Jun 04

Farewell, John Wooden


Johnwooden.com

John Wooden, who held the city of Los Angeles tightly in his grip like the rolled-up program he clutched courtside, who along with Vin Scully was one of the city’s two true gentlemen, has passed away at age 99.

He was an influence on me as a child, like he was on so many others – an influence that wasn’t lost as I grew older. As much as anyone else outside my family, he taught me about sportsmanship, about striving for excellence without losing your bearings. And every time you heard him speak, you were reminded. The combination of Wooden’s dignity, sensitivity and acumen will never be surpassed.

Another thing he tried to teach is how to face death. I’m still struggling to learn — and today doesn’t make it any easier.

When news spread Thursday that his condition was grave, I began to prepare some thoughts about him, though I left them unfinished heading into today. This afternoon, I was walking and thinking about what I had written, thinking it was all a bit too grandiose – not for him, nothing could be too grandiose for him – but for me. I didn’t go to UCLA, though I grew up going to UCLA basketball games. I didn’t meet him, except for getting my picture with him at basketball camp. He was a hero of mine, but he belonged to so many others even more – on a deeply personal level. I will always have what I had with him. Others won’t. Think what their loss must feel like.

But still, I will miss him. I am not comfortable with the idea that someone with his life force is no longer alive. Even though Wooden would be the first, the very first, to say not to shed a tear, to say we should only celebrate the life instead of lamenting the death, I’m feeling a weakness, hearing this news. I feel him gone.

It’s not so easy to let go.

May 30

The fort

It just doesn’t go the way you think it will on paper.

In March 2008, I took on the job of writing 100 Things the week my third child was about to be born. On paper, this was practically a suicide mission. How was I going to write a book with a full-time job, this blog and a newborn baby to go with two other children? But that baby, as I wrote in the book’s dedication, did me the great favor of asking nothing of us except for milk, sleep and a clean diaper. If he had all three of those things, he did not complain at all. You put him in the bassinet and later the crib, and he would go to sleep like angels had told him so. I wrote the book tired, but couldn’t have asked for more support from that baby.

Now my youngest is a third-year veteran. This should have been the year he matured as a sleeper. But he’s regressed to the mean – below it, in fact. Sweet as can be, but sleeps lighter than a feather on the jet stream. Wakes up in the middle of the night for no apparent reason other than to just get a quick confirmation that we’re all still around, wakes up for good at dawn or earlier. His older brother has moved out of his room most nights to sleep in his sister’s room – partly because older brother adores older sister, but partly because we’re worried about older brother being conscious at school the next day.

I adore my family the way I adore the Dodgers – more so, of course – but my wife and I now feel the strain of three children the way the Dodgers feel the strain of trying to manage that fifth starter. No matter how much you love the game or its players, it is a chore. It’s nothing new as far as the history of this planet, but for us it’s a real test. And my wife’s been under the weather a good amount this year – think about a Dodger having nagging injuries. I’m working this labor of love plus my day job and other freelance work – think of Ramon Troncoso getting thrown into game after game ’til his arm’s about to fall off. It gets testy, inside my head as well as outside. I’ve snapped some words that I regret. But it’s no mystery why I snapped ‘em.

This afternoon, while I was out in the yard with my youngest, escaping from my worries and self-loathing with some semblance of idyllic parenting, my wife and my two oldest built the fort to end all forts in my daughter’s room. A domestic work of art. At bedtime, the two kids camped under it, high as kites. I let them have their fun, but as time passed after the lights went out, I got angry with them out of fear they’d wake the light-sleeping baby, out of fatigue that they just wouldn’t end their day so that I could end mine, out of frustration that for the nine billionth consecutive day, they just won’t do what I want when I want ‘em to.

I had a drink – something I do one or twice a month, usually when I’m upset about something – and watched a screener of Treme, next week’s Mardi Gras episode, the combination affecting me quite strongly.

My oldest son came out of the bedroom. His sister had moved out of the fort into her bed, and he was feeling alone. The fort, so fun on paper, wasn’t fun anymore. I hugged him and soothed him. I told him his sister was still with him even though she wasn’t in the fort anymore.  We were all there for him.  He went back into his sleeping bag in the fort and went to sleep.

