Results tagged ‘ Dodgers ’
This is what life is about.
Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems.
-Rainer Maria Rilke
Yes. Oh, yes. I love this time of year. The days are longer, the pollen is in the air and there are little buds of future flowers everywhere you look. For the past few years and every year at this time, we have a couple of ducks (I think they may be married but I don’t know for certain) that fly into my backyard daily and take a bath in my pool at around 4 p.m.
Spring has sprung! And with the promise of all these amazing gifts from nature, comes the reminder that Opening Day soon will be here.
Even the drama of the McCourts’ divorce can’t bring down my baseball spirits. Because even though I obviously want my team to do well, this is the one time of the year that it’s not about my team winning or losing. It’s about walking into my home stadium, after months of a cold winter, and relishing in the hope of a new season.
The buds will bloom. The gates will open.
The frogs will chirp. The bats will crack.
The birds will fly. The balls will soar.
And for this time, right now, before any loss or statistic is recorded, my team… is the best in the league.
P.S. My new show, “Romantically Challenged,” will premiere on April 19th on ABC at 9:30 p.m. ET (8:30 p.m. CT). I am both nervous and excited. I hope you love it and it makes you giggle.
What I’ve learned about the playoffs and the Word Series is to be very, very excited. But not too excited.
It’s not that I don’t appreciate the postseason. I do. And it’s not that I don’t recognize the majesty of St. Louis Cardinal Jack Clark taking Tom Niedenfuer deep in Game 6 of the 1985 National League Championship Series. And it’s not that I don’t long to see the Dodgers win a World Series again. But the truth is, part of who wins that classic matchup is based on the same factors as who wins a regular-season game — skill, smart managing, the ability to bounce back, and luck. That’s what makes the game great.
Still the notion that postseason games are somehow more important, or more pressure-packed, or more, I don’t know, special than a contest in the middle of May, or July, or even April, obscures a larger truth, which is this: Every game is special, and it’s how a player performs in each game, and in every game, that determines his success, not how he plays in one series.
For years, I had pretty limited postseason experience (quite limited actually), but like so many fans before me, I learned the risks of postseason exuberance the hard way in the fall of 2008. I found myself an adult in a whole new baseball situation as I watched my Dodgers win a postseason series and move on to the NLCS. We hadn’t won a postseason series since 1988, when I was just fifteen, but I had always appreciated postseason ball. It was fun to watch the games of the fall even if my heart wasn’t emotionally invested in the teams that were playing. I could really just sit back and appreciate the fundamentals at their best.
Last fall proved different. I wasn’t just invested in who won, I was all in. I sat in my seat with a white-knuckled, sweaty-palmed death grip on whatever I was holding at the time. Every pitch meant something. Every out. Every managerial move. Every call by the ump. The fans were alive. They stood when there were two outs and two strikes, waving those rally towels as if they possessed magical powers to make the batter strike out. “Throw him the chair!” my brother screamed. Translation: “Sit him down.”
As you might expect, losing to the Phillies in the NLCS last year was devastating. My brother and I were inconsolable. As lame as it might sound, a little piece of my heart broke that night. An even bigger piece of my brother’s heart broke that night. The game that we were eliminated in was at Dodger Stadium, and we stayed for about an hour after the last out. In that hour, players came out for curtain calls and blew kisses to the fans that were still there. I would say over a thousand fans stayed, and we were a rowdy bunch. Frank McCourt and his lovely wife stuck around. A chant started. “Please sign Manny.” Clap, clap. Clap, clap, clap. “Please sign Manny,” the Dodgers fans shouted.
Nomar came out of the dugout, and the crowd erupted in applause and cheers. He waved and put his hand over his heart paying tribute to us fans. He took a long look around, soaking up the moment, his moment. It seemed like he was saying good-bye to the stadium; I hoped he wasn’t saying good-bye to baseball. Tommy Lasorda said a few words into a microphone. He thanked “the best fans in baseball.” He finished up his speech by saying, “When you lay your head down on the pillow tonight, say a prayer for Tommy and the Dodgers.” It was a vivid moment, and while we reached a disappointing end, there was something strangely uplifting about the whole scene.
