Showing posts with label Los Angeles Dodgers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Los Angeles Dodgers. Show all posts

Saturday, November 27, 2021

An Early Look Ahead to the 2022 World Series and MLB Season

The 2021 World Series won by the Braves / Topps


The Atlanta Braves just overcame the Houston Astros to claim the 2021 World Series after what was an utterly enthralling season of baseball, but we are already thinking about how next season will go – and who might win the 2022 Fall Classic. 

Read on to find out who the favorites at vegasbetting.com to make the playoffs are – and what baseball fans can expect to see in the ballparks next year. 

Braves to Repeat? 

Atlanta ‘only’ won 88 games in the regular season in 2021 and was ranked third in the National League going into the playoffs. An excellent postseason run saw the Braves overcome Milwaukee in the NLDS, before beating favorites Los Angeles Dodgers in six in the NLCS. It then took another six games to get past Houston to win the World Series. 

There doesn’t seem to be too much appetite for backing the Braves to repeat in 2022. A lot will depend on whether Freddie Freeman will return, even though Atlanta should be fine to finish atop of what is a very inconsistent NL East. Anything can happen in the playoffs, of course, but Atlanta might not be celebrating again this time in 2022. 

Dodgers the Sportsbooks’ Favorites 

Unsurprisingly, the Los Angeles Dodgers have been named the favorites with the bookmakers to win the World Series next year. That was the case this year. The Dodgers won 106 regular season games, but couldn’t take the NL West; however, they got revenge against the Giants in the NLDS. 

There are plenty of question marks about the Dodgers going into 2022. A lot of money was spent two years ago to win multiple World Series – and that hasn’t quite happened. The flag was won in 2021, but there was no repeat. Now with many of their leading players as free agents, there is an uncertainty that hampers any real confidence in a Dodgers title.

MLB Teams to Look Out for in 2022 

It doesn’t look as though there will be many surprises in 2022. A bunch of teams will be expected to make repeat postseason appearances – but once it gets to that point, that is where things will get interesting. As far as the regular season goes, the NL West is worth keeping an eye on. San Diego was disappointing in 2021, but could upset either San Francisco or Los Angeles next year. The American League looks a little bit more predictable. Houston and the Chicago should win their respective divisions once again, while Tampa Bay should have the East locked up. The real battle in that division is with Toronto pushing to upset the Red Sox and Yankees to sneak into the wild card spots. 

Race for the Flag The 2021 

MLB playoffs showed that anything can happen once the regular season ends. Tampa won 100 games last year and then fell to the Red Sox in the ALDS – a team that won eight fewer in the regular season. Both number one seeded teams fell away well before the World Series too. Baseball’s postseason system might seem a little cruel to fans of other sports. After such a long and grueling regular season, only five teams out of 15 have a chance of progressing – and one of those only gets a one-off wild card game to stay in the competition. Whoever does make it to the World Series has definitely earned it. 

Final Words 

This article didn’t set out to confidently predict the winner of the 2022 World Series; however, hopefully you will see the race for the flag will be just as intense next year as it always has been. There will be some very familiar faces at the business end of the season – that’s for sure. But as far as the 2022 champion goes at this point it's all speculation.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

NL West Race: Will the Giants Hold Off the Dodgers?

San Francisco Giants / Pixabay

The NL West race has been fascinating all year. Tension is increasing as the playoffs approach, with the Dodgers and Giants practically shadowing each other’s results since the trade deadline. The Dodgers have been atop the MLB World Series odds all season long. It’s a different tale for the San Francisco Giants, who were widely tabbed as a .500 team at the start of the year. San Francisco has the advantage in mid-August and they keep finding a way to win even when games appear to have escaped them. Tussling in the standings, the teams also dueled at the trade deadline. Los Angeles was victorious on that occasion, landing Max Scherzer and Trea Turner. San Francisco was not left empty-handed, however, as they added Kris Bryant and Tony Watson to their roster of resurgent veterans and surprise breakouts. 

Schedule Challenges 

Holding a lead in the division, the Giants have margin for error. They can lose their three remaining games against the Dodgers and still be ahead. The schedule is not kind to Gabe Kapler’s team, though. The Giants have the fifth-toughest remaining schedule. There are 10 games against the Padres, six with the Braves and four with the Brewers. San Francisco has seen off the best MLB has to offer, beating the Dodgers, Brewers and Astros in recent weeks, but there are plenty of stern tests to come. Sitting middle-of-the-pack in schedule difficulty, the Dodgers also see a lot of the Padres. Crucially, they have 12 games against the Rockies and Diamondbacks. Dave Roberts’ club are the runaway leaders in run differential, contributing to a 50% chance of winning the division at FiveThirtyEight. Although doubted for months, there’s no question the Giants are the real deal. Holding off the Dodgers is going to take a special effort, however. They are on course to win over 100 games, which is a pace they need to maintain. The rotation must be strong, and the health of their veterans is crucial. 