Fifteen minutes later, my daughter came out. She wasn’t sleeping. She couldn’t sleep. I hugged her and soothed her. We had fought today. Long story short, I thought she was being selfish. She went in the backyard to stew. In the ninth inning of today’s Dodger game, with the tying runs on against Jonathan Broxton, I went outside into the yard to talk to her. And didn’t solve anything. It was that kind of thing. She’s 7 now – think how this is gonna go when she’s 17.

But for now, it was 9:45 p.m., more than an hour past her bedtime. I hugged her and soothed her. I held her. I want to stop the clock at these moments. She is so precious, but she is a live wire, and I have a temper. And yet we both have fun together. I don’t know which is gonna win out in the long run.  We’re gonna have to play the games to see what wins – happiness or the other.

I brought her back to bed. My oldest was asleep under the fort. My youngest was asleep in the next room. And within moments, the girl who couldn’t fall asleep fell asleep. My poor wife came upstairs to the bedroom, and the house is quiet, and I realize I’m writing this because for all my complaining, this is what I want to feel. I was wrong when I started writing this. This is how it’s supposed to be, on paper, when you have five crazy, uncontrollable, volatile people under the same roof.  This is how it goes. You feel like a loser, and then it catches you by surprise: You have more innings to play, and you’re still alive.

May 27

Ron Artest …


Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

… walked Matt Stairs … hit Carlos Ruiz with a pitch … and then came back to strike out Jimmy Rollins.

Apr 07

Happy 100th birthday, Grandma Sue!


Aaron and Sue Weisman

I’m in such awe that I don’t feel I can convey it sufficiently, so I’m left with starting this post with the basics.

Sue Weisman, my grandmother, born on April 7, 1910, is 100 years old today.

The last thing you expect is for someone to live to be 100, but if anyone were going to do it, it was Grandma Sue, a straight-shooting, take-life-as-it-comes woman. Her early childhood years – the sixth of eight children of Minsk immigrants – came during World War I: “I used to be scared that those horrible helmets would be walking down the street. During the night I used to think about that. … The spiked helmets scared the hell out of me.” Grandma heard about the end of the war from a phone call to the family business: Hers was the first family she knew to have a telephone. “There was a false Armistice, and we thought we’d get a day off from school. So, instead of us going to school — and of course, we were penalized, and we had to stay after school, so I never forgot that. And then about two weeks later, there was a real Armistice.

Her parents owned a restaurant. “They were originally in the saloon business until … Prohibition came. My father was a Beau Brummel, a gay blade, who wore something on his mustache when he went to bed and kept his hat in a leather case and loved all the nice things. My mother worked like a dog.”

My favorite story about her is from her New York/Lower East Side childhood, when in between ice skating and baseball and football with her friends of both genders, this little Jewish girl was dressed as if she were being driven to church, all so that he could be a decoy for liquor to be smuggled undetected during Prohibition. Married and moving to Chicago at age 20, her next decade brought her a husband, Aaron, who found work during the Depression working as an accountant for Ralph Capone, Al’s brother – years living in terror underscored by Aaron’s uncle Sol being “taken for a ride” and never returning. “Honey, the stuff I had to take in that crappy apartment, oh God. Every hoodlum in the world was up there.“  The first year they were married, Aaron met her outside their apartment one night and told her he was nearly tossed out the 10th floor window.

And then there was her live-in mother-in-law, Aaron’s mother Ida, who once held a butcher’s knife to her and was so remorselessly unpleasant that when she passed away in 1961, my father says he went down to the hospital “to make sure she was dead.”

Sue has three children – Jerry, my father Wally (75 next month) and my aunt Elinor – eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. It’s both fact and appropriate metaphor that Sue did all the driving in the family. Aaron, who never got behind a steering wheel in my lifetime, retired relatively young from a liquor distribution business and led a sedentary life, but Sue was constantly out and about. Papa Aaron taught me poker; Grandma Sue played catch with me in my backyard well into her 60s.  A fanatic about books, art and culture, Grandma Sue was an original volunteer at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art when it opened in the 1960s and, long after my grandfather died in 1994 at age 86, continued there past age 95. No doubt, soon after we celebrate her birthday tonight and this weekend, she’ll be escorted to a play or the opera. Physically, she isn’t what once was, but her mental acuity has barely dimmed at all.

