vrijdag 1 juni 2018

The Dodgers 60 years in Los Angeles: Review

If you have never read anything about the boys in blue, this is probably the best book to start. It’s a fairly standard sports book. It recounts, chronologically, by year, the seasons of the Dodgers in LA. As a bonus, the book starts with some history in Brooklyn, the first World Series win and the why of the move to Los Angeles. You also get to know the most important names in Dodger history, which, if you are new to Dodgers fandom is very useful. The bibliography at the end helps as well if you want a list of (mostly) interesting books about the Dodgers.

That being said... it’s all a bit too brief. If you are a die hard fan and probably have read books about the team before, this one might be a bit too ‘light’. Recounting 60 years in 326 pages doesn’t give you a lot of room to go deep. For example, instead of 55 pages about the 60’s I’d rather read ‘The Last Innocents’ by Michael Leahy. Mentioning Roy Campanella is mandatory, but if you really want to know the man, read ‘Campy: the Two Lives of Roy Campenella’ by Neil Lanctot.

As with a lot of these sports books there are too many typos and missing words. It seems like proof reading and final editing are something of the past. It’s unprofessional and honestly it’s irritating as hell. Still... for now, this book has a description of the 2017 season. So, until the first entire book about the NL Pennant winners comes out, this is the book for you. You get 15 pages describing the roller coaster season, including that 7-game World Series.

dinsdag 30 januari 2018

Read all about it! - Some interesting new books about the Dodgers

The icy coldness of a period without baseball begins to thaw as our hearts begin to warm and beat quicker: Spring training is around the corner! Baseball has always inspired people to write about the sport and luckily loads of authors have written about our boys in blue. 2018 seems to be another good year to pick up or download a copy of a Dodgers related book. A list of six books being published this year.

First to hit the shelves is Fairly at Bat which will be released on February 1st.
"Fairly at Bat is a dramatic, funny, and altogether entertaining romp through a 50-year career as a player and broadcaster, including as a member of three World Series champion Dodgers teams in the 1950s and ‘60s."
I must admit I know fairly (pun intended) little about Ron, other than him being a broadcaster and the winner of three world series with the Dodgers. This book might change that. Yes, he became the voice of the hated ones in San Francisco, but everybody makes mistakes.

Jackie Robinson: An Integrated Life
"Jackie Robinson’s story is not only a compelling drama of heroism, but also as a template of the African American freedom struggle. J. Christopher Schutz reveals the real Robinson, as a more defiant, combative spirit than simply the “turn the other cheek” compliant “credit to his race.”"
Jackie Robinson is not an easy subject to write a book about. There are so many books about this legend, you might wonder why someone would write another. Release: February 15th

"The Dodgers: 60 Years in Los Angeles chronicles the team’s impressive history since arriving in the West Coast. Covering the amazing feats of Dodgers greats such as Steve Garvey, Fernando Valenzuela, and Kirk Gibson, author Michael Schiavone offers an in-depth history of the team since their arrival in 1958 and through the 2017 season."
This is Michael Schiavone's first all sports book (his other sports related book was about labor relations in US sports). He's against some stiff competition, because good books about Dodgers seasons have been around for decades. The big plus for this book is the inclusion of the awesome 2017 season. To be honest... they should write an entire book about 2017 alone. Release: April 3rd.

Brothers in Arms: Koufax, Kershaw, and the Dodgers’ Extraordinary Pitching Tradition by Jon Weisman. Weisman is known for 'high fives, pennant drives and Fernandomania' digs into Dodgers lore once again.
"The Los Angeles Dodgers are one of the most storied franchises in all of sports, with enduring legacies both on and off the diamond. Chief among the hallmarks of the organization is an unparalleled pitching dominance."
Since pitching is in my opinion THE best position and the Dodgers have had some of the best ever, this book goes to #1 on my wish list. Interviews with Koufax, Drysdale, Valenzuela, Hershiser and Kershaw.... awesomeness! Available May 1st.

Charles Ebbets: The Man Behind the Dodgers and Brooklyn's Beloved Ballpark "Ebbets became president of the Brooklyn Dodgers, taking over a chronic second division team in poor financial condition. Over the next 25 years, he built four pennant winning clubs while making the franchise one of the most profitable in baseball."
Branch Rickey, Walter O'Malley and... Charles Ebbets, these guys did things that shapeds the Dodgers Organization as we know it today. Reading about this threesome, for me, is a must and I'm glad there will be an extensive book (235 pages) about the man who realized a field we still know today. In stores June 28th.

