Howdy, my name is Houston Mitchell and it was almost 105 degrees where I was Tuesday, but with the wind chill, it was only 103, so no problem.
Wondering where some of that season-ticket price increase might be going? Well, we may have gotten a hint on Tuesday, when the Dodgers unveiled a $100-million plan to renovate Dodger Stadium.
According to the Dodgers the renovations, scheduled to be complete before the 2020 season begins, will include
Creation of Centerfield Plaza: The new Centerfield Plaza will create a stadium “front door” with unique food offerings, entertainment and kids areas, retail locations, more social and standing room areas and greater access for those with special needs. A new kids play area will be constructed just beyond the wall in straight-away center, and fans will be able to enjoy the game from above of a newly-constructed batters eye wall. The new Centerfield Plaza will pay homage to Dodger history with statues and a permanent home for the “Legends of Dodger Baseball” plaques..
Pavilion Renovations: Renovations to the Left and Right Field Pavilions will include new restrooms, enclosed bars with views into the bullpen, the creation of standing room areas at the top of each pavilion, enhanced ADA seating and “home run seats” just beyond the outfield wall.
Sandy Koufax Statue: The Dodgers will honor Hall of Fame left-handed pitcher Sandy Koufax with a statue, the second at Dodger Stadium following the dedication of the Jackie Robinson statue in 2017. Both statues will reside in the Centerfield Plaza, as the Robinson statue will be re-located from the Left Field Reserve.
New Elevators and Bridges: Elevators are currently under construction in the Right and Left Field Plazas to help move fans easily to and from this new Centerfield Plaza. Additionally, bridges will be constructed to connect the new pavilion standing room decks to the rest of the stadium for a 360-degree connection around the park’s perimeter. These new elevators and bridges will also provide easier access to the Dodger Stadium Express stop in Lot G through the Centerfield Plaza.
New Sound System: A new sound system will replace the current speaker tower and provide an enhanced audio experience to fans on all levels of the ballpark with more directed sound inside the stadium.
It all sounds great, and there are artist rendering interspersed throughout the email version of today’s newsletter.
Speaking as a Dodger fan since I was 7 years old, this all sounds and looks pretty good. The inability to walk all the way around the stadium has always been a problem. We’ll have to wait and see how it actually looks and works in reality to know for sure. But it’s no secret that many other stadiums have surpassed Dodger Stadium as far as pre-game ambiance, and this is a giant step in the right direction. It will take a great park and make it um, even more great?
Now if it only didn’t take half-a-year for some people to get in and out of the parking lot at games.
Legendary pitcher Sandy Koufax will get a statue at Dodger Stadium
Helene Elliott: Dodger Stadium to get more beautiful with age
Angels make clutch throws to the plate to hold off Dodgers
Our Bill Plaschke takes UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero to task in his latest column. Here’s an excerpt:
“In the wake of this spring’s college admissions bribery scandal, one local administrator rushed to the altar of outrage and shook his fist.
“It was UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero, who issued a strong statement espousing his department’s ideals.
“He preached so loudly, one barely noticed the pulpit slowly crumbling beneath him.
“As an athletic department, we pride ourselves on conducting our business with the utmost integrity.”
“His venerable former soccer coach, Jorge Salcedo, has been indicted on charges of racketeering conspiracy after allegedly accepting $200,000 in bribes to help enroll two students using fake athletic profiles.
“This resulted in the outrageous presence of a player on UCLA’s 2017 national runner-up women’s soccer team, Lauren Isackson, who allegedly had never played competitive soccer.
“As I have said throughout my career, how we do things is just as important as the results we produce.”
“A UCLA internal investigation completed in July 2014 uncovered allegations of parents paving the way for their children’s admission as athletic recruits by pledging donations to the Bruins’ athletic department.
“This included confirmation of a $100,000 donation that led to the admission of a track athlete who was so unqualified, her name was unknown to the UCLA track and field director.
“Representing this university with character and integrity is paramount, not just for me, but for every coach, staff member and student athlete.”
“In a Los Angeles Times story Sunday by Nathan Fenno and Richard Winton, it was revealed that popular former gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field did a favor for a close friend by admitting his niece Maria Caire as a member of the nationally acclaimed gymnastics team even though Caire has no record of a competitive career.
“The story also detailed how, in recent years, UCLA has admitted at least 18 students as athletic recruits who were either children of coaches or administrators or had close connections. Some had strong athletic credentials, but others did not.
“These alleged cronyism admissions include children of baseball coach John Savage, former gymnastics coach Jerry Tomlinson, and Guerrero himself.
“UCLA Athletics take pride in what it means to be a Bruin, and we owe it to all students to ensure that fairness and integrity in the admissions process is maintained.”
“This is a debt that has not been fully paid by the Bruins’ athletic department, and the overdue notice has finally landed squarely on the biggest desk in the room.
“It is time to hold Guerrero accountable for running a program that has not practiced what he has preached.”
