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Dodgers Dugout: Dodgers should take cardboard cutout idea a step or two further

Press box view of empty Dodger Stadium on Oct. 9, 2019, before Game 5 of the National League divisional series.
Imagine all these seats filled with cardboard cutouts.
(Arash Markazi / Los Angeles Times)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell and I wonder if a cardboard cutout of Roger Owens will be in Dodger Stadium this year?

Have you ever gone to a Dodgers game and thought the crowd was flat and two-dimensional? Did you ever go and feel particularly stiff after sitting for four hours or so? Did you ever think the bun on a Dodger Dog has a cardboard-like quality? Well, this season the Dodgers have you covered.

On Monday, the Dodgers announced that you can have a cardboard cutout of yourself placed in an area of your choosing during home games this season.

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The price is either $149 or $299 for the season, depending on where you want your cutout to sit. The $149 cutouts will be on the field and loge levels, with the $299 cutouts in the seats mostly in the dugout club seats behind home plate and the new “home run” seats immediately behind the outfield wall. All proceeds go to the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation.

And, after the season, you get to keep your cutout. Just in time for Halloween.

You can order your cutout at Dodgers.com/FanCutouts.

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But why stop there, Dodgers? Here’s some ideas.

—If a fan’s cutout gets hit by a foul ball, they get two free tickets to a game next season. If part of the cutout is destroyed by the foul ball, you get two free tickets to five games. Allow fans to choose in exactly which seat their cutout should be placed. This will cause quite a bit of strategy to be used by fans as to where to put their cutout. And, for an additional $25 each time, fans can move their cutout after each home game.

—Give fans a 10% discount if they want their cutout to wear a mask.

—When the Astros come to town, have each cutout sitting in a trash can.

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—A cutout of Dennis Gilbert must be placed behind home plate.

—And, in a nod to nostalgia, a cutout of Mike Brito holding a speed gun should be behind home plate too.

—Put a cutout of Vin Scully in the press box.

—Put a spring-loaded cutout of an obnoxious fan behind home plate that randomly pops up holding a cell phone and waving at the camera because he thinks it is cool to be on TV.

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—Put a cardboard cutout of Mary Hart behind home plate. Or the actual Mary Hart. No one will know the difference.

—Use cutouts that at random get more disheveled as the game goes on, representing the people who get drunk at the game.

—Put a cutout of Joe Buck in the announcers’ booth. Unable to speak, it will be the most enjoyable Joe Buck in years.

—Install a special cutout of Alanna Rizzo that dives out of the way of the postgame sports drink bath traditionally dumped on the player of the game. (OK, the real Rizzo will be there, but still, this would be fun to watch).

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—Place cutouts of fans in line at the concession stands, missing a big play.

—Cardboard beach balls.

—But, most importantly, no cardboard waves.

Kenley vs. the coronavirus

Kenley Jansen reported to camp this week, and we found out why his arrival was delayed: He had COVID-19.

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His son tested positive last month, and the entire family was infected shortly thereafter.

“It is real,” Jansen said of the virus after experiencing several symptoms during the three-week ordeal. “Everyone in the world, take it serious. Wear your mask at all times, if you can. Because, trust me, it happens so fast. Once my son got it, I’ve seen how fast it can spread. We tried to do everything, but we all got it in the house.”

Jansen is considered to be at moderate risk of serious complications from COVID-19 because of his heart condition.

“When my son had it, it was more disappointment of, ‘Why does my son have it? Why not me?’” Jansen said. “You just don’t want that to be on your kids. Next thing we know, we all got it. It was definitely scary. I did everything I could do to be sure I bounced back fast.”

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“I love this game,” Jansen said. “I want to do it [play] for the fans. We’re all going through a tough time right now in the world together. I think this is a good thing for not only the Dodgers fans but all baseball fans around the world to have something to watch on TV.”

Every Dodger is in camp now except for catcher Keibert Ruiz.