Blue Monday: The Expos, the Dodgers, and the Home Run That Changed Everything "Author and Montreal Expos historian Danny Gallagher leads readers up to the unforgettable day in October 1981 when Rick Monday of the Los Angeles Dodgers hit a home run off of Montreal Expos pitcher Steve Rogers in the ninth inning to give the Dodgers a berth in the World Series."
I must admit that this is a period in Dodgers history I know very little about but I love Rick Monday and the 1981 team which went on to win the World Series and was the start of my Dodgers fandom.
Out: November 6th.

(The texts between "" are taken from amazon.com)

woensdag 23 augustus 2017

100+ season

Our boys currently stand at .718 (54 over .500) and are on their way to 100+ wins this season. How special it is? Well, the club has had only six 100+ seasons:

  • 1899
  • 1941
  • 1942
  • 1953
  • 1962
  • 1974

    In 1942 and 1962 this wasn’t even enough to finish first in the league. Having a 100+ wins season, at least in the past, was often enough to get you in the World Series, but not to win it all. The Dodgers reached the World Series in 1941, 1953 and 1974 losing all three attempts.

    Last World Series the Dodgers did win they compiled a 94-67 regular season record defeating the Mets (100-60) in the NLCS and the A’s (104-58) in the World Series. The best team record in a 162-game season ever belongs to the 2001 Mariners (116-46). And they didn’t even reach the World Series, losing the ALCS against the Yankees (95-65).
    So, while the first Dodger 100+ win season in 43 years would be awesome (the possibillity of ending in a .700+ season would be unique) it’s no guarantee for a ticket to the World Series.

  • woensdag 9 augustus 2017

    City Of Dreams: Review

    If you love contemporary Los Angeles history and the intricacies of city politics AND our Dodgers, welcome to 'City of Dreams: Dodger Stadium and the birth of modern Los Angeles' by Jerald Podair.

    The move of O'Malley's Brooklyn Dodgers wasn't a smooth deal. The team was forced to move by Robert Moses and met with cheers but also boos in LA. Podair meticulously weaves the story of the political web O'Malley had to conquer in LA. Politics, he soon learned, were very different from his home New York City.
    While most of LA was happy with the arrival of the team, many people were not happy with the deal. A privately owned stadium would primarily be a good deal for O'Malley some said. Others saw the stadium as an asset. The beginning of the forming of a new Los Angeles. With a downtown where you could stay after office hours.
    The Proposition B referendum was an important news item for months and Chavez Ravine was awaiting the verdict.

    The period leading to the referendum reads like a court room novel. Hearings, pro and con groups, drama! The biggest issues were the use of public investment for a private ballclub and the question if a ballclub would serve a public purpose. Chavez Ravine was designated for public use, hence the problem. There was also the fact that the Ravine was still home to some families who weren’t easily swayed to leave to make room for baseball. If you never came around to read about the Chavez Ravine evictions, this book contains a good disquisition.

    One sentence near the end of the book gives a good summary: "Given Los Angeles's progressive-influenced political structure, O'Malley's succes in constructing Dodger Stadium becomes all the more impressive."

    It's a very wel researched and relatively accessible book. I never knew the arrival of the Dodgers in LA had such a difficult start. But as we all know by now, it didn’t take long fort he team to become the sweathearts of Los Angeles and Dodger Stadium in fact was the start of the city becoming what it is today.
    You do have to have an interest in politics and history besides a love for the Dodgers. So, this book is not for everyone.

    dinsdag 18 juli 2017

    Phil Foster - A Brooklyn Baseball Fan

    When I was browsing on ebay for Dodgers related records I stumbled upon a 45rpm single by Phil Foster with the title 'A Brooklyn Baseball Fan'. Now, I only knew Foster from Laverne & Shirley so I looked him up and it turned out he was from Brooklyn (born Fivel Feldman) and in the 1950's was known as "Brooklyn's ambassador to the USA". I was intrigued and bought the record.

    The skit begins and ends with parts of 'Take me out to the Ballgame'. In 3 minutes and 31 seconds Foster tells the listeners he's a Brooklyn baseball fan. He does an impression of some random Dodgers fans. Turns out one of them doesn't like baseball after all. Erskine is pitching, there is a debate about his quality.

    Now, this single had a side B as well (duh!) It features 'The Kids on the Corner'. Not Dodgers related, so I'll leave it at that.

    The record is from 1954. The only year the Dodgers didn't play in a World Series during a 1952-1956 time span and a year before the Dodgers won their first World Series. It's a funny bit, Foster's voices are awesome and when you close your eyes you can play out the scene at Ebbets Field.

