Tag Archives: Toronto Blue Jays

Celebrating Pride and Baseball

During this month of June over a third of MLB teams have or will be hosting an LGBT community night in celebration of Pride Month. LGBT Pride Nights have taken place at MLB ballparks for close to two decades. 

Recently, the Dodgers sold close to 8,000 tickets for their LGBT night, a record for any team. As the 2nd largest city in the United States with all it’s diversity, it is no surprise that the Dodgers attract so many fans from the gay and lesbian community. It’s more than just a one-night celebration that brings out not just the LGBT community but several other communities as well

Dodgers Executive Vice-President & Chief Marketing Officer Lon Rosen told Cyd Zeigler of Outsports his aim is to create a genuine and reciprocal affection between the community and the team. “At the end of the day though, the real reason the attendance grows every year is because of the fan experience”, Rosen told Outsports. The sentiment of the fan experience is also echoed to me by Bay Area radio host Greg Sherrell (Q&A with Greg later in this post…)

The fan experience, and undoubtedly the Dodgers outstanding play on the field which has given the fans 4 straight NL West Titles, certainly plays a huge role in the growth of the attendance.

Of all the major professional sports, baseball has a growing interest among the LGBT community. During a recent road trip to Oakland, I had a chance to attend an LGBT night hosted by the A’s. During a pregame reception I came across the promotional tent for local radio station KVMQ, 99.7 Now. I recently had a Q&A with Greg Sherrell of Fernando & Greg , a Bay Area weekday morning talk show featuring the gay tandem. A huge fan of The University of Texas, his alma mater, as well as a diehard Cowboys, Mavericks and Rangers fan, Greg is a native Texan, having grown up in Watauga, Texas a suburb of Fort Worth.

Andrei- Almost half the league is scheduled to host LGBT Night this month and throughout the season. What is it about baseball that brings the LGBT community to the yard ?

Greg- First of all I think the baseball has been the most proactive in reaching out to LGBTQ fans because of the amount of home games that each team plays.  Baseball more than any other sport needs to fill seats and I think they are always looking for a way to do that.  In that way, I think they need to be the most inclusive and welcoming.  As far as why I think the LGBTQ community embraces baseball, I think it’s like any community.  There’s just something about being at a baseball game.  It’s the least intense and most social of the games.  There are lots of opportunities to be social, spend time with family and friends, even meet new people, walk around the park and enjoy the weather.  At a football game it’s all about what’s happening on the field.  At a baseball game it’s really about the entire experience.  

Andrei- Does Pride Month taking place in June during the season play a factor?

Greg- Well I think obviously June being Pride month sets up the natural tie in with baseball that the other sports might not have.  

Andrei- Greg, growing up a fan of all Dallas teams, who was your favorite Ranger?

Greg- My favorite Ranger when I was a kid was Bump Wills.  Nolan Ryan was certainly a hero in the Metroplex while I was in junior high and high school.  The Rangers were always horrible when I was a kid and when they signed Ryan it gave the team instant legitimacy and a national presence for the first time.  I actually interned for the Rangers right after college which was a great experience.  I worked directly with Pudge Rodriguez executing his foundation’s mission to bring kids from the local children’t hospital’s to the ballpark for game.  Juan Gonzales was probably my biggest crush.  Darren Oliver was the nicest to me.  As far as now, I love Rougned Odor!  He plays with such passion.  You can tell he loves the game and I have never seen anyone play harder.  Plus he landed one of the all time great punches when he hit Jose Bautista.  

Andrei-  With the Astros off to a hot start what do the Rangers need in order to stay in contention for a post-season berth (Assuming they don’t catch Houston)

Greg- The Rangers had a rough start to the season but manager Jeff Banister really is a steady hand.  He has the team back at .500 when it looked like they were toast.  They will be getting the ace of their pitching staff back in the next month or so so I think they will be okay.  I don’t think they are going to catch Houston, but they are in the hunt for a wildcard.  

Andrei- The Astros have been highly competitive the last 3 seasons and are a threat to run away with the AL West. The Rangers have made the post season six times this decade with 4 division titles under their belt. Last season, the Rangers had the Astros number, this season to this point the Astros have returned the favor. Is the in-state rivalry finally reaching it’s peak? 

