Oct 02

Vin Scully hints at retirement after 2014 season

In an interview with KPCC 89.3 FM, Vin Scully indicated that he is leaning toward retiring after the 2014 season.

“Right, I’m pretty well sure – and I don’t want to go back and forth with it – but I’m looking to next year and figuring that should be about it,” Scully said.

It’s not a definitive statement, but always remember to cherish him while we still can.

Sep 30

My reign in Pittsburgh nears an end

For 21 years, I’ve been able to say I covered the last major-league playoff game in Pittsburgh (which also happened to be Barry Bonds’ last home game there). Tuesday night, that claim becomes a thing of the past.

I was in graduate school at Georgetown at the time, about half a year after I had left my full-time job at the Los Angeles Daily News, but drove up to Pittsburgh to freelance the stories. It was exciting for me to come to the place I can still hear Vin Scully describe in his inimitable way: “the confluence of the Allegheny, the Ohio and the Monongahela.”

My lasting memories from October 11, 1992 are mainly these: 1) how uncomfortable the artificial turf was to stand on for such a long time before the game, 2) serious discussion of whether the San Francisco Giants would actually move to Florida and 3) Bob Walk, who won Pittsburgh’s last game of the season with a complete-game five-walker, being rather snippish because I missed the initial round of interviews.

Here’s my sidebar on the game, followed by one (a little blurry, unfortunately) from two games earlier.

 

 

Sep 30

Bryan Stow struggles to remember what happened

From today’s entry at the website created in support of beating victim Bryan Stow:

… He seems to be having more issues with his memory and it understandably frustrates him. The other day we asked him if he remembered why he had memory problems he said “because I’m dumb”. It broke our hearts and we just had to remind him that is not true and it’s not his fault! So then we go through what happened to him and that he has suffered a TBI. He usually is pretty quiet after that, trying to process it all. All we can do is hug him and tell him he has us and we will never leave his side. …

* * *

Below is a video I found via Deadspin showing the return of Columbus, Ohio sports anchor Dom Tiberi after his 21-year-old daughter Maria died in a car accident. It’s every bit as heartbreaking as you imagine, but I also have great respect for Tiberi using his platform to remind drivers to be more careful.

Sep 29

State of the Dodgers entering the playoffs, 1983-2013


For the first time in exactly 30 years, the Dodgers will enter the playoffs with a losing record after September 1. However, winning the final month of the season hasn’t been much help. Going into 2013, Los Angeles had winning records after September 1 in eight straight playoff appearances, but only one led to a World Series.

1983
National League West champions by three games, 91-71, 14-16 in September/October. Clinched division in third-to-last game of season with 4-3 win over San Francisco, then lost final two games.
Playoffs: Lost National League Championship Series to Phillies. Game 1 was a 1-0 defeat at home (Steve Carlton over Jerry Reuss). Dodgers won Game 2, but dropped next two on road by 7-2 scores.

1985
NL West champions by 5 1/2 games, 95-67, 21-15 in September/October. Clinched division with nearly a week remaining. Lost three of final four games.
Playoffs: Won first two games of NLCS at home against Cardinals, then lost next four, the final two on home runs by Ozzie Smith and Jack Clark.

1988
NL West champions by seven games, 94-67, 17-12 in September/October. Clinched division with more than a week remaining. Lost four of final seven games.
Playoffs: Good.

1995
NL West champions by one game, 78-66, 17-10 in September/October. Won seven of final nine games, took division lead with four games to go and hung on, finishing with two straight victories.
Playoffs: Swept in three games by Cincinnati (first two at home) in NL Division Series.

1996
NL wild card team, finishing one game behind San Diego, 90-72, 16-11 in September despite losing final four games. Swept in final three-game series by Padres, the last two games after a playoff spot was clinched, losing finale in 11 innings, 2-0.
Playoffs: Swept in three games by Atlanta (first two at home, each decided by one run) in NLDS, thereby finishing the year with a seven-game losing streak.

2004
NL West champions by two games, 93-69, 15-13 in September. Clinched division in second-to-last game of season with seven-run ninth inning against Giants, capped by Steve Finley grand slam. Lost season finale, 10-0.
Playoffs: Lost first two NLDS games on road at St. Louis, each by 8-3 scores. Won first playoff game in 16 years behind Jose Lima’s shutout, 4-0. Eliminated at home with 6-2 defeat.

2006
NL wild card, 88-74, 16-12 in September finishing tied with San Diego but losing division based on head-to-head record. Won final seven games of regular season, including 19-11 victory in Colorado and two one-run victories in final three. Clinched playoff berth over Philadelphia on second-to-last day of season, but San Diego victory over Arizona on final day decided NL West title.
Playoffs: Swept in three NLDS games by New York Mets, losing first two on road, with two players thrown out at home on same pay in second inning of first game.

2008
NL West champions by two games, 84-78, 17-8 in September. Three games under .500 when September began. Clinched division when Arizona lost fourth-to-last game of season. Lost two of three games after division was clinched.
Playoffs: As significant underdog, upset Cubs in NLDS with three-game sweep, outscoring Chicago, 20-6. Lost NL Championship Series in five games to Philadelphia. Key error by Rafael Furcal contributed to Game 1 defeat. Game 2 was the game that made Chad Billingsley famous. Hiroki Kuroda pitched Los Angeles to Game 3 victory at home, but in Game 4 came Shane Victorino and Matt Stairs.

