Over the years I have noticed it is really difficult for some fans to move on after a favorite player leaves the team either by trade, free agency, or just getting released.
My first real test of this myself was when the Dodgers sold Duke Snider to the Mets. I was devastated. I felt Duke should have spent his entire career as a Dodger. He was their longest tenured veteran at that point, he was closing in on 400 homers, and in effect, he was the team captain, even without the title. But it was also a slap in the face since they got only money in return. I was livid at Buzzie Bavasi.
The next pang to the heart strings was when Koufax retired. It was sudden, it was totally unexpected. The guy after all had just finished a season where he won 27 games. Of course in those days fans knew less about a player’s health than they do today.
All of the news about how bad his arm really was did not come out until later. That the Dodgers tried to convince him to hold off on announcing to give them time to find a replacement also was not known at the time he retired. That came out much later.
All most of us knew is that when spring training started there was no Koufax. The only guy there whose name started with a K was Mike Kekich.
Being in the Army and not really following the day to day play of the team, I was more insulated from the comings and goings. I knew Rosey and Perry went to the Twins in a trade. Podres was gone. Tommy Davis finally got dealt. So most of my childhood heroes were gone anyway.
It wasn’t until I was out of the service and back home in California that I really started paying a lot of attention to the team.
In 1974, I, like most Dodger fans, had a new guy to cheer for, Jimmy Wynn. That this seemingly small man could hit a baseball that far was not something we had seen every day. Had it not been for the play of Steve Garvey that year, Wynn may well have won the MVP award.
In 1976, he was suddenly gone. In his place came one Dusty Baker, who, sadly for him, had an awful year. And boy did the fans let him know it. But in Atlanta, Wynn had a bad year and was gone by the next season. Fortunately for Dusty, he became a fan favorite.
The decision to trade Bill Buckner drew mixed reviews from most fans. There were those who saw Buck as an underachiever. There were also some who saw him as a future batting champ and wondered why LA would trade him. I was more neutral as I really respected Rick Monday.
It was a while before another player leaving really hit home. Right up to the point where he signed with the Padres, I thought Steve Garvey would not leave. It was amazing to me that the Dodgers did not try harder to re-sign Garvey. Perennial All-Star, solid hitter and RBI guy. But I guess they thought Greg Brock was going to be something special. He wasn’t.
You could tell the fans were not happy the first time Garvey came back to LA and got one of the loudest ovations for a visiting player. Only one I have heard that was louder was when Pujols came back last September and hit his 699th and 700th homer’s at Dodger Stadium. Dodger fans truly liked that guy.
Slowly the favorites of the 70’s were moving on. Garvey as a free agent, Lopes and Cey in trades. Russell finally retired.
New faces replaced them and the team won the pennant and World Series in 88 behind Gibson and Hershiser. Fernando left after the 1990 season, but he had not been the same pitcher for about 4 seasons.
The new kids started coming in the early 90’s, five straight Rookies of the Year. Karros, Piazza, Nomo, Mondesi and Hollandsworth.
Hershiser, after having a few down years following his injury left after the 96 season as a free agent.
Then came the shocker, early in the 1998 season, after the Dodgers had been sold to FOX and Jacob Murdock, FOX execs, without the knowledge of GM, Fred Claire, traded Piazza and Todd Zeile to the Marlins in a five for two deal.
Dodgers fans were livid. It did not matter who came to LA, they were mad. They traded a home grown talent, maybe one of the best offensive catchers ever and in Dodger fans eyes, got back garbage except for Gary Sheffield.
Sheffield was the only one who lasted more than a season in LA. Piazza’s supposed replacement, Charles Johnson was gone by the next season, as was Bonilla. Eisenreich played in 75 games, hit .197 and was gone. The fifth guy in the trade, Manuel Barrios, pitched in one game. To add injury to insult, Miami then traded Piazza to the Mets.
After that, Nomo was traded to the Mets in 98 for a couple of pitchers. He would return to LA in 2002. Hollandsworth was traded to the Rockies in 2000 for Tom Goodwin.
Mondesi was traded in 1999 for Shawn Green. I actually liked that trade. Eric Karros went to the Cubs along with Grudzielanek for Todd Hundley and Chad Hermanson. Karros was 35 at the time of the trade, so I was fine with that. That happened after the 2002 season.
It was rather weird though that the Dodgers replaced 35 year old Karros with 39 year old Fred McGriff. Robin Ventura, also 35, was McGriff’s back up.
In 2004, although I am sure most Dodger fans do not remember this, Shawn Green was the Dodgers primary first baseman. They also had He Sop Choi.
Beltre left as a free agent, many fans were not happy that the Dodgers did not re-sign him, and over the years this has been brought up by many fans repeatedly since after that, Beltre had what is considered a Hall of Fame career.
They traded Green after the 2004 season in a trade that for me was a head scratcher, Green to Arizona for three minor leaguers, none of whom ever made it to Los Angeles, and Dioner Navarro, who was very underwhelming in his time in LA.
