Tag Archives: Chicago Cubs

Cruising Wrigleyville With Drei

Leading Off

Captain Clutch, back at it again as he starts the scoring off for The Blue. After a 1st inning home run from Kyle Schwarber to give the Cubs an early 1-0 lead, Dre would answer back and The Blue would never look back in a decisive 6-1 win, putting them 1 game away from the World Series for the first time in 29 years ! Though Dre’s playing time has diminished the last couple of years due to injuries, every Dodger fan including Dre himself knows his time may be running out. Is this the year The Blue...Wins It All For Dre ?

 

Cruising Wrigleyville…

20171017_144546.jpg Taking in the action at Wrigley Field, June 2004

Wrigley Field is one of 16 current MLB parks I’ve had a chance to venture. It is the 2nd oldest yard only behind Fenway Park. The 3rd oldest? Of course…Our very beloved Chavez Ravine! Wrigley Field is one of those classic yards that’s got that neighborly old-school non-retro vibe. The neighborhood around Wrigley Field really does become festive on game days. Even a stroll through Wrigleyville on non-game days gives off that vibe where you can hear the great Ernie Banks yell…”LETS PLAY TWO” ! Here are some pics from my visit to Wrigley, June 2004…

20171017_224649.jpg The late great broadcaster, Harry Carey, and his famous pose encouraging the fans during the 7th inning stretch…

20171017_145135.jpg View from above 3rd base. Even in the highest reaches, your not far from the action. Now if we can just get that pole out of the way…

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20171017_144751.jpg Just a friendly rivalry with the St. Louis Cardinals…

20171017_145450.jpg The famous Wrigley Field Bleachers and Ivy. Above the CF bleachers, Marlon Anderson’s in game stats for the Red Birds. 2 years after this pic, Marlon would make some kind of history for The Blue…(Kudos if you know…)

20171017_145212.jpg This mural at the El station across the street, depicting two HOFers from my childhood, Ryne Sandberg and Ozzie Smith. You can see the flash on Ozzie’s mouth as he slides in to 2nd. I hope this mural is still up at that El station. Oh, speaking of El, or the letter L…

wrigley_L

The Blue “L” flag. A very familiar site to many generations of Cubs fans. Over the years, it’s a tradition to fly a white “W” flag for a victory or a blue “L” flag for a loss after each home game to let the neighbors and commuters on the El how the Cubs fared. Recently the Cubs have rally cry has been “Fly the W”! The Dodgers and the rest of us our hoping we see that BLUE “L” flag one last time….

FLY THE L !!!

LETS GO DODGERS !!!

ethier

This could be our year Dre !!!

A Tale of Two Yards…

Leading Off… Going Yard…King of The Hill…

Some longball from YAZ-MONEY and JT, and a masterful 6 innings from Rich Hill have moved our Blue 2 games closer toward The Fall Classic…

A Tale of 2 Storied Yards…

Wrigley Field…

Dodger Stadium…

The 2nd and 3rd oldest yards in the Bigs. Separated by 48 years. One is known as a classic. One, in spite being over 50 years old, defies the “classic” moniker. Both yards, A Study In Contrasts

Yet both yards are steeped in both history and charm. Both yards host teams that wear Blue…Both yards are a definite reflection on their cities. Putting aside for the slightest moment your Dodger Blue thoughts, if you are a true fan of baseball, Wrigley Field is a MUST…For all baseball fans to see…

WRIGLEY_Sod
Sod out on Sheffield Ave…

Both yards have waited a long time to host a Fall Classic. For the Friendly Confines, it’s been 71 years…For The Ravine, it’s been 28 years…That’s 99 years combined without a Fall Classic. Someone’s wait will be over. Why not us ?

wpid-wrigley_L.jpg
The Blue “L” flag. A familiar site to generations of Cubs fans…A sight seen twice already in the NLCS. Let’s hope it’s flown 2 more times

9th Inning…Spotlight’s On You Kid…

Rockies Dodgers Baseball
Does Urias get us one step closer to The Fall Classic ?…LETS GO DODGERS !!!

Win For Dre

Leading Off… The A-Gon and Clayt Show

A-Gon’s 2nd inning solo shot is all Kid K would need as he would toss 7 scoreless against the Cubbies, sending the series back here in L.A. all tied up at one.

Rich Hill will match up against Cubs sensation Jake Arrieta. The last time Arrieta pitched at Dodger Stadium, no one in the home white could buy a hit… So, how do these two teams match up heading to Game 3?

Dodgers_ Ethier 2006 Young Dre, June 2006. In the back, the veterans Kenny Lofton and Nomah !!!!

It’s been 10 years since Drei here has brought you his baseball tales. In 2006 some young kid named Dre came over in a trade with the Oakland Athletics. It was in 2006 that Dre would get his first taste of post-season play. It was just a blur for Dre and the Blue as they would be swept in the NLDS by the Mets…

ethier Hey Dre! Citiwalk, February 2008

2008-09. This here where Dre is starting to assert himself as a regular in right field. The Blue would win consecutive NL West titles. Dre would play a huge role along fellow star outfielder Matt Kemp. It seemed Dre and Bison would be inseparable, both coming up at the same time. It was also in 2008 when some Kid K would hit the scene…If Kid K wasn’t settling matters before the home 9th, it was Dre who would have many a clutch moment that would send opponents Walking Off…

But in spite of Dre’s heroics, The Blue would fall short both times in the NLCS to the Philadelphia Phillies. 

