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Sports news from Los Angeles and beyond

Category: Dodgers

Santa Claus is coming to town tonight


Everyone involved with the Fabulous Forum extends their warmest wishes for a wonderful holiday season to all of our readers out there in computer land.

It has been an interesting year to say the least. The McCourts debacle, Lakers swept by Mavericks (then trade Lamar Odom to them), Angels sign Albert Pujols, Clippers get Chris Paul. It has certainly been an odd year for sports in L.A.

No matter what team you root for, you have reason to look forward to a great 2012.

--Houston Mitchell

L.A.'s greatest sports moments No. 1: Kirk Gibson's Series homer

We asked you to send in your picks for the greatest sports moments in L.A. history, and 1,181 ballots later we have been unveiling one of the top 20 vote-getters each weekday. Finally we have reached the day to present the greatest sports moment in L.A. history.

No. 1: Kirk Gibson's homer (776 first-place votes, 10,629 points)

The Oakland A's were heavily favored to defeat the Dodgers in the 1988 World Series, and it looked like Oakland would move one step closer to the title in Game 1.

With the A's leading, 4-3, closer Dennis Eckersley came on to pitch the ninth inning. After retiring the first two batters, Eckersley issued a walk to pinch-hitter Mike Davis, bringing a hobbled Kirk Gibson to the plate to bat for reliever Alejandro Pena. Gibson had two bad legs (a pulled left hamstring and a swollen right knee) and hadn't been expected to play at all in the game.

Gibson fouled off several Eckersley pitches, hobbling around the plate after every swing. It looked hopeless. Even if he hit the ball, it didn't seem like he would be able to run to first base. With the count 2-and-2, Gibson fouled off several pitches before taking ball 3 as Davis stole second. Gibson then hit the next pitch, a backdoor slider, into the right field bleachers to win the game. The Dodger Stadium crowd was as loud as it has ever been as Gibson limped around the bases, pumping his fist as he rounded second.

The homer gave the Dodgers a 5-4 victory. It was Gibson's only at-bat of the series, which the Dodgers won in five games.

Continue reading »

Who is Yu Darvish? The U.S. is about to find out ... well, maybe

Darvish_275Yu Darvish certainly isn't a household name in the U.S. — at least not yet. But it's a name that is sure to be heard a lot within Major League Baseball organizations Wednesday during the final hours of a bidding war for the chance to land the services of the Japanese pitching sensation.

Dodgers bench coach Trey Hillman, who managed Darvish with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters of Japan's Pacific League from 2005 to 2007, says the 24-year-old right-hander is worth all the fuss.

"He's a No. 1" pitcher, Hillman said. "The only reason he wouldn't be called a No. 1 on a lot of (major league) teams is they wouldn't want to hurt their current No. 1s' feelings."

In 232 innings this season, Darvish had an ERA of 1.44 with 276 strikeouts and 18 wins -- all career numbers. He has finished with an ERA of 1.88 or lower in each of the last five seasons and has an overall record of 93-38 in seven seasons with the Fighters.

Teams have until 2 p.m. PST Wednesday to submit sealed bids for the right to negotiate with Darvish. If the Fighters accept the highest bid -- expected to be $30 million or more -- the team that made it will have 30 days to get a deal done with Darvish, who is said to be seeking a multiple-year deal that pays him roughly $12 million annually.

The Toronto Blue Jays are expected to make an aggressive bid, and the Texas Rangers, Washington Nationals, Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees are viewed as possible contenders as well.

I know what you’re thinking –- wouldn’t it be great if the Dodgers could somehow pull this off? After all, there is that connection with Hillman, who has likened Darvish’s popularity in Japan to that of “Fonzie and Elvis.” (Come on –- a guy like that needs to be in L.A.)

But don’t hold your breath. Not only do the Dodgers already appear to have their rotation set, the bidding for Darvish may just be too rich for the team.

Enough said.


