Owning up on ways to measuring the Dodgers’ 2013 success

Stan Kasten, second from left, entering the first Dodger Stadium press conference with the new ownership group that included, left, Peter Guber, Mark Walter and Magic Johnson.

Stan Kasten, second from left, entering the first Dodger Stadium press conference with the new ownership group that included, left, Peter Guber, Mark Walter and Magic Johnson.

What’s the best way to measure the Dodgers’ success in 2013?

Stan Kasten tries every day. He pools together his resources – maybe that’s not the best term to use if you looking at it from an Diamondbacks  perspective – and crunches numbers until he’s that certain shade of blue in the face.

His metrix of the moment: Fans in the stands.

91958783_crop_650x440The NL West champions will emerge from recent apathetic attendance decline to not only eclipse the 3.7 million mark at home – leading all of baseball as they had once done on an annual basis in years gone by — but they’ll also have the greatest road attendance average per game.

“We don’t even know the last time a National League team led in both those categories,” the 61-year-old Dodger president, CEO and co-owner said the other day, a reference to the fact that the almighty New York Yankees have accomplished the feat on several occasions, most recently in 2010.

“To me, that speaks to the progress we’ve made. None of us feel our job is close to being done because we want to be a team that has sustained success, and we’ve just started. But we feel we’ve made real progress. The response, the reaction and the support from our fans have been very gratifying.” Continue reading

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Play It Forward: September 30-October 6 — ITFDB, in the ATL

Update: 8 a.m. TUESDAY:

How the sports week lays out moving forward, locally and nationally:

DodgersFacebookTHIS WEEK’S BEST BET:
MLB PLAYOFFS:

NL DIVISIONAL SERIES:
Game 1: Dodgers at Atlanta, Thursday at 5:30 p.m., TBS
Prior to the first game of their regular-season ending series against Colorado, the Dodgers’ official Twitter account released a photo with Kenley Jansen and Jerry Hairston Jr. posing next to a new logo on the Dodger Stadium outfield wall commemorating their NL West championship. Except the tweet came with the wording: “The National League Champions are finally home! #ITFDB” (The hashtagged initials stand for:  It’s time for Dodger baseball). Kind of a big whiff there — it was eventually corrected to “National League West.” By then, it had already been captured, distributed and ridiculed on the Internet machine. Whether the Atlanta Braves’ followers were following along, we’ll soon see.
c04_mlbinside_19-x-largeThe Dodgers start with Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke in the first two road games of the playoffs in Atlanta against a Braves’ team that may head the NL in home runs (180, to the Dodgers’ 138), but they also seem to enjoy swinging and missing.
891551574Atlanta led the league with 1,379 whiffs, led by Dan Uggla (171, pictured right), Justin Upton (161) and B.J. Upton (151), who rank third, fourth and fifth in the league. Kershaw led the NL in inducing strike outs with (232). With Matt Kemp out, and likely Andre Ethier, the burden falls heavily on the Dodgers’ pitching. The Dodgers have a 71-4 record when leading this year after the sixth inning. They’re 4-51 if they’re trailing at that point. And the Braves have the best bullpen in the league.
TBS has put Ernie Johnson (play-by-play), Ron Darling and Cal Ripken (analysts) with Craig Sager (reporter) on this one. They must think it’s important.
Also:
Game 2: Dodgers at Atlanta, Friday at 3 p.m., TBS
Game 3: Dodgers vs. Atlanta, Dodger Stadium, Sunday, time to be determined, TBS or MLB Network

BEST OF THE REST: Continue reading

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What USC gets with Orgeron, no one is blindsided

Ed Orgeron leads the USC team to the edge of the tunnel before the start of the Trojan's season opener against  Hawaii at Aloha Stadium in 2010. (Photo by Kent Nishimura/Getty Images)

Ed Orgeron leads the USC team to the edge of the tunnel before the start of the Trojan’s season opener against Hawaii at Aloha Stadium in 2010. (Photo by Kent Nishimura/Getty Images)

Lane Kiffin could not have been blindsided by his eventual ouster as the USC football coach.

Yet all the while, waiting for another chance, was Ed Orgeron.

Mr. Blind Side himself.

When you do a head coaching search at USC, someone’s IMBD.com resume isn’t the first thing checked for red flags after their Facebook and Twitter profiles. In this case, athletic director Pat Haden didn’t have to go real far to find an understudy willing to jump into the lead role for the last eight games of the season.

