The puzzle is coming together

November 14, 2011

You are sitting at your dining room table.  Dinner is over, the dishes, glasses, spoons and forks have been cleared away.  In their place is a box, the contents of which are scattered over the large, flat surface.  Hundreds of irregularly shaped pieces of all colors lie before you.  The only clue as to what they could be is the picture on the box.  It shows a jubilant pair of baseball players, resplendent in their crisp, white Los Angeles Dodgers home uniforms, each holding up one side of the World Series Championship Trophy.  They are Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw and are surrounded by a myriad of happy faces.  In the background, slightly blurred, is the iconic Dodger scoreboard behind right field displaying the final score of the last hard fought series game.

Until now, the pieces have been a multicolored jumble.  But a few of them have started to coalesce into a recognizable part of the picture on the box.  With the news that Matt Kemp is on the verge of signing an eight year, $160,000,000 contract, the puzzle is starting to take shape.  The image of Matt Kemp  is now clearly visible.  There are still hundreds of those small pieces that do not yet make sense, but it is a beginning.  You can see an eye and a toothy smile that appears to be that of Kershaw, but it is still far too early in your quest to see the completed picture.

All you can do during these dark autumn and winter nights is to keep working.  But you will keep going because you know that someday that the picture of a future World Champion Dodger team will be real once again.


Before 32 and 53…

November 4, 2011

…there was 14.

One of my first memories of the Dodgers was listening to the 1959 World Series with my brother.  Larry Sherry generated a lot of excitement because of his excellent performances coming out of the bullpen which contributed greatly to the Dodgers winning the World Championship.  For position players however, my favorite was Gil Hodges, who proudly wore uniform number 14.  I enjoyed reading the yearbooks that touted his Brooklyn background both on the field and at home.  Along with Duke Snider, Hodges provided much of the power during the 1950’s and his 1001 RBIs were the most for any player in that decade apart from Snider.   He hit 30 or more home runs every season from 1950 to 1954 and over 100 RBIs every year from 1949 to 1955.  He won three Gold Gloves as the Dodger’s first baseman.  On October 10, 1961, I was sad when the New York Mets selected Hodges in the National League Expansion Draft.  He was warmly received as a hometown favorite upon his return to New York.

Here is some news out of Cooperstown, NY as reported by ESPN.com:

Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Ron Santo and Luis Tiant are among 10 candidates for the baseball Hall of Fame who will be on the Veterans Committee ballot next month.

Former players Ken Boyer, Minnie Minoso, Tony Oliva, Allie Reynolds as well as former Dodgers general manager Buzzie Bavasi and former Athletics owner Charlie Finley also will be on the Golden Era ballot, which will be voted on by the 16-member committee on Dec. 5 at the winter meetings in Dallas.

This year’s committee will consider candidates from the so-called “Golden Era,” from 1947-72.

An eight-time All-Star, Hodges helped the Dodgers win seven pennants and two World Series, then managed the New York Mets to their first World Series title in 1969. His 63.4 percent vote on his final BBWAA ballot in 1983 is the highest percentage for a player who didn’t enter the Hall in a later year.

Those voting on their Hall of Fame chances include Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Al Kaline, Ralph Kiner, Tom Lasorda, Juan Marichal, Brooks Robinson, Don Sutton and Billy Williams, executives Paul Beeston, Bill DeWitt, Roland Hemond, Gene Michael and Al Rosen (retired) and veteran reporters Dick Kaegel, Jack O’Connell and Dave Van Dyck.

Candidates must receive votes on 75 percent of the ballot to be elected. Those elected will be inducted on July 22 along with any players voted in by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America on Jan. 9.

The last few years have seen an up-swell in support for Hodges to be voted into the Hall of Fame.  Hopefully the veterans committee will do what the BBWAA failed to accomplish and honor this great Dodger.


November

November 1, 2011

The leaves are fading and falling;
The winds are rough and wild;
The birds have ceased their calling–
But let me tell you, my child,

Though day by day, as it closes,
Doth darker and colder grow,
The roots of the bright red roses
Will keep alive in the snow.

And when the winter is over,
The boughs will get new leaves,
The quail come back to the clover,
And the swallow back to the eaves.

The robin will wear on his bosom
A vest that is bright and new,
And the loveliest wayside blossom
Will shine with the sun and dew.

The leaves today are whirling;
The brooks are all dry and dumb–
But let me tell you, my darling,
The spring will be sure to come.

There must be rough, cold weather,
And winds and rains so wild;
Not all good things together
Come to us here, my child.

So, when some dear joy loses
Its beauteous summer glow,
Think how the roots of the roses
Are kept alive in the snow.

Alice Cary

Although this is the first day of November, we Dodger fans have endured metaphorically the bleakness of November ever since news of Frank and Jamie McCourt’s plundering of the team for their own luxurious lifestyle hit the fan.  We have seen our beloved team, once at the pinnacle of of Major League Baseball, fall into mediocrity and become a laughing stock in the baseball community.

Hopelessness and despair have been our constant companions as we read about the continuous flow of litigation and business manuevers initiated by Frank McCourt and his legal henchmen as they tore apart the organization so lovingly crafted  by men such as Branch Rickey, Walter O’Malley, Buzzie Bavasi and Al Campanis.

The news that McCourt may have finally realized that he is in a no win situation given that about 99% of Dodger fans want him gone and is seriously thinking about selling the team has brought the first ray of sunlight after a dark and tumultuous storm.  While he has been a poor steward of the Dodgers, the team itself has too much history and been too big a part of Americana to shrivel up and die.

The roots of the roses are alive in the snow
Awaiting a new owner to restore the Dodgers beauteous summer glow.