Going Deep Into September 

Even pushing for a wildcard would have been a good season for the Giants. Looking to defend their World Series crown, the prospect of a one-game shootout just to make the Division Series will scare the Dodgers. The 2021 season has already been a great one for San Francisco. The entirety of the NL West race has been enthralling. It’s not over yet, and there are bound to be more twists and turns before the regular season wraps up on October 3rd. This division race is going to the final days of the regular season. After months of hype about the Dodgers and Padres’ fledgling rivalry, it is the old foes in The Bay who pose the real threat to the Dodgers’ NL West supremacy. This battle has history, it has massive fan bases, and it has star power. Projections might still give the Dodgers the upper hand, but it would be brave to bet against the Giants given what they have already achieved in 2021.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Baseball Happenings Podcast | Cody Bellinger 1 on 1 Interview

Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder and 2019 National League MVP joined the Baseball Happenings Podcast to discuss his new partnership with Flonase and why the move was in alignment with his personal branding, as he has suffered from allergies his entire career. 

He also explained what it was like to play through the pandemic, including winning the 2020 World Series and what the Dodgers are looking forward to in defending the title in 2021. 

Click here to listen to the Cody Bellinger interview and subscribe to the podcast.


 


Saturday, January 9, 2021

Why Tommy Lasorda Once Used A Rifle To Protect His Cuban Teammates

Tommy Lasorda celebrating the 1958-59 Almendares championship

Tommy Lasorda’s mighty curveball took him many places during his 14-year playing career, including Canada, Panama, Puerto Rico and Cuba. The tenacious southpaw’s fiery personality played right into the spirit of the Caribbean Winter League, making him a popular choice among the fans. 

During the 1958-59 Cuban Winter League season, Lasorda’s 8-3 record helped propel Almendares to the championship. They dominated in the Caribbean Series, going 5-1 with their pitching staff completing five of the six games. Lasorda was the lone starter not to go the distance, throwing 3.1 scoreless innings against Panama. 

While Almendares’ near-flawless championship would have been the highlight of any baseball season, another event during the 1958-59 campaign dominated anything that happened on the baseball field. 


On New Year’s Eve in 1958, one American baseball player noticed there was an uncomfortable quiet during the day. As John Goryl rode to the ballpark with Cienfuegos teammate Bob Will, there was an eerie silence on the road. 

“We were driving into Havana,” Goryl said during a 2011 interview. “We lived eight or nine miles outside of the city. We were driving down this main thoroughfare, and it was New Year’s Day. We were driving down the highway and not a soul in site. No traffic. All the windows when we got close to town were boarded up, curtains were down, and shutters were down.” 

When they arrived at the stadium, his Cuban teammates quickly updated Goryl on what was happening. There was a drastic change coming. 

“When we got to the ballpark, all of the Cuban ballplayers were gathered in one corner in the ballpark,” he said. “I took Pedro [Ramos] aside and he told me, ‘They think Batista left the country, and Castro will be coming in.’ I asked, ‘Are we gonna play?’ He said, ‘It doesn’t look like it, but they haven’t made that announcement.’ About 30 minutes later, an announcement was made, and we would be told when we would be able to play again.” 

With the inevitable change of power from Fulgencio Batista to Fidel Castro, chaos ensued. It was a long ride back to their protected beach compound at Club NĂ¡utico where the foreign players stayed. 

“All hell broke loose when we left that ballpark,” he said. “People tore down parking meters to get money, looting, and everything else.” 

Goryl thought his family was safe at the compound; however, one American player thought otherwise. He couldn’t believe his eyes when he looked out his window and saw Tommy Lasorda out front armed with a rifle. 

“We were living in a compound that was completely surrounded by water with guards,” he said. “I had a wife who had a small baby and was pregnant. I looked out the window one morning down to the street and there was Tommy walking around with a .22 rifle trying to protect everybody. It was the damndest thing I'd ever seen.”

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Baseball Happenings Podcast | Danny Gallagher Author of 'Blue Monday: The Expos, The Dodgers, and the Home Run That Changed Everything'

On the latest episode of the Baseball Happenings Podcast, we speak with Danny Gallagher, author of, "Blue Monday: The Expos, The Dodgers, and the Home Run That Changed Everything".

During the interview, we discussed the Expos' championship run during the 1981 strike-shortened Major League Baseball season. Gallagher explained how "Blue Monday" gives fans a behind-the-scenes look at one of Montreal's most beloved teams through exclusive player interviews from both the Expos and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Blue Monday / Dundurn Press

Baseball enthusiasts will enjoy how Gallagher breaks down the many decisions that led to Steve Rogers' and Rick Monday's epic face-off in the 1981 National League Championship Series, including the controversial firing of Dick Williams late in the season. While Monday's name still evokes painful memories in Montreal, Gallagher graciously devotes an entire chapter to the 19-year veteran's career that shows neither him nor Rogers, should be defined by their playoff clash.

