Tag Archives: Eric Karros

Rivalry Week… USC vs. UCLA, Drei’s Favorite UCLA Moments

When talking about rivalries here we talk about the Dodgers and Giants. Ah, but this week, we focus on the one thing that divides Dodgers fans ( And Angels fans too ) .  The annual SC-UCLA football game, taking place this Saturday afternoon at The Rose Bowl. With Oregon State’s recent upset win over Arizona State, the Bruins now find themselves in the drivers seat to win the Pac 12 South.  Win their final 2 games of the season against USC and Stanford, and they will be playing Oregon in Levi Stadium on December 5th for the Pac 12 Championship.  Of course, there are these other tie breaking scenarios that could also happen in the wild and crazy Pac 12 South.  OK, before we move on, how about some Dodger trivial facts tied into this weeks rivalry…

Dodgers who played at USC

Ron Fairly

Len Gabrielson

Mark McGwire ( Coach )

J.P. Howell

Dodgers who played at UCLA

Tim Leary

Ron Roenicke

Todd Zeile

Eric Karros

Dave Roberts

and of course…

JACKIE_STATUE

Jackie Robinson…

JACKIE_MURAL

This statue and mural of Jackie Robinson are located along the first base concourse over at Jackie Robinson Stadium where the UCLA baseball team plays it’s home games.

USC-UCLA Fun Facts…

USC leads the rivalry 44-30-7

USC has won 12 of the last 14 meetings since 1999

UCLA has won the last two meetings

UCLA owns the longest winning streak in this series with 8 consecutive wins from 1991-98

UCLA is 9-7 against USC at The Rose Bowl since moving their home games to Pasadena in 1982

Puig_VictoryBell

The Victory Bell It’s what both these schools play for each year.  The winning school not only is the recipient of this prized possession, but also get’s to paint the bell in it’s main school color.  Here, our Mini Puig seems to enjoy his place next to The Victory Bell, which has been in the hands of UCLA the last two seasons.  ( Mini Puig look’s like he want’s to start an 8 Clap…)

VICTORYBELL

Oh the joy of ringing that Victory Bell, um, that Bruin Blue Victory Bell !!! ( I’m sure by now you have figured out where my allegiance in this rivalry stands…)

DREI_BELL

Posing with The Victory Bell and displaying one of the greatest to wear both the Bruin and Dodger Blue, Jackie Robinson…

In the spirit of Rivalry Week, Drei here now brings you his Fave 5 USC-UCLA games attended over the years….

5. 11/17/2012 UCLA 38 USC 28

One year removed from the 50-0 debacle at The Coliseum, with 1st year coach Jim Mora taking over the head coaching reigns and redshirt QB phenom Brett Hundly under center, the Bruins would storm out to a quick 24-0 lead in the 1st half.  SC would later close the gap to 3 points in the 4th quarter, however, the Bruins would counter on a Jonathan Franklin touchdown run late in the 4th and a huge sack of Matt Barkley from Anthony Barr would seal the deal for The Sons of Westwood.  Prior to this game, SC had won 11 of 12 in this series.  UCLA has now won the last two, with Hundley sporting a perfect 2-0 record against the Spirit of Troy.

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Brett Hundley and Bruin Wide Receiver Shaq Evans celebrating a 3rd quarter TD in the 2012 game.  ( Yup, I was that close folks…)

SHAQ_DREI

Shaq Evans and I proudly displaying my pic of him and Hundly celebrating.  Shaq is currently in the IR with the New York Jets.

4. 12/2/2006 UCLA 13 USC 9

A USC win would not only put USC back in the National Title game for the 3rd straight season, but also tie the rivalry record for most consecutive wins by either school at 8.  With USC driving for a possible game winning touchdown late in the 4th quarter, Eric McNeal picks off a John David Booty pass deep in UCLA territory.  The interception would be huge as UCLA would prevent USC from playing in the National Championship game as well as preserve the longest winning streak in the series at 8.

