Apr 05

Twenty years

Twenty years ago, I ditched my graduate school classes at Georgetown to watch the Dodgers’ season-opening game, which happened to be the Florida Marlins’ franchise-opening game.

Twenty years.

That just ain’t right.

I was outlining my first screenplay and just beginning to dream of my second major life decision in a year, moving back from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles to pursue writing for the screen.

I was interested in a girl in school, whom the following month I would have my first date with, and soon fall in love with, greatly complicating the thoughts laid out in the previous paragraph.

I had already loved and lost, both in my personal life and my professional life, the culmination of which helped send me to Washington in the first place.

I was four years out of college and already so much had happened. In four years. And now it’s been 20.

How can this be?

I hardly feel any different from the 25-year-old on the futon in that Woodley Park apartment. But everything around me is so different.

On April 5, 1993, Charlie Hough and the Marlins beat the Dodgers, 6-3. Hough, almost impossibly old for a pitcher, was the same age then that I am now.

Pirates at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.

Carl Crawford, LF
Mark Ellis, 2B
Matt Kemp, CF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Luis Cruz, 3B
Andre Ethier, RF
A.J. Ellis, C
Justin Sellers, SS
Zack Greinke, P

Apr 05

Opening Day, 1993


Lynne Sladky/APCharlie Hough was 45 years old when he threw the first pitch for the Florida Marlins.

Eighteen years ago today, I took a day off from grad school classes to stay in my Woodley Park apartment in D.C. and watch the Dodgers’ first game of the 1993 season, a game that also happened to be the Florida Marlins’ first game ever. Charlie Hough, a Dodger when I first became a fan nearly 20 years before, pitched the Marlins to a 6-3 victory over Los Angeles and Orel Hershiser.

It feels like a lifetime ago. Living out of California for the last time, writing my first screenplay, no job, no kids, no girl (though I fancied one). Twenty-five years old and no idea what was to come.

I can still feel the sun coming into my barely furnished apartment, the living room wide enough to swing a bat in. My brain was heavy, as it has so often been, but I was traveling light.

Jan 06

Opening Day marches to March

In what figures to be a sterling matchup between Clayton Kershaw and Tim Lincecum, the Dodgers and Giants will play a rescheduled Opening Day game at Dodger Stadium on March 31 at 5 p.m.

Of course, Kershaw has to unseat incumbent Opening Day starter Vicente Padilla to make that matchup happen.

The new date is the result of discussions that apparently included the possibility of moving Opening Day to San Francisco for theatricality’s sake (i.e., honoring the World Series champions at home). Happily, the Dodgers were not forced to oblige. ESPN will still televise the game nationally.

Roberto Baly of Vin Scully Is My Homeboy has been monitoring this situation like no other.

* * *

  • You know the story, but Amy K. Nelson of ESPN.com retells the tale of umpire Jim Joyce after his missed perfect game call in moving detail.
  • Former Dodger Delwyn Young signed a non-roster contract with Philadelphia. Meanwhile, twice-former teammate Andy LaRoche is still out there.
  • Though I’m hardly tired of reading praise for Rich Lederer, let’s not forget Jay Jaffe’s contributions to the Hall of Fame campaign for Bert Blyleven.
  • It’s Charlie Hough Week: Evan Bladh Sr. of Opinion of Kingman’s Performance (a relatively new blog you should check out) discusses why Hough flourished as a starting pitcher only after leaving the Dodgers.
Jan 05

Could Eric Chavez help?

If Eric Chavez can perform better in a January 20 workout than, say, Chien-Ming Wang in a parking lot, the Dodgers might have a new part-time third baseman.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported the scheduled workout:

Chavez has been working out at the Athletes’ Performance center in Arizona five days a week and he said that after three-plus years of injury problems, he is feeling good, he’s taking grounders at third and his problematic right shoulder, operated on twice, is much better.

“The throwing has been unreal,” he said in a text. “I need to see live pitching to judge the hitting accurately, but things look good.”

Chavez probably would be signed to a non-guaranteed deal, given his history, but the Dodgers are believed to have strong interest if his health checks out OK. Chavez has stated a preference for playing in Southern California, and he has spoken to Dodgers manager Don Mattingly and is impressed with him.

Chavez OPSed over .800 against righties every year from 2000-2006, which would make him an enticing platoon partner for Casey Blake, but he hasn’t had even a semi-productive season since 2007.

* * *

On the occasion of his 63rd birthday, here’s a great recap of Dodger senior player development advisor Charlie Hough’s career at Big League Stew:

… He’s the only pitcher ever with both 400 relief appearances and 400 starts. He was drafted as a third baseman, but his first minor league manager, Tommy Lasorda, decided to convert him to the mound. (“You might as well pitch. You can’t do anything else,” Lasorda told him.)

Hough learned the knuckler from a coach named Goldie Holt, and the Dodgers hired the 47-year-old Hoyt Wilhelm to help him master it. Wilhelm continued to pitch for two more seasons, retiring two weeks before his 50th birthday.

Hough was the last knuckleballer in the All-Star game before Tim Wakefield’s charity appearance in 2009. And Hough’s performance in the 1986 Midsummer Classic was legendary. He allowed a leadoff double to the Giants’ Chris Brown, then struck out the next two batters — except that Hough’s catcher, Rich Gedman of the Red Sox, failed to catch either of the third strikes, which meant that Brown scored the National League’s first run on a strikeout-wild pitch followed by a strikeout-passed ball. He is still the all-time leading winner in the history of the Texas Rangers, one of the best Hawaiian-born players and one of Reggie Jackson’s three victims in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series. …

* * *

Via Baseball Musings, pitcher Dirk Hayhurst has a message for youth coaches that’s a good read.

* * *

Phil Wallace offers his picks for the 10 best and 10 most disappointing Dodger acquisitions of the past 25 years at L.A. Observed’s Native Intelligence.

* * *

I can’t say good night without offering a parting salute to Mike Schneider, my Variety colleague who is leaving this month to head the Los Angeles bureau of TV Guide. Mike is simply one of the best, brightest and most fun people I have ever worked with, and though we’ll march on without him, the office just won’t be the same. But I’m wishing him the best of luck on an opportunity I know he’s so excited about, and thinking now I’ll definitely have to make time for a Great Los Angeles Walk.