    You can enjoy it HERE.

    Foster was a real Dodger fan. In 1957, when it was getting clear the Dodgers would be moving to the West Coast, he recorded the song 'Let's Keep the Dodgers in Brooklyn'.

    maandag 10 juli 2017

    Blue All Stars

    The Midsummer Classic is upon us. For years the League that won would have home field advantage in the World Series. Thank God, that’s over! Now it’s once again a gathering of guys who have been playing great during the first half. A week off from serious baseball, a chance for baseball fans to enjoy the more relaxed sides of their favorite players. 

    Being elected an All Star is an honor. Especially because it’s the fans who decide the eight position players through fan balloting since 1970 (first time since 1957, when fan balloting was abandoned because of the Cincinnati fans ‘stuffing the ballot box’).

    This year we, the Dodgers, have SIX, yes, SIX All Stars at the game. Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger (also playing in the Homerun Derby), Clayton Kershaw (who won’t play because of his Sunday start), Alex Wood, Kenley Jansen and Final Vote winner with over 20 million votes: Justin Turner. It’s the most Dodger players at the ASG since 1981 (also 6). 

    Other good representation (5+) years since 1970: 1973 (6), 1974 (5), 1975 (6), 1978 (6), 1980 (6), 1981 (6), 1991 (5), 2015 (5). Having a lot of Dodgers at the ASG doesn’t mean they are in the starting line up, though. Since 1970 there were 27 starting line ups without any Dodgers. The last twenty years haven’t been particularly pro-blue. Dodgers featured in only seven of the last twenty All Star Game staring line ups. 

    Is this a problem? No, most of the elected Dodgers got to playing at least some of the game. Which is nice for them. Is it a shame a great player like Kershaw won’t pitch? Sure, because it’s awesome to be able to show everybody what he can do. Especially east coast fans who might not see Kid-K do his magic all that often. But he had the sunday start and honestly I care more about what he does for the Dodgers.


    Anyway, I expect an interesting All Sar Game with two great starting pitchers and we'll see our Blue All Stars in later innings doing their stuff. Maybe one of them will become MVP. It would be about time. It’s been 21 years since a Dodger was MVP at the Midsummer Classic. Mike Piazza was the man in 1996. Garvey won MVP twice (1974 and 1978) and Sutton was winning Pitcher ├índ MVP in 1977.

    Enjoy the game! 

    zaterdag 8 juli 2017

    Over .500

    As a fan of the Dodgers my daily mood during baseball season depends on how our boys in blue are doing. It won’t be a surprise I’ve been having a spring in my step this first half of the season.

    Somehow this team seems to be able to dig deep and then some more. You can see on Dave Roberts face he’s not worried and enjoys how his guys are playing. Offensively and defensively.

    The All Star Break is coming up so we say goodbye tot he first half of the season and it’s been quite some years since the Dodgers have waved from so high up and over .500. As a matter of fact, I haven't seen this before in my lifetime and many of you either. 32 is the best start at the All Star Break of the LA Dodgers EVER! 

    Big numbers in LA

    The last time the team was 20+ games over .500 was in 2009 (24). They reached the NLCS but lost against the Phillies.

    How long ago were they 25 or better after the first half? Well, hold on to your hats and get in the DeLorean, we’re going back, back all the way to 1977. The Dodgers were up 26 and reached the World Series that year. 1974 was even better: 29 games over .500 and a World Series as well. Those 29 games over were the best first half ever played in LA, until now.

    Bigger numbers in Brooklyn

    30+ has been done before but only in Brooklyn. The Brooklyn team surpassed 30 on three occasions, in 1942 (31), 1952 (30) and 1955 (32). So the year the Dodgers had their best first half ever, they won their first World Series ever. Talk about making history!

    Numbers and results

    A good first half isn’t always a guarrantee for a good ending. In 1973 they were up 26 and in 1962 a towering 27 games. Both times finishing second in their division. On the other hand they didn’t always have to have a great first half to reach all the way tot he fall classic. The boys in blue won the World series in 1959, only 10 up after the first half, 13 up in 1965 and 12 up in 1981 and 1988.

    Where ever we might end up, a solid first half is never wrong. It gets your opponents thinking ‘are they that good?’

    Lesser numbers

    * Their worst first half? 1979, when they were 21 games under .500

    * The most recent negative start? 10 under in 2011

    * Their longest negative first half streak? 7 daffy years (1932-1938)

    Wherever the Dodgers end up after 162 games, this first half is in the bag and man oh man, what an awesome half it was!