Now I remember.
Now I remember what a long offseason feels like.
Hi again. Next in this series of teases for the May 1 release of Brothers in Arms: Koufax, Kershaw, and the Dodgers’ Extraordinary Pitching Tradition (pre-order now!) is a preview of “Part One: The Kings of Brooklyn,” focusing on the beginnings of the Dodger pitching tradition and running through the man who finished off the franchise’s first World Series title.
Every so often — frankly, all too often — I find myself drawn into a doozy of a debate on Twitter about the serial comma. Yes, really.
Also known as the Oxford comma, it’s specifically the comma that follows the penultimate item in a series: for example the second comma in “songs, tunes, and ditties.”
Usually, the serial comma is completely unnecessary, and consequently it’s almost completely absent from newspapers and nearly as much from magazines, outside of Old School holdouts like The New Yorker. (Not so much in books, I should note.)
Nevertheless, several people I respect, like and esteem are fervent advocates on Twitter, Facebook and the like for the serial comma, putting me in the odd, strange and divisive position of having to explain why I don’t want extraneous, supercilious and clunky punctuation in my writing.
Rather than re-explaining my position again and again on Twitter, I decided to put it here once and for all, so that I can simply point to this post and move on.
Eight years ago minus a day, I wrote the post “Why Lindsey Jacobellis rocks,” pouring out my joyful respect for how Jacobellis’ fun-loving response in the face of immense Olympic disappointment floored me in the best way.
Lindsey Jacobellis is my new role model. She threw herself into competition at a level few of us could possibly emulate, sacrificed so that she might be the best, and when that failed to yield the ultimate prize, instead of curling up in the fetal position, she had the self-esteem and presence of mind to appreciate the greatness of the effort and the joy of what she was part of, win or lose. I want my kids to be like her.
Four years later at Sochi, Jacobellis crashed and finished seventh overall. This video illustrates where Jacobellis’ state of mind was heading into 2018. To say the least, I was eager to see what would happen to her this time around.
A few of you — and I do mean a few, given that many readers have understandably moved on — might have seen the handful of posts here over the past couple of weeks and wondered, is Dodger Thoughts back?
And the answer to that is yes. And no. And I’m not sure.
Hi there! To get you warmed up for the May 1 release of Brothers in Arms: Koufax, Kershaw, and the Dodgers’ Extraordinary Pitching Tradition (pre-order now!), from time to time I want to share some behind-the-scenes tidbits about, for lack of a better phrase, “The Making of Brothers in Arms.” Think of these as if they were the DVD extras. Ideally, you’ll find them of interest even without the book in your hands.
Well, this was a good time — and really fun to play out on Twitter over the course of the weekend. In case you missed it there, I’m bringing it here. Keep scrolling …
In January 1980, we got our first VCR. About a month later, I set up a recording for what sounded like might be an interesting hockey game. pic.twitter.com/DJTq1P4xLK
— Jon Weisman (@jonweisman) February 11, 2018
So by all appearances, Matt Kemp — the once prodigious if not prodigal son –is going to Spring Training at Camelback Ranch, and it got me wondering about how complicated is the composition of the Dodger roster.
As another means of keeping you updated and spreading good cheer about my upcoming book — Brothers in Arms: Koufax, Kershaw, and the Dodgers Extraordinary Pitching Tradition — I’ve created a new Instagram account with the handle @dodgers_tradition. There, I plan to share not only book-related news, but fun historical tidbits, behind-the-scenes extras and more about the Dodgers to get you excited not only about the book but the upcoming baseball season. Enjoy!
I can’t tell you how excited I am to share this news: Triumph Books has officially scheduled a May 1 publication date for my new book, Brothers in Arms: Koufax, Kershaw, and the Dodgers’ Extraordinary Pitching Tradition, and it’s ready and available for pre-order at sites including Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph.
To paraphrase a famous saying, everybody talks about the Dodger pitching tradition, but nobody’s ever written anything about it — not a book, anyway. So beginning while I was still working for the Dodgers, I did the interviews and research that ultimately led to this fascinating and comprehensive journey through the formation and flowering of that tradition, from its birth to its current heights in the form of a certain left-hander wearing No. 22 in Los Angeles.
Starting with the earliest days of baseball in Brooklyn, Brothers in Arms lays out how a scattershot franchise, occasionally and almost coincidentally graced by great hurlers, became a focused organization generating superb pitchers almost at will. Divided into nine parts (I was tempted to call them innings), the book takes a deep dive into the exploits of the most important pitchers to wear the Dodger uniform since the pitching tradition began to take hold near the end of World War II.
