Dodger Thoughts

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

Category: History (Page 1 of 34)

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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Dodger Thoughts at 20: Podcast interview with Eric Stephen

As the 20th anniversary of Dodger Thoughts approaches (though admittedly, I haven’t been writing here this year), Eric Stephen has posted an interview with me at True Blue L.A. looking back at those two decades. 

It’s always a pleasure and an hour to talk to Stephen, who in my view has set his own standard to become the definitive Dodger writer. 

I do hope to write more here in regards to the anniverary on July 21, but in the meantime, I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did. 

The 75 greatest Lakers of all time, as chosen by a 53-year-old who really followed the Lakers in the 20th century but less so now (by the way, there are 83 names on this list)

Butch Lee and Magic Johnson, May 16, 1980

  1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
  2. Tom Abernathy
  3. Lucius Allen
  4. Elgin Baylor
  5. Ron Boone
  6. Jim Brewer
  7. Chucky Brown
  8. Kobe Bryant
  9. Corky Calhoun
  10. Mack Calvin
  11. Elden Campbell
  12. Tony Campbell
  13. Kenny Carr
  14. Cedric Ceballos
  15. Wilt Chamberlain
  16. Don Chaney
  17. Jim Chones
  18. Jim Cleamons
  19. Michael Cooper
  20. Adrian Dantley
  21. Anthony Davis
  22. Vlade Divac
  23. Ernie DiGregorio
  24. Larry Drew
  25. James Edwards
  26. Derek Fisher
  27. Don Ford
  28. Rick Fox
  29. Pau Gasol
  30. Devean George
  31. Gail Goodrich
  32. A.C. Green
  33. Happy Hairston
  34. Ron Harper
  35. Connie Hawkins
  36. Tommy Hawkins
  37. Spencer Haywood
  38. Walt Hazzard
  39. Brad Holland
  40. Robert Horry
  41. Lou Hudson
  42. Andre Ingram
  43. LeBron James
  44. Clay Johnson
  45. Magic Johnson
  46. Earl Jones
  47. Eddie Jones
  48. C.J. Kupec
  49. Mark Landsberger
  50. Rudy LaRusso
  51. Butch Lee
  52. Ronnie Lester
  53. Mark Madsen
  54. Bob McAdoo
  55. Mike McGee
  56. George Mikan
  57. Swen Nater
  58. Chuck Nevitt
  59. Norm Nixon
  60. Shaquille O’Neal
  61. Keith Owens
  62. Anthony Peeler
  63. Sam Perkins
  64. Kurt Rambis
  65. Julius Randle
  66. David Rivers
  67. Cazzie Russell
  68. Byron Scott
  69. Brian Shaw
  70. Elmore Smith
  71. Larry Spriggs
  72. Earl Tatum
  73. Terry Teagle
  74. Billy Thompson
  75. Mychal Thompson
  76. Sedale Threatt
  77. Nick Van Exel
  78. Kermit Washington
  79. Jamaal Wilkes
  80. Jerry West
  81. Orlando Woolridge
  82. Metta World Peace
  83. James Worthy

Update!

The 20 worst Dodger playoff moments of my lifetime

The 20 worst Dodger playoff experiences of my lifetime, in chronological order, each embedded with a video link for your pain:

  1. Reggie Jackson’s hip
  2. Ray Burris (he outpitched Fernando Valenzuela in 1981, crushing for this 13-year-old who was in the stands)
  3. Ozzie Smith
  4. Jack Clark
  5. Javy Lopez
  6. Jeff Kent/J.D. Drew at home
  7. Matt Stairs
  8. Jimmy Rollins
  9. Hanley Ramirez’s ribs
  10. Third inning, 2013 NLDS Game 6
  11. Matt Carpenter
  12. Matt Adams
  13. Daniel Murphy (half a point for the steal, half a point for his homer)
  14. Marwin Gonzalez
  15. 2017 World Series Game 5 (this game was not without its highs, but ultimately counting the whole thing as a moment)
  16. Final three innings, 2018 World Series Game 4
  17. Juan Soto (not Anthony Rendon – I could forgive that one)
  18. Howie Kendrick
  19. Final play, Game 4 of the 2020 World Series
  20. Pending: Steven Souza Jr.’s throw. Not sure I will keep this long-term, but it can occupy this spot for now. 

Update: Yeah, Game 7 of the 2017 World Series needs to be on here. I left it off because it was so defeating from the very first inning, and yet not as crushing to me as Game 5. But it should be here. You don’t lose a World Series Game 7 without it being a bad memory. 