POSTGAME 2006 Postgame celebration. I’m the one holding the dreaded horse hanging on it’s noose…

3. 11/20/1993 UCLA 27  USC 21

With a Pac-10 title and a Rose Bowl berth on the line for both schools, UCLA would race out to a 17-0 lead, a lead they would carry into halftime.  However, USC would mount a comeback and late in the 4th quarter USC QB Rob Johnson would drive his team all the way to the UCLA 2 inside a minute to play, trailing UCLA 27-21.  But on 3rd and Goal, Marvin Goodwin stepped in front of SC tight end Tyler Cashman to intercept what may have been the game winning TD for USC.  The win not only sent UCLA to it’s first Rose Bowl in 8 years, but also ended a streak of 10 games which USC had won with a Rose Bowl berth on the line.

2. 11/21/1992 UCLA 38 USC 37 

Due to a string of injuries to UCLA QB’s, John Barnes, who did not even have a spot on the spring roster, John Barnes, a walk-on only because his previous school UC Santa Barbara, dropped their football program, would be called upon to guide the Bruins in the biggest game of the season.  A tall task to ask of a 6th string QB huh ?  It seemed that way heading into the 4th quarter with UCLA trailing 31-17.  Ah, but this is where the legend of John Barnes was born.  UCLA would score 3 TD’s in the 4th quarter, two of them to J.J. Stokes, who would have a huge 4th quarter himself and etch his name into the hearts of every Bruin fan as well.  The 3rd of the 3 4th quarter TD’s would be a 90 hookup, Barnes to Stokes ( Still a popular phrase among the Bruin faithful who witnessed that magical evening in ’92… Barnes to Stokes ) to give UCLA a 38-31 lead.  SC would not go away as Rob Johnson would hookup with Johnny Morton on a huge 4th down conversion inside the UCLA 10 with less than a minute to play.  2 years prior, Johnny Morton would break the hearts of UCLA fans and nearly pulled off the same feat.  However, after a Rob Johnson TD, SC would decide to go for 2 rather than tie ( No OT in college football at the time ), and Rob Johnson’s pass would be knocked down by Nkosi Littleton, and UCLA would go on to upset SC 38-37.  John Barnes would finish with 385 passing yards, and  J.J. Stokes would finish with 6 catches, 263 yards receiving and 3 TD’s, including the game winning 90 yarder which many a Bruin looks back upon with these words… Barnes to Stokes .

And finally,  Drei’s all-time favorite SC-UCLA game ?  This will be no quick recap, I’ll warn you right now.  So enjoy folks… 

1. 11/23/1996 UCLA 48 USC 41, Double OT

It was the first season of the post Terry Donahue era.  UCLA came into this matchup with a mediocre at best 4-6 mark.   SC, who had high expectations heading into the season, was no better at 5-5.  UCLA had carried a 5 year winning streak heading into this contest, the longest streak in the rivalry at that time.  USC would storm to a 24-7 halftime lead, thanks in large part to 2 TD passes from Brad Otton to USC freshman phenom R.J. Soward.  Soward would finish the game with 6 recptions, 3 TD’s and 260 yards receiving, virtually the same stats J.J. Stokes had 3 years prior. 

The second half would be the most thrilling half I would ever have as a UCLA fan.  It would also be an emotional roller coaster ride as well.  The second half would start out strong for UCLA as UCLA QB sensation Cade McNown would connect with Danny Farmer on a long TD pass to close the gap to 24-14.  However, SC would answer back on a long drive of it’s own, brining the lead back up to 17. 

Before the kickoff, from my seat in the NE corner of the endzone, I take a quick glance at the Victory Bell and I see members of the UCLA Spirit Squad huddling around it, with two of the cheerleaders wraping their arms around it.  I knew what they we’re feeling.  The bell had been in UCLA’s possesion 5 years in a row and now the Bruins we’re in danger of surrendering the rivalry’s grand prize.  I was ready to step in front of the bell myself to be honest…

So on UCLA’s next possesion, after converting 3 huge 3rd down conversions, one of them a 3rd and 21, Cade McNown rushes for a TD to close the gap back to 10 heading into the 4th quarter. 

After both teams exchanged punts, with Matt Koffler now replacing an injured Brad Otton at QB for USC, Koffler would connect with R.J. Soward on a quick TD strike, giving SC what seemed to be an insurmountable 17 point lead .  That would be RJ Soward’s third TD reception of the game, 2 of them in which he would score in the NE corner of the endzone, yup, right in front of me.  In addition, SC safety Sammy Knight would also have a pick 6 finish, that’s right, in the NE corner of the enzone, uh-huh, right in front of me.  I was really having a great day to that point, wasn’t I ? 

