Dodgertown – It’s a community that isn’t limited to a single city. Dodgertown is so much more. It is a culture. It’s this feeling of belonging that spreads across Dodgers fans from coast to coast. Vin Scully, the mayor of the town if you will, is the inspiration behind it all. He is the voice that is so well known in baseball, it can send chills down the spine of anyone listening.
“It’s tiiime for Dodger Baseball.” The five most famous words for any Dodgers fan. Recognition of, and fan connection to the phrase goes far beyond the words themselves – it goes to the man behind the words. Vin Scully is considered the “Voice of the Dodgers.” After being a part of the organization for 63 years, Vin is, to say the least, a huge reason for people to come to the ballpark. He is reason enough to turn on the television to watch the Boys In Blue, and to be perfectly honest, reason enough to be a Dodgers fan. Vin Scully embodies all that is great about the Dodgers. From broken barriers in Brooklyn with Jackie Robinson, to perfection on the mound with Koufax, to Gibson limping to greatness…Vin has been behind it all, amidst the shadows, one of the kindest, most humble and poetic men we know. In Vin’s own words, he’s stated that, “no one is bigger than the game.” In this case, we may be able to make an exception.
Born in the Bronx on November 29, 1927, Vin grew up mainly in the Washington Heights area of Manhattan. His father was a silksalesman, and his mother was an Irish, Catholic homemaker, giving Vin Scully the famous red hair that we know him for. As a kid, Vin worked for his family by delivering beer and mail, pushing garment racks, and cleaning silver in the basement of the Pennsylvania Hotel in New York City. He played many sports in high school including baseball, football and even a little tennis. He later attended Fordham Prepatory School, and went on to help found their FM radio station WFUV. He also became the assistant sports editor for Volume 28 of The Fordham Ram, and played center field for the Rams’ baseball team, where he played George Bush Sr. in a game against Yale.
“He was the captain and first baseman of Yale,” Vin theatrically told about George Bush. “And I was trying to play the outfield for Fordham. And we played against each other; it was a terrific game. I think it was either 2-1 or 3-1; Yale won. But it was a heck of a game. Years later, I had the pleasure of playing golf with him. Politics aside, he is a terrific guy. We talked about the game, and I said to him, ‘Mr. President, if you don’t mind me saying this, as long as you’re in the White House, you can say anything you want about your baseball career, but remember the day you step out of the White House, both of us went 0-3 in that game (laughing). Which he loved, he just howled”
Shortly after graduation from Fordham Prep, Vin Scully impressed Red Barber, the voice of the Brooklyn Dodgers at the time. Red ended up giving Vin a shot at broadcasting by letting him make his professional debut at a Maryland-Boston University football game after the main broadcaster got sick. The date was November 12, 1949…in Chicago…and it was cold. Vin Scully has shown up unprepared for one broadcast his entire life, and this was it. Now, I don’t mean that he came unprepared with regards to the game. No, see, if that was the case he probably could have made some stories up, stuck with the play by play, and made some funny remarks to get by like Vin always seems to do. This was different. Assuming that he would be doing the broadcast in the comfort of a heated booth, he left his hat and gloves in the hotel room he was staying at. “It was cold,” Scully said. “But I thought, naively, dumbly – ‘I’m going to be working for a network; I’ll have a big booth.”
When he arrived at the stadium however, he learned that he would not be doing it from a comfortable booth, but instead, he’d be calling the game from the roof of Fenway. Yeah…the roof. “I’m looking for a booth, and there is no booth,” he went on to say. “There’s an engineer with a card table and his little dials for volume, a microphone and about 50 yards of cable…that’s it.” That day, the temperature was recorded to never reach above 45 degrees, and Vin called the entire game without once mentioning his discomfort. He would merely walk, back and forth, cord dragging behind him, following the action along the roof of Fenway, and he did his job.
“I really felt like I’d blown it,” he said. “So I go to the dance, meet some pals of mine, but I’m really down. And I’m down on the train going back to New York. I thought, ‘here I was giving this golden opportunity, but I was frozen, blah, blah, blah.’“ Fortunately for us all, that wasn’t exactly how everyone saw it. A few days later, Red Barber was phoned by a BU official commenting on how sorry he was for the treatment of the broadcaster. If that official hadn’t called Red, he would never have known what Vin did was so incredible because Vin never complained about what had happened.
“That turned out to be a big break, because let’s say I did a very ordinary job. In Red’s mind, ‘This kid never mentioned anything about no booth, the cold, nothing.’ That made a very ordinary job a little more than that in Red’s mind.” And that’s exactly what it did. Vin said, “He called me – I’ll never forget it – and said something to the effect of, ‘Pretty tough day up there on the roof?’ And I said, ‘Yes, sir, it was cold.’ And he said, ‘You’ll have a booth this week; You’re doing Harvard-Yale.’ “Vin just smiled…and a legend was born.
