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Dodgers

Dodgers Dugout: Five ways to improve the All-Star game

Corey Seager
Is the flag on Corey Seager’s sleeve on backward?
(Lisa Blumenfeld / AFP/Getty Images)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and just when I write something positive about the team, they start losing again.

How to improve the All-Star game

If you don’t mind, I am going to remove my Dodgers cap for the first item of today’s newsletter and talk about a more general baseball topic: The All-Star game. It seems the All-Star game has lost its luster the last few years. When I was a kid, the Dodgers were rarely seen on TV (sort of like now for most of L.A.) and my only chance to see players on other teams was if they played on NBC’s Game of the Week or ABC’s Monday Night Baseball. So, if you wanted to see Reggie Jackson or Johnny Bench, the All-Star game could be your only chance.

Now we can see almost every player every night, so it’s no big deal to see them in the All-Star game. That has taken away a lot of the pizazz (yes, I was born in 1890) from the game.

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So here are a few things I would do to improve the All-Star game and maybe lure some fans back into watching it:

1. Allow players to come back into the game as a pinch-hitter after they have been removed. Example: Mike Trout plays the first five innings of the game and is removed to give some Minnesota Twins player no one has ever heard of a chance to play. The AL is trailing, 5-4, with the bases loaded and two out in the ninth. Imagine the buzz if the AL manager sends Trout up to hit.

Remember, the winner of the game gets home-field advantage in the World Series. However, during the most important part of the game, the late innings, all the starters, who are usually the best players, are out of the game. If the game really counts for something, as Bud Selig always said, then the best players should be available at the end of the game.

2. Drop the “one player from each team” rule. The best 30 players should make the team, and if that means that Tampa Bay doesn’t get a representative, then too bad. Rays fans can complain to the team’s front office about putting together such a bad team that they don’t even have an All-Star representative.

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3. Move the game to Sunday. The All-Star game is really designed for kids to enjoy. Right now, the game is on Tuesday night. If you live on the East Coast, the game often isn’t over until after midnight. Also, Tuesday night is when a lot of kids who are on sports teams (Little League, AYSO soccer, etc.) play their games or have practice. So when they get home, they have missed part of the game and the best players have already been removed. Put the game on Sunday afternoon, when kids make up the largest part of the TV audience.

4. The game shouldn’t be for home-field advantage in the World Series. Of the two teams who make the World Series, the club with the best interleague record should get home-field advantage. If they have the same record, then the team with the best overall record should get it.

5. Get anyone other than Joe Buck to call the game. Seriously, he’s horrible.

So, there’s just a few ideas.

Home run derby

Corey Seager will compete in the All-Star game Home Run Derby this year, which has led many Dodgers fans to worry that it will mess up his swing for the rest of the season. After all, Joc Pederson fell apart after participating last season.

However, the “Home Run Derby messes up your swing theory” is not based in reality, according to sabr.org and fivethirtyeight.com.

Flag bearers

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I got a lot of emails from people after the Dodgers played on July 4, complaining that the team had U.S. flag patches on their uniforms on backward. As you can see in the picture above, the field of stars was in the top right corner and not the top left. It turns out that they were displayed properly, according to the official military regulation for such display of the flag.

Army Regulation 670-1, Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia, was updated most recently on Sept. 5, 2003, and addresses the proper and lawful placement of a U.S. flag patch.The regulation states that when authorized for application to the proper uniform, the flag patch is to be worn, right or left shoulder, so that “the star field faces forward, or to the flag’s own right. When worn in this manner, the flag is facing to the observer’s right, and gives the effect of the flag flying in the breeze as the wearer moves forward. The appropriate replica for the right shoulder sleeve is identified as the ‘reverse side flag.’”

Ask Ross Porter

Former Dodgers announcer Ross Porter will be answering select reader questions for the rest of the season. Email me a question for Ross, and I will pass it on. His latest response:

Bruce Lawhead asks: Ross, I’m a big fan of yours, and enjoyed reading your memorable Dodgers moments. Recalling Don Sutton’s first pitch on opening day in 1977, which Gary Thomasson of the Giants hit for a home run, what made it stand out for me was Don later saying he looked into his dugout and all the Dodgers players were doubled up laughing. You couldn’t see that from your perch high in the stadium.

Ross: There was a sidelight to the story, Bruce. Major League Baseball had switched to Rawlings baseballs that season, and it had been decided beforehand that the first pitch thrown by Sutton that day was to be taken out of play and sent to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Don was told Thomasson would take the pitch so the ball could be saved. Gary claimed he knew nothing about the plan. Sutton told me later, “If I had known that, I wouldn’t have thrown him a batting practice fastball down the middle of the plate.” Thomasson put it in the right-field bullpen.

Don gave up only two more hits and pitched a complete game, winning 5-1.  I don’t know why the Hall of Fame wanted that baseball. There had been other major league games played that season before the Dodgers and Giants met on April 7.

What Vin Scully means to me

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I asked you to tell me your best Vin Scully memories, and I got a lot of responses. I will publish selected ones in each newsletter. And keep emailing them to me.

Rob Harol: When it comes to my memories of Vin, the baseball diamond has always just been the canvas he used to paint his beautiful stories. When there was no comfort to be found in the score, there was always plenty to be found in Vin’s voice. 

I will forever remember Vin’s broadcast on the day Don Drysdale died in 1993. I don’t recall the score of the game or the time of the day, but I will not soon forget the moment Vin broke the news. At once his voice reminded me that Vin was both a true professional and a treasured member of the family. My heart broke for him as he announced the passing of his dear friend, while I was simultaneously filled with gratitude in knowing that it was Vin’s calming presence that would make that day’s bitter pill slightly easier to swallow.

The TV situation

If you would like to complain about the Dodgers’ TV situation, you have three options: The Dodgers, Time Warner Cable and whatever local cable or satellite provider you have that doesn’t carry the Dodgers. Here’s who to contact:

For the Dodgers, click here or call (866) DODGERS ([866] 363-4377). (I hope you like form letters).

For Time Warner, click here.

For DirecTV, call (800) 531-5000 or click here.

For your local cable or satellite provider, consult your bill for the customer service number and for the website.

And finally

Clayton Kershaw has been cleared to play catch. Read all about it here.

Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me and follow me on Twitter: @latimeshouston.

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