Danny Gallagher - Baseball Happenings Podcast Interview


Sunday, November 11, 2018

Ron Negray, pitcher in the first ever Los Angeles Dodgers game, dies at 88

Ron Negray, a former pitcher with the Brooklyn Dodgers, passed away November 8, 2018, in Akron, Ohio after a brief illness. He was 88.

Negray signed with the Dodgers in 1949 after briefly attending Kent State University. Although only 19 in his debut season, he looked like an experienced veteran with a 21-6 record for Class D Valdosta. Over the next three years, Negray battled his way up the crowded ranks of Brooklyn’s farm system en route to the major leagues.

Ron Negray / Author's Collection
The Dodgers finally reached for Negray once their roster expanded in September 1952. Fresh off an 11-7 performance with their Triple-A club in St. Paul, Negray entered a Brooklyn clubhouse anonymous to a Hall of Fame roster.

“The first day I came to Brooklyn, I came in during the morning,” Negray recalled during a 2008 phone interview his Ohio home. “We were playing Cincinnati and Charlie Dressen told me to go to the bullpen. Nobody even knew me; I wasn't even introduced to anybody.”

Negray's anonymous September 14, 1952 debut

After the Reds chased starter Johnny Rutherford, Dressen summoned Negray to start the fourth inning. Hidden among the throng of September call-ups, his Brooklyn teammates met Negray with surprise as he approached the mound. (Ed. Note – Some names were corrected from Negray’s recall of the following events.)

“I went in relief in about the 4th inning," he said. "Campanella [Rube Walker] came up and said, 'Who are you?' I said, 'Well, I'm Ron Negray.' Gil Hodges came up and asked if I was in the right ballpark. Campanella [Walker] then asked me if I knew the scoreboard signs. I said, ‘What scoreboard?’ They worked signs off the scoreboard, but I didn't know what he was talking about, because we didn't have that in St. Paul. That broke everybody up.”

After pitching a scoreless frame, he returned for the fifth to stare down the power-hitting Ted Kluszewski. With his bulging biceps exposed by his cut-off sleeves, Big Klu cut an intimidating figure just by standing in the batter’s box.

“He looked like Man Mountain Dean,” he said. “I guess Campanella [Walker] must have told him I threw really hard. The first pitch I threw him a change of pace, a low slow ball, and he popped it up. He cursed Campanella [Walker] because he must have told him I threw really hard.”

Negray left the game unscathed, hurling three clean innings in relief. He made another three appearances for the Dodgers down the stretch, pitching 13 innings without a decision.

Jackie Robinson's special gesture

As the Dodgers rejoiced for yet another opportunity to play in the World Series, the team skipped over Negray when they distributed watches to celebrate their National League victory. One teammate however, went out of his way to ensure that Negray felt like one of the regulars.

“When we won the pennant, they gave out watches,” he said. “Since I came up and I was a low-life rookie, I was the last man and didn't get a watch. Jackie [Robinson] came over and gave me his watch. He said, ‘You could have my watch.’ I gave it to my dad and I don't know what happened to it. … We talked a lot of baseball. He told me what I should and shouldn't do.”

After his sip of big league coffee, Negray stayed in the Dodgers minor league system until he was traded midseason in 1955 to the Philadelphia Phillies. He spent the remainder of 1955 and the entire 1956 campaign with Philadelphia on their big league roster.

The Dodgers reacquired Negray in 1957 as part of the Chico Fernandez trade. While he did not return to the majors for the Dodgers' farewell in Brooklyn, he made history when the team moved to California.

Breaking ground in California

When the Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants squared off at Seals Stadium on April 14, 1958, it marked a frontier for baseball’s westward expansion. Both teams left New York to build a new legacy, and Negray made his mark on the inaugural contest. Appearing in relief, he pitched the final two innings in the Dodgers’ 8-0 loss. At the time of his death, he was the last player alive from the Dodgers lineup that groundbreaking day.

The Dodgers sent Negray back to the minors a month later, never again to return to the big leagues. He finished his career in 1963 after 15 seasons in professional baseball.

Negray stayed close to the game by selling uniforms and athletic equipment to local high schools for 34 years until his retirement. His death leaves only 18 living Brooklyn Dodgers alumni.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Baseball Happenings Podcast - Mike Trombley dishes out big league financial advice

Mike Trombley, an 11-year major league veteran with the Twins, Dodgers, and Orioles, came on the Baseball Happenings Podcast to discuss how professional athletes can best look out for their financial interests both during and after their careers. He is currently the head of Trombley Associates, a family-run financial management company in Massachusetts where he took over for his father Ray who started the company over a half-century prior.


