Dodger Thoughts

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

Tag: Stan Kasten (Page 1 of 2)

All avenues lead to Vin Scully

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

At the end of the street formerly known as Elysian Park Avenue, we witnessed today what happens when an unstoppable force meets a moved city.

In the driveway of his home away from home at Dodger Stadium, a broadcaster without equal acknowledged the formal dedication of Vin Scully Avenue, thanking the grateful fan base that has hung on his words since 1950.

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Video: Dodgers featured on MLB Network

On Monday, MLB Network featured the Dodgers on its “30 Clubs in 30 Days” series. Below are several clips from the day …

— Jon Weisman

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Vin Scully and Co. celebrate baseball

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By Jon Weisman

The video above captures the flavor of celebration at Saturday’s Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation dinner in Century City, with Vin Scully, Chan Ho Park, Peter O’Malley, Dusty Baker and Tommy Lasorda among the interviewees.

Next is a less Dodger-centric snapshot, with more focus on the transition between retiring MLB commisioner Bud Selig and his successor, Rob Manfred:

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Below, filmed at the same event, Stan Kasten and Charley Steiner talk about the Dodgers’ offseason changes …

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Dodgers support binding arbitration to solve distribution of SportsNet LA

TWCSLA_Logo_loRESBy Jon Weisman

On behalf of the Dodgers, team president and CEO Stan Kasten spoke tonight in favor of a proposal from a group of six California-based members of the U.S. House of Representatives, led by Brad Sherman, calling for binding arbitration between Time Warner Cable and potential carriers that would enable immediate distribution of 24-hour Dodger channel SportsNet LA to all available homes in Southern California.

Time Warner Cable also said it would submit to binding arbitration with potential distributors of SportsNet LA (including DirecTV, AT&T U-verse, Charter Communications, Dish Network and Verizon Fios), effectively taking the negotiations out of Time Warner Cable’s hands.

“This, if it were agreed upon, would end this blackout right away, today, and we would be on the air literally tomorrow night in the entire area, ” Kasten said at a Los Angeles Sports & Entertainment Commission event at Dodger Stadium this evening. “I want to thank Congressman Sherman and his colleagues for their diligent work and their concern for Dodger fans everywhere. I think it’s a very useful and productive step that he made.”

“We’ve heard a lot of things on both sides of this equation,” Kasten added. “This is a way to cut through all that. We’ll let an arbitrator decide who’s right and who’s wrong, and we can move on. And we don’t need to wait for the outcome of the arbitration. Once both sides agree to submit, we can turn the games on right away and they can figure out the price later.”

Kasten’s words followed an affirmative response from Time Warner Cable earlier in the evening to the proposal from the Sherman group.

“We are willing to enter into binding arbitration with DirecTV, and we appreciate the Congressman’s concern for Dodger fans,” Time Warner Cable’s statement read. “We prefer to reach agreements through private business negotiations, but given the current circumstance, we are willing to agree to binding arbitration and to allow DirecTV customers to watch the Dodgers games while the arbitration is concluded.”

Earlier this evening, a letter sent to the chairman/CEOs of DirecTV and Time Warner Cable by U.S. representatives Sherman, Janice Hahn, Gloria Negrete McLeod, Alan Lowenthal, Grace Napolitano and Karen Bass was released, outlining the proposal. It followed a recent letter from eight members of Congress, led by Tony Cardenas, that asked the FCC to mediate the gap between TWC and potential distributors.

“While such mediation would be helpful, it would not be binding or certain to resolve the dispute,” Sherman’s group wrote. “Now, on behalf of Dodgers fans throughout Southern California, we urge that Time Warner Cable, DirecTV and all other TV providers enter into binding arbitration, so that a neutral third party can determine the right price and terms for the Dodgers network. This will be a fair and fast way to return programming to consumers.

“Additionally, as you enter into the arbitration process, fans should no longer be left in the dark. We are requesting that SportsNet LA be made available immediately to all fans, beginning with tomorrow night’s game against the Atlanta Braves. The arbitration would determine the amount payable for games aired both before and after the arbitration is complete.”

