Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

Dick Whitman at 100: Mad Men namesake played for Brooklyn

Today is the 100th birthday of Dick Whitman, who falls into the category of worlds colliding for me.

Dick Whitman was the birth name of the character known as Don Draper on one of my all-time favorite shows, Mad Men. Coincidentally (or not), Dick Whitman was also the name of a major-league outfielder who made his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1946.

That debut came after serving in a war, which both the real and fictional versions of Whitman had in common.

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First names of the President rarely begin with vowels

Joe Biden will be the 28th consecutive President of the United States whose name does not begin with a vowel. There have only been four presidents out of 46 whose names began with vowels, and three of them came consecutively: Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson and Ulysses S. Grant. The other was Andrew Jackson. 

Note: This might not be the most significant aspect of this election. 

Brothers in Arms excerpt: Clayton Kershaw and the World Series

Photo: Los Angeles Dodgers

Brothers in Arms: Koufax, Kershaw, and the Dodgers’ Extraordinary Pitching Tradition comes to a conclusion with a focus on Clayton Kershaw at the end of the 2017 season. The book was published in 2018, without any knowledge of what was to be revealed about that 2017 World Series. 

Below, I’m reprinting the final 1,000 words of the book, just to serve as a reminder of where we stood at that time and to help underscore what it meant for Kershaw to get his World Series title. 

In the first World Series game for the Dodgers since 1988 and the hottest World Series game on record (first-pitch temperature: 103 degrees), against the top offense he had ever faced in the playoffs, Kershaw presented his biggest nationwide audience with his most dominant playoff start, throwing seven innings of one-run ball against the Astros in which he allowed three hits and no walks while striking out 11—the first World Series pitcher of any stripe to fan at least 11 with no walks since Newcombe in 1949. This was Kershaw incarnate, the one everybody had expected all along. After Los Angeles and Houston went on to split the first four games of the Series, Kershaw returned to the mound in Houston for Game 5, and with the Dodgers scoring three runs in the first inning and another in the top of the fourth, there before Kershaw stood the most pristine opportunity to seal his legacy.

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For a moment, I’m 20 again

I realized something while out walking early this morning. It has, of course, been 32 years since the Dodgers won the World Series, and I’m 32 years younger than my father.

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The Los Angeles Dodgers win the 2020 World Series —
and we are soaring

Photo: MLB

This is what it’s like to fly. 

This is what it’s like to float among the clouds. 

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There are no free rides

Photo: Jon SooHoo

Will there be terror?

Yes, there will be terror. 

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I can hide, but I can’t run

I’m holding a stuffed toy baseball with a rattle inside. I think my friend Jim gave it to me, decades ago. We weren’t children anymore, but he knew I liked baseball things, and I believe it was just a fun or funny thing he spotted somewhere and decided just to pass along to me as a token. I kept it. The kids played with it when they were younger, then it went into a storage cabinet in the garage. Sometime this month, I pulled it out. It’s been my rally tool. I’ve been shaking it to celebrate the Dodgers doing something well or to try to stop their opponents from doing well. 

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Dodger bullpen working without a net in NLCS

Kenley Jansen ended a stirring comeback victory by the Dodgers in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series on a high note, reaching vintage velocity as he struck out the side to finish the Dodgers’ 7-3 win Friday. 

As the Dodgers head into this afternoon’s Game 6, still needing to win today and Sunday to advance to the World Series, the bullpen is coming off seven innings of one-run ball with no reliever throwing more than 20 pitches. But even if Walker Buehler overcomes his blister issues to give the Dodgers length today, the Dodger pitching staff is walking a tightrope. 

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In the middle of the night

Woke up at 2 a.m., still imagining A.J. Pollock getting a hit to complete that comeback. A single through the hole. A double down the line. A home run to walk off something incredible. I can see it so clearly. I feel like I can reach out and touch it.