In the wake of the recent news about Jake Peavy losing a reported $15 million due to his financial advisor’s involvement in a Ponzi scheme, Trombley explained the pitfalls that many major leaguers face trying to manage a sudden windfall of riches while keeping their attention on what is going on in between the lines of play.

“There were a couple of [Major League] friends of mine that [had] their agents paying their bills for them,” Trombley said. “They never even saw a bill.”

During the 20-minute interview, Trombley dishes out practical advice on what to look for in an investment professional, as well as his experiences of managing his money while living the hectic life of a Major League Baseball player.

Baseball Happenings Podcast on iTunes.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Wally Moon, 1954 National League Rookie of the Year, dies at 87

Wally Moon's soaring drives over the Los Angeles Coliseum's left field fence were affectionately nicknamed "Moon Shots" for the way he lofted balls into flight over the screen. Sadly, his final "Moon Shot" touched down Friday February 9th, 2018 when he passed away in Bryan, Texas. He was 87.

Wally Moon 1961 Sport Magazine / Author's Collection
Revered not only for his famous moniker, but his trademark unibrow, Moon immediately made a splash during his Major League debut with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1954 when he homered during his first at-bat. He continued to sizzle during his rookie campaign, batting .304 with 12 home runs and 76 RBIs, besting Hall of Famers Ernie Banks and Hank Aaron for the National League Rookie of the Year Award.

During Moon’s 12-year MLB career, he spent the first five with the St. Louis Cardinals and after an injury played down year in 1958, the Cardinals traded Moon to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Presented with a fresh start and a new environment, a healthy Moon changed his hitting approach to aim for the short Los Angeles Coliseum wall, earning him blasts their aforementioned nickname.



The change of scenery paid off immediately for both Moon and the Dodgers, as he was selected for the 1959 All-Star team and finished fourth in the MVP, both honors coming while helping to lead the Dodgers to World Series victory. He spent the next six seasons with the Dodgers, long enough to claim another World Series ring during the 1965 season, his final major league campaign.

The three-time All-Star finished his career with a lifetime .289 batting average with 142 home runs and 661 RBIs. Once away from the major league spotlight, Moon couldn’t stay away from baseball. He spent ten years as the head coach at John Brown University in Arkansas, save for a one year break as the hitting coach with the San Diego Padres in 1969.

Moon finally returned to the professional ranks in 1987 when he was given a minor league managing job in the New York Yankees organization. One of the upstarts on his 1988 Prince William club was a fresh-faced 19-year-old Puerto Rican center fielder, Bernie Williams. After the Yankees let Moon go, he settled in with the Baltimore Orioles as a minor league manager and hitting instructor from 1990-1995.

In retirement, Moon wrote his autobiography, “Moon Shots: Reflections on a Baseball Life,” in 2010 with Tim Gregg.

Friday, January 20, 2017

How Red Adams turned a devastating injury into a five decade journey in baseball

Looking at Red Adams’ career Major League stats, one might assume that he was washed up at age 24, pitching only 12 innings for the Chicago Cubs in 1946 with a bloated 8.25 ERA. Lost in the translation of his  cup of coffee was a 19-year minor league career that spanned over 3,000 innings and opened the door for another three decades as a scout, pitching coach, and instructor for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Red Adams / Author's Collection

Adams died Wednesday January 18, 2017 at the age of 95 in California. He left behind a lifetime of memories that came from a half-decade association with a game that he admits he wasn’t ready to play when he signed his first professional contract in 1939.

“I didn’t play any baseball before I went into pro baseball,” he told me during a 2009 phone interview from his home in California. “I grew up in a small town. There was a guy named Charlie Moncrief who took me to a tryout camp. He saw me play in high school. I played seven or eight games in high school. He took me to Los Angeles to a tryout camp and I was signed. I didn’t even know pitchers were supposed to cover first base.”

While Adams was learning the finer points of the game playing at the lowest rung of the minor leagues in Bisbee, Arizona, he suffered a severe injury that threatened to cut short a career that was just starting. An evening of horseplay with his roommates left him with an injury that would have stopped his career dead in its tracks if he played any other position besides pitcher.

“I had gotten into an accident in Bisbee, Arizona when I first started playing ball,” he recalled. “A bunch of damn fools we were! We were staying in a big rooming house; a bunch of players with nobody in charge. I was up there and a couple of us got into a damn water fight. I wound up getting hurt badly. I was chasing this kid down the damn hall to get even with him to throw water on him. He runs in this door and closes it behind him. It was a glass door and I was right behind him, I stick out my left arm and I cut myself real bad. If you get cut by glass like that, it was like no pain, but suddenly I was bleeding all over. I cut my left arm at the ulnar nerve just above my elbow. It’s like midnight and they take me to the hospital nearby. They just sewed it up. The main nerves were cut. It cripples my hand to where I can’t even straighten my fingers.”