At the time all this was going on, if you turned on a Dodgers broadcast, you would hear the voices of Red Barber and Ernie Harwell. They were the broadcast team for quite some time before Harwell would eventually leave the Dodgers to go work for the New York Giants. Two months after the Fenway incident, Barber once again remembered the redhead who never complained.
“I always had the dream of taking an untutored kid who showed some promise and of putting him on the air for what he was, a neophyte learning the trade,” said Barber in his autobiography, Rhubarb in the Catbird Seat. “Scully was a perfect choice. He was a green pea, but he was a very appealing young green pea. It was obvious he had something on the ball; you didn’t know precisely what it was, but he had it.”
Red wasn’t the only one who noticed there was something different about this kid. Branch Rickey, the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers at the time, also told Red after meeting Vin, “You have found the right young man.” To be continued…
Stan Kasten…is a leader. I don’t just say that because of the position he currently holds with the Dodgers as President and CEO. I say that because if you ever get the incredible opportunity to speak with him or even listen to him talk, you become inspired. You get this overwhelming excitement that you didn’t even knew existed. He got me excited about this current ball club that we have. Impressive, right? I walked away from it all not even really knowing why I was so optimistic, but I was. Listening to him talk is simply a wonder and a treat. He is the kind of guy that when you greet him with a polite, “Hello Mr. Kasten, how are you doing?” He quickly corrects you and replies with a laugh, “It’s Stan, but I’m doing great, thanks for asking.” He talks to you like a friend, and tells everyone exactly how it is, no matter the situation.
He knows exactly what he’s doing. This isn’t his first rodeo. He is an incredibly humble man that knows that this whole “business,” if you will, is 100% about the fans; and from the fans standpoint, the team comes first. The team…is everything.
Within the first week of him becoming president, Stan was walking the stadium. He was checking out lines at the food vendors, walking the upper deck, stopping to say hello to fans. This is a guy who has personally read over 3,000 suggestions from the fan box, performed 2 different public opinion surveys and 2 separate focus groups just last week. It’s not glamorous work by any means, but it is completely necessary. He doesn’t have someone do the dirty work for him, he does it himself.
This “interview,” for lack of a better term, wasn’t necessarily a question and answer type deal. It was more of a conversation with a few guiding questions. Instead of giving you exact questions that were asked, I will merely guide you in the direction that the conversation went, but mostly quoting Stan, so you can see first hand, what your Dodgers president is like. Now Stan is very in depth when he speaks to fans, his coworkers, his associates, anybody. So when he is asked a question, he answers to the absolute best of his abilities and in depth as possible for clarity sake. His responses and quotes can be long, but I can guarantee you they are worth your time. He is an amazing speaker, and will get you excited moving forward. So as you’d probably all like, I’ll stop writing and get to the good stuff. haha
Since the Guggenheim Group has taken over, there has been a definitely different vibe around Dodger Stadium. The average attendance has rose to around 39,000 per game, there are great promotions, and overall, fans are much happier with this new group. I think we’d all agree with that. Stan was very thankful for the credit, and was thankful for the fans as well:
“Thanks for saying that, and people tell us that, anecdotally, that the reaction has been fantastic. But I will tell you what I can say for sure, objectively, that we have sold a lot more tickets. We have sold almost 3,000 new season tickets since the announcement that we were selected had been made. Now I got to believe that most of that is because the team looks so good and the future I think is bright for everyone, but there is also that belief or that credibility that our group brings with it. Now everyone is going to need to see some proof, but I do not take their support and their reception for granted. We have to start doing things and the sooner the better for that. But again, giving us this latitude, giving us this time to feel our way through to find out the best things to do, we really appreciate it, and we don’t take it for granted. We do have plans, and we are working on things right now to not just get the experience better, but even more importantly the team better.”
The dreaded series against the Giants was brought up. When this all happened, it was all on our minds, and it was something that needed to be addressed — not just the series, but this recent lack of offense and overall performance. Stan didn’t back down from any of it and responded with integrity:
“Well you have to address the areas that are available to you, let me talk about that for a second. First of all, as you know, no matter how long you’re in the game, losses really hurt (chuckling) and losing streaks are the worst of all. So yeah, this is a bad week for all of us who are Dodgers fans. I do have to say, to be fair, I was thrilled that we were doing as well as were doing up until two weeks ago, given the unbelievable injuries to the key people that we’ve had. Ya know, we’d love to have Matt back, we’d love to have Mark Ellis back, we’d love to have Ted Lilly back, and yet without guys like that, and other people that we’ve lost along the way, we really held up well. That was a real testament to the fortitude of this team, the resilience of the backup players who had to step up and the managing of Don and the coaching of his coaches. So that’s a real strength I think and that hasn’t gone away, we still have those strengths. But when we get players back, we obviously expect to get better.”
We all know about Stan’s philosophy. He is very intent on making our farm system as strong as it can be, and dominant in the future. He has always been a big supporter of the farm system, it has worked wonders for him in the past with other teams, and he looks to bring the Dodgers back to where they were — the best farm system in baseball. Going off what he said about improving the team, the conversation went into exactly that, and what he was doing as of now, to improve the farm system or the big league club.