Fox files notice to appeal Dodgers TV ruling

Albert Pujols brings fans to Angel Stadium, even in December

Dodgers' Matt Kemp would win MVP over Ryan Braun in new vote

-- Chuck Schilken

Photo: Yu Darvish. Credit: STR / AFP / Getty Images

T.J. Simers: Angels take the limelight from Dodgers


SimersI knew as soon as the Dodgers signed Jerry Hairston Jr. and Aaron Harang, Arte Moreno would have to respond immediately.

You can just imagine the run on Hairston team jerseys at the Dodgers’ store.

I can’t wait until Harang and Albert Pujols go head-to-head. Do you think it’s possible for someone to hit a ball so far out of Angel Stadium it actually lands on the 57?

Tell me again why the Dodgers can’t sign Prince Fielder.

Oh, that’s right, Frank McCourt is trying to sell the team and he makes more money if the team appears to be financially more appealing. Good for Frank, and now tell me again why anyone -- anyone -- would buy Dodgers’ tickets this season.

Did you know the Grocery Store Bagger and Harang sat together on the bench on the same travel team when they were 13 years old? If the Dodgers wanted to sign someone cheaply and who couldn't play, why not the son-in-law instead of Harang?

More important, how come Commissioner Bud Selig hasn’t stepped in and ruled what Moreno is doing unfair?

If he allows this deal, the Dodgers become the Los Angeles Generals; there’s only one Los Angeles baseball team that anyone cares about and it isn’t located in Los Angeles.

As a point of order, James Loney being arrested on suspicion of DUI happened before he learned folks might start comparing the Dodgers' and Angels' first basemen.

On a bright note for the Dodgers, though, just wait seven or eight or nine years until Pujols is too old to be effective and the Angels are still paying him and the Dodgers come on strong with another Hairston.

Isn’t there always another Hairston?

Continue reading »

Which duo is better: Kemp-Kershaw or Albert Pujols-Weaver?


Just when the Dodgers think they solidified the best 1-2 batter-pitcher combo in town by signing Matt Kemp to a long-term deal, along comes the Angels, who can now add Albert Pujols to Jered Weaver for a solid duo of their own.

Which is better? A look at the pros and cons:

Kemp: Let's face it, Kemp should have won the MVP award last season, and Kershaw was the Cy Young winner. Both (Kemp is 26, Kershaw is 23) are relative babies compared to Albert Pujols, who is 31 and, some think, could actually be a couple years older than that. Kemp hit .324 with a league-leading 39 homers and 126 RBIs last season, though he did have a relatively poor season in 2010 (.249, 28, 89). He has a career OPS+ (which compares on-base and slugging against the league average) of 125, with a league-leading 171 last season.

Kershaw: The left-hander is the best pitcher in the game right now, finishing last season with a 21-5 record, a 2.28 earned-run average and 248 strikeouts in 233.1 innings. His ERA+ (comparing his ERA to league average, with 100 being average) was 163 and his career ERA+ is 135.

Pujols: A three-time league MVP who has led the St. Louis Cardinals to two World Series titles, Pujols is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Last season was his worst season, and he still hit 37 homers and had 99 RBIs. However, he will be 32 next season, so his decline years aren't that far off. When he's 41 and making $25 million, this deal may look like a big mistake. His career OPS+ is an astounding 170.

Weaver: He finished second in AL Cy Young Award voting behind Justin Verlander of Detroit. Weaver went 18-8 last season with a 2.41 ERA and 198 strikeouts. His ERA+ was 158 and his career mark is 128. He is 28.

So who would you rather have? Vote now in our poll, and leave a comment letting us know why you voted the way you did.


POLL: Is Pujols worth it?

Angels reach deal with C.J. Wilson

Bill Plaschke: Angels hit it out of park with Pujols signing

-- Houston Mitchell

Photo: Clayton Kershaw, left, and Matt Kemp. Credit: Stephen Dunn / Getty Images




L.A.'s greatest sports moments No. 9: Fernandomania

FabforumWe asked you to send in your picks for the greatest sports moments in L.A. history, and 1,181 ballots later we are unveiling the top 20 vote-getters. Each weekday we will unveil a new moment until we reach No. 1.

