Dodgers finish 82-80, but Grady didn’t take much consolation from the winning record. “If you’re not going to the playoffs, you lost, and we all realize that,” he said. “People talk about being proud of being over .500 for the year, but we aren’t going to the postseason, so in my heart, we lost.” … I’m going to try to keep this blog going to some degree over the winter, but I won’t be posting every day. I’ll also be posting some during the playoffs, just my thoughts on some of the games, especially in the National League. I look forward to settling into the couch and taking in tomorrow’s tiebreaker between the Padres and the Rockies. Mostly, I just look forward to the coming winter, which will include a Thanksgiving vacation to Maui with my daughter and my mom, a couple of weeks in Arkansas over the Holidays and a few days in Nashville for the winter meetings. Mostly, though, it will include a LOT of down time, when I can hopefully start losing some of the 20 or so pounds I put on during the season. As we come to the end, I want to thank all of you for reading this blog and for some of the great responses I have received from you, both in your comments and in your emails directly to me. … And, even though I’m glad the 2007 season is over, I’m already looking forward to spring training. Have a great winter, everyone.
Those were the main points of Frank McCourt’s mini-press conference this morning. Frank says Ned and Grady are committed to the organization’s goals, and so they will remain in place. As for ticket prices, he says they will increase next year in sections of the ballpark where renovations (or, as Frank called them, investments) are expected to take place, and he said this winter’s phase of renovations will cost $70 million to $80 million. But he also said at least 10,000 seats will remain affordably priced — or, in his words, “accessible to any fan who wants to come to the ballpark and be part of the Dodgers experience.”
What’s the only thing worse than a meaningless game in which both teams are simply playing out the string? When one of those games goes into superfluous cantos (that’s scribe slang for extra innings). Gonzo came up with what would have been a huge hit in Dodgers history if this game had actually had playoff implications, coming off the bench and shooting one up the left-centerfield gap to drive in LaRoche from second base with the winning run. Saito went two innings and got the win, giving him a 2-1 record, an outstanding 1.40 ERA and 39 saves in his second season with the Dodgers (I’m going to guess he won’t be called on tomorrow no matter what the situation). The Dodgers clinched a winning season, going to 82-79, and by winning tomorrow they would have as many wins as St. Louis had on its way to winning the World Series last year. Hey, you look for positives anywhere you can find them, right? … One more day, folks.
If the Dodgers win either tonight or tomorrow, they will have a winning season for the 38th time in 50 seasons since moving to Los Angeles. During that time, only the New York Yankees have had more winning seasons (40). … Chin-lung Hu and James McDonald will be presented with the organization’s Player and Pitcher of the Year awards, respectively, during a ceremony tonight. … Pods lost today, so we won’t know anything about the N.L. playoff picture until tomorrow afternoon. A.L. is all set: Angels go to Boston, Yankees go to Cleveland.
James Loney continues to have a monster September, just as he did last year. He now has a seven-game hitting streak, and he has nine homers and 32 RBI this month. I’m going to predict right now that this guy is going to be the biggest star of all these young players. And if I’m wrong, well, no one will remember, anyway. … Dodgers clinch at least a .500 record, improving to 81-79.
A big welcome to Flo Snyder, the very first employee the Dodgers hired when they moved to Los Angeles from Brooklyn almost a half-century ago. Mark Langill was escorting her around the stadium this afternoon and introduced me to her. Flo was hired in October 1957 to work in the team’s public relations office, and she stayed for 11 years. She went on to a long career in the public relations field until retiring 10 years ago, and she now lives in Carmel. This was her first trip back to Dodger Stadium since leaving the club almost 40 years ago. “Any success I have had in life, I owe it all to this ballclub,” she said.
The Dodgers will begin the season on March 31 against the Giants, the first step in the year-long celebration of both clubs’ moves West in 1958. That three-game series will be at Dodger Stadium. Strangely, the Dodgers won’t make their first trip to San Francisco until July, but the two clubs will close out the regular season Sept. 26-28 at AT&T Park. The Dodgers have released a tentative version of their schedule, which is available on their web site. Other highlighs includes, as previously reported, interleague road series with the Angels and Tigers and interleague home series with the Angels, Indians and White Sox. There are TWO trips to Cincinnati, including a two-gamer in late April. But it gets especially grueling late. The Dodgers have a San Diego-Colorado-Pittsburgh trip Sept. 8-18, with the Pittsburgh portion a four-game series. … Those coming out for Fan Appreciation Day on Sunday will get to see Eric Stults start against Barry Zito, although Stults probably will only go four or five innings and then be followed by a host of relievers. As Grady said, there will be a lot of judging going on these next three games, which makes them very similar to spring-training games.
Dodgers catcher Russell Martin will receive this year’s Roy Campanella Award, voted on by all Dodgers uniformed personnel, as the club’s most inspirational player. Martin will be presented with the award before Sunday’s season-ending game with the Giants, and it will be presented by Campanella’s daughter, Joni Roan, a Daily News employee. … Autumn is definitely here. It’s 3:45 in the afternoon and already chilly. I brought the leather — jacket, that is. Nothing like freezing your derriere off while watching fourth- and fifth-place clubs battle it out on the final weekend of the season for … well, absolutely nothing.
James Loney tonight became just the fifth player in L.A. Dodgers history to drive in 31 runs in a single month. He joins Frank Howard, who had 41 RBI in August 1962; Mike Marshall, who had 37 in September 1985; Tommy Davis, who had 33 in June 1962; and Kal Daniels, who had 31 in September 1990. Strangely, Pete Guerrero only had 26 when he hit 15 home runs in June 1985.
The schedule makers must have envisioned another storied finish between longtime rivals the Dodgers and Giants when they pitted the two clubs against each other in this weekend’s season-ending three-game series. The joke is on them — and all of us who get to sit through it. But neither Barry Bonds nor Jeff Kent is expected to play, so maybe the two of them can hang out in the tunnel between the clubhouses and catch up with each other and reminisce about all the great times they had together during their years with the Giants (sarcasm). There is the whole Fan Appreciation thing, so that might be worth coming out for for Dodgers fans. Apparently there are going to be some good prizes to be had for those lucky enough to win them. … Beyond that, this figures to be a thrilling final weekend in the rest of the National League. All four playoff spots are still up for grabs (although it is really beginning to look like the Cubs are in and the Brewers are out). This could be one of the best finishes in years, and even those of us who are going to be stuck here at Chavez Ravine will be enjoying it from afar.