Baseball can be cruel. If not for a pitch or two from Jonathan Broxton, Dre may be the bearer of at least one championship ring….

ethier Double D…Dre and Drei…L.A River Cleanup, February 2011 

The glory of ’08 and ’09 seem all too distant now. The hated one’s have just won their first of 3 world titles. Enough time has lapsed since The Blue last won a World Series that one born in ’88 is now a college graduate…To this day, my sister, born in 1989, reminds me of the fact she arrived to planet earth one year after…

Meanwhile, Dre is now under his 3rd manager. Don Mattingly, not exactly greeted all to warmly by the Blue clad fans, has taken over the reigns. Dre and Donny would have their moments. 

The Don Mattingly era would not start off to memorably for Dre and The Blue. Opening Day 2011 would be marred by a senseless beating of Giants fan Bryan Stow. Frank McCourt’s ownership threatened to drive The Blue to bankruptcy. The Blue clad fans stayed away…

Sparse Crowd August 2011. Plenty of great seats available…

Though Dre and the fans would survive the McCourt days, on the field it would be during the Don Mattingly era where Dre’s playing status was about as certain as his relationship with good old Donny…On and off. 

It would be in 2013 when a young Cuban Kid with a missile of an arm with plenty of baggage would make his mark in right field. A spot Dre once held down…

From 2013 on it seemed there was an uncertainty who would be the regular outfielders. During that stretch, Dre, not exactly at the prime of his career, would have his name tossed around from here to Chi-Town, where the Pale Hose even expressed interest. 2014 would be the least productive of Dre’s career with a career low 4 home runs and a .249 batting average.

Dre would return though in 2015. Not exactly at the height of his career at this point, Dre still proved he could come up big in the clutch…

In spite of a return to the post-season for the 6th time, The Blue once again would come up short. 

2016…A new era begins again. Andre Ethier is now playing for his 4th manager in 11 seasons. As Dre once again tries to make a case for regular playing time, a foul ball causes a break in his leg, keeping Dre out until late August…

Dre on a rehab assignment in Rancho, August 25, 2016 

Dre would make his way back late in the season. Even the truest of Dodger fans, including this one, had to be surprised that Dave Roberts kept Andre Ethier on the post-season roster. But let’s not think for one moment this was a move based on sentiment by the rookie skipper, one who should be the top candidate for manager of the year…

Anyone playing baseball this late in the season is capable of being a hero. Does Dre have one more clutch moment in him?  It was Dre who had a key hit in the 8th inning of Game 4 to keep the inning alive for Chase Utley to do his thing. Dre would also smack a pinch hit solo shot in Game 1 of this NLDS to start the scoring for The Blue as they would later tie the Cubbies. 

In the 10 years here that Drei here has brought you his baseball tales,  Dre has gone through it all in the Dodger Blue. 7 playoff appearances, the most of any L.A. Dodger, 6 division championships, the uncertainty of when and where he will play. He’s gone from looking up to…To being looked up to. We’ve all gone through the highs and lows with him.

 Dre making a fan happy at Rancho…

At this point, Dre knows his role is limited. He’s content with it. Dre also know’s the clock is ticking on his chance to win the big one. Deep down, we all know this as well. If the crowd reactions Dre receives are any indication, deep down inside, we all feel for Dre.  

Dre is now The Dean of The Blue. Deep down, we all know that this could be Dre’s last opportunity in a Dodger Blue uniform to win that big prize that has eluded him. That grand prize that has eluded The Blue for 28 years now.

While this year’s theme may be Win For Vin, and deservedly so…Deep down we also want to say…WIN FOR DRE !

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Magic Number Countdown…7

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In his 6 plus season’s with The Blue from 2006-12, James Loney  would provide some memorable pennant drive moments, including this one against the Cubs in Game 1 of the 2008 NLDS…

With Big Game James currently on the Mets and the Mets atop the Wild Card standings, it is possible we just may cross paths with Big Game James….

A Battery of 7’s…Yesterday and Today…

Yesterday…

Dodgers_Steve Yeager

Today…

 (Julio Urias. Kelvin Kuo, AP)

A battery of Julio Urias and Steve Yeager. Now that would be something…

Bottom of the 9th…

In case you didn’t have enough of last night…

DODGERS_Cap Logo

 

Drei’s 2016 N.L. Forecast

Leading Off…

Here’s what Drei had to say heading into last season…

“Since Don Mattingly took over the managerial reins in 2011, the Dodgers have improved their win total by an average of 4 games. Should that trend continue into this season, the Blue Crew should finish with 98 wins, and yet, he seems to be on the hot seat every season…It’s been 27 years now. There are enough Dodger fans out there young enough asking what was it like to have experienced a World Series victory.”