“Well for this time of year, what has happened when I say all you can do is what’s available, is going in to June and in to July, it’s a scouting and player development time of year, that’s because the draft is the first week of June. And I can tell you that I think we had an excellent draft; I watched the process, I spent a week with the scouts to learn them, to see how they worked, to find out who I can really trust and where we might need to add more. I think we had a terrific draft, I think we need to get our first round picks signed, but I expect that to happen very soon. After the draft, the next thing that happens is the July 2nd, international day. And you know this is such a big thing for me because its such a big part of modern baseball. It is an area that the Dodgers did not emphasize in the last few years. I think it’s a really important thing. And this year, new rules are kicking in pursuant to our new collective bargaining agreement. So there’s a window where you can sign people before July 2nd, and I’d like to see if we can do something before then. So that’s Monday. And then starting Monday, after July 2nd, we all now have a cap amount – an allotment of money – that we can use to sign international players, and I hope to start using that money for that next group of players starting first thing monday. So I hope by this time next week, (which at that time would be Wednesday, July 4th) we’ll be able to announce the signings of all our first round draft picks, maybe a pre-July 2nd singing, maybe some post July 2nd signings, so that we can say that in the course of one month we’ve really, really started the process of beefing up our minor leagues. So that’s what can be done now. After the July 2nd period, or the week thereafter, you really can start to turn your attention to the major league club because that’s when other teams are turning their attention to their major league clubs as well. Where the scouts are now fanning out, and also, the closer you get to the deadline, July 31, the picture becomes clearer which teams are going to sell, which teams are going to move their players. Right now it’s kind of merky because, as we know, this year there is now a second wild card team and that means more teams have hopes so teams are staying in it longer. I think that will clear up by August 31. And all I will say to you is this, I think we demonstrated with Andre Ethier that we will be aggressive in retaining the players that we really appreciate. I think that when we get going on these international signings, we will demonstrate there too that we’re going to be aggressive in pursuing international talent. And I hope by August 1, we’re able to show that we’ll be aggressive in pursuing additions to the team in mid season as well. And then next offseason, we plan on being aggressive in doing that too. So we still have things to prove to our fans, but I promise you that is our plan, and we plan to deliver on that.”
Now…I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t know how that wouldn’t just get you excited right there. His plans are so in depth. He has already done so much in just ONE month as president to beef up our minor leagues and explains vividly why he hasn’t made moves in the majors yet. I think this gives all the fans a sigh of relief to know that its not something he is forgetting, and is on a to-do list that is miles long. Oh, and just so everyone knows he’s not blowing smoke, he’s already delivered. Today, the Dodgers DID sign their first round pick Corey Seager to a $2.35 Million deal, and they also signed international Cuban prospect Yasiel Puig to a 7 year, $42 Million deal. He said they were going to be aggressive, and they have been. This interview was before any of those signings had been made too. So you can bet that all of the other things he mentioned, he plans on delivering. It’s a very exciting time to be a Dodger fan.
Kevin Kennedy from Dodger Talk always loves taking questions from fans about players that could potentially be a trading target for us. Obviously, Stan can’t comment on specific players because that would be tampering, but Kevin Kennedy can. A caller brought up the name Mike Moustakis to him, and Kevin brought up the fact to the caller that Moustakis had just recently been locked down for the Royals and won’t be available. Dodgers will, however, be looking at “bottom feeders,” as he put it, to deal with. When this was brought up to Stan, he had this to say:
“Well let me say this, (laughing) as a management guy, I don’t like thinking of teams as “bottom feeders.” They are “building” teams, or “rebuilding” teams, but they are at a different stage of their process. We are the Dodgers. We are full of Dodger pride that we have earned over a century of baseball. We expect more here; everyone expects more of me, and I get that. We’re not one of those building teams, we’re a team that needs to go for it right now, and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”
Going off of that Dodger pride, the point came up that this lineup that is filled with utility players being used as everyday players is not a lineup that fans can be proud of. Being swept by the Giants without scoring runs is a terrible feeling, and watching games, day in and day out without scoring runs is, being completely honest, embarrassing. The other point was that we have old, tired players in the lineup as well. Long story short, it’s a really tough lineup to be behind and support for the fans. Again, Stan was not hesitant to take on the criticism:
“Well let me say a couple things about that (that phrase seemed to be a trend when he answered a question) First of all, I know how you’re feeling. You’re feeling like I’m feeling given how the last ten games have gone (1-9). Two weeks ago, we were feeling pretty darn good about this same group of players that you just mentioned. And secondly, on the front office’s behalf, and on the manager’s behalf, let’s remember all that led up to the acquisition of those players, whether they were acquired last year, or through this winter, and the circumstances that the front office had (referring to the confusing ownership situation of course). And I think going forward, it’s a new day with a little more resources, with a little more aggressive philosophy than they’ve been able to have recently, and I don’t think I need to say more about that. So I hear what you’re saying. There IS a value to a veteran bench. We’ve had many nights this year, where our veteran bench has really come through and, in fact, until two weeks ago, they were doing it regularly all season, so lets give them that credit. But I hear you moving forward, and there is nothing I like more than young talent. You need to have that pipeline, and every team that has had sustained success did so on a foundation of young talent. It’s what we don’t have here quite as much as I’d like, to be frank, and it’s what we need to build and we have turned our attention to that. But we’re not waiting for them to get here! If we need to go out and find reinforcements, we’re going to aggressively seek them out right now.”
