Monday, October 29, 2018

Open letter from a Dodger fan

Congratulations to the Boston Red Sox, winners last night of the 2018 World Series. They beat the team I grew up rooting for, the Los Angeles Dodgers, but in every way they deserved to win. They were the best team in baseball, they are a class organization, and they have a rookie manager who completely out-managed his counterpart.

This will be less about analyzing plays and games of the World Series (there are a thousand articles and talk shows for that) and more about my disappointment with my boyhood team. And I offer this as hopefully constructive criticism because I love this franchise and it breaks my heart to see what its become.

I attended the Saturday night game. That’s the one where they blew a 4-run lead with three innings to go. I’ve probably been to six or seven World Series games at Dodger Stadium. This one was different. I was at the famous Kirk Gibson home run game. Everyone stood on their chairs and cheered and screamed for at least fifteen minutes (and I’m not exaggerating). There was a real love affair between this town and this franchise. These were our “guys,” whether they were Orel Hershiser or Sandy Koufax or Fernando Valenzuela or Mickey Hatcher. You invested your emotions in them because they were YOUR Dodgers. You didn’t worry that Sandy Koufax had an opt-out in his contract.

Sitting in the stands, the same stands I’ve sat in since I was a kid, I felt a real disconnect to these Dodgers. These weren’t my “guys” – these were pawns management was putting out there on this particular night. Analytics have taken over Major League Baseball. And no team tries so hard to crunch numbers to get an advantage than the Dodgers. Their top management team is a collection of Wile E. Coyotes who clearly believe they’re smarter than everyone else. There is so much maneuvering during the season it’s ridiculous. Hardly a day goes by when they don’t change the roster. The message is clear to the players: “we have a game plan and the minute you don’t fit it you’re gone. Oh, and we change the game plan at our prerogative.”

How can you ask players to give their hearts and souls to an organization that does that? The answer of course is that the players don’t; not really. Yes, they want to succeed, they want their numbers to go up (so they can make more money), and they have pride so they want to win, but that’s for them, not for the Dodgers, not for the community, and not for the fans. Under the circumstances I can’t blame the players.

Analytics are fine but these are human beings. They have emotions. They’re not just pawns. Win or you’re fired is not a real incentive. Some things analytics can’t measure so they dismiss as non-factors. Things like team chemistry. I’ve been around Major League Baseball long enough to know that team chemistry does matter. How many assholes on the club matter. How good is the food on the plane matters.

Ownership groups are hiring young managers, some with no managerial experience because they “relate better to the players” and embrace analytics. In many cases the real reason is they’ll agree to be puppets for upper management who will make all their decisions for them.

In 2014 the Dodgers made a deal with Time-Warner Cable for $8.35 billion for their television rights for 25 years. Time-Warner figured they could strong arm other cable companies and satellite services into paying big bucks to carry the Dodgers. They all rightfully said, fuck you.

Five years into the deal and 70% of the Southern California market can’t watch Dodger games. For the first few years fans were denied Vin Scully’s final seasons. What message does THAT send to the fans?

Then Scully retired and the 70% who can only follow the games on radio are saddled with a announcer who makes chronic whopper mistakes, has trouble seeing, doesn’t know the finer points of the game, and has the world’s most inflated opinion of himself. The ratings are a 1.0 share, even with championship teams – so what message does that send? For a team where its greatest asset for 67 years was its announcer, you’d think they’d realize the value of a good announcer and find someone better than Charley Steiner. They don’t care. Screw the fans. Again, if he got big numbers the Dodgers would have every right to say, “he’s very popular, you just don’t like him, that’s too bad.” But a 1.0 share when there are no other options. That’s flat out appalling.

This World Series game is the first time I attended Dodger Stadium this year. For eight years I hosted Dodger Talk, ending in 2010, so I went to every game.  Saturday was quite an eye-opening experience. First off, they charged $60 for parking. Then they directed you to the farthest reaches of the stadium, a million miles from your seat. When Walter O’Malley designed Dodger Stadium on levels it was so you could park close to your seat. The new ownership group doesn’t give a shit where your seats are. Roads are blocked off and the motorist has no choice but to park where they tell hin. And getting out is an absolute nightmare. Cars all jockey for position trying to wedge into a few lanes. Instead of having parking attendants direct traffic and keep the flow moving they literally just stand there. It can easily take over an hour to get out of the parking lot. And once you are out you’re fed into the exit they select. Too bad if you live in Long Beach because depending on where your car is you’re fed into the exit that leads to the San Fernando Valley.

The stadium opened in 1962. You think they could have figured out the fucking parking by now.

I went to the concession stand for some food. A Coke cost $9. I said that was outrageous. The disinterested clerk just shrugged and said, “It’s the World Series.” Oh… so it’s okay to just jack up the prices? THAT promotes good will.

Originally the exterior of the stadium was designed with planters featuring flowers throughout the park. Now those planters looked dingy, unkempt, and just a collection of weeds. The seats are faded and in desperate need of a paint job. The great thing about Dodger Stadium was that, like Disneyland, it always looked brand new. Not anymore. It shows its age and then some.