Two more crazy intersections for the 2005 and 2021 Dodgers

Ever since the 2021 Los Angeles Dodgers started the season 12-2, matching the breakout of the heart-stopping, game-dropping, low-flying, win-defying, mental-lapsing, season-collapsing, legendary 2005 Los Angeles Dodgers, I’ve been comparing these two squads on a game-by-game basis. Because really, how could I not?

At Twitter, you can find a Fun #2005dodgers fact every morning after a Dodger game the previous day. 

Over the past week, I think there have been two particularly remarkable fun facts. First: 

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The Latest Chapter in Our Great Adventure with the Dodgers

On August 23, 2018, the Dodgers were 4 1/2 games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League West with 34 games to play.

Now, we know that in 2018 Los Angeles came back, won the division and went to the World Series. Then, we did not. Then, I dare say, more people thought the Dodgers wouldn’t come back than thought they would. 

Now, the Dodgers are five games behind the San Francisco Giants in the NL West with 47 games to play. Will the Dodgers come back? We have no idea. 

This is another chapter in our great adventure, another milepost in our epic journey of suspense. And we can rue the uncertainty and curse the inanity all we want, but baseball does not exist without it. 

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NEWLY REVISED EDITION: 100 Things Dodgers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die — new for 2021 — is on sale now

Exciting news! For the first time since 2013, a new edition of my book, 100 Things Dodgers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die, is about to be released. Updated to include events leading up to the Dodgers’ World Series title, the 2021 version officially publishes June 1, and you can preorder now! 

Ever since the first edition came out in 2009, I have always aspired for this book to be the ideal resource for any fan of the Dodgers: young or old, casual or passionate, focused on the present or the past. And now, I can finally say the book has caught up to the most eventful decade of the past half-century in the history of the franchise. 

Coming in at a record 368 pages, this new third edition captures all kinds of highlights from the past eight Dodger seasons — the many highs and the devastating lows — culminating in the wonderful catharsis of the 2020 World Series. The new 100 Things Dodgers also offers new chapters and sidebars focused on the more recent Dodger stars and personalities, including Cody Bellinger, Mookie Betts, Andre Ethier, Andrew Friedman, Kenley Jansen, Yasiel Puig, Dave Roberts, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Corey Seager, Justin Turner and Juan Uribe. I have also updated previous material on Jaime Jarrín, Eric Karros, Matt Kemp and much more, including Dodger Stadium itself. And needless to say, after 2020, Clayton Kershaw stands out as someone whose body of work called out for a new look. 

Here’s a snippet, from the opening of my new introduction to the third edition, to set the stage: 

Officially, Triumph Books published the second edition of 100 Things Dodgers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die the morning of April 1, 2013.

You might say that a lot has happened in Dodger history since then.

In fact, only hours after the previous edition hit the public, Clayton Kershaw took a George Kontos fastball over the center-field wall at Dodger Stadium, breaking a scoreless tie on his way to pitching a shutout against the Giants in the first game of the season. That Opening Day was the opening salvo in an unprecedented run of Dodger history: eight straight National League West titles, including three NL pennants, leading up to the 2020 season that brought—say it with me now—the Dodgers’ first World Series title in 32 years.

I could write an entire book about those eight seasons alone (and hey, maybe I should). At the same time, that octet of excellence deserves a spot not separate from, but rather in context with, the history of a franchise whose roots date back to the 19th century.

And that’s where this new edition of 100 Things Dodgers comes in. …

While the new edition of 100 Things Dodgers officially hits the stands on June 1, but you can preorder now from such places as … 

If you’ve already enjoyed previous editions of 100 Things Dodgers, I feel confident you’ll be happy to step up to this one. And if you haven’t owned a copy of the book yet, this is the perfect time to buy one, for yourself or your friends and family (especially if you need a belated Mother’s Day gift or an elated Father’s Day present). 

Let me close out my pitch by returning to the book’s introduction. 

… Having this much exciting material to convey is the kind of problem an author dreams of having. As I said in the introduction to the first edition, “The Dodgers aren’t the only epic story around, but they’re a pretty great one—with fantastic characters, emotions, and plot twists that are nearly impossible to abandon.” I wrote that when the franchise had won exactly one playoff series since 1988. To think what has happened since: The Dodgers are truly the gift that keeps on Dodgering.

Whether you are updating your previous edition of 100 Things Dodgers or opening these pages as a newcomer, I hope you’ll find one constant. You might know who Jackie Robinson and Vin Scully are, what 1951 and 1955 represent, how “Dodgers” itself is a unique name in sports. My mission remains to tell the story behind the story, to inform as well as reminisce, to enlighten and enliven, no matter how casual or diehard a fan you are. The years since 2013 have only made that mission more dear. No matter what brings you to this book, I hope you find memories big and small from throughout the history of the Dodgers to treasure. 