Greg- The two teams have been more contentious this year than in years past.  There’s definitely no love lost between the two.  The Astros haven’t reached their full potential the last two to three years but now seem to be gelling.  It’s interesting because like with any rivalry between Houston and DFW, it’s seems like Houston is much more invested.  Dallas is pretty indifferent to Houston in pretty much everything where Houston hates Dallas.  

Andrei- The two of you have been on the air in The Bay Area for over 10 years, your morning show continues to run strong. Even with podcasts easily accessible to anyone, have you two ever considered taking your show to a national level?

Greg- We have talked to some people about taking the show nationally and I am hoping that it will happen in the future.  

Andrei- On a personal note, as a huge fan of Jose Bautista, what are your feelings toward him? Is he public enemy number one to all Rangers fans?

Greg- As far as Bautista, the Jays and Rangers HATE each other.  The ugly scene in the playoffs a few years ago when Toronto fans threw beer bottles on the field really cemented it.  I would say the hate for Toronto is much greater than Houston.  I LOVE when he got smashed in the face by Odor, which kind of started the whole thing.  It showed if you are gonna bow up in Texas you better be ready to go.  Despite it all though, I have to admit, he’s pretty HOT!  🙂  But he’s definitely public enemy number one in Texas!!!  

As Greg stated, the LGBTQ community is like any other community. Baseball really is about the entire experience. Of all the sports baseball does allow for more social time among friends and family to relax and take in the entire experience surrounding the game. Speed up the game? What’s the hurry? You’re with great company of all backgrounds. 

A's_Pride Night Logo LGBT Night in Oakland, 6/6/2017, Toronto Blue Jays vs Oakland Athletics

Drei_Love Not Hate Love not Hate (Photo Courtesy of KVMQ 99.7 Now)

Stadium Journey Update…

Our Stadium Journey site is still currently under construction. We are hopeful that our revamped site will be back up and running as early as August 1st. We will continue to keep you posted. 

Stadium Journey

 

 

 

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Drei’s 2016 A.L. Forecast

Looking Back…

What Drei said last year…

” If there was ever a case for parity ( a word we’ll be hearing throughout the season ) in one division, the AL East makes a case…. Parity. Did I say we’d be using that word A LOT this season ?…Somebody in the Junior Circuit has to win 90 games, right ? The AL’s two best teams could very well be here in the west, setting up a potential ALDS showdown between these two. The Mariners and Angels are among the vast favorites to represent the AL in The Fall Classic.”

If there was one thing I nearly got right last year, I felt the AL would only have one team winning 90 plus games. Turns out two teams ended up winning over 90 games. Appropriately enough, both those teams ended up in the ALCS, one would eventually win the World Series.  Heading into 2016, I still do feel there will be a lot of parity in the Junior Circuit…

A.L East

From top to bottom, anyone is capable of winning this division. Dating back to 2011, each team has had their share of the division crown. Much of the offensive firepower the Blue Jays produced en route to their first post-season appearance in 22 years will be returning this season, including 2nd half pick up Troy Tulowitzki. Having a full season of Tulo should produce more lofty numbers. The loss of David Price from the rotation to the Red Sox may slow them down.

Boston has a good mix of veterans along with some up and comers in Mookie Betts and Xander Bogarts and the addition of David Price to their rotation should help them contend in the east.

The Yankees rotation has too many question marks. Will the off-season acquisition of Aroldis Chapman make much of a difference. Tampa may have the best rotation in the league and should they get any offensive help, could also challenge for the division. On the other side of the ledger, the Orioles, 2 years removed from a division crown, will not be lacking for offense if they can come close to their 217 dingers from last season. Pitching still remains a question. 

A.L. Central

After back to back playoff appearances and a World Series title, the Royals still can’t convince the so-called experts that they are the class of the division. This is another division where there seems to be no clear cut favorite as even Minnesota with it’s young roster remained in contention last season until the final weekend.

Defense, speed and relief pitching carried KC all the way to their first title in 30 years. Having Alex Gordon back should help. The rotation needs for Yordano Ventura to step as and assume the roll of the ace. A third consecutive post-season appearance is certainly attainable for KC.

Cleveland has a pretty formidable rotation of Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar. Will off-season additions Mike Napoli, Rajai Davis, Juan Uribe and Marlon Byrd, players not exactly in their prime make a difference ? Having said that, I still feel Cleveland is ready to challenge for the division.