I can’t stress enough that all of this pains me greatly. I love the Dodgers. I worked for the Dodgers. My greatest achievement in broadcasting was one day when I got to call the play-by-play alongside Vin Scully on a Dodger game. Dodger Stadium was mecca. As a kid I’d fall asleep with my ear to a transistor radio listening to a Dodger game. One day on MASH we were watching a Dodger playoff game and Mel Brooks came into the office. Usually that was a major treat because he is even funnier in person. But after a few minutes we gently ushered him out because we were watching the game. I went to downtown Dodger parades. I almost got the shit beaten out of me because I wore a Dodger cap at a Giants game at Candlestick Park in 1974. My son’s Bar Mitzvah party was at Dodger Stadium. I made Dodger Stadium sand castles when I was a kid. I begged my parents to take me to Vegas to see Maury Wills sing (they wisely said no). I would listen to games on the radio and keep score. I made a pilgrimage to Dodger Town in Vero Beach, Florida. I keep Sandy Koufax’s autograph in my wallet. So when I point out the ways in which I believe the organization is letting down the fans and not putting out the best product it can, it is with the sincere hope that they can restore the love and commitment we had for them.  And they won’t have to win the World Series to win our hearts: we’ll once again be TRUE blue.

65 comments :

1955david said...

WELL SAID

Mork said...

This whole series felt like a disconnect from all of the fans, not just Dodger fans. Of course, I was just watching on TV, not at the ballpark. Before I continue, here's a quick word from Taco Bell:

Yo quiero Taco Bell.

As I was saying, it felt like a disconnect, as if covering the game itself was secondary to some other purpose. And that purpose after we hear from our friends at YouTube:

YouTube. We've got funny cat videos.

That secondary purpose that I was thinking of, as we get a quick word from GEICO:

GEICO. It's funny because you didn't expect it.

That secondary purpose is something that...

Family Guy. Yes, it's still on. Sundays at 9 on Fox.

...I can't...

Samsung. Our phones are big!

...quite...

Chevy. Cars.

...put my...

FedEx. When it absolutely.

...finger...

lickin' good chicken at KFC!

...on. Almost as if the flow...

Flo says "Name your own price with Progressive Insurance!"

...of the game kept getting interrupted by...

Buy, buy, buy!

...something more obtrusive than normal.

Jeff Boice said...

You sound like an grumpy old geezer. Welcome to the club!

Isn't there some sort of weird deal with the parking lots where Frank McCourt still owns them and the Dodgers have to lease them from him? Maybe that explains the parking situation.

If you want to feel better, just imagine what would have happened if one of the managers of today attempted to take Bob Gibson out of a game by citing his analytic charts.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

Because there is no salary cap, Baseball is considered to be a sport that can be bought.
BULL!
It's still about organizations.
Sure a team like KC or TB or Milwaukee can't compete at a high level every year, but they can still compete.
This past year of the 15 highest payrolls: #1 and #3 made to the WS, while #4,#7,#11,#15 made the playoffs. But several others had losing records (including the worst record).

Meanwhile the team with the lowest payroll (Oakland) won 97 games.
As a Mets fan...I know it's not $$$ but organization.

Janet Ybarra said...

I have to agree with your analysis, Ken, but apply it not sadly to a World Series contender, but to the Baltimore Orioles--which just completed a horrible 47-115 season.

In many ways, the reason for the Orioles' horrible season is same: not treating players as human beings.

The Orioles were in the playoffs as recently as the 2014 and 2015 seasons.

But team ownership and officials then began to have little interest in retaining big-talent, veteran players (who cost more) and began bringing in more and more rookies and call-ups from the minors.

Gone are Nick Markakis, JJ Hardy, Matt Wieters, Nelson Cruz, Manny Machado and many others.

It can't have been great for morale for the good (and great) players left behind to watch the team become nothing more than musical chairs.

And in the end, they let Buck Showalter go and he was someone they should have kept.

Team ownership needs to commit to actually spend decent amounts of money to attract and keep A list players and rebuild that basic player connection with the community.

VP81955 said...

Haven't been to an MLB game since 2015, when I had a mini-plan at the Ravine (running out of money and losing your apartment has a funny way of making one change your priorities).

I still love baseball, but the Ivy Leaguers -- who run everything now -- have, through their over-analysis, taken all the action (and fun) out of the game. More strikeouts than hits? Until this year, that's never happened. And then the suits wonder why young blacks, heck, young people in general, aren't interested in baseball.

I yearn for the 1980s game, particularly in the NL -- a perfect balance of speed and power, where stolen bases meant something. True, much of that was a by-product of artificial turf and multi-purpose parks live the Vet, Three Rivers and Riverfront, but heck, the game was exciting. Now, it's strictly station-to-station baseball, worse than it was in the 1950s before the Go-Go White Sox and Maury Wills showed a different approach could work.

I sense the same feeling of disconnect with my fellow Washington Nationals fans, and though they've won four division titles since 2012 (the most successful stretch for D.C. MLB in 80 years), they've yet to play in a best-of-7 series. And now they worry Bryce Harper will go to a wealthy, more "iconic" franchise at the peak of his career (he turned 26 this month).

OK, LA, it's time to turn to football; the Rams are a thrilling team to watch (Todd Gurley for MVP!), and the Chargers -- remember them? -- look to be a genuine playoff contender. Then again, this is LA, where the only teams fans care about are the Dodgers and Lakers. Heck, the Kings win two Stanley Cups and can't get arrested.