His arm injury was so debilitating, that when he went to register to serve in World War II, he was declared unfit for participation. It was a label that he despised having.

“It kept me out of the Army,” he said. “I took my physical but the guy looked at my hand and said I’d be taken in for limited service. He told me I’d be called any time. I stayed out of baseball; I was married and my wife was expecting a baby. The next year, they didn’t call me. I was working on a farm not making any money, so I thought I’d go and play ball and make a little money. Eventually, they put me 4F which was ‘unfit,’ which I hated calling myself that because I was fit except for my arm. Had I been an everyday player, it would have been the end of me.”

A few years later after his devastating injury, Adams ascended his way to the major leagues, pitching with the Cubs in 1946 after posting a 9-4 record with a 2.68 ERA for the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League. It was in that league where Adams truly built his career, playing the next 12 seasons in the PCL while the league earned an Open classification from professional baseball.

He experienced a breakout season in 1952 with Portland after returning invigorated from an appearance in the Caribbean Series with the San Juan Senadores from Puerto Rico. At age 30, he found a new lease on his pitching life.

“I came back and was a different pitcher in the Coast League,” he said. “In the past I was struggling, I was going downhill; I started to wonder what I was going to do after baseball. In those years, I’d come on pretty good the last half of the season and keep my job. That winter, I came into spring training in shape and I led the coast league in ERA that year even though I lost more games than I won.”

Modern-era executives might now recognize his low earned run average as a sign of his effectiveness and discount his hard luck losses, but in 1952, management was quick to pin full responsibility of the ledger on their pitchers, no matter the ineptitude of their offense or defense.

“The general manager there cut my salary a couple hundred dollars per month,” he said. “I was pitched the opening game in San Francisco and lost 1-0; the other guy pitched a one-hitter. I lost my first five games and didn’t give up more than three runs per game. He [the general manager] called me in after the fifth loss and gave me the $200 cut. He said, ‘The way you’re pitching, if you don’t win a game, you deserve to have your salary cut.’ His name was Bill Mulligan. I ended up winning 15 games.”

Adams said that the scenario he described was common in the minor leagues, as players had little choice in their movement due to the reserve clause. Despite the salary cut against what he felt was effective performance, he still felt that playing in the Pacific Coast League had many benefits in the 1950s.

“Those were the struggling minor league days,” he said. "The Coast League was a good league to play in; we had good conditions, it was a very comfortable league to play in. A lot of the players came from the big leagues, fringe guys, or guys that had a couple of years left. The conditions were hard to beat. Not too many players made a lot of money in the major leagues. There were players happy to be playing there.”

After finishing up as a player in 1958, Adams was asked to become a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He worked in that position until 1969 when Walter Alston brought him as a pitching coach. He stayed with the Dodgers in that role through the transition to Tommy Lasorda's regime until his retirement as a coach in 1980. Although he stepped down from his coaching duties, he continued with the organization as an instructor through the mid 1980s. Among his many prized pupils was Hall of Famer Don Sutton, who called Adams, “the standard by which all pitching coaches should be measured.”

During our 2009 conversation, Adams reflected on how fortunate he was to work with the Dodgers for such a lengthy period a time. After considering how his career was almost truncated due to a careless injury away from the field, he marveled at the fortune that turned it into an almost 50-year journey in the sport.

“It was a damn good organization,” he said. “I lucked out; I was pretty lucky.”

Monday, December 21, 2015

Charlie Manuel reflects on playing baseball in Japan

Charlie Manuel, former manager of the 2008 World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies, and major leaguer with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Minnesota Twins, candidly discusses his time playing baseball in Japan and the adjustments he made while playing there. In this interview with the Japan Weekly Baseball Podcast, Manuel shows how his genuine character has made his one of the most respected figures in the game. Manuel is also a popular figure on Twitter and can be followed @CMBaseball41


Saturday, October 24, 2015

Pete Rose’s longtime third base coach sees nothing wrong with an old-school slide into — or near — second base

Sometimes in baseball, it’s the third base coach that has one of the best perspectives of watching a play develop on the field. For over 25 years, Alex Grammas manned that position, primarily for Sparky Anderson’s Big Red Machine in the 1970s and later again with Anderson for 12 years in Detroit. A ten-year career as a shortstop in the major leagues put him up close and person with many collisions at second base, but none as famous when he watched from the coaches box as Pete Rose upended New York Mets shortstop Bud Harrelson during the 1973 NLCS.

“I can remember him sliding in there and the fight that developed after that,” said the 89-year old Grammas, speaking recently from his home in Alabama.







Grammas wearing number 2, pictured as the Cincinnati Reds third base coach along with Pete Rose and George Foster / Topps

While the fight details and its aftermath from 42 years ago are a little blurry for Grammas, who rushed in from third base to defray the fracas that ensued, he was clear on why Rose went in with such aggression.

