Deep in the Heart

The say that everything is bigger in Texas … well, maybe not everything.  While waiting for the bus after Friday’s game, I caught the Rangers Ballpark at Arlington fireworks display.  They were ok, but by Dodger Stadium standards it was like kids shooting off bottle rockets.  No comparison.
 
Talked with Andre Ethier and Brent Leach about their former schools heading to the College World Series.  Andre is a former Arizona State Sun Devil and Brent played at Southern Miss for two years before finishing up at Delta State.  Andre never made it to a CWS while at ASU, losing in the Super Regional round to Cal State Fullerton twice.  In 2002 as a sophomore, Andre’s teammates included Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler and Jeff Larish…yet they didn’t make it to Omaha.  Crazy game. 
 
Southern Miss is making it’s first trip to the CWS.  In case you’re ever in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, eat at Leatha’s BBQ.  World-class barbeque in a shack off the side of the road.  World-class.  If you call ahead, sometimes they have possum on the menu.  I won’t go that far, but the beef and pork ribs are some of the best I’ve ever had.
 
The current member of the Dodger Family with the best CWS experience?  Rick Monday.  Rick was an All-CWS pick on Arizona State’s 1965 National Championship team.  On the ASU freshman team that year?  Reggie Jackson.  Arizona State won national titles in 1965 and 1967 but Reggie Jackson only played varsity baseball in 1966.  That means no rings for Mr. October as a collegian.  Crazy game.
 
Not too many college players are on this year’s edition of the Dodgers.  Logan White, the Dodgers Assistant GM – Scouting, has made a habit out of taking high-ceilinged high schoolers in the draft in years past.  You can’t question the strategy.  Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, Jonathan Broxton, James Loney, Matt Kemp, Blake DeWitt … all high school players that the Dodgers scouted, drafted and developed in a hurry.
 
Rangers Ballpark in Arlington doesn’t get discussed much when people are talking about some of the best ballparks in the game, but it’s got some real plusses.  I like the deep green of the seats and the overhang.  I like the grassy ramp (don’t say grassy knoll here in Dallas) beyond the center field wall.  I even like all of the signage on the outfield walls.  It reminds me of ballparks of days gone by.  But the real treat in the ballpark is the turkey legs. I think it’s one of the best concessions in baseball.  These things are huge.  I’ve just decided that’s my goal for this weekend.  I’m going to talk with the camera guys and see if we can find some people eating these things.  It’s impossible to not feel like King HenryVIII when you’re gnawing on these things.  There you go … that’s my goal. 

— Eric Collins

4 Comments

I always tell my friends who are ranger fans that they aught to extend the grassy ramp down to the field and make the whole thing in play. That way it can be bigger and better than Tal’s hill in Houston. The players would hate it, but they could grow the grass up there really long so the balls just stick. The outfielders have to hike up there to try and stop the inside the park homers.

Eric I agree! The Rangers Ballpark absolutely looks like one of the best in baseball. I would love to go there. The team also looks so much better than they have in years past. I think the Rangers have a legitimate shot at the playoffs this year, especially if Josh Hamilton can get healthy. I think it is all going to come down to pitching, because they have a lineup that could hit for days…

–Ethan

Eric- I’ve watched most of your broadcasts so far and I’m impressed. You and Steve have dropped in some modern concepts like “sample size” and “average on balls in play” (e.g. Kemp) which are long overdue on Dodger broadcasts.

Last night you and Steve belabored the point that Randy Wolf has only 3 Wins and 9 ND’s despite pitching outstanding this year. Well maybe the problem is with the asinine Win stat and not Wolf. Wolf has allowed 3 ER or less in 9 of his 14 starts with an ERA 23% above the NL average. That speaks for itself. What the Dodgers scored in his starts is utterly irrelevant in describing Wolf’s performance. Because of the BBWAA we’re forced to count this stuff, but you and Steve are free to present and discuss more accurate measures.

James Loney has gotten all kinds of credit for leading the team in RBI this year. As it happens Loney leads the NL with 216 baserunners in his AB’s. Congrats to James for that, right? He’s driven in 19% of them which isn’t even in the top 20. I know you have to point out that he leads the team in RBI, but also a great opportunity to explain the shortcomings of a terrible stat.

With the turnover of the broadcasting team (call it a youth movement), this seems like a great opportunity to modernize the entire broadcast. OBP & SLG are widely accepted as optimal measurements of run creation. Traditional stats like Wins, RBI’s and Errors have been largely dismissed as performance measures. I understand that AVG is never going away, but RBI and Wins are such useless measurements. Why can’t the KCAL graphics and game info be updated to incorporate more useful (and less trivial) information? Juan Pierre batting .348 with 0 HR and 21 RBI tells me almost nothing about his value as a player. I would like to see OBP & SLG provided for hitters- including league averages for OBP & SLG to give people context for these measures. Quality Starts, K/9, BB/9 and HR/9 are preferable pitching stats to Wins, ERA and Hits. Dodger fans are bright- they can handle change. You guys can be pioneers in this area instead of just following the herd.

Thanks for your time,
Brian Greene
bigcpa@gmail.com

Steve,

This is one of your olde White Sox buddies Joe Schmitz…the
banker from Morris, IL. I’m at my daughters right now, this is
here husband’s site. But we’re coming to the Sox/Dodgers game
on Wednesday evening and we’ll be sitting in the Scout seats
behind home plate.

I’ll be there early so if you can come down for a drink, it would
be good to see you again. I just received your new book for
Father’s Day and I’m looking forward to reading it.

My email address is shoelessjoe2@comcast.net….my cell phone
is (815) 975-4369. I know you’re busy and will understand if you can’t make it.

Your Olde Friend
Joe Schmitz

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