Dodger Thoughts

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

Tag: George Plimpton

In case you missed it: Two days to go

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By Jon Weisman

There’s but one more game between now and Opening Day (starring Clayton Kershaw), as Dodger Stadium opens its doors in 2015 for the first time tonight for the final Freeway Series contest against the Angels.

Friday brought a bit of a desultory road finale to the exhibition season for the Dodgers, who reached base six times – three by Scott Van Slyke – in a 6-0 loss to the Angels.

Los Angeles loaded the bases in the first inning on a hit-by-pitch and two two-out walks against instant old friend Andrew Heaney of the Angels (one of those walks being to the player acquired in exchange, Howie Kendrick). But Heaney retired 14 of the next 15 batters, notwithstanding one reaching on an error, and left with 5 1/3 no-hit innings.

By that point, Brandon McCarthy had allowed a two-run homer to David Freese and Pedro Baez a grand slam to Albert Pujols, and whatever competitive edge the game might have had was gone.

“I still don’t feel completely as locked in as I’d like to be,” McCarthy told Alden Gonzalez of after his final exhibition start, “but I know it’s spring and it’s different.”

Added Don Mattingly to Anthony Witrado of

“It’s been fine,” Mattingly said. “These guys are perfectionists. They are never quite totally happy.

“The ball is jumping out of his hand. For myself and (pitching coach) Rick (Honeycutt), after that third inning it’s like you’re walking out of camp, you’re healthy, you’re as ready as you’re going to be.

“I feel like he’s had a good camp. He’s been able to do all the things he’s wanted to do. He might not feel exactly the way he wants to feel, but I don’t know if anybody ever walks in to the season like that. It’s always a work in progress.”

Witrado added that the Dodgers have set their 25-man roster for Opening Day, barring injury. The announcement isn’t due until Sunday, but could come as soon as today.

In the meantime …

  • Kendrick and Yasiel Puig were both back in action Friday, a night after their collision.
  • All the details from the Dodgers’ press release for Opening Day can be found here.
  • Clayton Kershaw has been a dad for more than two months now (only 214 more until Cali Ann’s an adult).”Babies change so much at this age that going on the road this season will be tough,” Kershaw told Meghan Zahneis of “My outlook on the game hasn’t changed, but you don’t have a bad day at home. You can’t bring a bad work day home.”
  • What were the Dodgers’ most clutch plays of the 2014 season? Chad Moriyama answers the question at Dodgers Digest.
  • George Plimpton’s unforgettable April Fool’s story of Sidd Finch has its roots in a 1960 Kenneth Koch poem, “Ko, or a Season on Earth,” that involved a Japanese phenom taking Dodger Spring Training by storm, according to Jordan Davis at Vice Sports. Here’s more on that poem, with an ending in which “the continent of Asia begins moving East, and the champion Dodgers are transferred there.”

St. Bobby

On this Valentine’s Day, Josh Wilker makes Bobby Valentine the subject of his Cardboard Gods offering, linking to a 1971 Spokane Daily Chronicle story in which Valentine declares, “I intend to be the Dodger shortstop for many years.” But Valentine, the 1970 Pacific Coast League MVP, had already suffered the injury that derailed his playing career.

But wait, there’s more …

  • In the second part of Bronx Banter’s series on Hiroki Kuroda, William Juliano runs a statistical analysis on the former Dodger righty.
  • Steve Dilbeck of Dodgers Now celebrates, for good reason, getting a phone call at home from Vin Scully.
  • Dodger Stadium will once again host a college baseball doubleheader, this time on March 13. UC Irvine will play Pepperdine at 2 p.m., followed by UCLA-USC at 6:30. Advanced tickets are $7 ($5 for students). Gates open at 1 p.m., parking is free and concessions are discounted. Details here.
  • Tony Gwynn (Sr.) is having more cancer surgery, reports The Associated Press.
  • From Chad Moriyama: “The article I didn’t want to write: Jeremy Lin and racism.”
  • Hey, it’s not as if I’m immune to the charms of Kate Upton, but thanks to Big League Stew for finding the link from Upton’s MLB 2K12 ad to George Plimpton’s Mattel Intellivision spot.
  • Update: Adding this last bit from Mike Newman at Fangraphs

    … Before scouting Dodgers Rubby De La Rosa in person, a running joke with scouting contacts was that my radar gun must be broken because it had never registered a velocity above 96 MPH in a season and a half of lugging it around. I headed to Chattanooga knowing De La Rosa threw hard enough to surpass 96 MPH, but was not prepared for just how much harder he threw. Seeing a “seven” on the gun was impressive, but when he popped the mitt at “eight” and “nine” in succession, it became obvious De La Rosa’s fastball was in a different league than any I’d seen previously. (For those who are wondering, when a pitcher throws in the 90+ MPH range, scouts will drop the nine and refer to the pitch by its second digit.) And while I generally ignore stadium guns at all cost, seeing 101 MPH flash on the scoreboard was a first, and left onlookers buzzing in the stands.

    And while De La Rosa lacked command in the upper registers, the one 98 MPH fastball he located belt high on the inner half is seared into my scouting mind as it bored down and in on a right handed hitter to devastating effect. It was the single most dominant pitch I’ve seen live …

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