One last quick point that was brought up, was that even though Stan can’t mention any one player by name, as generically as possible, could he say if he anticipated any type of move before the deadline:
“Well I anticipate trying, ya know? I mean it takes two to make a deal. I know we’re going to be aggressive. It won’t be a matter of resources as I’ve described to you before. At the trade deadline, the currency that is most valuable is not money, it’s prospects…and there are a number of teams that are deeper in those than we are, frankly. So that’s why you need to build that organization up, not just to build the pipeline and use players yourself, but to use as currency to improve your team in other ways. So we’ll see if we’ll be successful in doing so. I can tell you that our front office has a mandate from me, and from Mark, and from Magic, to be as aggressive as they can in acquiring other players. My guess is we will find things to do and I can promise that we will be working hard at accomplishing that.”
Sigh of relief, right? I know it is for me. He is an incredibly smart man, and I am so proud to say that he is in charge of leading this team to becoming a dynasty again. He has a definitive plan, even if he can’t give all the details he would probably like. I wanted to make sure that all fans have access to as much of Stan as humanly possible. It’s nice to know what your president is doing and to pick his brain a little bit. I hope you all found this as informing as I imagined.
Following Story By: T.J. Simers, L.A. Times
And I almost never root for anyone, as you know, and yet here I am preparing to gush.
“Dee” to baseball fans, “Devaris” to his family and planning in the future to have “Strange-Gordon” across the back of his jersey in honor of his mother and father, this must be what it’s like to break open a shell and find a pearl.
It is noon Monday in the lobby of the Dodgers’ team hotel here, and Dee Gordon, the closest thing to a human toothpick, has already eaten breakfast twice. And between bites he’s smiled at a couple hundred people.
What’s he so happy about? It has to be tough hitting only .228 on center stage before realizing how ridiculous that sounds.
How tough must it have been to have a mother for just six years?
Correction: “Six great years,” he says while reaching for his cellphone.
“You see my screen saver here? This picture was taken in her final days. It’s the one I look at just before every game.”
“I’m happy,” he explains.
I want to know if he became bitter in time. And how does a kid recover from life turned upside down?
“I just chose to make the best of it,” he says. And how do you not root for the kid?
His mother, Devona Strange, meets his father, Tom Gordon, in high school. They do not marry. Tom, also known as “Flash,” is just beginning what will become a 21-year major league career as a pitcher.
Dee is in first grade, his school bus pulling up to the gated apartment complex in St. Petersburg, Fla., where his mother lives. Like the other kids, he knows something has happened.
“We knew when cars were parked outside the gate someone had died or there had been a robbery,” he says. “A policeman began asking each of us where we lived.”
Two women who work with his mom pull him aside.
“I’m already mad at one of the ladies because two days earlier I didn’t want to do my spelling words,” he says. “I hid them at her work, but she finds them, tells my mom, and I get in trouble.
“Now she wants to take me to McDonald’s. I’m 6, we live in a not-so-nice neighborhood and McDonald’s is awesome. And I remember exactly what I ordered that day: ice cream and small fries. But I keep saying I’ve got to go home because my mother will be there.”
He was very close to his mother, he says, the memories still vivid. He says they would climb into bed, watch TV together, and he starts naming off the shows.
Now he still tries to hold on, her name in his helmet, in his shoes, in almost everything he touches.
But he’s still not sure he has it right. He’s told his mother and her boyfriend were watching TV, messing around, a gun goes off, his mother is hit in the heart and later the boyfriend serves five years for manslaughter.
Gordon moves to central Florida to a new home and school to be with his father.
“I told my grandmother God might have done this to help me in life,” Gordon says upon reflection. “I was getting in trouble a lot and if I had stayed in St. Petersburg, I might not be sitting here today.”
There are more hurdles to clear. He takes on his teenage years with a burden no youngster should endure by himself. He begins to blame himself for his mother’s demise.
“A few weeks before my mom died I heard my mom choking,” he says. “I picked up this purple eight-pound weight and hit her boyfriend in the head.”
“I’m 6 and I’m thinking if he leaves he’s going to take my toys,” he says. “Then two weeks later . . .”
He’s in pain, he admits, his anger leading to fights before he works everything out.
“I had a complete turnaround,” Gordon says, a “Yes, sir” often mixed into his answers. “I’ve always been surrounded by great people. I have two grandmothers who are like mothers, Uncle Anthony who texts to say, ‘You can’t keep a good man down,’ and a father, who is just great.”
