 batting average/.287 on-base percentage/.318 slugging percentage.
  • Rule 5 hopeful Seth Rosin will make his fourth appearance today and has not allowed an earned run (one unearned) in 8.0 innings this spring. The 25-year-old last pitched on Saturday against the Rangers, allowing only an unearned run on one hit in 3.0 innings, and has limited opponents to a .161 batting average (5-for-31) this spring.

SPELL CHECK: Cuban infielder Erisbel Arruebarrena reported to Camelback Ranch for the first time today and met with the training staff, players, coaches and media on his first day in Dodger blue. Arruebarrena posted a .276 career batting average with 27 homers and 171 RBI in 437 games in six professional seasons for Cienfuegos in Cuba’s Serie Nacional. The 23-year-old was signed as a free agent on Feb. 22 and will wear uniform No. 11.
(Zack Greinke, pic via Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2014)

FILLING OUT THE LINEUP CARD: Bench coach Tim Wallach will once again serve as manager today and Special Advisor to the GM Pat Corrales will be the club’s bench coach with Don Mattingly leaving camp due to a death in the family. Mattingly is expected to be back in Glendale tomorrow. Wallach managed the Dodgers’ Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes in 2009 and 2010 and guided them to a 152-135 (.530) record and an American Southern Division title in 2009.
  • The Dodgers fell, 9-2, to the D-backs yesterday at Camelback Ranch. Zack Greinke made his second start of the spring and first appearance since throwing only four pitches (right calf injury) in his Cactus League debut on Feb. 27, and allowed three runs on six hits in 2.0 innings in a losing effort. Andre Ethier gave the Dodgers an early lead with his two-run double in the first inning, but that was the only scoring that Los Angeles could muster. Ethier finished the game 2-for-3 to raise his batting average to .357 this spring.
  • In the fifth inning yesterday, Wallach issued the Dodgers’ first challenge of the spring under the new replay system. Following replay review, the umpires confirmed the call on the field that Didi Gregorius had kept his foot on second base during a slide on a stolen base attempt. It took 1:48 for the umpires to conduct the replay review. Los Angeles will have two more replay games in Cactus League play, March 15 at Chicago-AL and March 16 vs. Colorado, and the system will also be in place for all three Freeway Series games against the Angels.

ON DISPLAY: Hall of Famers Sandy Koufax, Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, Hank Greenberg and Joe DiMaggio are among the baseball pioneers featured in a new exhibit that opens to the public today at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia. Hailed as the first large-scale exhibit focused on the role baseball plays in the lives of immigrant and minority communities seeking to express or challenge American culture, Chasing Dreams: Baseball and Becoming American features 130 baseball artifacts. Koufax is the centerpiece of the exhibit, which is open to the public until Oct. 26. The pitcher’s 1963 National League Cy Young Award is on display, as well as scorecards and tickets from his perfect game against the Cubs in '65, the cap he wore during his no-hitter against the Phillies in '64 and a ticket from his first no-hitter against the Mets in '62. There's also a mound where fans can put on a replica Koufax jersey and try to pitch like the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner.
(Pat Corrales and Tommy Lasorda, pic via Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2014)

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The Norm Larker 1961 Union Oil Dodger Family Booklet

Here is another post featuring the 1961 Union Oil Dodger Family Booklet set.  Go here to see my past post showcasing this set; including complete scans of both the Vin Scully/Jerry Doggett and Sandy Koufax booklets.  This time I share the Norm Larker Booklet.

Norm Larker could always hit, and if the Dodger hadn't already been filled to the brim with quality players in the Majors he might have made an impact on the team long before he finally arrived.  Instead, he excelled at every level in the minors over his 8 year stay in the bush leagues. 

Standing in his way at 1st base was the beloved Gil Hodges, so it's no wonder he had to wait.  Then, during an early May game against the Giants in 1959, Hodges hit a triple in his first at-bat, but strained his neck in the process.

In came Larker as his replacement, and as fate would have it, he would make an immediate impression.  In his first at-bat he belted a two run home run, which would be the only runs the Dodgers would need in a 2 to 1 victory.  Then, two days later he would hit another dinger.

I wouldn't quite call Gil Hodges untimely neck injury a Wally Pipp moment, but suffice it to say that those early days in May put Norm Larker on the map.

The next season, the man once nicknamed Dumbo because of his big ears by his Dodger teammates, would became the regular starting 1st baseman for the team.  Norm "Dumbo" Larker would go on to prove that not only was he ready to supplant the great Gil Hodges, but he would soon contend for the batting crown in the process.

In 1960, he hit .323 with 78 RBI's, record a .798 OPS and a OPS+ of 113.  While recording a 2.2 WAR, Larker would go to his only All-Star game and place 15th in MVP balloting.  Unfortunately, he would lose the batting title to Dick Groat of the Pirates; needing two hits on the final day, but only getting one.

What he said on that last regular season game of the 1960 season:
"Don't get me wrong.  I knew how things stood, all right.  I was feeling the squeeze.  It wasn't 'just another day', you know.  That would make a good story, but that wasn't how I felt.  On the other hand, it had to be just another day if I was going to get any hits at all.  I mean, you begin thinking about these things, and you can thing yourself right out of them."
Below are complete scans of every page from Norm Larker's 1961 Union Oil Dodger Family Booklet.  Click any pic to embiggen. 

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Blog Kiosk: 3/13/2014 - Dodgers Links - Scott Avenue Entrance, Greinke Pitches and Kemp Plays

Matt Kemp played in a minor league intrasquad game yesterday, pic above via Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2014.
  • As you probably know, the Dodgers will be opening the Scott Avenue entrance to Dodger Stadium this seasons. The Eastsider LA blog addresses residents concerns, "Echo Park residents cry “foul” over Dodger traffic management plans".
“The cars are faster during regular games,” a Scott Avenue resident said during the meeting. “They are in a race to get” into the stadium.
Greinke ran into a spot of bother in the first inning, allowing two hits, but he kept the Diamonbacks off the scoreboard. He hit 90 MPH on the radar gun on the only pitch I was able to get velocity on. The second inning was a different story, as he got knocked around for four hits and three runs, including a solo home run allowed to former uber prospect Andy Marte.
"Everybody had to get ready faster for Australia," he said. "I have to get ready for the American games. I've just got to get ready as fast as I can without a setback."
Stan Conte, the Dodgers vice president of medical services who was on hand to monitor Kemp as he played in an intrasquad game on Wednesday. "We're not really sure how this will even work. We're really taking this only a day at a time and a week at a time. We'll see where we are at the end of this week, and by the time we go to Australia we'll have a plan."
Kemp added:
"I feel a little weird still being out there," Kemp said. "I'm still trying to get my legs under me. My legs feel a little heavy and tired at times. That comes with getting back in shape as far as being on the field. You can lift as many weights as you want, but nothing compares with game speed out there on the baseball field.

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