Coram_Loci said...

"Play ball" is quickly being replaced by "Work ball."

Increasing complexity -- statistics, rules, roster management -- makes the game less about athletics and more about management. Nerds, lawyers, and bureaucrats become the stars for assembling the pawns on the chessboard.

Complexity and regulation are alienating and cold. Perhaps they work for an event sport like football, but not for a day-to-day, ingrained-as-part-of-your-life sport like baseball. If you are going to invite a team into your home each day for a summer, then you'll want to know and like the people...not merely the rules, stats, and contracts.

Dad Solo said...

Once you got off that silly analytics rant you made a lot of sense!

PolyWogg said...

Sign Mark up for blog play by plays. That's awesome. :)

Sean R. said...

Wow. And this is after they went to two straight World Series. Imaging your dissatisfaction if they finished in 4th place.

For what it's worth coming from a Giants fan, I feel for any fans that have to watch the other team celebrate on their home field. Especially twice in as many seasons.

#BeatLA for life! :)

Anonymous said...

We, in St. Louis, know how you feel. The day they hired Mike Matheny to manage the Cardinals it was apparent they had decided not to care. The fact that he lasted 7 1/2 years says they really don't care. Hiring inexperienced managers seems to be the fad. The GMs are frustrated team managers, I guess. I was rooting for the Dodgers (only because I hate them marginally less than Boston) abut was appalled at the manager mistakes.

Pam, St. Louis

Cap'n Bob said...

What busted my hump about the Series was seeing commercials BETWEEN PITCHES. If ever there was a reason to speed up the game, that is it.

Buttermilk Sky said...

Mork, you nailed it. The microcommercial will be the final nail in baseball's coffin.

And Ken, nine dollars for a Coke? I hope you walked away. I guess if you have to ask how much a beer costs, you can't afford it.

Mike Doran said...

A few weeks back, I let fly with a plaint about how I'd lost Baseball with the onset of the Milennium.
Since you're a scoche younger than I am, you seem to be getting there yourself.
No point drawing it all out.

Meanwhile, there's this Trump/baseball joke I promised/threatened a week or so back - you know, when That Man decided to tweet a critique about Dodger strategery …

Anyway, here's the Joke; a meager thing, but mine own.

So anyway, Trump is at an Event; he's finished his ghostwritten speech, and his Minions are trying to get him off the platform before anyone can ask him a question.
But it's time for the Photo Op, so someone hands Trump a baseball.
And this saves the day.
Because now Trump spends the rest of the night trying to open it.
"So which one of the red things am I supposed to push, again?"


OK, maybe not so hot, but I did work on it ...

Ken Levine said...

Sean R,

I want to love my team no matter where they finish.

Michael said...

There's so MUCH to say here.

First, I was able to see Dodger telecasts on a visit to LA and to see various things on Fox, so I am pleased to say that Joe Davis is a worthy successor to The Vin. As for radio, the favorite phrase of both announcers long has been "check that," to make a correction. Steiner might have been fine on TV only, but ....

I also shudder. As a child, I thought Jerry Doggett incompetent. Then Ross Porter made me think Jerry was good. Then Don Drysdale made me think Ross was good. Rick Monday and Charley Steiner .... But I also had to mature a bit to realize that I was judging everybody against the best ever.

Second, I do not oppose analytics. I oppose analytics to the exclusion of all else. A lot of it is just a new way of wrapping an old package. Because of his sterling career, Lasorda was convinced that no left-handed hitter ever got a hit off of a left-handed pitcher. Roberts sometimes suffers from the same delusion. As for the shifts, Ruth and Williams faced them and came out fine, but they also occasionally hit against them. Bellinger did that one night. If the Dodger players had the concept that making a productive out is better than making an unproductive one, the shifts might be less. But when Kiké Hernandez, for heaven's sake, is swinging for the fences on a 2-2 pitch, something is very wrong.

As for Ken's complaints about Dodger Stadium, to be fair, that parking lot always has been impossible to navigate. My memories of my first game in 1974 include meeting The Vin, getting a foul ball, and being in the parking lot for an hour at the end. But as for maintenance, remember that the current group brought back Lon Rosen as an executive, and he's the guy the Frank McCourt who didn't write nice books had hired and who then fired Ross without so much as telling him why and hired Steiner. They make a lot of bows to the Dodgers' past, but they better concentrate on the present.

Jeff P said...

EXACTLY.......!

Franko said...

Please tell the story about announcing with Scully!

earl0520 said...

I agree with you TOTALLY. Baseball needs to be played like they played 30 years and the Dodgers needs to do like they used to and rely on their farm system. They had one of the finest farm system there was and they should’ve stuck to it. Paying a player today $150 million is asinine. The Dodgers management needs to sell the organization to someone who really cares about the sport itself and not just the almighty dollar.

Jeff Maxwell said...

One of the biggest thrills of my life was shooting a commercial for a credit card company where I played a goofy waiter to a table filled with Orel Hershiser, Jay Johnstone, Steve Sax and Tommy Lasorda. I had no idea my customers were Dodgers until I arrived at the set.

They were all great! Funny and very friendly. We all had a ball for six hours. Almost passed out when Hershiser gave me his home phone and told me to call him anytime I wanted tickets. Being careful not to abuse his generosity, I did take him up on the offer a few times. Always great seats! I called to congratulate him a week after they won the World Series and he’d become a Blue God. The number was disconnected.