Dad’s smart, too. The kid is a terrific basketball player, but his future is baseball. Dad promises him a car if he tries baseball. Gordon makes the switch, but gets no car.
“Would you give me a car at 16 or 17?” Gordon says.
Here we are, Gordon 24 and promising to never change. He mentions the impact on him when he hears someone talking about making minimum wage.
“Someone my own age,” he says. “How fortunate are we?”
But he’s going to have to do better, the game not caring what he’s overcome.
“Every sport came easy to me until this year and honestly I didn’t know how to handle it,” he says, his candor as refreshing as his bubbly personality. “It was eating me up, but if I didn’t let what happened to my mother eat me up, why should this?
Reports are saying that Kevin Youkilis is leaving Boston by this weekend. Question is — Where is he going?
For those of you that have read anything I’ve posted before, you would know that I never liked this Youkilis trade. However, in the past 24 hours, my tune has 100% changed. I’ll tell you why.
Now Dodgers sources are saying something a little bit different than before. They are saying that they would use Youkilis to replace Uribe at third, rather than Loney at first. Now this I love. I never thought Loney was our number one problem. He is a problem, for sure, don’t get me wrong, but not our number one problem. I think Youkilis would give a slightly bigger threat in the middle of the lineup than Uribe would anywhere.
Last night was fantastic. It gave me hope of a Uribe-less future. Adam Kennedy may have only gone 0-2 with a walk, but not seeing that haggard swing that tries to blow the guts out of every ball he sees in the lineup was so refreshing. If we want to improve this team – Uribe HAS to go. No questions asked.
Now Youkilis will not be our savior. He will not come to the team and have a Manny-like impact back in 2008. We still need a big bat. I thought a perfect example of the impact he’ll have would be a Casey Blake. Someone that is in the lineup, and stays consistent with a homerun every now and again. Youkilis obviously isn’t having the year that he would have hoped, and his numbers have dropped off immensely. His batting average is .225 and his wOBA is .306. However, I think these numbers could change when he leaves Boston. Here’s why:
If you remember back in 2008, Manny’s numbers were no where near where they were compared to his career. It’s because he was practically doing it on purpose to make a point that he was unhappy in Boston. Now I’m not saying this is a case of “Youk being Youk” but it could very well be a morale problem that has his numbers down. Bobby Valentine has recently sat down and told him that his playing time is getting cut because of how well Middlebrooks is playing at third.
“He doesn’t necessarily totally agree with it and doesn’t wake up in the morning and hope that’s the case,” Valentine said. “But I think the professional person that Kevin is, he understands it,” Valentine told reporters. “Yes, I think he’s fine.”
So Youkilis definitely wants to move, and he definitely wants no part of the Red Sox anymore. So could his numbers improve with a better morale? Absolutely. And who better to help that than Donnie who is an absolute player-friendly manager.
Like I said before, Youkilis is not the only answer to our offensive problems. But he does help. If by some off chance that you still aren’t convinced that Uribe is a detriment to the team…let me help.
Back in 2010, when Uribe was signed on, Ned Colletti said this about Uribe. “He will provide more power, he has thunder in his bat.” Funny part about that is…he has no thunder in his bat. In fact, there isn’t even a storm brewing. This year he has one homerun. One. That was hit May 11th, at Coors Field. For those of you that don’t know, baseballsfly out of that stadium. Point in case…Dee Gordon also has one homerun this year…at Coors Field. See where I’m going with this? When Ned wants to give an argument about how Dee has thunder in his bat, I’ll be all ears, but until then, my argument stands.
In June, Uribe is hitting a horrendous .179 with two RBI’s, eight strikeouts and no walks. That means every 3.5 at-bats that he gets, is a strikeout. On the year, Uribe is hitting a line of .231/.278/.324.
I wanted to bring up that statistic wOBA. This stands for weighted on-base average. It’s a great stat that tells you in a little bit more precision exactly how much someone gets on base. The league average this year is .309. Just for a bit broader understanding of where a player should be, last years average was .316. So anywhere around there is average.
Youkilis’ wOBA for this year is .306. Just 3 points below the leagues average. Uribe’s is .283 — 26 points below.
I did the math for our potential lineup before (without Youkilis) and after (with Youkilis). Keep in mind the lineup will change drastically after the trade deadline with the arrival of Kemp and Ellis from the DL.
Our team’s wOBA goes from .309 (not bad, considering league average) and shoots up to .333 with Kemp, Ellis and Youkilis. Only three teams have wOBA’s better than that.
I like this trade, I think it would be a great addition, however I still think we need to add another big bat in July. We’ll see what happens. But sources are saying that talks are getting very intense with regards to Youkilis and this deal could happen anytime from as early as today, to at least the end of this weekend. So be looking out for more updates on this.
For those of you that are wondering what we’ll have to pay — not much. Boston will most likely be eating most of, if not all of, the remaining $12 Million on his contract, and the $1 Million buyout. However, with that being said, Boston is paying more of the contract in order to get a better prospect. Who that is will probably determine which team Youk goes to. As of right now, the top two teams are the Dodgers and the White Sox. Check back to see if any updates have occurred.
