Jun 06

The Loge Boat

It was with some trepidation that I accepted one of the invitations the Dodgers offered to bloggers to watch a game last month with my family in the new Loge Party Boxes at Dodger Stadium.

The boxes, which seat anywhere from six to 10 ticketholders, consist of a sectioned-off area with stool seating, and I was worried that the comfort level for the young and old among us would undermine our chances of enjoying the seats. In addition, the room the kids had to run around in the boxes threatened the ability for my wife and I to relax and take in the game.

What, me worry? Yes, me worry.

As it turned out, our fears were unfounded, and we had a nice time and can recommend the seats as an option for families and friends who want something a little special without springing for the extravagance of a Club level luxury suite. Yeah, the kids did climb around a bit, but all in all, they seemed more comfortable than normal.

My understanding is that the Loge party boxes cost roughly $20 per seat more than a regular Loge seat in the same area, though i was told that the pricing system might still be in flux. For that extra $120-$200, depending on the size of your box, you get leg room, concierge service, tables for food and coats, and the ability to mingle with your guests freely, instead of craning or leaning for every conversation. You also have mounted TV sets above you that allow you to see instant replays (and compensate for the slightly blocked 12-o’clock view, as seen up top).

If your top priority is simply to watch the game, you can get more bang for your buck. But if your goal is to hang with family or friends, without disappearing from the game the way a luxury suite often encourages you to do, the Loge party box is a worthy option.

Apr 14

Rickey descendant to sing at Dodger Stadium on Monday

Singing the National Anthem at Dodger Stadium on Monday for Jackie Robinson Night will be Branch Rickey’s great-granddaughter, Kelley Jakle.

“Mr. Rickey, do you want a singer who’s afraid to do all sorts of vocal tricks during the anthem?”

“No. I want a singer with the guts not to do all sorts of vocal tricks during the anthem!”

Dodgers at Diamondbacks, 1:10 p.m.

Carl Crawford, LF
Mark Ellis, 2B
Matt Kemp, CF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Andre Ethier, RF
A.J. Ellis, C
Luis Cruz, SS
Nick Punto, 3B
Josh Beckett, P

Update: Apparently the information the Dodgers sent this morning was incorrect, and Jakle is singing “God Bless America,” not the anthem.

Apr 13

Stay classy, Los Angeles: The problem with the Dodgers’ tweet

The Dodgers’ satirical invocation of Anchorman on Twitter in the wee hours Friday, before the anger over Thursday’s brawl had begun to die down, has earned a lot of praise for its bold comic timing, with even U-T San Diego taking note.

I wish it didn’t make me uncomfortable, but it does.

The past two years have been an ongoing effort to rebuild the reputation of the Dodger fanbase following the 2011 attack by two men on Bryan Stow in the stadium parking lot. It should go without saying that the actions of those men don’t represent Dodger fans overall, but – with no small help from what had become a rough atmosphere in some sections of the stadium – we have needed to make the point over and over again. We support our team, but you have the right to support yours. Every city has its bad apples, but they don’t speak for us.

“You stay classy San Diego” undermines all that. The Dodgers themselves have told the world that it’s okay to label a city based on the unfortunate actions of just one individual.

And they’ve done so with an arrogance that, with the memory of the Stow tragedy so fresh, they shouldn’t necessarily possess.

The text on the Dodgers’ tweet, “See you on Monday in Los Angeles,” even seems to encourage confrontation.

Yes, some people in San Diego defended Carlos Quentin’s actions. And yes, the tweet was all in good fun – though clearly fun mixed with exasperation at what had happened. It rallied together the Dodger fan base, thousands laughed and even many outsiders now think the Dodgers have, if nothing else, good comic taste.

That doesn’t change the fact that the Dodgers have opened the door for anyone to mock the entire city of Los Angeles any and every time something goes wrong. I’m not happy about it.

Humor can defuse a fight, but it only exacerbated this one.