As we were walking to the car, I saw daddies holding sleepy kids with their baseball gloves still on, draped over their father’s backs. I found solace in the idea that even though we weren’t moving on to the World Series, memories were made that night. The children of the fans from ’88 had their own stories to tell. A whole new generation of Dodger fans got to experience NLCS baseball for the first time. And who knows, maybe one of these years we’ll actually win.
Hello! I’m sorry about my lack of entries as of late. I’ve been filming a movie in Utah and have had very little time to write, other than Tweets on Twitter. It seems 140 characters are about all I’ve been able to manage lately.
Thank goodness for the MLB At Bat app for the iPhone! I’ve been working a lot of nights and weird hours, with no Internet connection in sight, and have found solace in always knowing I can see highlights.
I’m starting to get excited for All-Star Game. I’ve been asked for whom I’ve voted numerous times on Twitter, so I thought I’d share my picks with you.
National League (Yeah. Mostly Dodgers. Back off.)
I could not vote for Manny, because it is a bad message to send to our kids.
How about the Dodgers? (I’m doing a ritualistic dance now to counterbalance any jinxing that might have taken hold just by writing that question.)
P.S. Tell me who you voted for! And if you haven’t voted yet you can do so here.
Yesterday, May 6, 2009, I went to bed elated by the news that the Dodgers made history. Just 10 hours later, I woke up disheartened by the news that Manny Ramirez was suspended for 50 games due to testing positive for an MLB banned substance. I then proceeded to comfort eat. I ate two muffins with a side of frosted flakes. I now feel puffy.
ESPN is reporting that they have received information from two sources that the banned substance Manny tested positive for is human chorionic gonadotropin. HCG is a fertility drug typically used by steroid users coming off the juice that aids in replenishing testosterone levels in the testicles. As we’ve all learned by now, testosterone is depleted by steroid use, and low testosterone can cause erectile dysfunction. (Insert inappropriate Mannywood joke here). But it should be noted that HCG can also be used in lieu of steroids because of its testosterone boosting effect which can boost performance. Still bad.
In his statement, Ramirez said:
“I want to apologize to Mr. McCourt, Mrs. McCourt, Mr. Torre, my teammates, the Dodger organization, and to the Dodger fans. LA is a special place to me, and I know everybody is disappointed. So am I. I’m sorry about this whole situation.”
And if it isn’t bad enough for baseball, Tom Verducci from SI.com closed his article with this staggering fact:
“Ramirez ranks 17th on the all-time home-run list with 533. Eight of those top 17 home run hitters played in what is commonly referred to as the Steroid Era. And six of those eight modern-day sluggers have been associated with performance-enhancing drugs: Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Rodriguez and Ramirez. The only modern sluggers to have escaped such a connection are Ken Griffey Jr., Frank Thomas and Jim Thome.”
Am I enraged? No. Cheating in baseball has been around for as long as the sport has been around. This latest form of cheating is a direct result of where we are socially. I’ve said it many times before but it is worth repeating here and now. We’re all looking for a quick fix to be stronger, to look younger, to perform better and to cure what ails us. Performance enhancing drugs are, unfortunately, the evolution of cheating that mirrors the evolution of the pharmaceutical society that we’ve become.
So, no, I am not enraged. I’m just sad and disappointed.
Below is an excerpt from my book Safe at Home: Confessions of a Baseball Fanatic. This excerpt appears in the chapter entitled, “Cheating Through The Ages,” and I thought it was appropriate to post today. Please leave your comments. I always enjoy reading them.
“Okay, I’m just gonna lay this out here: Cheating in baseball has been around for a long time. Pretty much since the game began there have been stolen signs, spitballs, corked bats, greenies, and any number of other methods to get ahead. It was only after all that when the current era of swollen necks and bulging home run totals was ushered in. So much for baseball’s innocence.