So if UCLA had any thought’s of prolonging their winning streak to 6, they would need to mount a furious comeback.  After a Bjorn Merten field goal with just over 6 minutes left to play cut the deficit to 14, UCLA would get the ball back after keeping SC out of the enzone.  UCLA would score another TD to close the gap to 38-31 with under 3 minutes remaining.  SC would recover the onside kick and after a first down, all SC needed was one more first down and they would be able to run out the clock, and UCLA’s 5 year streak would be over.  Only a miracle would save UCLA…

Did I say a miracle would save UCLA ?  On a 2nd down run, SC running back LaValle Woods would have the ball stripped from him and Kusanti Abdul-Salam would recover for UCLA.  Here was UCLA’s chance.  One play after a huge 3rd down conversion from Cade McNown to little used Rodney Lee, UCLA running back Skip Hicks would bust up the middel 11 yards for the game tying score.  SC would have one last shot to win the game in regulation after a huge 3rd down reception by Chris Miller at the UCLA 23.  However, Adam Abram’s attempt at a 41 yard game winner would be blocked, and for the first and only time in the history of USC-UCLA, it was on to overtime.

In the first OT, both schools would exchange field goals.  On the first play of the second OT, Skip Hicks, running up the middle and seemingly stopped, would sneak out of nowhere and rush for  a go-ahead scoring TD to give UCLA it’s first lead of the game 48-41.  Where would Hicks’ TD run finish ?   You got it, the NE corner of the endzone, and beyond…

HICKS TD Here I am, in the blue hat with the gold rim, congratulating Skip Hicks on his 25 yard TD run that would be the eventual game winner.  Behind Hicks is Danny Farmer

Yup, there I was, the first to greet Hicks after one of the biggest and most memorable TD’s in the rivalry’s history…

SC was not finished.  On their next possesion, on 3rd and 3, Brad Otton would spot RJ Soward wide open after picking up UCLA’s blitz.  Soward had nothing but grass ahead of him.  Where would his potential game tying TD finish ?  Yup, right there in the NE corner of the endzone, right in front of me.  But it was not meant to be, as he would drop a sure TD and on 4th down, Koffler’s desperation pass would be intercepted in the endzone, and UCLA would win it’s 6th in a row over USC.  The streak would eventually reach 8, still the longest in the series. 

Though neither school would play in a bowl game that season, the ’96 game will always have a special place in my heart, of course for obvious reasons.  I mean, c’mon.  When you go to these games, you expect to talk about your favorite moments, but really, even though it’s 18 years later, does anyone really expect to also talk about their involvment with the players during one of the greatest moments that happended DURING the game ?  As one of my best friends Josh always says, ” You can’t make up stuff like this…”

DREI N SKIP 05 Chillin’ with Skip, 2005

Drei’s Prediction

Both schools come into the game with momentum on their sides.  UCLA come’s in with still a shot at the PAC-12 South title.  The key for UCLA to win once again will be Brett Hundley, as also acknowledged by USC.  SC’s defense has been known to wittle down in the 2nd half, and in the previous 2 meetings between these schools, Hundley’s mobility has proved to be SC’s achilles heel.  If UCLA can maintain that and keep SC’s defense chasing their running game, particularly in the 1st half, that can play huge later in the game.

UCLA 34  USC  24

HUNDLEY COOK Brett Hundley and Wayne Cook, past and present, a combined 4-0 against USC.  Hundley looks to make it 5-0 come Saturday…

DREI N BRETT Let’s make it 3 in a row over SC Brett !!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

George-W-Bush-9232768-1-402

barack_obama-e1356880502236

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.