Perhaps I shouldn’t care what other people think of us, but I’ve got too much pride in Los Angeles, the Dodgers and their fans to just ignore perception. I’ve spent about four decades watching people make fun of a fan base for being dilettantes, even as evidence ceaselessly appears around the country of others acting in the same way. (Here’s but one example of many.) Following the Stow attack, the ridicule only intensified, drowning out the voices of those who were disgusted by the criminal behavior and support their team as well as anyone else in the country. In the eyes of countless baseball fans around the country, Dodger fans became thugs.

With better security, new ownership, improvements to the stadium and what I believe to be some level of collective soul-searching about behavior at the ballpark, I like to think the negativity surrounding Dodger fans is dissipating. Some wil never credit us for being great fans – certainly, many in our rival cities have no incentive to. But I do think it’s important to put our best face forward. This is a proud franchise with a glorious history, and it deserves to be seen that way. Not to mention the fact that the atmosphere at Dodger Stadium is best when everyone feels secure.

The city of San Diego did not fracture Zack Greinke’s collarbone. Carlos Quentin did. Yet the Dodgers themselves chose to make it about the city. Now, when almost inevitably someone in Los Angeles does something unthinkably stupid at a baseball game – perhaps as soon as Monday, when tensions toward the Padres hit a fever pitch – the rest of the baseball world will have carte blanche to make it about all of us. Will we still be laughing then?

Apr 03

Does loud equal fun?

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers (March 29, 2013)

“Boy, the music is loud,” said Vin Scully with some apparent irritation as the Dodger broadcast came back from commercial tonight, before following with his usual geniality, “Let’s get back to this one.”

It was the top of the sixth inning – typical storytelling time for Scully – but one of two things happened. Either the telecast came back too late to capture the bulk of a story for which “Boy, the music is loud” was the punchline, or the music was just so loud that no one could think straight.

It doesn’t really matter, because this much we know: The music at Dodger Stadium is loud.

And here’s the thing. One assumes the music is loud because loud equals fun in the modern-day math. But what I don’t understand is whom they’re making it loud for.

In general, older people a) don’t want loud music and b) have more trouble hearing than younger people. So if the music was a touch softer, it would still be plenty loud for the hipsters, and the old folk would be just as happy.

This is before we even address how rarely Nancy Bea Hefley gets to play anymore.  Am I wrong? Millennials, give me the straight scoop. I know how writing this makes me sound, but would anyone care if there were fewer decibels at the diamond?

Aug 06

Dodgers hire stadium planning executive

Old friend alert: On Sunday, John Lindsey reached base eight times in one game, going 5 for 7 with two singles, a double, three walks and home runs in the third and 19th innings for Triple-A Toledo.

Rockies at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Shane Victorino, LF
Mark Ellis, 2B
Matt Kemp, CF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Juan Rivera, 1B
Jerry Sands, RF
Luis Cruz, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Chris Capuano, P

The Dodgers have dedicated a newly hired executive, Janet Marie Smith, to lead the franchise’s Dodger Stadium upgrades.

Smith, who has been named senior vice president of planning and development, had most recently been the Baltimore Orioles vice president of planning and development.

“Dodger Stadium is one of the most iconic venues in sports and Janet Marie is one of the few people I would trust with its future,” Dodger president Stan Kasten said in a statement. “She respects baseball’s tradition and knows how to retain a ballpark’s distinctive charms while providing fans with the amenities and comfort they’ve come to expect. Any fan that has walked through the gates at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the renovated Fenway Park or Atlanta’s Turner Field has been a beneficiary of her understanding of what a ballpark means to its community.”

Added Smith: “Dodger Stadium is a treasured piece of the Los Angeles community and a special place where I watched more than a dozen games per season when I lived in L.A. during the early 1980s. It’s important to all of us that we restore and enhance the park in a way that honors its heritage and highlights its distinctive appeals, while still capturing what fans want and franchises need in a modern venue.”

More from the press release:

… Prior to rejoining the Orioles in 2009, Smith had spent seven years with the Boston Red Sox as Senior Vice President of Planning and Development, overseeing preservation of and improvements to historic Fenway Park and its surrounding neighborhood. In Atlanta, she held the positions of President of Turner Sports and Entertainment Development, a division of Turner Broadcasting System, and Vice President of Planning and Development for the Atlanta Braves, where she helped transform the 1996 Olympic Stadium into Turner Field for the Braves, and oversaw the development of the Philips Arena, home of the NBA Atlanta Hawks and NHL Atlanta Thrashers.

