July 6th-Los Angeles
The Los Angeles Dodgers assets may be tied up in bankruptcy court with owner Frank McCourt but that doesn’t mean the team has lost sight of their most important asset-the fans. In spite of all the negativity surrounding the Dodgers these days, the team’s public relations department still saw fit to host their fourth annual “Blogger Night” Tuesday for the fans currently living in the “blog-o-sphere.” Each year, the Dodgers treat bloggers as “real media” by inviting us to watch a game from a suite and letting us talk to Dodger players, both past and present.
About an hour before a game against the Mets, sixteen of us were shown to a suite stocked with plenty of food and drinks. Josh Rawitch, the head of Dodgers public relations, kicked things off by asking us to huddle around the speaker phone and hear from a special guest. It turned out to be outfielder Andre Ethier. The impetus of the conversation was Ethier’s name being on the internet ballot that allows fans to vote for the final All-Star reserve. He thanked us for all the support and how excited he was to be in the running. Sadly, as of Wednesday, it appears the Phillies Shane Victorino has the inside track.
Next up was former Dodgers third baseman Ron Cey who went to four World Series in his twelve seasons with the team (1971-1982) . Cey made no bones about the fact he is not very happy with either the current ownership situation or the team on the field. “We’ve got lots of holes to fill,” he said. In regards to the team being sold, former Dodgers first baseman Steve Garvey has been quoted as saying he may have a group ready to make a deal. Cey took a dig at his former teammate going public at this time, especially when the team is not officially for sale yet. “It is completely unethical, unprofessional….”
With so many injuries this season, the Dodgers have had to put several minor leaguers on the field; with mixed results. I asked Cey if he likes what he’s seen so far and his response was clear he wants to see a lot more . For example, in regards to a recent start by rookie pitcher Rubby De La Rosa who was pitching no-hit baseball for six innings before falling apart in the seventh, Cey said “I mean, you’ve got to close those things out. It’s not an easy thing to fall back on, saying he’s a rookie or whatever.” When asked if the Dodgers will have to rebuild from within as they did during his tenure rather than going after free agents, Cey lamented the old ways may be gone for good. “Time and patience are no longer an option for a team as it once was.”
I attempted to make a joke by asking Cey what a player of his era thinks when journeymen like Jayson Werth can command $126 million contracts. He shared with us he has already found out what he could fetch these days. Apparently, the Major League Player’s Association can review a retired player’s statistics and figure out the salary they could command in 2011. Cey, who averaged 25 home runs and 85 RBI (excluding the strike shortened 1981 season) as a Dodger, said his numbers would have allowed him to be about the 8th highest paid player in today’s dollars.
Following Cey, a former Dodger named Al Ferrera stopped by. The name didn’t necessarily register excitement but his stories sure did. Ferrera, who grew up playing sandlot ball with greats such as Joe Torre and Joe Pepitone among others; earned two World Championship rings as an outfielder for the Dodgers from 1963 to 1967 (a broken leg limited his 1968 season to just two games).
“I hit .083 in high school but somehow the Dodgers decided to take a chance on me,” he laughingly recalled. Ferrera told us how strange it was to be a guy who grew up in Brooklyn when the Dodgers were there and then beat the Yankees in the 1963 World Series as a member of the team that deserted New York. “When I returned to Brooklyn with my World Series ring, I thought I’d be a hero. Instead, they wanted to kill me.” I asked who he felt was the toughest pitcher he faced. “I could hit a low fastball but Tom Seaver threw one that rose up at the last minute.”
Finally the game started with KISS’ Gene Simmons throwing a perfect strike as part of the opening ceremonies. That was about the only on-the-field highlight as the Dodgers lost to the Mets, 6-0.
Thanks again to the Dodgers for hosting another first class, fun event.
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