Dodger Thoughts

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

Category: Dodgers (Page 1 of 70)

Mookie malarkey

This writeup appeared alongside many others in my new newsletter, Slayed by Voices. I still want to share Dodger news here, but if you’ve enjoyed my writing in the past, this is the focus of my attention now. Please check it out, share and subscribe. 

In 2022, the Dodgers’ Marvelous Mookie Betts won the Gold Glove Award for National League right fielders, the sixth time in the past seven seasons he has won that honor as an outfielder.

Betts is also the only current Dodger outfielder guaranteed a starting spot in 2023. With Cody Bellinger gone and Chris Taylor coming off a terrible season, left and center field are currently wide open for contention among Taylor, Trayce Thompson and prospect James Outman. All three have potential for 2023, but none represents a comfortable choice for either job.

Nevertheless, with the Dodgers emerging as a not-quite-longshot to sign Aaron Judge, the 2022 American League Most Valuable Player who blasted 62 home runs, a weird line of thinking has arisen among some fans and media that in order to make room for Judge in the outfield, the Dodgers might move Betts to second base.

If you follow the Dodgers during the baseball season but lose track of them during the offseason, this conversation probably comes out of left fi— well, out of nowhere.

It’s true that like Betts, Judge is best suited for right field. It’s also true that Betts started five games at second base last year and has 25 starts there in his major-league career (out of 1,069 regular season games).

Some also argue that as Betts gets older (he turned 30 in October), a move away from the outfield would be easier on his legs, though I don’t see how all the start-stop, back-and-forth movement of the infield and the peril of turning the double play in the face of an oncoming runner isn’t as rough as gliding along in the outfield.

Regardless, none of this justifies moving perhaps the best defensive right fielder in the world from his position, especially when his laser throwing arm would be wasted at second base. And that’s especially true when you consider that:

  • The Dodgers have more depth in the infield with Freddie Freeman, Gavin Lux and Max Muncy, plus rookie Miguel Vargas and probably Justin Turner assuming he comes back at a slighter salary) than they have in the outfield.
  • Moving Betts to second base doesn’t solve their vacancy at shortstop, which Lux doesn’t seem equipped to play full time.
  • If you’re going to move an outfielder to the infield, Taylor makes way more sense.

Nevertheless, someone got this Betts-to-infield premise and ran with it, logic be damned. If you hear more about it, just know that it’s as crazy as it sounds.

 

The fates of Clayton Kershaw and Justin Turner

In the land of Los Dodgers today, these noteworthy things happened. The Dodgers extended qualifying offers to All-Stars Trea Turner and Tyler Anderson — which is a guaranteed contract for 2023 at S19,650,000 (and not a dollar more). They did not extend such an offer to Clayton Kershaw. And finally, they paid Justin Turner a $2 million buyout so that they wouldn’t have to pay him $16 million for next season.

If you think that means Trea and Tyler are locks to be in Los Angeles next year while Clayton and Justin aren’t … well, let’s turn to our friend George again.

Major League Baseball can be pretty confusing if you aren’t in sync with its rhythms, so here’s why the moves above might mean the opposite of what they seem to signify.

*** Click here to read the rest at Slayed by Voices ***

Check out the new Slayed by Voices

Slayed by Voicesmy Substack newsletter dedicated to a deep dive into a single song, is getting a makeover. 

I am expanding the site to a wide variety of topics that are of interest to me that I hope will be of interest to you — at least, that’s the way it’s worked on Dodger Thoughts before. You can check out the first two new posts here and here. It basically takes my approach to the Dodgers and applies it to any number of topics (including the Dodgers, but so much more). 

At the risk of sailing right into the storm of Newsletter Fatigue, I am planning to charge $5 per month for a subscription. That’s why Slayed is at Substack and not here. The project breaks my 20-year history of blogging for free, but you know … it’s almost free. I’ll probably introduce a discount for an annual subscription. 

