Jul 29

Levine, Suchon book it

Josh Suchon and Ken Levine (courtesy Crzblue's Dodger Blue World)

Apparently, if you were a DodgerTalk radio host in 2010, you have to be an author in 2012.

Ken Levine and Josh Suchon are both treating us with books. The Me Generation… By Me (Growing Up in the ’60s), by Levine, is already out, and should be of interest to anyone who has a connection to Southern California and/or likes to be amused. It’s more of the great work that Levine, who has a long list of comedy writing and directing credits including “Cheers,” offers on a regular basis at his blog, By Ken Levine.

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If that’s a natural fit for readers of this site, Suchon’s book needs even less explanation. Miracle Men: Gibson, Hershiser and the Improbable 1988 Dodgers will publish next spring, in connection with the 25th or first anniversary of the Dodgers’ last World Series title. Suchon, who wrote a much talked-about first-person piece about his encounter as a teenager with Orel Hershiser following the ’88 Series, plans to interview everyone remotely connected with that memorable year.

Congrats to both Levine and Suchon, and happy reading.

Dec 04

Manny happy returns?

Wrapping up the last week and starting a new one chock full of bullet points …

  • Manny Ramirez is moving forward with plans to get himself back in the majors for 2012, but would probably to need to still serve 50 games as a suspended player, writes Buster Olney of ESPN the Magazine. Ramirez, who turns 40 on May 30, went 1 for 17 with the Rays in 2011 before his season abruptly ended. He could show what shape he’s in with a nonroster invite to some team’s Spring Training.
  • The Dodgers are taking applicants to fill the position of vice president of public relations (link via AZ Snakepit). The Dodgers aren’t holding off until the ownership switch to make the hire: Public relations wait for no one.
  • Clayton Kershaw was interviewed by Molly Knight for ESPN the Magazine.
  • Baseball America’s annual Dodger prospects top 10 has Zach Lee on top, followed by Allen Webster, Nathan Eovaldi and then the first position player, outfielder Alfredo Silverio. Looking at the article, you know what cracks me up? The fifth-highest amateur signing bonus in Dodger history still belongs to 2000 draftee Ben Diggins.
  • I think it’s worth a reminder that Lee could be in the majors before the 2012 season is over, though it probably wouldn’t be until 2013 that he begins making any kind of impact. He’s about a half-season behind the development of Kershaw, whose debut came in May 2008, 23 months after the Dodgers signed him. Lee, who had a 3.47 ERA with 7.5 strikeouts per nine innings and a 1.22 WHIP in 2011 for Single-A Great Lakes, should hit Double-A in 2012 at age 20, the same age Kershaw was (though he’s not at the same performance level as Kershaw, who had 12.4 K/9 with Great Lakes).
  • When the Red Sox hired Bobby Valentine to manage, I joked on Twitter that his ESPN broadcast partners Orel Hershiser and Dan Shulman could join him on the coaching staff. Well, in the case of Hershiser, the Red Sox are in fact interested in him as a pitching coach, writes Sean McAdam of Red Sox Talk – assuming Hershiser’s pursuit of Doger ownership doesn’t get in the way.
  • Some vintage Tommy Lasorda cursing is available in this video passed along by Roberto Baly of Vin Scully Is My Homeboy.
  • Ross Newhan calls the theory a “longshot,” but he explains the substance behind why some think Frank McCourt could renege on his commitment to sell the Dodgers.
  • More Newhan, on Magic Johnson’s entrance into the Dodger ownership race:

    … In announcing his intention to bid for the Dodgers with usual flair and enthusiasm, Johnson said he would try to build the Dodgers in the Showtime mold of his star-driven Laker teams, recruiting prominent players and paying the price for free agents.

    This is an area that Kasten and others may want to advise Johnson that it would be better to low key. Many of the 29 other owners who will eventually vote on the McCourt successor may not be happy to hear that Magic intends to pay any cost to restore Dodger prominence, driving up salaries in the process. …

  • Two views of the Dodgers’ Chris Capuano signing: Eric Seidman of Fangraphs doesn’t hate it, while Christina Kahrl of ESPN.com thinks it pretty grim.
  • DodgerTalk alum Ken Levine said he will do more Seattle Mariners radio broadcasts next year.
  • Russell Martin is expected to return to the Yankees in 2012, writes Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com.
  • Ken Arneson has an interesting piece on why the opening of a Giants Dugout Store in Walnut Creek is meaningful to the rest of the baseball world.
Jul 07

Buck supports Scully trip to the World Series

Fox baseball announcer Joe Buck is all for having Vin Scully participate in a World Series broadcast. Tom Hoffarth of the Daily News passes along the quotes.