From 1989-1994, Smith worked with the Orioles as Vice President of Planning and Development overseeing the design and construction of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, which opened in 1992. Camden Yards is considered the archetype for new ballparks and ushered in a wave of downtown ballfields that capture the warmth and appeal of classic older parks while offering comfortable, state-of-the-art facilities. …

 

Aug 01

Nope – it’s Abreu

Diamondbacks at Dodgers, 12:10 p.m.
Shane Victorino, LF
Andre Ethier, RF
Matt Kemp, CF
Hanley Ramirez, 3B
Juan Rivera, 1B
Jerry Hairston Jr., 2B
Luis Cruz, SS
A.J. Ellis, C
Stephen Fife, P

Well, I was wrong. The Dodgers have designated Bobby Abreu for assignment to make room on the roster for Shane Victorino.

Abreu OPSed .905 in his first 33 games as a Dodger, through June 11, but since then the outfielder has been 16 for 90 with 11 walks and two extra-base hits in 37 games for a .490 OPS.

I’m genuinely surprised. In this money-is-no-object era for the Dodgers, I still see more potential for Abreu to help in the stretch run than Juan Uribe.

* * *

  • Victorino will wear No. 8 with the Dodgers, with Don Mattingly switching to No. 12. The switch-hitting Victorino is wearing the same number as the switch-hitting Reggie Smith did as a Dodger in the 1970s. Smith took No. 8 because Steve Yeager already had the outfielder’s preferred No. 7.
  • Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus ranked the prospects traded at the deadline this week. Ethan Martin is 11th, Scott McGough 24th, Logan Bawcom 25th and Leon Landry 30th out of 43.
  • Goldstein also produced a new ranking of the top 50 prospects in baseball, with Zach Lee on the list at 47.
  • In the wake of Martin’s departure, the Dodgers promoted Andres Santiago to Double-A Chattanooga, reports Robert Emrich for MLB.com. The 22-year-old righty had a 1.76 ERA with 48 strikeouts in 41 innings for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga in July, while allowing only 21 hits and nine walks.
  • Jerry Hairston Jr. had an obscure but memorable throw, captured by Chad Moriyama.
  • Buster Olney names 10 leading August trade candidates in his column for ESPN.com.
  • This past weekend, I discussed Chad Billingsley’s season-long improvement in throwing strikes. At Fangraphs, Michael Barr delves deeper, noting that Billingsley is “going to his four seam fastball far more regularly and he’s almost abandoned his cutter.”
  • A year after it happened, the Trayvon Robinson trade gets a positive review from Scott Andes at Lasorda’s Lair.
  • Dodger Stadium cuisine was recently reviewed by Jeanne Fratello of the Jolly Tomato.
  • Former Dodger general manager Dan Evans had a post-deadline live chat today at Baseball Prospectus.
  • Houston finished July with a 3-24 record, the worst July any team has had in at least 50 years, notes David Pinto of Baseball Musings.
  • With no further introduction, a recent piece from Josh Wilker.
Jul 18

Jim Eisenreich, baseball hero, Dodger nemesis

Phillies at Dodgers, 12:10 p.m.
Kershaw CXXXVI: Kershawmdog Millionaire
Tony Gwynn Jr., RF
Mark Ellis, 2B
Matt Kemp, CF
Juan Rivera, 1B
Jerry Hairston, LF
Juan Uribe, 3B
Luis Cruz, SS
A.J. Ellis, C
Clayton Kershaw, P

Tuesday night, when Carlos Ruiz was hit by a pitch in the Dodgers’ dreary eighth inning, I got to thinking about what a constant thorn in the team’s side Ruiz is.

Still, he’s no Jim Eisenreich — the biggest nemesis to the Dodgers in my memory.

In 232 plate appearances from 1993-98, Eisenreich had a .405 batting average, .468 on-base percentage and .620 slugging percentage against the Dodgers. And then, when he signed with the team in ’98, he batted .197/.266/.244.

