Dodger Thoughts

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

Tag: Fernando Valenzuela (Page 2 of 3)

Dodgers Love L.A.: And here come the pretzels

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By Jon Weisman

Day 4 of the Dodgers Love L.A. Community Tour (presented by Bank of America) was comfortably comestible, with Dodgers Kiké Hernandez, Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson and Justin Turner giving away Dodger dogs and pretzels in downtown Los Angeles.

Pretzel man Justin Turner, by the way, was just labeled the fifth-best third baseman in MLB right now, by MLB Network.

Los Angeles Dodgers Love LA Tour at Wetzels Pretzels at Union Station

While there, Pederson spoke to about Dave Roberts and the upcoming season.

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For more images from the day, visit LA Photo Blog.

Earlier in the day, Presidential Ambassador for Citizenship and Naturalization (and, oh yeah, Dodger legend) Fernando Valenzuela was on a White House conference call to discuss the launch of the White House Regional Convenings on New Americans, aimed at assisting local immigrant and refugee efforts.

“It’s a great honor for me to be here, to be a citizen and a Presidential Ambassador,” said Valenzuela. “In this role, I want to share with the United States and the city of Los Angeles the many rights that come with being a citizen. I’m excited to get to vote in my first presidential election. It’s important for the Los Angeles community to know how important it is to vote.”

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The Dodgers Love L.A. Tour heads to City Hall this morning, to see if Vin Scully Avenue becomes officially official.

Talking shop with Dodger photogapher Jon SooHoo

Fernando Valenzuela, pitching against USC in an exhibition game before the 1981 season. (Jon SooHoo)

Fernando Valenzuela, pitching against USC in an exhibition game before the 1981 season. (Jon SooHoo)

Dodger photographer Jon SooHoo, who last year completed his 30th season chronicling the team, will be part of a Samy’s Photo School seminar with Angels photographer Matt Brown on February 13 at the Petersen Automotive Museum. (For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.)

SooHoo looked back at his career, which began in some ways with the above photo of Fernando Valenzuela, in this interview.

— Jon Weisman

Valenzuela, Scioscia in special event January 21

Scioscia congratulates Fernando

By Jon Weisman

There are limited spaces available for “An Epic Evening with Mike Scioscia and Fernando Valenzuela,” taking place January 21 and hosted by Art of the Game at a vintage hotel in Hollywood.

The evening includes:

  • On-stage Q&A with Scioscia and Valenzuela
  • Professional 11″ x 14″ photo of you and your guest, along with Scioscia and Valenzuela
  • Limited edition, licensed photo canvas signed by both greats
  • Valet parking, buffet dinner and open bar

For more information, visit Art of the Game.

Also: See below for Valenzuela’s responses in today’s live #Ask34 Twitter chat …

[tweet 677573676997316608 hide_thread=’true’]

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Vin Scully on Fernando Valenzuela, 1980

Fernando 1980

“The Valenzuela story is an incredible one. He throws two screwballs, one a little harder than the other. Pretty good curveball, and a sneaky fastball. … (For) 1981, all you have to do is start thinking about looking at Guerrero every day, maybe looking at this kid as a starter, and getting (the team) healthy.”

— Vin Scully, October 3, 1980

Posted for no other reason than the game was being aired today on SportsNet LA.

— Jon Weisman

Dodger playoff series rarely go to final game


Dodger winner-take-all playoff games
10/12/88: *Dodgers 6, Mets 0 (NLCS)
10/19/81: Dodgers 2, *Expos 1 (NLCS)
10/11/81: *Dodgers 4, Astros 0 (NLDS)
10/14/65: Dodgers 2, *Twins 0 (WS)
10/10/56: Yankees 9, *Dodgers 0 (WS)
10/4/55: *Dodgers 2, Yankees 0 (WS)
10/7/52: Yankees 4, *Dodgers 2 (WS)
10/6/47: *Yankees 5, Dodgers 2 (WS)
*home team

By Jon Weisman

The last time the Dodgers played in a winner-take-all playoff game, the winning pitcher was Orel Hershiser.

That was October 12, 1988, when Hershiser pitched the Dodgers to a 6-0 victory in Game 7 of the 1988 National League Championship Series (a series that receives some fine oral history treatment from Lyle Spencer of

For all the talk of home-field advantage in the postseason, the Dodgers have been in 12 playoff series since the last time one of them went down to the final game. Will this year be different? We’re certainly due.

The last time the Dodgers played the final game of a playoff series on the road was October 19, 1981, when Rick Monday homered in the ninth and Bob Welch got the final out for Fernando Valenzuela to win Game 5 of the 1981 NLCS.