I wanted to quickly give a shoutout to Mrs. Ellen Kershaw. In all honesty, she had me rolling in laughter today by the way she decided to celebrate Father’s Day. I logged on to Twitter and saw that she had posted something. What I ended up reading, however, I was flat out NOT expecting. Let me show you…
Now I don’t know about you…..but I definitely thought that Clayton Kershaw was about to be a Dad. My body went through about a thousand emotions ranging from shocked, to happy, to confused, to shocked again, back to happy…but again…didn’t want to speculate on anything. And keep in mind…that’s just me we’re talking about — the last person that should be emotionally involved in this situation, considering my non-existant ties to the Kershaw family, other than admiration. I can only imagine what Clayton thought when he saw it. When all this was going on, amidst the tears and excitement (haha ok now I’m getting out of hand, I never actually got to that point, but still) Ellen rocked my world yet again…and hit the Twitter world with this shot:
Well played Ellen…well played. You 100% had me going and I hope Clayton had a kick out of it as well. Enjoy your Father’s Day!!
Want to learn more about this awesome couple? Be sure to check out their book, Arise, and order it (click here for the link) if you’d really like a great read. It’s a very inspirational story about their faith and their journeys to where they are now; with Clayton playing professional baseball, and Ellen traveling to Africa to not only help orphans in Zambia, but to also share their faith in the Lord with the kids.
They have started a foundation called Kershaw’s Challenge where, among many other things, Clayton donates $100 for every strikeout he records to “Hope’s Home” in Africa, which is a home for “vulnerable children living in desperate conditions in Lusaka, Zambia.” Their hope is to ultimately hire “parents” that can live in this home and raise these children with Christian values. Personally, I think its amazing that God has blessed Clayton with the ability to raise as much money as he has with his strikeouts. It’s amazing to see what the Lord can do when you put your talent in His hands. After the foundation was started, and Clayton decided to donate money for every strikeout, as we all know, he went on to lead the entire league in strikeouts along with winning the Triple Crown, and Cy Young. That’s no coincidence, people.
“It’s been a cool season to see how the Lord can use baseball to expand His Kingdom,” Ellen said in regards to the 2011 season. ”And we hope, as I always say, with every pitch that Clayton throws that the Lord is glorified in that.”
I really do encourage you to visit their site and see what they are all about. The Kershaw’s are so inspirational and completely give what God has given them for others, rather than for themselves. They understand that no matter how successful you are on the field, or even in Zambia, you never do anything by yourself. To watch an amazing video on Clayton Kershaw talking about exactly that, watch this video, called I Am Second. The entire website is an incredible way to spend just a couple moments of your time, and I can almost guarantee you won’t regret browsing around the site. Until Next Time!
With their second round pick (82nd overall) the Dodgers selected P Steven Rodriguez from Florida. Steven is known for his unorthodox delivery and will most likely be used as a bullpen pitcher. Scouts have said they don’t quite see him being a closer, but with the way he pitched at a top school such as Florida, they do see him taking on a bit more expensive bullpen role. In college, his strikeouts per nine innings was over 12 and posted an impressive 1.91 ERA in 32 appearances, including one start. Steven also had a stretch of eight-consecutive appearances without allowing any runs between March 27-May 1.
MLB.com draft expert Jonathan Mayo views Rodriguez as the next most likely candidate from this year’s draft class to first appear in the big leagues. He also went as far as saying Rodriguez could be seen as early as September when rosters are expanded, calling the young pitcher deceptive with good stuff.
With their third round pick (113th overall) the Dodgers selected Onelki Garcia, a Cuban 22 year-old pitcher. Onelki was originally ruled inelgible for the draft and was expecting to immediately be a free agent, but the ruling was overturned just before the draft started. There may be a few issues with signability however considering that Garcia initially wanted a $7 million signing bonus which he will not even get close to. He also said at one point that he would not sign unless drafted in the first round. I will post more details about this later.
With their fourth round pick (146th overall) the Dodgers selected Justin Chigbogu, from Raytown South HS, Missouri. Justin is a very strong left handed first baseman who also played defensive end in high school. He is considered by scouts to be a high risk/high reward type player, so it will be interesting to see how he unfolds.
The Dodgers, with their 18th overall pick in the 2012 draft, selected SS Corey Seager (Brother of Seattle Mariner, Kyle Seager) out of Northwest Cabarrus High School in North Carolina. He bats left handed and throws right handed.
Cory is known not only as a great baseball player, but an outstanding person as well. With a 4.05 overall weighted GPA, Seager is also a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Future Farmers of America, National Beta Club and the Athletes Who Share Unselfish Moments Club.
“He’s one of the greatest players — if not the best — to ever come out of this county,” Derek Shue, former head coach at rival Concord High School, said in a Gatorade release. ”With that title, he wasn’t pitched to very often, but he never showed any frustration. He’s just an all-around great kid and one that we all wish we had on our team. From the outside, it looked like he was not only their best player, but also their best person.”
