That felt like family.
The Dodgers paid tribute to the greatest hitter in club history, Duke Snider, in a nice pregame ceremony Tuesday.
Snider, who passed away in February, is the franchise’s all-time leader in home runs, RBI and extra-base hits. He was an eight-time All-Star.
More than 40 members of his family were on the field at Dodger Stadium for the celebration. His Hall of Fame plaque was brought in for the ceremony and placed on an easel in front of home plate.
A granddaughter, Jenny Chodola, sang the national anthem.
The Dodgers showed a video montage of Snider’s exploits that included footage of Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Tommy Lasorda and Don Zimmer paying tribute. It also showed an old black-and-white Ovaltine TV commercial that included then 7-year-old son Kevin.
Steve Dilbeck and The Times' Dodgers reporters
give you all the news on the boys in blue
They were a bad team. A very bad team. Historically bad.
The 1992 Dodgers were so bad that by the July 31 nonwaiver trading deadline, they were 43-60 and 17 games out of first.
So they did what no Dodgers team has done since -- became sellers at the trading deadline.
No Dodgers team, that is, until now.
These current Dodgers are also a bad team (43-56, 13½ games out), and expected to do their best to become sellers prior to next week’s trading deadline.
Still, this current Dodgers team will have a ways to go to plummet all the way to the depths of that 1992 team. That team finished 63-99 and 35 games out. It was the worst Dodgers season in 83 years.
"It was a difficult year," said Fred Claire, then the general manager. "In ’91 it came down to the end. I think we were in first place for a while and won 93 games.
"Then 1992 was just a year where nothing went right for us."
Thanks to the Dodgers, a video of Tommy Lasorda finally having enough of the Phillie Phanatic:
-- Steve Dilbeck
As if an unpopular owner, a mediocre team and frightening violence on opening day weren’t cause enough for a significant drop in Dodger Stadium attendance, here’s one more:
It’s just too damn expensive.
A pair of stories in The Times on Tuesday highlighted just how ridiculously pricey it’s become under the McCourts to take in a ballgame at Chavez Ravine.
T.J. Simers actually opened his wallet and forked over $140 to purchase two tickets on the loge level. Crazy, I know. Next thing we’ll hear Tommy Lasorda bought his own lunch. OK, not that crazy.
The day after U.S. Navy SEALs killed Osama Bin Laden, the Dodgers announced they will give free tickets to military members during the month of May.
Any active, reserve or retired member with a valid military ID can receive two complimentary tickets at any ticket booth on the day of the game. The tickets will be for the best available seats.
Ex-manager Tommy Lasorda, now a special advisor to Chairman Frank McCourt, wanted to salute members of the armed forces.
The Dodgers previously announced discounts of up to 75% for all military personnel. Details of the program are available here.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Brandie Santana, left, holds her daughter while her father Wilson Santana, tries to give her a kiss. Wilson Santana was among 160 soldiers from the New York Army National Guard's 442nd Military Police Company returning to a homecoming after being deployed in Afghanistan for 10 months. Credit: Bebeto Matthews / AP
What now, Frank McCourt?
McCourt issued no public response Wednesday to Major League Baseball's seizing control of the Dodgers.
He did, however, issue an email to Dodgers employees that read:
"In light of the commissioner's announcement today, I ask that you please continue to conduct business as usual with our complete dedication to the game and our loyal fans. Each of you has represented this organization with class, and while this is no doubt a challenging time for all of us, I truly appreciate your efforts."
McCourt was not at the Wednesday’s game against the Braves. Tommy Lasorda and Acey Kohrogi, the team’s director of Asian operations, sat in McCourt’s seats.
Sports Illustrated national baseball writer Jon Heyman, however, on Wednesday tweeted: "I’m hearing McCourt intends to fight for Dodgers."
When other franchises have been taken over by their professional league, they were in bankruptcy or unable to find a buyer. McCourt’s history would indicate he would fight to keep the Dodgers, but even he must be able to read what he’s up against in this battle: Fans, media, city officials and now MLB.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Frank McCourt. Credit: Lucy Nicholson / Reuters
It’s the cloud that hovers over the Dodgers organization now, that opening-day beating of a Giants fan that has left him in a medically induced coma and battling for his life.
It’s not just a local story, or a state story, or, after a lengthy article in the New York Times, even a national one. The world is watching.
Now the Dodgers head to San Francisco, where they open a three-game series Monday night at AT&T Park. And honestly, everyone is probably a tad nervous.
Knowing emotions are running high, the Giants will have extra security. As written by the San Jose Mercury News’ Dan Brown, both organizations have asked for fans to keep cooler heads.
At the Giants’ home opener Friday, there was a moment of reflection for the beating victim, Bryan Stow. Followed by a "beat L.A." chant. Just before the Giants played the Cardinals.
Tom Fitzgerald of the San Francisco Chronicle examines the history of violence between fans of the two teams. Jorge Costa, the Giants' senior vice president of ballpark operations, told him he’s concerned about threats of retaliation posted on social network sites.
It all makes you nervous, uneasy. And hoping for the best, that at this time clearer minds prevail.
Searching for something positive to come from Giants fan's beating: A national call to end fan violence
So maybe I’m trying too hard. Maybe it’s one of those things where you want it to be so badly, you start to believe it can actually happen.
