Greetings Dodger fans! Welcome, or welcome back, to Lasorda’s Lair! Finally, after months of waiting, baseball season is about to begin. Pitchers and catchers report next week. Before we delve into the team for whom we bleed Dodger blue, I feel the need to introduce myself as this is my first post and I want you all to know where I am coming from.
I grew up in Yankee territory in the 1980s. It was through the influence of a really cool school bus driver that I learned about the greatness that is the Los Angeles Dodgers. After years of short discussions and learning about the likes of Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale, Duke Snider and Willie Davis, Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese, I was hooked. While I am too young to remember the Steve Garvey, Don Sutton, Ron Cey Dodgers, I grew up with Tommy Lasorda still at the helm.
The names that filled the roster that I really remember included names such as Orel Hershiser, Fernando Valenzuela, Mike Scioscia, Steve Sax, Pedro Guerrero, and of course, Kirk Gibson.
To this day, I consider Game 1 of the 1988 World Series my favorite moment in professional sports that I actually witnessed. I will never forget that Friday night, sitting on my couch alone as my parents and brothers had gone to bed (none were or are Dodger fans), and watching Kirk Gibson send that small, white ball deep into the night before disappearing into a sea of blue and white. I was in awe as I watched Gibby hobbling around the bases as Lasorda showed off his two inch vertical. It was bigger than watching Buster Douglass shock the world as he knocked out the seemingly invincible Iron Mike Tyson.
Of course this means that I also saw the excitement of the signing of Daryl Strawberry and Eric Davis, as well as the disappointment that followed. And I still cannot believe that they traded Mike Piazza! That has to be one of the worst moves ever! You just do not trade a Hall of Fame catcher who hits for power and average. I would argue that while Piazza was not good at throwing out runners, he was underrated in the way he handled pitching staffs. He was a good target and as tough as they come. I still wince when I think of the way that Paul De Podesta dismantled a team on the rise by trading away Paul LoDuca because of his dedication to the Moneyball philosophy.
The last couple of years have been good, but not great. Last year was very disappointing. But it is with great excitement that I begin the journey of 2011 with you all. I love talking sports. I really love talking baseball, especially Dodger baseball. Sadly I still live in Yankee territory, living in Western New York. Baseball is not of great interest with my friends and family. So I have been looking for a way, an opportunity to satisfy my Dodger passion. I hope to scratch that itch with this blog as I share my views on baseball, especially on the Dodgers.
As we tick down the few remaining days until the season begins, we will take a look at the 2011 edition of the Dodgers. This is a team that is intriguing to say the least. There are many question marks on this team that need to be answered. How they are answered will go a long way in determining whether 2011 will be a success or another disappointing year.
You could certainly make the argument that the Dodgers will be awful this season given the uncertainty that abounds across this club. There are more than a few unknowns that can make even the most optimistic Dodger fan nervous. One such question involves the performance of a rookie manager, Don Mattingly, and how he will handle taking over for one of the greatest managers of all time, Joe Torre.
How will the players respond to the way Mattingly manages? Will Matt Kemp and James Loney finally live up to their enormous potential and hype for an entire season? Who will be the third outfielder? Can Rafael Furcal stay healthy? Can Jonathan Broxton return to being the dominant closer he has been in the past? How will Uribe fit in at second base? Will Ted Lily and Jon Garland be enough to stabilize the starting rotation? Will any prospect surprise during Spring Training?
There is, of course, the ever-present circus that is the McCourt divorce proceedings and the turmoil that has resulted. The struggles at the top of this team have engulfed it and hampered their possible pursuit of big-name free agents.
You could also make the argument that this team could make a return to the playoffs with the talent that is on the team and some of the players that have been added to the roster. And you most certainly could make a case that this team will be average not having made any significant additions or subtractions to the roster. These are some of the topics we will be discussing the next couple of days and will hopefully be answered during Spring Training.
I, for one, am greatly looking forward to the upcoming season. I cannot wait to share my thoughts on the Dodgers and hearing your thoughts. Dodger baseball is almost back. 2011 promises to be a fun ride.