My sister Robyn – whose video interview with my grandmother from years back provided the quotes above – offers the following:

In 1928, Grandma Sue took the New York State Regents Exam in English. She scored 90 on the exam, with a perfect 50 on the essay portion. Not only was it the highest score in the five boroughs of New York City, it was so unheard of that 20 years later, Grandma’s younger sister Mickey, by then an English teacher herself, mentioned this to an older colleague, and he said, “Your sister was the one who scored that 50?” with the sort of awe that’s typically reserved for Hank Aaron’s 715th home run or Sandy Koufax’s perfect game.

“I don’t know what the hell I did! I wrote something very naturally, and I never had a grammatical error,” Grandma told me a few years ago. When I asked her what the topic was, she said she wrote about a young man who came from lowly surroundings and built himself into a well-dressed and well-educated boy who wore a suit and a real hat when other boys his age were still wearing caps or going bareheaded.

“So it was a creative essay?” I said.

“No, I couldn’t write about Tom, Dick and Harry. I couldn’t write a story,” she said. I didn’t argue with her because her hearing is so bad and shouting and enunciating is something I try to avoid unless it’s really necessary. If a (then) 96-year-old woman wants to claim she isn’t a storyteller, I guess I can nod with the condescension the middle-aged too often show the elderly and think, “Right, this coming from the woman who changed her name from Sarah to Sue around the time ‘The Great Gatsby’ had its first printing because it sounded more modern.”

But just know that Jon can’t help it that he writes about baseball with such depth, humor and lyricism. It’s in his genes. He descends from a woman who tells a story with such craft that it feels tossed off, which it may well be. It’s an intuitive sense that she has, like her perfect grammar.

I’d love to recount some of her recollections from the days when our grandfather worked for the Capone mob, among so many other stories. Instead I’ll tell one she told offhandedly to Jon, me and a few other relatives the day of Jon’s youngest son’s bris because it’s an example of her offhand approach to storytelling.

We were waiting in Jon’s living room while Jon’s wife and the baby were in a guest bedroom with the mohel, and everyone was nervous. Then Grandma piped up. “After Jerry was born, my father came to Chicago for the bris, and when he saw how the mohel was holding the knife, he grabbed it out of his hand — because from running the restaurant, he knew how to use one — and he said, ‘I didn’t come all the way from Manhattan to see you castrate my first-born grandchild!’ And he did it himself. It was a real worry back then, you know.”

She was 98 when she told that story. She’s 100 today. Happy birthday, Grandma. We wouldn’t be here without you (obviously), and you shaped us into who we are. And for my part, I’m grateful to you for it.

Yes, happy birthday Grandma. I have never been the greatest grandson, but I am so proud of you and to know you, and do love you.

Apr 01

The heroes of my youth

When you think back to being a kid, who were the stars that meant the most to you? They weren’t actually all stars, were they?

The heroes of my youth, the people in sports and culture who affected me, influenced me and changed me … it’s no April Fool’s joke, but no one in their right or wrong mind would have the same group.  A mix of legends and larks – some off the wall, some on – all making for good stories.

Some were special for obvious reasons, some only because they arrived in my consciousness at just the right time, just when I needed someone to emulate, or celebrate, or maybe just smile about. They arrived just when I was ready to love them. And I think I do love them. I don’t think I’d be writing about them today if I didn’t love them.

Here is a tribute to some of those who, for different reasons, made a lifelong impression on me as a kid growing up in Los Angeles:

Happy Hairston: In 1972, my final year of living in the first house I knew, the Lakers were having a little bit of a winning streak. For the first time that I can recall, I played basketball with my older brother in the driveway. I was 4 going on 5; he was 8 going on 9. We would pretend to be the Lakers, and he would be Gail Goodrich and tell me that I was Happy Hairston. Even at that young age, I had the sense that I was getting the second-fiddle player – something told me that a basketball player named Happy couldn’t be that good, and might even be a dwarf. But he wasn’t bad, and most importantly, he was my guy. My first sports identity.

George Long/WireImage/Getty Images

* * *

Kent McCord: My earliest “What do you want to be when you grow up” was a policeman. Then, I decided I wanted to be a TV star. Then I saw Adam-12, and I realized I could become both. Even at such a young age, I learned the names of the actors. Kent McCord wins in a tossup over Martin Milner.  (It’s funny how times change – my 7 1/2-year-old daughter still hasn’t seen a primetime show because of all the kiddie options available to her, but I was soaking them up on my own TV before my fifth birthday.)