Eisenreich, who famously overcame a struggle with Tourette’s Syndrome, was a great story in baseball — except when the Dodgers were involved.

* * *

  • The most thorough review of Dodger Stadium beer options that I’ve seen is delivered by Eno Sarris of NotGraphs. “Depending on your goals, Dodger Stadium is either a boom or a bust from a beer perspective,” he writes.
  • Also on NotGraphs: Patrick Dubuque on baseball Shrinky-Dinks.
  • Here’s a nice feature on Dodger prospect Angel Sanchez by Chris Martinez for MLB.com.

    … Sanchez put school before baseball and attended the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo, the only public university in the Dominican Republic. There he studied accounting and put school ahead of baseball, even as he dreamed of playing in the big leagues.

    “I had to go to school first because baseball is not forever,” Sanchez said. …

  • Buster Olney’s assessment of the Dodgers at the trading deadline for ESPN.com:

    … In my opinion, the Dodgers’ new ownership shouldn’t feel pressure to make the playoffs. The question that should be asked, in the midst of L.A.’s month-long slump, should not be “What the hell is wrong with this team?” Rather, it should be, “How the heck did these guys win so many games early?”

    It’s a flawed team, and the new ownership really hasn’t had much time to apply its vision of roster reformation. Overpaying to improve the 2012 Dodgers feels like an overreaction.

    But L.A. is being aggressive in trying to make the team better. Other execs continue to view the Dodgers as the front-runners to land Dempster. The club’s new owners seem intent on bolstering the team after its improbable early success. …

  • Stephen Fife has been sent back to Albuquerque, while Javy Guerra has been activated from the bereavement list.
  • Ted Lilly will throw a bullpen session Friday, reports Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A.
Jun 19

Dodger Stadium’s ongoing wireless problems

Realizing that if I were a good soul, I wouldn’t even enter Dodger Stadium with my iPhone, much less try to use it … the fact is, I do. And yet, I don’t know why I bother, given that my phone almost never works there because of the poor wireless reception (or, as someone on Twitter specified to me, data service).

I’ve been curious to see how widespread this problem was, so today I asked people on Twitter to describe their Dodger Stadium wireless experiences. Here are the initial replies (grouped under the hashtag #DSwireless) …

 

May 08

Hell yes, ‘M-V-P!’

© Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers 2012

Of all the inane criticisms of Dodger fans I’ve heard, this might be the most inane in the membrane.

Apparently, Dodger fans have committed a Code 2 violation of the Fan Behavior Contract by chanting “M-V-P!” for Matt Kemp.

In multiple spots of the Internet (not including Hank Schulman of the Chronicle, whose different criticisms I’d need to address elsewhere), I’ve seen people deride the “M-V-P!” cheer for a player who justifiably deserved the award last season and has only improved his performance this season – in other words, the player who is currently the most valuable one in the league.

See, it’s only May, and the National League MVP award isn’t given out until … wait, let me ask someone who follows the sport of baseball … oh, they say it’s after the season ends! Whoa – who knew?

I guess just too dum 2 realize calender.

Good lord. Yes, there is a group of stupid people in this discussion – and it’s the group that thinks it’s wrong to express enthusiasm for a player of Matt Kemp’s caliber outside of … I don’t know, the official nomination period for MVP balloting that doesn’t actually exist. Dodger fans believe he’s the best player in baseball, an opinion that happens to be shared by many nationwide.  But since “He’s the best player in baseball! He’s the best player in baseball!” doesn’t make for a great chant, they’ve shortened it to “M-V-P!” It’s not rocket science. It’s also completely valid.

And it’s – heaven forbid – fun.  Remember that?  Fun?  Some people enjoy it. You know, I might even just chant “M-V-P!” for A.J. Ellis. In March. If I see him at a basketball game. For fun. You’re really going to have a problem with that?

Get. Over. Yourselves.

Mar 21

Will Dodger Stadium again avoid naming rights buzzsaw?

Um, yeah, if the Dodgers’ new owners sell naming rights to Dodger Stadium, as Bill Shaikin of the Times suggests is possible, it’s going to stink.

But reading deeper into Shaikin’s story, perhaps we shouldn’t worry.