MLB chief operating officer Rob Manfred, among the speakers at the LASEC event, said that he spoke about tonight’s news with MLB commissioner Bud Selig and said “we’re in complete agreement that this is a very positive development.”

Stan Kasten and Dodgers disappointed in missing SportsNet LA deals but hopeful

Dodger president and CEO Stan Kasten addressing participants at the Dodgers' Winter Development Program in January.

Dodger president and CEO Stan Kasten addressing participants at the Dodgers’ Winter Development Program in January.

By Jon Weisman

While saying that he expected the start of the Major League season in the U.S. to be a catalyst for holdout distributors to carry SportsNet LA, the 24/7 network dedicated to the Dodgers, team president and CEO Stan Kasten didn’t shrug off the fact that deals had yet to be completed.

“I am disappointed that deals haven’t been closed yet,” Kasten told a small group of reporters before Thursday’s Freeway Series game against the Angels, the first game at Dodger Stadium in 2014.  “I also have to tell you that with the first regular season game (to be broadcast by SportsNet LA) coming on Tuesday, I am now concerned that some fans are not going to be able to see games. And that’s disappointing and shouldn’t be happening.”

Kasten reiterated the suggestion for fans to keep calling their providers to tell them that they want SportsNet LA and that without it, they would switch to a provider who would carry the network. But he again held out hope that with continuous fan support there would be movement – because ultimately every carrier has reason to want SportsNet LA to meet the demand.

“I just wish they would hurry up and get them done,” he said.

Though Time Warner Cable’s reported asking price for carriage of SportsNet LA has become a talking point in the media, Kasten said that it has been exaggerated.

“This is not about price,” Kasten said. “The price is consistent with the marketplace. In fact, to be blunt, some of these (distributors), and they know who they are, are already, on their own systems, paying more than the price that’s out there to teams in smaller markets. That’s the truth. So this isn’t about price, it’s about the game of negotiation. And it’s disappointing.

“Those same providers have done deals at higher prices, for bigger packages, than has been offered to them right now.”

Kasten found other aspects of the public posturing by potential distributors to be “disingenuous,” such as the suggestion that SportsNet LA should be offered “a la carte,” along the lines of a pricy individual pay channel such as HBO, rather than to all of a distributor’s customers the way an ESPN is.

“All these providers know there is not another team in all of baseball whose games are a la carte, anywhere,” Kasten said, “including, interestingly enough, on the cable systems owned by these same providers.”

“The other thing that’s particularly irritating in terms of disingenuous rhetoric is when someone tries to say, ‘Well, we’re not really seeing the demand for Dodger games.’ OK, that doesn’t pass the laugh test.”

Kasten had noted earlier than the evening that the Dodgers would reach 3 million in ticket sales before the April 4 home opener, the earliest date in franchise history.

“We have the highest number of season tickets we’ve ever had — it is the highest in all of Major League Baseball,” Kasten added. “Last year, our TV rating went up by 40%. So come up with some other excuse, because the reality is that in the history of this franchise, it is likely that right now, it’s the greatest interest our team has ever had.”

For Dodger fans understandably frustrated by the process, Kasten commented upon the importance of the deal to the organization being run as a big-market team and being able to do big-market things, from investment in players to the ongoing improvements at Dodger Stadium, none of which benefited from public funding.

“I don’t know what will happen here,” Kasten said. “I will say this — very few cities have a product this strong.”

In case you missed it: Chone Figgins means business

Los Angeles Dodgers first full squad workoutBy Jon Weisman

Happy Day of the Leaders of the Executive Branch …

  • Non-roster invitee Chone Figgins talked with Bill Plunkett of the Register about his … well, maybe it’s too strong to call it a comeback attempt in the traditional sense, but close enough, you know?

    … By the end of his lost season, Figgins had decided he would work out for scouts during the winter in hopes of landing an invitation to someone’s spring camp.

    He did that on Jan. 15 with about 10 teams sending scouts. The Dodgers sent Vance Lovelace, vice president for player personnel and a close advisor to General Manager Ned Colletti.

