Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Thoughts From LA
I tried to post yesterday but ran into computer problems, so sorry to leave you in the dark for so long.
I headed out to LA with the club Monday evening. Dodger Stadium is one of the ballparks I had never visited (I missed our 2003 trip), I needed to meet with my counterpart at the Dodgers to talk spring training, and I like to walk around other ballparks in the league and steal ideas we might be able to implement.
What a game by Mark Buehrle, what a play by Alexi Ramirez and what a blast by Jermaine Dye.
Congratulations to Mark on the victory and on topping 1,000 career strikeouts.
I asked him if his dad had made it out to LA.
“No, and he really wanted to see this,” Mark said. “When I got the one, I’m thinking he wasn’t here. Each time I got two strikes on a guy, I was thinking, maybe he’ll hit a ground ball and I can get 1,000 in my next start at home.”
And for those of you who stayed up … thanks to Mark’s 2:05 game it didn’t end too late in Chicago, Alexei made an amazing catch and turned it into a double play. Make sure you check out today’s highlight shows to catch the catch.
So this is my first visit to Dodger Stadium …
As we walk in from the bus in mid afternoon, I see a guy in Sox uniform playing catch with a young boy in Sox garb right in front of our dugout. I know those mannerisms, I say to Steve Stone as we walk in past first base. It’s Robin Ventura, playing catch with his son, Jack. It’s great to see Robin, I congratulated him on the great job he did during the College World Series, and then felt very old seeing Jack running around.
The playing surface at Dodger Stadium was immaculate. It ranks up there with the very best in baseball. The stadium itself was a mix between the 1980s and some of the newer work the Dodgers have done to the seating area. Overall, the ballpark seemed older than I expected, but then it is now one of the oldest in baseball … which is amazing.
I’ve said before that I believe all of us are 12 years old inside, which means for me, it’s always 1977 in some spot in my mind.
So it was fun to see Vin Scully — and great to listen to his telecast — Steve Garvey, Fernando Valenzuela (1981, I know), Ron Cey and run into Charlie Hough in the press box.
World Series Redux
Down on the field during batting practice, I saw Steve Perry — still sporting a 2005 World Series hat. Also attending the game was Michael Clark Duncan, voice of our World Series video, proudly wearing his Sox cap (courtesy of Ken Williams), and I was told Common was in the house cheering for the Sox.
Ozzie Being Ozzie
So Ozzie was looking for a way to “get” me for coming on the trip … his opportunity came during his media session when he told reporters, with a broad smile, that I had just told him some private information about our Spring Training plans. This wasn’t true. He just wanted to see me squirm. He spent the rest of BP laughing at me about it.
Typical Ozzie in his exchange with Juan Pierre during BP. As Ozzie talked to media from Chicago and LA, Pierre took a lead from first base during Dodger BP.
“Don’t worry Juan,” Ozzie yelled, laughing. “You won’t get there tonight.”
“You’re right,” Pierre countered. “I’ll double.”
Prior to the game, Ozzie told the media one of the keys to JD’s hot streak has been his patience and discipline at the plate.
“He’s been swinging at strikes,” Guillen said. “That’s the key for any player.”
And then JD’s at-bats during the game illustrated that perfectly.
Joe Crede was a late scratch last night with a stiff lower back. They’ll see how he feels today. The victory snapped a nine-game road losing streak.
We got our butts kicked last weekend, but keep the bigger picture in mind. As Ozzie said Tuesday, “I’d rather lose a game to the Cubs than to the Twins”, meaning it’s always better to drop a game to someone outside your division.
Wish I Had Seen
My favorite columnist scurrying down the hallway of the Wrigley Field press box to “escape” two reporters from his very own newspaper and calling for security.
When he excuses his absence from clubhouses and ballparks in terms of feeling threatened, maybe he isn’t talking about players or staff after all. Maybe it’s the media who scare him.