“He [Rose] played as hard as a guy could play, no question about it,” he said. “He wanted for the team to win and that was his aim. In that All-Star game when he ran over that guy at home plate [Ray Fosse], I saw it on film and you just figure out a guy is doing things to win ballgames and some are a little tougher at it than others. Pete was as tough on that as you would run into.”

Looking at Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Chase Utley’s slide on Ruben Tejada of the New York Mets during Game 2 of the NLDS, Grammas tried to put it in a perspective from when he was a player sixty years ago. He thought that every player approaching second base was going to try to make it hard for him to finish the job.

“I had to assume that whoever was coming into second base to break up a double play, I don’t care who they were, they were going to try to get you out of it,” he said. “They weren’t trying to break your leg or anything; they were just trying to get your momentum slowed down and get it to a point where you didn’t have the accuracy if you weren’t touched.

“When you’re on that field and you’re thinking we’ve gotta win this game to help us get to the World Series, a lot of things go through your mind. You don’t try to hurt anybody but you go in pretty hard and just hope that they can’t turn it into a double play, which is what you’re sliding for. The slide that fellow [Utley] made the other night wasn’t that far off the bag really. Now if you would have gone out there to the right 8–10 feet, now it would be different. This thing here, he could touch the bag even though he’s knocking this guy out of it. I guess it depends on which team you want to win is how you feel about it.”

Even though Tejada had no away to avoid Utley’s slide, Grammas felt that these types of collisions are just part of the intense competition of playoff baseball. That’s not to say that he didn’t drop some old school methods of exacting revenge on the field.

“Tejada didn’t [have a chance], he was there to be nailed,” he said. “I’ve gone through situations like that and there is really not a heck of a lot you can do about it because you know what they’re attitude is and you know what yours is. They’re trying to win a ballgame and so are you. The next time he slides in there and he’s a little open and he tries to nail me, there’s no telling where I’m liable to come down on him. You just don’t forget things like that. If you really give it a deep thought, these guys are trying to make it to the World Series and you can understand why they do things like that.”

As MLB mulls over possible rule changes regarding take-out slides at second base, Grammas, who spent 48 years in the major leagues as a player, coach, and manager, feels that any adjustment will have too large of an impact on the outcome of a game.

“I don’t think there needs to be a change in the rules,” Grammas said. “If you’re going to do that, you’re just giving people a chance to turn a double play that maybe they would have stayed out of. Maybe that [slide] would help your team win the ballgame, that what that’s for. If they felt like they could help stop him from making a double play, then that’s our chance to win the ballgame. That’s how you think as a ballplayer.”


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Frank Howard emphatically endorses Gil Hodges Hall of Fame candidacy

While a statue of Frank Howard towers over spectators at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., the 6’7” slugger is also a well known figure in New York, where he was a coach for both the Yankees and Mets (serving as a manager for the latter in 1983). On Saturday, the 78-year-old Howard returned to New York as a guest at the JP Sports Long Island National Card Show at Hofstra University, signing autographs for a few hundred fans that waited patiently to greet one of the most feared power hitters in baseball history.




Saturday, August 16, 2014

Tom Sowinksi, St. John's 1968 College World Series hero and former Queens College coach dies at 68

Tom Sowinski, St. John's University's all-time single-season wins leader in baseball, and the former head coach at Queens College (N.Y), passed away August 7, 2014 after suffering a massive heart attack while playing golf. He was 68.

Sowinski played three years in the Los Angeles Dodgers minor league system from 1968-70, getting as high as Double-A in their farm system.

Prior to his tenure at Queens College, he was the head coach at Queensborough Community College, as well as previously spending time as an assistant at Adelphi University and Manhattan College.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Dodgers infielder Bill Russell makes a putout on autograph seekers

Bill Russell, a veteran of 18 seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, most of them as the shortstop of their legendary infield of the 1970's that included Ron Cey, Davey Lopes and Steve Garvey, is now refusing autograph requests through the mail.

The following typed note with pre-printed signature from Russell was received a few weeks ago from a reader with his card unsigned requesting that no more mail be sent to his home address.

"Please do NOT send any more items to this address. They will NOT be signed or returned. Thank you for your cooperation." - Bill Russell
According to the website SportsCollectors.net, Russell has not signed autographs sent to his home address since January 2013. Prior to the announcement, the website stated that he had signed close to 95% of requests sent to him via the mail since 2001.