The White Sox and Tigers, disappointments from last season, look to bounce back. Detroit may be the division’s most improved team  but their biggest question will be their bullpen, which ranked among the worst last season. The Twins are the division’s most intriguing team, with a roster full of youth that started fast out the gate at 30-19. Expectation’s may be unfairly high for them, but last season’s experience in a pennant race should only help this group.

A.L. West

After a last place finish in 2014, the Texas Rangers bounced back nicely to return to the post season for the 4th time in 6 seasons. With Cole Hamels coming back and a healthy Yu Darvish along with along with a lineup that boasts big offensive numbers, the Rangers may be the most balanced team in the division. Their bullpen still has some holes to fill entering the season. 

The Astros, last season’s biggest surprise, is ready to make more noise this season. A full season with Carlos Gomez certainly can’t hurt the lineup. The Mariners, picked by many last season to represent the Junior Circuit in The Fall Classic after an 87 win campaign in 2014, regressed last season, something that could be of concern in Houston with expectations being higher. The M’s strength is still pitching, led by Felix Hernandez. I expect the Mariners to bounce back and be the sleeper in this division.

The Angels, even with the presence of Mike Trout, suffered a decline in offensive numbers last season. Their rotation is still solid and should keep them in contention. The A’s are the one team no one expects to do much. Offensive additions Yonder Alonso and Jed Lowrie should help the offense. Their rotation still has too many holes for Oakland to seriously pose a challenge for the division.

Wild Card

Astros over Boston

ALDS

Toronto over Houston

Seattle over Cleveland

ALCS

Toronto over Seattle. If this holds true to form…IF…this could be a matchup of teams with opposite strengths. Toronto came within 2 games last season, Seattle was expected by many, including your’s here, to challenge last season. Seattle is my choice for the AL darkhorse, which may not be saying much considering the league wide parity.

So based on my projections, the Junior Circuit is pretty much open for anyone to take, maybe even Oakland. Am I going against the pundits ? For the most part, yes. If the JC is this competitive this year, activity around the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline could be very minimal. I would not be surprised if there was a 3 way tie for either a division title or the wild card.

9th Inning…Drei’s Tale…Featuring Kid Marley Marlz and The Mariner Moose

MarlzMoose1 ” Yo Moose !  What it be…What it do ?..Are we gonna see YOU…In October ? “

MarlzMoose4 Hey Marlz, be nice ! You don’t want The Moose to bite back… ” Is that right ? “

MarlzMoose3 Awe, Kid Marley Marlz is sharing his milkshake with The Moose… ‘Til the next episode…

 

Beyond The Yard…A SUN-DAY, FUN-DREI…Blue Strolling The Valley

1st Inning…KID N DREI…WE’RE BAAAAACK (Well, Almost…)

screenshot_2016-03-06-18-03-30.pngThe one rare photo with Marley Marlz where Drei doesn’t have The Blue on… ( SnapChat Photo by Kid Marley Marlz @MDario83 )

Happy Sunday Dodger fans ! I guess there’s just no escaping from Kid Marley Marlz on this…SUN-DAY, FUN-DREI ! Especially when KID N DREI just happen to cross paths in, of all places, a freeway underpass on Van Nuys Blvd in Pacoima. But hey, no off-season for KID N DREI, right ?

It just so happened that Kid N Drei, unbeknownst each others knowledge, happened to take part in CicLaVia, an event that takes place throughout L.A. where streets are closed off to vehicular traffic for cyclists, as well as skaters all the way to pedestrians. Hey Kid, if Drei knew you we’re coming out toward his ‘hood, Drei would have worn his Blue. Here’s some of Drei’s visual highlights from CicLavia, featuring artwork along the Mural Mile of the San Fernando Valley

CICLAVIA 2 Hey There ! These folks are all excited for Blue’s presence…

CICLAVIA 3Yo Dawg ! Hey, it was a nice day to take The Dodger Dog for a walk…

Now, the famed murals…

CICLAVIA 13_DREI LEVIPONCE With the man behind much of the murals along Mural Mile, Levi Ponce…

CICLAVIA 10_BLUE AND PACOIMA ROCK Welcome To Pacoima…Forever known to many as the home of Ritchie Valens… A stroll up Van Nuys Blvd. in Pacoima wouldn’t be complete without this ballad from Ritchie…

CICLAVIA 12_RICHIE RITCHIE !!!