* * *

Hank Aaron: On vacation at the White Stallion Ranch in Tucson, Arizona, when I wasn’t riding horses, avoiding cactii, wearing a bolo tie (John Wooden got it from me) and getting covered in dust, I was chalking up the earliest baseball memory that sticks with me to this day: being in front of a TV set with a bunch of other dude ranchers when Henry Louis Aaron hit his 715th home run. I don’t remember it well – it’s more of a still frame shot in my mind – and deep down, I fear my sister will read this and tell me I’ve got the details all wrong, but all I know is I’ve been seeing that scene in my memory forever. (Below is Vin Scully’s marvelous call.)

* * *

Dr. George Fischbeck: Lots of different things work into this one. At the end of a field trip to a museum early in grade school, I came home with a book, “The World of Weather and Climate.” Around the same time, I started going beyond the comic section of the newspaper and into the weather page. And then there was night after night of watching Channel 7 Eyewitness News on our 5-inch black-and-white kitchen TV, with Jerry Dunphy, Christine Lund, Fast Eddie Alexander, Stu Nahan … and Dr. George, the Captain Kangaroo of weathermen. My brother, sister and I even wrote a song one December, “We Wish You a Merry Fischbeck.” Not only did he introduce me to barometric pressure, he also hosted Saturday night, pre-prime-time half-hour shows, including one burned into my brain that introduced me to the Hindenberg. Oh, the humidity! TV cop had been replaced in my ambitions. I was going to be a TV weatherman.

* * *

James Harris: I just liked him at first because he was good. He was the quarterback the night I truly became a sports fan – August 9, 1975, a preseason 35-7 slaughter by the Rams over the Cowboys at the Coliseum, where for the first time I was truly captivated by the game in front of me. (And they say exhibitions don’t matter!) That I later learned that Harris was a relative pioneer as a black quarterback only enhanced my childhood passion for him. I even had a brief fascination with Grambling. I went from weather to sports, and almost never left.

Nate Fine/Getty Images

* * *

Lawrence McCutcheon: Lawrence of Los Angeles. I still have the T-shirt I wore 35 years ago – I even had my 5-year-old son try it on … carefully … a few weeks back. One 1,000-yard season after another. The first great player that I discovered for myself. O.J. Simpson and Franco Harris were more famous, but they weren’t mine. Lawrence was my first Pedro Guerrero – an underappreciated heavy-hitter.

Martin Mills/Getty Images

* * *

Spider Sabich: Later immortalized (if I may use the term ironically) in news and then on “Saturday Night Live” as the skier who was “accidentally shot” by Claudine Longet, Sabich was in a ski film that we watched during our beginner days at June Mountain in the mid-’70s.  A race announcer said that Sabich had broken his neck. Then there was a pause.  And then, the announcer said – as if he needed time to think about it – that Sabich would be unable to continue racing that day. My brother and I thought that pause was just hysterical. Poor Spider.

* * *

Manny Mota: This one really needs no explanation. Suffice it to say, Mota might have been my first sports folk hero.

Diamond Images/Getty Images

* * *

Bob Cousy: The sports books I read as a kid had a profound effect on me. I checked a Cousy biography out of the school library, not really knowing anything about him – honestly, I’m not sure I had even heard of him. I might have just checked it out because there was a basketball player on the cover. Reading about the hours and hours of practice he put in as a schoolboy, I got my first introduction to the idea of working at becoming a great athlete – up to that point, I think I assumed sports heroes were born great. For a brief time, I allowed myself to believe that if I worked at it, I could become great – and though that turned out not to be true, I can’t say that ethic has hurt me.

* * *

The Superstars: It was an exhibition … but you couldn’t have told me it didn’t matter. The Superstars on ABC in the mid-’70s were huge to my brother and me. We would watch religiously and stage elaborate recreations. Just thinking of the Obstacle Course makes me sigh … I mean, this was even bigger to me than Battle of the Network Stars.

* * *

Reggie Smith: Garvey, Lopes, Cey and Russell should maybe be on this list, but again, the underappreciated tend to win out for me. And on those 1970s Dodger teams, Smith was underappreciated. I used to think “cool” meant the Fonz and the Sweathogs. Then I realized “cool” meant Reggie Smith. The Yankees could have their Reg-gie, Reg-gie – I liked ours.