It’s hard to fight the thought of the savagely beaten Bryan Stow resting in his hospital bed, still in a medically induced coma and suffering brain damage. A 42-year-old father of two who wanted to take in the season opener of his world champion Giants, only to be beaten by a pair of thugs in the Dodger Stadium parking lot and left fighting for his life.
Difficult to find that positive light here, but just maybe Stow’s family pointed the way Tuesday in their emotional press conference at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center.
"We would like to use this as a rallying cry to stop unnecessary violence in our greatest pastime and all other sports, not only here but abroad,’’ said cousin John Stow, wearing a Giants cap and jersey. "So I ask for one last thing on behalf of Bryan — that we all enjoy a safe and competitive and exciting year of baseball.’’
Is it naïve to think Bryan Stow could prove a touchstone in turning around growing fan animosity? That from this tragedy a watershed moment could evolve?
Why not? Why not try to make it happen? Bryan Stow has become a national story. Why not try to make his tragedy a national movement?
It’s not like we have to all go back to the idealized ’50s. It wasn’t this way here in the ’90s. That hostility and unease you too often feel when entering Dodger Stadium. People could tease rival fans without concern. It was fun. It’s supposed to be fun.
"It’s just a baseball game,’’ said -- of all people -- Tommy Lasorda.
Stow’s family and friends have been magnanimous in their response to his beating.
Said sister Erin Collins to KCAL-9: "We don’t hold any of the people of Los Angeles responsible. We have no hard feelings toward you guys. We know it’s not the city as a whole, but just two people.
"Everyone here has been so kind and generous. Especially the Dodgers fans. We want them to go and root for their team and not let this mar how they feel about the game.’’
If his family can be this understanding, if they can step back and see a larger picture, can’t the rest of us?
"I would like to tell the Dodger fans, don’t be afraid to wear your Dodger colors in our town,’’ said John Stow to KCAL. "We love the rivalry. We welcome it and have always looked forward to it. We’ll keep it nice and civil and I expect our fans to show them a nice, safe, enjoyable time.’’
Stow’s beating has raised the national consciousness about the underlying hostility that is too often sensed at Dodger Stadium and other sports venues. And, just maybe, it has presented an opportunity to do something about it.
-- Steve Dilbeck
In exchange for donating money to the Japanese tsunami and earthquake relief efforts, fans can receive an autograph from Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp or one of several other Dodgers.
Days after Hiroki Kuroda told teammates he was donating $50,000 to the relief efforts and asked them for help, the Dodgers will host a fundraiser before their game at Camelback Ranch against the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday.
From 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., players and coaches will be signing autographs in the aisles of the third-base side of the ballpark. Among the Dodgers scheduled to participate are Ethier, Kemp, Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Casey Blake, Jonathan Broxton, Jamey Carroll, Rafael Furcal, Ted Lilly, James Loney, Vicente Padilla, Ramon Troncoso, Juan Uribe and Maury Wills. Tom Lasorda will sign autographs outside of the center-field gate.
Kuroda is starting the game but will sign autographs on the center-field concourse after he is taken out.
Fans donating $20 will receive a voucher that can be exchanged for a baseline reserve seat at one of the Dodgers’ remaining games at Camelback Ranch -- each fan can receive as many as four vouchers -- as well as two tickets to one of the two exhibition games later this month at Dodger Stadium.
Cash and checks will be accepted. Checks should be made out to the American Red Cross and have “Japan Tsunami Fund” written in the memo line.
-- Dylan Hernandez in Phoenix
No? Just one little ol’ Jonathan Broxton outing, right? A spring training outing, no less. In the grand scheme, it means about as much as Tommy Lasorda’s latest diet.
Only the thing is that despite being a veteran, Broxton is going to be watched very carefully. During the first month of the season and, yes, even during spring training.
Broxton is coming off his Incredible Second Half Meltdown, when he segued from All-Star closer to nightly disaster with all the subtly of a Charlie Sheen lawsuit … oh, I don’t know, $100 million sounds like a nice round number!
After June 26 last season, Broxton went 2-6 with five saves in nine opportunities and a 7.57 ERA. And lost his job as the team’s closer.
New manager Don Mattingly was quick to announce this winter that Broxton would be his closer going into the coming season, which struggles and all, made perfect sense.
Still, Broxton will be closely observed, people looking for evidence he has put his struggles behind him.
Games like Thursday’s won’t do anything to cause a swell of confidence.
After his first two strong spring outings in which he did not allow a hit, he was a complete mess Thursday against the Padres. He faced five batters and each reached base.
He gave up a leadoff home run to somebody named Jarret Hoffpauir and a single to Anthony Rizzo (ditto), who then stole second and third, before being thrown out at the plate. See, he actually did record an out.
With a clean slate, he then gave up a single to Rob Johnson (no, not the quarterback), hit Everth Cabrera with a pitch and walked Cameron Maybin to load the bases.
Which ended his afternoon. To make matters worse, reliever Stuart Pomeranz allowed all three runners to score, which left Broxton with a 15.43 ERA. That’s deceiving sure, but still adds to the apprehension.
In 2009 Broxton left spring with a 10.80 ERA, 0-1 record and blew his only save. And that season he saved 36 games, with a 2.61 ERA and a 7-2 record. Last spring he headed out of Arizona with a nice 2.79 ERA and 1-0 mark and then suffered his worst season. So it’s not like spring is some monster indicator with Broxton.
He would have to pitch like Thursday almost every outing to leave spring without the closer's job, but if he continues to struggle in April, patience does not figure to be on his side.
-- Steve Dilbeck