    “Usually a guy with 10, 12 years in the big leagues or whatever – you go see a guy’s workout and he’ll do, like, 10, 15 minutes,” Lovelace said. “This guy worked out for a good 45 minutes. He ran the 60 (in 6.3 seconds, according to Figgins). He hit from both sides of the plate. He was a one-man infield but he took balls in center field, he took balls at third base, he took balls at shortstop, second base. It was the full gamut.”

    Figgins joked that it was “a full high-school workout” but acknowledged it was a very humbling “reality check” for an 11-year major-league veteran. …

    Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles has more.

  • Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. has a good news feature on why salary arbitration is a necessary evil, with first-hand quotes from Ned Colletti, Don Mattingly and Tim Wallach, among others.
  • Dodger president and CEO Stan Kasten did a one-on-one interview with Ken Gurnick of
  • Gurnick also mentions the annual clubhouse ping-pong tournament, with Clayton Kershaw commissioner and Ellen Kershaw assistant commissioner and poster artist.
  • A nice pass-along from J.P. Hoornstra of the Daily News: this front page of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle from October 1916. I’ll leave it to you to find the gems.
  • This was a fun bit of President’s Day trivia from Bill Cluck at Gammons Daily: pitching win leaders by presidential term.  Paul Derringer, anyone?

Vin Scully, Stan Kasten star in ‘Tales from the Dodgers Town Hall’

By Jon Weisman

It’s tough to steal a show that features Vin Scully, but during tonight’s Town Hall at Dodger Stadium for season-ticket holders, Dodger president and CEO Stan Kasten did his very best.

When one transistor-toting fan asked why there was a delay between the game action and Scully’s call on the radio, Kasten was quick with a zing.

“The delay is there for a reason,” Kasten said, “and it’s because we never know what Vin is going to say.”

While Kasten might have had the night’s funniest line, Scully might have had both the most heartwarming and also the boldest.

Heartwarming: “It’s nice to be a bridge (for generations of fans), not a toll bridge, not a bridge that has a traffic jam. I’d like to be that bridge for a little bit longer, God willing.”

As you try to read into those tea leaves (I have no insight into them), here’s the bold:

“Tonight,” Scully said, “I really have the feeling we are beginning one of the great stretch runs in the history of the Dodgers.”

Scully explained the latter remark  in a couple of ways, most entertainingly in his telling of the story of the Dodger ownership transfer in 1925. Listen here:

Later, Scully characterized the level of dedication that he felt the current leadership brought to the Dodgers.

“You know the definition of dedicated?” Scully asked. “There’s two men; they’re partners in a clothing company, and one goes to Rome and has an audience with the Pope, and he comes back, and his partner says, ‘What kind of a guy is the Pope?’ And the other guy says, ‘He’s a 44 regular.’ ”

For his part, Kasten – who indicated that he was ready for fans and the media to stop referring to the current ownership as “the new ownership,” as opposed to just “the ownership” – said Dodger fans had every right to expect as much.

“We didn’t have to reinvent the wheel,” Kasten said. “We just had to restore the Dodgers. We knew what we wanted – what we always were.”

“We’re the Dodgers. We’re supposed to contend every year. And I believe that’s what we’re going to do this year.”

Orel Hershiser, who joined new SportsNet LA teammates Nomar Garciaparra, John Hartung, Alanna Rizzo and Charley Steiner (along with a number of Time Warner Cable Sports executives) at tonight’s event, talked about how much the approach meant to him and his fellow Dodger alumni. Listen:

There was a lot of patting on the back tonight, much of it from the season-ticket holders who asked questions for the final 20 minutes of the program, but Kasten was questioned on the topic of paperless tickets. He said the team was prepared to deal with everyone’s issues.

“Like all new things, there’s going to be a period of time when people struggle with it,” Kasten said. “Every time so far that we have gotten on the phone and talked them through their questions, there’s going to be a very high acceptance factor. … Two or three years from now, we’re all going to be wondering what took us so long.”