Michael Zagaris/Getty Images

* * *

Lynn Swann: In the first Super Bowl I can remember watching live on TV, my life was forever changed by Swann’s tip-to-himself catch of a Terry Bradshaw bomb in a key moment of the Steelers’ victory over the Cowboys. No other football play in my life did I reenact more.

* * *

Ron LeFlore: The roots of this story go to LeVar Burton’s portrayal of LeFlore in “One in a Million: The Ron LeFlore Story,” a TV movie. A baseball player who came … from jail? Rock my world.

* * *

Slick Watts and Curly Neal: For reasons that I can’t explain, if you were a bald basketball player with incredible skills, you had me transfixed.

* * *

Don Chaney: I couldn’t shoot when I first started in grade-school pickup games. My first summer at John Wooden Basketball Camp, when I was 9, my coach actually had me stay in the backcourt while our team was on offense. Thank goodness for the Lakers acquiring Chaney, which introduced to me the concept of the defensive specialist. Now that was something I could aspire to. Now that blocked shot I had at basketball camp on a one-on-one fast break wasn’t just a random event – it was the start of something big. Of course I was fooling myself just as much, but you can still credit most of my understanding that there was more to basketball than scoring to Don Chaney.

* * *

Franz Klammer: “Into the bear turn!” To this day, Klammer winning the gold at Innsbruck is the greatest ski run I’ve ever seen.

* * *

Wes Unseld: One day I decided either I needed a new favorite basketball player, or I wanted to adopt someone who wasn’t a Laker – I forget which, but either way it was just for fun. So I took the boxscores of that morning’s sports section, closed my eyes and stuck a finger down on the name Unseld. I can’t remember the point total next to it, but it probably said 2. And the next day, maybe it said 5. At first, I was disappointed that I had landed on someone who didn’t even score as much as Happy Hairston, but eventually I learned what a great defender and rebounder he was. Wes Unseld was all right in my book.

* * *

Abraham Lincoln: Okay, it’s not exactly profound to include Lincoln, but he makes the list because his geared-for-kids biography was a primary example of the right book making someone larger than life accessible to me. I can’t tell you how many times I re-read that book. It three-dimensionalized him.

* * *

Magic Johnson: Another of my favorite sports stories from kidhood comes from John Wooden Basketball Camp. Each session, Wooden would hold a Q&A with the campers. In the summer of ’79, shortly after the NBA draft, one of the campers asked Wooden which new first-round draft pick would be better for the Lakers: Brad Holland or Earvin Johnson. Wooden avoided the easy choice – Holland, the UCLA graduate – and went out on a limb to choose Magic. And then Magic hugged Kareem, and everyone in Los Angeles had a new best friend.

* * *

Pedro Guerrero: I can remember when Guerrero played second base for the Dodgers. That’s how solid my Guerrero cred is. I can tell you how he batted .625 in his first season. I can explain to you the Bill James argument for why he should have been the 1981 World Series MVP – by himself – and tell you all about the glorious summer of 1985. I will stand no aspersions cast at Pedro Guerrero.

AP

* * *

Ken Coleman: The Red Sox announcer wrote a book, “So You Think You Want to Be a Sportscaster.” As it happens, I did think I wanted to be a sportscaster. And I read Coleman’s book inside and out, up, down and sideways, and began trying to broadcast games in my bedroom. And then I turned to writing.

* * *

Steven Bochco: Along with Michael Kozoll, Bochco was the man behind “Hill Street Blues,” the television love of my life. Turned onto it by my brother, I watched it every Thursday, rooting for it to survive its terrible ratings. When my brother went off to college in 1981, I recorded every episode, watched them, then watched them again in late-night marathons with my brother on winter and spring vacations. But strangely, it never occurred to me as a kid to write for television as a grownup, and I think you can blame my overall obsession with sports for that. I spent more time dreaming of making a leaping catch at the wall or a turnaround three-pointer at the buzzer than writing for the greatest show of my generation.

* * *

R.J. Reynolds: Hmm, I think I’ve said a thing or two about R.J. in the past.

* * *

Vin Scully: Around the time I realized I was never going to be a pro athlete, there was Vinny to give my life purpose. I can’t tell you how lucky I feel that to this day, he exists as a role model, as well as the greatest broadcasting voice I’ll ever know.

Mar 27

A bitter end

Coming shortly after the struggle was chronicled on Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, here’s a very detailed article on Mike Penner/Christine Daniels by Christopher Goffard of the Times.