Don Mattingly guided The Blue to their 3rd consecutive division title with 92 wins, yet the hot seat never cooled, sending to a much cooler summer climate, Miami. It’s been 28 years now, and Dodgers fans of all generations are growing somewhat impatient for that October experience…

N.L. East

Two of baseball’s best pitching staffs just may reside here in the NL East. The Mets return the bulk of their starting rotation that led them to their first World Series appearance since 2000 and with Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndegaard and Steve Matz ready to take on a full season, this team could be primed for another WS run. The Nationals, last year’s favorites among many of the experts to win the WS, still posses a pretty potent all-around lineup to compliment their strong rotation, anchored by Stephen Strasburg. Injuries and the lack of team unity played key roles in the Nats late season meltdown, costing Matt Williams his job.   The lineup will once again count on Bryce Harper to put up some big numbers along Wilson Ramos, Danny Espinosa and their newest addition Daniel Murphy. It is hoped that proven skipper Dusty Baker will be able to keep this team completely focused. Dealing with players with adverse personalities is nothing new for Dusty. Let’s not forget he managed both Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent for several seasons. The Braves and Phillies, once the class of this division, could are in serious rebuild mode and could both potentially lose over 100 games…

N.L. Central

The Cubs made some key off-season moves, including the additions of Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist to an already dangerous lineup. Much of the attention will be focused on their pitching, considered to be one of the deepest with the top 3 in the rotation of Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester and John Lackey. Many are picking the Cubs to not only go deep into October but to also win that big Fall Prize that has eluded them the last 108 years. This could just be their year…

The Pirates, post-season participants for 3 consecutive seasons, will be highly competitive again this season even the the loss of A.J. Burnett and J.A. Happ from their rotation. The rotation still has a top 1-2 tandem between Gerrit Cole and Francisco Liriano. The lineup is still anchored by Andrew McCutchen, and his supporting cast with Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco is pretty dynamic themselves. It may be a stretch to pick the Bucs to finish atop the Central, but a 4th consecutive post-season appearance is not out of the question. Now if they could just find a way to avoid that dreaded wild card game. The Pirates, riding their most successive run since 1990-92, may have 3 consecutive post-season appearances under their belt but two consecutive one and done’s may unfairly have Clint Hurdle in the hot seat should the Bucs fail to make a deep October run…

The Cardinals, owners of last years best record in baseball, lost starter John Lackey to the rival Cubs and will be without Lance Lynn for the season. If Adam Wainwright can remain healthy throughout the season, along with Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez, both who are still young, and the addition of Mike Leake, there’s no reason the Cardinals should not be able to compete in what could be baseball’s best division for the second consecutive season. If Matt Adams and Matt Holliday can rebound from injury plagued seasons, this lineup, along with Matt Carpenter at the top, could quietly be one of the leagues best.

N.L. West

I’m not going to lie. Though I do truly believe the Dodgers will win the West for the 4th consecutive season, I am mostly going with my heart. But hey, most so-called experts rarely ever get their predictions on the mark, right ?

Much has been made of the off-season moves within the division and it is expected to be a 3 team race between the Dodgers, Giants and Diamondbacks. The two big additions to the rivals was the addition of Johnny Cueto to the Giants, and of course the addition of Zack Greinke away from the Blue over to the DBacks, who we’re among the league leaders in offense last season. 

Spring Training has not entirely been so kind to the Dodgers, who already are beset by some health issues in the back end of the rotation. The good news, in spite of our early season worries, not every Dodger got hurt during Spring TrainingThe top 3, led by Kid K with Scott Kazmir and off-season addition Kenta Maeda, will give the Blue a formidable front end of the rotation. My concerns however are how will Maeda, coming off a solid spring,  hold up in his first big league season… Can Kazmir stay healthy and retain his 2015 form ? Can Alex Wood bounce back from his 2nd half swoon and prove to be a legitimate 4th starter ? Hyun-Jin Ryu, who missed all of last season, is expected to give the rotation a boost if he should return by mid-May at the earliest.

The outfield, even with the loss of Andre Ethier until at least June, is still pretty deep, however these questions loom…Will Puig finally display a full season of his potential ? Can Joc Pederson cut down on his strikeouts and improve upon his on base percentage ? Can Carl Crawford stay healthy enough until Andre returns ? It’s expected that Crawford and Scott Van Slyke will be platooning in left field. The infield will be a good combo of experience and youth. This lineup has the potential to put up some big numbers and could have 3 30 plus home run boppers in Adrian Gonzalez, Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig. If Puig can give us a 20/20 season, and Joc can hit somewhere in the .270’s our offense should be allright. 

So everyone expects a 3 team race here in the NL West. The Rockies and Padres are not expected to do much and there have been talks that the Friars are looking to unload some of their key acquisitions from last year, including Matt Kemp. If the Padres are out of contention by July, I see Kemp, who in typical fashion had a strong finish last season, heading to one of two possible sleepers, Seattle or Miami ( Yeah, Kemp reunited with Mattingly, playing with Dee Gordon, and Barry Bonds as his hitting coach. Hmmm )

NL Wild Card

Cubs over the Cards. Again, after this one-game elimination game is over, talks and debates will resume over an expanded WC series… 

NLDS

Cubs over the Pirates. The Pirates will finally be playing in an actual playoff series, only to be disappointed once again by everyone’s pre-season favorites. Does an appearance past the WC keep Hurdle off the hot seat ?

Dodgers over the Mets. In another closely contested series, this time, it’s OUR Boys in Blue who prevails 

NLCS

In a battle of two teams who have 97 years combined without a World Series appearance, someone finally ends their drought. Why not us ? Dodgers over the Cubs

As I’ve admitted, my pick of our Blue going all the way is for all intents and purposes, from the heart. The Blue is expected to contend once again this season. They may be banged up right now, but hey, no team goes through a full 162 game season without some dings and scratches, right ? 

