Dodgers announce paperless season-ticket program.

The Dodgers are “going green.”

The team announced Thursday it is introducing a paperless ticket program for season and mini-plan holders in 2014.

“Paperless tickets are part of our heightened efforts to enable Dodger fans to manage their season seats better than ever,” Dodgers President and CEO Stan Kasten said in a statement. “The benefits include: receiving your tickets sooner, being able to print them at home or at your office, the ease of transferring them to family, friends, business associates or clients with free forwarding, and the ability to use them via your smart phone to enter the stadium.”

In partnership with the Costa Mesa-based Tickets.com, the Dodgers are implementing an all-digital/mobile ticket delivery platform called “TDC ProVenue Ticketing.” According to the Dodgers, 17 Major League Baseball clubs already utilize the ProVenue platform.

According to the Dodgers, the platform will feature:

- Digital/mobile delivery to all customers
- A state-of-the-art customer interface, buying process and ticket management
- Integrated loyalty programs
- Interactive seat maps
- One system for window sales and back office use
- A highly configurable system with no limitations

Michael Young will retire rather than return to Dodgers.

Michael Young

Michael Young batted .314 in 21 regular-season games with the Dodgers, and collected one hit in 10 postseason at-bats. (Associated Press photo)

Veteran infielder Michael Young has decided to retire rather than return to the Dodgers, ending a 14-year major-league career.

The 37-year-old native of Covina was mulling a one-year offer to re-sign with the Dodgers. At a charity bowling function on Sunday in Anaheim, Young sounded eager to play his natural second base position in a utility role, but also acknowledged that family was his first priority. Young and his wife live in Dallas with their three children.

“I’m going through every possible option with my family,” he said Sunday. “I’m not going to hold out as long as possible.”

Young played most of his 1,970 career games with the Texas Rangers, whom he helped lead to the World Series in 2010 and 2011. Young was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in December 2012, then to the Dodgers at the 2013 trade deadline.

He finishes his career with an even .300 batting average, 185 home runs and 1,030 RBIs.

Daily Distractions: California Superior Court judge tosses class-action lawsuit against Dodgers, Lakers, TWC.

SportsNet LA

The Dodgers’ new network, SportsNet LA, is launching Feb. 25. (Photo courtesy of SportsNet LA via Facebook)

A California Superior Court judge tossed out a class-action lawsuit filed against the Dodgers, Lakers, and Time Warner Cable on Tuesday, citing federal laws designed to protect the rights of cable providers. Judge Amy D. Hogue ruled that California’s Unfair Competition Law couldn’t be invoked to relieve Time Warner subscribers of the burden of unwanted fees or channels.

This blog space has focused on the Dodgers’ $8 billion, 25-year television contract to the extent that it impacts the team and its fans — the Time Warner subscribers who are bracing for a rate hike, and non-TWC subscribers who are being asked to “Demand Your Dodgers Now.” That makes sense. This is a Dodgers blog, after all.

But what about the non-Dodger (and non-Laker) fans who don’t want to pay for two channels they don’t plan to watch? That’s the group who filed the class-action suit. Their lead attorney, Max Blecher, summarized their position: “People should have the right to say ‘no.’ ”

Here’s how that position was eloquated in Judge Hogue’s nine-page ruling:

1. TWC plans to pass some the cost of its licensing deal with the Dodgers to its enhanced basic cable customers by increasing the cost of service by an estimated $4 to $5 per month. The Dodgers … knew and consented to the fact that the costs of the licensing agreement would be passed on to TWC enhanced basic cable customers without an opportunity for customers to opt-out of including those channels in their enhanced basic cable subscription.

2. TWC customers who subscribe to the enhanced basic cable package have no way of unsubscribìng from the costs of the Dodgers and Lakers networks, despite the fact that up to 60 percent of customers would do so if given the choice.

In response, TWC contended that the plaintiffs “entirely fail to address the ‘safe harbor effect’ of the CCA” — the federal law that allows cable providers to “bundle” channels in the same manner as SportsNet LA and TWC SportsNet (the Lakers’ network). The federal “safe harbor” law takes priority over California’s Unfair Competition Law. The judge agreed.

Blecher said he might file a notice of appeal if it can be argued that the judge’s ruling went too far. So this fight might not be over. The plaintiffs have at least one strong ally in Congress.

Some bullet points for a hump day:
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Reports: Yasiel Puig’s reckless driving charge dropped in Florida.

According to multiple reports Tuesday, the Florida state attorney’s office has dropped a reckless driving charge filed against Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig.

According to the News-Press of Fort Myers, Florida, “to prove reckless driving, the state must prove the defendant drove with a willful or wanton disregard for people or property, according to the memorandum. Speeding alone is not grounds for a reckless driving charge.”

Puig was arrested and released on bail after being clocked driving 110 mph on a 70-mph highway in December.