I, too, miss the Dodgers I used to know

Mike Bloodworth said...

Every time someone would mention "analytics" I immediately thought of the movie MONEYBALL. I never read the book, but the film was O.K. The book was published in 2003 and the movie came out in 2011. So, the idea has been around for awhile. Its strange that they made such a big deal about it this year. Analytics aside, the Dodgers were just outplayed by the better team. This is just my opinion, but I believe burn out was a big factor. The Dodgers had to work so hard during most of the regular season and the playoffs they didn't have anything left for the World Series. Otherwise, Ken, I'm in complete agreement with you.
M.B.

Dirk said...

Your love for the team comes through. Your observations, complaints, and constructive criticism are exactly how I feel. Everything is about money. Maybe it always was. Maybe we just didn't see it when we were kids. The $60 parking, $17 beer, $9 coke, etc. make it as plain as day now.

Donald Benson said...

Old joke: "He could move to LA and still be the town drunk."

While fans certainly develop loyalty to favorite teams and athletes, does the concept of "home town" really matter the way it used to when cities were simply smaller?

Pat Howard said...

Well said man.

Baylink said...

Wow; he's been dead how many years now... and he's still that funny.

Unknown said...

I guess making it to the World Series twice is two years is a disappointment. Really?

david wasserman said...

Dear Ken,

That is the best analysis of the state of the game I've read in some time. I was having a conversation relating to many of these same issues with a colleague just last night. Most of the issues you raise apply to every team in MLB. We have owners, and the players union. The teams need to be responsive to the fans. This won't happen unless we organize.

Thank you,

SS

Blair Ivey said...

Avoided TV and listened on the radio because I prefer the ESPN radio team to TV. But there would be men on base, a cut to commercial, and when the broadcast resumed the inning was over. WTH?! I call BS.

Anonymous said...

The corporization of everything is a malady that infects us.
Profit before humanity. Numbers instead of heart.
Dollars instead of committment.
Sadly, and a bit ironicaly, omalley's move to LA from NY may have been the seed of this movement.

Domenic Priore said...

I just want to say thanks for writing this. I skimmed through it but from what I see you're hitting the nail on the head, in every respect. They struck out vs Brewers constantly, they struck out vs Red Sox, constantly. If they swung like Clemente, that'd be a different story, but they swung instead like Dave Kingman because the man tells them too. Just so wrong. Wherever they sent Puig and Joc for a re-boot, the entire team needs that and get off the home run addiction. That ain't baseball, that's Home Run Derby, a show that was cancelled after one year 60 years ago. - domenic priore

J Lee said...

In the 2002-04 seasons, the Yankees' radio announcing team was Charlie Steiner and John Sterling. Since Halloween is on Wednesday, just letting the horror of that combination sink in seems seasonally appropriate.

earl0520 said...

I agree with you TOTALLY. Baseball needs to be played like they played 30 years and the Dodgers needs to do like they used to and rely on their farm system. They had one of the finest farm system there was and they should’ve stuck to it. Paying a player today $150 million is asinine. The Dodgers management needs to sell the organization to someone who really cares about the sport itself and not just the almighty dollar.

MikeKPa. said...

I've debated a friend about whether it's better to get to the championship game and lose, or not get there at all. I'm in the latter camp. I still have pangs when I think of Vic Davalillio's two-out bunt single in the 9th inning in the infamous Black Friday game between the Dodgers and Phillies in the 1977 NL championship series. Or LF Greg Luzinski, who had been routinely subbed out for defensive purposes all season in late innings, still in in the outfield with the Phillies holding on to 5-3 lead, misplaying the potential third out, as the Dodgers rallied to win the game and take a 2-1 lead in the 5-game series. That was a decision by Phils' manager Danny Ozark, the longtime Dodgers coach, who reasoned he wanted Luzinski's bat in case the Dodgers tied the game up. How's that for positive thinking?

Joe Carter's walk-off, series-clinching homer in Game 6 of the 1993 WS is still a sore point in Philly 25 years later. Conversely, manager Jim Fregosi went with an obviously spent Mitch Williams to close out the game with the Phils holding on to a 6-5 lead.

Ask Vikings or Bills fans about their favorite Super Bowl memories. Not too many. If the Dodgers make it back next year and lose, they'll be able to commiserate with the Minnesota and Buffalo fans.

Fortunately, the Phillies have their own analytical manager, Gabe Kapler, courtesy of the Dodgers' organization. But all the numbers, charts and slide rules couldn't stop a late-season six-week swoon that saw the Phillies fall from 15 games over .500 and in first place in early August, to 2 games under and third place by season's end.

No heartache this year, unlike in 1977 and 1993 (yes I know the Phils won the WS in 1980 and 2008). I'll take that over blowing a 4-run lead at home and having our ace give up three HRs in a must-win game (let's see if Kershaw takes that opt-out; I doubt it).

The best team money could buy hoisted the crown. How is that not symbolic of America today?

William Francis Evan Earl said...

i, too, have koufax's autograph in my wallet. small world, i guess. Great column btw Ken :)

Louis Burklow said...