… In 2006, the New York Mets sold the naming rights to Citi Field for $400 million — a record for a major league team — but the market has cooled since then. The Texas Rangers, the two-time defending American League champions, do not have a corporate name atop their ballpark. Neither do the Miami Marlins, even for the grand opening of their stadium this year.

In 2003, as Frank McCourt completed his purchase of the Dodgers, his business plan included the sale of naming rights. … McCourt did not sell the naming rights to Dodger Stadium, but he received interest from several corporations, according to people familiar with the team’s sale process.

David Carter, executive director of the USC Sports Business Institute, said a new owner would be wise to at least consider a naming rights deal but wiser still not to make any immediate move in that direction.

“You have to list that as part of your marketing inventory, but it would never be the first club out of the bag for a new owner, because of the sensitivity,” Carter said.

“A new owner is not going to want to come in and trample over the brand he is trying to restore. …

Edison Field ceased to exist after the 2003 season, when the company canceled the deal. Arte Moreno, who had just bought the team from Disney, did not pursue another deal and opted to call the ballpark Angel Stadium.

“He’s not selling the naming rights,” Wagner said, “because he sees the value of the brand.”

Feb 23

McCourt digs in heels on parking lots

Bad, bad news. From Bill Shaikin of the Times:

Rick Caruso and former Dodgers manager Joe Torre have withdrawn a joint bid to buy the Dodgers, three people familiar with the sale process said Thursday.

Caruso cited owner Frank McCourt’s refusal to include the Dodger Stadium parking lots in the sale, according to the people, who declined to be identified because they were not authorized to discuss the sale process.

Caruso could reenter the bidding if McCourt were to agree to sell the parking lots, the people said. McCourt has told people he has at least one bid in which the buyer would let him retain ownership of the parking lots. …

It’s extremely disappointing, though perhaps to be expected, that someone is willing to make a deal with the figurative devil in this case. This is the strongest indication yet that Dodger fans will not be free of McCourt.

“The history of the L.A. Dodgers began with people who didn’t want to move out of the parking lots. And it continues,” comments Bob Timmermann.

Jan 19

Moyer better blues

This post is dedicated to a real ’49er …

  • Jamie Moyer, who turns 50 on November 18, signed a minor-league deal with the Rockies with an invitation to Spring Training. Not that my expectations would be sky high, but I would have been curious to see Moyer, recovered from Tommy John surgery, in a Dodger uniform in March.
  • Here, The Platoon Advantage needs only four degrees of separation to connect Moyer to Babe Ruth and makes the case for six degrees between Moyer and Cap Anson.
  • Want to know what potential Dodger bidder Mark Cuban is up to this week? Just trying to change the business model of TV distribution.
  • Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com spoke to Cuban this week about why he’s interested in the Dodgers. “It’s an iconic team,” Cuban said. “There’s only a few franchises like that. And it’s always better to buy a team like that when they’re down.”
  • Bill Shaikin of the Times does the most thorough look of anyone yet at the threat of Frank McCourt keeping possession of the parking-lot-infused land surrounding Dodger Stadium. Because McCourt’s agreement with MLB doesn’t require him to sell that land, he can use it as a bargaining chip to extract more purchase money, hang on to it and draw millions in lease revenue from it, or do the very thing we imagined he’d do when he first bought the Dodgers eight years ago, develop it.

    As I’ve said in the past, though there’s a risk that some group will buy the Dodgers without the land, no one with the sense of a bullfrog should be willing to take the risk of remaining beholden to McCourt after the sale. Pay the man up front and get him out of Dodge.
  • The Miami Marlins appear to be the choice to succeed the San Francisco Giants as the featured team on Showtime’s baseball documentary series, “The Franchise,” Jon Weisman of Variety reports.
  • Still more from the TV front: John Ourand of Sports Business Journal explores how long MLB Advanced Media will keep its digital operations separate from TV rights sales. Stakes are high.
  • Renowned baseball historian Robert Creamer gave a lengthy interview with Graham Womack of Baseball Past and Present. His biography of Babe Ruth was one of the first serious baseball books I ever read. Here’s a small Dodger-related tidbit from the interview:

    … I first became intensely aware of big league baseball in the summer of 1931, when I was nine. My big brother, who was six years older than I, took me to my first major league game, or games — it was a doubleheader between the old New York Giants and the old Brooklyn Dodgers in the old Polo Grounds on the banks of the Harlem River in New York, below the steep hillside known as Coogan’s Bluff. John McGraw was still managing the Giants and Wilbert Robinson the Dodgers, who were generally known as the Robins. Headlines would sometimes refer to the Robins as “the Flock, as in flock of birds. I’m not sure if team nicknames were technically formal at that time. If not they soon were. Both McGraw and Robinson ended their managerial careers in 1932, and the Robins nickname soon disappeared as “Dodgers” returned. The new manager was Max Carey, whose real name was, I believe, “Canarius.” One sportswriter, Tom Meany, bowing to Max, suggested the team’s new nickname be the Canaries, but it didn’t take. …

  • “Moneyball” won approval across the pond, nabbing nominations for Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill and the screenplay by Steven Zallian and Aaron Sorkin from the British Academy.
  • Our good friend Bob Timmermann wrote a terrific piece at L.A. Observed’s Native Intelligence about “L.A.’s Hall of Fame basketball coach who faded from memory,” Alex Hannum.
  • Timmermann also passes along this note: “RIP Patsy Tombaugh, wife of Clyde Tombaugh, the man who discovered Pluto. … She was also the great-aunt of one Clayton Kershaw.” Tombaugh was 99.
  • Dioner Navarro, who got a guaranteed $1 million from the Dodgers after finishing 2010 with a .528 OPS and an awkward departure from Tampa Bay, will go to Spring Training this year on a minor-league contract with the Reds after finishing 2011 with a .600 OPS and an awkward departure from Los Angeles. (Remembering 2011: Dioner Navarro.)
  • Vagabond former Dodger draft pick Preston Mattingly has hooked a minor-league contract with his dad’s former team, the Yankees. Mattingly, 24, reached base 50 times in Single-A last year.
  • Vicente Padilla signed a minor-league contract with Boston. He will compete for a spot in the starting rotation but could end up in the bullpen – health permitting, of course. (Remembering 2011: Vicente Padilla.)
  • Diamond Leung, former Dodger beat reporter for the Press-Enterprise, has been blogging on college basketball for ESPN.com but now will cover Michigan State hoops for MLive.com.
Nov 02

The Dodgers’ new owner checklist

I woke up itching to compile a To Do list for the Dodgers’ new ownership. I’ll start it up, and if I’ve missed anything important, I’ll update it with some of your suggestions in the comments.

In no particular order:

  • Overall fiscal responsibility, which implies knowing when and where to spend as well as when and where not to spend. Responsibility means neither miserliness nor excess.
  • Long-awaited renovations to the beautiful but aging Dodger Stadium, with particular attention to the medieval restrooms.
  • Retention of the best personnel in the Dodger front office integrated with a pursuit of the best personnel outside the front office.
  • An expert analysis of Dodger Stadium security and enactment of a forward-thinking plan.
  • A reevaluation of Dodger food, parking and concession prices. No one’s saying the place should become a 99 Cent Store, but there has to be some sense. Fans shouldn’t have to pay for Prince Fielder with every hot dog.
  • Matt Kemp. Clayton Kershaw.
  • The post-2013 local TV deal, of course.
  • A reevaluation of Dodger Stadium fan atmosphere, including signage and music (including a restoration of Nancy Bea to proper prominence).
  • Anything Vin Scully wants or needs. If he wants coffee, you get it for him.
  • Better wireless access in the stadium. In 2012, fans shouldn’t be struggling to get a signal.
  • Elimination of “Don’t Stop Believin’ ” from the eighth inning and in “God Bless America” from the seventh inning except on the rarest of occasions. “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” will suffice.
  • Remove the restrictions on routes for exiting the parking lot after games.
  • Do not insult the intelligence of the Dodger community.
Oct 24

Dodgers cut season-ticket prices, just as fans might be more eager to buy

Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com has more on this morning’s news that the Dodgers were cutting season-ticket prices almost across the board. The price-cutting is an implicit acknowledgment of the flight from Dodger Stadium this year, and what’s potentially ironic is that it comes just as the owner who inspired much of that flight, Frank McCourt, continues to see his hold on the team fraying.

