July 2005

Dodgers WIN

Something new has been added to the experience at Dodger Stadium.  It is something that will bring new fans to the ballpark, as well as reintroduce long-time fans to the greatest game in the world.  It is a program established by Jamie McCourt, which I know will be a tremendous success.

The program is called Dodgers WIN, which stands for the Dodgers Women?s Initiative and Network.

WIN will offer women special access to the game experience through events and ongoing programs, including baseball clinics, seminars, and forums involving Dodger players, coaches, and staff. TheJamie_headshot_2005_1 program will also play an active role in promoting community involvement and educational programs, while providing women with invaluable professional and social networking opportunities.

When Jamie told me about her idea, I wanted to get involved right away.  I?ve always said that we have the greatest fans in the world, and when we, as baseball executives, have an opportunity to bring the game to the fans, we must sieze that opportunity. 

Jamie invited me to one of the WIN clinics, and the overflow of women who participated was outstanding.  We had Jeff Kent and Odalis Perez instructed the women, and everyone not only had fun, but learned about the game of baseball.  Now, when these ladies return to Dodger Stadium with their family and friends, they can talk baseball all day long.  In fact, they will end up teaching some of the things they learned at the WIN clinic.

Years ago, baseball had Ladies Day, which offered discounted tickets to women.  However, Ladies Day has been gone for a long time.  WIN takes the idea much further because the ladies who attend learn the game.  And not only do they learn through conversation and observation, they learn through participation. 

In all my years in baseball, I have never seen anything like WIN.  I salute Jamie McCourt for her vision and dedication.  I salute all women who are interested in learning about baseball.  Last, but certainly not least, I salute Dodger fans everywhere!

Baseball and the Olympics

When I was told of the International Olympic Commitee’s decision to drop baseball and women?s softball from the Olympics, I was devastated.  What a bad move on their part!  It is a decision I obviously can not support, or understand. Olympics_3

Baseball is a global sport.  Not only have many countries strengthened relations through baseball, people around the world can relate to each other because of baseball.  Walter O’Malley sent the Dodgers to Japan in the 1950?s for the sole purpose of building a bridge between the two countries.  His son, Peter, carried on that tradition and frequently had teams from around the world play at Dodger Stadium, or train at Dodgertown.  In fact, Peter has built fields in Russia, China, Ireland and Nicaragua. 

Baseball is also played throughout the world.  Here is a partial list of countries that play baseball: the United States of America, Canada, Mexico, Panama, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Chile, Curacao, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Australia, South Africa, Japan, South Korea, China and Taiwan. 

When I coached the U.S. Baseball team in the 2000 Olympics, the stands were packed for every game, full of thousands of cheering fans routing for their heroes.  I also saw a few softball games and they too were played before large crowds. 

Olympics_11 While baseball is a cultural melting pot, the IOC removed our game, something that has not been done since 1936.  I sincerely hope they review their decision and reconsider the global institution baseball is. 

Commissioner Selig once said, ?Baseball is a social institution, and, as such, has social responsibility.?  As we all know, baseball helped integrate our country.

Heck, if it weren?t for my time spent playing winter baseball, I would not know how to speak Spanish. 

I have also heard the IOC dropped baseball because players on the 40-man roster are not subjected to the same steroid testing other Olympic athletes are.  That is not true.  Before we left for Sydney, each of my players was tested by Olympic officials, so I think that is a weak argument. 

Furthermore, the commissioner is taking the proper steps to strengthen our drug rule, and I am sure he will accomplish his goal by the time the games are played in 2012!

I Hate the Phillie Phanatic

I hate the Phillie Phanatic. Phanatic

In fact, I am not very happy about mascots in general.  I think they take away from the game on the field.

One of the worst incidents was perpetrated by the Phillie Phanatic.  The Dodgers were in town to play the Phillies and somehow, it got ahold of one of my jerseys.  It took the jersey, put it on a dummy and ran over the dummy again and again. 

That type of a display should not be shown in ballparks, especially in front of children.  It exhibits violence and disrespect.

I pulled the Phanatic aside and said, ?Why don?t you run over a dummy with a Phillies jersey??

I called the front office of the Phillies and told them how I felt.  They can play with kids in the stands, but running over the dummy was simply wrong, and that kids would get the wrong impression.  Apparently, they didn?t care.

The next time we were in Philadelphia, I confronted the Phanatic.  I told it not to use my jersey anymore, and so the next time he did, I was forced to act.  I went right up to it and body slammed it to the turf.

I often wondered how it got my jersey, and then I found out how. Steve Sax would give it the jerseys because my players thought it was a funny thing to do.

Mid Summer Classic

I just returned from the All Star Game in Detroit, where I had such a good time.  The atmosphere was great because of the tremendous support of the fans.  They packed the place for the Home Run Derby, and of course the game itself. 

I would like to applaud the commissioner on his decision to give home-field advantage of the World Series to the winning league.  Many people are curious about that decision. 

In the past few years, the game has lacked the intensity the fans crave.  The players didn?t look as if winning was important, and the managers were concerned about playing everybody.  Consequently, the games lacked excitement, and, even worse, since everybody played one of the games ended in a tie. 

The commissioner was criticized heavily, and bore the burden of the blame.  For an All Star game to end in a tie is just wrong, but the commissioner did not have any other choice.

Bud Selig felt he has to inject energy into the game and give the fans the game they want.  He understands people go to the game to pull for their league and see the best players in the world compete against each other.  He understands the fans want to see the splendor and spectacle of Major League Baseball.  So he had to create importance for the players and coaches.

Baseball?s all star game has been so far superior to those of other major sports.  Because of how the game was played, fans eagerly anticipated the Mid Summer Classic every year.  I was fortunate enough to manage in four all star games, and in each, I told the players that I was not there to play everybody; I was there to beat the American League. 

The players realize they are all-stars.  They represent the game of baseball at its best, and know they have to perform their best at all times.  They have to play the game with all the drive and determination in their hearts.

The results have been tremendous.  The last couple of years, the intensity has risen, as the players and managers want home field advantage.  We represent the greatest sport in the country.  We must do everything in our power to continue baseball?s growth and prosperity.