… “Personally, I’d love it,” Buck said the other day. “We’ve always toyed with the idea of having the hometown guy involved in a World Series broadcast. I’m from that camp. In my dad’s era, we paid a nod of tribute to the greats. And there’s no one like Vin, or close to Vin.

“I’d happily step aside to hear his voice (on the World Series). I would not fight that at all. That’s just how I grew up.

“As far as I’m concerned, he could be part of it every year. I’m not selfish. I realize who the game’s greats are, and I always defer to them – my dad (Jack Buck), Ernie Harwell, Curt Gowdy, Harry Caray. There are only a handful of guys who are as identifiable with their organizations as any player is.” …

I think Fox might be less of a hurdle for Scully at this point than the possibility that the World Series will take place entirely on the East Coast this year.

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  • The final batch of your Dodger fan stories submitted to ESPNLosAngeles.com is up on the site.
  • Bud Selig scored a victory over Frank McCourt in a bankruptcy hearing today, when Judge Kevin Gross denied a request to order Major League Baseball to turn over numerous documents. “This is clearly in my mind not an appropriate occasion to turn the hearing into a trial of the commissioner,” Gross said.
  • The Dodgers have gone 283 plate appearances since their last home run, Aaron Miles’ midgame shot on June 28.
  • Trayvon Robinson will compete in the Triple-A Home Run Derby on Monday.
  • Dodger farmhands Dee Gordon, Zach Lee and Allen Webster are in Baseball America’s midseason top-50 prospects list.
  • Andre Ethier was unable to top Shane Victorino of Philadelphia for the final fan-elected spot on the National League All-Star roster.
  • Former DodgerTalk host Ken Levine, now broadcasting Seattle Mariners games, wrote a piece on a “day in the life” of a baseball broadcaster.
  • “Don’t Stop Believin’” might finally be on its way out of Dodger Stadium, reports Sons of Steve Garvey, while “God Bless America” could be reduced to Sundays and special occasions.
  • At Bronx Banter, Jon De Rosa writes about parking at Dodger Stadium and then walking all the way to Phillippe’s for a pregame bite.

    … It seemed very straightforward, the only tricky part was crossing the 110. The walking map/GPS on my phone had it pegged as a 25 minute walk. The phone is lucky it was not smashed on the sidewalk.

    Maybe if you were one of the Elves from Lord of The Rings, it would have been a 25 minute walk. But my family moves at Dwarf or Hobbit-speed, especially in the heat.

    Did I forget to mention my wife was pushing a double stroller? Disaster. You can imagine that an area not expecting pedestrians would skimp on sidewalks. There’s maybe 50 feet of sidewalk around Dodger Stadium that can accommodate the girth of the doublewide stroller. The road ahead was so treacherous that we had to send a scout 100 yards in advance in order to map where we could walk.

    The sandwich at Phillippes is good, and probably deserves a Tasters Cherce, but the lines go on and on and noboby eles has planned to walk back – ever. So as we ate, the spectre of the return journey hung above us.

    But as with any disaster, it’s all about the people you’re with and how they react. We couldn’t stop laughing at ourselves, for thinking like New Yorkers and getting ourselves in this mess. My wife put a gob of their mustard on her sandwich before realizing how hot it was. We cracked up again. We missed the first pitch, and the first inning, but we caught the other eight and didn’t leave early.

    Good thing, because the Dodgers won in a walkoff. We even hung around so the kids could run the bases. As we were leaving, my older son said, “When I grow up, I’m going to play baseball like those guys.” I think we were the last non-employees to leave Dodger Stadium. Great day and a walk I’ll probably never forget.

  • I’m off to Fangraphs Live, but I’ll be taking my car.
Apr 01

Impact of banners flies south


ESPN’s Dan Shulman, Orel Hershiser and Bobby Valentine recap the Dodgers’ win over the Giants. Note in the video that Matt Kemp is already standing on third base in the sixth inning when Buster Posey’s throw is just coming into the picture.

A final thought about airplanes flying banners. When I see them high above the Pacific Ocean at the beach, advertising this or that, they pretty much have no impact on me.  It’s hard for me to believe it was any different with the banners (as pictured on Vin Scully Is My Homeboy) flew over Dodger Stadium on Thursday.

