This is how I celebrated the return of baseball season.
The second game of our Saturday – we still haven’t slept – but this one figures to be a little less hazy. Hopefully we see some runs in this one. I thought that would be the case before I read that Trevor Cahill is a lifetime 6-0 against the Dodgers in 10 career starts, with a 2.01 ERA.
If you’re watching the game, watch it with us! Join in the liveblog chat and hang out!
I woke up at 2:00 AM and barely hung on through the rain delay at Sydney Cricket Ground early this morning. I stayed up through the entire game – and although I’m exhausted this morning – damn it feels good to have baseball back.
The Dodgers are 1-0, winning the opener on foreign soil 3-1. Scott Van Slyke was the offensive hero, but the real story was probably what a horse effort Clayton Kershaw offered. On 102 pitches, Kershaw struck out seven and walked just one to get the win; the 78th of his young career.
Wade Miley wasn’t bad for the Diamondbacks. He went 5 and 2/3, striking out eight and walking two. Yasiel Puig went 0 for 5 with three bad-looking strike outs.
Game two is tonight at 10:00 PM here in the Midwest. I already can’t wait.
It took all of a couple hours for Yasiel Puig to announce his presence in The Land Down Under, hitting a towering home run to left field in a park that was built for another sport. Puig likes Australia it seems – just listen to him narrate in amazement of this Koala.
No ‘stumps’, no ‘creases’ here. Just a fortified bat flip we’ve became accustomed to since the Wild Horse made his debut in baseball.
We’re just 30 hours away from real baseball being played this weekend. This Aussie getting eaten alive by the Puigmonster serves as a fine appetizer to the main course that will kick off soon enough.
Yasiel Puig is the Dodgers Straw that Stirs the Drink.
It was last season in late June and early July, and we were in Las Vegas sitting in a sportsbook at the Belagio when it hit us: why don’t we take some money out of our emergency savings, and plunk it down on the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the whole damn thing? It almost seemed too easy. The Dodgers were just starting to get on a roll but the oddsmakers really weren’t onto them just yet. A lot stood to be made if someone had the gusto to plunk down the bet.
And as a wise gambler once told us; this is exactly why you do not bet. Luckily, we talked ourselves out of it and stayed away from it. But it was maybe only because we had a marriage to worry about if things didn’t work out for the Dodgers in the postseason.
Los Angeles would soon thereafter go on a 46-10 roll. National League pitchers seemed to figure out Yasiel Puig, but not entirely. The Dodgers ran into a buzzsaw of a team in St. Louis whose rotation got hot at just the right time, and looking back that St. Louis team excelled at all the small things that the star-power Dodgers did not. Small execution, great defense, and exceptional pitching helped the Cardinals prevail.
We were happy to see the legendary Dodgers succeed. We would have been fine with them taking the title last year. It’s good for baseball when the Dodgers are good. In our opinion, they play in America’s most enchanting city, in a gem of a stadium in the sunshine, with the grandfather of baseball calling their games late-night in the Midwest all by himself.
They have an eclectic roster and a charismatic ownership group. Their GM looks like a guy who could have you whacked. There are a lot of things to love about this team heading into 2014.
Major Off-season Moves:
Signed Clayton Kershaw to a 7-year, $215 million dollar contract.
Michael Young retired.
Signed Don Mattingly to an extension through 2016.
Signed Jamey Wright.
Signed Chris Perez.
Re-signed Juan Uribe to a 2-year, $15 million dollar contract.
Signed Alexander Guerrero to a 4-year, $28 million dollar contract.
And you’re damn right we’re bullish on the Dodgers. Did 2013 scare us off a little bit with the way they eroded in the NLCS? Absolutely not. We started with this team because we’re picking them to win the whole damn thing in 2014. As we have been so often in life (and sometimes not enough), we were just a year early on the Dodgers. They’re a year better, a year wiser, and they’re going to still come into your town and stomp your team and probably drink all the tequila your city has to offer this season. Click through the jump to learn more about our projected 2014 champions.