World Series… A Battle of Blue

It’s been 27 years. In that time, we’ve endured 2 Bush’s, and we may be on our way toward a 2nd Clinton…. Oh yeah, it would be great if we can give Good Ol’ Vin a Grand Sendoff, right ?

9th Inning…A Tale From The Park…With KID N DREI…

20140831_164815.jpg Because Kid Marley Marlz has all that ” Kid Like ” energy during the off-season, Drei needs to take him to the park…

20140831_164829.jpg ” HEY KID ! When are we gonna come up with that Dodger song ? ” Kid Marley Marlz may call me Dre Beats, but it’s The Kid who spits out The Beats and the Everyday Blessings, while Drei, well, Drei just tells The Tales.  Hey Kid ! When our we gonna do that Dodger song ?… ‘Til The Next Episode…Close us out KID !!!

Everyday Blessings… Kid Marley Marlz

 

 

World Series Fun Facts… A Tale From Kid Marley Marlz

The last time the Kansas City Royals and New York Mets won the World Series, for the Royals, it was 1985. The Mets would win it all in 1986. 

Both teams would stave off elimination to win their series in 7 games.

Both teams would win Game 6 in memorable walk-off fashion…

1985, Game 6… St. Louis vs Kansas City, 9th Inning…

1985, Game 6… Boston vs. NY Mets, 10th Inning…

This year’s World Series match-up between the Mets and Royals will guarantee that one of these teams will end a World Series Championship drought. This series will be a feature between the Royals contact hitters vs. the Mets power pitchers. The Mets have caught fire coming off a 4 game sweep of the Cubs. This should be an exciting fall classic. 

Drei says… Mets in 6

Extra Innings… A Tale From Kid Marley Marlz…

wpid-picsart_10-20-11.09.03.jpg Hey Kid. You and your Cubbie bear buddy look like you have a lot on your minds. Yeah, being knocked out by the Mets was a bummer for both of us wasn’t it ? There’s always next year, right Kid ?

Magic Number Fun Facts…11

MANNYMOTA A quiet face of the franchise over the years, Manny Mota has been an integral part of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization as a player from 1969-1982, as a player/coach in 1980-82, and as a full time coach until 2013 though he would remain with the organization.  In 1979, Manny Mota would become the all-time leader in pinch hits, a record he would hold with 150 until recently broken by Mark Sweeney and Lenny Harris.  Mota was also an NL all-star selection in 1973 .

I Need to Concentrate ….

Perhaps you all remember this scene from Airplane, where Manny Mota is referenced…

Better Late Then Never ?

Earlier today, Time Warner Cable announced a deal that will have local independent TV station KDOC to simulcast the remaining 6 games throughout the southland , enabling all fans to catch our Boys in Blue on the tube, regardless of their cable situation.  Is this enough to make the fans forgive and forget ?  I highly doubt it.  Hey, how about extending the good-will into next season and working out a deal with the local indie to televise at least 50 games so fans not so fortunate, you know, the 70%, can watch their favorite Boys in Blue in action ?  

Watered Down Game Plan ?

During Saturday’s 17-0 beatdown of the hated ones, in the home half of the 1st, as Buster Posey singled to right and a bubble blowing Matt Kemp would gun down Angel Pagan by a good 25 feet, our favorite narrator Vin Scully made this astute observation of the Giants grounds crew over the years, going all the way back to 1962 at Candlestick Park in an attempt to slow down Maury Wills , perhaps trying the same tactic to slow down Dee Gordon.  As you will see on the replay , they may have slowed their own game plan down…. 

No Time to Let Down

After dropping the first of 3 to the hated ones, the Dodgers more than came back strong, putting a good old fashion whooping on the hated ones on a record setting Saturday evening , 17-0, all but taking away any momentum the Giants may have felt they had , then coming back on Sunday behind a 9 strikeout performance by Clayton Kershaw en route to his 19th win.  Matt Kemp, who also had a huge weekend, would supply the big blow with a run run shot to give Kershaw an insurmountable 4-1 lead, leaving AT&T Park with a 3 game lead in the NL West with 13 to play.  

I felt prior to the series that even with the rotation aligned to Mattingly’s favor, it would be hard to replicate the 3 game sweep the Dodgers pulled against the hated ones back in July because the Giants we’re a different team this time around, having won 7 in a row at their home yard and their bats coming around.  I felt if the Dodgers could take 2 of 3 up north, they would put themselves in prime position to take the NL West.  With 13 games left, 10 against the Cubs and Rockies, on paper, the Dodgers should have this division wrapped up.  But as we all know, the baseball gods do have a way of playing evil tricks this time of year, for the Dodgers will be playing teams with nothing to lose at this point.  Having said that,  this is no time for the Dodgers to take their foot off the pedal , and they are very well aware of that going into this important 3 game series at Colorado.  They finished their first task up north, they’re now in the drivers seat to take the NL West for the 2nd year in a row.  All that’s left now is the finish line to October.  

More Pre-October Awards For Kid K

KERSHAW_POW Need we say more ?

Regular Season Head to Head vs. Playoff Head to Head

Interesting read in today’s Dodger Insider regarding the significance, or lack of, between regular season and post-season head to head matchups.

regular-season-vs-postseason

For those of you who may be in a panic over the Blue Crew’s 1-5 mark against the Brew Crew after being swept this weekend, as you can see from past playoff match-ups listed above, the regular season is not always a true indicator of how teams match up in the post-season, ESPECIALLY, in baseball, where 162 games are played and any team, no matter how good, can look bad during a slump against anyone, no matter how bad the opponent is. Lets take a look at recent history going back to 2008.