Kasten also offered snippets on other topics. A sampling:

  • Another player acquisition: “We have 59 players in camp. There’s going to be one more coming. Nothing I can say about that just yet. I’ll let the media go crazy with that.”
  • The Australia trip: “We have so many resources to deal with problems, to deal with preparation, and so much planning, that the only downside we have is people using it as an excuse. And we won’t accept excuses.”
  • Improved wi-fi: “For the second consecutive year, I’ve been promised it’s going to be here on Opening Day. This year I’m kind of sure we’re going to have it on Opening Day.”

In case you missed it: Chad Billingsley progressing

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By Jon Weisman

Above, video from day three (Wednesday) of the Dodgers’ community caravan. Below, well, see for yourself …

  • Chad Billingsley has thrown four bullpen sessions as he makes his way back from Tommy John surgery, reports Ken Gurnick of Scott Elbert is expected to throw his first bullpen this week, writes Gurnick, who also discusses other pitchers appearing at the Dodgers’ “Young Guns” pitching minicamp at Camelback Ranch last week.
  • Dodgers president and CEO Stan Kasten spent seven minutes talking about the franchise with the guys on MLB Network’s Hot Stove Live.
  • Opening Day Countdown Down Under is an excitingly new and self-explanatory blog from Follow it as we count down the days to the Dodgers and Diamondbacks at Sydney.
  • Keith Law of discusses his list of the top 10 prospects in the Dodger organization. I neglected to mention the other day that Chris Anderson came in at No. 96 in Law’s top 100. Law said Anderson had a higher ceiling than Zack Lee “as a potential No. 2 starter if he can locate better and maintains his composure when something goes wrong behind him.”
  • When Hanley Ramirez increased his adjusted OPS from 105 in 2012 to 190 in 2013, it was the second-biggest increase in baseball of all-time, writes Andrew Grant of True Blue L.A.
  • Scott Lindholm of Beyond the Box Score compares Yasiel Puig’s first season to others with similar career starts.

In case you missed it: Sandy Koufax applies for regular job presenting awards to Clayton Kershaw

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By Jon Weisman

We’re all in awe of Sandy Koufax, but Koufax seemed in awe of Clayton Kershaw while presenting him with his National League Cy Young Award over the weekend (in the video above):

“Clayton Kershaw is not my protege,” Koufax said. “Clayton Kershaw is his own person, his own man, and he’s done it all himself. … He’s a very special pitcher. He’s a very special teammate. He’s a very special person.”

“As a player, Clayton has never been satisfied. He has tried to get better every year. And if he gets better after the year he had this year, I’d like to apply for next year’s job of presenting this to him again.”

  • What’s the all-time Dodger team of single-season performances? Matt Snyder of makes his picks.
  • Keith Law of ranks the Dodgers’ farm system 11th in baseball.

    “A very top-heavy system like Baltimore’s, with two elite guys at the top and three solid guys after, followed by a lot of reliever/fifth starter depth. They did have some intriguing arms in short-season ball who could push this system’s overall value up a lot by next year, especially since none of their top eight prospects are likely to lose eligibility in 2014.”

  • In this post about the superb hitting by Dodger pitchers last season, Daniel Brim of Dodgers Digest notes that it was the fourth-best performance since 1990. Though Zack Greinke figures to regress after his phenomenal season at the plate, Dan Haren (career .240 on-base percentage) might help the cause.
  • Charlie Osgood, who pitched in one game for the Dodgers in 1944 during World War II at age 17, has passed away, notes Baseball Happenings (via Blue Heaven). He was a nephew of famous Dodger coach Clyde Sukeforth.
  • A type of protective cap for pitchers to use on the mound has been approved by MLB, reports William Weinbaum for “We’re excited to have a product that meets our safety criteria,” Halem told “Outside the Lines,” adding that baseball will continue its efforts to come up with more options.
  • Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach will host a game between the Brevard County Manatees and Lakeland Flying Tigers on April 15 in celebration of Jackie Robinson Day.
  • Recent Dodger signee Chone Figgins is among the baseball veterans attempting to make comebacks that Cliff Corcoran writes about at, but the most interesting tidbit might be about Mark Mulder, who is trying things out with the Angels.

