I’m taking some time away from MLB for this blog entry, not just because I don’t like interleague play–that’s a topic in and of itself–but because something much more exciting is going on in baseball right now. And while I do have a bit to say about a couple of National League pitchers who are making names for themselves, I will get to that later.
I figured out I’ve been to almost 70 baseball games so far this year, because I’ve averaged close to four a week since February began. From Dodger Stadium to Petco Park, to the CIF championship game, to Tony Gwynn Stadium and Jackie Robinson Stadium, Cunningham Stadium, and of course Camelback Ranch–I’ve seen this great game played at many sites over the last four months. Except for a brief day trip to Arizona for spring training, unlike some people I know, I haven’t taken any real “road trips” this year. But that’s okay, because I haven’t really had time to get away!
But with a recent passing of a legend, and another SoCal team winning a championship, there has already been enough to talk about in the City of Angels this month. Congratulations to the Lakers, who clinched the franchise’s 16th NBA title last week, and have established themselves as the team of this millennium, so far, with five NBA titles since 2000. Can they pass the baton to the Dodgers? In 1988, both teams won championships just months apart–but that’s the only time they’ve enjoyed the ultimate success in the same calendar year. The Dodgers and Angels played an interleague series during the NBA finals, and all eyes of fans from both teams have been on the team in purple and gold. I’ll say a few more words about basketball, shortly.
Back to baseball, though, for now, it’s all about UCLA! The Bruins are in the College World Series!
Whether you are a college baseball fan or have never followed it, read on because I have plenty to say about its impact. And although I still love my Bums, UCLA is playing with a lot more heart now than the Dodgers are. Watching the “other” team in blue over the last couple of games has been more rewarding and satisfying than witnessing the Dodgers’ interleague sweep.
This has been a great season for the team from the West Side of Los Angeles, which finished 48-14. They roared out of the gate with 22 consecutive wins to open the season, establishing themselves as a dominant pitching team. The Bruins’ great run began back in February when the cross-town rivals in the Pac-10 faced each other in the Dodgertown Classic at Dodger Stadium. This was appropriate because, as is the Dodgers’ tradition, pitching has been the hallmark for UCLA and the biggest factor of their success. They beat USC that afternoon, and despite a mid-season struggle while losing to Arizona State, haven’t really looked back since.
And how is this for a twist? UCLA happens to reside in the same city of the team with the most CWS championships of all–USC. Although they haven’t won it all since 1998, the Trojans are much like the Yankees of college baseball. And they’ve fallen on hard times in recent years. Several college teams can claim a great baseball legacy, but none like the University of Southern California. Since the College World Series’ inception in 1947, the Trojans have won 12 titles. In fact, USC plays its home games at Dedeaux Field, named in honor of their late coach, Rod Dedeaux, the most successful in the history of college baseball.
When I was growing up, USC won seven CWS championships in an 11-year period (1968-78), with Dedeaux leading the way. But, no matter that Dedeaux was a great coach. UCLA plays its home games at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Think about that, what a legend! Most of my baseball fan friends and I have enjoyed watching games at this facility many times over he years, but I still can’t believe I have a few friends who have never been to Jackie Robinson Stadium. (Ironically, baseball was considered the multi-talented Robinson’s “worst” sport at UCLA.)
Starting with the great Robinson, UCLA has produced a few very good players over the years. Another great second baseman currently in the Majors, Chase Utley, excelled on this diamond in his pre-Phillies days. A few recognizable names since the 1990s include Troy Glaus, MVP of the 2002 World Series with the Angels, who’s now enjoying a successful year with the Braves; all-time Los Angeles Dodgers home run king Eric Karros; and another one-time Dodger, Dave Roberts, who had a fleeting moment of fame with the 2004 Red Sox. These are just a handful of players who had decent careers in the majors who wore Bruins blue and gold. The list is much longer on the USC side, and it includes many big names over several decades.
UCLA has also won the most sports championships, overall, of any Division I school (106, at this writing). But they have never won one in baseball! Now, factor in that UCLA’s women’s softball team just won the College World Series, beating Arizona earlier this month. Can the men match that feat?
Much of the Bruins’ success in the last half-century was due to their basketball legacy. Which brings me to this: Their great hoops coach, John Wooden, passed away at age 99 1/2 on June 4. And Wooden was a huge baseball fan! In his younger years, he was often seen at both Dodger Stadium and Angel Stadium. Wooden was a long-time friend of Dodgers announcer Vin Scully, whose touching tribute during the Dodgers-Braves broadcast on the evening the Coach died had me in tears. Scully and Wooden had been neighbors when the Dodgers first moved to California in 1958, bringing along their young announcer. Over the next couple of decades, both men would become legends in Los Angeles. Concurrent with USC’s reign atop college baseball, between 1964-1975, the Bruins were busy winning basketball titles in 10 of those 12 seasons.