In 2008 and 2009, the Dodgers had 2-5 regular season records against the Cardinals and Cubs. Dodgers swept both teams in the NLDS 3 games to none. Let’s look at last season. The Braves had our number in the regular season. What did it matter come playoff time ?

“How do the Dodgers and Braves matchup ? During the regular season the Boys from Georgia took 5 of 7 against the Boys in Blue however it should be noted that 3 of those wins came during a 3 game sweep in Atlanta during the Dodgers rough start, injuries had still crippled the team and that included the loss of Hanley Ramirez. “

My words from last season’s preview of the NLDS matchup with the Braves . I’m sure you all remember who came out on top.

“The Dodgers had a slight edge over the Cardinals in the regular season, winning 4 out of 7, with the visiting teams winning their respective series. How much of an advantage either team may have on one another, who knows ? So how do the Dodgers and Cardinals matchup heading into the NLCS ? We do know that this time around both teams will be coming into this series at their best unlike during the regular season, when the Cards took 2 of 3 at Dodger Stadium back in May as the Dodgers we’re still mired in their early season funk and the Dodgers took 3 of 4 at Busch Stadium in early August when the Dodgers we’re at the height of their post all-star break run while the Red Birds we’re experiencing a swoon of their own having lost 13 of 18 during that stretch…..”

Once again, My words from last season’s preview of the NLCS . Unfortunately, we still remember the end result there. My point, fellow Dodger fans, is that there are a number of factors as to why the regular season means ABSOLUTELY NOTHING when teams cross paths come playoff time. Injuries, a team slump, among other numerous factors, could have and all likely play a key role as to why certain teams dominate other teams in the regular season. Let’s also not forget, in a 162 game season, even the best teams lose at least 60 games. Let’s also not forget no matter how good a team is, every team is prone to losing streaks as well. I’ll say it again folks, no matter how good a team is, anyone can go cold at any point in the season even against some bad teams. Also ask yourself, is 6 games out of 162 really a true indicator of how one matches up against each other ? I think not.

Let’s also go back to a decade far far away, the 80s. During the 1983 season, the Dodgers dominated the season series against the Phillies taking 11 games out of 12. Come playoff time, the Phillies entered the NLCS having won 25 of their final 32 while the Dodgers limped into the NL West title. In the 1983 NLCS, it was the Wheeze Kids , a lineup of Pete Rose, Tony Perez, Joe Morgan, Steve Carlton, and Mike Schmidt, at 34 being the youngest of that bunch, and a hot bat from Gary Matthews that would do the Dodgers in.

Flash forward to 1988. This time it was the Dodgers who we’re in the short end of a regular season matchup, as the Mets, 2 years removed from their 1986 triumph and a possible dynasty in the making, who had taken 10 of 11 from the Dodgers in the regular season. The Mets, led by Doc Gooden’s arm and Darryl Strawberry’s bat, we’re heavy favorites to beat the Dodgers in the NLCS. But the Dodgers defied all odds in a series that would go the full 7 games, and well, you know what happened …

So there you have it. The regular season is a marathon. The playoffs are a whole different beast.

Dre_88trophy It’s been 26 years. Is 2014 the year we party like it’s 1988 ?

World Series Preview ?

After losing 2 of 3 to the Cubbies this past weekend, the Dodgers begin the start of a home and home series with our neighbors down I-5 in what could be a possible World Series preview. The first two against the Angels will be here at Dodger Stadium tonight and tomorrow with games 3 and 4 moving to Angel Stadium. Zack Greinke takes the hill for The Blue tonight in his attempt to get The Blue back on the winning track. The Angels currently have the 2nd best record in baseball but also sport the 2nd best record in their division behind the Oakland A’s. It is a strong possibility that baseball’s 2nd best team could very well end up playing in the 1 game American League Wild Card playoff so yes, this is a big series for both teams as every game from this point on is huge with each team battling for the Western Division title against their Bay Area rivals. I expect a playoff type atmosphere these next 4 games. This also marks the latest in the season that both teams will be playing each other and with both teams in must win situations from here on out, this series should make for some pretty good drama.

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Congratulations Matt

KeMVP

Let the numbers speak for themselves. He’s BAAAAAAAACK !!! Hopefully he’s here to stay . As i’ve said all along, this is still your team Matt. As Matt goes, so goes The Blue.

And The Awards Keep On Coming…

Kershaw07mvp What more can be said about Mr Cy K ?

Dre’s POV

The two losses over the weekend to the Cubbies, games in which Haren and Beckett pitched, only confirmed our worst fears. Haren, well, we all know the obvious with him. Beckett, as good as he was during the 1st half, my fear for him even prior to the all-star break was that he would not be able to survive the entire season. Not so much because of his current hip situation, which is not helping either, but let’s face it. When was the last time Beckett has pitched an entire season ? Beckett has admitted himself he is no longer an 8 inning pitcher. At this point, the feeling here is that Beckett is running on fumes. The bullpen pitched 15 innings this weekend, 10 of those coming from the 5th inning on in games that , yup, Haren and Beckett pitched. That, my friends, is an average of 5 innings a game from the bullpen. We can’t be having that on a regular basis if they are to make a serious run deep into October. Yes, the back end of our rotation needs some help folks.