    “By 2011, Mulder had settled into retirement as an analyst for ESPN, but while watching Dodgers lefty Paco Rodriguez pitch in last year’s playoffs Mulder was inspired to imitate his delivery and discovered that doing so restored the life on his pitches.

  • Peter Gammons wrote at Gammons Daily that the Dodgers are the team to beat in the National League West, but that the division will be interesting this year.
  • The inimitable Pete Seeger, who passed away Monday, can be heard discussing baseball — including the integration effort — on these videos shared by Craig Calcaterra at Hardball Talk.
  • Following up on the first day of the Dodgers’ Pitching in the Community Caravan, Courtney Jones and bring some great stuff in this video.[mlbvideo id=”31325787″ width=”400″ height=”224″ /]

Stan Kasten named LASC Sports Executive of the Year


Dodger president and CEO Stan Kasten has been named 2013 Sports Executive of the Year by the Los Angeles Sports Council, which will present him with the honor during the ninth annual L.A. Sports Awards March 5 at the Beverly Hilton.

Kasten was honored for his work helping to mold the Dodgers into a National League Championship Series team in only his second year with the franchise.

“He has helped to re-energize the team’s fan base and re-establish the Dodgers as one of the leading brands in all of team sports, with a team built for long-term success on and off the field,” the LASC said.

Prime Ticket will televise the L.A. Sports Awards on March 14, and through Friday, you can vote on the top moment of the year. The event raises money to further the LASC mission of promoting economic development through sports in greater Los Angeles.

In addition, Kasten has joined the board of directors for the LA84 Foundation, which serves as a key funder for youth athletics in Southern California.

Live-blog: Dodgers’ 10 a.m. press conference (Yes, it’s about Kershaw)

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By Jon Weisman

We’ll be covering the highlights from the Dodgers’ press conference today with Stan Kasten and Ned Colletti at 10 a.m. Refresh for updates. If you’d like to watch the presser on a separate browser window, click here.

10:00 a.m.: The Dodgers sent out the press release officially announcing that Clayton Kershaw had been signed to a seven-year contract. Here’s Kershaw’s quote for the release …

“It is an incredible privilege to be part of the Los Angeles Dodger organization for another seven years,” said Kershaw. “L.A. has become a second home to me and my wife, and I’m excited for the opportunity to represent the city for a long time to come. I am particularly grateful to our team’s ownership and front office for believing in me. With this contract comes tremendous responsibility, not only as a pitcher, but as a good steward of the resources given to me. To whom much is given, much is required. Ellen and I are excited to take an undeserved blessing and, Lord willing, make a difference in the lives of others. I’m humbled by this recognition and looking forward to a new season, and hopefully, a World Series championship for the city of Los Angeles.”  

LOS ANGELES DODGERS V COLORADO ROCKIES10:10 a.m.: The troops are gathered in the press room, and we’re about to get started. By the way, Kershaw will be speaking to reporters via conference call at 11 a.m.

