Dodger Thoughts

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

Tag: Babe Ruth

Dodgers-Red Sox historical tidbits

The Red Sox and Dodger franchises last played in the World Series 102 years ago, in 1916. We’ll obviously get a lot of history from that series. Here’s a bit of it …

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Why MLB players don’t bunt against the shift

The field view when Max Muncy came to bat Monday in the fifth inning of NLDS Game 4 at Atlanta.

You’re a person looking at an empty field, or to be more specific, an empty left side of a major-league baseball field.

You could be a major-league hitter in a major-league baseball game, or you could be a fan looking at a major-league hitter at a major-league baseball game, or you could be a member of the media, perhaps a former major-league baseball player, perhaps named John Smoltz, looking at a major-league baseball game.

As you gaze at the pitcher, the area to the right side of second base is filled with defenders. The area to the left side of second base is bare, or nearly so.

Why, you might ask, shouldn’t one bunt to that left side?

Or why, you might instead ask, for the love of all that is holy, don’t you bunt to that expletive deleted left side?

Here’s why.

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World Series Game 1 had something for everyone — even Dodger fans

By Jon Weisman

“I just hope for a memorable World Series, something we’ll remember for generations,” Mark Langill wrote Tuesday. Then that night, Game 1 between the Mets and the Royals delivered, offering so much that even Dodger fans still nursing their playoff wounds had to marvel.

Moreover, it wasn’t hard to find several Dodger connections to Kansas City’s marathon 14-inning, 5-4 victory over New York.

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In case you missed it: Dodgers make a trade

San Diego Padres vs Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Today, the Dodgers acquired a Rule 4 competitive balance round B draft pick (No. 74 overall this June), right-handed reliever Ryan Webb and minor league catcher Brian Ward from the Orioles in exchange for catcher Chris O’Brien and pitcher Ben Rowen.

Ken Gurnick of MLB.com has more on the deal. The 29-year-old Webb had a 2.95 FIP with Baltimore last year and 37 strikeouts in 49 1/3 innings against 63 baserunners. Ward had a .641 OPS in a season spent mostly at Triple-A Norfolk.

And now, to fill the rest of your off day, more notes …

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In case you missed it: Juan Pierre retires

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By Jon Weisman

I didn’t know Juan Pierre, but he always seemed like a wonderful guy, regardless of the debate that surrounded him. He was a symbol of the divide between Old School and New School thoughts about value in baseball: lots of hits but low OBP, lots of steals but a mediocre success rate, lots of joy in the clubhouse but questions about how much that translated into wins.

His third year as a Dodger, in 2009, was his most interesting one. Beginning the season on the bench behind the burgeoning talents of Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier and the massive presence of Manny Ramirez, he surged back into relevance once Ramirez was suspended, with a .365 OBP, and by the time the summer dust had settled, numerous people argued he was the team’s most valuable player, keeping them alive for what ended up being a run to the National League Championship Series.

A look back at that year through Fangraphs shows that even playing 41 more games than Ramirez, Pierre trailed him and five other Dodger position players in Wins Above Replacement for the season, retroactive evidence for those of us who felt thankful for the way Pierre had stepped up but didn’t quite see him as the MVP. But saying that he was overvalued doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t have been valued at all. Those are two different concepts, that I like to think we have a better understanding of today.

Pierre had four seasons in his career of more than 200 hits, and at one point was a legitimate candidate to get 3,000, at a not-so-long-ago time when 3,000 hits was a Hall of Fame guarantee. As it is, he retires today with 2,217 hits — no small feat — and 614 career steals, which is 18th in MLB history. He also leaves with a reputation as one of the nicest guys in the game … and with his sense of humor intact.

Not too shabby. Best wishes to him.

Elsewhere in Dodgeropolis., here’s what’s happening …

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Video: Young Scully meets Babe Ruth

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Happy Babe Ruth 100th anniversary day — get ready for his Dodgers (yes, Dodgers) bobblehead

LAD 2014 Babe Ruth Bobblehead (Farmer John)Today is the 100th anniversary of Babe Ruth’s debut in the Major Leagues. On July 11, 1914, the 19-year-old Ruth pitched seven innings for the Boston Red Sox in a 4-3 victory, allowing two earned runs on eight hits and no walks, while going 0 for 2 at the plate. Anthony Castrovince has more on Ruth’s big-league inauguration at MLB.com.

It’s a great day to unveil the September 9 Babe Ruth Bobblehead promotion, commemorating Ruth’s time as a Dodger coach in 1938. Tickets are available now. The giveaway is for the first 50,000 ticketed fans in attendance, and no, we don’t expect any delivery trucks to break down this time around.

— Jon Weisman

Cy Young, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams … and Yasiel Puig

Jon SooHoo/©Los Angeles Dodgers, LLC 2014

Yasiel Puig (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

“I think Puig is definitely in this family of nearly mythical characters.”

— John Thorn

Ted Williams, c. 1940 (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Ted Williams, c. 1940 (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The next time someone suggests Yasiel Puig is unlike anyone who has come before, or that he’s dangerously cavalier about baseball’s unwritten rules, think of Ted Williams.

Ted Williams, commander of respect, massively serious student of hitting … so much so that in his early years in the Major Leagues, he would take practice swings in the outfield when the other team was at bat.

“He was thought to be nearly demented,” Major League Baseball official historian John Thorn says. “He was absolutely in his own head. … Because we hold Williams in such reverence today, those who don’t have a grasp of the full history of the man will not recognize that he was made fun of when he was brought in.”

Adds FoxSports.com senior baseball editor Rob Neyer: “When Williams came up, he didn’t seem to know what the rules were. He would speak to veterans as if they were underlings or inferior to him. He would practice his swing in the outfield between pitches. These were things you weren’t supposed to do. … The culture sort of beats those things out of you, which is kind of a shame for fans.”

Williams is far from the only one. As unique as Puig has been in his first 365 days in the Major Leagues, a stroll through baseball history brings a line of baseball giants who, before they became legends, were heartily mocked or criticized.

Once upon a time, Old School was itself New School, and head-scratching, larger-than-life figures existed as much then as now, if not more so.

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From the top to the middle

Since holding the best record in the National League on June 9 with a 36-24 record, the Dodgers are 24-34 and have lost 11 games in the standings to the Padres (35-23). Losses today and tomorrow would allow the Dodgers to bookend their two 60-game stretches, 36-24 and 24-36.

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  • Ricky Romero (not Ricky Roma) just signed a five-year, $30 million deal with Toronto. What does that mean for Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers? Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness explores the topic. (Perhaps a propos to this, Rob Neyer of ESPN.com asks another question: Is Tim Lincecum’s slump permanent?)
  • Life Magazine has posted some previously unpublished photos of Babe Ruth at his final Yankee Stadium appearance in 1948. (Scroll down for the links to the different images.)
  • If you want a preview of the upcoming free-agent market in starting pitchers, Matthew Pouliot of Hardball Talk has it.
  • Linda McCoy-Murray and her work on behalf of the Jim Murray Foundation are profiled by Shelley Smith for ESPNLosAngeles.com.

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