Oh Yeah I, Tell You Something…

With Sir Paul McCartney coming to the Ravine this Sunday evening, I leave you with this Beatles concert clip from 1964…

26 Years and Counting Since 1988, Part 2, 2000 and Beyond

 This is Part 2 of a post from last year originally titled 25 Years and Counting Since 1988, now retitled 26 Years…. , briefly recapping each season from 2000 all the way to this past year .  In the meantime, who would have imagined a World Series between Kansas City and the Giants .  Yeah, it hurts,  but the Giants earned their way in folks.  Want some other painful facts ?  This is now the Giants 5th World Series appearance since our last one , yup, 26 years ago in 1988….

 

Last we looked back upon the 90’s. The four Rookies of the Year winners, the transition from the O’Malley’s to the Fox ownership. Yeah, the 90’s weren’t exactly the most glorious times for our Boys in Blue we’re they ? Certainly the new millenium would see some brighter days.

Outside The Yard

Glory would indeed return for L.A. sports fans but not yet for the Dodgers as the Lakers would make it to the NBA Finals 7 times, winning in 5 of the 7 appearances, the first 3 with the Kobe-Shaq duo and the final 2 with the Kobe-Gasol tandem.

shaqkobetitles Shaq and Kobe, 2000-2002

kobeGasol_titles Kobe and Gasol, 2009 and 2010

Around the U.S. , George W. Bush, son of the former President, and Vice President Al Gore hold a virtual dead-heat for the presidency, with a disputed vote in Florida holding off the naming of the winner of the President Election until the Supreme Court of the United States voted in favor of Bush on December 12. This ruling gave Florida to the Bush camp by a 527 vote majority, and a victory in the Electoral College, 271-266, despite gaining less popular votes than Gore. 8 years later, Barack Obama would make history, becoming the United States first ever African-American president.

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September 11, 2001 – A day we will all never forget…. Islamic fundamentalist terrorists hijack four U.S. airliners and crash them into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center in New York City. The attack of two planes levels the World Trade Center and the crash of one plane inflicts serious damage to the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, causing nearly 3,000 deaths. The fourth plane is heroically crashed by passengers into a Shanksville, Pennsylvania cornfield when they learn of the plot, preventing destruction of another structure in Washington, D.C., supposed to be the White House or the Capitol building. The plot is attributed to the Al-Qaeda organization led by Osama Bin Laden.

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remembering-9-11

And baseball has always been a great escape from the world’s realities

2000 86-76 2nd Place

Talented but surly outfielder Raul Mondesi would be traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for local star Shawn Green. . Eric Karros became the L.A. Dodger all-time leader with his 229th home run and Dave Hansen set a Major League record with seven pinch-hit home runs. Kevin Brown led the league in E.R.A. with 2.58 . All these accomplishments would lead to a 2nd place finish, 11 games behind the Giants. Davey Johnson would be fired as manager after only 2 seasons as skipper of The Boys in Blue.

2001 86-76 3rd Place

In Jim Tracy’s first season as the Dodgers manager, the Dodgers, in 1st place through much of the summer, would finish 6 games behind the eventual World Champion Arizona Diamondbacks for the NL West. Shawn Green would set an all-time Dodgers record by smashing 49 home runs.

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2002 92-70 3rd Place

Shawn Green would hit 42 home runs, becoming the first L.A. Dodger to have back-to-back seasons of 40 or more, Four of those home runs came in one game, May 23 at Milwaukee, tying a Major League record. In that game, Green set a Major League mark for total bases (19). Eric Gagne, in his first season as a closer, would start his record setting save streak in late October that would last into the 2004 season while also setting a club mark with 52 saves. However, the Dodgers would miss out again on post-season play, finishing 7 games behind the defending World Champion DBacks and 3 back of the hated Giants for the NL Wild Card.

2003 85-77 2nd Place

The Dodgers would make another run for a postseason berth as the Wild Card team, but once again, they would fall short, winning 85 games, finishing a distant 16 games behind the Giants for the NL West and 6 games behind Wild Card winner and 2003 World Champion Florida Marlins, who had a huge contribution in Game 4 from some 20 year old rookie named Miguel Cabrera. Eric Gagne became the first Dodger to earn the NL Cy Young Award since 1988, converting all 55 of his save opportunities and entered 2004 with 63 consecutive saves over a two-year period. Gagne had a 1.20 ERA in 77 games and struck out 137 batters in 82.1 innings

t1_gagne Welcome To The Jungle

2004 93-69 1st Place, NL West Champions

Prior to the off-season, Frank and Jamie McCourt would purchase the Dodgers for $430 Million. The McCourts would own the Dodgers until the 2011 season ( I’ll keep my commentary to myself on this one…) . On the field the Dodgers were led offensively by Adrian Beltre, who won a Silver Slugger Award for leading the Major Leagues with 48 home runs. Eric Gagne won his second consecutive National League Rolaids Relief Man championship after establishing the all-time Major League record with 84 consecutive saves. The NL West would not be decided until the 2nd to final game of the season. With the Giants 2 games back with 2 to play against The Blue, they would enter the home 9th up 3-0. A win by the Giants, and they close to within 1 game of the NL West leading Dodgers heading to the final game of the season. After tying the game at 3, Steve Finley steps to the plate…

The Dodgers would win the NL West for the first time since 1995, leaving the hated Giants 2 games behind. The Dodgers would bow out to the St Louis Cardinals in the NLDS, as Jose Lima would pitch a complete game shutout in Game 4, the first Dodgers post season win since winning it all in 1988.