* * *

At Baseball Analysts, Stan Opdyke (Dodger Thoughts commenter Stan from Tacoma) tells the story of Pat Rispole, who preserved a multitude of old radio baseball broadcasts. Opdyke also provides highlights from some of those games.

Mar 26

Hong-Chih Kuo closer to the disabled list


Mark Duncan/AP
Hong-Chih Kuo, shown here March 2, last pitched in a game for the Dodgers on March 19.

Another spot in the bullpen is on the verge of opening with the news from Dodger manager Joe Torre that reliever Hong-Chih Kuo has been shut down and likely will be on the disabled list when Opening Day comes, according to Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

With Ronald Belisario AWOL, that leaves a core of four starters (Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, Hiroki Kuroda and Vicente Padilla) and three relievers (Jonathan Broxton, George Sherrill, Ramon Troncoso) and either four or five open spots on the pitching staff. If nothing else, Carlos Monasterios is pretty much a lock at this point to make the team.

* * *

Russell Martin will rest Saturday after a busy Friday in which he caught six innings, batted six times and scored from first on a double (in a minor-league game).

* * *

Giants pitcherum Tim Lincecum is also playing catchup, writes Chris Haft of MLB.com.

… Lincecum allowed only one run in four innings in the Giants’ 5-3 Cactus League victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday, but allowed six hits and walked two — though he did strike out seven.

The Giants ace said afterward that he’s “85 percent sure with my body of what I’m doing out there and confidence-wise. Hopefully that last tuneup job will help.” He admitted that he’s progressing “a little slower than I wanted to.”

Lincecum’s final exhibition outing before he starts the April 5 regular-season opener at Houston won’t be a high-profile appearance. Though his next scheduled turn would arrive next Wednesday, when the Giants play their Cactus League finale against the Los Angeles Dodgers, he’s virtually certain to pitch a Minor League exhibition or intrasquad game instead.

This would serve a dual purpose. It would prevent the Dodgers from getting a studied look at Lincecum before the regular season, and it would enable the two-time National League Cy Young Award winner to address his pitching flaws in a relaxed atmosphere. …

* * *

On weekends, my 5-year-old son sleeps in a sleeping bag on the floor of my 7-year-old daughter’s room. Tonight, my daughter wanted to switch. Because of the way they were behaving before bedtime, I declined her request.

Later, my daughter went up to my son:
D: “I envy you.”
S: “What does that spell?”
D: “I envy you.”
S: “WHAT DOES THAT SPELL?!”

Mar 23

Bad news: Dodgers cut their best blogger

For months now, Dodger minor leaguer Brian Akin has been delighting us with his Dear (Tommy) John Letters blog. Sadly, Akin now passes along word that the Dodgers have released him.

… Considering all of the factors, I can’t say that I am all that surprised by the decision. Unfortunately it doesn’t make it any easier. The most difficult part of the situation is the fact that my arm feels great. I only threw twice this spring, but I pitched well in both outings. For the first time since 2007, I felt like I was in control of the game. You know when you’re playing Monopoly and everyone decides to quit right when you get that hotel on Boardwalk? That’s kind of what this feels like.

There is one very big positive that comes with my new found unemployment. I get to be home with my wife. If my playing days are indeed over, I’ll really miss baseball – but I’m excited about missing baseball from home rather than missing my wife from the road.

Though I know it’s disappointing, I can add one other positive. Based on his writing, I’d say that Akin has a bright future in whatever he does. Brian, somehow I’m thinking your cup is half-full.

Mar 23

Our cups runneth under


This metaphor comes with the Dodger logo and will cost you only $11.95, plus shipping.

Most cups and glasses (at least of the non-mug variety) are wider at the top than down low. You can take a big first gulp, and when you look down, it still feels like you’ve got plenty left. It might feel practically bottomless.

Then, when you’re not quite ready or prepared for it, there’s a figurative tipping point. The relative slimness of the cup becomes problematic. Not only do you have less left to drink, but each sip lowers down the level of what you have at an accelerated pace. The less you have left, the faster it seems to go.

So many of us forget to savor, or maybe we don’t know how. That’s why cups should be wider at the bottom. And if cups aren’t, then at the very least, life should be.

Mar 20

Happy birthday, littlest one

Not Clayton Kershaw – he was yesterday. Nope, today’s wishes go to my big little boy, who already knows to say “Dodgers” when you “Root, root root for the …”  He doubled his age overnight – how many people can say that?