The difference between the past and the present is that today’s cheating is happening off the field. It’s happening in locker rooms and bathroom stalls instead of on the basepaths and the pitcher’s mound. Personally, I can’t figure out how anyone can say that one form of cheating is “better” than another. Can’t we just say that they’re all bad rather than trying to find ways to show that the past was full of decency and the present is full of deception?
I’m a big believer in individual responsibility. Baseball cheaters should be punished. Punished, yes, but not destroyed. It was true when Shoeless Joe Jackson and the rest of the Black Sox disappointed a nation, and it’s true now, for the guys looking for an edge by using the needle. The real problem with steroids is that the baseball commissioner, Bud Selig, and the Major League Baseball Players Association didn’t nip it in the bud (no pun intended) early on. For years both sides opposed testing with little sense of the toll that this position would take on the game. Their negligence turned a problem into an epidemic, leaving an entire era of stats in question. Home runs, hits, and attendance were up, and that meant more money for teams and the league, which meant more money for players, which meant more money for the union. Take all those financial incentives together, and suddenly no one is in a hurry to regulate anything.
Yet even though there are a lot of people responsible for the steroid era there are very few who’ve actually stepped up and admitted their part in it. And that’s what I have a problem with. Barry Bonds is undoubtedly one of the greatest players ever. You know what? I didn’t have as much of a problem with the idea of him cheating as I did with the possibility that he lied about it.
In contrast, there are guys like Jason Giambi and Andy Pettitte, who simply came clean (inasmuch as Giambi could without violating the terms of his contract). And I totally respect their honesty. Yes, Giambi may have made some bad choices throughout his career, but I must admit, as a purist fan of baseball, I had a newfound respect for the man after he told the truth. I have compassion for anyone trying to do the right thing, anyone who may have had a slip of judgment and then recognized his or her mistakes.
Maybe my biggest frustration with this issue is that Major League Baseball and the players union have yet to own up to their role in all this. A grand jury, a congressional committee, a tell-all book, and they have yet to apologize for their complacency. Before MLB can solve this issue it needs to recognize the problem and apologize for it. If any employee of any major entertainment corporation were to act inappropriately and offend or alienate his or her audience, the CEO would apologize on behalf of the company. Why is it so hard for Bud Selig to say, “I apologize for the steroid era. We made a mistake with our complacency, and we are taking the appropriate measures to make sure the future game of baseball is played with dignity and integrity.”
The fans, the players, the coaches — everyone needs to close the book on this latest chapter, in the game’s cheating history. As the latest in a long history of cheating episodes, it’s our obligation to give it the attention it deserves and then move on. We owe it to ourselves and… we owe it to the game.”
P.S. Here’s a link to an entry I wrote about steroids and botox.
Happy Opening Day. Here is our 25-man roster:
- Infielders – Casey Blake, Blake DeWitt, Rafael Furcal, Orlando Hudson, James Loney, Mark Loretta
- Outfielders – Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, Juan Pierre, Manny Ramirez, Delwyn Young
- Catchers – Brad Ausmus, Russell Martin
- Pitchers – Chad Billingsley, Jonathan Broxton, Clayton Kershaw, Hiroki Kuroda (OPENING DAY STARTER), Hong-Chih Kuo, James McDonald, Guillermo Mota, Ramon Troncoso, Claudio Vargas, Cory Wade, Randy Wolf
Well . . . if the starting rotation stays healthy, we should be okay. If (God forbid) Billingsley or Kuroda spend anytime on the DL, we may be screwed. I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up with another starter before the trade deadline.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch (I actually live on a ranch), I returned home today from NY. I’m exhausted but had a productive time on the book tour. More than 60 interviews in four days! I was so sick of hearing my own voice by the end of it. I would like to thank HarperCollins again for giving me the opportunity to write my love letter to baseball.
I find it quite humorous that the media has tagged my book as a “tell-all”. I guess it would be the logical sensational angle, but just to clear some things up that have been inaccurately reported:
- WHAT WAS REPORTED – The book is a tell-all where I go in depth about the baseball players who I’ve dated.