He was essentially drafted for his power and his swing, which, believe me, is a very pretty swing once you get a chance to see it. I saw him hit for the first time yesterday, and it reminded me of Andre Ethier’s swing (Corey is also a lefty) but with faster bat speed and more overall power. Which, for those of you who don’t know exactly what that means with regards to baseball, its basically saying the kid has potential to be an absolute stud.
Seager is thought by many scouts to eventually be moved to third base. Assistant General Manager Logan White however, stated that he drafted Seager as a short stop and for the time being, that is what he’ll be.
“A lot of people think he has to go to third,” said White. “He has Cal Ripken size. I think it’s a mistake to move him off shortstop right away. Let him play and swing the bat. He’s definitely an offensive player. He has a very good swing with power, and he’s a good makeup guy.”
Despite all the talks about the Dodgers going pitching heavy in this draft, White decided to go with not just one positional player (first positional player drafted in the first round since James Loney in 2002) but two. Let’s meet the second…
With the 53rd overall pick, (which was a compensation pick for losing Rod Barajas in Free Agency) the Dodgers selected switch hitting SS Jesmuel Valentin (son of Jose Valentin) out of the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy and High School.
“I want both to play shortstop and let the development process take its course,” said White. “We have to figure a way to rotate, maybe have Valentin play second and short. It’s possible he’ll wind up at second and possible Seager will move to third, but we have options. Good options.”
The interesting thing about Jesmuel, is that yes, he is a switch hitter, but he just started hitting left handed only a year ago. However, White likes what he sees and says the ‘experiment will go on.’
Jesmuel, along with Corey, is another amazing guy. His heart and determination is really something that I haven’t seen in a long time. MLB really took an interest into the Puerto Rican players this year. Carlos Correa, first overall pick by the Astros and teammate of Valentin, would wait at a McDonald’s at 6am every day for his hour long bus ride to school. These players have a dedication to the game you just don’t see anymore.
It is also widely known that the Dodgers current team is filled with second generation MLB players by having the sons of Tom Gordon, Ivan De Jesus, Andy Van Slyke, Jeff Sellers, Jerry Hairston Sr., and others. So for those of you following, yes we continued that ‘tradition‘. Corey is the brother of current Major League player, and Seattle Mariner Kyle Seager, and Jesmuel is the son of former MLB player and Dodger, Jose Valentin. Both understand what that means as well. “I want people to look at me because I have the skills, not because my name is Valentin,” Jesmuel said. “I think I’m a good player and I have a lot of passion for the game. I have it in my blood. I play hard, and I give it my all, 100 percent.”
Overall, Logan White and the Dodgers were extremely happy on how the first round ended up. The picks will be tricky to sign, considering they have both verbally committed to Universities (Corey to South Carolina, Jesmuel to LSU) but given that Corey was given a much higher draft pick than expected, I’m assuming he won’t be as big of a decision as Jesmuel, who is still a toss up.
White, however, is still pleased. “I’m as excited about this Draft as I was when we got Kershaw in 2006, that’s how happy I am with the two players we got.”
Andre Ethier has always been known as a fan favorite at Dodger Stadium. On Wednesday, he made his fan impact even more evident.
Fans sitting in the first seven rows of section 52 got a nice little surprise from #16. They received free Dodger Dogs wrapped with a note that read “Compliments of Andre Ethier, 16″ with a silhouette of him swinging. The fans were very pleased at the nice gesture until of course, the news of Matt Kemp re aggravating his left hamstring, but let’s not get back into that.
Andre has been, in my opinion, one of the most underrated and least talked about Dodger this year. Any time I get the chance, I always give some credit to ‘Dre. He has been absolutely killing it this year, and is one of, if not the reason for the Dodgers doing as well as they are this year. I will always respect Matt Kemp as a player, and understand what he does as a leader of this club, but with all of the recent injuries, Ethier has stepped up beyond what anyone has asked of him and taken over that leader position on the field. My hat goes off to you, Andre. And thanks for the Dodger Dogs!
I know that Matt Kemp has been working with Sue Falsone intensively to get his hamstring back in shape, and getting him back on the field to help the Dodgers win. However…has there been any time for extra curricular activities? Like, oh, I don’t know, singing lessons?
That’s right Dodgertown Citizens…during the inaugural Dodger Stadium Fan Fest, Matt Kemp was taking requests and questions from fans, when one fan asked him to sing his friend happy birthday. Luckily for you, Dodgers Insider has it on tape. Click the link below to listen and enjoy! ….He’s going to hate me for this. haha
To put it gently, a lot of baseball players today have this sort of….demeanor to them. Kind of like this, “I’m better than you because I’m a professional athlete” type attitude. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying all baseball players do. I know quite a bit that are the exact opposite, but most of them do. The reason I bring this up, is because I’ve heard a lot of people that don’t know anything about Justin Sellers say that he looks like a punk, and an overall mean guy. Granted, he is covered in tattoos, has a mohawk, and is nicknamed Sell Block on account of him looking like an ex-inmate – so I could somewhat see their point. However…you have to meet the guy.