In fact, the Dodgers haven’t lost a winner-take-all playoff game since Game 7 of the 1956 World Series, and haven’t lost one on the road since Game 7 of the 1952 World Series. The Dodgers are 5-3 overall in winner-take-all playoff games, triumphing in their past four, and have pitched shutouts in half of them.

In case you missed it: Vin Scully’s bobblehead says hi

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By Jon Weisman

My wife has been perpetually perplexed that to her ears, I pronounce the word “ketchup” as if it were “catchup.” So with that in mind, let’s ketchup on some Dodger news …

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Suspended game returns memories of Chicago 1982

Los Angeles Dodgers vs Washington Nationals
Reuss headshotBy Jon Weisman

In every issue of Dodger Insider magazine, we run a boxscore of the month, and the one for August happens to tie in with what’s happening in Washington right now.

Dodgers 2, Cubs 1
August 17-18, 1982

It began innocuously enough one afternoon in Chicago. Ex-Dodger Bill Buckner drove in a run for the Cubs with a groundout in the bottom of the first. Dodger catcher Mike Scioscia tied the game in the top of the second with an RBI single. But no more runs would cross the plate that day, all the way into the top of the 18th, when darkness at the lightless Wrigley Field forced the game to be suspended until after the next sunrise.

When the teams reunited, the Dodgers’ scheduled starting pitcher for Tuesday, Jerry Reuss, took the mound in relief. By the time it was over, after the Dodgers pushed across a run in the top of the 21st inning on Dusty Baker’s sacrifice fly, pitchers Fernando Valenzuela and Bob Welch had both played outfield. Reuss got the win – and then another when he pitched five innings that afternoon in a 7-4 Dodger victory that was over in 2:21.

I bring this up because I can’t help imagining Clayton Kershaw repeating the Reuss ruse of getting all his innings out of the way at first by starting the day in relief.

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Valenzuela in the outfield, 1982


In honor of the game taking place in the Bronx tonight — 19 innings and counting as I write this — here’s a rare snapshot from the Fernando Valenzuela special section within the 2015 Los Angeles Dodgers Yearbook, showing Valenzuela playing in the outfield during the Dodgers’ 21-inning victory over the Cubs at Wrigley Field on August 17-18, 1982.

The photo isn’t blurry — it’s just reflective of how much one’s eyesight deteriorates during a game of that length.

Get the 2015 Los Angeles Dodgers Yearbook and all its goodness at Dodger Stadium stores or at

— Jon Weisman

The greatest Los Angeles Dodger pitching performances in losses

Sutton '74
By Jon Weisman

A few days ago at Fangraphs, Miles Wray wrote about the five greatest pitching performances of 2014 that came in a loss. I thought I’d put a Dodger twist on this, and throw in some historical perspective as well.

Here are the five greatest pitching performances during a loss in Los Angeles Dodger history, dating back to 1958  and using, as Wray did, Win Probability Added as the measurement. Continue past the five for a couple of bonus epics, including one that will make your jaw drop …

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Introducing the 2015 Los Angeles Dodgers Yearbook: Fernando Valenzuela Commemorative Edition

2015 Yearbook cover image

By Jon Weisman

I’m pleased to reveal that the 2015 Los Angeles Dodgers Yearbook will be a special Fernando Valenzuela commemorative edition.

Publishing in April (the 34th anniversary of the month that No. 34 took the mound for his first Opening Day and launched Fernandomania), the Yearbook celebrates the life and career of the Dodger legend with a special 21-page section, “The Man Behind the Mania” — entirely in Valenzuela’s words — including some never before-seen photos.

Valenzuela discusses such subjects as playing baseball as a child, how hard he worked to learn the screwball, his feelings about being called up in 1980 and getting that 1981 Opening Day start, what it was like to be in the center of Fernandomania, his approach to all aspects of the game, his greatest memories and his thoughts about the ultimate path of his career.

The 160-page yearbook will also feature the following:

  • Month-by-month review of the Dodgers’ 2014 season
  • Detailed look at the 2015 roster
  • Special salute to NL MVP and Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw
  • “In Memoriam” tributes to members of the Dodger family
  • Photos of celebrities who visited Dodger Stadium in the past year
  • Reports on the new front-office leadership, minor league affiliations and changes at Dodger Stadium and Camelback Ranch
  • A recap of 2014 community efforts by the Dodgers
  • Information about tickets, promotions and more.

The yearbook will be on sale at Dodger Stadium stores in time for the Freeway Series game with the Angels on April 4 for $15. You can also order it online for $20. Best deal: The 2015 Dodger Yearbook is free with a 2015 Dodger Insider subscription (must subscribe by April 30).

Also of note: Dodger Insider magazine and the Yearbook will be polybagged for mailing to subscribers to protect the covers. Online orders received by March 16 will be mailed in early April.


