Jan 13

Lederer and Blyleven meet

Rich Lederer and Bert Blyleven met in a surprise visit at a Minnesota Twins fantasy camp event Wednesday. David Dorsey of the Fort Meyers (Fla.) News-Press has the story:

… Rich Lederer, 55, had never played catch with Blyleven, had never been on a baseball field with him and so of course never had been subjected to the current Minnesota Twins broadcaster’s penchant for issuing friendly putdowns.

All of that changed Tuesday night and all day Wednesday.

“You’ve got an 18.00 ERA!” Blyleven shouted at Lederer on Wednesday morning at the Lee County Sports Complex, where Lederer got lit up while pitching in a fantasy camp game. “Hey Rich! Try to get an out, why don’t you!”

The two baseball fanatics met face-to-face for the first time in a surprise for Blyleven arranged by Minnesota Twins Fantasy Camp organizers Stan Dickman and Jay Harris.

Harris phoned Lederer last week and convinced him — an easy task — to visit Fort Myers in order to finally meet Blyleven.

The two had spoken on the phone over the years.

“It was a very nice surprise,” said Blyleven, 59, who was honored with a banquet Tuesday night at the Holiday Inn Express in south Fort Myers. That’s where Dickman asked Blyleven toward the end of the evening if he would like to meet Lederer, who then stood from the audience and approached Blyleven.

They embraced.

“There are very few times in your life when you get caught speechless,” said Dan Williams, 50, a fantasy camper from Minneapolis who witnessed their meeting. “Bert was caught speechless.” …

Technically, the two had met once before, when Lederer umpired a scout-league game that Blyleven pitched approximately 40 years ago. That doesn’t take away from what a great moment this was.

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 04

Pedal to the Lederer

Hopefully, we’ll learn Wednesday that Bert Blyleven has been elected to the Hall of Fame, capping what has to be the most effective grassroots campaigns for Cooperstown ever.

I’m speaking of the one led by Baseball Analysts blogger Rich Lederer, my former All-Baseball.com blogging colleague. Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com has a nice profile of Lederer. Here’s the start of it:

Rich Lederer is an investment manager. Stock and bond portfolios are his thing. He is the president and chief investment officer of Lederer & Associates Investment Counsel in Long Beach, Calif.

But Lederer loved batting averages long before calculating his first P/E ratio. He is a baseball guy. His father, the late George Lederer, covered the Los Angeles Dodgers for the Long Beach Independent-Press-Telegram through their first 11 seasons on the West Coast.

Lederer has since taken up the family business — as a hobby. In 2003, he founded a baseball blog, now called BaseballAnalysts.com. He writes at night, after his real job is done. The website hasn’t made him rich or famous. Yet, his words may soon resonate through the game’s most hallowed corridors.

If Bert Blyleven is elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday, he will have Rich Lederer to thank.

Well . . . I suppose Blyleven should first thank his right arm — the one that produced 287 wins (more than Jim Palmer), 3,701 strikeouts (fifth all-time) and 60 shutouts (ninth all-time).

After that, the gratitude goes to Lederer’s noggin.

Blyleven has climbed steadily in the Baseball Writers’ Association of America voting since the founding of Lederer’s website. Blyleven, who polled below 30 percent on his first six times on the ballot, reached 74.2 percent last year. That did not happen by accident. …


* * *

Sep 09

A certain kind of torture

That John Lindsey entered his first major-league game Wednesday but was removed for pinch-hitter Andre Ethier before he actually got to see his first major-league pitch generated the kind of national uproar on Twitter that I’m not sure has happened with the Dodgers since the Jonathan Broxton Yankee game.  (Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness has examples.) ESPN’s broadcast of the game contributed to that, but still, it indicates how galvanized people have become by his story.

Lindsey handled his close-but-only-a-cigar moment – he ended up with the suitable-for-framing first lineup card bearing his name, writes Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com – with a big smile, as if to say that the moment was anything but ironic. Ken Gurnick of MLB.com has more:

“It was exciting,” said Lindsey, who finally made a regular-season box score by being announced as a pinch-hitter in Wednesday night’s 4-0 Dodgers loss to the Padres, only to be immediately lifted when the Padres made a pitching change. “I was waiting for this all my life and I was a lot cooler and calmer than I thought.”

Lindsey, called up Monday after 16 years in the Minor Leagues, was sent up to bat for Scott Podsednik and face left-hander Joe Thatcher with one out in the top of the eighth inning and runners on first and second. But as soon as Lindsey was announced, Padres manager Bud Black replaced Thatcher with right-hander Luke Gregerson.

Dodgers manager Joe Torre countered by sending up Andre Ethier to bat for Lindsey, and Ethier bounced Gregerson’s first pitch into an inning-ending double play.

“It was something I had to do,” Torre said. “It didn’t work.” …

As Bob Timmermann noted right as it happened, Lindsey became the first player to be announced as a pinch-hitter without actually batting in his major-league debut since Cody McKay of St. Louis in 2002. Billy Ashley was the last Dodger to have it happen, in 1992.

Whether it was really something Torre had to do in a contest that would determine whether the Dodgers would be nine or 11 games back in the National League West (answer: 11), in a game that Russ Mitchell started and Trent Oeltjen pinch-hit, was debatable. It certainly was a perfect moment to bring up Ethier (the Dodgers’ fifth consecutive pinch-hitter of the inning)  from a strategy standpoint, if you put aside Ethier’s inconsistent bat of late. And maybe it was even perversely poetic. Perversely.

* * *

Dodger starting pitcher Chad Billingsley looked extremely sharp at the outset Thursday, but his defense didn’t. Billingsley cruised through an 11-pitch first-inning despite a Rafael Furcal error and didn’t allow a hit until Luis Durango’s infield single in the third inning. Durango immediately stole second base – one of 30 consecutive stolen bases the Dodgers have allowed (not counting Clayton Kershaw pickoffs) since Russell Martin’s season-ending injury – and scored the game’s first run following an Adrian Gonzalez intentional walk on a Miguel Tejada single.

In the sixth inning, San Diego loaded the bases on two more infield singles and a sacrifice bunt/failed fielder’s choice. A single to left, an error and a sacrifice fly later, the Dodgers were down by the 4-0 margin that would become the game’s final score. Los Angeles finished the game with two singles, two walks and a double. Billingsley ended up with five walks.

* * *

  • The family of our good friend and Baseball Analysts founder Rich Lederer gets a nice feature story from Bob Keisser of the Press-Telegram. Rich’s father, George, who covered the Dodgers for years, is being inducted into the Long Beach Baseball and Softball Hall of Fame.
  • Josh Fisher writes a semi-personal piece about being at the McCourt trial for Dodger Divorce.
  • At Baseball Prospectus, Ken Funck writes about Ted Lilly and his future.