I had the pleasure of meeting him this past year in Arizona during Spring Training. I have to say, he was one of the most genuinely nice guys I have ever met. He’s a kid that truly enjoys the game of baseball, and isn’t taking the fact that he’s playing for a big league team for granted. He loves interacting with fans and it showed at a game I went to later on in the Spring. It was a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Salt River Fields. In fact, it was the last game of Spring Training before they headed back to play the Angels in California. Our seats were the second row behind the Dodgers on-deck circle. The seats in the row ahead of us were occupied by a couple of girls that were….well…lets just say, in good spirits. They were having a good time talking to all the players before their at-bats and, as you can imagine, most of them ignored the girls and went about their own business. Later in the game, Sell Block was substituted in, and his turn in the on-deck circle was up. This was the first time these two girls had ever seen him, and were amazed by all of his tattoos. They could not stop commenting on anything that he did or wore. “I love your shoes!” “I love your tattoos!” “What do your tattoos say?” “Do they mean anything?” Just going on and on about anything that they noticed.
There was something different about Sellers though. He was so welcoming to them. Not in your typical “Big League Player to Fan” type way either. It was genuine. He was willing to engage in all their questions and comments. From anything to saying thank you in their compliments, to breaking down his tattoos for them.
One of my favorite moments from that day was when they asked, “What does that tattoo mean?” When Sellers jokingly responded, “Which one? I have like a thousand.” It made me laugh pretty hard. I also personally learned something new from all this ridiculousness happening in front of me. I learned that the tattoo on the back of his neck is a pair of wings that represent a guardian angel. I thought it was a very cool story. He went on to show them the engraving on his bat, that read “Sell Block.” He explained the significance and meaning behind the nickname, which I stated before.
Last year, Sellers had impressed me, but for some reason, I never looked into him. It was one of those things where I kept seeing this new kid in the box scores that was always scoring runs. For those of you that don’t know, Sellers is tied with Kemp for the Dodgers team record of most consecutive games with a run scored, with 7 (through Aug. 19 – 26). He also went on to score in 9 of 11 games during that stretch. Even through all that, sell block flew under my radar. This whole spring training experience last year definitely made me regret that. It gave me that new-found respect for this tattoo covered man.
He’s not a new kid on the block. Sellers has been around a while, and its his hard work, effort, and determination that has got him to the major leagues. Drafted in 2005 by the Oakland Athletics, he played with the Vancouver Canadians in 2005 and the Kane County Cougars in 2006. He then split 2007 between the Stockton Ports and Midland Rockhounds. In the Hawaii Winter Baseball League, he was voted the 2007 Defensive Player of the Year. In 2008 at Midland, he hit .255 in 123 games. And finally, on February 2, 2009, he was traded to the Chicago Cubs, only to essentially be released by them and went to the Dodgers for cash.
Even with the Isotopes, Sellers had to settle and be a second baseman because Dee Gordon was the bright star at short. After a while, he started to begin to accept the fact that a major league career may never happen. ”Of course,” he said. “You just have to have the confidence that you know you can play there. And I’ve always had that.” So he just kept on playing his heart out.
On August 12, 2011, he finally got the call he had always dreamed of. The Dodgers called him up due to an injury to Dee Gordon. He went 0-3 in his debut, but got his first hit the following night, and his first homerun the next day after that, just three days after being called up. The excitement that surrounded that first homerun was obvious. He had waited seven years for his shot, and it finally came. He said that back when he was a kid, a homerun was hitting it over the neighborhood fence. “Then actually hitting one in the major leagues and running around the bases was the most incredible feeling I’ve ever had,” Sellers said. “I’ve got the chills talking about it right now,” he said. “You can’t imagine. For it to happen with my family like that, in my hometown? I feel so blessed.” The fans felt blessed to see it happen in person, and showed it by giving him a long standing ovation.
“I’ve never had a curtain call or anything close to that,” Sellers said. “To have the crowd get loud like that and then have Kemp and
some of the boys telling me, ‘Get out there, get out there.’ And then pushing me out there, turning around and seeing the fans go nuts like that. It was a very special moment.” (See picture to the right)
On the topic of hitting his first homerun, I should probably mention that the reason I’m writing this post is because of what I saw a couple nights ago when he hit his second homerun of his career. The reaction of the bench was so special; Matt Kemp, in particular. We all know that Matty is always one of the first to cheer on his teammates when they do something special, but this was different. I had never seen him react to anything the way he reacted to Sellers hitting that homerun (Watch the reaction below). It made me realize that what I saw that spring day wasn’t just him having a good day and a little fun – it was just the way he is. He is a genuinely nice guy, which I think is an absolute rarity in Major League Baseball. My hat goes off to you, Sell Block, and I wish you nothing but the absolute best in the future.