So, between Coach Wooden and Coach Dedeaux mentioned above, it’s an amazing fact that during the 1960s and ’70s in Los Angeles, there were 21 NCAA titles won between just baseball and basketball, all in the same city! All of this just so happened while I was cutting my teeth on sports over those years, but I didn’t realize at the time I was witnessing dynasties the likes of which would never again be seen.
But, back to Bruins baseball, circa 2010. UCLA breezed through the Regionals; I attended one game of that tournament (in which UC Irvine eliminated the defending College World Series champions, LSU), and watched the rest on TV. Another team I was following closely, the University of San Diego Toreros, were sent home in the first round. In the Super-Regionals, again held at Jackie Robinson Stadium–with UC Irvine having been ousted from further competition–UCLA was matched up against Cal State Fullerton, a perennial contender in the CWS, in a best-of-three series played over the weekend of June 11-13. Fullerton is another baseball program which has been very successful in SoCal, having won four national championships in Omaha since 1979, most recently in 2004. In baseball-rich SoCal, it’s located about 30 miles from UCLA in Orange County; yet, several of UCLA’s key players also come from OC.
CSUF won a tight Game 1, 4-3, and the Titans had the Bruins reeling on their own field–when in Game 2, they were one out away from clinching a trip to Omaha. But, what an exciting finish! UCLA came back to win, 11-7, in ten innings, then bested Fullerton decisively, 8-1 in the rubber game, an
d began packing for a trip to Nebraska.
Sophomore RHP Trevor Bauer pitched the Bruins over Florida, 11-3, on in their opening game in Omaha on Saturday, striking out 11 Gators in the process. Facing TCU two days later, UCLA ace Gerrit Cole shut out the Horned Frogs through six, gave up a bases-loaded triple in the seventh, then shook it off and proceeded to win, 6-3. Cole struck out 13 over eight nnings. The Bruins’ pitching depth is amazing; Rob Rasmussen and Garett Claypool have yet to pitch in Omaha, and hopefully being “rusty” won’t be a factor once they do take the mound, because UCLA gets a few days off now. Arizona State, the top seed in the Pac-10, has already lost twice and been sent home.
Beyond sports, UCLA is a proud school with developments that have impacted the world. In fact, you wouldn’t be reading this without the Internet, the origins of which were born over 40 years ago on the UCLA campus, with absolutely no help from Al Gore. But for all their accomplishments and production, the Bruins have no longstanding winning baseball tradition. Perhaps that will now begin to change.
One more thing, the Bruins are honoring Coach Wooden’s memory throughout the College World Series. Both their caps and batting helmets feature the initials “JW.”
Do I wish college baseball would use wooden bats? Yes. Do I wish they’d do away with the DH? Of course. But baseball at this level still provides some thrilling games, some of the best pitching around, and quality baseball played by young men who are getting an education–not getting paid–still playing for pride and passion for the game.
How can anyone not love that?
Major League Notes:
Props to two young pitchers I mentioned in my last post a few weeks ago, my hometown boys Mike Leake and Stephen Strasburg. As I had stated at the time, both kids graduated from San Diego area high schools in 2006, both went on to have excellent seasons in college, Mike at Arizona State, and Stephen at San Diego State. Both were selected in the first round of the 2009 draft. Now, one year later, both are playing in the Majors.
Stephen’s debut with the Nationals on June 8 was perhaps the most highly anticipated ever in Major League Baseball. (In fact, his opponent that day was the Pirates’ Jeff Karstens, another San Diego born and bred pitcher–hardly spoken of in the same breathtaking manner as Strassy is!) Washington won, 5-2, as Stephen, age 21, notched his first major league victory. In his first three starts, Stephen has struck out 32 batters. He was named National League Player of the Week two weeks ago. The last time I remember this kind of a buzz about a pitcher, it was 2003 and the pitcher was Mark Prior of the Cubs, a USC product, also a first-round draft pick. (Yes, he was also another San Diegan!) [EDIT: Stephen's first loss of the year came on the same day I posted this entry, a tough 1-0 setback to the Royals. He struck out nine in that outing.]