2009
NL West champions by three games, 95-67, 15-12 in September. Up six games over Colorado with seven to play, Dodgers gave up four runs in the bottom of the ninth at Pittsburgh to launch a five-game losing streak, before a 5-0 victory over the Rockies in second-to-last game of season clinched division and league’s best record. Dodgers won meaningless finale, 5-3.
Playoffs: Swept Cardinals in three-game series, including improbable ninth-inning comeback in Game 2. Lost to Phillies in NLCS in five games. After 11-0 defeat in Game 3, Dodgers had chance to even series before Jonathan Broxton allowed two runs in bottom of the ninth of Game 4.

2013
NL West Champions by 11 games, 92-70, 12-15 in September. Began the final month 3-0, capping 53-13 (.803) run, then went 4-10 before clinching division September 19 with nine games remaining. Lost four of last five games.
Playoffs: Open five-game NLDS on road at Atlanta on Thursday.

Sep 28

Highway 161 game chat

Number of MLB teams with at least 90 wins since 2002
2002: 11
2003: 8
2004: 10
2005: 7
2006: 6
2007: 6
2008: 6
2009: 7
2010: 9
2011: 9
2012: 9
2013: 11

Rockies at Dodgers, 6:10 p.m.

If Zack Greinke avoids four hitless at-bats in his final start of the season, he’ll finish with an on-base percentage of more than .400. And if he avoids an 0-for-8, he’ll finish with a batting average above .300.

Sep 27

MLB’s NIT: A look ahead

Though we’re all excited about the Dodgers in the playoffs, don’t forget that Major League Baseball has another thrilling postseason tournament coming fast toward us (in my imagination).

Barring any changes over the final three days of the regular season, the top seeds for the MLB National Invitational Tournament will be the Texas Rangers in the American League and the Washington Nationals in the National League. But before those best-of-11, neutral-site series begin, we have two cross-country play-in showdowns shaping up between the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Angels in the AL and the San Francisco Giants and the New York Mets in the NL.(The play-ins, of course, are one inning each, taking place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil no more than 18 hours after the regular season ends and televised by the FXXXXX network.)

So print your brackets and make your picks!

Coming soon: the MLB Invitational, where the Houston Astros and Miami Marlins eye their one shining moment.

 

Sep 26

Victim was son of Dodger security guard

An official statement from the Dodgers:

“The Dodgers are shocked and saddened to learn of the death of Jonathan Denver, who is the son of one of our security guards.

“There is no rational explanation for this senseless act which resulted in Jonathan’s death.  The pain that this has caused his family and friends is unimaginable.  Words are not enough to describe our sadness.  Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family during this extremely difficult time.”

More details from the Times, whose Lee Romney calls it “more complicated than the 2011 brutal beating outside Dodger Stadium that left Giants fan Bryan Stow with severe brain damage.”

Sep 26

‘Jonathan Denver was not even much of a baseball fan’

From the San Francisco Chronicle website:

Jonathan Denver was not even much of a baseball fan.

On Monday, the 24-year-old plumber’s apprentice who was known as JD, asked for two days off from work in the North Coast town of Fort Bragg to come to San Francisco to meet up with his father – who was the big Dodgers fan – and attend Wednesday night’s game against the Giants at AT&T Park.

“He just wanted to spend the day with his father,” said his boss, Cas Smith, owner of North Coast Plumbing, Heating and Sheet Metal Inc. “I should have said ‘no.’ “

Denver was wearing Dodgers gear, police say, when he was stabbed at Third and Harrison streets after the game. Police have arrested two men, ages 21 and 18, but have not released their names. …

… Smith said the only serious brush with the law that he knew of involving Denver was a drunken driving arrest in July. He said Denver had some problems in that area but had been getting on with his life.

 

Sep 25

The Bison’s back in town

Matt Kemp’s game-winning homer (and just let that phrase marinate for a moment) Tuesday was the latest sign that he will be a key factor in the Dodger postseason.

Kemp has a .385 on-base percentage. .542 slugging percentage and .927 OPS in 26 plate appearances since returning from the disabled list September 16, .384 OBP, .576 slugging and .959 OPS in 73 plate appearances since May 28. Concerns remain about his durability this year, but he’s quickly knocking down the arguments that he’s not capable of helping this Dodger team.

Dodgers at Giants, 7:15 p.m.

Sep 24

A 10-man playoff pitching staff?

Dodgers at Giants, 7:15 p.m.

Feels like the Dodgers have been on the road for a long time.

Here’s a somewhat radical idea for the Dodgers’ National League Division Series roster: With off days after Games 2 and 4, would it make more sense for the Dodgers to go with 10 pitchers and 15 position players.

That way you could keep a bench of Tim Federowicz, Michael Young, Skip Schumaker, Nick Punto, Scott Van Slyke and Dee Gordon, while still having a relief corps of Kenley Jansen, Paco Rodriguez, Brian Wilson, Chris Withrow, J.P. Howell and Ronald Belisario. That’s six pitchers in the bullpen, none of them having to pitch more than two days in a row.

It figures that the Dodgers will have more trouble scoring runs than preventing them, so it might make much more sense to allocate more manpower to the offense than to an 11th pitcher like Carlos Marmol, Brandon League or Edinson Volquez who might only pitch in a lost cause.