911_1

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.

shawngreen

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…

26 Years and Counting Since 1988, Part 1, 1989 And The 90’s

Re-blogged from last season.  It is 26 years now since Chavez Ravine has hosted a World Series.  Here’s a recap of each season, part 1, from 1989 to 1999

 

On the eve of the 109th World Series will mark 25 years now since the Dodgers won their last World Series title, let alone appear in one.  While I enjoy telling stories what it was like being a fan experiencing the Dodgers triumph in 1988, explaining the feeling to the fans who have potentially graduated college in the last 4 years certainly is not making me feel any younger.  Now that I have all but let it out that i’m up there in years, lol, let’s now look back on the last 25 years, first with the 90’s, with it’s highs and lows.  And let’s hope by this time next year i’m writing a piece about The Boys in Blue in the World Series.  But first…

OK. Let’s look back upon the last 25 years of non World Series years

1989 77-83 4th Place

Despite leading the NL with a team ERA of 2.95, the last time anyone finished the season with a team ERA below 3.00, the Dodgers, one season after shocking the world, would finish in 4th place 14 games behind the Giants. So anemic was the offense that Orel Hershiser, despite winning 15 games with an ERA of 2.31, would also lose 15 as well , finishing the season with a .500 mark.

So the 80’s finished on a down note. However, the Dodgers was still a strong decade for the Boys in Blue, winning two World Championships (1981 and 1988), four National League Western Division titles (1981, 1983, 1985 and 1988) and 825 games, tying them with the St. Louis Cardinals for most victories by a National League team during the decade. The 80’s was also a strong decade in L.A. sports as well. Between the Dodgers 2 titles, the Lakers 5 titles, and the Raiders lone Super Bowl in 1983 9 This is a 49ERS fan acknowledging this), 8 championship titles we’re won for the great city of Los Angeles. Oh yeah, let’s also not forget the 1984 Olympics, with baseball debuting as an olympic sport here, played at, of course, Dodger Stadium. Those we’re some fun times as a sports fan in the 80’s. The 90’s certainly look promising, right ? kirk-gibson One last look of the 80’s

The 90’s

The United States enacts Operation Desert Storm, destroying the Iraqi army and ending the Gulf War in a few short weeks. A video is released of driver Rodney King being beaten by L.A. police officers following a traffic stop, igniting a national controversy. Bill Clinton is elected the 42nd president of the United States. Magic Johnson announces his retirement from the NBA after contracting the HIV Virus ( What’s Magic up to these days ? ). In the meantime, on the field…

1990 86-76 2nd Place

Even without Orel Hershiser for much of the season due to shoulder surgery and an injury plagued Kirk Gibson a mere cry from his 1988 season, the Dodgers would finish 5 games behind the eventual World Champion Cincinatti Reds. This would also be the last season for Fernando Valenzuela in a Dodger uniform, as he would be released prior to the 1991 season.

1991 93-79 2nd Place

Hometown product Darryl Strawberry, who put up big numbers in his eight stormy seasons with the New York Mets, would be signed in the off-season for a then whopping 5 years, $20.25 million dollars. After a slow start, Strawberry would lead the team in both home runs (27) and RBI’s (100) In spite of a strong 20-8 finish to the season, the Dodgers would finish 1 game behind the upstart Atlanta Braves for the NL West crown.

1992 63-99 6th Place

Eric Davis, the one time Cincinatti Reds outfielder, would team up with childhood buddy Darryl Strawberry in the outfield. However, both Strawberry and Davis would miss much of 1992 and the Dodgers, for the first time since 1905, would finish the season in last place

1993 81-81 3rd Place

In the final season before the current 3 division alignment, the Dodgers would improve upon their 1992 performance by 18 games. Though they would miss out on the post season , the second of 5 consecutive Rookie of the Year winners would don the Dodger Blue as Mike Piazza , with 35 home runs and 112 rbi’s, would take home the prize, Eric Karros winning the award in 1992. 1993 also marked the final season a 100 plus win team would miss out on post-season play as the Dodgers, on the final game of the season, highlighted by Rookie of the Year winner Mike Piazza’s 2 home runs, would knock out the Giants 12-1, leaving the Giants 1 game behind the Atlanta Braves for the NL West crown ( Yup, I was at that game folks ). The following season would be the year divisional re-alingment would take place as well as the wild card. From 1969-1993, only the division winners qualified for the LCS. So yeah, had the wild card been in effect in 1993, the Giants would have easily made the post season. Bummer huh ? ( In my sarcastic voice, LOL ) piazza93 Mike Piazza being greeted by future 3rd base coach Tim Wallach after belting one of two home runs to knock the Giants out of the playoffs

1994 58-56, 1st Place *

In the first year of 3 division aligment, the Dodgers would finish in 1st place, and yes, that is an asterisk next to the feat, if one can consider being 2 games over .500 one. That is because in August, a bitter labor dispute between the players and owners would lead to the cancelation of the remainder of the 1994 season and wipe out post-season and World Series play altogether. Raul Mondesi would win the 3rd of 5 consecutive Dodger Rookie of the Year Awards. Darryl Strawberry, with his countless off the field problems during his time in L.A, would be released prior to the season.