Russell has not commented as to why he had this sudden change of heart fulfilling mailed autograph requests, but his actions serve as a reminder that the players, especially retired ones, are doing fans a courtesy of acknowledging requests sent to their homes. A simple show of gratitude and respect for these veterans goes a long way in keeping the doors open.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Mets and Dodgers honor Mike Sandlock, oldest living Dodger at Citi Field

Mike Sandlock
Honoring the long standing connection of the Dodgers to Brooklyn, the New York Mets honored 96-year-old Greenwich, Connecticut, native Mike Sandlock at Citi Field Saturday afternoon. Sandlock, a former catcher, is the oldest living Dodger and a link to the franchise’s history that preceded the famed Boys of Summer.

Click here to read a full interview with Sandlock, which includes pictures from his personal collection, his day at Citi Field, and video clips from the interview.


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Moose Skowron shares how he danced his way to first base

Moose Skowron at 2011 Old Timers Day / N. Diunte
Old Timers' Day for the New York Yankees this year is going to lose a bit of spice with the passing of Bill "Moose" Skowron. The slugging first baseman of four Yankee World Series championship teams died of congestive heart failure in Arlington Heights, Ill. He was 81.

I had the opportunity to interview Skowron in 2009 via telephone from his home regarding how he broke in with the Yankees. The link below contains some of the stories Skowron shared about coming up through the Yankees minor league system and how he came to play first base.

Click here to read the Skowron interview.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Choo Choo Coleman interview

Clarence "Choo Choo" Coleman has been an elusive figure since his playing days with the New York Mets. Returning to New York after 45 years, Coleman sat down for an interview about his career starting from Class D with the Orlando club of the Washington Senators in 1955, through his time with the Dodgers and Phillies organizations before landing with the Mets in 1962.

Click here to read this rare interview with one of the favorites of the 1962 Mets.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Maury Wills proudly represents the Dodger blue at the 2011 MLB draft

Sixty years after signing with the Dodgers, Maury Wills continues to bleed Dodger blue. Wills appeared in New York City at a pre-draft luncheon earlier this week as the official representative of the Los Angeles Dodgers at the 2011 Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft. “El Fantasma” (The Ghost) as he was nicknamed in Venezuela for his base-stealing ability, spent a few minutes discussing his 1951 entry into the famed then-Brooklyn organization.

“I was signed out of a tryout camp,” Wills recalled during the festivities. “The guys in the projects saw this ad in the newspaper for Washington D.C. kids between the ages of 17-19 to come and bring your gloves and spikes.”

Maury Wills

His courtship by the Dodgers differed greatly from the hopefuls that awaited Monday evening’s selections.

“We went and performed in front of the scouts,” he said. “There was no such thing as a draft deal like now where they see you play and approach you for a nice bonus. I got $500 and I gave it to my dad. He never saw $500 at one time in his life.”

Wills thought his signing was going to bring life changing riches. He quickly learned that wasn't the case for a young ballplayer at the lowest level of professional baseball.

“At the time, before I signed, I thought I was going to get all of this money and take my family out of the projects, but that didn’t happen,” he said. “I signed for $130 per month and $1.50 per day meal money.”

Despite the rough road he faced toiling the minor leagues for nine years, climbing the ladder all the way from Class-D Hornell to the majors, Wills would repeat his journey.

“I would do it again today,” he said. “I would pay that price.”

It was that proverbial price Wills paid that allowed him to represent the Dodgers at the 2011 MLB Draft. Throughout all of his well chronicled battles with drug abuse, he acknowledged a divinely spirit guiding him along his continued path in baseball.

“Signing for that $130 per month and that meal money, that’s what got me here,” he said. “If I didn’t want to sign for that, I wouldn’t be here. I paid the price all the way, even after getting to the big leagues. That’s the only reason I’m here, not because of myself, but in spite of myself; it was God’s grace. For the Dodgers to ask me to come here to represent them, it’s really flattering.”



Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Billy Harris, former Brooklyn Dodger passes away at 80

Billy Harris, former pitcher for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers and member of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, passed away Friday night at the age of 80 at his home in Kennewick, Wash.

Billy Harris, 1957 Brooklyn Dodgers
Harris was hospitalized about a month ago for bleeding ulcers after he fainted in his restaurant, Billy’s Bullpen. Discharged from the hospital two weeks ago, Harris never fully recovered from his ailments.

Just a few short months ago in February, I interviewed Harris for a story I authored about his teammate, Clyde Parris. Harris was cheerful and spoke glowingly not only about his Montreal teammate, but his entire career in baseball. Harris drank from the smallest cups of coffee, pitching two games for the Dodgers, one in 1957 and the other in 1959, but for Harris, what a sweet cup it was!

“It was a great feeling to go up there," Harris said during our phone interview in February 2011. "Every time they called me up, I knew the guys from spring training so it was just like meeting old buddies again.”

Harris gained accolades for being one of the early Canadians in the majors. Hailing from Duguayville, N.B., Harris epitomized the pinnacle of achievement for a baseball player from such a small area.