From one budding old curmudgeon to another, I heartily second every gripe you made in this well-written plea for sanity. I was already a Dodger fan before I came to Los Angeles; my first trip to Dodger Stadium a month after my arrival was a real treat. For years I loved going to games. For half the year I had Vin Scully make an almost nightly visit via my TV.

Then SportsNet LA happened.

Even though I had DirecTV, I supported their decision not to carry the channel with its $5 per home surcharge (even for people who never watched baseball). This year I finally got the channel (I moved and DirecTV was not a good option anymore). While going back to having the team on nearly every day, I found I didn't enjoy it much. Am I the only one who thinks the team plays like an old American League team, with an over-reliance on home runs and a fear of stealing bases?

As long as the Dodgers make it this hard on their fans, I won't pay to go to one of their games. While I rooted for them in the past two World Series I wasn't particularly sad to see them lose. This group has killed off the simple pleasure of being a loyal fan to a team for me. About the rundown condition of Dodger Stadium, I suspect the ownership has plans to get a new stadium sometime in the near future. One they can more easily sell naming rights to. I don't know about you, but I shake my head at the fact that I was excited when Andrew Friedman was hired.

Villagedianne said...

Data analytics is part of why Hillary lost the election. According to the book ‘Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign’, Hillary’s campaign manager Robbie Mook was totally wedded to data analytics. The authors describe Bill Clinton saying things like how Hillary should go to small towns and talk to unemployed people, or how the state organizations were complaining they didn’t have enough money. Each time Bill expressed such concerns, he was met with some version of “Your anecdotes are not supported by the data.”
Bill Clinton, a man with exceptional political instincts honed by a lifetime in electoral politics, was treated by Hillary and Mook as an out-of-touch old man.
This reliance on data analytics over human considerations has implications far beyond sports.

Janet Ybarra said...

If you want to watch something to make you feel good about baseball, watch the STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE episode "Take Me Out to The Holosuite," wherein the DS9 crew have to play a game against a team of Vulcans.

Great episode. And you will learn what kind of a great actor Avery Brooks is.

VincentS said...

FRIDAY QUESTION: Ken, you've written often about how network television shows don't let showrunners have creative control. Do you know if it is the same on streaming services like Hulu and Netflix?

Jeff said...

Here in Wisconsin, we have a Charley Steiner problem of a different kind. When the great Bob Uecker takes a few innings off, or skips almost all road games, we have two earnest but bland young guys who may have been caddying at the muni course last week. Brewers can do better, too.

RFarmiloe said...

Ken,
Great post.....I'm a GIANTS fan and I agree with every word you said. You'd think because I'm a Giants fan, I'd love to see the Dodgers sink. I DON'T. I love baseball and it's fans are what make it work. These owners are NOT baseball men. They are bunch of rich scientists who think baseball can be run like an insurance business. It's a sport played by humans, and it should be treated that way. Dodger Stadium is a nightmare to get in and out of. The food prices and lines are outrageous......but the game itself and the people who run it, are running it into the ground. The Dodger games should be on channel 11 again so it's fans can see them for FREE! That is the best advertising the team could ever have. Charley Steiner is unlistenable!!! I could go on and on......but needless to say, this team is really doing it all wrong these days. That is NOT good for baseball, period!!

Liggie said...

I've avoided MLB for the last 2 1/2 years because I'm boycotting the Mariners. (I'm a hockey fan, and their ownership helped throttle a privately funded arena near Safeco Field. And then they want the public to pay for a $180 million repair job on the stadium roof. Nice.) And judging from this discussion, I'm not missing much. There's a place for analytics, use any info you can get, but I think you build your team to fit your park. If you play in a bandbox like Fenway, swing from your heels; if you play in an airport like old Busch, get jackrabbits on base in front of gap hitters.

@Villagedianne: The Trump campaign also used data to win the election, via Cambridge Analytia and their mining of Facebook profiles to find voters traditional polling and canvassing overlooked.

Anonymous said...

Ken, I, like you, loved The Dodgers and I think the loss of Vin would have been hard to overcome no matter what. But I agree that something has changed here. I can't tell you that's its only the Dodgers. I think its ALL of baseball. But I don't care about ALL of baseball. I care about my Dodgers. I want to root for the team I grew up with. I was at the game on Friday night and I saw most of the fans stay and cheer their team on. We were all "thinking blue." So it can be done.

Blair Ivey said...

@ Cap'n Bob:

Was David Price pitching?

Rich Shealer said...

Personal note regarding the Kirk Gibson Home Run World Series game. That was they day my wife and I were married just 30 short years ago.

Roger Owen Green said...

A Series that ends after 3 a.m. Eastern time is tough. I ended up recording games for 4.5 hours, get up at 5 a.m. and watch the games on fast forward for balls and strikes, slowing down only for when the ball was hit in fair territory. It's savage but there it is

Aaron Krouse said...

I agree wholeheartedly but don't look back with completely rose-colored glasses. The stadium on the surface always looked pretty but the restrooms were always disgusting with impossibly long lines, paint peeling, cracks in the concrete, etc. Parking was always a chore and still bad. There were many problems back then (70s-80s-90s) too but they do seem magnified and different now, not giving the fans the best experience for the inflated dollars paid.