Daily Distractions: Dodgers president Stan Kasten named ‘Sports Executive of the Year.’

Stan Kasten

Stan Kasten was named the 2013 Sports Executive of the Year by the Los Angeles Sports Council (Getty Images)


Stan Kasten didn’t take long to make a name for himself in Los Angeles.

The Dodgers president hasn’t been on the job for two years, but on Tuesday he was named the 2013 Sports Executive of the Year by the Los Angeles Sports Council. Kasten will be honored during the 9th Annual LA Sports Awards, March 5 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

The awards dinner and gala, emceed by comedian Bill Engvall, will be televised on Prime Ticket on March 14 at 9:30 p.m., with multiple airings to follow. The ceremony also will feature the presentation of the Sportsman, Sportswoman, and Coach of the Year Awards.

Under Guggenheim Baseball Management, an ownership group including Kasten, chairman Mark Walter and Magic Johnson, the Dodgers led all major-league teams in home and road attendance last season. The Dodgers capped season-ticket sales at 32,000 last year and are currently deciding where to cap that number this year.

Guggenheim’s greatest feat: Negotiating an $8 billion television contract with Time Warner Cable that kicks in this year. The network co-owned by the Dodgers and TWC, SportsNet LA, is set to launch on Feb. 25.

Previous Sports Executive of the Year honorees are: Tim Leiweke, AEG (2012); Arte Moreno, Angels (2011); Tim Leiweke, AEG (2010); Jerry Buss, Lakers (2009); Mitch Kupchak, Lakers (2008); Brian Burke, Ducks (2007); Ned Colletti, Dodgers/Brian Burke, Ducks (2006); and Arte Moreno, Angels (2005).

Some bullet points for a Data Protection Day:
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Vin Scully honored at Southern California Sports Broadcasters awards luncheon.

Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully was named the Chick Hearn Radio Play-By-Play award winner for the 16th time at the Southern California Sports Broadcasters awards luncheon Monday.

Scully also won the SCSB Best Television Play-By-Play Announcer award for the 12th time. The 86-year-old has been part of the Dodgers’ broadcast team since 1950. Scully will broadcast all Dodgers games in California and Arizona in 2014.

The 2013 Special Achievement Award was bestowed upon Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw. In November, Kershaw won the Branch Rickey Award from the Rotary Club of Denver for his off-field humanitarian work, and the National League Cy Young award for his pitching exploits.

Earlier this month, Kershaw signed  a seven-year, $215 million contract, the largest ever given a pitcher.

Daily Distractions: Mark Ellis: ‘I have no hard feelings toward the Dodgers.’

Mark Ellis

Mark Ellis signed a one-year, $5.25 million contract with the St. Louis Cardinals on Dec. 16. (Associated Press photo)

The Dodgers are still looking for a veteran infielder who can play second base with 13 days to go until pitchers and catchers report to spring training. Michael Young said his preferred destination is Los Angeles — if he doesn’t retire — and Young seems to be the Dodgers’ top choice for the job as well. Here’s my story from last night.

If Young chooses to retire, the Dodgers have a pair of veteran options in Chone Figgins and Brendan Harris who will attend spring training as non-roster invitees. Of course, the Dodgers wouldn’t be in this position if Nick Punto and Skip Schumaker hadn’t spurned the Dodgers in free agency to sign with Oakland and Cincinnati, respectively.

You might as well throw Mark Ellis into that group as well. He seemed destined to land a starting gig somewhere after a productive 2013 campaign at the plate and in the field. When the Dodgers signed 28-year-old Cuban infielder Alexander Guerrero to a four-year contract, Ellis’ best opportunity to start no longer resided in Los Angeles.

Yet after the Dodgers declined his $5.75 million option, Ellis signed a one-year contract with St. Louis for $5.25 million. The Cardinals, like the Dodgers, already have a second baseman of the future (Kolten Wong) who has a chance to be the Opening Day starter in 2014. It’s far from certain that Ellis will be able to extend his streak of nine straight seasons with at least 100 starts at second base in St. Louis.

Ellis was willing to accept that uncertainty with the Cardinals. Why didn’t it work out with the Dodgers?

“Things happened,” he said Sunday in Anaheim. “It wasn’t a hard decision for me. I’ll leave it at that.”

Ellis said the Dodgers offered him a one-year contract. So did the Cardinals, but “it wasn’t hard to choose one offer from the other” and “role had nothing to do with anything,” he said. In other words, the decision was based on money.

Even if the Dodgers’ monetary offer could have been considered an insult, Ellis would never say so. He’s not that type of person. For what it’s worth: Ellis didn’t consider the offer an insult.

“I have no hard feelings toward the Dodgers,” he said.