Happy birthday, my boy.  Hope it’s a day worth remembering, even though you won’t remember …

Mar 14

Age is just a number … that tells you how old you are

It wasn’t just Garret Anderson making his 2010 debut today.

This morning, I played my first game of softball in more than a year, and had a great time despite the realization that my Strat-o-Matic card has gone from a CF 1e2 (+2) to a CF 3e6 (+3). And don’t even ask about my baserunning rating.

I could really feel the passage of time, both in the physical limitations and the instinctive ones. Things normally intuitive – the way I’d close in on a ball, for example – I had to think about. And considering that almost all my exercise is fingers on a keyboard, it was inevitable that I would tweak something. Sure enough, the first time I raced for a ball to my left, I got a twinge in my right rear bumper, so I was towing that leg the rest of the game.

With more frequent play, I’d get a second wind, but infrequency is my sandlot in life.

Nevertheless, I went 2-for-6 with three hard-hit outs and made a few solid plays. And it was a great day to be out on the grass again.

* * *

And now back to your regularly scheduled programming …

  • In the past 10 innings of Dodger baseball, I’ve had the unexpected TV pleasure of seeing prospects Trayvon Robinson and Brian Cavazos-Galvez hit towering homers. Oh, and Matt Kemp too.
  • Perhaps the top rising pitching prospect in the Dodger minor-league system, Chris Withrow, played his first Spring Training game with the big club today and struck out all three batters he faced. Details from Eric Stephen at True Blue L.A.
  • An error in the field and a pickoff on the bases today might have slowed the Blake DeWitt Starting Lineup Express just a tad, but even if it arrives, Dodger manager Joe Torre indicated he’s still inclined to give both Ronnie Belliard and Jamey Carroll some starts, according to this Ken Gurinck story at MLB.com. “Again, if it happens to be DeWitt, we’ll certainly make sure that Carroll and Belliard have to be part of the equation somewhat,” Torre said.
  • Dodger assistant general manager and director of player development De Jon Watson talked about Ivan DeJesus, Jr. and Dee Gordon with David Laurila of Baseball Prospectus.
  • To his credit, Dodger postgame radio host Ken Levine talked openly about a TV broadcast gone awry last week.
  • Don’t forget to join the Dodger Thoughts March Madness pool. Password is “Kershaw.”
Mar 06

More than a game …

Lots of emotional moments going on …

White Sox at Dodgers,
12:05 p.m.

Today’s Lineup
Rafael Furcal, SS
Matt Kemp, CF
Andre Ethier, RF
Manny Ramirez, DH
James Loney, 1B
Casey Blake, 3B
Ronnie Belliard, 2B
Xavier Paul, LF
Brad Ausmus, C
(Eric Stults, P)
  • The Make-a-Wish foundation brought 17-year-old San Bruno resident Chris Ramirez, who has an inoperable brain tumor, to Camelback Ranch for a special day. Ken Gurnick of MLB.com has the story.
  • Cardinals reliever Trever Miller – ever so briefly a Dodger 10 years ago – ran a 10K Friday morning before Spring Training workouts began in honor of his 5-year-old daughter, Grace, who was born “born prematurely with an extremely rare chromosomal disorder that left her with two holes in her heart and numerous developmental problems,” writes Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
  • Tonight is the Ante Up for Autism fundraiser in Arizona, hosted by Matt Kemp and his agent, former Dodger Dave Stewart.
  • Approximately 1,500 people attended the funeral of Mater Dei High School softball star Brianne Matthews, who committed suicide Feb. 25. Melissa Rohlin of the Times writes about it.
  • Friday in the Angels clubhouse, bronze statues were presented to pitcher Jered Weaver and Rookie League manager Tom Kotchman, winners of the first annual Nick Adenhart pitcher of the year and Preston Gomez minor-league manager of the year awards, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the Times.

Elsewhere …

  • Good reports from the keystone: Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com on Blake DeWitt; Dylan Hernandez of the Times on Rafael Furcal.
  • It doesn’t look like fans will have to worry about Kemp batting eighth again. Joe Torre told The Associated Press that he thinks Kemp can thrive in the No. 2 spot. “I think that second spot has changed its personality a lot,” Torre said. “Years ago when you had Pee Wee Reese hitting second, his job was to move the runner and stuff. Now you want to move the runner all the way around to score.”