2005 71-91 4th Place

The 2005 season started off promising as the Dodgers would storm out of the gate with a 12-2 start. Unfortunately, that was as good as it got as they w finished the 2005 season 71-91, their worst record since the 99-loss season of 1992, only 11 games out of the first place Padres, who won the division with a not-so impressive 82-20 mark. They finished in fourth place for the first time since 1993. The roster was decimated by 24 disabling injuries and the club used 20 rookies. After 4 seasons as the skipper, Jim Tracy would be fired, as well as GM Paul DePodesta, who took the brunt of the blame from the fans for his frugal ways of operation.

2006 88-74 1st Place Tie, Wild Card

After falling 8 games below .500 into late July, the Dodgers would finish on a torrid 41-19 mark, tied for first with the Padres for the NL West, earning themselves a wild-card berth. The highlight of the season would come in mid-September as the Blue, down 4 to the Padres heading to the home 9th, would belt 4 consecutive home runs, by Jeff Kent, J.D. Drew, Russell Martin, and Marlon Anderson. After falling behind in the 10th, Nomar Garciaparra would end it all with a 2-run shot. The Dodgers would be swept in the NLDS by the New York Mets.

2007 82-80 4th Place

The Dodgers would have the best record in the National League through 100 games, but a late season swoon and some clubhouse dissension, much of it between old-school veteran Jeff Kent and up and coming not quite in his prime Matt Kemp, would leave the Dodgers 8 games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks. Grady Little would be dismissed at Dodgers manager after 2 seasons, making way for former Yankees manager Joe Torre.

2008 84-78 1st Place

A late-season surge, aided by the acquisition of Red Sox castoff Manny Ramirez, unleashing the most amazing two months of offense the Dodgers have ever seen, hitting .396 down the stretch would lead the Dodgers to NL West title and their 3rd post-season appearance since 2004 with a modest 84-78 record. Chad Billingsley led the club with 16 wins while Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp established themselves as every-day outfielders and James Loney drove in 90 runs. The Dodgers would sweep the heavily favored Cubs in the NLDS ( They really are cursed, aren’t they ) before bowing out to the eventual World Champion Phillies in the NLCS in 5 games. The turning point would be Matt Stairs moster shot off Jonathan Broxton with 2 outs in the top 8th, giving the Phillies a 7-5 lead that they would not surrender. Cole Hammel’s and company would shut it down the next evening. With Broxton as our future closer and the heat he throws, you would want him on the hill should another big game be on the line, right ?

2009 95-67 1st Place

The 2009 season would not only be one of the more exciting season for the Dodgers , it would also be remembered for the 50-game suspension received by Manny Ramirez for violating the MLB drug agreement. Andre Ethier took over as the main run producer with 31 homers ( 4 of those homers in walk-off fashion) and 106 RBIs, with Matt Kemp adding 26 homers, 101 RBIs, 34 steals. The Dodgers would sweep the Cardinals in 3 straight in the NLDS to set up a rematch with the Phillies in the NLCS. Just as in Game 4 the previous year, Jonathan Broxton , 36 saves in 2009, would be thrust into the spotlight once again. With one out in the home 9th, up came a struggling Matt Stairs. Now certainly Broxton didn’t have this on his mind…

He would walk Stairs in 4 pitches, none of them close to the plate. After a hit batsman and a infield pop, with 2 outs, clinging to a 1 run lead, 1 out away from tying the NLCS at 2 games apiece, up came Jimmy Rollins…

The Phillies, like in ’08, would wrap it up in 5, this time they had the privledge of celebrating in front of their home fans. Broxton, in spite of making the all-star team in 2010, would to this day be remembered by most Dodger fans for 2 pitches we all wish he could have back.

So, as exciting as 2009 was, it would end on a sour note. But hey, with back to back division titles and NLCS appearances and 4 playoff appearances in 6 years under the McCourt regime, we’re certainly that much closer to bringing home our first World Series title since ’88 right ?

2010 80-82 4th Place

After going 49-39 in the first half, the Dodgers would finish 12 games under .500 the rest of the way and at 80-82, finish under .500 for the first time since 2005. Matt Kemp would only hit .248 for the season, and Jonathan Broxton was never the same after a 48 pitch meltdown against the Yankees in June. ( Though as I said most Dodgers fans will only remember him for two pitches ) Clayton Kershaw would become the ace of the future, finishing the season with a 2.91 ERA. They would finish 12 back of the eventual World Champion Giants, thier first in San Francisco in 52 years. ( Yes, there was a reason I posted that fact !!! )

2011 82-79 3rd Place

The 2011 season would be marred by the senseless beating of Giants fan Brian Stow in the Dodger Stadium parking lot, as well as being placed in bankruptcy protection no thanks to Frank and Jamie, attendance would fall south of 3 million for the first time since 1992 in a non-strike shortened season. After being as much as 14 games below .500, the Dodgers would put on a late surge, not enough to post a threat for a post-season spot, but enough to put them over the .500 mark for the season. Clayton Kershaw won the Cy Young Award and Matt Kemp just missed a batting Triple Crown and the MVP Award while playing for new manager Don Mattingly. Kershaw, Kemp and Andre Ethier were All-Stars and won Gold Glove Awards.