By 2005, I was pretty leery of having favorite players. Seemed they did not stay in LA long. But they traded Milton Bradley for Andre Eithier who would become a favorite.
They had Jeff Kent, but I never really warmed up to that guy. They had signed Nomar and Matt Kemp arrived in 2006 and by the next season was playing a lot more. He became a regular in 2008.
Of course Manny came aboard that year. It was a fun ride. For the first time in many seasons, they had a shot at winning. They ended up just falling short. Here is a little tidbit some fans might not know. Ethier led the team with 20 homers in 2008. Kemp had 18. Both of them played well over 140 games for the Dodgers.
Manny Ramirez played in 53 games as a Dodger. He slammed 17 homers in those games, just three away from the team lead.
It would be a while before a player left and I got pretty upset about it. They had a pretty static roster until the trade in 2012. I was happy with it because I always liked and respected Adrian Gonzalez and none of my favorite guys went to the Red Sox.
But when Freidman took over after the 2014 season, changes were coming, and they came fast and furious.
Kemp went to the Padres. Huh? For Grandal???? WHY???? I was livid. Of course some fans were down on Kemp as he was viewed as a supposed clubhouse cancer. And he had not been the 2011 version who should have been the NL MVP and was robbed by PED using Braun. I still think his injury in 2012 at Colorado was the reason. His shoulder was never the same. At the time of the injury, Kemp was hitting in the .330’s.
Next he sent Dee Gordon to the Marlins. Again, I thought this was a really bad deal. Gordon was no SS, that was obvious, but he was decent at 2nd and the one speed demon on the team.
Now AF was on my bad side. I do not know about other fans, but I was really irked about both of those trades. And I could not let it go.
I never warmed to Grandal, not once his entire time as a Dodger. He was defensively challenged, too many passed balls, and he was totally lousy in the clutch. To me, he was a rally killer.
I was not really happy with who they got back for Gordon either. Hernandez and Barnes were the only two who really stayed and made an impact.
I warmed to Kike some as he was fun to watch. I liked Barnes as a defensive catcher, and he had some bat to ball skills when he got chances. He would even replace Grandal in the playoffs in 2017.
But the team got really good and they were keeping their homegrown guys and adding by free agency and minor trades.
One free agent who became a favorite of everybody was Justin Turner. His play once he became a regular was excellent. He teamed up with the rising stars, and added to a solid lineup.
He was excellent in the playoffs. JT’s playoff stats are very good. He played in 86 games, all as a Dodger, hit .270 with 13 homers, tied with Seager for the most postseason career home runs by a Dodger. Duke Snider hit 11 in the World Series, still a Dodger record, and he drove in 42. Many of those hits were clutch.
Despite that, his last couple of series were nowhere near as good. So I was not surprised when they let him leave via free agency. I was surprised when they non-tendered Bellinger, but I understood their reasoning. I have been happy Belli bounced back, but I know his time in LA is through. Chances he ever comes back are slim.
I was more irate that they did not try to re-sign Corey Seager when he left. But then again he would have cost them a lot more than Texas paid simply because of the state income tax.
But I have noticed fans have had a really hard time getting over them letting JT walk. Even with the success JD Martinez has had a DH. Fans still want JT to return. Letting go for some is not easy.
PCL Championship Series – Game 1
OKC Dodgers 8 – Round Rock Express (Texas) 3
OKC jumped out to a 4-0 lead, but Round Rock fought back with solo runs in the 4th, 5th, and 6th to tighten it up to 4-3. OKC scored 1 in the 6th, and 3 in the 7th to seemingly put the game away.
25 year old RHP, Kyle Hurt, started for OKC and got through 4.0 innings. He delivered 73 pitches (43 strikes). He allowed 1 run on 2 hits, 3 walks, and registered 8 Ks. He did not allow a hit in his first 3.0 IP, but did allow the three walks. Single, WP and 2 out single for the run in the 4th.
Tyson Miller pitched the next two innings and surrendered 2 hits and 3 walks which generated a pair of runs (1 earned). Bryan Hudson, Ricky Vanasco, and Wander Suero each pitched a scoreless and hitless inning each, to wrap up the victory. OKC pitchers compiled 13 Ks in the game, allowed 4 hits, but 7 walks.
OKC had 10 hits, with the big bat belonging to 27 year old CF Drew Avans with 4 hits, including a double. Yonny Hernández had 2 hits with a double. The OKC lone HR was a solo shot from Hunter Feduccia in the 6th inning.
- Drew Avans – 4-4, 1 BB, 1 run, 3BI, double
- Yonny Hernández – 2-4, 2 runs, 1 RBI, double
- Hunter Feduccia – 1-3, 1 BB, 2 runs, 2 RBI, HR
The bottom 3 in the order (Jorbit Vivas, Yonny Hernández, and Hunter Feduccia) scored 6 of the 8 runs. Michael Busch, Ryan Ward, and Jorbit Vivas each had a single.
OKC takes a 1 game to none lead in best of 3 series. Game 2 will be in OKC on Wednesday.