  • Colletti, smiling as much as you’ve ever seen him as he sat down: “We’ve all seen a lot of players and a lot of great pitchers in our careers. There are those that stand out above pretty much all the rest, including in my mind Clayton. Not only as somebody that’s won a Cy Young, finished second, won another Cy Young, leads this staff, 25 years old, left-handed, ultra-competitive, something that we’ve watched grow as we’ve drafted him and developed him. That’s what you can read on the back of the baseball card .. For me, it’s also that he’s got the heart that he’s got. Ellen Kershaw and himself, with the perspective they bring to their lives and others, I think when you’ve got the complete set like that, it’s somebody that not only represents your baseball team but represents your organization and your city at probably the highest level.
  • Kasten: “I don’t usually sit in for contract press conferences or trade press conferences, but because of the size and significance of this deal, I was involved more than I typically am. From our standpoint in ownership, we felt Clayton is so special. He checks all the boxes, on the field, off the field, in the community, home-grown, age-wise. It really was the perfect storm, both for Clayton as well as for the Dodgers. There’s been a lot of attention about this being the biggest contract for a pitcher in baseball, and that is the case. If someone should have this contract, it should be the best pitcher in baseball.
  • Kasten: “For us, in ownership, it was all that he does on the field, in the clubhouse, as well as all the things he does away from the field, away from Dodger Stadium, which as you know to us in ownership, is very, very important to us as well. Representing this organization today, continuing its legacy of 50 years here, Clayton is as good as it gets. “
  • Kasten on negotiations: “Long. We started in March. It was always pleasant and constructive and collegial. If it had not gotten done now and had taken until next year, I wouldn’t have been surprised if we signed him then also, because the relationship has been great. I think both sides respect and appreciate each other; that’s what made it comfortable. There are ups and downs like every negotiation, because it was dragging on for a long time. And so, in the middle of last summer, we were nearing something that might work, but then it was dragging on so long, and we both said to each other, ‘Yeah, let’s put this off until the offseason,’ and I think both sides were comfortable with that. I think both sides thought we would get something done, but we were prepared in the event that we didn’t to still keep talking. Fortunately, we didn’t have to get to that, and we can now turn our attention to the next thing, whatever that may be.”
  • Kasten: “As I reflect back on the first discussions that we had … it wasn’t all that far away from where we wound up, but there were probably a thousand iterations from last March to now. … I will say this, if (agent Casey Close) and Ned and I had dedicated a week to being in the same room, but that was never there for us. Casey’s in New York, we’re here in the offseason, Clayton’s in Texas, our owners are in other cities. We’d have a conversation, we’d get back to the other side a week or two later. Because there was never any urgency or a feeling of ‘get this done  or else,’ from either side.
  • Dodgers Press ConferenceColletti: “And when the season gets going, you have even less opportunity to really do it … because you never want anything interfering with the thought process of Clayton.
  • Kasten: “We know all the precedents, we know all the risks. A big part of this for us (was) getting as much protection as possible from insurance, which we did. That was helpful, to both sides, to know that you could do that. A big, big factor for us that really was a positive for us was Clayton’s age. We have that going for us. Clayton has that going for him. I’d feel differently doing this contract for a player in his mid-30s. … Doesn’t make it foolproof. There are still risks, but every day in this business, we have risks that we have to evaluate. Nothing is risk free.”
  • Colletti: “It’s tough to have in our mind to have the best pitcher in baseball, the youngest best pitcher in baseball, and tell him we’re not going to do what others have done for others.”
  • Kasten: “I’m sure there is (a top end to our payroll), but we’re comfortable where we are. For right now where we are in approaching our second full season (as owners), we’re still first and foremost concerned with the quality of the team we can put together. Adding it up comes after that, and that’s because this is a long-term strategy for us. I think after five years, six years, seven years, when you add it all up, it will make a lot more sense than it might to some people who look at today’s snapshot.”
  • Kasten: “(Luxury tax) is an expense that we’re well aware of, and we understand to the decimal point what the costs are.”
  • Kasten: “Nothing precludes anything else. Everything has to be evaluated independently. That’s what I ask Ned and his people to do. When there’s something that makes us better, we would do it, irrespective of what came before that. I know that’s generic, but that’s actually how we evaluate.”
  • Colletti: “That’s a great quote.”
  • Kasten: “I’ve only got a couple of messages, and I’m just going to keep beating them into you.”
  • Kasten: “The reason (Kershaw) is not here today … he’s had an awfully busy offseason. He’s made a couple of cross-country trips just this week, including earlier this week for a physical for all this. So we said, ‘You can stay home today — we’ll get everyone with you on the phone.’ He’s also had, and I hope this is something that continues for the rest of his career, a fairly short offseason. And so we let him stay home today.
  • Kasten: “For me, personally — I hate no-trade clauses, and I’ve never done one. I will tell you, I do hate them. Opt-outs are more reasonable to us, particularly with our circumstances here in L.A. and the resources that we have, the appeal that we have to guys. … I wouldn’t just give it out willy-nilly, but there are times that it really has value during the course of a negotiation. That has been the case in the most recent negotiations.
  • Colletti: “I talked to Casey (about Masahiro Tanaka) probably not yesterday but every day this week and we’ll talk to him again this week.”
  • Kasten, on the deadline today for exchanging arbitration salary figures: “Not a hard deadline, but all deadlines have the advantage of concentrating the mind, to see what we can do. Today we would have had to put a number in, and does that change the dynamics? Hard to say. Wouldn’t have been a brick wall, but it made it more complicated, so we said let’s use that as a good benchmark to see if we could get it done by then. And both sides wanted it done, so this was a tool.”