Remember the show “Peabody’s Impossible History” that aired as part of “The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends?” In the segment, Mr. Peabody, who is a genius-level talking dog, and his pet boy, Sherman, travel through time using the WABAC machine. The end of the segment always comes with Mr. Peabody making a bad pun. It’s where I developed my sense of humor.
What if we used the WABAC machine to travel back to a time where Kobe Bryant signed as a free agent with the Clippers in 2004? Our Andrew Grief basically did that, with fascinating results.
“As free agency opened, then-general manager Elgin Baylor told reporters he was “prepared to do whatever is necessary to make this as easy a decision as possible for him. ... We think that we represent the perfect option for him.”
“Soon Baylor, coach Mike Dunleavy, owner Donald Sterling and team president Andy Roeser met with Bryant at a luxury hotel in Newport Beach near Bryant’s home, team announcer Ralph Lawler said in an interview for the story. The broadcaster, who after four decades with the Clippers considers himself something of an unofficial team historian, did not attend but said he learned details of what transpired through conversations with each of the Clippers officials who was present.
“They made their pitch to Kobe and it was a very strong one because it seemed apparent to everyone at that point that Kobe and Shaq just could no longer co-exist,” Lawler said. “Then it’s time for Kobe to excuse himself and go and Donald Sterling walks him to the door expressing concern. ‘Is this really going to happen?’
“Kobe turned to him and — this is an exact quote that I’ve had repeated to me by multiple people — he said, ‘Don’t worry, I’m a Clipper.’ So he walked out the door and [the Clippers] are all high-fiving each other thinking, ‘By God, we’ve done it.’
“If anybody denies any of that,” Lawler added, “ they are of faulty memory or they just don’t want to acknowledge it because that is what happened in that meeting in that hotel room.”
“A second Clippers employee also told The Times that Baylor directly told him Bryant had verbally committed. (That employee has since left the team and agreed to speak only under the condition of anonymity.) There was enough confidence within the team that preliminary discussions began about how to best welcome Bryant at a ceremony in Staples Center.
“A representative from Bryant’s company did not respond to an email requesting an interview with Bryant, but the 20-year Laker has acknowledged being open to the Clippers’ pitch.
“I felt comfortable over there,” Bryant said during a 2004 news conference to announce his return to the Lakers. “I could see myself playing for the Clippers.”
“In 2016, Bryant said the combination of the team’s young players, a high pick in a draft stocked with prospects he liked, and the desire of Clippers executives to turn around the fortunes of a perennial loser appealed to him.”
OK, back to your host here. Wouldn’t it have been amazing if Kobe had signed with the Clippers? Just think of the possibilities. But, knowing the Clippers luck, he would have torn his Achilles in his first training camp, broke his leg in his first game back and been out of basketball in two years.
Six new members of the Baseball Hall of Fame were inducted over the weekend. Which of the following Dodgers do you think deserve a spot in the Hall of Fame? You can vote for as many as you like: Steve Garvey, Orel Hershiser, Gil Hodges, Don Newcombe, Fernando Valenzuela, Maury Wills. Vote in our poll at https://poll.fm/10368688 or email me your choices at firstname.lastname@example.org. Results will be revealed next week.
Your favorite sports moment
What is your favorite all-time L.A. sports moment? Click here to tell me what it is and why, and I’ll start running them in future newsletters. And yes, if your favorite moment is about the Angels or Ducks or a team just outside of L.A., I’ll count that too. And the moment doesn’t have to have happened in L.A., just needs to involve an area team.
Odds and ends
Tokyo’s rough road to 2020 Summer Olympics…. Chargers’ biggest questions include Melvin Gordon, Russell Okung as camp opens…. Angels’ starting rotation a huge question mark against Orioles this weekend…. Sparks close on 15-1 run to beat Dream…. Five SoCal players named to Boys Youth National volleyball team…. Rams will live in hotel comfort as training camp gets underway…. Will the ‘butt fumble’ follow Mark Sanchez in his post-NFL career?…. Leagues Cup: Galaxy beat Club Tijuana in penalties to advance.
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Our Dodgers newsletter, written by me. Subscribe here.
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Soccer newsletter, written by Kevin Baxter. Subscribe here.
Today’s local major sports schedule
Angels at Dodgers, 7 p.m., Sportsnet LA, FSW, AM 570, AM 830
Born on this date
1939: NFL player Bob Lilly
1939: NBA player Walt Bellamy
1953: NFL player Steve Grogan
1962: NFL player Kevin Butler
1963: Jockey Julie Krone
1963: NBA player Karl Malone
1964: Baseball player Barry Bonds
1965: NFL player Brian Blades
1969: NBA player Rick Fox
1985: NHL player Patrice Bergeron
Died on this date
1966: Golfer Tony Lema, 32
1997: Tennis player Frank Parker, 81
2018: Baseball player Tony Cloninger, 77
Vin Scully emcees unveiling of Dodger Stadium 2020 All-Star Game logo. Watch it here.