Mike, who skipped the minor leagues altogether, has been in the Reds’ rotation since April. Now, he’s back in Stephen’s shadow again, just as he was the last several years. But let this fact be known: Mike Leake was the first pitcher in Reds franchise history to go undefeated after 11 major league starts.
Who did his first loss come at the hands of? My Dodgers, of course!, who scored five runs off him in a game played in Cincinnati last week. The only time I’ll be rooting against him.
By the way, don’t mention DH to this National League pitcher. As of this writing, he’s hitting .385!
Lesser known: Quietly excelling is a young American League pitcher who, like Leake and Strasburg, also graduated in 2006, but from Vista High. Trevor Cahill is not being talked about much outside Oakland, but he’s another young pitcher doing quite well this season. Cahill, 22, is 6-2 with a 3.21 ERA for the Athletics. I don’t follow the American League quite as closely as I do the National League, but I try to keep tabs as best I can, and I saw Cahill beat the Dodgers during interleague play at Dodger Stadium last season, his rookie year. Teammate Dallas “Perfect Game” Braden is the bigger name on the “A”s’ staff.
Congratulations to Rancho Bernardo High, who won the CIF-SD championship title on June 5, beating Poway, 9-5, at Tony Gwynn Stadium. RB over the past 15 years has become a baseball powerhouse in San Diego County, producing the likes of Cole Hamels and Hank Blalock as well as numerous others who’ve gone on to play professional baseball. This time, a new generation of Broncos is on top. Their title was the fifth for RB overall, and the first since 2005 (they won back-to-back championships in Hamels’ era). This was also the ninth championship for coach Sam Blalock, Hank’s uncle, who won four CIF titles at Mt. Carmel High. Will we be seeing anyone from this class excelling in the majors in a few years?
Andre is back!
And what a freaky finish to the month of May, in a game played on a gorgeous Memorial Day evening at Dodger Stadium. Playing the opening game of a long homestand on this holiday, the first of a three-game set against the Diamondbacks, the Dodgers fell behind early, 4-0, behind Chad Billingsley, but pecked away and were finally able to tie the game on a double-error misplayed ground ball in the eighth inning! If that wasn’t wacky enough, they then won the game in the bottom of the ninth on a walk-off balk. This, after Dodgers first baseman James Loney had been picked off between second and third in a huge baserunning blunder. Shortly afterward, Dodgers third baseman Casey Blake, who had advanced to third, was able to distract Arizona reliever Esmerling Vasquez into committing a monumental error: Blake danced down the line to the point where Vasquez flinched; Casey pointed and called out for the balk, with umpire Tim Timmons nodding in agreement. Blake trotted home with the winning run, with Dodgers announcer Vin Scully noting (was it pleading?), “Look out, boys, for broken legs”, an obvious reference to the Angels’ Kendry Morales’ recent injury sustained while landing on home plate after a walk-off grand slam.
And the Dodgers notched a 5-4 victory. The Diamondbacks have had constant bullpen woes this season, but this was certainly an unusual way to end a game.
And how’s this for a crazy bit of trivia: one of the oddest in baseball’s quirky stats department everyone was talking about, was something Vinnie mentioned early in the game on Monday:
Manny, who turned 38 on Sunday, has never hit a home run on his birthday in his career. However, he has hit one on the day after his birthday eight times–including in the Memorial Day game, scoring the Dodgers’ first run of the evening, off Arizona starting pitcher Rodrigo Lopez.
SO…the first two months of the season are in…results, mixed, but definitely on the upswing.
The Dodgers seem to be back on track toward their goal of defending back-to-back NL West titles. They just posted an excellent 20-8 record in the month of May following a horrendous April. It was their best month of May since 1962, the year Dodger Stadium opened, and given that their best performing offensive player was missing for half the month, that made it more impressive. These Dodgers know they can’t rest on their laurels after winning the division in 2008-09. Their competition has improved; the Western Division is the deepest pitching division in the league. But they’re a resilient team, too, refusing to let the first month’s problems bury them.
Let’s back up and review a bit:
Surprising trends in the early going:
–The failure of the bullpen in the first month of the season; given the ‘pen had been a strength of the Dodgers in recent seasons. In all fairness, this was partially due to some missing pieces, such as Ronnie Belisario reporting so late to spring training from his native Venezuela (due to visa problems) that he missed the beginning of the season, and Hong-Chih Kuo, a valuable late-inning lefty, starting 2010 on the DL. Two pitchers named Ortiz–Russ and Ramon–who were on the Opening Day roster, are no longer with the team. Closer Jonathan Broxton recorded only one save in the month of April. That was due to a very limited number of save opportunities–the Dodgers were so often trailing late in the game, and played so many road games in April, that the dynamics of bullpen use were shuffled a bit. I’ll admit I’ve been a bit concerned about overuse of Ramon Troncoso, who was used in 24 of the team’s first 41 games. But Jeff Weaver has also stepped up nicely, as he did last year in pitching so reliably. Also, reliever Justin Miller has recently been called up from Triple A Albuquerque.