And with that, I hope you buy 100 Things Dodgers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die today!

Longest Dodger hitless streaks include All-Stars and heroes

Dodger reserve Edwin Ríos is getting a lot of attention for his struggles, magnified because they are coming at the start of the season. So far in 2021, Ríos is 4 for 44 (a nightmare Moses Malone scenario) with one extra-base hit, and he is hitless in his past 24 at-bats. 

But as you can see from the above chart of longest hitless streaks by Dodger position players since 2000, a drought is hardly a death knell for a Dodger career.

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Farewell, Don Sutton

Photo: Baseball Hall of Fame

Befitting the longest and in some ways most complex pitching career in the history of the Dodgers, Don Sutton has the longest chapter in Brothers in Arms: Koufax, Kershaw, and the Dodgers’ Extraordinary Pitching Tradition. For someone who was a Hall of Famer without much doubt, Sutton was almost chronically underestimated in his value. 

In tribute to Sutton, who has died at the age of 75, here is that chapter:  

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Farewell, Tommy Lasorda

The amazing life of Tommy Lasorda ended Thursday at the age of 93

I was just becoming a baseball fan when he became the Dodgers’ manager in September 1976. Nearly 40 years later, I would find myself in the Dodger press box cafeteria at lunch as an employee and introducing my two sons to Lasorda, and having him shake hands with them.  

Here is my chapter on Lasorda for 100 Things Dodgers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die:

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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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Return of the Clayton Kershaw Playoff Chart

Click the chart below to enlarge. 

Green: Ace-level starts
Orange: Two earned runs or fewer in first six innings
Yellow: Mixed bags
Red: Disasters
Light gold: Relief appearances

I created the Clayton Kershaw Postseason Chart two years ago to communicate how Kershaw has been both great and terrible and everywhere in between during the postseason.

The Dodgers’ brief window in the 2019 playoffs didn’t change the narrative. In his first start, he pitched well enough to win but didn’t. Then he had a disastrous relief outing, his first such nightmare out of the bullpen in a decade.

Kershaw has made 25 career playoff starts. Here’s how they break down:

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Dodger bullpen breaks two National League records

All the short-season caveats apply, but the Dodger bullpen did set two National League records for the live-ball era (1920-on). 

  • Dodger relievers set a National League record for the lowest single-season WHIP at 1.044. The bullpen broke the NL mark held by the 2003 Dodgers, who were led by Eric Gagne, Guillermo Mota and Paul Quantrill. Unfortunately, they just missed the major-league record of 1.003, held by the 1965 Chicago White Sox. 
  • They also broke the NL mark for lowest on-base percentage allowed: .274, also held by the 2003 Dodgers. The ’65 White Sox allowed a .264 OBP.   

While the team only played 60 games, Dodger relievers did average an unprecedented 4 1/3 innings per game.  In fact, so omnipresent was the Dodger bullpen that for the first time in franchise history, relief pitchers had more than half of the team’s wins — 26 out of 43. 

Victor Gonzalez, Adam Kolarek, Jake McGee and Brusdar Graterol each had WHIPs below 1.00. 

Obviously, it’s dubious to suggest these records would have held up over 162 games. But in the realm of 2020, we can say this: Dodger relievers were the best. 

Duke Snider holds a major NL record that no one talks about

Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak is one of the most hallowed records in baseball history, even though most fans today weren’t alive to see him play. 

But we live in an era with a greater appreciation for getting on base by any means necessary. So while an all-time on-base streak hasn’t built up the cachet of DiMaggio’s 56, it’s worth calling out who holds that record.

In the American League, the titan of touching first is Ted Williams, who reached base 84 straight games in 1949. In fact, Williams owns two of the top three streaks, with his 73-game streak in 1941-42 coming just behind the 74-gamer by DiMaggio that includes his hitting streak.  

In the National League, this underrated record is held by none other than Hall of Fame outfielder Duke Snider of the Dodgers, who reached base in 58 consecutive games from May 13 through July 11, 1954.

Snider broke a record of 56 consecutive games held by two fellow Hall of Famers — Roger Bresnahan (1904) and Snider’s future Dodger teammate Arky Vaughan (1936).

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An epic Dodgers collapse Phillies comeback, 30 years ago today

On August 21, 1990, I went to a baseball game with a friend. And I stayed for about seven innings, and then we left early. 

I don’t think we thought twice about it. It was a weeknight. We had jobs. 

And the Dodgers were winning, 11-1. 

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