Here’s the 2020 Dodgers schedule

July 23-26: Giants at Dodgers

July 28-29: Dodgers at Astros

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July 30-Aug. 2: Dodgers at Diamondbacks

Aug. 3-5: Dodgers at Padres

Aug. 7-9: Giants at Dodgers

Aug. 10-13: Padres at Dodgers

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Aug. 14-16: Dodgers at Angels

Aug. 17-18: Mariners at Dodgers

Aug. 19-20: Dodgers at Mariners

Aug. 21-23: Rockies at Dodgers

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Aug. 25-27: Dodgers at Giants

Aug. 28-30: Dodgers at Rangers

Sept. 1-3: Diamondbacks at Dodgers

Sept. 4-6: Rockies at Dodgers

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Sept. 8-10: Dodgers at Diamondbacks

Sept. 12-13: Astros at Dodgers

Sept. 14-16: Dodgers at Padres

Sept. 17-20: Dodgers at Rockies

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Sept. 22-24: Athletics at Dodgers

Sept. 25-27: Angels at Dodgers

Most home games will be at 6:40 p.m. PT this season. Games will be on SportsNet LA, finally available in all of Greater Los Angeles this season.

The usual announcing crew (Joe Davis, Orel Hershiser, Charley Steiner, Rick Monday, Tim Neverett, Jaime Jarrin, Jorge Jarrin, Fernando Valenzuela, Nomar Garciaparra, Alanna Rizzo, Pepe Yniguez) will call the games.

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The opener, against San Francisco on July 23, will start at 7 p.m. and be televised on ESPN. The July 25 game against the Giants will be at 1:10 p.m. and be televised on Fox. The July 26 game will be at 7 p.m. on ESPN.

For more info on the schedule, click here.

Puig to Atlanta

Those of you hoping for a reunion between the Dodgers and Yasiel Puig will have to wait a while longer (probably a good long while). The former Dodger outfielder agreed to a one-year deal with the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday.

Puig hit .267 with 24 homers and 84 RBIs for Cincinnati and Cleveland last season.

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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.

Laurence Wiener of Buenos Aires asks: Ross, it is such a delight to see your presence here. My friend, Jeff Leeds, another huge fan of yours, and I wonder if other than Sandy Koufax, there is any other Hall of Famer from the modern era who has been inducted based on such a short tenure?

Ross: It is great to know you can read us in Argentina, Laurence. Koufax is still the youngest elected Hall of Famer as he was 36, five months younger than Lou Gehrig. The Yankee great was voted into the Hall just seven months after he retired, and a little more than two years before he died at 37. Roberto Clemente was inducted 79 days after being killed in a plane crash. He was 38. Babe Ruth was in the first Hall of Fame class one season after retirement because of his impact on the game. Early day hero Addie Joss was inducted after playing only nine years, Ross Youngs, Joe McGinnity, Ralph Kiner, and Jackie Robinson after 10.

Dan Carpenter of La Jolla asks: Ross, in your opinion, who are the best players not in baseball’s Hall of Fame?

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Ross: Pete Rose, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Joe Jackson.

Jack Whelan of the Bay area asks: How are major league pensions calculated?

Ross: MLB was the first pro sport to set up a pension in 1947, and it is easily the best in sports. It originally offered $100 a month depending on the number of years played. The original requirement was five years service, then it was reduced to 43 days for a full pension to vest with one day needed for medical, and the minimum payout was $34,000 a year. How about this? Players have been called to the big leagues, never gotten into a game, and will still receive a pension. The Plan only requires the player to be on the roster--not appear in any game. One day on an active roster assures a player full comprehensive medical benefits. The minimum a player will receive is $1,000 a month, and it maxes out at $185,000 for players with 10 or more years of service time, the most allowed by federal regulations. Pensions begin at age 62.

Over half of professional athletes are broke at the end of their last contract. Older former players have been ignored. Today’s players should have guilty consciences. Players with at least 43 days of service time whose careers ended prior to 1980 went 31 years without being paid a penny. Some had no salaries during labor stoppages which eventually led to huge checks and benefits for today’s players. In 1980, 1,100 players were shut out. In 2011, some of the older players were finally awarded payments of $625 a quarter (before taxes) for every 43 days of service they had up to four years. They still have not been added to the pension plan, meaning their widows will get nothing, and they remain ineligible to buy into the players’ medical plan. Now, over 600 men are still excluded and that does not count 200 pre-1980 players who get no money because they didn’t have 43 days on the active roster. These older players are not looking for any retroactive pay, but would like to buy into the health plan which pays for 100% of medical bills. Marvin Miller, the original Players Assn. executive director, said his one big regret was not including the pre-1980 players in the pension plan. Tony Clark, who now has Miller’s job, won’t talk to those players. That is shameful. Do you want to know how much money is in the plan which funds the players? $3.5 billion. Why don’t some current top baseball player tell Clark it is time to do something long overdue.

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And finally

You can watch a Dodgers intrasquad game on YouTube.

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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