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Dodgers Dugout: Best wishes to Andrew Toles

Andrew Toles
(Jeff Roberson / Associated Press)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell and let’s get right to the heartbreaking first topic of today’s newsletter.

Andrew Toles played only 96 games with the Dodgers spread over three seasons (2016-18), but he quickly became a fan favorite and when he took a leave of absence from the team last season as many fans wondered what was going on.

On June 27, we got a glimpse into what is going on with Toles.

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On that day, a homeless man was found sleeping behind a building at the Key West International Airport in Florida. He was arrested for trespassing. His name: Andrew Toles.

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Toles has dealt with anxiety and mental health issues for years. It is the main reason he left the Dodgers, who according to people who work for the team who didn’t wish to speak publicly, have offered him assistance throughout this time. Several teammates reached out to him. Justin Turner offered to pay his medical bills.

But if you think Toles had finally hit rock bottom and was arrested, that is not the case, unfortunately.

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“This has been going on for the last year and a half,” Morgan Toles, Andrew’s sister, told Bob Nightengale of USA Today. “it’s just that this is the first time it has become public.”

“When the news came out, the response from the public was very different from the response from my family,’’ Morgan Toles continued. “When people saw my brother’s mug shot, it was like, ‘Oh, my God! He’s been arrested.’

“You know what my family felt? Relief.

“It’s really crazy to say, but the mug shot, really, was the best thing ever.

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“We didn’t know whether he was dead or alive.”

Most of the time, family members only learn the whereabouts after an incident such as the one in Florida last week, she said. A similar episode took place in Kentucky just two weeks before. Morgan Toles said she recently had to obtain help from the U.S. Embassy in Hong Kong, where her brother spent a month in prison after being arrested for stealing food at a gas station.

The Nightengale piece really gives a great look at what has been going on with Andrew Toles for the last couple of years and is worth a read.

As for where Toles is now, he is in a Key West hospital getting help. But, he has been in hospitals before and as soon as he is coherent enough to ask to leave, he goes.

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What can Dodgers fans do? Unfortunately, not much. I would flood social media with messages of support on the off chance that one breaks through and touches his heart. It’s a powerless feeling. My fondest wish is that Toles one day takes the field at Dodger Stadium, not as a player, but as a person who has defeated his illness and is there to celebrate while throwing out the first pitch with his family watching. He gets a standing ovation from the crowd and retires to a happy life. It’s a Hollywood ending. Life rarely resembles Hollywood. But we can hope.

Minor league seasons canceled

If you were hoping to go to a Rancho Cucamonga Quakes game later this season, put that hope away: All minor league seasons were officially canceled this week. Going to a minor league game is a lot of fun and very inexpensive. Hopefully this won’t be too much of a financial burden on the many employees of those teams.

What’s going on with TV?

Many readers emailed, wondering if the shortened season will have an impact on the TV deal. No. You will still be able to watch the Dodgers on Sportsnet LA. Luckily, everyone now has the ability to get that channel (even if it means switching cable or satellite providers).

Will there be a season?

Many of you also wondered if there would really be a season this year, especially since the COVID-19 rates are spiking again. I believe that MLB will do everything it can to get games in. After all, money rules. However, if numbers continue to climb, and players start getting sick in training camp, then the possibility of no season increases. If you asked me to bet right now, I’d bet there is no season at all. Luckily though, I don’t bet.

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Ask Ross Porter

Former Dodgers broadcaster Ross Porter is back 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 or comment to rossporterdodgers@gmail.com.

Susan Crawford of Des Moines asks: How do you think the Dodgers have done, Ross, in the first round of drafts?

Ross: The Dodgers have had 67 first round draft choices and 19 eventually played for the major league team in Los Angeles. In reviewing their playing days with the Dodgers, I say 10 were above average, seven were mediocre at best, and the jury is out on Will Smith and Gavin Lux.

