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Monthly Archives: July 2008

These kids can play

Let’s be honest — most baseball fans don’t really follow what happens west of St. Louis. I’m in the minority, of course, as I spend countless hours each summer watching NL West games.

Fans of West Coast baseball know that the Dodgers have a very solid group of young, talented players. Chad Billingsley and Matt Kemp are the cream of the L.A. crop, and tonight they once again showed why.

Chad Billingsley

Chad Billingsley

Kemp extended his hitting streak to 17 games and stole his 25th and 26th bases. Nicknamed “The Bison” by Dodger bloggers, this kid is one of the more gifted five-tool players you’ll see. What’s great about Kemp is that he’s just starting to figure it all out.

Billingsley, meanwhile, has been more or less dominant for about a year now. He threw his first career shutout tonight in a 4-0 victory over the Giants. He’s always thrown hard, but now he throws a lot more strikes and pitches to contact much better. He turned 24 yesterday.

Hopefully, East Coast and Midwest baseball fans will get to know Kemp and Billingsley a lot better over the next 10 to 12 years.

A nice win tonight, allowing the Bums to take two of three in the series. We’re finally over .500, with a four-game home series against West leader Arizona starting Thursday. I’d love to take 3 out of 4, but I’d be OK with a split.

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We’re thinking about a quick trip to Farley on Thursday. Not 100 percent sure yet, but I feel like the Dyersville Tournament is calling me. 🙂

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It has been EXTREMELY muggy in Iowa this week. My dehumidifier is filling up every eight hours or so. And I’m really out of shape, so the sweat is just dripping off me these days.

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Posted by on July 31, 2008 in Uncategorized

 

Nine shutouts

That’s how many the Dodger pitching staff has thrown this season — best in the National League. Los Angeles pitchers also have the best team earned-run average in the NL at 3.72. The Cubs are second at 3.84.

The star of tonight’s 2-0 victory over Frisco was Jason Johnson, who pitched six scoreless innings and picked up his first major-league victory in two years. He’s a journeyman who has played for a handful of teams (including last year in Japan). Johnson has been a diabetic since age 11, so you can’t help but root for the guy. He wears an insulin pump on the back of his belt during games.

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An earthquake that measured 5.4 on the Richter scale (or the Phil Spector scale, as my friend Gus says) shook Southern California today. Dodger Stadium was not damaged, and from what I understand, the entire area sustained relatively little damage.

Phil Spector, famous music producer and inventor of the Richter scale (OK, that last part isn't true)

Phil Spector, famous music producer and inventor of the Richter scale (OK, that last part isn't true)

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How ’bout those Cubbies? Two in a row against the Brewers’ two aces. Big statement for the North Siders. Milwaukee’s outfielders looked like Little Leaguers at times tonight.

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The Dyersville Tournament begins this week, my Dad said. Semi-pro baseball in Dubuque County is really special, and I wish I could get back for more games. Every little town has its own ballpark, and most of them have nicely manicured grass infields and lights. Moreover, every town hosts its own 8- or 16-team tournament. I really doubt there are many counties that size in the United States that have equal or better baseball infrastructures.

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Missed my sister Jayne when she was back in Iowa last week. Hopefully she made it back to Colorado without too many travel difficulties. With all this rain we’ve been having lately, the Dubuque-to-Denver trip probably isn’t much fun.

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2008 in Uncategorized

 

Tough to win after trailing 7-0

Hiroki Kuroda had nothing tonight, giving up seven runs in 3 2/3 innings. There’s no excuse for giving up seven runs to the light-hitting Giants at pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium. Kuroda has been awful for a couple weeks now. The Bums tried to come back but fell 7-6. Diamondbacks lost at San Diego, so no harm done in the NL West standings.

Great game at Miller Park tonight. The Cubs have big-time players — Soriano and Lee — who stepped up in a big game. 6-4 over the Brewers and a two-game lead in the Central. One more win in that 4-game series would be sufficient for the Cubs.

Ryan Braun of the Brewers has 29 homers now. Tremendous hitter. If I were building a team, he might be my first draft pick. Who would you go with?

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2008 in Uncategorized

 

Would you like a lemon with all that water?

Walter O'Malley -- Let there be no doubt about which team's cap he'll wear into the Hall of Fame.

Walter O'Malley -- Let there be no doubt about which team's cap he'll wear into the Hall of Fame.