Today, parking problems persist and the thought of monies being paid to McCourt are appalling. The stadium experience is horribly loud with piped in music. The days of the Dodger Hammond Organ throughout the night are over. Thank God for Dieter Ruhle between the dance music turned up to 11. All the food choices in the world, and you still can't find anything good to eat.

TV/Radio teams have gotten beyond complicated with all the various outlets. Not having Spectrum, radio is my only option which makes me long for Ross Porter. His continued banishment is disgraceful. New blood is needed on radio.

But...almost four million tickets sold and a team that wins more than it loses means not much will change except the price of everything. For the life of me, I do not understand how an average family can afford to attend a game for any sport but Dodger baseball was once the "most affordable ticket in town." Having that $8 billion dollar TV contract helps too.

The days of hanging out with players in Vero Beach or along the rails at Dodger Stadium are long gone sadly. Do they even have autograph days anymore?

Get off my genetically enhanced lawn!

Unknown said...

I've followed the Dodgers since they played at the Coliseum. The charm of baseball has been slowly leaking away over the years because of money. A game that used to be the most affordable to attend is now beyond the reach of most people. Taking a family of 4 to a game will easily cost $200. Not only is the expense to see a game live become too expensive, the game itself is poorly played. There's little planned opposite field hitting, sacrifice bunting, hit and running. There's too many pitching changes. Trade deadline deals in July and August only add to the feeling that the crowd is rooting for laundry and not the hometown boys. Hitting coaches used to stress plate coverage, keeping your hands above the ball, putting the ball in play, hitting to all fields. The two worst terms introduced to the game are launch angle and exit velocity. Who would you rather see hitting third for the Dodgers in the World Series, a Kike Hernandez overswinging at anything near the strike zone, or an Adrian Gonzalez in his prime, looking to hit the ball hard with a controlled swing? Look, a guy like Cody Bellinger seems to have a lot of athletic ability and should be a great player, but he has a horrible swing that limits him to only hitting pitchers' mistakes. That's the kind of hitter people not only come out to see, but play winning baseball.

Rr Saldivar said...

...Ken Levine makes *some* good points. Having said that, I also have a good memory. When Levine was host of 'Dodger Talk' one of my biggest gripes was the fact that anyone who called in- if they didn't care for the manner in which the team was run or the decisions were made or any bad mouth of management, ownership or direction- they were given a 'company man' answer and quickly moved on. I used to really despise that any criticism was dismissed like some kinda policy. ...You might wanna remember that, Ken Levine. You do, as I said, make *some* good points, though. ...Another glaring 'forgetfulness' is on the radio broadcasters. *They are the same guys when you were on the radio*, Ken. Sure, Vin is gone. But, even in your days Vin had already cut his broadcast time to the first 3 innings and then Rick & Charlie took over. ...Sounds like maybe some personal emotion at play. ...But, there is some well observed criticism from Ken that garners attention and substance. ...Glad you are a 'Homer', Ken, and, hope you can see that being a 'company Homer' can rub others wrong and leave a bad taste, too.

Ken Levine said...

Ry,

Thanks for the comment but I beg to differ. Josh Suchon and I not only welcomed criticism of the team, we ourselves dished it out. And we always made a point to be in the clubhouse the next day so if a player or coach had a problem with anything we said we were there to be held accountable. Sorry but I take great pride in that. When I took the job my one stipulation was that I be allowed to forthright. The Dodgers said fine and to their credit they adhered to that. Josh will tell you the same thing.

Criticize us for how we conducted the show -- if you didn't like our more irreverent approach, fine -- but the one thing we felt we needed to do was preserve our credibility. Which we did. And believe me, it wasn't easy. I was there during the McCourt era.

Unknown said...

Also very disappointed that they are rich Union Members and decided to ceoss an active bonafide picket line.
Scabs are the worst.

Unknown said...

GET OVER IT---PART ONE

Some of the issues discussed in your anti-Dodger essay ring true Ken Levine. You are clearly upset, and it shows throughout your narrative. Why the anger? You are peeved about BASEBALL for crying out loud. Professional little league. It's not that important. Why take it so seriously? There are tons of Dodger fans who wanted to see a World Series title...it didn't happen...so get over it. I am just as big a fan you sir, and I enjoyed both this season and last season immensely.

We had two really great teams who were beaten by two even better teams---Houston and Boston. L.A. did all they could to get the title...and simply fell a little bit short. 28 other teams failed to make it that far. Give the Dodgers credit Ken. Stop whining about days gone by. Times change. Management changes, players change, paychecks rise, and the whole game slowly turns on its axis. And, it will continue to do so. Heck, you can still pay $2.50 to see a Dodger game---the cheapest ticket in MLB. Every team has the very same issues the Dodgers have. This includes the Boston Red Sox. In fact, they have two starting pitchers, each earning well over 300 million dollars. Gulp that one down!

Take MLB for what it is, or get into something else. like square dancing. You cannot turn back the hands of time. Let the game evolve. We aren't in the 60's or 70's anymore. I don't care for rap music but, I don't get angry about it---I simply roll with it. Vin Scully and Jerry Dogget are no longer calling the games. There is only one Scully every century---so replacing him with an equal simply will not happen. Charlie Steiner is a long time polished broadcasting pro. A top level play by play guy. One of the best of the handful available.

