Looking through blue colored glasses

October 22, 2011

Until the last couple of years due to the McCourt meltdown, we Dodger fans have always tended to look at our team as one of the premiere teams in MLB history.  Despite the fact that a Dodger almost never appeared on one of the daily recap shows depicting the best plays of the day, we seemed to think our players were somehow more gifted than those of other teams.  And overall, there may have been some merit to that type of thinking.  But in the past few years, we looked at our young core as something really special.  This year, it turns out that Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw actually delivered on that promise.  But the others really have not risen above the rest of the MLB pack.

That brings me to the concern that Oldbrooklynfan has about the St. Louis Cardinals winning the World Series.  A few years back, I remember Vin Scully remarking that over the entire history of both teams, they were actually tied in wins against each other.  I don’t know how much that has changed since and I am not anal enough to spend the time to look it up.  The point is, as Mr. Pierre has pointed out, is that both the Cards and Dodgers have won 22 pennants but the Cardinals have won 10 championships to the Dodgers 6.

Our heroes include Zack Wheat, Dazzy Vance,  Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Duke Snider, Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax, Don Sutton and many others.  Currently, Kemp and Kershaw are star players for LA.

If we bled Cardinal red instead of Dodger blue, we could point out that history has not ignored the St. Louis team with players such as
Rogers Hornsby, Jim Bottomley, Dizzy Dean, Stan Musial, Enos Slaughter, Red Schoendienst, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Bruce Sutter, Ozzie Smith, among others.  Now days, they have Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, Lance Berkman providing the power.

Both of these teams have a long and glorious history in the National League.  As Dodger fans, we look to the farm teams and hope that our prospects will pan out.  But in many years, our minor leagues have only provided a few pitchers.  I can’t remember that last power hitter other than Kemp that has made a big splash.  We Dodger fans like to think with our heart and not our head.  Looking around the league, many teams have brought up premiere hitters who are now performing well in the MLB and are featured on the web gems on a regular basis.

Maybe thinking with our hearts is not a bad thing.  Like Danny Kaye sang, “They may be bums but they’re my bums.”


The Birth of a Benchmark

August 31, 2011

One of the reasons that baseball is the greatest game is there are so many ways to measure performances.  These measurements are burned into our collective consciousness.  When I was growing up, I was given a book that had most of the records and great stars through the history of modern baseball up to the early 1960’s.  Numbers like 56, 60, .406 and 714 had an almost legendary significance.  Some of those numbers, like Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak of 56 games and Ted William’s .406 batting average are still the record (the .406 season is the last season anybody batted at least .400.)  Babe Ruth’s single season and career home run records, which had existed for so many years, have been replaced.  The funny thing is, I don’t know how many homers Barry Bonds finished with.

I am not a baseball fanatic.  I just know that baseball and all of the numbers and legendary players just seemed so much bigger when I was a child.  As much as I admire the performances of Kershaw and Kemp this year, I stopped being in awe of major league players once I was older than they were.  The Cey, Russell, Lopes and Garvey group were the last players that I really looked up to.

I was in Little League (age 10-12) in 1963 through 1965, a time when the Dodgers were world champions 2 of those years.  From my screen name, you probably know my favorite players were Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale.  I probably ruined my arm trying to pitch like Drysdale.  As a dominating pitcher in Little League, I loved to aim at the batter and watch him bail out only to have my curve or maybe it was really a slider break over the plate for a strike.  Those were the days before kids were warned not to throw breaking pitches.

1959 was the first time I remember being interested in the Dodgers.  This date in 1959 was when Sandy Koufax set the record by striking out 18 batters.  But I really did not follow the team until they were in the World Series.  I just remember that Larry Sherry was the hero that year.  But the 18 strike outs by Koufax set him apart from others even before his first really dominant season in 1962.

The records last until they are broken, but the feelings about the record holders from ones childhood remain.  Orel Hershiser broke Don Drysdale’s scoreless inning record but I am 32and53fan, I don’t even know Hershiser’s uniform number.

This Day in Dodgers History

August 31, 1959 – Tying a major league mark, Sandy Koufax fans 18 Giants to establish a new National League record for a nine-inning in a 5-2 Dodger win at the LA Memorial Coliseum. In 1938, Indians fireballer Bob Feller struck out 18 in a 4-1 loss to the Tigers.

Can Kershaw Match Van Lingle Mungo?

July 26, 2011

Vin Scully put up a graphic during Monday’s game that showed Dodger pitchers who have led the league in strikeouts. He posed the question, “Can Clayton Kershaw maintain his current lead in that department throughout the year?”

Hideo Nomo was the last Dodger to be the N.L. strikeout champ, fanning 236 in 1995. Fernando Valenzuela led with 180 in the strike-shortened 1981 season. Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale dominated the 1960’s (starting in 1959) with the former leading the league four times, while the latter accomplishing that feat three times.
Don Newcombe topped the list in 1951. Dazzy Vance led the National League in strikeouts every year in an amazing string from 1922 to 1928!

The only other Dodger to make the list was the pitcher with the best name of them all – Van Lingle Mungo, who prevailed in 1936. No other Dodger ever inspired the title and chorus for a cool jazz song. And Mungo was doing a high leg kick in his delivery before Juan Marichal was even born.


This Day in Baseball History

On July 26, 1948, Babe Ruth makes his final public appearance. Ruth visits the film premiere of “The Babe Ruth Story.” Ruth will succumb to throat cancer only three weeks later.

Kershaw takes on Jhoulys Chacin of the Rockies at 7:10 tonight.