Dodgers Dugout: Will the Dodgers acquire Chris Sale?
Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and it has cooled off to 102 degrees at my house today, and here I am without a sweater.
Chris Sale to L.A.?
Dodger fans were excited when former Reds and Nationals general manager Jim Bowden wrote that the Dodgers could get Chris Sale from the White Sox for three players: Julio Urias, Jose De Leon and Yasiel Puig.
If I’m Andrew Friedman, I make that trade immediately. Only one problem: There is virtually no chance that the White Sox would accept that trade. The White Sox would want at least four top prospects for Sale, who is under contract control until after the 2019 season.
I ran through the names the Dodgers have been linked to in the last newsletter, and not much has changed since then. However, Times Dodgers reporter Andy McCullough wrote Thursday that the team is interested in Royals closer Wade Davis. But it would also take a sizable number of prospects to land Davis.
The betting money here is that the Dodgers end up acquiring Josh Reddick from Oakland. But it is difficult to predict Friedman, whose ultimate goal I believe is to pull of a 30-team trade with the Dodgers acquiring prospects and a pitcher coming off an arm injury.
The trade deadline is Monday, so we should have a lot to discuss in the next newsletter.
Ken Levine discusses the Dodgers
I have been doing this newsletter for quite a while now, and those of you who have been with me from the beginning pretty much know how I feel about the Dodgers. For more than a year, you have been reading me twice a week (or more during the playoffs). Even I don’t like listening to myself that much. So, periodically for the rest of the season, I am going to invite special guests to talk about the Dodgers so you can get a different perspective on the team.
Next up is Ken Levine, who is one of my favorite writers of all time and who hosted the “Dodger Talk” post game show on KABC radio from 1997-2000 and from 2008-10. Ken is best known for being a writer (along with his writing partner, David Isaacs) for some of the best shows in TV history, including “M*A*S*H”, “Cheers” and “Frasier”. He also authors one of the best blogs around, which you can read here.
Ken answered a few questions via email.
Q. How would you assess the Dodgers’ season so far, and do you think this team has a chance at winning the World Series?
Ken Levine: They’ve been cursed with injuries this year. Payroll sitting on the bench is the equivalent of the U.S. national debt. Kershaw’s back could break their back. Still, they’ve fought tough and the Giants have come back to earth since the All-Star break so I think they’ve got a good shot. There’s also the wild-card opportunity and a late blockbuster trade possibility at the deadline.
Q. You have called games for the Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres. I think most fans think calling a game is really easy, but it’s not. Can you give us some insight as to how much preparation you had to put in before each game?
KL: Hours of scouring the Internet and reading. Getting a jump on the next series and keeping copious notes on future opponents. Watching all the highlights from the night before. Subscribing to a service that provides detailed player profiles. Keeping some of my own stats so I have them if I need them. Getting to the ballpark four hours early. Going to the clubhouse and talking to players, managers, and coaches (my team and the opponents). Watching batting practice. Attending daily manager press briefings. Talking with announcers and reporters who cover the other team. Getting the team notes, and statistics package, and poring over all of them. Filling out my scoresheet and entering tons of statistics and notes I feel might be pertinent. Talking to advance scouts in the press dining room. Trying to find a perspective, a possible game story, so the listener will have more context than just knowing the starting line ups. Doing that each and every game, home or away, if my team is in the pennant chase or already eliminated.
Q. Vin Scully is retiring after the season. Do you have any good Scully stories you can share with us, either from meeting him or just listening to him over the years?
KL: I was traveling with the Dodgers doing Dodger Talk in the late ‘90s and we were in New York. It was the first week of the season. After our Saturday afternoon game it snowed. I went out to Shea Stadium early for the Sunday tilt only to discover the field was white. It looked like Christmas morning. Obviously the game was going to be called. The only other person in the press box that early was Vin Scully. So he and I went to the press dining room and I spent a good two hours with him — alone, one on one, just he and me. Talk about a treasured memory.
Q. I think it’s safe to say that the two best pitchers in Dodger history are Sandy Koufax and Clayton Kershaw. How would you compare the two?
KL: Both are magnificent. I still think Koufax at his very best was the better of the two. But that’s today. The very young Kershaw was way better than the very young (and wild) Koufax. One difference is that Koufax really rose to the occasion in big games. Former teammate Ron Fairly told me Koufax, despite his quiet demeanor, was the toughest competitor he’s ever seen. Kershaw has faltered in some big contests (damn those Cardinals). But again, there’s plenty of time for Kershaw to shine in that department too.