CICLAVIA 6 One of the  MEND Community Murals along the 5 freeway underpass on Van Nuys Blvd as an astronaut and fireman look onward to those passing by…

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Oh don’t we all feel so communal…

CICLAVIA 8_DOG AND MURAL Another MEND Community Mural. A future Dodger ? The Dodger Dog highly approves of this artwork… 

wp-1457591761224.jpeg Is that Kid Marley Marlz in that Purple n Gold customized fixie passing the mural of the future Dodger ?

picsart_03-06-09.38.58.jpgYup. KID N DREI would cross paths at CicLaVia on this…SUN-DAY, FUN-DREI…There’s just something about Dodger Blue that just can’t separate KID N DREI… It’s almost that time of year folks…Kid with The Beats, Drei With the Tales…

9th Inning…Dreis Thoughts…Talking ‘Bout My Generation

Goose Gossage Goose Gossage ( Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Earlier this week, former Yankees and Padres HOF pitcher Goose Gossage expressed his disdain toward certain aspects of today’s game, be it the “nerds”  who are in charge to his criticism of Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista . Without a doubt, The Goose’s thoughts come from another era. As with anything, there will always be generational conflicts. Does Goose Gossage really speak of his generation ? While I may appreciate that Goose Gossage still wear’s his passion for the game on his sleeve, it is obvious that he for one has not adjusted, or yet, has not been willing to accept change, particularly the way Jose Bautista displays himself. 

We all know about Jose Bautista’s epic bat flip from last years deciding ALDS game. Most fans, ( Except those in Texas..) actually raved at Jose’s show of emotion. Was Joey Bats showing up the pitcher ? If hitting a crucial 3 run game tying home run in an elimination game is showing up the pitcher, OK, yes. But aside from that, where’s the display of showing up the pitcher ?

Competition and the willing to win can bring out the best and also often the worst of human emotions. For all the money and glory that’s on the line, the game is still played by humans. A show of emotion is something most humans relate to, especially when something big is on the line, as in this case, a trip to the ALCS. Is it me, or the fact that athletes showing displays of emotion is nothing new ? Remember the days when Dennis Eckersley would point his finger toward his catcher after a save ( Save for one time he couldn’t perform that display in…1988…). How about NFL players who do ridiculous dances after a tackle or a touchdown ? You know, some of those dances that, while some are classic, many should be against the law. While I still respect Goose Gossage from his days in the pinstripes and with The Friars, his views seem to be somewhat outdated. Or are they ? 

Extra Innings…The Trek Toward The Ravine…

picsart_03-12-06.49.53.jpg We’re slowly making our way toward The Ravine folks… Drei’s 2016 picks coming soon !!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drei’s Game 5 Thoughts… Looking Back at Winner Take All’s… A Pre-Game 5 Tale From Kid N Drei

Leading Off, In the Junior Circuit…

Congratulations to both the Toronto Blue Jays and the Kansas City Royals on advancing to the ALCS. Both teams had we’re on the brink of elimination with the Blue Jays rallying from an 0-2 series deficit to come back and win their series against the Texas Rangers. Their epic Game 5 saw a crazy 7th inning, capped off by this 3 run homer by Jose Bautista 

Unlike Toronto, there would be no such drama in Kansas City as the Royals advanced to the ALCS for the second straight yearknocking out the Astros 7-2 behind 8 strong innings from Johnny Cueto, holding the Astros to two hits and two runs. Kansas City will have the home field over Toronto in a rematch of the 1985 ALCS.

Drei’s AL Thoughts… Big Flipping Deal ?

During that wild 7th inning in Toronto, you may have witnessed that ” sick ” bat flip by Jose Bautista. I really thought it was great given what was at stake. With so much riding on this game and series, emotions fly high. This really is no different than if a wide receiver scores a go-ahead touchdown with under a minute to go in a playoff game. On another note, while Jose Bautista is receiving well-deserved praise, at the same time, I don’t want to hear one more word if a certain Cuban Missile comes through with a clutch home run from this point on in the playoffs. 