–Starting pitching: A concern during the offseason with the loss of “El Lobo”, the perception was that not much had been done to address this. That seemed to be borne out in April. But a struggling Charlie Haeger was replaced by rookie call-up John Ely late in the month, and Ely has performed remarkably well. And since the team turned the page to May, with the rotation shuffled a bit, the relief corps also found its way back. Early season jitters by Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw have more or less righted themselves, although Chad still struggles from time to time. A solid fifth starter is still needed, and there is much speculation on what will be done, but that’s all it is at this point–mere speculation.
–Turning of the tables by Pittsburgh and Cincinnati: The Dodgers have had their way with these two Central Division teams for most of the last decade. Going into the season’s opening series at PNC Park, L.A. had enjoyed boasting the best winning percentage of a visiting team in Pittsburgh since the turn of the (21st) century. But the Pirates started out with a bang, taking that first series of 2010. Just a few weeks later, they lost three of four in Dodger Stadium, but the Bucs haven’t rolled over for the Dodgers at home in over a year now, taking a key series from the Dodgers at the end of September, ’09, and carrying that over to the new year.
The Reds also took their first series over the Dodgers, played in Great American Ballpark in April. These one-time bitter rivals throughout the 1970s, when they both resided in the same division, haven’t been on a par competitively since the last millennium ended. Cincinnati has been thoroughly dominated in recent years by L.A.; this Reds team, though–managed by a former Dodger great, Dusty Baker–appears to be much improved and a force to be reckoned with as they lead the NL Central.
Trends that carried over from last year:
The Dodgers’ domination of the Rockies. They posted a 14-4 record against Colorado in 2009, and so far this year have beaten them in four of the first six meetings.
The Dodgers’ overall success against the rest of the division. They’ve only faced the Giants in one series, and took that one, back in mid-April. In three series against the Diamondbacks, they’re 7-1 (as of June 1; the current series continues with one more game). Against the division-leading Padres, the Dodgers are 5-1. Their overall record within the National League West was a major contributing factor to their winning the division in 2009.
The Padres, Dodgers, Rockies and Giants are all within four games of each other, and I anticipate a close race all season long. The hapless Diamondbacks are the only team that won’t contend in this division. Even though I’m not a fan of the local major league team, I’ve got to commend the Padres on doing so well holding down first place, surprising most who predicted them to be somewhere in the middle of the pack. We’ve tied them a few times for the lead, but have never been able to move ahead…yet.
As of this writing, the Dodgers have won their first game in June, in a more conventional walk-off manner, on Tuesday night–1-0 on a Matt Kemp HR in the tenth–and, combined with the Padres’ earlier loss to the Mets, have cut their deficit to one game back. I’ll take that over where they were at this point last month–fighting it out for last place in the division. Those 1-0 games are certainly tough losses, especially for the D-backs, who’ve lost nine straight on their road trip. L.A. had just suffered a similar fate at the hands of the Cubs with one late-inning run breaking a scoreless tie. On the road in Wrigley Field last week, in an interesting twist, Chicago native John Ely, pitching for the Dodgers, was outdueled by L.A. native Ted Lilly, on the mound for the Cubs. Pitchers’ duels are great if you’re a hardcore fan of the game, which I am. In Tuesday’s contest, it was yet another case of a visiting pitcher coming back to haunt his hometown team. Diamondbacks starter Danny Haren, a local boy who attended Pepperdine University, threw an excellent game, going late into the night to give his team’s beleaguered bullpen some rest. Ely matched his effort, but L.A.’s ‘pen is the mirror opposite of Arizona’s. So, with the game going into extras and a scoreless tie, something had to give. And with a 1-0 win, the Dodgers are 1-0 in June.
Oh, and (drum roll), my beloved team has a 1.000 winning percentage with me in attendance, being victorioius in all five games I’ve been present for. And I’m going to game #6 next week!