No. 9 Fernandomania (16 first-place votes, 2,978 points)

Fernandomania. That's all you have to say to Dodgers fans to bring a smile to their faces as they remember the glory days of Fernando Valenzuela.

Fernandomania was born in 1981, when the rookie left-hander Valenzuela started the season 8-0 with five shutouts and an earned-run average of 0.50. He became a sensation with the fans, drawing sellout crowds at Dodger Stadium, with ticket sales increasing whenever he pitched in other stadiums too, as fans wanted a glimpse of his unusual delivery, with his eyes looking skyward before delivering the ball to the plate.

Valenzuela finished 1981 with a 13-7 record and a 2.48 ERA, leading all pitchers in complete games (11), shutouts (eight), innings pitched (192.1) and strikeouts (180). Valenzuela pitched a complete Game 3 of the World Series against the New York Yankees and helped the Dodgers win their first World Series title since 1965. After the season, he was named rookie of the year and won the Cy Young Award, still the only player to win both in the same year.

Valenzuela was the ace of the Dodgers staff from 1981 to 1987, with his best season coming in 1986, when he finished 21-11 with a 3.14 ERA and led the league in wins, complete games and innings pitched, finishing second in the Cy Young Award voting to Mike Scott of the Houston Astros.

At the 1986 All-Star Game, Valenzuela made history by striking out five consecutive American League batters, tying a record set by Carl Hubbell in 1934.

Continue reading »

Jonathan Broxton agrees to deal with Kansas City Royals

Jonathan Broxton
Former Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton has agreed to a one-year deal with the Kansas City Royals, contingent on Broxton passing a physical.

And that could be a stumbling block, considering Broxton did not pitch in the majors after May 3 because of a bone spur in his right elbow and had surgery to remove the spur at the end of the season.

In seven seasons with the Dodgers, Broxton had 84 saves and a 3.19 ERA. But he fell into disfavor after the emergence of Javy Guerra and Kenley Jansen, and following several postseason meltdowns.

The signing gives the Royals two potential closers in Broxton and Joakim Soria, who has been the Royals’ closer for the last five seasons. If Broxton is healthy and pitches well in spring training, the Royals could convert Soria into a starter or use him as trade bait.

Broxton's agent, BB Abbott, said Monday that he had conversations with the Dodgers about Broxton but declined to say how far the talks advanced.

"He will not be back in L.A.," Abbott wrote in a text message to The Times' Dylan Hernandez on Monday morning.

And he was right.


Daily Dodger in review: The real Scott Elbert arrives

Dodgers Web musings: Fodder, Prince Fielder, slugger James Loney

— Houston Mitchell

Photo: Jonathan Broxton with the Dodgers on opening day of the 2011 season. Credit: Christina House / For The Times.

Ryan Braun won NL MVP award — did Matt Kemp get snubbed?


Ryan Braun received 20 of 32 first-place votes for the National League Most Valuable Player Award while Matt kemp only received 10.

Were the voters on the mark, or did Kemp get cheated?

Kemp outshone Braun in runs (115 to 109), runs batted in (126 to 111), home runs (39 to 33), and stolen bases (40 to 33).

Yet Braun's Milwaukee Brewers were a division winner while Kemp's Dodgers struggled to finish above .500.

Shortly after the NL MVP recipient was announced, Kemp tweeted: "They don't know who they messin wit!!!!! They jus created a monster!! Lol. #BEASTMODE don't care!!"

Back in September, the Times' Bill Plaschke proclaimed that Kemp should undoubtedly be the winner.

He wrote: "Matt Kemp is in the league's top four in batting, home runs, runs batted in and stolen bases while holding down the game's premier defensive position in center field. His resume is more complete than his top contenders, Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder of the first-place Milwaukee Brewers, and his singular impact on the Dodgers is far greater than either one.

