I feel truly blessed to have grown up in Southern California during the 50s, 60s and 70s. There was, of course, the weather. Just how awesome was the weather for a youngster. Rain? We don’t need no stinking rain, we’ve got the sunshine. I can’t count the times my friends and I ditched school and hitchhiked down Beach Boulevard to Huntington Beach to hangout at life guard station #19, where we would ogle the girls and body surf. It was so much of a temptation, that but for continuation school, I might never have graduated high school(but that’s a story for another time). I have to add, that my friends and I were hitchhikers with high standards, we absolutely refused to accept a ride in a Studebaker or DeSoto.
In addition to the beach, we could also play baseball year round. Many are the times that I would ride my bike(a Schwinn Speedster with extended handle bars and a rack on the back to both to my paper delivery bags), with my glove and bat in tow, to Artesia Park. There I would always find someone with whom I could play over the line. What memories I have of those simple days. I was paperboy for the Herald Examiner starting in 4th grade and later graduated to the Long Beach Press-Telegram. I continued to deliver papers until 9th grade. Which leads me to my next ramble.
Not only did we have the beach and year round sports weather, we were also blessed to have some of the greatest sportswriters to have ever put pen to paper. In a comment to my last article, Fred Vogel reminded me of the great Allan Malamud, the former sports journalist of the Herald Examiner and later the L. A. Times, best known for his “Notes on a Scorecard.” I loved reading his articles. We also had, of course, Jim Murray, who wrote columns for the L. A. Times. He may have been the best of them all. There was also Bud Furillo, and his column “The Steam Room”; Doug Krikorian of the Long Beach Press-Telegram, and Melvin Durslag of the Herald Examiner. Now a days we have the internet which, to a point, is a valuable tool for research and finding out information. However, it has also led to an over abundance of blogs, most of which repeat the same stories, over and over and over. You can also sign on to Twitter and get your information in bite size form; or there’s MLB Trade Rumors, which can fill your brain with gossip and the latest transactions. If knowing that “the Orioles outrighted catcher Aramis Garcia and pitcher Chris Ellis to Triple-A Norfolk” is information you can’t live without, then that’s the place to go and do your reading. There’s also Fangraphs, Baseball Prospectus, Society for American Baseball Research (where Bear and I get most of our information for articles on players from the past), Baseball America, The Athletic and so on. For Dodger Baseball news, you have this blog, LA Dodger Talk, Dodgers Digest, True Blue LA, Dodger Poke Report, Think Blue LA, Dodger Thoughts and so many more. Some provide useful information, many don’t. Of course, along with the articles on the blogs you also get the comments that in response to those articles. With the exception of this blog, of course, if you spend any time reading the comments, you’re bound to lose some brain cells reading the inane comments. In addition, you will also soon learn that there is a total lack of civility in our society. Despite this overabundance of information on the Dodgers and sports in general, I miss the sportswriters of my youth. I love reading in general, and these sportswriters whetted my appetite for more reading, as they each had a unique ability to turn a phrase, inject humor into their articles and further describe the subject of their articles in such a way to leave a lasting impression and yearning for more. They were the Mark Twain’s of my youth.
Not only did Southern California have great sportswriters, we were blessed with some of the greatest play by play announcers of all-time. Of course that conversation starts with Vin Scully. I can’t even begin to estimate the number of times that I invited him to ride along with me in my car, talk to me while I was working in the yard, let him speak to me through my pillow as I went to sleep (I would wake to the sounds of “It’s a high drive to deep right field, it’s a way back, she issss . . gone!) or come into my family room to describe for me that days game and entertain me with his marvelous stories. But not only did we have Vinnie, there were more: Chick Hearn of the Lakers(“You can put this one in the refrigerator. The door’s closed, the lights are out, the eggs are cooling, the butter’s getting hard and the Jell-O is jiggling.”); Dick Enberg(Angels, UCLA and the Rams); Tom Kelly (USC); Jerry Doggett(Dodgers); Bob Starr (Rams and Angels); Ross Porter and Don Drysdale (Dodgers); and if you liked wrestling and roller derby, there was Dick Lane. I’m certain there are more, but these voices come to mind from my younger days.
Vin Scully called so many great games for the Dodgers and had some of the most memorable calls of all-time. The one game that stands out so vividly in my mind was in July 1993, when he and Ross Porter called the game between the Dodgers and Montreal Expos (an otherwise boring 6-4 Dodger loss), knowing that Don Drysdale had died earlier that day. His death couldn’t be announced because Don’s wife Ann, had not yet been located to be notified. It wasn’t until the 8th inning that Vin Scully announced Don’s death. It brought tears to my eyes then, and it does now as I write this. Scully later said it was the toughest broadcast of his life, and yet he handled it with such tremendous dignity and class, as he always did. In my mind, it cemented the notion that Vin Scully was truly something very unique and special.
