Welcome to October

October 1, 2011

October is that magical month for baseball fans from sea to shining sea, the time reverently referred to as the post-season.  It is the dream of all players from Little League to the MLB to play as many games in October as possible, hopefully ending up winning the World Series.  Reggie Jackson even got his nickname “Mr. October” because of his performances in the tenth month.

I was born on October 1 and ever since I was in Little League, I thought I shared a birthday with another of my Dodger favorites, Maury Wills.  Alas, while researching other Oct. 1 birthdays, I found out that he was actually born on October 2.  What a let down!  For almost 50 years I thought Maury and I shared a cosmic connection.

On the other hand, I just found out that a couple of other baseball greats also have a birthday today: Mark McGuire and Rod Carew.  Of course our peanut farmer president Jimmy Carter was also born on 10-1.  And I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than being in a sandwich with Stella Stevens and Julie Andrews on either side.  We October 1sters have to hang together. 🙂

Actually my best birthday gift would have been the Dodgers getting ready to start the NLDS against the Brewers today instead of writing another nonsense post.  Since that was not to be, I will be rooting for Kirk Gibson to continue his terrific leadership all the way to the WS.  His intensity got the Dodgers to October in 1988 and he is doing the same for the D’backs this year.

So sit back, crank up the Rocktober FM station, kick back with an Octoberfest brew, and enjoy the wild ride that only the month of October can provide.

 


Clayton wins 20th game

September 21, 2011

While not a masterpiece, Clayton Kershaw pitched another great game topping the Giants 2-1, getting that much closer to a Cy Young award.  Yesterday’s performance brought the Giants eight game winning streak to a halt and made Kershaw the first Dodger to win 20 games since Ramon Martinez accomplished the feat in 1990.  It is much harder to win 20 games now than it was forty or fifty years ago.  In fact, since 1978, only 28 men have won 20, not including this year.  See http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/blog_article/last-20-game-winners-for-all-30-teams/ for the list.

Today’s pitchers have to work with limitations including pitch counts and five man rotations making for fewer chances to reach the elusive 20 win goal.

This Day in Dodgers History

September 21, 1961 – In a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the tenth inning at Candlestick Park, LA’s Pete Mikkelsen quickly retires the first two Giants batters, but then is ordered to intentionally walk Willie McCovey, who is 4-for-4 in the game.  The Dodger reliever proceeds to issue free passes to the next two hitters unintentionally, loading the bases, and then loses the game when shortstop Maury Wills boots pinch-hitter Jim Davenport’s ground ball.

How many times have we heard Vin Scully say that once a pitcher issues an intentional walk, he will struggle to throw strikes?


Ghost of De La Rosa Future

September 7, 2011

Yesterday the buzz throughout the MLB was the return of Stephen Strasburg.  I have to admit that I was curious to get my first look at this supposed phenom after all the publicity he had last year.  With all the press he got, I almost expected to see some type of super performance with fastballs clocked well over 100 mph like those of Cinncinati’s Aroldis Chapman who has thrown 105 mph.  Strasburg was good and had command of his fastballs that routinely hit 97 mpg and touched 99 mph.

Strasburg shut out the Dodgers over five innings with just 56 pitches thrown, four short of his 60 pitch limit.  Maybe he is not a supernatural freak, like the subject of a fantasy baseball movie or Twilight Zone episode, but he looked like he could be the Nats version of Clayton Kershaw some day.

All of this is great news for Rubby De La Rosa, who must have been watching with keen interest.  If Strasburg and several other pitchers could successfully pitch in a major league game just over a year from Tommy John surgery, the prospects for De La Rosa are bright indeed.  Of course each person reacts differently to the surgery and arduous rehab process.  But the chances suddenly look good that we may see a return of our 100 mph fireballer a year from now.

The Dodgers made a great comeback from a 3-0 deficit in the rain delayed game and finished on top 7-3 with some clutch hitting by Rod Barajas and Andre Ethier.

Hopefully today Mattingly will put Jerry Sands in the lineup either in a corner OF spot or at 1B.  Sands finished with 29 homers and 88 RBI in 370 at-bats at high altitude Albuquerque.  It will be interesting to see if he has home run power at sea level Washington, D.C.

This Day in Dodgers History

September 7, 1962 – With four steals in a 10-1 loss to the Pirates, Dodger Maury Wills breaks the modern National League record for stolen bases in a season with his 82nd swipe. Cincinnati’s Bob Bescher established the mark in 1911 playing left field with Cincinnati.