Daily Distractions: The Dodgers’ “old-timers game” lineup is a star-studded affair.

Shawn Green

Former Dodgers outfielder Shawn Green, who participated in the 2013 World Baseball Classic for Team Israel, looks like he can still play. (Associated Press photo)

One of the first fantasy baseball leagues I participated in was a “legacy” league back in the 1990s. You could draft players from any era. Old Hoss Radbourn was in the league. So was Lyman Bostock.

That memory was rekindled when the Dodgers announced the list of participants for Saturday’s “old-timer’s game,” which will be played at Dodger Stadium after the 1 p.m. game between the Dodgers and San Francisco Giants.

I mean, an outfield of Darryl Strawberry, Dusty Baker and Raul Mondesi? An infield of Nomar Garciaparra, Maury Wills and Eric Karros?

Admission to the game is free with a ticket to the Dodgers-Giants game. Introductions will be followed by a two-inning game. The full list of participants:

Team 1 (will wear Dodger home jerseys)
Dusty Baker OF
Tim Wallach 3B
Mickey Hatcher SS/OF
Steve Sax 2B
Mike Marshall 1B
Reggie Smith OF/1B
Steve Yeager C
Raul Mondesi OF
Davey Lopes 2B
Darryl Strawberry 1B/OF
Ron Cey 3B
Eric Gagné P
Fernando Valenzuela P

Team 2 (will wear Dodger alternate road jerseys)
Shawn Green OF
Derrel Thomas 2B/C
Bill Russell SS
Ken Landreaux OF
Eric Karros 1B
Rick Monday OF
Nomar Garciaparra 3B
Maury Wills SS
Steve Finley OF
Orel Hershiser P
Rick Honeycutt P

Additionally, Tommy Davis, Charlie Hough, “Sweet” Lou Johnson, Manny Mota, Don Newcombe and Jerry Reuss will be on hand and a part of Old-Timers pre-game introductions.

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Daily Distractions: Fans’ outrage toward Dodgers, Time Warner now includes an online petition.

Vin Scully
A fan petition calling on the Dodgers and Time Warner cable to “broker a deal” with local cable providers and “stop the defacto blackout” of the club on local television has 491 signatures on the website FansRising.com.

The campaign is planning additional action to raise attention to the issue, according to a press release from Fans Rising. Comments left by fans reveal that multiple petition signers are elderly fans no longer able to attend games who can’t watch on television.

“I saw my first Dodger game at Ebbets Field in 1938 and have been a faithful fan ever since,” wrote Doris Schalk. “I am now 84 and unable to drive, so don’t get to many games anymore, but being able to watch them all these years has been a god-send. The radio guys are very good – BUT I miss my Vin AND my Dodgers.”

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Daily Distractions: The Dodgers are leading Major League Baseball into the Land of Lethargy.

Don Mattingly

The Dodgers and Washington Nationals sat through more than three hours of rain delays Monday night. (Associated Press photo)

Even when the Dodgers are fast, they’re slow.

Yesterday’s 4-0 loss to the Washington Nationals, which began at 7:05 p.m. in Washington, D.C., ended at 1:22 a.m. If you choose not to count the three hours, 17 minutes of rain-delay time toward the official time of game — this is what MLB does — the game lasted 2 hours and 59 minutes. In reality, more than six hours passed from the first pitch to the last, and the human beings at Nationals Park yesterday felt every second of it.

How many of those human beings made it past midnight? You’ll only need one hand for this exercise:

What’s really scary is that yesterday’s game was the Dodgers’ fastest in nearly two weeks. Not since they beat the Philadelphia Phillies 5-2 on April 23 have the Dodgers finished a game in less than three hours — again, officially.

There’s a trend around baseball for games getting longer. Has been for a while. A year ago, six teams finished games in less than three hours on average. In 2012 that number was 15. Dial it back 10 years to 2004 and only one team, the Baltimore Orioles, averaged as many as three hours per game.

This year? Only two teams — Cincinnati and San Diego — are finishing in less than three hours. And those two clubs are averaging 2:59 per game. The meaning of the 3-hour mark has been completely flipped on its head.

Unfortunately the Dodgers are leading the way in this department, with an MLB-worst 3:25 average time of game. Might as well sit back, find a good blog to read between innings, and enjoy the ride.

If you want to reach for a positive, try this one: The team who played the longest games last season, the Boston Red Sox, won the World Series.

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Daily Distractions: Who are the Dodgers without Clayton Kershaw?

Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw will start tomorrow against the Washington Nationals. (Associated Press photo)

Since the start of the 2009 season until a month ago, the Dodgers have had the luxury of a healthy Clayton Kershaw at all times. In terms of fWAR, Kershaw has been the National League’s best pitcher during that time period. Being healthy helps a player’s WAR and he certainly helps a team’s won-loss total.