The Blue in Winner Take All Games…1981 and 1988

In 1981, the Blue would find themselves in 2 winner take all games, both times coming away winners en route to the World Series and an eventual World Title against the Yankees. The Blue have been in other winner take all games as well, their last coming in 1988 against, yup, the New York Mets. We all remember what happened in that memorable 7th game in ’88 with the Bulldog on the hill that evening…

The losing pitcher for the Mets, some current analyst for TBS, Ron Darling…. ( Withholding comment…)

OK, how ’bout one more trip down memory lane Dodgers fans…

gibson-hershiser Captain Kirk and The Bulldog…

Drei’s Thoughts Going to Game 5

Both teams will be throwing their ace out there so runs will once again be at a premium with Jacob deGrom matching up against our very own Zack Greinke. deGrom will be given the task of defeating two aces within less than a week in a pressure packed game. Zack is 10-1 at Dodger Stadium this season with a minuscule 1.46 ERA. Getting runners on base will be a huge key. Look for both teams to run more than usual to force the action. Each run will be huge. Only a trip to the NLCS is at stake, that’s all ? My Pick ? C’mon on now ? Do I really have to tell you ? All personal bias aside, I do expect a really close low-scoring affair…

Top of the 9th… Kid N Drei’s Tale

wpid-picsart_10-14-08.41.30.jpg With our special guest, Minion Dave. Kid N Drei’s ” official/unofficial ” Rally Minion…

wpid-picsart_10-14-08.50.41.jpg Minion Dave and Kid Marley Marlz, back at it in their mischievous ways, doing their best to lighten the mood before Game 5… 

wpid-picsart_10-14-09.00.45.jpg Hey Kid ! Minion Dave loves bananas ! Kike Hernandez loves those rally bananas…

Minion Dave_Bananas Get those bananas out Dave !!!

Dodgers_Rally banana

Bottom 9th… One Word…

wpid-picsart_10-10-08.25.43.jpg

All Star Mouse Hunting From the OC to LA… AL EAST

REDS_MUSTACHEWith the All-Star game less than 7 days away, one of the things fans in Cincinnati can look forward to are the scattered handlebar statues, 10 of which will be spread throughout The Queen City. 

5 years ago with the All-Star game in Anaheim, Mickey Mouse themed statues, 36 total, 30 of them representing each MLB team, we’re scattered throughout Anaheim, Orange County, Rancho Cucamonga all the way here to L.A.  My first post of my search for the ” Hidden Mickey’s
” featured statues representing each N.L. East team.

A.L. East Mickeys

Deep into the O.C…

MICKEY_ORIOLES

The Oriole Mickey was located outside the Newport Sports Museum. Further down in Laguna Beach along PCH…

MICKEY_RAYS I would find this Tampa Bay Rays Mickey next to this Tiki themed exhibit at the Laguna Art Museum.  I couldn’t have picked a better day to come to Laguna Beach than on this nice sunny Saturday afternoon. If only I had more time to enjoy the sights…

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MICKEY_BLUE JAYS All blue here with the Blue Jays Mickey, outside the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.  This nice family in an SUV saw that I was attempting a selfie the father actually pulled aside and offered to take this pic for me…

MICKEY_YANKEES Here I am with that ” EVIL MICKEY “, the Yankee, inside the entrance of the old ESPN Zone at L.A. Live. There was a private event that evening as they we’re hosting a party for the Korean soccer fans during the 2010 World Cup. I literally had to plea the security guard if I could go in and take a quick pick. Once I worked my way in, staff knew I was doing the scavenger hunt and even asked me about it.

One more to go for the A.L. East. Now to find that Red Sox Mickey outside the Discovery Center in Santa Ana…

MICKEY_ RED SOX MISSING AT DISCOVERY CENTER Hey ! Where’d Mickey go ?

MICKEY_RED SOX DL SIGN Angles fans taking their anger out ? I know the Red Sox have been a thorn on the Halos side over the years, but really ?

MICKEY_RED SOX

MICKEY_RED SOX N DREIHey, I actually got to see the Red Sox Mickey, all bandaged up from the beating he took, safe and sound at the All-Star fanfest…

Campaigning For Kid K

wpid-fb_img_1436315708657.jpg Why Kid K needs a final vote I will get to the All-Star game beats me, but here’s our chance to get him in. Dodger fans, you know what to do !!!