The humble and engaging but ever lovin’ ragin’ Louisiana native Orgeron, whether you can understand what he’s actually saying with a voice that sounds like someone gargling a mouthful of lugnuts, already has captured this Trojan team’s attention.

After all, he mostly likely sold them on coming here in the first place. Continue reading

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Q and A: Scully, on McCain, champagne and, really, when you’re calling games in October, how can you complain?

scully-firstpitchFor about an hour, Vin Scully allowed himself the chance to remember.

The Dodgers had just wrapped up the NL West title with a Thursday afternoon victory in Phoenix, and a champagne celebration ensued.

After calling the final out, Scully said he watched the players roll around near second base at Chase Field, then collected his belongings and headed down to a team bus that waited in a nearby tunnel.

“It was kind of lovely to be sitting alone, just thinking, very quiet, no one around,” the 85-year-old Hall of Fame broadcaster admitted. “I didn’t feel alone or left out. It was by design.”

Ralph_Branca_after_giving_up_homerun_to_Bobby_Thomson_-_77804929RPA006_BrooklynDodgersCollection_001_fs_fsHe said he found himself back in 1950, his first year with the franchise. The Phillies’ Dick Sisler hit an opposite-field home run in the 10th inning to eliminate the Dodgers on the last day of the season. A year later, it was the New York Giants’ Bobby Thomson historic homer that did the same kind of damage.

In 1955, it was the elation of Brooklyn’s first and only championship. Then the title runs of the teams from ’59 and ’63 and . . .

“I felt like I was going through a scrapbook, I guess,” he said. “I saw faces, players I knew, many I was close to. It all came back in a rush.”

How this 2013 Dodgers season will end is a script Scully is waiting to narrate, as he takes to the radio booth to call games through the playoffs.

But first, another journey through his personal scrapbook for the way this season played out, and how that affected his decision to come back for a 65th season in 2014: Continue reading

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Dodgers ’88 vs. Dodgers ’13: Do they compare at all? Start with the regular season records

20130728_161447“These Dodgers are a wild-card team that’s not a wildcard,” TBS analyst Ron Darling said of this 2013 squad, based on injured players trying to get healthy, an offense that can be inconsistent, but with a pitching staff that dominates.
stadiumhannahjpeg_0 Sound familiar? Maybe it’s not so different than the heavy underdog 1988 Dodgers squad that somehow rallied to win the World Series.
Are there comparisons to draw here with this 25-year gap we’re now faced with — the last time a Dodger team won it all? Continue reading

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How to define perfection? 50 years later, John Paciorek has a principled approach

 (Photo: http://www.kemmetmueller.com)


How John Paciorek’s entire baseball career can be described on one autographed baseball. (Photo: www.kemmetmueller.com)

John Paciorek’s definition of a perfect day:

Get up at about 3 a.m. at his San Gabriel home, do some metaphysical reading to prepare his mind, fire off some emails, pour a cup of coffee, run out to teach a group of elementary school kids all about physical education, come home for lunch, then go back out to coach or referee a football game.

Hopefully somewhere in there he sees his wife, Karen, who also works at the school.

In other words, that was what happened Friday.

Fifty years ago, perfection could have been measured in a much different way.

colts-john-paciorek-wirephotoThe Houston Colt .45s called the 18-year-old Paciorek up from their Class C-league team in Modesto for the last game of the regular season on Sept. 29, 1963, against the New York Mets. Houston was already 33 games behind the first-place Dodgers; the Mets, last in the West, were 48 games back.

By the time it was over, Paciorek, hitting seventh and playing right field, went 3-for-3 with three singles, walked twice, scored four times and drove in three runs in a 13-4 win before less than 4,000 spectators. He also handled two plays in the field flawlessly.

Then, by perfect illogical fate, he never played in an MLB game again.

A lifetime batting average of 1.000 isn’t bad, right?It’s in all the record books.

paciorekgrassbackIt depends on how you respond when life throws you a curveball.

“I’d have to say I’ve had it pretty good; I’m very happy,” the 68-year-old said from his home not far from the private Clairbourn School where he’s been the phys ed teacher for the last 37 years. Continue reading

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25 years ago: When Hershiser threw 10 shutout innings to drive by Drysdale … for 59, right?

UPDATED: 09.29.13 at 10 a.m.