"Folks in Milwaukee will complain that Kemp hasn't played in enough meaningful games, and that Braun and Fielder have been more valuable because they are leading their team into the playoffs. Funny, but those same fans cheered Robin Yount when he won an MVP for the Brewers in 1989 while playing for a fourth-place team that won only half of its games.

"This may sound odd coming from a writer who supported Kirk Gibson's 76-RBI MVP award for the champion Dodgers in 1988, but unless a player is clearly the one difference-maker on a playoff team, I believe the MVP should go to the best guy, period. In fact, instructions on the baseball writers' MVP ballot read, 'The MVP need not come from a division winner or other player qualifiers.' "

What do you think? Who should have won the NL MVP award? Chime into the conversation by leaving a comment and voting in the poll.


Ryan Braun wins NL MVP award

Dodgers' Matt Kemp signs historic $160-million contract

Matt Kemp's new Dodgers contract starts smaller, then gets bigger

-- Melissa Rohlin

Photo: Ryan Braun. Credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images .

Greatest sports figures in L.A. history, No. 1: Sandy Koufax

FabforumConcluding our countdown of the 20 greatest figures in L.A. sports history, as chosen in voting by our online readers, with No. 1, Sandy Koufax.

No. 1 Sandy Koufax (320 first-place votes, 8,720 points)

Considered by many the greatest left-handed pitcher in baseball history, former Dodger Sandy Koufax was the runaway winner in reader voting, receiving 57 more first-place votes than Vin Scully, and 90 more than Magic Johnson.

Koufax's career peaked with a run of six outstanding seasons from 1961 to 1966, before arthritis in his left elbow ended his career at age 30. He was named the Cy Young Award winner in 1963, 1965, and 1966 by unanimous votes, making him the first three-time Cy Young winner in baseball history. In each of his Cy Young seasons, Koufax won the pitcher's triple crown by leading the league in wins, strikeouts and earned-run average.

Koufax was the first major leaguer to pitch four no-hitters, one of them a perfect game.

Because he retired so young, he became the youngest player ever elected to the Hall of Fame when he was inducted at the age of 36 in 1972.

Koufax won Game 7 of the 1965 World Series, pitching on two days' rest and throwing a three-hit shutout against the Minnesota Twins.

In his 12-season career, Koufax had a 165–87 record with a 2.76 ERA, 2,396 strikeouts, 137 complete games and 40 shutouts. He was the first pitcher to average fewer than seven hits allowed per nine innings pitched in his career (6.79) and to strike out more than nine batters (9.28) per nine innings pitched in his career. 


No. 2: Magic Johnson

Continue reading »

Greatest sports figures in L.A. history No. 3: Vin Scully

Continuing our countdown of the 20 greatest figures in L.A. sports history, as chosen in voting by our online readers, with No. 3, Vin Scully.

No. 3 Vin Scully (263 first-place votes, 7,141 points)

Vin Scully is the greatest baseball broadcaster who ever lived. What else needs to be said? Even during a Dodgers season that was overshadowed by the Frank and Jamie McCourt news, you knew that it would all melt away when you turned on the TV and heard Scully's voice.

Scully has been calling Dodgers games for an amazing 61 years. In 2010, the American Sportscasters Assn. put his name atop the list of the 50 greatest to ever sit behind a microphone. He was elected to the baseball Hall of Fame in 1982.

Scully joined Hall of Fame announcer Red Barber and Connie Desmond as part of the Brooklyn Dodgers' broadcast team in 1950, just a year after graduating from Fordham University. To put his longevity in different terms, when he began, gasoline cost 27 cents a gallon, a postage stamp was just three cents and the minimum wage was five cents per hour.

INTERACTIVE: Vin Scully's Hollywood Star Walk profile

In 1953, Scully, then 25, became the youngest person to broadcast a World Series game.

Perhaps his best-known call was of Kirk Gibson's home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.

"High fly ball into right field, she is gone," Scully said before remaining silent for more than a minute. "In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened."