- FACT – Ummmm. Not even close. It is a retrospective look back on how baseball has been a constant in my life and what the sport has meant to me though the years and how it brought my father and me closer. Considering that there are only four pages out of 253 that focus on my exes, if you are considering buying the book to read me kiss and tell, you will be disappointed.
- WHAT WAS REPORTED – I write that Brad Penny made me wear his jersey to bed.
- FACT – I wrote about wearing BP’s jersey in the batting cage at Dodger Stadium. I never wrote, nor would I ever write, anything about what I sleep in.
- WHAT WAS REPORTED – I “URGED that troubled starlets should give sports a try.”
- FACT – I would never be so bold. I do speak of how sporting events gave me a healthy escape and how baseball found me when I needed it most. I never wrote anything about troubled starlets “giving sports a try.”
Having said all that, I am amazed that journalists don’t have to read the books they write about and that their editors don’t actually fact-check.
If you have read the book, please leave an honest comment or review here on this blog entry so people can base their potential purchase on truthful and accurate information.
Most importantly: Thank you to all who came out to my book signings last week. My only wish is that I had more time to spend with each of you. I appreciate the support and hope no one left disappointed.
Click here for the Alyssa.com message boards
Hello! I know you are very busy making toys and all, so I won’t take up too much of your time. I just wanted to drop you a note and tell you what a good girl I’ve been this year.
I have been very good. I ate my vegetables. I cleaned my room and made my bed. And when my TV show got canceled 10 days before we were supposed to start production, I didn’t even say any swear words! I didn’t even say “sh*!”. Nope. Not even once. How good is that? Instead, I looked at the bright side and saw the glass half full. I remembered how blessed I was regardless of being out of work.
I know you know how good I’ve been because you’ve been watching. So, in lieu of being nice and not naughty, I have composed my Christmas list for you.
1. Please ease the struggle for those who are suffering from the financial crisis.
2. Please end the war.
3. Please bring happiness and health to my friends and family.
That’s it! That is all I want for Christmas! I bet you thought I was going to ask for Manny and Furcal to be Dodgers, or for two starting pitchers, or for the Dodgers to win the World Series, or things like that. Nope. I would never. Not me. Well, I mean, if you wanted to bring me those things, I certainly wouldn’t send them back. You wouldn’t even have to make a special trip to my house for those things! I don’t think Manny would fit down my chimney anyway. Furcal might. You could just drop them off at Dodger Stadium. Yeah. That would be perfect.
Thank you, Santa Claus.
Well, at least now we can look back and say that in 2008 we were eliminated by the World Champions. Congratulations to all of you Phillies fans out there. It must feel good.
After the elimination game, there were some fans that stuck around cheering and showing appreciation, for about a half hour straight. It was a cool thing to be a part of. My voice was hoarse for two days. Nomar came out of the dugout, waved, and put his hand over his heart as if to say: “Thank you.” It seemed like he was saying goodbye to something. Maybe he was saying goodbye to the stadium, maybe he was saying goodbye to baseball. The moment made me well up.
Mr. McCourt stuck around and the fans started a chant specifically for his behalf.
“Please sign Manny! (clap,clap,clap,clap,clap) Please sign Manny!” we chanted.
As I walked through the stadium to get to my parking lot, I saw sleepy children holding their gloves in one hand and their daddy’s hand in the other. I realized, a whole new generation of Dodger fans got to experience the NLCS for the first time and that was special. Their fathers were probably kids the last time we had made it that far.
I didn’t post a blog entry after that game because quite frankly, I didn’t know what to say. I sat down to try and write something, anything, to express what I was feeling. Alas, I couldn’t find the words and thought that it would be best just to be quiet for a moment and get some distance.
With that distance, I realized the good so outweighed the bad this season. With all the ups and downs, it felt like every game had its own heartbeat.
Thank you, Dodgers, for a great season.