With each chapter, I tell the story of how each athlete came to be the type of pitcher (and personality) that he was and place their accomplishments into context, individually as well as in the pantheon of Dodger and baseball history. I wanted to bring to life those who pitched too long ago for contemporary fans to have seen, and provide new insight into those who are more familiar. To do so, I conducted more than 25 interviews with names from Carl Erskine to Clayton Kershaw, and worked my way through thousands of pages of books, periodicals and websites.
Each chapter became a portrait of a pitcher that stands on its own — you can feel free to jump around the 384-page book if you like — but also holds a specific place in the narrative of baseball and the Dodgers. In addition, several of the section introductions delve into less prominent but incredibly crucial contributors to the Dodger pitching tradition, including catchers, pitching coaches, managers, scouts and the front office.
While the Dodgers were rushing headlong toward the World Series in 2017, my free moments were largely spent diving into the past, working to tell the tale of Dodger pitching in the most meaningful way possible. I’m really grateful to those who spoke with me and helped me along the way, as well as Dodger announcer Joe Davis for writing the forward. I can barely wait for you to see the book, and am happy it will be out in time for Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day gifting, among other things. (However, I like to think it’s good for any occasion …)
Today, the memory-bot at Facebook reminded me, is the anniversary of my Dodger Thoughts farewell from Baseball Toaster and arrival at the Los Angeles Times. Most of the other Toaster blogs wrapped things up on February 2, 2009 as well, with Ken Arneson putting the final, glorious bow on things two days later.
It’s the eighth anniversary. Twice as much time time has passed than we spent at the Toaster, which was officially born on March 8, 2005. For 47 months, I’d put what the group of us did at the Toaster up against anything else on the Internet. We were fun, thoughtful, innovative, occasionally brilliant and in many ways ahead of the curve. And particularly remarkable in this feisty day and age, the Toaster in general and Dodger Thoughts in particular had perhaps the best community I think the Internet has ever seen. We showed how strangers could come together online and chat, debate, disagree — and still be friends in the end. I know for certain that several deep, lifelong friendships have been formed thanks to the Toaster comments section. Credit the no politics rule if you like, but even if we were arguing about the hot-button issues of today, I believe made online conversation something valuable that you could actually look forward to. Fortunately, the comments section lives on for the most part at True Blue L.A.
Despite being the sort who is often looking back and wondering about choices that I’ve made — I’m nothing if not a “Glory Days” guy — I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the decision to leave for the Times. The lure of the Times (yes, it had a lure) was one thing, the potential exposure was another, the ability to start earning money through the site for my family of five was the biggest of all. Obviously, I could not have predicted the journey that followed, from the Times to ESPN Los Angeles, then to independence, then to the Dodgers themselves. And then, in the past year, came a period of near-dormancy while I adjusted to life at Showtime and worked on a book.
But the Toaster remains the Wonder Years of my baseball writing career. It becomes briefer the farther it goes into my rear-view mirror, but I’ll always cherish it. And though it probably could never resurrect the magic, this morning I dreamed of a comeback someday. It’s the reboot era, after all.
But, as they say, I digress. Anyway — and I’ll admit to the anniversary timing being a coincidence — this week I decided to do some sprucing up of the current version of Dodger Thoughts. Rare as I’ve been in here in the past year, it’s still my home away from home in a sense, and it had been six years since it had received a fresh coat of paint. So on this anniversary day, why not indulge?
Bring back the baseball boogie
February 23, 2018
Previewing Brothers in Arms …
Part One: The Kings of Brooklyn
February 19, 2018
Why I stand proudly against the serial comma
February 17, 2018
Lindsey Jacobellis: ‘I could be upset, but where is that going to get me?’
February 16, 2018
So, what am I doing?
February 14, 2018
Thank You For Not ...
1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
2) personally attacking other commenters
3) baiting other commenters
4) arguing for the sake of arguing
5) discussing politics
6) using hyperbole when something less will suffice
7) using sarcasm in a way that can be misinterpreted negatively
8) making the same point over and over again
9) typing "no-hitter" or "perfect game" to describe either in progress
10) being annoyed by the existence of this list
11) commenting under the obvious influence
12) claiming your opinion isn't allowed when it's just being disagreed with
Dodgers at home: 1,028-812 (.558695)
When Jon attended: 338-267 (.558677)*
When Jon didn’t: 695-554 (.556)
* includes road games attended
Dodgers at home: 51-35 (.593)
When Jon attended: 5-2 (.714)
When Jon didn’t: 46-33 (.582)
Note: I got so busy working for the Dodgers that in 2014, I stopped keeping track, much to my regret.