Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and please don’t irritate Don Mattingly when he visits Dodger Stadium.
Joe Davis started calling games for the Dodgers last season, but he became the official “replacement” for Vin Scully this season. Luckily, with 10 games on KTLA this season, most Dodger fans have been able to hear him call games alongside Orel Hershiser. After watching those games, I think it is fair to say the following: Joe Davis is really good at his job. I really missed him Sunday, which is not a knock on Charlie Steiner. I just think Davis is that good.
A lot of people make the mistake of comparing Davis to Vin, which is unfair. When most current fans started listening to Vin, he had already been calling Dodgers games for 10, 20, 30 or 40 years (and in some fans cases, even longer). We got the broken-in version of Vin. The one who had years of stories at the ready and weaved them into a baseball telecast better than anyone.
Joe Davis is in his second year with the Dodgers. He doesn’t have stories of watching the Dodgers play the Giants in Ebbets Field, but he does have stories. He tells about the background of each player. He does a great job of letting the emotion of what is happening on the field come through his voice. His call of the April 29 game against the Phillies, when the Dodgers hit three consecutive homers to tie the game and won a few batters later, is up there among the best Dodgers calls of all time.
I would love for Davis to call games by himself, without Hershiser or anyone else in the booth. One of the small secrets to Vin’s success was the fact he was able to talk to us during the game. There was no one in the booth he had to converse with, so everything he said, he said to us at home. It was like he was sitting on the couch with us, watching the game. When two or three people are in the booth, it’s like overhearing a conversation. It can be interesting, but you aren’t really a part of it.
I’ve noticed that when Davis tells one of his stories, he politely sort of ignores whatever Orel says during the story and just tells the story as if he is talking to us. It really works. I don’t know why baseball teams and sports channels think two people need to be in the booth, but I’d love for SportsNet to let Davis work a series in the booth alone.
The guy is that good. He is not a replacement for Vin Scully, because Vin is not replaceable. I have no idea what Davis’ contract status is, or how long he even wants to call one team’s baseball games, but he has a chance to carve out a niche for himself in Dodgers history, when in 30 years, people will be saying “Man, I feel sorry for whoever has to replace Joe Davis.”
What about Don?
Marlins manager Don Mattingly went off the deep end Friday night, complaining about Corey Seager’s swing and a 3-and-0 pitch when the Dodgers were leading, 5-0, in the seventh inning.
Here’s the sequence of events:
Seager swings at a 3-and-0 pitch in the bottom of the seventh with the Dodgers leading, 5-0. In the bottom of the eighth, Cody Bellinger hits a homer to give the Dodgers a 7-0 lead. Miami pitcher A.J. Ramos drills the next batter, Brett Eibner, with a pitch.
In the top of the ninth, Ross Stripling throws behind Miami batter Giancarlo Stanton, causing the benches to clear and an irate Mattingly to start screaming at Dodgers bench coach Bob Geren.
Mattingly’s reaction afterward: “They can say it however they want it,” Mattingly told reporters in the visitors clubhouse at Dodger Stadium. “But when you swing 3-0, up 5-0, you can put it however you want it.”
Apparently Mattingly hasn’t been paying attention to recent baseball history, because a 5-0 lead isn’t all that safe. Unless Mattingly’s plan was to stop having his players compete, in which case he should have let everyone know.
My biggest complaint about Mattingly when he was managing the Dodgers was his lack of emotion. I guess managing a last-place team is what it takes to bring the emotion out of him.
By the way, the Dodgers who heard Mattingly’s Seager explanation were either amused, irritated or felt sorry for Mattingly.
Speaking of feeling sorry for someone
I want to point out that I have not mentioned the fact that Chris Hatcher came in to replace Stripling on Friday and promptly gave up two runs, including a homer, ruining the shutout. I have made a vow to take it easy on Hatcher and not point out how bad he is anymore. I feel a lot better about not having to point those things out.
The Dodgers sent Julio Urias to the minors the day after his poor start Saturday against Miami, which left him with an 0-2 record and a 5.40 ERA. And it doesn’t sound like he will back too soon.
“The inconsistency of hitting his locations has been, unfortunately, consistent,” Manager Dave Roberts said. “There’s something to learning the major league strike zone, I guess, but there’s also a component of hitting the catcher’s mitt.”
The obscure Dodgers record of the week
Which batter (excluding pitchers, minimum 1,000 plate appearances) holds the Dodgers record for worst career OPS+?
Catcher Bill Bergen, who played with Brooklyn from 1904-11, had a career OPS+ of 16, which means he was 16% as good as an average batter in his time period. In fact, many consider Bergen to be the worst offensive player in history among major leaguers with a career of more than five seasons. His career slash numbers are .162/.184/.187.
Second-worst is shortstop Alfredo Griffin (57) and third is catcher Rube Walker (59). If we limit it to Los Angeles Dodgers, the worst three are Griffin, Cesar Izturis (68) and Mariano Duncan (71).
The three best? Mike Piazza (160), Gary Sheffield (160) and Jack Fournier (157). If we limit it to L.A. Dodgers, then Fournier is replaced by Reggie Smith (152).
All these numbers, and more, can be found at baseball-reference.com.
Tuesday, 7 p.m. PDT, St. Louis (Lance Lynn) at Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw)
Wednesday, 7 p.m. PDT, St. Louis (Mike Leake) at Dodgers (Rich Hill)
Thursday, 7 p.m. PDT, St. Louis (Carlos Martinez) at Dodgers (Kenta Maeda).
Note: Pitchers are subject to change.
Sunday’s game was the final KTLA game of the season.
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