10:26 a.m.: Questions end.



Dodgers on Clayton Kershaw


By Jon Weisman

Dodger President and CEO Stan Kasten on negotiations with Clayton Kershaw: “I am hopeful that by Friday morning we will have an announcement.”

Ho(t)ckey at Dodger Stadium just seems really cool

Hockey Jan. 13

SunBy Jon Weisman

So it’s pushing 80 degrees in downtown Los Angeles today and even warmer than that on the field at Dodger Stadium.  I took a photo from the outfield that reminded me of the “Midnight Sun” episode of “The Twilight Zone.”

But the NHL Stadium Series game between the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks on January 25 will be plenty cool, literally and figuratively.

It doesn’t even matter that the outdoor temperature will dip as the 6:30 p.m. gametime approaches. Doesn’t matter if you’ll be in T-shirt and shorts for the day or bundling up for the night. That rink crossing from third base to first on the Chavez Ravine infield will be 22 degrees, period, according to NHL Senior Director of Facilities Operations Dan Craig. (And no, there won’t be a hump in the middle where the pitcher’s mound is.)

“It’s a hard concept for anybody not in the field to understand,” Craig said today at the event’s media gathering, citing the proven refrigeration technology of the imported floor and the 53-foot mobile refrigeration unit, which arrived today from Ann Arbor, Michigan. “We have two very efficient systems that were married together.”

In short, you’re going to see first-rate hockey conditions, featuring — as a bonus — two first-rate teams. The red-hot Ducks have the best record in the NHL, while the Kings sit in third place in the Pacific Division and eighth in the league overall.

It’s an event unprecedented in Southern California, not to mention impossible to foresee when someone like Wayne Gretzky dominated the local hockey scene.


© Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers,LLC 2014

“Twenty-five years ago, I don’t think we envisioned two teams in Los Angeles, (let alone) playing an outdoor game at Dodger Stadium,” Gretzky said.

For the Dodgers’ part, they’re happy to provide the backdrop for the game and let the NHL worry about cooling that rink. When Kings President of Business Operations Luc Robataille called Dodgers President and CEO Stan Kasten in the spring, Kasten said it was a no-brainer.

“We’ve always wanted to expand the use of Dodger Stadium,” said Kasten, who was friends with Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau when both were plying their trades in Washington, D.C.  “The NHL is so good at this. They know exactly what to do and how to lay it out.”

Joked Robataille: “We’re trying to get (Dodger General Manager Ned Colletti) on the ice, but he found an excuse to make sure he couldn’t skate next week.”

More photos from Jon SooHoo here.

Matt Kemp and .400: One in a million

After ESPNLosAngeles asked me to write a piece exploring whether Matt Kemp could hit .400 this year, I was tempted to turn in a one-word column, but I ultimately went with this:

When a ballplayer takes a .400 batting average into May, you’re supposed to know not to ask whether he can take it through the end of the season.

You know that no major leaguer has hit .400 over a season since Ted Williams in 1941. You know it’s a barrier that has withstood Stan Musial, Rod Carew, George Brett, Andres Galarraga, Tony Gwynn, Larry Walker, Nomar Garciaparra, Todd Helton, Barry Bonds and Ichiro Suzuki — all of whom have hit at least .375 since ’41, but never .400.