The report from Planet Urias

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By Jon Weisman

At times, I felt silly about tweeting out batter-by-batter updates on Julio Urias’ outing today, but it just felt to me like the combination of the level of interest and it being his first Cactus League outing as a grown-up justified them.

What I felt badly about was the short shrift given the other noteworthy prospects on the mound for the Dodgers today. Chris Anderson pitched two perfect innings, Zach Lee walked one batter but retired the other six and Chris Reed had a perfect inning before two singles, a wild pitch and a ground out spoiled his second frame.

Nonetheless, our minds were already in full orbit around Urias.

Urias did display a bit of “Aw, shucks” fallibility that on one level was a welcome antidote to those of us who might be getting carried away with our star-gazing, as if he were a celestial body from light-years away that had already blossomed, while we were just now getting our first glimpse. Facing seven batters, he walked three and went to a full count in an eight-pitch at-bat with another.

Urias pitchingHis first inning of work, following Lee to the mound, was fairly scintillating — two strikeouts sandwiching his first walk, followed by a harmless ground out (18 pitches in all). Coming back to the mound after a long rest (the Dodgers ate up a lot of time on offense in producing their 10-1 victory over Milwaukee), Urias took eight pitches to retire Carlos Gomez, then used another eight pitches in walking Aramis Ramirez.

(It’s here that we pause and remember, that’s an 18-year-old pitcher facing two 2014 National League All-Stars. Anyone else but Urias or Clayton Kershaw would have simply dug a hole on the mound.)

That put Urias at 34 pitches with four outs on his ledger, and a pitch-count limit was nigh. Urias staved it his departure — and showcased another exciting element of his game — by picking off pinch-runner Elian Herrera.

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But after getting ahead of Khris Davis 1-2, Urias couldn’t finish him off. Davis fouled off two pitches and took three more, and that was that.

Part of me couldn’t help but wonder, “Shoot, if the guy can throw 42 pitches on March 6, couldn’t he throw 21 on August 6?” My takeaway, however, was that whatever was meant to be for Urias in a Major League uniform would all come in due time.

And flying under the radar, despite their own impressive pedigrees, Anderson, Lee and Reed should have their chances to romance us.

* * *

Reporters naturally sought out Urias for comment afterward, and it was nice to see his enthusiastic reaction.

“It was awesome to face (Gomez) and get an out against him (on a popup) at this early stage,” Urias told’s Lyle Spencer, who noted that the pitcher’s father, grandfather and brother were watching. “I felt good, comfortable.”

Also weighing in was the man himself, Fernando Valenzuela.

“He was relaxed, nice and loose,” Valenzuela said, via Spencer. “He’s got a lot of confidence in himself. He has a good fastball with life and throws a nice curveball and changeup. He got ahead (in counts), but they didn’t chase. He looks like he can be something special.”

A.J. Ellis put the outing in perspective, in Eric Stephen’s writeup at True Blue L.A.

“He looked like a guy making his first start of spring training. A little bit erratic, a little bit anxious,” Ellis said. “When you’re erratic and anxious, but still have electric stuff, you can get away with a lot of things. We saw a little bit of everything.”

* * *

Andre Ethier and Joc Pederson come together before splitting off for today's split-squad games. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Andre Ethier and Joc Pederson come together before splitting off for today’s split-squad games. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

It was also another fine day for the Dodger bats, mainly against the Brewers but also in their 7-4 split-squad victory over the Mariners.

In support of Lee, Urias, Reed and Associates, Ellis had a walk and a three-run home run, Yasiel Puig had a single and two walks. Joc Pederson and Alex Guerrero each went 2 for 3 with an extra-base hit (double for Pederson, home run for Guerrero) to keep them a matched set with .714 batting averages this month.

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“There is a very short window to make the team,” Guerrero told Stephen. “I’ve prepared a lot in the offseason, so I have to jump right in with a short time to prove myself. Mentally I’m confident, I’m relaxed, so that’s a difference too.”

Scott Schebler had two doubles, and Kyle Jensen followed up Thursday’s home run with two singles today. Darnell Sweeney got in the act, hitting a single and the Dodgers’ third home run off Milwaukee pitching. The Dodgers had 22 baserunners in that game, while Milwaukee ended up with a runs-hits-errors linescore of 1 2 3.

Joey Curletta ended the rout with a diving catch in right field.

Back at Camelback, O’Koyea Dickson hit his second home run of Spring Training, after Adrian Gonzalez went 1 for 2 at first base. Erisbel Arruebarrena had two hits, after Jimmy Rollins went 1 for 2 at short. Howie Kendrick, Andre Ethier and Shawn Zarraga gave the Dodgers a total of six 1-for-2 batters in the game.