You guys are my core audience, and I really, really hope you’ll join me in this new endeavor. I truly think it will be rewarding. Please check out a post and click a subscribe link — it’s free for now, after all — and please share with anyone you can. I’d be so grateful. 

Seeking catharsis with the Dodgers

I had no words last night. Today, I have a few. 

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New Word to the Weisman podcast: ‘Eve of the Playoffs’

Who remembers that I do a podcast every four to 65 weeks?  Inside of 24 hours before the 2022 Dodgers’ first playoff game, I lay down some tracks — well, thoughts, anyway — looking at the team’s strengths and weaknesses and of course, all the potential fan joy and despair. We also revisit — ideally for the final time — the Kershaw Chart, talk about sports fan purity tests, and finally offer a quick update from the book world. Search for Word to the Weisman in your podcasty places, and give us a listen, will ye? 

On growing up and letting go

Maybe a few minutes after my wife and I made it home from four days of travel and a subsequent fast fast-food run nearing sundown Tuesday, I turned on the Dodger game. Though I had kept up with the Dodgers while I was away, only in the final moments before this game did I realize that Clayton Kershaw would be pitching. 

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100 Things book excerpt: Vin

The chapter in 100 Things Dodgers on Vin Scully … 

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Oh, Vin

I didn’t know when it was coming, but I knew it was coming. 

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Reflections on reflections
of those astonishing Dodgers

Because this site has the word “Dodger” in the title, I should probably take some time on this anniversary day to write, you know, about the Dodgers. 

By the way, let’s be clear. As an adjective, it’s “Dodger,” not “Dodgers.” One rolls off the tongue, and the other doesn’t. Vin Scully didn’t say, “It’s time for Dodgers baseball,” and neither should you in any similar situation. 

Moving on … and taking a cue from my second post at Dodger Thoughts, let’s look at the state of things on July 21, 2022. 

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State of the Dodgers at the launch of Dodger Thoughts

My second post ever on Dodger Thoughts was a State of the Union dated July 22, 2002 — and boy, what a trip down memory lane that is. Let’s put it through the Excerptatron 4000. 

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Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers and me

I can’t remember if I wrote this here or only on Twitter, but it’s been clear from the day the Dodgers won the 2020 World Series that thankfully, my angst over the team has diminished like — well, like the water supply in California. 

It doesn’t hurt that they’ve continued to win about two-thirds of their games since then. I can’t say I wasn’t disappointed that the Dodgers won 106 games in 2021 but lost their streak of division titles at eight. I can’t say that I wouldn’t have been annoyed if last year they had lost the NL Wild Card Game or the playoff series against the Giants. But I will say that as much as I wanted them to beat Atlanta and reach the World Series, I got over that defeat instantaneously.

Honestly, my No. 1, prime interest with the Dodgers is Clayton Kershaw.

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Two posts (of many)
that meant a lot to me

If I looked back at the personal pieces I wrote for Dodger Thoughts, the ones that had more to do with life than with the Dodgers (though certainly, they intersected quite a bit), I could find many I value. But these are the two that come to mind instantly. 

“My Phil Dunphy Problem” — February 20, 2012, where I discussed my lifelong anxiety, how easily I could lose faith in myself and, in a word, my pain.

“Love, hate and tears” — December 2, 2009. The title speaks for itself, though it does intersect a great deal with the Dodgers, but speaks even more loudly to my inner pain that was enough to arouse genuine concern to me from at least one reader. . But perhaps the thing that meant the most to me was this: I wrote about the impact an episode of Friday Night Lights had upon me, and the writer of the episode, Rolin Jones, saw my post and wrote this comment.  

Dear Jon,

I can see the lights of Dodger stadium from my deck in echo park. I appreciate the summer fireworks on fridays but mostly I consider the ravine a place to see the cubs three times a year. Someone sent me your piece this morning. Hardly dispensable. More like awesome. You can’t make me like the Dodgers, but I’ll read about them now. Good to know you exist.

