Here We Go Again

March 30, 2014

Welcome to Opening Day,  Part 2.

It is not often that a team is 2-0 before 28 other teams have yet to play a regular season game,  but that is the position of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The pitching staff that many consider the best in baseball has already had their share of minor injuries.   The presumed opening night starter,  Clayton Kershaw,  has been scratched and has been placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career.

Let’s hope that the Dodgers have learned from the sloppy play in Australia  that,  while not costing them any losses,  has caused a little concern in the management and broadcasting ranks.

If this team can stay healthy,  and convert base runners to runs,  it should be the team to beat in the NL West division.

 


A Stop at Willoughby

March 24, 2014

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While waiting for the next Dodgers game amongst the din of 24/7 sports channels on cable TV and hundreds of Web Sites, whose editors are imploring their writers to “push!, push!, push!” to file their stories and bring eyeballs to their screens, I got off the train at Willoughby.

The quiet was deafening as my feet alighted on the wooden planks of the station. The Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone, that had been my constant companion, was missing from my pocket. At the side of the depot building, there was a curious booth, made of glass, with a double-hinged, glass door.   Inside, was an antique telephone with a fixed mouthpiece and separate handset, the type that I remember seeing once in a Humphrey Bogart film noir movie.

Across the street, the business district started with a row of shops.  On the other side of the F. W. Woolworth Company and Rexall stores, was an Allied Radio shop with some noise coming from a speaker mounted in the ceiling of its vestibule. As I got closer, I recognized the voice of Red Barber, that I had heard once in the Ken Burns “Baseball” documentary: “…and Vic Raschi, coming back for his second start.  And now for the Dodgers, the batting order, again, goes with Captain and shortstop Pee Wee Reese, leading off. With a right-hander going for New York, manager Shotton goes with his left hand hitters, which means, third baseman Johnny Jorgensen is hitting number two. Jorgensen at third, batting second. Snider in center field, batting third. Robinson, at second base, hitting fourth. Batting fifth, and in right field is Gene Hermanski – Carl Furillo is still out with that injured right groin, he just can’t go.  Hodges at first base, is hitting sixth. Marvin Rackley, who came out of the second game of the World Series… with a pulled muscle in his back, as you can recall, is the surprise nomination… Manager Shotton, at noon… talked it over, and thought that (Luis) Olmo would be his starting left fielder, but Rackley apparently told him he was all right, and Manager Shotton has changed, and is going with Rackley in left field.  Roy Campanella is catching… and Rex Barney is the pitcher.”

What in the heck was going on?  Where were all the foreign cars?   Why was there a 12″ Muntz TV in the window of a store which,  along with its neighbors,  closed years ago?   Why did that sign at the train depot say “Willoughby”,  and why was I compelled to exit the train there?  Most of all,  why was Red Barber reading off a list of Dodgers that had died years ago?

I vaguely remembered reading somewhere, maybe baseball-reference.com, that those players started in a World Series game decades ago.  As I pondered this,  a neatly dressed,  dark haired, young man,  wearing a business suit and smoking a cigarette,  opened the door,  and seeing my quizzical expression,  said “It is October 9th, 1949 Mr.  O’Connell.   Welcome to Willoughby… and the Twilight Zone.”

(Click on the above link to Red Barber to hear game 5 of the 1949 World Series.)


Back in the USA

March 23, 2014

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Be it ever so humble,  there’s no place like home.

The Dodgers are back in the USA after a very successful opening of the 2014 season in the land down under.  With a sweep of the Snakes under their belts,  the team now is in the strange position of having more Spring Training to accomplish.

There will be some tough decisions to make regarding the 25  man roster.   Dylan Hernandez has an article in the Los Angeles Times that details the facts and choices that must be made before Opening Day 2 in San Diego.


¡ɹǝpun uʍop uosɐǝs ǝɥʇ uǝdo sɹǝƃpop

March 17, 2014

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As I type this,  the Dodgers are less than two hours into their seventeen hour journey to the island continent.  To combat jet lag,  they will have a workout a few hours after arriving, and before they get a chance to rest.

To create room on the roster for Chone Figgins,  Javy Guerra was designated for assignment. The complete roster for this trip can be found on the links on this blog.

As we get caught up in the excitement and hoopla of opening days,  it is good to remember the great sports columnist of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner,  Bud Furillo,  AKA The Steamer,  who often referred to the sports department as the toy department.

The freedom we enjoy, that allows us to engage in the pursuit of happiness as a baseball fan, was paid for in blood by hundreds of thousands of men and women that gave the ultimate sacrifice.

When I think of Australia,  I also am reminded of a haunting song that tells the story of the Australian soldiers,  part of ANZAC,  (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps),  who were sent to fight in The Great War in 1915 at the Gallipoli Peninsula of Turkey. The song is “The Band Played Waltzing Matilda”  by The Pogues. The song describes war as futile and gruesome, while criticising those who seek to glorify it.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=cZqN1glz4JY

The words and music,  and the gritty way the song is sung,  always leaves me with a lump in my throat, as I reflect on the horrible consequences of war.

Now that we put things in perspective,  we can turn our attention to the joys of a new baseball season.

Go Dodgers!
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