One other thing: Koufax is way more Jewish than Kershaw.
Q. The Dodgers face a yearly quandary at the trade deadline: Do they give up some of their top prospects to acquire a player who will help them in their playoff run, but might leave as a free agent after the season. Fans, who have suffered through 28 years without a title, are more prone to making a trade to win it all now. Andrew Friedman is more of a “keep your best young players, because then you have a chance to contend every year” type of guy. Which path would you take if you were running the team?
KL: The front office is in a tough spot. The Dodgers NEED a World Championship. It’s been way too long. And if they’re in a position to get one it behooves the braintrust to obtain those one or two final pieces. But it comes with a price — possibly mortgaging your team’s future. Everyone in baseball wanted Corey Seager the last two years. Aren’t you glad the Dodgers didn’t trade him?
Since the Dodgers lead the league in current and former GM’s I think they’ll make the right decision, whatever that is.
Q. You co-wrote the classic “The Simpsons” episode “Dancin’ Homer”, where Homer becomes the mascot for the Springfield minor league baseball team, the Springfield Isotopes. A few years later, Albuquerque named their minor league team the Isotopes, based on the team name you and David Isaacs created. How cool was that, and have the Isotopes invited you to a game?
KL: That was extremely cool, and not only did the Isotopes invite me to a game — I got to throw out the first pitch. Also, their announcer is Josh Suchon who used to co-host Dodger Talk with me. Go Topes!
Q. Last question. “M*A*S*H” is probably my favorite TV show of all time. But it wasn’t until years later when I watched a bunch of season seven shows on the same day that I noticed a cool Dodgers Easter Egg you included. I’ll let you clue in the readers as to what I am talking about, so please tell us about it and how you came up with the idea.
KL: On M*A*S*H we always had a lot of patients and military personnel coming through the 4077th, which meant we had to name them. That took valuable time away from writing. For season seven we decided to make it easy on ourselves and just use the Dodger roster. So from Garvey, Rau, Hooton, Rhoden, on and on, we went down the list. By the end of the season we were using announcers. You’ll notice a Sgt. Scully in the final episode of the season.
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:
Tim Knoch asks: Have you ever written anything about your time working side by side with Vin? I would love your insights.
Ross: If it had not been for Vin, I would not have had the opportunity to broadcast for the Dodgers.
There were 200 applicants for the job to become the team’s third announcer, and Vin recommended me. We never had a cross word between us in 28 years, and he always showed me total respect. We still talk on the phone regularly and share e-mails.
Everyone knows what a superb broadcaster he is, but it is also very meaningful to me that I have never seen Vin Scully rude to anyone. Whether he was asked for an autograph, a photo with a fan, or presented a question----some at inappropriate times----he has been a total gentleman. So popular that he was once asked to run for governor of California by the head of one of the political parties in the state. Vin thanked the man for the courtesy of the invitation, but declined, and did not admit he belonged to the other party.
He helped raise money for charities and non-profit organizations, always anonymously. Vin agreed to let a Los Angeles hospital honor him at a fundraising dinner to build a neonatal unit after a devastating earthquake. The event raised $ 1.5 million. He has assisted my family’s non-profit numerous times.
Vin has always been extremely humble and grateful to God for his broadcasting opportunities. He takes great pride in his marriage to Sandi of over 40 years, and his family, including 17 grandchildren.
We have all been blessed to have Vin Scully as part of our lives.
What Vin Scully means to me
I asked you to tell me your best Vin Scully memory, and I got a lot of responses. I will publish selected ones in each newsletter. And keep emailing them to me.
Warren Boule: Shortly after my father passed away in 1994, I thought taking my mom to a Dodger game would lift her spirits. We were walking on the Club level behind the press box on our way to the public restaurant down by the Dodger Club. Who opens the door of the press box but the man himself, Vin Scully. As he is very recognizable, my mom calls out “Hi Vinny.” He turns around and sees this older lady hobbling over. He says “Wait, I’m coming.” I hang back and watch. He asked her name and she says “Marge. My son over there brought me to the game to try and lift my spirits. I just lost my husband.” He said he was sorry for our loss. He took her arm and walked with her very slowly to the restaurant, while I trailed behind them with tears in my eyes. He asked her who her favorite player was and she replied “Bob Feller.” After all she was from Cleveland. We walked in and Vin said to the chef, “Whatever they want for dinner, on me” We said thank you, thank you and he continued on to the Club. He did the nicest thing I could imagine for her and I will never forget.
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, or (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.
Vin Scully calls Hank Aaron’s historic 715th home run. Hear it all here.
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