Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell and please practice safe social distancing with this newsletter.
Right now, we should be recapping the first weekend of the 2020 season. Instead, we are wondering if there will be an opening weekend of the season.
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I was on vacation last week for spring break, which consisted of looking out of the window occasionally and wondering why this all feels like it started a decade ago instead of a month ago.
Before we get to the focus of today’s newsletter, I just want to say I hope you are all safe and healthy out there. If you are in a stay-home area, I hope you go out and take walks, video conference with friends and family and take care of your mental health as well as your physical health. For me, this whole “social distancing” reminds me of my dating life in high school.
Many of you have been sending me questions. Let’s see if I have any answers.
What is going to happen to the season?
No one knows. There is still hope to play a 2020 season, but it all depends on when it becomes safe for people to gather in large groups.
“We need to have a regular season with a credible number of games,” Commissioner Rob Manfred told ESPN on Wednesday night.
However, when and if the season starts, it is unlikely they will be able to play a 162-game season.
“We’re probably not going to be able to do that this year,” Manfred said. “I think that’s clear. It does give us an opportunity to do some different things, to experiment, and to make sure we provide as many games as possible and as entertaining a product as possible.”
It appears the season will start when these conditions are met:
--There are no bans on mass gatherings that would limit the ability to play in front of fans.
--There are no travel restrictions in the United States and Canada.
--Medical experts determine that there would be no health risks for players.
They also left open the door to playing in empty stadiums, if necessary.
“Players want to play,” Tony Clark, MLBPA executive director, told USA TODAY Sports. “That’s what we do. Being able to get back on the field and being able to play, even if that means their fans are watching at home. Being able to play for their fans is something they’ve all expressed a desire and an interest to do, and to do so as soon as possible.”
What happens to the All-Star game at Dodger Stadium?
Not to be a broken record, but again, no one knows. It all depends on when the season begins. For me, I would open the season with the All-Star game. Have a modified fan vote starting about a couple of weeks before we know the season begins. Top three vote-getters at each position make the team. Fans can vote on pitchers too, with the top 15 making it. I know this isn’t perfect, but start with that idea and go from there, ironing out and tweaking the details. Open the season with all the best players on the field at Dodger Stadium. All proceeds from the game go to a suitable charity for the true All-Stars, the health-care workers who are dealing with this pandemic every day.
Will we ever see Mookie Betts play a game for the Dodgers?
Depends. If there is a 2020 season, then certainly. If there isn’t, then maybe not. MLB and the players’ union agreed to a deal last week on numerous financial details surrounding the 2020 season. Among them: Players get service time credit for the season, meaning Betts will be a free agent no matter what happens. So it is entirely possible that he will never play a game with the Dodgers. Andrew Friedman has said they would like to sign Betts to a long-term deal. If the season is canceled, there’s no way of knowing how that will impact the finances of teams (other than it won’t be a good impact), so to predict now what it would take to sign Betts is a fool’s errand.
Now, on to other news.
Farewell, Jimmy Wynn
Everyone had a first favorite athlete. I have been a Dodger fan for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories involve the Dodgers. But my first favorite Dodger was Jim Wynn. I can’t tell you why, he just was. When I was 6 or 7, I remember my parents getting Dodger tickets for an upcoming game. For the two weeks or so I had to wait, I was beside myself with excitement. I would finally get to see Jim Wynn play in person. The day of the game, I had a fever. Mom and dad said I had to stay home. I begged, pleaded, cried and threw my best tantrum until they finally relented. I laid down in the back seat of the car all the way up there because I felt so horrible. In the bottom of the first, Wynn came up to bat. He homered and I leapt to my feet out of excitement. And that’s all I remember. I apparently fainted. My dad carried me to the car and we went home.
A memory I wouldn’t trade for anything.
Wynn died last week at the age of 78. He was a very underrated throughout his career, because he had low batting averages. But he drew a ton of walks and had good power. He hit only .250 in his career but had a .366 on-base percentage. He played two seasons with the Dodgers, 1974-75 and was a key member of the 1974 team that went to the World Series. That season he hit .271/.387/.497 with 32 homers and 108 RBIs, finishing fifth in MVP voting.
He may be best remembered by many Dodger fans as the outfielder Joe Ferguson cut in front of in Game 1 of the World Series to throw Sal Bando out at the plate (you can watch that play here). Wynn was dealing with bone chips in his throwing elbow and had told Ferguson before the World Series that if a throw needed to be made at some point, he should feel free to cut in front of him to catch the ball and make the throw. Which encapsulates Wynn’s career, doing whatever it took to make sure the team won, even if it meant throwing the spotlight on someone else.
What happens to this newsletter?
We will continue, twice a week (if not more!) with some special surprises and the return of “Your First Dodgers Memory,” “Ask Ross Porter,” and many more, including the “What is the greatest Dodger team of all time?” tournament I told you about last month. So keep checking that inbox.
Your first Dodgers memory
Well, I asked you to share your first Dodgers memory and you did. I received thousands of responses, so thank you. Since we have plenty of free time on our hands, I’ll continue running multiple “first Dodgers memories” again with the next newsletter. And if you haven’t already, I’d still love for you to send me your first Dodgers memory, and it may run it in an upcoming Dodgers Dugout. Include your name. And don’t send only a sentence, tell why that memory sticks out in your mind. You can email me your memory at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks.
Ask Ross Porter
I am happy to announce that former Dodgers broadcaster Ross Porter has agreed to return for another season of “Ask Ross Porter.” We have a new email address this season for it. Ross will have access to this email address and will get your questions without me having to forward them. So, if you have a message (like thanking him for his years as a broadcaster) and not a question, feel free to let him know. Send your question to email@example.com. His answers will start appearing later this week.
Vin Scully has a special message for Dodger fans in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. Watch it here.