The official creditors committee in the Dodgers’ bankruptcy case has formally asked Judge Kevin Gross not to approve a premature auction of the team’s TV rights, reports Bill Shaikin of the Times, labeling it a “risky proposition” and calling for a sale of the team instead. The committee did ask, however, for a 30-day period before Judge Gross rules, to increase the possibility of a sale strategy that MLB and McCourt could agree upon.

McCourt has become an underdog in the objective sense, he’s up against a huge power play at this point. That doesn’t mean he can’t score, but more than ever, he is facing a situation where in order to retain any ownership, he might have to sell a significant portion of the franchise to potential teammates. And even the viability of that scenario is fading.

In any case, the landscape might change rapidly enough that fans who reduced or eliminated their Dodger ticket purchases in 2011 might have double the reason to amp up their ticket-buying for 2012. You can find a full chart of the price-saving here.

* * *

  • Matt Kemp has been officially announced as the winner of the fan-voted National League Hank Aaron Award for top hitter. From MLB.com:

    … Kemp made one of the best Triple Crown bids in recent years, falling just short. In addition to leading the NL in homers and RBIs (126), he finished third in batting behind Jose Reyes and Ryan Braun, at .324. Kemp also led the NL in runs (115) and total bases (353). The 2011 NL All-Star also finished among league leaders in multihit games (57, tied for first), hits (195, second), slugging percentage (.586, second), extra-base hits (76, second), stolen bases (40, tied for second), on-base percentage (.399, fourth) and walks (74, tied for eighth).

    Kemp became the seventh player in Major League history to finish the season ranked in the top three in homers, batting average, RBIs and stolen bases in their respective league, joining Hall of Famers Ty Cobb (1907, ’09-11), Honus Wagner (1908), George Sisler (’20), Chuck Klein (’32), Willie Mays (’55) and Aaron (’63). In addition, the sixth-round selection in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft was the first Dodger to lead the NL in home runs and RBIs since Dolph Camilli in 1941, and the first Dodger in history to lead the NL in homers, RBIs and runs scored….

  • I meant to do some research on World Series that were tied after four games, but Cliff Corcoran of SI.com beat me to it. “Remarkably, though a tie-breaking win in the fifth game of a best-of-seven series puts the victor just one out away from a series win, just two-thirds of the teams that have won a tie-breaking Game 5 in a best-of-seven World Series (26 of 39) have gone on to win the series, and just three of the last nine teams to break a Series tie with a Game 5 win went on to win the championship,” Corcoran found.
  • I found this anecdote from Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about former Cardinals closer Ryan Franklin poignant:

    … Franklin attended Sunday’s game as a guest of general manager John Mozeliak. “He made quite a commitment to our organization,” Mozeliak said. “It was very important to him to remain part of this club. And I think that was reflected in the way we worked with each other.” Mozeliak frequently sought Franklin’s input on rival personnel during the pitcher’s 4 1/2 seasons with the club. The two have remained in contact since Franklin’s release June 30 and Mozeliak has broached the possibility of Franklin rejoining the organization in another capacity. “It’s definitely something I would think about if I decide I’m done” playing, Franklin said. As for watching the team he was a part of compete for the World Series championship, Franklin admitted, “I feel connected in a way, especially to guys like (Jason) Motte and (Mitch) Boggs. It’s fun to watch but it’s also tough to watch.” Franklin hasn’t shut the door on playing again but admits he is leaning toward retirement. “I know if it started tomorrow I’d be leaning toward staying around the house,” Franklin said. “It was pretty neat to be able to take my kids on their first day of school. My wife thought so, too.”

  • Roy Oswalt and Brad Lidge will become free agents with the Phillies buying out their 2012 options, but if you’re looking for the most fun ex-Phillie pitcher to consider, consider one Jamie Moyer, who turns 49 next month. Moyer will be more than a year removed from Tommy John surgery when Spring Training starts in 2012.