Spring will be here before you know it and in the interim, we have the rumors and deals of the offseason to keep us occupied. Dodger free agents:
- Casey Blake
- Rafael Furcal
- Nomar Garciaparra
- Jason Johnson
- Derek Lowe
- Jeff Kent
- Greg Maddux
- Joe Biemel
- Chan Ho Park
- Mark Sweeney
- Manny Ramirez
- Pablo Ozuna
If you were Ned Colletti, what would YOU do?
I will try to continue to blog during the offseason when there’s something to say. Until then, I will be working on Single With Parents and missing baseball.
We needed all the help we could get. I put Gibson in his rally cap in the second inning.
During the ninth, I was manically pacing around the living room wondering where it all went so horribly wrong. My chihuahua’s just watched me go back and forth. Back and forth. Forth and back. I would stop my pacing … slowly look at the screen … then quickly turn away and just start pacing again. I couldn’t bear to watch. I did peek out of the corner of my eye.
The postseason is such an odd thing. I was 16 the last time we made it this far (don’t start). Everything feels so different. Am I right? It is still your team, your boys, your uni’s, but it all feels totally different for some reason. SOOOOOO much is on the line with every pitch. And to make matters worse, you are listening to guys call the game that are not your guys. No Vin. No Charlie. No Steve. Everything just feels different.
I peeked back at the screen just in time to watch Nomar take that final hack and strike out for the final out of the game. I screamed. I got a little misty. And then … Oh, yay! Finally, a familiar face. Ah, Kevin Kennedy. Yay! Phew.
Kevin and I became friends last season. He has become somewhat of a mentor in my never-ending quest for baseball knowledge.
“EUREKA! He will tell me what went wrong,” I thought to myself as I sat back down on the couch ready to listen to Kevin’s wisdom. “Tell me Kevin. I can take it. I am all ears.”
He said something about “sequencing” and then all of a sudden the postgame show was over. Just like that. I was left to wonder. “Did he just say sequencing? What is he talking about? Why is the postgame show only 14 seconds? Wait! Come back, Kevin.”
I needed answers from Kevin and I needed them NOW. “I am just going to call and ask him what he thought of the game,” I decided.
I figured I wasn’t the only one wanting more of the postgame show. When I got him on the phone, I asked if I could record the conversation for the blog. He graciously said that I could. Below is the transcript of our conversation:
KEVIN: HI ALYSSA.
Me: That was painful. I started getting weepy when the game was over. I am miserable. I want to vomit.
KEVIN: SO SORRY MY PREDICTION DIDN’T COME TRUE. THOUGHT THEY WOULD SPLIT THERE. MY GUT DID HAVE A CONCERN THOUGH BECAUSE BILLS [CHAD BILLINGSLY] NEEDS MORE CONFIDENCE IN HIMSELF TO KEEP THE EDGE.
Me: It was painful. What do you think the difference in him was tonight compared to the Chicago series? He certainly seemed confident then.
KEVIN: IN CHICAGO, THEY WERE UP 0-1. TONIGHT THEY WERE DOWN 1-0. HE PUT TOO MUCH PRESSURE ON HIMSELF THAT HE HAD TO BE TOO FINE WITH HIS STUFF. HIS CURVEBALL WAS HIS BEST PITCH EARLY AND HIS COMMAND OF HIS CUTTER AND FASTBALL WASN’T THERE YET. SO AS A CATCHER YOU RECOGNIZE THAT, AND GO TO THAT WHEN YOU NEED AN OUT WHILE TRYING TO STILL CULTIVATE THE FASTBALL. NURTURE IT ALONG AS YOU FEEL THE FLOW OF THE GAME. PHILS WEREN’T TOUCHING HIS OVERHAND CURVEBALL.
Me: I heard you say something about “sequencing” in the postgame show.
KEVIN: SEQUENCING IS THE CATCHER’S RESPONSIBILITY.
Me: Okay. This may seem like a stupid question, but in layman’s terms, what is Sequencing?