Scully's voice is often dubbed the "soundtrack to summer" in Los Angeles, where generations of fans have grown up listening to him call Dodger games. In 2012, he will continue to call all Dodger home games and the club's road games against NL West and AL West opponents. While Scully handles all nine innings of the team's television broadcasts, the first three innings of each of his games is simulcast on radio.

On a personal note, I was fortunate enough to meet Scully one time. There is almost no greater thrill in life than hearing Vin Scully say your name, which he did when I was introduced to him.

His broadcasting highlights include:

Three perfect games (Don Larsen in 1956, Sandy Koufax in 1965 and Dennis Martinez in 1991) and 19 no-hitters.

Johnny Podres' shutout of the Yankees in Game 7 of the 1955 World Series, which gave the Dodgers their first World Series title.

The Dodgers' first game in Los Angeles at the Coliseum on April 18, 1958.

The Dodgers-Yankees exhibition game on May 7, 1959 that honored Roy Campanella before a then-Major League record 93,103 fans at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

The Dodgers' playoff win over the Milwaukee Braves and World Series victory over the Chicago White Sox in 1959, which gave them their second World Series title; and other World Series title seasons in Los Angeles in 1963, 1965, 1981 and 1988.

Hank Aaron's 715th career home run, which broke Babe Ruth's major league record, at Atlanta's Fulton County Stadium on April 8, 1974.

The dramatic 10th inning of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, where Bill Buckner's error allowed the Mets to force Game 7.

Other awards include:

Named the Most Memorable Personality in L.A. Dodger history by Dodger fans in 1976.

Had his star placed on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1982.

Named the country's Outstanding Sportscaster four times and California Sportscaster of the Year 29 times by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Assn.

Recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Sports Emmy Award in 1996 for his "distinguished and outstanding" work.


No. 4: John Wooden

No. 5: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

No. 6: Jerry West

No. 7: Chick Hearn

No. 8: Kobe Bryant

No. 9: Fernando Valenzuela

No. 10: Jackie Robinson

No. 11: Tommy Lasorda

No. 12: Wayne Gretzky

No. 13: Walter O'Malley

No. 14: Don Drysdale

No. 15: Merlin Olsen

No. 16: Jerry Buss

No. 17: Elgin Baylor

No. 18: Marcus Allen

No. 19: Jim Murray

No. 20: Wilt Chamberlain

Your votes are in: The 20 greatest sports figures in L.A. history

-- Houston Mitchell

Photo: Vin Scully. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

Frank McCourt: Fans speak out on plan to sell the Dodgers


In case you went to bed early and missed the news or, for some reason, you don't read our Dodgers blog, you may not know that Frank McCourt has agreed to sell the Dodgers.

But a lot of your fellow Dodgers fans have chimed in already with their thoughts. A sampling is below. What do you think? Let us know.

slomo1 at 7:14 AM said: Can't you hear "Dandy Don" Meredith now singing, "Turn out the lights, the party's over"...! And all of Los Angeles said, "AMEN!"

eas211 at 7:13 AM said: What I would like to see, once this is done, or even maybe once bids have been received, is for Frank to hold a press conference and hear what he has to say. Hopefully now that it is over for him he will somehow be honest and let everyone know just exactly what he was thinking.  i guess maybe i'm looking for a mea culpa? 

DontEatTheYellowSnow at 6:30 AM said: Frank is not selling because it's the 'right' thing to do, Frank is selling because he's back so far into the proverbal corner, he honestly has no way out… Bring on Mark Cuban.

California Sun at 5:42 AM said: Mccourt should look back, and realize, he blew it.  He could have lived well and built a strong franchise.  Instead he trashed the brand, and he will be lucky to leave with anything.

tede511 at 11:59 PM: Yes, there is a Santa Claus.


Frank McCourt agrees to sell Dodgers

Bill Plaschke: Frank McCourt's selling the Dodgers? Get outta town!

Mark Cuban offered to buy Dodgers, but price was too high

Matt Kemp leads trio of Dodgers awarded Gold Gloves

--Houston Mitchell


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