But how much? Who are the Dodgers without their best pitcher? Until recently, that’s been hard to say.

Speaking last August about Kershaw’s credentials for the National League Most Valuable Player Award, Don Mattingly said that “as a manager you see how important (he) is every fifth day. He goes deep into games, saves your bullpen, stops losing streaks, extends winning streaks. you can’t hardly put it — it’s just big. He’s got to be considered.”

It’s been 45 days since Kershaw last pitched. In that time, their run differential is plus-9, their record is 17-14, and their bullpen is taxed. Only the Arizona Diamondbacks have gotten more innings out of their bullpen this season, and the Diamondbacks have played two more games. The Dodgers have needed more innings from their relievers on a per-game basis than any major-league team. That’s partly a function of their eight extra-inning games, which leads the major leagues.

It’s also a function of Kershaw’s absence. Last year, the burden that Kershaw took off the Dodgers’ bullpen was something Mattingly had to imagine; this year it is very real. The proof is in the numbers. While the other starters have picked up the slack (they’re 13-5 with a 3.06 ERA, sixth in MLB), the Dodger bullpen has exuded mediocrity. Their 3.79 ERA ranks 15th and they’re going unusually deep into counts against opposing batters. Only three major-league bullpens are averaging more pitches per plate appearance than the Dodgers’. Their high innings-pitched total doesn’t even tell the full story.

How much impact can Kershaw have on an entire pitching staff — an entire team? We’ll check back in another 45 days.

According to an interview Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti did with ESPN, Kershaw will be cleared to throw 100 pitches tomorrow.

“I think he looked sharper in the two rehab games,” Colletti said, “than he did in Australia.”

Kershaw allowed one run in 6 ⅔ innings in Australia.

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Daily Distractions: On close calls on the basepaths, has Yasiel Puig run out of luck?

Yasiel Puig

Yasiel Puig has been thrown out on the bases seven times this season. (Getty Images)

The Dodgers have seen 15 runners thrown out on the basepaths this season. That’s two fewer than the Colorado Rockies and St. Louis Cardinals in a statistical category that no team wants to lead.

Yasiel Puig is single-handedly responsible for seven of those misfortunes, tied with Pittsburgh’s Starling Marte for the MLB lead. Puig was doubled off first base in the first game of Thursday’s doubleheader in Minnesota. Umpire Tim Welke had a good look at the play from his vantage point at second base. Welke had an even better look at this play in the night game (from Yahoo.com):

With one out, Puig beat out a chopper up the middle that second baseman Brian Dozier threw in the dirt to first base. Chris Colabello couldn’t pick it and the ball hopped past him, with catcher Yosmil Pinto backing up the play. After he ran through the bag, Puig sharply turned his head to the right to check for the ball’s location. It was evident from Puig’s body language that Puig wanted to take an extra base, but when he saw Pinto with the ball, he applied the brakes. If Puig’s left shoulder began to dip toward second, the rest of his body actually leaned right. He never left the baseline, never crossed the foul line. He stopped, turned around clockwise (that’s away from second base), and started walking back to the bag like an innocent man who just had hit an infield single.

When Pinto tagged Puig, Welke signaled that Puig was out. Was that the right call? Judge for yourself.

The Yahoo! article suggested that Welke “seemed to be looking for a reason to call Puig out.” Without interviewing Welke, a veteran of 29 major-league seasons and the crew chief last night, it’s impossible to know that for sure.

Psychology tells us that there might have been a very real phenomenon at work. It’s called the confirmation bias and we’re all susceptible to it at some point, on some level. Reading further into the well-sourced Wikipedia entry on the topic, “even if people gather and interpret evidence in a neutral manner, they may still remember it selectively to reinforce their expectations.”

A player who’s already been thrown out on the basepaths six times in a month (Puig) can be reasonably expected to make the same mistake again. Puig’s mistake in the first game might have reinforced that expectation for everyone in the ballpark, including the second-base umpire. Given a split second to make his call at first base in the second game, Welke could easily have fallen prey to confirmation bias. That’s not an opinion — that’s a real possibility, reinforced repeatedly in scientifically valid experiments. Welke might not have been aware of a possible confirmation bias at work in his own mind. Even if reporters were given the chance to interview him after the game, the interview might not have cleared up the question.

Here’s what we do know: The more outs he runs into, the more Puig hurts his chances of getting the benefit of the doubt in situations like the one Thursday night in Minnesota.

Thursday was still a good day for Puig on the whole. The Elias Sports Bureau (via ESPN) said that Puig is the first Dodgers player to reach base eight times in a doubleheader since Bill Buckner against the Giants in 1976.

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