Look at the positives. The Stadium remains beautiful. The fans love their team, and that only grows bigger and better. The team is highly competitive. The parking, traffic, and other peripheral stuff is unimportant. It is you, Mr. Levine who has leaped into the world of using analytics. You are negative and likely bearing the weight of a chip on each shoulder---probably from being exhumed from your previous stint of employment with the team. No need to drop F bombs and four letter words throughout your diatribe. Your rambling letter was hugely degraded because of the vulgar language. Guess what--there are grade school children who may just read your sultry words. Why be so nasty?

As for me---I loved each of the last two seasons---even with the second place finishes. The Dodgers had two fantastic teams, and gave their hearts. We have very exciting players. Dave Roberts did a really great job. No one complained about his managing style in 2017. So what if he manages differently! He did great. I agree that he might have utilized his players in a more effective manner but, Monday morning quarterbacking under zero pressure is easy to do. Every fan does it. The 2017 World Series was considered the most exciting in the history of MLB. What more do you want? Your L.A. Dodger team was right there Ken. Bathe in it for awhile.

Ever wonder how the New York Yankees, with the two biggest home run sluggers in all of baseball feel about bowing out in the first round this year? Or, how about the San Diego Padres, Toronto Blue Jays and countless other teams---do you ever wonder what they feel about their seasonal basement dwelling clubs?

Scott Wagner
Elysian Park, CA

Unknown said...

GET OVER IT-PART TWO

...We have the best ownership in baseball. The fans love and adore Earvin Johnson. No one wants to win more than Magic. He has brought winning back to L.A. baseball, just as he did with the L.A. Lakers basketball. He is all about winning. The L.A Dodgers had back to back dream seasons---and fell a little bit short. There are 30 teams. The Dodgers haven't won in 31 years...maybe next year will be the one? Every fan base desires and deserves a World Series title. Some never attain that goal. It took the Cubs 100 years to get their first trophy.

Lighten up Kenny boy. You fired off your steam one day after the Dodgers loss. Give it some time and mellow out. Perspective comes with time---and ill conceived shotgun blasts an hour after the team goes down is not done with level headed insight. It is anger inspired spewing.

My advice is to shelve baseball for the present time, and jump right over into the Rams fan base and pull up a seat---and enjoy THAT ride. You now have a local football team who will likely march through the NFL season undefeated.

A suggestion---kick back and enjoy a Dodger dog...still $1.50 at the stadium---and half that in the stores...

Scott Wagner
Elysian Park, CA

Anonymous said...
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Astroboy said...

For too many years now how many games have I watched where a sacrifice bunt could have (possibly) changed the outcome of a game? So that's it, till baseball starts bunting again, I ain't watching! Besides, the older I get the more I really enjoy watching Cricket.

MikeN said...

The Dodgers are not #1 in analytics. They are big budget wannabes.

Every team does analytic to some extent. Cubs, Yankees, Athletics, Red Sox are considered near the top, but all of them do it.

The Dodgers are mostly about being Red Sox fanboys, taking everyone who's played for them.
Manny Ramirez
Grady Little
Dave Roberts
They bailed out the Red Sox by taking on ALL of their big contracts at once- Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, and Carl Crawford.

The Dodgers made up for this by being willing to outspend every team. The Yankees don't care about the luxury tax, but they care about the repeater penalty, and actually went under the tax this year to lower their bills for future years. The Red Sox went all in on this year, acquiring Price and Sale. If the later years of Price's contract prove too high, no doubt they will trade him to the Dodgers.

Kevin O'Malley said...

If you all loved Vin as a Dodgers broadcaster, you will love him doing the Catholic Rosary! Vin's meditations from the Bible are legendary!!! Visit www.catholicathletesforchrist.org/rosary.

Ken Levine said...

For the record,

I did not apply for the job Charley got.

I do not hate analytics -- just the over-reliance on them.

And I know baseball from the 60's and 70's are over. World Series games in those eras drew 45,000,000 people. Now they draw 17,000,000. The product has really improved.

Jimcomics said...

Well, I see a lot of hurt and angry Dodger fans responding to your hurt and anger. I'll agree that your language was a bit 'salty'- more than necessary, in my not-very-humble opinion. But I saw very little in the comments about what I see as the basic problem, and something you hit on. Basically, who are these guys playing the game?
Yes, we've always had trades, but everyone seems to be hired guns. I'm a Milwaukee Brewer fan, for two main reasons- I live in Wisconsin, and Bob Uecker. The Brewers know what they have- every year there's a great promo date with a free giveaway. How about a Bob Uecker Talking Alarm Clock" Or a Magic 8 ball? Or nesting dolls? It's great, fun stuff and it keeps us involved...
On the radio, at least. Because I'm not interested in paying exorbitant prices to park a mile away from the ballpark, and fight for an hour to get out of the parking lot after the game.
And the game itself? Who's pitching and who cares? The Brewers young manager was extremely successful, and while I understand that's the way the game is played today, I don't feel any personal identification with what seems to be seventeen pitchers and eight position players, all of whom come and go all season long, mostly to the minors and back.
To me, a pitcher is like a quarterback- your football team has one quarterback who shoulders the load, week in and week out. So DID your number one pitcher, week in and week out. Now? Well, our opening day starter didn't even make the playoff list. Sure, we also follow the teams major sluggers, and the Brewers may have the league MVP player- who came out of the blue. No solid, ;ong time guy like Kirk Gibson who suddenly excelled and who had a fine career. I wonder where this years' MVP will be in three years. Will people remember him like we remember Gibson?
The game is still exciting for me- I love baseball and always will- but I really don't care much at all about the players- and, the way the game is run, I don't see that coming back for me. When Uecker retires, I wonder how much love for the game will keep my listening. Sad.

mike said...