Some bullet points for an International Holocaust Remembrance Day:
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Daily Distractions: Four Dodgers make MLB.com’s top 100 prospects list; what that means.

Corey Seager

Dodgers prospect Corey Seager ranked 34th on MLB.com’s list of the top 100 prospects in baseball. (Associated Press photo)

If you’re looking for a sign of progress from the Dodgers’ farm system, here’s one: MLB.com released its annual list of the top 100 prospects yesterday, and the Dodgers occupied four spots.

Four decent spots, too: Shortstop Corey Seager came in at number 34, outfielder Joc Pederson at number 36, and pitchers Zach Lee and Julio Urias at 63 and 64.

Compare that to a year ago, and the Dodgers’ system seems to be inching up. Pederson was the highest-ranked Dodger in 2013 at number 44, Seager at 48. Lee slipped a bit — MLB.com had him ranked 57th in 2013 — but Urias vaulted 25 spots from 89th overall.

Don’t get bogged down too much in the specifics. One quick general takeaway is that, in a perfect world, 30 MLB teams would have an average of 3.33 prospects ranked in the top 100. On the high end, then, the Dodgers are still only slightly above average. The Astros, who picked first in the June draft each of the last two years, had seven prospects among MLB.com’s top 100. The Angels, who haven’t had a first-round pick since 2011, had none.

Upward movement is always good. In 2011, the first year that MLB.com ranked prospects, the list ended at number 50. The final slot belonged to a Seattle Mariners pitching prospect from Yucaipa named Taijuan Walker. Walker jumped up to number 4 in both 2012 and 2013, then slipped to number 6 in 2014 — after posting a 3.60 ERA in three starts in 2013. He’s slotted to start this season in the Mariners’ rotation.

MLB.com’s number-45 prospect in 2011 was Matt Harvey. If a 6.1-WAR season at age 24 is what the Dodgers can expect from Pederson or Seager (and not Tommy John surgery), they’ll take it. That’s an extreme example of course, and it’s too soon to issue passing or failing grades on any 2011 prospects. Paco Rodriguez was in college in 2011.

So the immediate meaning of this list is that several teams are in better position to trade for David Price than the Dodgers. The long-term meaning? Who knows.

Some bullet points to tide you through the weekend:
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Daily Distractions: Who will be the next Hall of Fame inductee with a Dodgers logo on his cap?

Greg Maddux

Greg Maddux pitched 23 games, regular and postseason, in separate stints with the Dodgers in 2006 and 2008. (Getty Images)

Greg Maddux won’t have a logo on his Baseball Hall of Fame cap. It was never going to be a Dodgers logo, but that got me to thinking: Who will be the next Hall of Fame inductee with a Dodgers logo on his cap?

The Hall of Fame has a list of future candidates, listed by year of eligibility. (They haven’t gotten around to scratching Bobby Abreu‘s name off the 2018 list, assuming Abreu makes the Phillies’ roster.) Another future eligible is still on the Dodgers’ payroll (Andruw Jones). Jeff Weaver and Chan Ho Park become eligible in 2016.

Among the serious candidates, Manny Ramirez and Gary Sheffield did some of their best work in Dodgers uniforms.

Manny is 14th on the career home run list, and ninth in career slugging percentage and OPS. But he spent eight seasons in Cleveland and eight in Boston before his brief tenure as a Dodger. He also failed a drug test. Given the current climate toward known PED users among Hall voters, that won’t bode well for Ramirez. It didn’t bode well for the candidacy of Rafael Palmeiro (12th on the career home run list, off the ballot next year).

Sheffield played for eight teams in 22 seasons. If that doesn’t scream “please don’t put a logo on my hat,” I don’t know what does. And despite his gaudy career numbers, they aren’t much gaudier than those of Jeff Bagwell (listed on 54.3 percent of ballots this year) or Larry Walker (10.2 percent). He also took a designer steroid by his own admission, albeit by accident, and that might be enough to earn a thumbs-down from three-quarters of Hall voters.

Looking at the current ballot, Mike Piazza will wear a Mets hat if he gets in. Jeff Kent (listed on 15.2 percent of recent ballots) isn’t getting in.

In reality, you might be looking at someone on the current roster — one of these four — but only if their skills, health and the voters cooperate. Don’t hold your breath.

Some bullet points for a Pie Day:
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Dodgers sign Chone Figgins to a minor-league contract.

The Dodgers have signed veteran utilityman Chone Figgins to a minor-league contract, according to multiple reports Wednesday.

Figgins, who turns 36 today, did not play last season after being released by the Miami Marlins in spring training.

At his peak with the Angels in the mid-2000s, Figgins was an on-base machine capable of stealing a base and playing six positions — all except first base, pitcher or catcher.

He quickly wore out his welcome after signing a lucrative free agent contract in 2009. In four seasons he batted .227/.302/.283 before being released with one year left on his contract.