Not the kind of news you like to hear about your fantasy baseball cornerstone (in multiple “big money” pro leagues), but today the news made it’s way out that Yasiel Puig has spent his off-season living like a swine, gaining 26 pounds.
Do I think the guy could still hit even with the extra weight on him? Yes, probably. Do I think it’s another concerning sign and something I really didn’t want to read about a guy I’m excited about? This is absolutely brutal on Puig’s part. And at this point, I don’t expect him to work with the kind of fury it would take to burn 26 pounds in less than a month by Dodgers Opening Day; young metabolism be-damned.
Some places had Puig’s playing weight listed at 245 pounds. Do the math and carry the six, and that would put Puig just a pound over the 270 mark. This isn’t good for business.
The guy really is Manny Ramirez 2.0 – when I heard the news I thought back to when I was a kid, seeing Manny annually riding the bike around Indians camp and hearing through the press that he was going to be riding the bike and leaving his glove and bat aside in Spring Training until he lost the weight. Like a sign of spring every year, Manny just rolled in out of shape like it was routine. And equally routine, he would roll off his couch and hit like a machine.
But I know how guys are around Puig’s age. I was that age once. You’re athletic, you’ve never had a problem with weight before in your life. You stop watching things. You live like a hog. You eat whatever you want. You drink whatever you want. With no discipline to stand in the way you gain all that baby fat, and believe me if he put on 26 pounds he’s got some. I honestly bet Puig had lunches this off-season of 12 double chocolate chip cookies, followed up by a five hour nap through dinner time, only to wake up and slam nothing but mixed drinks all night long. This wreaks of irresponsibility. This isn’t Mike Trout “good weight”.
And it makes you realize that you have to come to appreciate the guys who bust their ass to come into camp in shape from day one. A lot of people take it for granted. It’s always something I appreciated as an observer of the game. It goes along with treating the whole thing like a job and not like a playground.
Because this horrifying month is the shortest of them all, we’re down to some 28 days and a wake-up from the Major League Baseball Opening Series in Sydney Australia on March 22nd.
The opening series will be entertaining not only because it’s the first counting baseball that we’ve had since October, but it will be held at marvelous Syndey Cricket Ground.
Throw in Yasiel Puig, Paul Goldschmidt, Mark Trumbo, and Hanley Ramirez into a friggin’ cricket stadium and make them play baseball, and you’re bound to see something interesting.
There’s another thing you may not realize that will make this opener unique in it’s own way. For fans in the United States, the opener will actually take place at 4 AM Saturday morning. For fans like us, there’s a good chance we just ride out Friday evening and turn it into an all-nighter. At some point, people will need to sleep. And that’s not just because you can’t function without it. It’s because at 10 PM that Saturday evening, Vin Scully will be back on the air calling the second game of the series.
For some nutbags out there, that’s two games packed into one Saturday. Then there’s all day Sunday to recover for work on Monday.
It literally cannot get here soon enough. When I hear that jolly old man telling stories and calling the auction in the wee hours of the night that glorious March 22nd day, I’m going to be like a kid on Christmas.
If Don Mattingly’s comments are to be taken seriously, the Dodgers might find themselves with the strongest leadoff hitter in all of baseball in 2014. We don’t mean that the Dodgers will have the league’s best leadoff hitter when we say ‘strong’, we mean literally, the most yoaked leadoff guy in the game.
And we would hate to see Puig’s fantasy baseball potential in any way dimmed due to this move, as silly as that sounds. The perfect world move would be if the Dodgers entered the year hitting Puig third in the lineup, a move that seems unlikely at this point.