Switching gears, I recently read about Rob Manfred’s announcement that the extra inning/ghost runner is being brought back for 2023. According to him “The clubs like it, the players like it, and I think overall the fans like it. I think it does bring sort of a focus to the end of the baseball game in a way that has been positively received.” That caused me to ponder: has there ever been a time that Manfred cared what the players or fans liked? I couldn’t think of one. Maybe one of you astute readers can. By the way, I do not like the rule. Moreover, I would think that if you polled relief pitchers, most of them would also cast their vote for not liking the rule.
Manfred also opined that Oakland doesn’t have the pace to continue as a home for the A’s and that they should consider moving to Las Vegas. Wonder why he would suggest Vegas, over say Portland, San Jose or any of a number of other deserving cities. I bet this wouldn’t have anything to do with money, would you? But I love the way that he so casually throws the Oakland owners and fans under the bus.
On the other hand, Manfred is convinced that Tampa Bay, despite its consistently low attendance, will figure it out and get a new stadium built, such that they can stay in Tampa. Okay, that makes sense, or maybe it doesn’t. The average combined attendance of the Rays and the Marlins is 25,130. That’s less than 16 other teams in baseball. Admittedly, the A’s only average 9,973 per game. But then again, the city of Oakland is the arm pit of California, they have sucky teams and they compete for fans with the Giants across the bay, who average 30,650 per game. I guess the day, I figure out what Manfred is thinking, will be the day they transfer to me to a rest home.
I don’t expect the Dodgers to sign any free agent that receives a qualifying offer from their current team. The loss in draft capital would be too great. Mind you, I understand that having an Edwin Diaz or Aaron Judge would be better not only short term, and would increase the likelihood of the Dodgers winning a World Series in the near future, more than any player they could select at the bottom of the second or fifth round in the draft. I just don’t see this as a strategy that Dodgers management will employ. I can, however, see them trading for one or more of the competitive balance picks at the end of the first round. This extra draft capital would help them keep the prospect pipeline from becoming depleted and would open the door to trading prospects for players that can help the team now. Come on down Shane Bieber or Shohei Ohtani.
While we’re on the subject I, for one, think that MLB teams should be allowed to trade draft picks. Presently, the MLB draft is about as boring as boring can be. Listening to Manfred say “with the 4th pick of the Major League Player Draft, the Pittsburgh Pirates select . . . .” or listening to Harold Reynolds and the prospect experts at ESPN drone on about how a certain drafted high school player is going to turn into Mike Trout is absolutely mind numbing. After a minute or 2 of that, I’m ready to join the wife in watching the latest episode of “Downton Abby.” Just think how much more exciting it would be if the Nationals, A’s, Pirates, or whoever might win the lottery could trade their pick. I might be interested in watching to learn that the Dodgers traded all their draft picks for the No. 1 pick and selected Dylan Crews. That might be worth watching. Certainly, it would add a little more excitement for the 20 rounds.
The Dodgers are known for their love of Swiss Army Knife type of players. With few exceptions, they are endlessly moving players all over the field. While it is good to have a few subs that can do that, my preference is to have players who are good at one position and let them stay at that position and excel. Take Lux for example. He’s drafted as a shortstop, he comes up through the minor leagues as a shortstop. Then, once in the majors, they move him to second base. Then he’s shuffled off to left field, and back to second base again. If he’s your second baseman, let him play second. If not, then let him play short. If he’s not good enough to do that for you, then use him to acquire someone who you have faith and trust in. It’s also my opinion (not based on any conducted studies) that when players are moved around so much, they suffer offensively. Now I know that there are exceptions to the rule. Manny Machado was a really good shortstop and he’s now become a really good third baseman. Bellinger was an outstanding first baseman and he became an outstanding centerfielder.
Speaking of Bellinger, it appears that Bryan Reynolds has become the current flavor of choice to become the Dodger’s future centerfielder. I don’t see that happening. If he’s that good, why would the Pirates entertain trading him? Other than, perhaps, they are the Pirates. Moreover, I still believe that Bellinger stays. But, should the Dodgers cut ties with Bellinger and they can’t acquire Reynolds, what about Cedric Mullins as an alternative?
I’m not a Phillies fan, but I am so much less of an Astros fan. Therefore, I sincerely hope that the Phillies win the next three games and send the Astros packing.
I recently read a comparison of Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander World Series stats. Despite the fact that Clayton is the subject of much ridicule over his world series pitching performance, he actually outshines Verlander by a country mile. This got me to looking at their career statistics. They are both great pitchers, and their overall stats are close, but Kershaw is the sightly better pitcher over all. While they would both be nice in Dodger blue, I would pass on Verlander, keep Kershaw and bring in a younger stud to take the place of Kershaw when he retires. It seemed that Walker Buehler was primed to be that guy, but with his latest operation that may not happen. In any event we won’t find out how he responds to the surgery for a year.
I’m done ramblin’ for the time being. Till next time.
Okay, which one of the Allman Brothers or Waylon Jennings Ramblin’ Man YouTube songs/videos should we keep for Rob. Is he Southern Country Rock or just Country?