Precisely that--it's the numbers to the exclusion of all else that is hurting. And the greed, greed, greed. You notice how everything now has to be 'the best ever?' So many teams have the computers tell the front office geeks what to do, then they tell the young manager what to do and they do it. That's the way the leaves are shakin these days, but it sure ain't as much fun.

mike said...

And mork's got it right--just too many damned ads! It's really not necessary to have an advert in between pitches. Bad enough that taxpayers pay billions for malls that incidentally have a diamond somewhere around, but the constant bombardment is too much. What, they don't get enough dough from a $17 cup of beer? Heck, for $9 you can get a couple of cases of Coke!

Unknown said...

Don't be misled by the attendance numbers Ken. The explosion of the entertainment industry as well as the sports entertainment industry had led to the diminished fan base for MLB. The NFL, NBA and NHL were all in their growing years and have exploded onto the scene since the early 1980's. There are an infinite number of ways to find entertainment these days. Back in the 60' and 70's baseball was really all there was for the crowds to gather. The movie industry hadn't yet exploded onto the scene either.

Secondly, baseball has done a very poor job of marketing itself. And, baseball simply does not have the excitement that other sports have to offer. Face it...even a grand slam in the World Series is not that exciting.

Once the NFL and NBA began to surface as fast paced and high scoring sports, baseball began to fade quickly. Moreover, the attendance numbers are misleading from the get go. Baseball teams have huge stadiums, and play 162 games each season. Way too many games for the common fan. It's fan base should be declining.

Don't blame the players or management. The stadiums are better than ever, the players far more skilled than ever before. Parking, traffic jams, and the cost of a Coke are not the reasons for its steady decline. There is no proof high salaries has caused the decline. The average fan can afford to go to games.

Bottom line is that baseball is not as attractive to those who seek sports entertainment as the many other options available. So, take it for what it is. That will never change.

The clock keeps spinning. The times, they are a changin'. You are living in the past...

Scott Wagner
Punta del Este Uruguay

Bill Kelliher said...

Ken,

I was at a Dodgers game back in April and I actually emailed you a link to an article about the possibility of the Dodgers building a new stadium. You replied, "No! NEVER!"

It's obvious that you saw the same things that I saw that night. The parking situation is an absolute nightmare! The stadium feels old and worn down. It's now the third oldest stadium in Major League Baseball but it's well behind Wrigley and Fenway in terms of history so I don't see that as being an obstacle.

The stadium holds a special place in the hearts of many fans but so did many other stadiums that have been replaced with much better more fan friendly parks. Dodger fans deserve to be treated better than this!

Brinkman fan said...

I love baseball. My favorite memories are of my family going to Griffith stadium in D.C. to watch Harmon Killebrew. I think tickets (good tickets) were about $2. Then the owner took MY team away and moved them to Minneapolis. BUT that was ok because we got a new team led by Frank Howard (rookie of the year and a former Dodger). When I get talking baseball, I tell people that my favorite player was Eddie Brinkman! Ever heard of him? He was the Senators outstanding shortstop and he came up to Frank Howard's shoulders. (I loved Frank Howard, too.) I grew up rooting for the Washington Senators. I was in tears when they left for Texas. At RFK I watched Fred Valentine bat for probably 15 or 20 minutes hitting foul balls, over and over again. He wasn't famous but I remember him. I moved west, but I have (and always will be) a Senators/Nationals fan. It was a happy day when baseball came back to D.C. My two dreams have been to see the Nationals play in their "new" stadium and to go to the baseball Hall of Fame. Two or three years ago, (Dodger fans will remember), I was back east visiting family when the Nationals and Dodgers played the 7th game of their series. We rearranged plans, got tickets to the game and went to my first game at Nationals stadium, which they lost to the Dodgers. I walked around the stadium in a dream. Baseball had come home! This past fall my son, cousin, and I went to D.C. and caught two games against the Cardinals. It was great! We then drove to the Hall of Fame, which celebrates all of baseball, not just the excellent players. The last game of this past season, Bryce Harper was in tears at the end of the game. I think that Washington means something to him. He might leave, after all a lot of money is a lot of money and their agents make a lot of money, too. I think some of your criticisms of baseball are legitimate. (I don't know about the Dodgers, etc. I have never been there.) But I have been to Griffith stadium, RFK, Nationals Park, Mariners stadium, Ranger stadium and the Houston Astro's stadium.(and many minor league parks.) It is expensive. In Seattle, there used to be a very nice bus system that you could take directly to Safeco field and not have to worry about parking, but then unions or the city or whatever took it away. If you take the city bus, you still have to walk several blocks, which is hard on the elderly, or the handicapped. Whatever MLB does or does not do in the future is out of our hands, but they can never take my memories away.

Brinkman fan said...


Barbara McCaskey said...

Barbara McCaskey
Salt Lake City (Home of the Bees--where I got hit in the face with a baseball and spent 6 days in the hospital..Ah, memories.)