We ate at Ohana Steakhouse in West Des Moines on Sunday night. Jill’s sister Diane joined us with her husband Randy and daughter Peyton. It was Peyton’s birthday, and Ohana is her favorite place. Jill is her godmother. Diane and Peyton recently got back from a trip to Colorado with Jill’s parents and Peyton’s brothers.

After dinner, we went home to make sure the house wouldn’t float away. We got three more inches of rain yesterday. Sigh.

The Dodgers made the wet day somewhat palatable by completing a sweep of hapless Washington. The Nationals are as bad a major-league team as I’ve seen in a while. They scored two runs in the 3-game set. Giants come to the Ravine tonight for a three-game series, followed by a crucial, four-game set against Arizona. The Dodgers need to own this 10-game home stand.

Also Sunday, longtime Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley was inducted posthumously into the Baseball Hall of Fame. A well-deserved honor for a man who brought baseball to the West Coast, designed beautiful Chavez Ravine, and built the Dodgers into a National League dynasty. No team has won more National League championships than the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers.

Under the O’Malley family’s ownership, which started in the 1940s and ended in the late 1990s, the Dodgers were the classiest franchise in baseball — winning six World Series and about a dozen NL pennants mostly with players that came up through the farm system. Oh yeah, they also had a grand total of two managers from 1954 to 1996 (two!!!).

Sadly, the team hasn’t been the same since the O’Malleys moved away from 1000 Elysian Park Avenue. They left big shoes to fill.

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2008 in Uncategorized

 

An Iowan in Hollywood

Mighty Casey Blake

Indianola, Ia., native Casey Blake was traded to the Dodgers on Saturday for two prospects — triple-A pitcher Jon Meloan and Class A catcher Carlos Santanta. I generally don’t like casting off a switch-hitting catcherwith 93 RBIs (Santana). But what’s done is done and maybe Blake can help the Dodgers win the NL West. If he goes 2-for-3 every game like he did Saturday night, we’ll undoubtedly win more games 6-0. 🙂 T.J. Simers of the L.A. Times writes about the trade in his satire column. http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-simers27-2008jul27,0,7140986.column

Meloan is somewhat of an acquaintance of ours. We met him last year at an Iowa Cubs game and offered to let him hunt on Jill’s family’s land. In return, he said he would get us Dodger tickets. Jon never got to hunt in Shelby County, but he did get us some tickets to spring training games. Classy guy. Best wishes to him.

The Harlan nine lost in the state title game Saturday night 1-0. A questionable call ended the game and prevented the Cyclones from having the tying run on third base with two outs. They had a great year, though.

Dad said the Farley Hawks lost in the Cascade Tournament semifinals to Dyersville. No word on how they fared in the third-place game. Dyersville hired some hard-throwing right-hander and the Hawks couldn’t touch him, I guess.

Chicago Cubs lost a tough one yesterday, and the Brewers won to set up a tie atop the NL Central. The Cubbies have been treading water for about two months, it seems, so they better start hitting if they want to beat the Brewers. HUGE four-game series at Miller Park starting Monday between the Cubs and Brewers. If the Brewers sweep or win three of four, the Cubs might be looking at the wild card standings.

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2008 in Uncategorized

 

Two good victories

Friday afternoon, the Harlan baseball team advanced to the Class 3-A state championship game with a win over Dallas Center-Grimes. My in-laws were very excited about this development. Harlan plays Centerville on Saturday for the title.

Friday evening, the Dodgers beat the Washington Nationals 3-1 at Dodger Stadium. A fine outing on the mound by Chad Billingsley, and a clutch two-run single by Nomar Garciaparra. Really needed this game because Arizona pounded Frisco. Now that we’ve got the first one, we really have to go for the sweep against a bad Washington team.

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2008 in Uncategorized

 

Hawks, Cardinals and Brewers

Mom tells me that she helped sister Julie with a sewing project Wednesday night. Meanwhile, Dad and Dan went down the street to the Cascade Tournament. The Farley Hawks beat East Dubuque in extra innings, preventing the Farley Kramers from getting home before 11 p.m. (waaaaaaaay past brother Dan’s bedtime).

Anyone catch the end of that Cardinals/Brewers game Thursday night? Fox Sports Midwest named St. Louis pitcher Ryan Franklin the player of the game with one out in the top of the ninth, and Franklin promptly gave up the go-ahead home run to Ryan Braun. High-larious! Brewers swept the four-game series at St. Louis. They made quite a statement in that four-game set.

Who’s going to win that wild NL Central race?

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2008 in Uncategorized