Rest in peace…
–Former pitcher Jose Lima died suddenly on Sunday, May 23 at the age of 37, of a heart attack. Lima pitched for the Tigers, Astros, Dodgers, Royals and Mets over the course of an 11+ year career. The shocking news of Lima’s death came down just as fans were arriving for the Dodgers-Tigers game at Dodger Stadium that day, and the flag was lowered to half-mast shortly afterward. Jose and his family had been attending games at Dodger Stadium this season and had just been there that Friday evening. Even though he was only with L.A. for one season, Lima really endeared himself to the city. He was great with fans, and a wonderful teammate from all accounts I’ve heard. I think there was a mutual sense of appreciation on the part of both Lima and the Dodger faithful. I still remember him singing the National Anthem before a game there during the 2004 season! He also performed at the Viva Los Dodgers Festival that year. In my mind, I can see him at the edge of the dugout steps during games he wasn’t even pitching in, shouting encouragement to the rest of the team as they were on the field, and at bat. Whenever a Dodger scored, he was often the first to high-five him. Lima ignited Dodger fans’ passion in a way I hadn’t seen since Mike Piazza left. He was certainly known as a great guy to have around, always having fun and entertaining, and very engaging–not only with teammates and fans, but the media as well. Jose was an Angeleno, living in Los Angeles and it was reported he would be working for the Dodgers’ Community Relations Department. What a great job for him that would have been!
Lima pitched the Dodgers to their only victory of the 2004 NLDS over the Cardinals–a complete game five-hit shutout in Game 3 at Dodger Stadium. What a lot of fans elsewhere may not realize is that game’s significance and how much of a boost and moral victory that win was for Dodger fans–up to that point, our team had not won a playoff game in 16 YEARS! That drought dated back to Game 5 of the 1988 World Series when the Dodgers had last won it all. The team that had enjoyed postseason success for several decades had fallen on hard times in the 1990s, and in October, 2004, many fans felt they were on their way back up. Since that night nearly six years ago, the Dodgers have had three more playoff appearances, with several more victories, although not yet reaching the pinnacle again. But before “Lima Time”, there were some quick playoff exits in the Clinton era, and then many more seasons of finishing behind the Giants.
So the World of Dodgertown has now lost two fan favorites in the last few months, the first being “Three Dog”, Willie Davis, a popular player in the early Los Angeles Dodgers era, who passed away at age 69 in early March, just as spring training was getting underway.
–Another loss of note that hasn’t seemed to generate much press is that of Morrie Martin, World War II hero and former Brooklyn Dodger, who passed away on May 25 at the age of 87 due to complications from cancer. Martin, a left-handed pitcher, debuted with the Dodgers in 1949, the same year teammate Don Newcombe was Rookie of the Year. (Newc, as everyone knows, is still a comforting presence at Dodger Stadium, fan-friendly and accessible, more than 60 years after breaking into Major League Baseball). Like Lima, Morrie Martin was only a Dodger for a season. But the pressures of Major League Baseball may have seemed trivial considering what preceded his arrival.
While in the U.S. Army, Martin was actually buried alive in Germany following a bombing, then suffered a bullet wound in his thigh during the Battle of the Bulge. He was at Omaha Beach on D-Day, 66 years ago this week. He nearly lost a leg, but was able to fight his way back and compete. That he was able to make it to the Major Leagues for ten seasons is truly remarkable. As noted above, he passed away just days before Memorial Day.
–And of course, long-time Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell, who called Dodger games when Martin pitched for them, in the late 1940s, passed away earlier in the month. Harwell was replaced behind the mic by a young Vin Scully, hired by the Dodgers in 1950. What a link to the present! Poor Vin must be feeling his own mortality these days. He’s had to come on the air three times in the last month to call a game and comment on a death that was just announced before game time. Vinnie’s shared memories of his predecessor in the broadcast booth were touching and eloquent. Of Hall of Fame pitcher Robin Roberts, who died the week after Harwell, Vin recalled the 1950 National League playoff game in Ebbets Field between the Dodgers and Phillies, which he worked as a “rookie” broadcaster. Roberts led Philly’s “Whiz Kids” to the World Series that year, where they lost to the Yankees–a fate the Dodgers of that era were quite familiar with..
Just wanted to give some nods to some great local San Diego guys who are doing a lot of exciting things on the mound and off. Some people think it’s amusing that I follow the individuals who are local products and generally want them to have success, but at the same time, I don’t root for the major league team from San Diego. That’s because I was a Dodger fan first. But that’s another story.