KEVIN: CALLING THE RIGHT PITCHES IN THE RIGHT COUNTS, AND RECOGNIZING WHO IS SITTING DEAD RED ESPECIALLY WITH RUNNERS ON BASE AND MEN IN SCORING POSITION.
Me: Sitting “dead red”? Now I feel really dumb.
KEVIN: SITTING ON THE FASTBALL. RUIZ, A .214 HITTER, FOULED BACK A 93-MPH FASTBALL ON THE FIRST PITCH. THAT IS WHAT HE WAS LOOKING FOR THE WHOLE AT-BAT WHEN HE DOUBLED IN THE FIRST RUN. BILLS SHOULD HAVE THROWN A CURVEBALL TO STRIKE HIM OUT AND END THE BOTTOM OF THE 2ND. INSTEAD MARTIN CALLED A FASTBALL AND RUIZ WAS LOOKING FOR IT. HE HITS ONLY .214 BECAUSE HE CAN’T HIT A BREAKING BALL. THEN LATER, VICTORINO ALWAYS, ALWAYS LOOKS FASTBALL NO MATTER WHAT COUNT. HE EVEN TOLD ME THAT THIS WEEK. AFTER LOOKING AWFUL ON A CURVEBALL EARLY, WITH 2 STRIKES, THEY CALLED A FASTBALL AND IT WAS UP OVER THE PLATE AND HE HIT THAT 2 RUN SINGLE TO LEFT-CENTER … THUS A 4-RUN INNING.
Me: Don’t remind me. So if a fastball isn’t where it is supposed to be, should the catcher/pitcher abandon it all together?
KEVIN: NO. YOU STILL HAVE TO THROW FASTBALL, JUST NOT IN A PUTAWAY COUNT. HIS CURVE WAS HIS PUTAWAY PITCH EARLY IN THE GAME. AND MARTIN AND BILLS DIDN’T RECOGNIZE THAT. THAT IS ALSO THE PITCHING COACH’S AND ADVANCE SCOUT’S ISSUE. THE FASTBALL MIGHT HAVE COME ALONG AS THE GAME PROGRESSED, BUT IT NEVER GOT TO THAT POINT. THE PHILLIES KNEW THAT. YOU GO WITH THE CURVEBALL WITH TWO STRIKES UNTIL THEY PROVE THEY CAN HIT IT.
Me: Was that how they shut down Howard? They seemed to be throwing him a lot of curveballs.
KEVIN: YEAH. THEY DID A GREAT JOB ON HOWARD WITH CURVES AND WENT AWAY FROM IT WITH EVERYONE ELSE.
Me: It is always so enlightening speaking with you about baseball. You made me feel better for some reason. I don’t feel like throwing up anymore.
KEVIN: GOOD. GLAD I CAN HELP. THINGS WILL GET BETTER! I REALLY BELIEVE THAT THEY WILL WIN GAME 3. IT IS NOW A MUST-WIN.
Me: Are we going to have pitching issues for the rest of the series? And by the way, between this and the election I have constant heartburn.
KEVIN: BECAUSE LOWE AND BILLS DIDN’T GO THAT DEEP, THEY CAN BOTH COME BACK ON SHORT REST FOR GAMES 4 AND 5. TAKE SOME TUMS.
Me: I love the strategy. It is an amazing game.
KEVIN: I BET YOU HAVE FUN TALKING STRATEGY WITH YOUR DAD DURING THE GAME.
Me: Oh, yes. He still teaches me new things about the game. There are always things to learn. If you were Joe, what would your strategy be going into Game 3?
KEVIN: HE JUST HAS TO MANAGE WITH A SENSE OF URGENCY AND KEEP THE MOMENTUM ON THE DODGERS SIDE. THIS TEAM IS GOOD ENOUGH TO WIN.
Me: Thank you so much for spending the time with me and answering my questions (no matter how silly they may have been).
KEVIN: YOU ARE WELCOME. RELAX. HAVE FUN THIS WEEKEND AND DON’T WORRY.
Me: Easier said than done. Thanks again.