From the writer of last night’s “Friday Light Nights”,

Rolin Jones

 

I would say that things got worse for me before they got better, and I still have plenty I have to deal with. But I’m happy to report that I’m in a better place now. 

Anniversary Eve

Well, hi there. 

One of the key things about writing Dodger Thoughts in the glory days was the groove. The more posts I wrote, the easier it was to write them. It’s easier to start a new post when you’re coming off a completed one, because there’s momentum. If I needed a rest, I’d take it. But I’d never need a rest for very long. 

The other big component was that the more often I wrote, the more focused I could be, and focus for me is a big part of a successful piece. I didn’t feel like I had to cover everything in one shot. And it allowed me to take the time for longer posts crafted with more care. Perhaps most of all, I felt free to break from the Dodgers to write my more personal thoughts, which quickly became my favorite and most meaningful ones to write. 

Which brings me to today, the eve of the 20th anniversary of Dodger Thoughts. As any visitor to the site knows, I haven’t written much here at all since the Dodgers won the 2020 World Series, particularly this year. So there’s the desire to catch up on the team since then, but moreover, the desire to reflect upon the past 20 years in some signifcant way. 

So my plan is, rather than writing one grand, winner-take-all post, that I’ll publish in short bursts over the next two days. In a way, it fits with an approach to life that I’ve subconsciously understood but never really crystalized literally until this moment: the less ambition, the easier the success.  

We’ll see how it goes. Y’all come back now, ya hear?

Update: Dodger Thoughts 20th Anniversary night canceled

Sorry to say that due to unforeseen (travel) circumstances, I need to cancel the Dodger Thoughts 20th Anniversary night. Thanks, and apologies, to all of those who expressed interest in going.

All is well, and I’m sorry I’ll miss seeing you. 

Clayton Kershaw and the art
of choosing joy over blame

Life offers many lanes going the same direction.  

If you don’t know it by now, I value the journey more than the destination. Don’t get me wrong — the destination can be amazing, and not reaching it can be so frustrating. Failure to go the distance can sour me on my own journey if I’m not careful.

My novel is Exhibit A. Not only am I so proud of my writing, but it was such a great experience — at times, as I’ve probably said here, my best friend. And yet, it’s been a year-plus since it’s been on the market, and I can’t get it sold. I’ve had editors praise it while saying it’s not marketable. Maybe that’s just their way of being nice. Maybe they’re just lazy, since I think it is easily marketed. Either way, I have to remind my self that the process — the moments of writing that thrilled me (especially when I transcended a roadblock) — that all was the best part. 

This is a very long way for me to make a short comment about Clayton Kershaw’s seven perfect innings today. 

I have passed the point where I think a World Series title is the be-all, end-all of Major League Baseball. Obviously, the Dodgers’ title satisfied a big longing 18 months ago. Now, I would have rather seen Kershaw go for the perfect game rather then pull him out for the sake of October. For me, Kershaw perfection would generate more pure joy, like that finding that perfect plot point, thrilling beyond measure.  

That doesn’t mean that the Dodgers committed a crime by pulling him from the game. Pursuit of the playoffs and a championship is a truly worthy goal. Taking steps to protect a 34-year-old lefty with a record of injuries, so that we can see him on the mound as much as possible going forward, is also a truly worthy goal. 

Something good doesn’t mean the other thing is bad. Ice cream comes in many good flavors. I like burgers and I like baby back ribs. We don’t have to choose between one preference and another. Both are there for us as we travel the boulevards of life. We can see the horizon from both lanes. 

Either way, seven perfect innings on a cold April afternoon for a legend ain’t bad. 

Let’s not assign blame on a happy day. The last thing that makes sense on a day like today is to fight about it. 

Today was a moment to treasure. As Vin Scully would surely remind us, be glad that it happened. And let the rest go. 

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