If Puig begins the season as a leadoff hitter in Los Angeles, look for it to go one of two ways. Puig ends up phenomenal and the Dodgers end up moving him to the middle of the order around midseason once the offense hits a lull like all lineups do; or Puig struggles a bit in his sophomore season and the team moves him down to the 6 or 7 spot in the order. We don’t look for him to stick all season long as a leadoff hitter. It just doesn’t match his skill set well enough.
Today, Yasiel Puig made an adult decision. This should be commended in some way. Instead of a round of applause, we’ll give our approval with poor photoshop work like you see there above (that’s our buddy M.J. Lloyd at the wheel).
No, Puig didn’t hire our buddy and podcast mate as his driver/handler. He hired his cousin.
“I give him credit for taking that step if nothing else,” Kasten said during a radio appearance on ESPNLA 710.
Kasten and general manager Ned Colletti both spoke with Puig after his latest run-in with law enforcement. Kasten said he also traveled to Tennessee to meet with the Cuban defector after his first incident, which came while Puig was with the Dodgers’ Double-A team.
“I sat him down myself when that happened and made it clear what we expect of him,” Kasten said. “I said then that, even if he thinks he can get away with it because he’s in Chattanooga, if you ever get to the big leagues, nothing — nothing — is going to escape attention. He brought that up to me today.”
This should at least ensure that we get a few more season of Puig on the field. All joking aside, we were beginning to become concerned with something bad happening to Puig off the field. On the other hand, if the Puig lead-foot runs in the family we’re going to be back to square one. But at least now the cousin can take some of the heat.
Can you imagine your day job is to be Yasiel Puig’s driver? You’re young. You have a pocket full of money. You are carrying around precious cargo that is the future of an organization. There are beautiful women. You’re driving white cars you cannot properly spell.
I chose the wrong career – or just was never in the right place at the right time I guess.
Saw a little bit of a head turner in today’s Los Angeles Times. This report comes from Dylan Hernandez, who covers the Dodgers on a regular basis. He’s a beat writer. That kind of regular.
ORLANDO, Fla. — Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford have drawn interest on the trade market over the first two days of the general managers’ meetings.
The Dodgers have fielded inquiries about all four of their outfielders, according to a person familiar with the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The conversations were described as preliminary.
Of the four, the Dodgers are most reluctant to trade Puig, who turns 23 next month.
The markets for Puig, Kemp, Ethier and Crawford aren’t expected to fully develop until the free-agent market is defined.
So wait a second. According to one of the Dodgers most credible writers that covers the team, the Dodgers are fielding offers from Puig and determining a market for him? This is news in and of itself.
It’s not surprising that when Peter Gammons mentions something, it has legs at it’s core. Lesson learned. Now the question is, why the Hell would the Dodgers really consider trading Puig?
Offense: Physically strong, right-handed hitter at 5’10”, 205 pounds; employs a crouched stance with a wide base and starts with hands at eye level; toe-tap load allows him to utilize strong lower half; quiet stride; hits off a firm front side; above-average-to-plus bat speed thanks to strong wrists and forearms; easy, raw pop, especially to the pull side; gets the barrel to the ball and generates impressive extension after contact; tendency to wrap his bat and dip on the backside at times; has quick feet and moves well but won’t be a base stealer.
Defense: Average athleticism; still moves well despite thicker lower half; may lose a step as he ages; versatile and instinctual defender with quick hands and flashy glove; fast transfer and release; decent body control; actions are too stiff for clean projection at shortstop; average range and arm strength suggests a future at second base.
Sounds like an upgrade over the aging Mark Ellis when the time comes. Remember, take these scouting reports with a grain of salt until the guy steps onto Major League soil, you just never know. I think the kid will end up a pretty good offensive player for a middle infielder. The lead scout on Guerrero (Bob Engel) says he can play at the MLB level close to right away.
And on the same day, some interesting comments make their way out about the Dodgers handling of Yasiel Puig. Don Mattingly sure has been outspoken (and cranky) lately.
“Leave it to me, it’d be one way, but that’s not necessarily the way the organization wants things to go,” Mattingly said.