Team Jarrin takes over Spanish radio broadcasts


AwardBy Jon Weisman

For the first time, Hall of Fame broadcaster Jaime Jarrin and his son Jorge will form the broadcast team for the Dodgers’ Spanish radio broadcasts on KTNQ 1020 AM.

Pepe Yniguez and Fernando Valenzuela will be the Spanish broadcast team for SportsNet LA on television, with Manny Mota contributing on both radio and TV.

On the English-language side, the broadcast teams pick up where they left off, starting with Vin Scully on SportsNet LA for Dodger home games and select road games. Scully will simulcast the first three innings on KLAC 570 AM, with Charley Steiner and Rick Monday taking over on radio in the fourth inning.

For the other games, Steiner, Orel Hershiser and Nomar Garciaparra will work TV, with Monday joined by Kevin Kennedy on radio.

This is season No. 66 for Scully with the Dodgers and No. 57 for Jaime Jarrin. Monday is working his 23rd season behind the Dodger mic; Yniguez his 17th, Valenzuela his 13th and Steiner his 11th. Mota is in his sixth season as a Dodger broadcaster and 47th overall with the franchise.


Adrian Gonzalez leads trip to Mexico


Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Adrian Gonzalez and his family will be joined by Fernando Valenzuela, Dodger president and CEO Stan Kasten and Dodger executive vice president and chief marketing officer Lon Rosen in Mexico City on Thursday for the Premio Nacional de Deportes (PND) ceremony honoring Gonzalez.

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What you might not know about the birth of Fernando Valenzuela’s screwball

valenzuela_5From Bruce Schoenfeld’s New York Times Magazine piece, “The Mystery of the Vanishing Screwball”:

The apotheosis of the screwball in modern baseball history took place on Oct. 19, 1981, when Valenzuela, then a 20-year-old rookie, faced the Expos in the deciding game of the National League Championship Series. “I’m going to throw mostly screwballs tomorrow,” Valenzuela told the coach Manny Mota over dinner. “Just watch.”

Though no records exist to confirm it, Valenzuela probably threw more screwballs that day than most ballparks have seen in the past decade. He allowed three hits over eight and two-thirds innings, beat the Expos, 2-1, and lifted the Dodgers to the World Series, which they won over the Yankees. “It was working, so I threw it over and over,” he told me. “It was one of my best games.”

In other words, it wasn’t until near the end of that magical 1981 season that Valenzuela reached peak screwball.

— Jon Weisman

Kershaw eyes 1,000th strikeout

MLB pitchers with 1,000 strikeouts at age 25

Rk Player SO From To Age G IP H BB ERA ERA+
1 Bert Blyleven 1546 1970 1976 19-25 252 1909.0 1699 484 2.80 132
2 Walter Johnson 1461 1907 1913 19-25 273 2070.1 1586 417 1.60 176
3 Dwight Gooden 1391 1984 1990 19-25 211 1523.2 1282 449 2.82 125
4 Sam McDowell 1384 1961 1968 18-25 223 1305.0 985 686 2.96 115
5 Fernando Valenzuela 1274 1980 1986 19-25 210 1554.2 1295 540 2.94 119
6 Felix Hernandez 1264 2005 2011 19-25 205 1388.1 1275 424 3.24 128
7 Don Drysdale 1236 1956 1962 19-25 271 1629.2 1465 490 3.21 126
8 Bob Feller 1233 1936 1941 17-22 205 1448.1 1149 815 3.18 136
9 Christy Mathewson 1198 1901 1906 20-25 249 1960.0 1675 493 2.15 138
10 Frank Tanana 1120 1973 1979 19-25 193 1411.1 1238 377 2.93 122
11 Hal Newhouser 1120 1939 1946 18-25 261 1609.0 1336 752 2.72 141
12 Denny McLain 1098 1963 1969 19-25 213 1501.2 1221 422 3.04 113
13 Larry Dierker 1080 1964 1972 17-25 236 1624.0 1478 437 3.17 108
14 Catfish Hunter 1062 1965 1971 19-25 248 1586.1 1389 502 3.42 96
15 Joe Coleman 1019 1965 1972 18-25 222 1416.1 1250 503 3.30 101
16 Clayton Kershaw 999 2008 2013 20-25 154 967.1 744 345 2.75 140
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/17/2013.
Padres at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Kershaw CLIII: Kershawrgo

Carl Crawford, LF
Mark Ellis, 2B
Andre Ethier, RF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
A.J. Ellis, C
Skip Schumaker, CF
Nick Punto, 3B
Justin Sellers, SS
Clayton Kershaw, P

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