1995 78-66, 1st Place

One year after the strike had put a black eye on Major League Baseball, in a 144 game season due to the previous season’s strike that carried over into 1995, the Dodgers would capture the NL West by one game over the Colorado Rockies 3 years into their existence. Hideo Nomo, The Tornadoe, would win the NL Rookie of the Year. In the first official League Division Series, not counting 1981’s ” intra-division playoffs “, the Dodgers would be swept in 3 straight by the NL Central Champion Cincinatti Reds.

1996 90-72 2nd Place, Wild Card

Tommy Lasorda, one of only two L.A. Dodger managers along with Walter Alston dating back to their arrival from Brooklyn in 1958, would step down from his managerial duties after suffering a mild heart attack. Bill Russell would take over the reins for Tommy. With a 2 game lead over the Padres and 3 to play against the Friars, San Diego would sweep all 3 games at Dodger Stadium to win the NL West by 1 game, pushing the Dodgers to Wild Card status. They would be swept in 3 straight in the LDS by the Atlanta Braves, ending the season on a 7 game losing streak. Todd Hollandsworth would round out the 5 consecutive Dodger Rookie of the Year Award winners dodgersROY The 5 consecutive ROY’s would surpass the 4 consecutive the Dodgers had from 1979-1982 when Rick Sutcliffe, Steve Howe, Fernando Valenzuela, and Steve Sax won the prize

1997 88-74 2nd Place

This time, a late September swoon would cost them. Leading the NL West over the Giants by 2 games on September 16, they would be swept in a crucial 2 game series in San Francisco, the beginning of a 1-6 stretch that would find themselves 2 games behind the hated one’s heading into the final weekend of the year, in which the Dodgers would eventually finish 2 games behind the Giants but miss out on the Wild Card. This would also mark the final season of ownership under the O’Malley family

1998 83-79 3rd Place

In their first season under the Fox group, Mike Piazza , after a lengthy contract dispute, would find himself traded to the Florida Marlins along with Todd Zeile for Gary Sheffield, Charles Johnson and Jim Eisenrich before landing with the Mets one week later. With a 36-38 record in June, Bill Russell would get his pink slip, as well as general manager Fred Claire. The thought of a Dodgers manager was unheard of at the time considering up until 1998 they had only 3 managers. Glenn Hoffman, brother of Padres relief phenom Trevor Hoffman, would finish out the season as the skipper. 1998 would also be the year that future Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa we’re involved in the home run record chase, with McGwire finishing with 70 home runs. piazza Though he did put up big numbers in Dodger Blue , Piazza will forever be remembered as a Met. To this day, I still don’t believe he has buried the hatchet towards the Dodgers and his fans. I wonder if he will blame me next for the Dodgers fans turning on him .

1999 76-86 3rd Place

Davey Johnson would take over as manager, and Kevin Brown, coming off 3 straight dominant season and two World Series appearances with the Marlins and Padres, would be signed to a 7-year $105 million contract just one year after Piazza had been offerred 6 years at $80 million, rasising some questions amongst the fans why the same deal could not be offered to Mike, an everyday player, as opposed to Brown, who only toes the hill every 5 games. The Dodgers would finish 24 games behind the 2nd year Arizona Diamondbacks.

So the 90’s we’re not exactly some glorious times for L.A. sports fans. The Lakers, though they would continue to make it to the post season, making the playoffs in 9 of the 10 years, also failed to bring L.A. another championship . The Raiders and Rams would leave L.A. after the 1994 season ( I really didn’t care since i’m a 49ERS fan ) , the Clippers we’re a far cry from what they are today, and the Kings would appear in the Stanley Cup in 1993 to lose to the Montreal Canadiens in 5 games. So next, the new millenium. Glory day’s are bound to return to L.A, right ?