2012 86-76 2nd Place

On May 1st, it was official. The days of the McCourt regime we’re over !!! The arrival of new ownership – Guggenheim Baseball Management, headed by controlling partner Mark Walter and partners Magic Johnson, Stan Kasten, Peter Guber, Bobby Patton and Todd Boehly, would take over full operation of the franchise. In first place for much of the season and led by defending Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw, the pitching staff ranked third in the Major Leagues in ERA and opposing batting average, but the offense struggled while centerpiece Matt Kemp battled injuries. In spite of the late season acquisitions of Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Brandon League, Joe Blanton, Randy Choate, Nick Punto and Carl Crawford ( Crawford was on the DL in ’12 ), the Dodgers would finish 2nd to the Giants once again as the hated ones would win their 2nd WS title in 3 years.

2013 92-70 1st Place

After falling as much as 12 games below .500 as late as June, the Dodgers would go on an unbelievable 40-8 from June 22 to the middle of August, overcoming a 9.5 game deficit to the DBacks en route to the NL West crown. At one point the club won 15 consecutive road games, the first NL team to do that since 1957, and they went unbeaten in 18 consecutive series.
Dodgers pitchers led the Major Leagues with 22 shutouts and were second in the league with a 3.25 team ERA. That included Clayton Kershaw, who won his third consecutive ERA title at 1.83, the lowest in the NL since Greg Maddux’s 1.63 in 1995. Kershaw combined with Zack Greinke to go 31-13, and Kenley Jansen would replace Brandon League as closer and Brian Wilson, signed in July after his recovery from Tommy John surgery, took over as set-up man. The offense, was led by Adrian Gonzalez’s 100 RBIs. Hanley Ramirez, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier all battled injuries, but Ramirez’s return in June coincided with the club’s turnaround, as did the arrival of Cuban rookie Yasiel Puig. The Dodgers would enter the playoffs without Matt Kemp, but it would not affect them in the NLDS against the Atlanta Braves, knocking them out in 4 games.

The NLCS would be a different story. The Dodgers and Cardinals would battle through 5 games that we’re close enough either team could have won , especially the Dodgers if for some clutch hitting and perhaps Don Mattingly not over analyzing . With the Dodgers trailing 3 games to 2 heading back to St. Louis for game 6 and Kershaw on the mound, we really had to like our chances. However, even the best get snake-bitten at even the worst possible times.

So there you have it. 25 years since 1988. 25 years of ups and downs. Yet we still wait confidently for World Series trophy number 7 to come. 25 years. It’s been so long now that I’ve spoken to lots of you Dodger fans over 21 who have still yet to experience a World Series. I feel your pain. That’s what we do as Dodger fans. That’s what we do as fans period. We stick with our team through the good ( This past season ) and the bad ( No WS appearances in 25 years ) and the ugly ( McCourt ownership ) . 25 years is a long time. But I am confident we will not be waiting another 25 years before another World Series title comes to The Ravine.

matt_dre Next Year Bison !!! It’s back to doing things big !!!

dre_dre So Dre, are you going to be around In the End next year for the celebration ?

And finally, I want to thank you the readers who have made this October a really fun one. My goal was to make it to the MLBlogs.com top 50 fan list, which I did back in March. Because it’s based on total views, I don’t know if I crack the list especially after viewership dropped understandably once the Dodgers we’re eliminated. I did, however, achieve the most visitor counts ever for my blog so again, thank you all for dropping by. I probably won’t be posting as much now at least until Spring Training as blogging, while I enjoy it, can be very time consuming as well. I hope you all have a great “off-season”, and here’s hoping to an even bigger 2014 !!!!

As for the 2014 season…

2014 94-68 1st Place

Though the 2014 campaign would come to an abrupt end, lasting only 4 games into the NLDS before bowing out to the Cardinals for the 2nd straight year, there we’re still plenty of memorable moments, from the no-hitters from Josh Beckett and Clayton Kershaw , to Matt Kemp’s resurgence in the 2nd half, Adrian Gonzalez leading the league in RBI’s , to another Cy Young season from Mr. Kershaw, who has now won the E.R.A.  title four seasons in a row, and of course, erasing a 9.5 game deficit to capture the NL West flag for the 2nd straight season.  Unfortunately, Kershaw would unravel in the post-season and alongside a leaky bullpen, the Dodgers season would end not even 10 days into October.

Like the rest of you, I was disappointed as well.  When $235 million is spent on player salary, expectations are certain to be high.  The bottom line is simple.  The Dodgers simply did not meet , ok, let me rephrase that, they did not entirely meet our expectations.  (  I may be putting it lightly folks ) .  Many we’re quick to put blame on Mattingly.  I disagree.  While I was not crazy about some of his strategic move both during the regular and post-season, I felt he did an admirable job dealing with as many high strung ego’s in the dugout to get The Blue as far as he did.  As for the post-season, he only played the hand he was dealt.  Unfortunately, there was no bluff to call. That’s the post-season.  That’s baseball. 

So it’s been 2 weeks now since the bitter end.  Though I’m long over the shock, as a Dodger fan,  these 2 weeks have still felt long.  Should that be The Blue playing in the Fall Classic ?  Perhaps.  But as for the 2014 chapter of Dodger Baseball, we’ll never know…