This area is known for producing some great pitchers–from the two perfect game pitchers out of Pt. Loma High–Don Larsen and David Wells, who both accomplished the feat for the Yankees–to Cole Hamels, MVP of the 2008 World Series, and so many others in between. Over the last 35 years I’ve followed many of them through youth leagues, high school, college and into MLB. I’ve volunteered and/or, have just been a spectator, at many tournaments over the years, and have been a fan of baseball around SoCal since I was a kid.
Right now, I just want to give a nod to a few more of them, two coming up the ranks, and one an established veteran:
-The phenomenal Stephen Strasburg. Everyone knows him, the former San Diego State Aztec who was the first overall draft pick in 2009, now the Washington Nationals’ property. This RHP breezed through spring training, but was still sent to minor league camp. On April 11 he made his first MiLB start for the Harrisburg Senators, and handled the Altoona Curve pretty efficiently in front of a packed house on the road, with throngs of media credentials issued as the excitement built. Stephen did not disappoint. That was just the beginning of the buzz. He continued to dazzle, was then promoted to Triple A, and didn’t miss a beat. Stras has lived up to expectations every step of the way. Now he’s poised for his major league debut next week, and the anticipation builds. He appears to be more than ready. We’ll soon see if he really is.
-The not-as-well-known Mike Leake, who cracked the Reds’ starting rotation this season. Leake got a bit of attention for skipping the minor leagues altogether after being selected by the Reds in the first round of the 2009 draft. Making his first major league start on April 11 vs. the Cubs, the righty allowed only one run and Cincinnati eventually won, while Leake got a no-decision (he’s had several more of those since then). As a starting pitcher at Arizona State in 2009, he put up great numbers but still lived in the shadow of Strasburg, who was superb in posting the best-ever season for a college pitcher, that same year. And both Leake and Strasburg are graduates of San Diego County high schools in 2006–Leake at Fallbrook, and Strasburg at West Hills. I look forward to seeing how these two fare in their major league careers. Just don’t excel against the Dodgers! ) (Note: Leake actually did beat the Dodgers in April–but he gave up five runs in that game).
–Barry Zito. Yes, he’s a Giant. I still like the guy (again, except when pitching against the Dodgers, of course!). I know I should hope he gets shelled every time out, because that would help our Dodgers’ cause. Yes, he has seriously underperformed a lot in the first three years of his mega-contract, but he seems to have figured something out this season. At this writing, he’s 6-2 with a 2.78 ERA. Beyond all that, though, I’ve admired this guy off the field for years for his “Strikeouts for Troops” program. What a class act this USD High/USC alum is. I only wish he didn’t wear orange and black.
Brackets, brackets: The NCAA regionals are about to get underway, and the stages are set. UCLA, completing a fine season at 43-13 (finishing at No. 8 in the nation), hosts perhaps the most difficult regional of them all, with three top 25 teams to play at Jackie Robinson Stadium beginning this weekend. The Bruins began 2010 with an amazing 22 consecutive victories.
Cal State Fullerton (No. 7, 41-15), which hosts its own Regional; University of San Diego (No.15, 36-20); and UC Irvine (No. 21, 37-19) are the other ranked teams in the top 25 I’ll be following more closely. Let the march to the College World Series begin!
Big week coming up: Between this coming Saturday and the following weekend, there’ll be lots of baseball-related events and activities going on in my life. Not only will I try to find time to attend one of these NCAA regional games, I’ve got tickets for the Dodgers-Cardinals game in L.A. on June 9. This weekend, I’ll be delivering my Dodgers memorabilia collection to be displayed at the County Fair in Del Mar. I’ve competed in the Home & Hobby Show there for several years of the last decade. The memorabilia exhibit is a multiple blue ribbon award winner, but that doesn’t make it automatic. Different judges view the collections every year and give awards accordingly. In 2009, my collection was a second-place winner. I’m determined to win my Dodger Blue ribbon back! A friend of mine is entering his baseball memorabilia collection, too, but for the first time, not a repeat entrant like me. His items are Cubs-related; he’s got some great old stuff, too, so, there’s a good chance he could win instead. Blue vs. blue? No matter what happens, I always enjoy viewing the memorabilia that is the pride of other fans, and sharing my own for their enjoyment.
I’ll also be following closely the First-Year Player Draft, which gets underway next week..
And last, the weekend following this one, I’ll be attending a training session for All-Star FanFest volunteers. As everyone knows, the All-Star Game and related festivities will take place in Anaheim, California, this year, and I can’t wait to be a part of it. I’ll report more on this later.
Coming up in my next entry: Some general baseball rants from the first two months of the season, unrelated to the play on the field.
Is that enough? Too much baseball? Never–no such thing!