Play It Forward April 6-12: How would James Shields look in Dodgers’ rotation now?

Brooke Schneider, a Dodgers fan from Thousand Oaks, is on the rail attempting to get the attention of  Clayton Kershaw during  a spring training game in Peoria, Ariz. With Derek Jeter gone, who will reign as the face of the majors? Could be Clayton Kershaw. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

Brooke Schneider, a Dodgers fan from Thousand Oaks, is on the rail attempting to get the attention of Clayton Kershaw during a spring training game in Peoria, Ariz. With Derek Jeter gone, who will reign as the face of the majors? Could be Clayton Kershaw. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

THIS WEEK’S BEST BETS:

MLB OPENING DAY:
DODGERS vs. SAN DIEGO
Details/TV: Dodger Stadium, Monday at 1 p.m., SportsNet L.A.
ANGELS at SEATTLE
Details/TV: Monday at 1 p.m., Fox Sports West:

James Shields arrives as the San Diego Padres' new ace. (AP photo)

New San Diego resident James Shields arrives as the Padres’ new ace, which he would not have been with the Dodgers. (AP photo)

How much was James Shields on the Dodgers’ radar this last off season? The former Hart High of Santa Clarita star, who has already pitched in two World Series for two different teams in his nine big-league seasons, was one of the best arms available this past free-agent window. Things became a bit more curious as December rolled into January, and then early February – no one was biting. Finally, the bold-move San Diego Padres decided to snatch up the 33-year-old in a four-year, $75 million deal. And look where he’ll make his 2015 debut? “That was the only stadium, growing up, that I went to,” said Shields of Dodger Stadium. “It’s definitely going to be pretty surreal. But I’m sure once the game starts, I’ll lock in.” And tune out all the family members he has there? The former ace of the Tampa Bay Rays and Kansas City Royals makes his seventh Opening Day start, although he’s just 1-2 with a 5.05 ERA in those appearances. San Diego, for all it did in adding Shields, plus a new outfield of Matt Kemp, Justin Upton and Wil Myers, only tacked on an addition $10 million to their 2014 $90 million payroll. That was until the team made another bold move Sunday in adding All-Star reliever Craig Kimbrel. Think the Dodgers couldn’t use Kimbrel right about now, too? The Dodgers and their record-breaking $272 million roster send reigning NL Cy Young and MVP winner Clayton Kershaw to make his fifth straight opening day start. He’s got a 3-0 record in Game 1 appearances, including a win in Melbourne, Australia last season. His only opening day non-win was a no-decision in the Dodgers’ 5-3 victory over the Padres at Petco Park in 2012.
la-sp-sn-jered-weaver-angels-tigers-20130627-001Over in the AL West, the Seattle Mariners have gained a lot of attention as a playoff contender, led by former Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez. He’s making his seventh straight Opening Day start and eighth overall, posing a 5-0 mark and 1.52 ERA in those games. With Jered Weaver starting for the Angels, this is a rematch of the 2014 Opening Day, when the Mariners won, 10-3, in Seattle as Hernandez struck out 11 in six innings. Weaver struck out six in his six innings but gave up four runs (three earned) and three walks. Weaver, beginning his 10th big-league season, makes his sixth straight Opening Day start, and seventh in his career, the most in franchise history. He’s 3-2 in Opening Day.

The Dodgers-Padres series continues Tuesday and Wednesday, 7 p.m., SportsNet L.A. The Dodgers then go to Arizona for three games (Friday and Saturday at 6:30 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.)
The Angels-Mariners series continues Tuesday and Wednesday, 7 p.m., Fox Sports West. The Angels’ home opener is Friday at 7 p.m. (FSW) against defending AL champion Kansas City, with games Saturday (6 p.m., FS1) and Sunday (12:30 p.m., FSW).

Also: Live MLB coverage of Monday’s Opening Day has Toronto at New York Yankees (10 a.m., ESPN), New York Mets at Washington (1 p.m., ESPN), Cleveland at Houston (4 p.m., ESPN) and San Francisco at Arizona (7 p.m., ESPN2).