Elsewhere …

  • Dave Cameron of Fangraphs is pretty much in awe of Clayton Kershaw at this point. Colleague Dave Allen has more on Kershaw’s hard slider.
  • Dodger fans offer Frank McCourt advice, via Molly Knight of ESPN the Magazine.
  • Here’s one more installment of the LADodgerTalk interview series with Logan White. Lots of Rubby De La Rosa discussion.
  • Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post writes about Ron Mahay, whose release by the Dodgers might mark the last we see of replacement players from the 1994-95 strike.
  • Eric Nusbaum’s profile on former Dodger talkcaster Ken Levine is in the Seattle Weekly.
  • After 1,759 career hits, Randy Winn retired, bucking some expectations by never playing for Ned Colletti in Los Angeles.
  • How Justine Siegel almost threw batting practice for the Dodgers last month. Maybe it will still work out at some point.
  • Greg Simons of the Hardball Times takes a turn on the annual “Five questions” feature on the Dodgers.
Feb 09

Notes before sunset

“Oh, occasionally the early evening, but usually the late evening — or the mid-evening. Just the early evening, mid-evening and late evening. Occasionally, early afternoon, early mid-afternoon, or perhaps the late-mid-afternoon. Oh, sometimes the early-mid-late-early morning. …  But never at dusk! Never at dusk. I would never do that.”
— Steve Martin

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  • I liked this piece by Bethany Heck at Notgraphs, identifying the types of grass at all the major-league parks.
  • Michael Arkush of Yahoo! Sports catches up with Maury Wills in this feature.
  • Ernest Reyes of Blue Heaven is hunting down recordings by Brooklyn Dodger organist Gladys Goodding.
  • Eric Chavez could earn up to $5.5 million counting incentives from the Yankees. Details from Aaron Gleeman at Hardball Talk.
  • Former Jacksonville Suns play-by-play man Joe Block will join Josh Suchon as co-host of KABC AM 790 DodgerTalk, succeeding Ken Levine, who still might contribute from time to time when he’s not doing Seattle Mariners games.
  • In other radio news, a Portland, Oregon FM radio station will broadcast 75 to 90 Dodger games this season, writes Andy Giegerich of the Portland Business Journal (link via Rob Neyer).

    When pressed as to how the station decided to seek Dodger broadcasts, (programming director Brian) Jennings confessed.

    “I grew up a Dodgers fan,” he said. “I grew up in Spokane when the Indians were the (Dodgers) Triple-A team. I saw everyone from Koufax to Maury Wills to the Davises, Tommy and Willie, come through there.”

  • Ken Arneson wrote. That’s all you need to know to click.
Jan 19

Ken Levine, Ron Fairly to be part of Seattle’s post-Niehaus radio crew

As we all know, replacing a legendary broadcaster isn’t easy — and certainly won’t be for the Dodgers on that sad, hopefully far-off day after Vin Scully has called his last game for the team.

Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk subscribes to the theory that maybe a rotating set of broadcasters is better in the immediate aftermath of a legend’s departure, rather than asking one person to bear the burden of walking in his microphonesteps.  So do the Seattle Mariners, who will rotate five men through their radio booth at various times in 2011, their first year without the late Dave Niehaus.

One of those men will be KABC AM 790 Dodger Talk co-host Ken Levine, who returns to Seattle, where he did play-by-play in the 1990s. Levine says that it’s not clear whether his new part of the rotation means he is bidding a complete farewell to the Dodgers, so we’ll see what happens there. But congrats nonetheless.

Former Dodger Ron Fairly is also among the radio crew. And on the TV side, former Dodger Mike Blowers returns as a color commentator.

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  • Former Dodger coaches Roy Hartsfield and Carroll Barringer have passed away in recent days, writes Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.
  • Matt Klaassen of Fangraphs has a dim view of any sort of platoon between Jay Gibbons and Marcus Thames, mainly because of Gibbons.
  • Though it’s primarily a story involving the Padres, Geoff Young’s piece at the Hardball Times about how collusion in the 1986-87 offseason affected Tim Raines includes the tidbit that the Dodgers didn’t sign a 27-year-old Raines to a three-year deal worth a total of $4.5 million because they were “satisfied with Ken Landreaux.” Landreaux then got 37 more hits in his major-league career.
  • File this site for future reference: MLB Trade Trees.  (link via Beyond the Box Score).
  • At 9 a.m. Sunday, CBS Sports Spectacular is scheduled to air a tape-delayed broadcast of Saturday’s supercross event at Dodger Stadium.