It’s so beautiful. I can see the celebration. I can picture myself flying off the couch and scaring my children with my happiness. I can see it. I can feel it. I almost can’t believe it didn’t happen. A 6 in the bottom of the ninth column of the linescore. It’s right in front of me. 

Just one more baseball eluding a fielder.

In sports with a clock, a big comeback often becomes impossible at a certain point, before the game is over. In baseball, it never does. Even in defeat, even as others were spitting on the idea, I was reminded why I cherish that.

Please don’t comment on this if you’re going to be negative. I’ve gotten enough of that elsewhere. If you are angry, I understand — but just leave me out of it.

Great teams and champions

Photo: Jon SooHoo

We know the Dodgers are a great team. That’s been proven over and over again. 

To be a champion is something different. In some ways, it’s a lesser accomplishment. You don’t need to be a great team to be a champion. But when there is nowhere else to turn, champions overcome every bit of adversity that comes their way. 

I’m eager to find out if the 2020 Dodgers can be champions. Every lost opportunity for Clayton Kershaw saddens me, but I’m every bit as excited right now for Tony Gonsolin and tonight’s game as I’ve been for any game since the season started. 

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Dodger Scorigami!

If you’re familiar with Scorigami, you’re in for a treat.

If you’re not familiar with Scorigami, you’re in for a treat.

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The Dodgers, Kenley Jansen and the simple practice of warming up relievers sooner

Photo: Jon SooHoo

Let’s start by looking ahead at the Dodger pitching, before we look back.

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Video: Cody Bellinger Postseason Defensive Highlight Reel

Cody Bellinger’s catch Wednesday in Game 2 of the National League Division Series might have been his greatest play in his young but fertile postseason career, but there are several contenders. I put together this highlight reel of five of them.

Video: It is possible for the Dodgers to hit home runs at Globe Life Field

In the video above, you can see five actual home runs that the Dodgers hit in two August nights at the seemingly impregnable new ballpark in Arlington, Texas: Globe Life Field.

They stand in contrast to the five long outs the Dodgers made in their otherwise satisfactory 5-1 victory tonight in Game 1 of the National League Division Series over the Padres.

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Depth sets up Dodgers
for NLDS without off days

Photo: Jon SooHoo

What does depth bring the Dodgers? They can cover the 45 innings* of the NLDS with these 14 pitchers on relatively easy inning loads:

6 Clayton Kershaw
5 Tony Gonsolin
4 Walker Buehler
4 Dustin May
4 Julio Urías
3 Victor González
3 Brusdar Graterol
3 Kenley Jansen
3 Blake Treinen
2 Pedro Báez
2 Dylan Floro
2 Joe Kelly
2 Adam Kolarek
2 Jake McGee

*That’s 45 innings, give or take — but it accounts for the series going five games with two extra innings, if the Padres win their designated home games (Games 3 and 4) without batting in the bottom of the ninth.

Perhaps Kershaw only goes five innings. Perhaps Gonsolin, May or Urías gives you a solid six. Perhaps Buehler’s blister takes him out after two innings tonight, but that leaves him available to give you another two innings three days later. Perhaps one game goes into the 13th, 14th, 15th … you tell me. There’s no predicting the specifics. 

The point is, every one of those 14 pitchers is capable of giving you effective innings. There isn’t a weak spot. You don’t need to lean extra heavy on Kershaw or Jansen. No one would have to throw 20-plus pitches on back-to-back days until an all-hands-on-deck Game 5. 

Jansen might be the Dodgers’ biggest question mark — I discussed him in this Twitter thread last week — but Dave Roberts showed in the opening round that he isn’t opposed to warming up another reliever behind him, and that he is willing to sideline him in the ninth inning if he thinks it’s necessary. The key is to treat Jansen like you would treat any other reliever. Use him according to his effectiveness, his ability to execute pitches in the moment, not his reputation. The same, frankly, goes for Kershaw, who dazzled in Game 2 last week but still was left to his own devices in the eighth inning. The Dodgers have the arms — they don’t need to be shy about exploring all of them. 

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