Only five were on the 1981 and 1988 world champions -- Mike Scioscia in 1981 and 1988, Bob Welch and Steve Howe in 1981, and Dave Anderson and Franklin Stubbs in 1988. Since the draft began in 1965, the Dodgers have only had four opportunities to select a player among the first seven in the draft.

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No. 2 (1993): Darren Dreifort, nine years with Dodgers, 48-60 record, won 13 games in 1999 and 12 in 2000.

No. 5 (1968): Bobby Valentine, 225 games with Dodgers, four home runs and 57 RBIs.

No. 5 (1988): Bill Bene, never pitched in the majors

No. 7 (2006): Clayton Kershaw, 12 years, 169-74 2.44 ERA, three Cy Young Awards

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In the first round of this season’s draft, the Dodgers, with the 29th pick, took University of Louisville pitcher Bobby Miller, a 6' 5" right-hander. Scouts report that 87% of Miller’s fastballs were clocked at 95+ miles per hour. Coincidentally, the Dodgers had a pitcher named Bob Miller, who was on their world champion teams in 1963 and 1965. He played for 10 major league clubs. The Dodgers overall draft bonus pool is $5,928,400, including $2,424,600 for Miller.

“I would say going 10 for 67 (15%) on first round draft choices is pretty disappointing.

Bruce Karıya of Los Angeles asks: Hi, Ross. Thanks for all the great years broadcasting Dodger games with Vin and Jerry. Why does Major League Baseball not allow draft picks to be traded?

Ross: The rule is to allow a bad team to get a higher draft choice than a good team and make the weaker club stronger. It prevents manipulating the draft and small market franchises from trading away their draft picks to higher revenue teams as a way of cutting spending on signing bonuses.

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A problem would occur if a team dealt a top 10 pick to a large revenue club for salary relief on a bad contract and show the difference between high and low revenue organizations. The Dodgers and Yankees have not drafted near the top in years. Draft choices usually don’t help the big league team for three to five years. Teams are allowed to trade competitive balance picks which are the supplemental ones after the first and second rounds. Signing bonuses for undrafted amateurs are capped at $20,000.

Andy Wolk asks: Ross, I would like to know when is the last time the hidden ball trick was used successfully in the major leagues? Thanks so much, I really enjoy all you do.

Ross: Many thanks, Andy. The trick occurs when an infielder conceals the ball until a runner, thinking the pitcher has it, wanders off the bag and is tagged out. Time must not be called after the previous play, the umpire must know it’s coming, and the pitcher has to be off the mound. The hidden ball trick has been successful a documented 281 times in major league baseball history, 10 in the last 23 years. The most recent was in 2017 when Ryan Goins of the Blue Jays pulled it on the Yankees’ Todd Frazier. Before that, there were two deceptions in 2013, Todd Helton tagging Matt Carpenter and Evan Longoria shocking Juan Uribe of the Dodgers. After that game, Uribe’s Dodger teammates presented him with a baseball shoe taped to a base. Other Dodgers victimized were Jose Offerman and Carlos Perez. The last Dodger to nail an opponent was Eric Karros in 1996 when he embarrassed Glenn Murray of the Phillies.

Bill Coughlin holds the record for most tags with nine, the first in 1905, and the only one in a World Series in 1907. Gene Michael, who played for the Dodgers in 1967, executed the hidden ball trick five times with the Yankees between 1968 and 1973, more than anyone else in the last 80 years. Ozzie Guillen and Jack Martin share the mark for being tricked the most (three). Matt Williams got two runners by asking them to step off the third base bag so he could clean it. In a 1987 minor league game, a catcher switched mitts and put on a glove in which he hid a peeled potato. On the next pitch, he threw the potato over the third baseman’s head so the runner raced home only to be tagged with the baseball he kept in the mitt. The plate umpire awarded the runner home plate. Source: Bill Deane

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And finally

Andrew Toles throws a runner out at home plate. Vin Scully makes the call. Watch it here.

Until next time...

Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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