Drei’s 2015 AL Forcast

Hello Baseball Fans !!! It’s been a while since Drei has made his presence known. Well, not quite. It hasn’t exactly been a slow off-season for Drei, as he has been cruising the SoCal college basketball scene for Stadium Journey , among other off-season activities. Got a ballpark or two you plan to take in this summer ? Check us out at Stadium Journey for tips for your sports themed travels worldwide, including all 30 MLB yards.

Stadium Journey

How’s your off-season been ? We’re you satisfied with the off-season moves ( or maybe lack of ) by your team ? 

Here’s Drei’s 2015 picks

AL East

If there was ever a case for parity ( a word we’ll be hearing throughout the season ) in one division, the AL East makes a case. There certainly won’t be a lack of offensive firepower in this division. The Red Sox could have the strongest team all-around in the division. The additions of Rick Porcello and Wade Miley should provide a boost to their rotation as well as complement their offensive lineup with the additions of former Dodger Hanley Ramirez and former Giant Pablo Sandoval….

The Blue Jays and Orioles will also be in the heat of the race, anchored by their offenses.  However, both starting 5’s carry starters whose ERA’s last season was over 4 runs a game….

The Yankees field a lineup of players not exactly in their prime. This will be a hard pill to swallow for Yankee fans, but the rebuilding process starts this year. Also a hard pill that could be hard to swallow ? The Yankees finishing south of .500 for the first time since 1992….

The Rays, in spite of the loss of David Price, should still have a formidable pitching staff. However, an anemic offense will make it difficult for the Rays to stay competitive in the east….

AL Central

 

Parity. Did I say we’d be using that word A LOT this season ? This could be baseball’s most exciting division race, with 4 teams capable of winning claiming the flag. Detroit’s pitching took a hit with the loss of Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello. The starting unit for Motown should still be formidable with David Price and Justin Verlander, who I expect to have a bounce back season.

The starting 5 for the Tribe are all under 30, and their pitchers average over 8 strikeouts per nine innings. This could be the best starting rotation in the central….

The White Sox should be competitive as well with Jose Abreu and the addition Melky Cabrera and Jeff Samardzija to the starting rotation.

The Royals we’re carried for much of last season by their pitching, particularly their bullpen. However the loss of James Shields could be the difference between the Royals making another October run….

AL West

Somebody in the Junior Circuit has to win 90 games, right ? The AL’s two best teams could very well be here in the west, setting up a potential ALDS showdown between these two. The Mariners and Angels are among the vast favorites to represent the AL in The Fall Classic. The Mariners are counting on a big improvement in the middle of their lineup, especially with Nelson Cruz at the DH. It was the lack of offensive production, particularly at the DH position that prevented the M’s from reaching post-season play. The M’s starting 5, anchored by Felix Hernandez, just may be the AL’s best…

The Angels, baseball’s best team record wise last season, will be putting up some loud offensive numbers again with Mike Trout ready to take leadership down I-5. The starting 5, anchored by Jared Weaver, is not as dominant as the starters in Seattle but is still formidable. Having 2 lefty’s in the rotation should help the Halos as well…

The A’s, after trading Yoenis Cespedes, took an unexpected fall that nearly cost them a playoff spot, only to see them blow a 4 run lead late in their epic Wild Card battle with Kansas City. The A’s could still be the sleeper in the division with the additions of Ben Zobrist and Billy Butler to their lineup. The losses of Josh Donaldson, Jon Lester, Jeff Samaardzija, and Brandon Moss could be their downfall…

Wild Card

Angels over Bean Town in another epic playoff showdown between these two….

ALDS

Mariners over the Angels in 5 close games. This could also be a potential ALCS matchup…

Tigers over the Blue Jays. With Toronto making post-season play for the first time in 22 years, I still like Detroit’s offense to power them past their northern neighbors…

ALCS

This is a tough one. Detroit has enough experience in their lineup to carry them to The Fall Classic. Seattle has possibly the best starting 5 in the AL. If Verlander can stay healthy and have a bounce back year as I expect, a 7th game showdown between Justin and King Felix would be epic. Verlander is no stranger to the big stage in October, while the bright lights of October will be a first for King Felix…Tigers over the Mariners

Next up, Drei’s NL Forecast

9th Inning With Drei…

Moose We just may see each other come October, Moose…

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…