ALSO THIS WEEK: Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

30 baseball books for April ’15, Day 5: The 101 places you’ll visit again … with new discoveries

Pull up a chair at the Simpson's statues at the Albuquerque Isotopes' home field. (www.bloggerstobenamedlater.com)

Pull up a chair at the Simpson’s statues at the Albuquerque Isotopes’ home field. (www.bloggerstobenamedlater.com)

The book: “101 Baseball Places To See Before You Strike Out: Second Edition”
The author: Josh Pahigian
The vital statistics: Lyons Press
Find it: On amazon.com, on barnesandnoble.com, on powells.com

61sUah7yAnLThe pitch: You’ve had seven years since the first edition came out to hit all 101 places that Pahigan pitched the first time. Or, at least read about them and pretend.
Some stops were obvious. Many were so obscure, you just had to imagine when the heck you might ever get there.
And now, there’s more.
With 25 more places here that weren’t in the first edition, it means 25 places that were once vital visits aren’t any longer.
Some of that is because the places aren’t around any longer – Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant and Sports Bar in New York, and Joe DiMaggio’s Italian Chophouse in San Francisco and the ESPN Zone/Babe Ruth Photomosaic in New York’s Times Square have disappeared. Same with Lenny Dykstra’s Car Wash in Simi Valley.
Hey, stuff happens. They’re all washed up.
Pink’s Hot Dog stand on La Brea and Melrose made it at No. 72 in book one. Why it was left out of book two? Maybe because it just got out-wienered.
And don’t assume just because the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown remains the No. 1 destination spot in both books that the chapter from the first edition was just re-purposed in the second edition. The number of artifacts in the Hall has increased from 35,000 to nearly 40,000.
As far as rankings go, the Negro League Baseball Museum has swapped places with the “Field of Dreams” movie site – from Nos. 2 and 3.
The L.A. Coliseum has moved up from No. 80 to No. 56. San Diego’s Carroll B. Land Stadium has made a tremendous leap from No. 69 to No. 25. Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

30 baseball books for April ’15, Day 4: When today’s stadium grub has to be more than just deep-grilled weenies

The Morrell Meat Company was the first to make Dodger Dogs, and a vintage Dodgers program, featuring the famed dog. (www.laweekly.com, courtesy of the Dodgers)

The Morrell Meat Company was the first to make Dodger Dogs, and a vintage Dodgers program, featuring the famed dog. (www.laweekly.com, courtesy of the Dodgers)

The book: “The Joy of Ballpark Food: From Hot Dogs to Haute Cusine”
The author: Bennett Jacobstein
The vital statistics: Ballpark Food Publications/Createspace, 147 pages, $27.50
Find it: On amazon.com, and ballparkfood.org

51cdlIE7scLThe pitch: Monday’s Opening day at Dodger Stadium doesn’t necessarily mean heading for the seats to see the new players on the roster.
The first stop is often at the concession stands to see what’s new on the menu.
(No, please, not another Carl’s Jr. …)
And, for some, a quick check to see if the Dodger Dog has gone up in price.
A weenie move, sure. But it’s all about the investment as much on the field as in what we’re fed.
If you’re heading out to the park for today’s final game of the Dodgers-Angels exhibition series for a sneak peek, you may have already heard of the changes that the Dodgers have made with their concessions: New items at Tommy Lasorda’s Italian Trattoria include meatball marinara fries and a meatball marinara cone, the La Taqueria on the field and reserve levels have carne asada fries. The Extreme Loaded Dogs on the field level (aisle 48) now has “fried Dodger Dogs.”
Healthy choices? Ballpark food for the soul is always healthy. But then there are the options of veggie burgers, veggie dogs, wraps and pizza. Even vegan versions of the loaded nacho helmets.
All of which may cause Jacobstein, a retired librarian who lives in the Bay Area and works during the baseball season at the San Jose Giants’ concession stand, to make a U-turn for an updated version of this self-published book.

Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Media column version 04.05.15: What you can do — if you so choose — about the Dodgers’ SportsNet LA distribution messiness

www.benzinga.com

www.benzinga.com

In Sunday’s editions (linked here):
Vin Scully had just watched the Dodgers clinch the 2013 NL West Division title with a come-from-behind win at Arizona. It capped a season when the Dodgers, once 9 ½ games out of first in late June, somehow got their act together.
“It wasn’t easy,” he said from the Prime Ticket TV booth, “but in the history of the Brooklyn and L.A. Dodgers, nothing ever has come easy.”
waiting-room-signJust like the privilege of hearing Scully call a full nine-inning Dodgers regular-season contest.
For TV viewers, Dodgers Version 2015 will have that same pit-in-the-stomach feel as 2014. Patience and virtue may have their place, but the angst involved in the Dodgers’ SportsNet L.A. channel distribution may call for some desperate measures.
There’s a more-than-distinct likelihood that a second entire Dodgers’ season will be invisible to nearly three quarters of the L.A. TV market, mostly because the team’s bad-cop partner, Time Warner Sports, has not been able to coerce a key agreement with satellite distributor/self-appointed arbiter of responsible spending DirecTV.
So what are you going to do about it?
There are several proactive measures that we’ll get into, such as circumventing the MLB.TV online streaming. Until then …

What else we feel is noteworthy at this point in time:
== In the SportsNet LA TV spots that have been running lately — ones I’ve been told by emailers that are “condescending” and “insulting” — they state that “for Dodger fans, there is only one place where over 140 exclusive live games.”
The graphic then shows “OVER 140+ EXCLUSIVE GAMES.”
Screen-Shot-2014-03-22-at-4.38.23-PMNot to nitpick here, but “over” is really the wrong use here. It should be “more than.” Right, AP style? (Not right, apparently, but …)
And then, which is it?
“Over 140″?
Or “140+”?
In the Dodgers latest press release, SportsNet L.A. says it will have 150 live regular season Dodgers games, in English and Spanish, starting with Monday’s Opening Day against San Diego. Ned Colletti, the former Dodgers GM who now serves as senior advisor to the president, has also been added to the network as an analyst.
Again, for the record, Vin Scully has cut back his schedule and he’ll only do home games, plus trips to San Francisco and Anaheim (no more journeys to Phoenix or even San Diego). So when he’s gone, it’s Charley Steiner back with Orel Hershiser and Normar Garciaparra. SportsNet LA also has 150 games in Spanish (TWC channel 324) with Pepe Yniguez doing with alongside Fernando Valenzuela. Manny Mota will also join on some games.
The SportsNet LA feed will also have Radio Korea as a secondary audio programming option with Richard Choi and Andrew Lee calling the games.

== Again, here’s your DirecTV promise as to why it still hasn’t picked up the Dodgers’ SportsNet L.A.

Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

30 baseball books for April ’15, Day 3: John Paciorek’s day … it’s still bittersweet perfection

paciorekoneyearwonderbackThe book: “Perfect: The Rise and Fall of John Paciorek, Baseball’s Greatest One-Game Wonder”
The author: Steven K. Wagner
The vital statistics: Breakaway Books, 224 pages, $12.95
Find it: On amazon.com, on barnesandnoble.com, on powells.com

71zuL8iTheL._SL1200_The pitch: Maybe the last place John Paciorek thought he’d be on the final day of the 1963 major-league baseball season was on a major-league roster. But the 18-year-old was picked by the Houston Colt .45s to join up-and-coming players Joe Morgan, Rusty Staub and Jimmy Wynn and give fans a glimpse of the franchise’s future.
Paciorek, hitting seventh and playing right field, and in a big-league park for only the third time in his life, saw 23 pitches. He went 3 for 3 with three singles, two walks, four runs scored and three RBIs in a 13-4 win. Fewer than 4,000 were on hand at Colts Stadium to see it.
And without the help of the official scorekeeper ruling a hit instead of an error, this whole thing would likely not be worth the trouble to revisit.
“The rest of (Paciorek’s) career may be an anticlimax,” a story in the Houston Post declared, while also naming him the unofficial batting champ of that season.
We acknowledged in a story we did on the 50th anniversary of the feat that “by perfect illogical fate, he never played in an MLB game again.”
But with all that came a lifetime 1.000 batting average, for trivia purposes or worse, because of back injury issues and failed comeback attempts. His life led him to San Gabriel and a teaching career, as well as publishing his own book about hitting.
Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email