“Billy defined Canadiana. Small town boy makes good,” said Tom Valcke, president & CEO of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in an interview with Kevin Glew of the Canadian Baseball Network.

Harris signed with the Dodgers at the age of 19 in 1951 when he was offered a contract by Bill O’Connor while he was playing hockey. He found immediate success with Class-D Valdosta, posting an 18-9 record with a 2.19 ERA.

He quickly climbed the ladder, skipping two levels to Class-B Miami the following year. During his magical 1952 season, Harris went 25-6 with a minuscule 0.83 ERA, a record for the lowest season ERA for a pitcher in organized ball. 

When asked about his breakout season, Harris remained humble about his achievement.

“I think the record still stands for ERA, 0.83," he said. "I won 25 games and three more in the playoffs which doesn’t count in the standings. I had good defense, but I had good stuff. My fastball was really moving.

“I don’t know it just one of those deals. It was kind of a pitcher’s league but we had a good team behind me. I had Chico Fernandez at short, Dick Gray at third and [Jimmy] Bragan at second base. We had a good outfield that could go get ‘em, so that helped the team. All I had to do was throw the ball over the plate.”

Harris ascended the ranks the following season, playing in AA Fort Worth and Mobile. He spent the next three seasons shuttling between AA and AAA, making brief stops with Montreal in 1954 and 1955 before settling in for good with the Canadian club in 1956.

His previous stops in Montreal while brief, proved to be rather memorable. In 1954, Harris only pitched three games for Montreal, but it gave him enough time to join baseball’s golden child’s Roberto Clemente on the bench for his only season in the Dodger organization. Clemente was being “hidden” by the Dodgers brass that season, being used sparingly with the hopes that another team would not claim him while he waited in AAA.

During one of their conversations on the bench, Clemente revealed to Harris where his next destination would be.

“I remember, we always sat and talked on the bench," he said. "They didn’t play him too much as they tried to hide him as he was up for grabs because he was sent down and made more than a $10,000 bonus. He was sitting there telling me, ‘Billy, next year I go to Pittsburgh.’ I said ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘Look up in the stands.’ It was Clyde Sukeforth up there.”

Harris marveled at the talent that was around him in Montreal. Looking back they had enough talent to make a major league team on their own.

“I think we had a team in Montreal that would beat most of the major league teams," he said. "Sparky Anderson was my second baseman. We also had Rocky Nelson, John Roseboro, Clyde Parris, George Shuba, Dick Williams and Chico Fernandez. Those were some great names.”

During the winters in between his forays with the Dodgers minor league clubs, Harris went to the Caribbean to bolster his income and polish his pitching skills. He played six years in winter ball in both Panama and Venezuela.

“The pay was good," he recalled. "You didn’t want to take a real job. I played two years in Panama and four in Venezuela. For two of those years, I played in the Caribbean Series and then I went right to spring training.”

Finally in 1957, after eight years in the minors, Brooklyn reached down and called for Harris to join the major league club. With the reserve clause, all he could do at the time was wait for the call to the show.

“You belonged to the team," he said. "There was no free agency and no union to protect you. I was called up to the Dodgers and they kept me back because Buffalo was fighting for the pennant. The league owner told me I had to stay to pitch against them. I beat Buffalo, I think it cost them the pennant and the next day I went with the Dodgers.

“I pitched the next to the last game of the season in 1957 against the Phillies in Philadelphia. The last game Roy Campanella caught; I pitched that game. I got to know him quite a lot in spring training. I used to hit grounders to the infielders and he would back me up and we had a ball. He was funnier than hell. He was a great guy. He had a nickname for me; he’d call me 'muscles.' I was built kind of strong in those days. Just think next year he would have played in the Coliseum and he would have popped a whole bunch off the porch there.”

Harris was called up again at the end of the 1959 season to relieve the Dodgers pitching staff as they made a run at the World Series. He hurt his arm the following season and wound up playing for Tri-City a few years later, luring him to his Kennewick residence.

“They had a team in Tri-City where I live now," he said. "I didn’t even know where this place was. They needed a coach, so I pitched and coached. My wife was from Montreal and I was from New Brunswick and we decided to live there. We bought a home and I decided to get into this business,” said Harris.

The business he referred to is his sports bar, Billy’s Bullpen in Kennewick.

“I’ve owned this for 25 years. It’s a sports bar, we have a lot of fun here.”

Harris is survived by his wife, Alice, daughter Gail and sons, Billy Jr. and Rick, as well as seven grand children.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What does Chin-lung Hu's acquisition mean for the rest of the Mets infielders?

Chin-lung Hu - shgmom56 / Flickr
With the New York Mets recently acquiring Chin-lung Hu from the Los Angeles Dodgers, what implications does it have for the rest of the Mets utility infielders? Click here to read some thoughts and analysis of the rest of the Mets players in competition with the former Dodgers top prospect.