What does Matt Kemp, now batting .411 on May 2, have that these guys didn’t have? Probably nothing, or a figure approaching nothing.

Last weekend, David Pinto of Baseball Musings ran some numbers. Kemp had just gone 2-for-4 in Friday’s Los Angeles Dodgers victory over Washington, raising his batting average to .452. Pinto found that Kemp’s probability of hitting .400 this year was 0.0000016.

If he played a million baseball seasons, the odds say Kemp wouldn’t hit .400 in two of them. And that was before his batting average fell 43 points in less than a week.

So what are we doing here?

Here are two reasons to keep having the conversation …

Read the entire piece here.

* * *

  • Stan Kasten, the most impressive figure at Wednesday’s Dodger press conference, is profiled by Kevin Baxter of the Times, while colleague Peter Guber is interviewed by the Times’ Roger Vincent.
  • Mark Walter is profiled by Ramona Shelburne of
  • Despite the fact that the number of cars parking in Dodger Stadium has no bearing on how much money Frank McCourt will receive going forward, the Times decided to perpetuate the mistaken assumption of others by running an op-ed from David Kipen calling for a boycott of the parking lots — or, if I’m reading correctly, a half-boycott.
  • Dodger batting practice pitcher Pete Bonfils was interviewed by Ron Cervenka for Think Blue L.A.
  • The Dodgers are reportedly close to taking a minimum-salary flyer on Angels castoff Bobby Abreu. Given that Abreu would probably replace one of four third basemen on the roster — Juan Uribe if he goes on the disabled list, Adam Kennedy otherwise — I’ve heard worse ideas.
  • A pairing to treasure, courtesy of Jon SooHoo:

© Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers 2012

Kasten no crazy spender

Incoming Dodger co-owner and organization leader Stan Kasten has no history of handing out mega-contracts, despite his teams having money to spend, writes Jayson Stark of

… Well, what do you find if you study Kasten’s past, back in the day when he was the president of the Atlanta Braves (1986-2003) and Washington Nationals (2006-10)? You don’t find a single contract that will remind you of, say, the Prince Fielder deal. We’ll tell you that.

In all that time, Kasten’s teams never handed out a contract longer than five years to any free agent from outside their organization. And the only six-year deal, even to one of their own players, went to Andruw Jones in 2001 — at a time when he was 24 years old.

So do people within the industry see this man suddenly turning into a spend-a-holic who starts firing nine- and 10-year deals at whoever wants to take them? Heck, no.

“That’s not Stan Kasten’s M.O,” said one veteran agent. “I’m sure they’ll be a franchise that makes moves. But I’m also sure that when Stan makes decisions, it won’t be like the kind of decisions Mike Illitch makes.”

“When it looks like a sure thing, it ain’t,” said another prominent agent. “Look at the Nationals. Ted Lerner has more money than God, and look how long it took him to start handing out big contracts. And did he hand them out while Stan was there? No. It happened after he left. So I know everyone anticipates him spending wildly now. But I’m not so sure.”

Is it coincidence that the Nationals stuffed $126 million in Jayson Werth’s pockets a couple of months after Kasten departed? We don’t know anyone in baseball who thinks Kasten would have signed off on that deal. …

… Nobody in baseball has a better feel for that than Kasten’s longtime general manager in Atlanta, John Schuerholz.

“It’s fair to say this group is out to re-establish the great Dodger brand,” Schuerholz told Rumblings. “But how that translates into making decisions to spend big money on big-name free agents, I don’t think that’s automatic.”

Now would Schuerholz be surprised to see the Kasten/Magic Dodgers chasing the most ballyhooed free agents in the game? No, he “wouldn’t be surprised to see them do that,” he said.

“But I don’t think they’ll do it every day,” Schuerholz said. “I don’t think they’ll do it all the time. What I’m sure they’ll do is what Stan has always tried to do — build a rock-solid organization and build it largely around homegrown talent. And at the same time, I’m sure he won’t shy away from the right free agent. But I underline the word, ‘right.'” …

Stark has more, so check out the entire piece.

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