Orel Hershiser acknowledges the Dodger Stadium crowed on Opening Day, April 1, 2013. Hershiser caught the ceremonial first pitch thrown by Sandy Koufax.  (Photo by Jon SooHoo/©Los Angeles Dodgers,LLC 2013

Orel Hershiser acknowledges the Dodger Stadium crowed on Opening Day, April 1, 2013. Hershiser caught the ceremonial first pitch thrown by Sandy Koufax. (Photo by Jon SooHoo/©Los Angeles Dodgers,LLC 2013

Twenty-five years later, people still come up to Orel Hershiser and ask him about his consecutive scoreless record streak.

Sometimes it starts with: How many innings was it again?

After throwing 10 scoreless innings on Sept. 28, 1988, Orel Hershiser could celebrate reach 59.

After throwing 10 scoreless innings on Sept. 28, 1988, Orel Hershiser could celebrate reach 59.

“I’m at a point where I’m not sure anymore, after they (the Major League Baseball official stat keepers) changed Don Drysdale’s number right in the middle of everything,” said the Dodgers’ 1988 Cy Young Award winner.

“I’ve been told the wrong number so many times. People say, ‘You still have that world record, right?’

“It’s a rhetorical question. Just like people who meet me think I’m in the Hall of Fame. I never correct them. Why disappoint them?”

Don’t be disappointed to learn that, for the record, the streak is 59 and doing fine. Also to make clear: Hershiser hasn’t made the Hall of Fame. At least as far as he can recall.

“Days are long, years are short, I can’t believe I’m actually retired,” said Hershiser, who recently turned 55 – his old uniform number.

Working the last nine years as a game analyst for ESPN, a candidate to someday to join the Dodgers’ broadcasting crew on a regular basis, Hershiser will forever be the boyish symbol of the 1988 Dodger title team and linked with the grizzled Hall of Famer Drysdale, able to surpass his mark as if everyone stayed on a pre-written Hollywood script. Continue reading

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The Key and Peele Show’s East-West rosters (updated)

From last season’s “Key & Peele” show on Comedy Central, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele gave us some of the best spoofed names (or, perhaps real somewhere) you could find on a college football all-star team to appear on “CSEN”:

That clip has more than 18 million YouTube hits. They’ve topped it this season with another batch, led by Fudge (as can only be broken down by Joel Meyers and Bill Seward, with more than 6 million hits already in the last two weeks):

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Weekly media column version 09.27.13: Kiss ‘em goodbye

DSC02498DSC02500DSC02502Above: During KCAL’s farewell montage at the end of Wednesday’s Dodgers-Giants game coverage, included was a clip of Vin Scully blowing a kiss to the Dodger Stadium patrons (with producer Boyd Robertson looking on in amusement):

What made it into this week’s compilation:

The Dodgers’ fun run at Prime Ticket and KCAL-Channel 9 has reached a melancholy ending, so where do we go from here with SportsNet L.A.? (A version of the blog post we had Thursday afternoon).

What didn’t make it into the column or notes: Continue reading

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How Prime Ticket, Channel 9 are going, going, gone in the Dodgers postseason run and beyond

At the end of Wednesday's Dodgers-Giants game, KCAL-Channel 9 ran a classy montage of highlights thanking the Dodgers for their partnership that has now ended after eight seasons.

At the end of Wednesday’s Dodgers-Giants game, KCAL-Channel 9 ran a classy montage of highlights thanking the Dodgers for their partnership that has now ended after eight seasons.

This should be the prime weekend for Prime Ticket to crank up its  Dodgers coverage, chronicling the team as it navigates through the final home stand of the regular season and induces playoff momentum.

Just circle back to how the local cable network partner Fox Sports West got behind the Kings’ 2012 Stanley Cup run with all its ancillary coverage, despite the fact it couldn’t televise any live games due to national TV rights agreements.

But then again, this is also a time where we’re still getting our antennas around a two-year run major overhaul in local L.A. sports television. The disruption of familiarity requires viewers to keep up with the new landscape of the channel relocation program.

scoreesComing up on a year since the Lakers broke loose from its long-time residence at Fox Sports West and KCAL-Channel 9 to team up on a mega-rights deal with Time Warner Cable and become a partner in the launch the El Segundo-based TWC SportsNet, the Dodgers are doing the same and more on their own path toward self-produced fulfillment.

The momentum can finally start building toward the creation of their own SportsNet L.A. that will arrive in the next six months, with TWC’s financial support and assistance as well.

Fox Sports West’s 17 years as a Dodger cable partner – the team actually precipitated the launch of Fox Sports West 2 in 1997, later re-branded with the retro name Prime Ticket a few years ago – comes to a melancholy ending Sunday.

Read more on the website …

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