Hmm. I asked Mattingly how he would have handled Puig if it were strictly his call and, without going into much detail, he made it sound as if he would have left him in the minor leagues until he had a better understanding of the game. Puig played in just 63 minor-league games, never touching Triple-A, before he was called up on June 3.
“I’m not going to answer that, I just think there has to be a development system that we adhere to with Yasiel, along with all the other guys,” Mattingly said.
The Dodgers are clearly going for it all in this near-term window. Things are shaky in Dodgerland. It’s going to be one of the most interesting storylines as the 2014 season opens.
You have to give the Dodgers some credit. I truly thought they were done, and when Zack Greinke loaded the bases in the first inning of NLCS game five today, I was sure they were done. Then I had a prophetic feeling about things:
Cards score here, series ends today. Dodgers get out of this, they'll get it to Friday (momentum)
Greinke was able to get Yadier Molina to hit into a double play, and the Dodgers seemed to gain momentum from it all. From there they scratched across two runs, with Adrian Gonzalez starting the rally and Yasiel Puig keeping it going. Greinke singled in Puig. But the Cardinals would not go down quietly.
A Carlos Beltran triple and Matt Holliday double evened scoring at 2-2. Then the Dodgers got the lift they needed.
Greinke bridged the gap nicely over to Brian Wilson and Kenley Jansen, and the Dodgers held on for a 6-4 victory. They might lose this series, but they got it to Clayton Kershaw. They might lose this series, but they defended their home field in a noble manner and refused to have their season end on their field.
All the while, Don Mattingly seems to keep things cool in his meetings with the press. After a tough loss last night he said that he knew that they were going to come out and play hard, and that seemed good enough for him to resign to for the evening. After the game today he remarked that the Dodgers have become ‘America’s Team’ because the country wants to see a game seven. At this point, they’re a flashy team playing with house money. That’s somewhat dangerous.
On Friday night – they’ll have Clayton Kershaw going on five day’s rest. And we’ll all get another night of entertainment out of this team. That’s really what it’s all about this time of year if your team is out of it. They’ll get a chance to give Michael Wacha all he can handle and get a little redemption. And although they’ve shown some of their makeup with a win like today, we’ll see just exactly what this Dodger team is made of on Friday night. It would be an incredible feat to force a game seven against this seemingly unstoppable rebel force Cardinal team.
It was a glorious year for baseball in Los Angeles. The Dodgers are an exciting, brash, star-studded group that has prompted me to take interest in them and watch far more of a St. Louis Cardinals NLCS series then I normally would have. I am sure ratings around the country are improved due to intrigued baseball fans that want to see what this team is all about. I spent a number of nights this past summer watching the Dodgers late night on MLB.tv, listening to Vin Scully tell his glorious tales. That will be part of a memory that sticks with me when I think back to MLB season 2013.
But the Dodgers season is likely ending tomorrow in Los Angeles. The Cardinals are the better team, and for the first time in the 2013 postseason, I’m going to be wrong about an end result.
All night long, the baseball romantic in me kept waiting for something magical to happen in the same vein as Kirk Gibson 25 years ago tonight. When the Cardinals scored their fourth run on a Shane Robinson homer, I knew the score wouldn’t end 4-3 like that fateful Saturday night back in ’88. But I still kept waiting for someone wearing Dodger blue to get into one and tie the game. The innings came and went and it never happened.
Sure, the Dodgers have Greinke and Kershaw going the next two games, if they get by tomorrow. But it looks like Hanley Ramirez is done for the series. The Dodgers haven’t hit a home run in four games. They are completely neutralized right now, and that is why I think my pick for the 2013 World Series winner probably bows out tomorrow in a tight game.
Magical season, a ton of cool memories of a team I unexpectedly fell for a bit; but it likely ends on a Wednesday afternoon in mid-October at the hands of Joe Kelly and the St. Louis Cardinals.