June 2008

Senor Jarrin

Jarrin and Tommy.jpg

Fifty years ago today a man came to the United States that would change the face of Dodgers baseball forever.  Jaime Jarrin emigrated from his native Ecuador, uprooting his family in search of a brighter future.  Upon arriving in Los Angeles, he hadn’t seen a single game of baseball, and has since spent the last 50 years broadcasting our beloved game in his native language, Spanish.

Jarrin feel in love with baseball, and the Dodgers, as many did, watching the 1955 Dodgers win the World Series.  Until the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in 1958, he would attend minor league games in Los Angeles learning all about baseball.  He began calling games for the Dodgers in 1959, and the rest is history.

He has called more than 7,500 regular season games.

He has called about 25 All-Star games.

He has called 20 Fall Classics, and is a deserved member of the Salon de Fama.

I have had the pleasure of knowing Jaime for many, many years.  His wife Blanca, and his sons, are like a second family to me.

I congratulate you today, Jaime.  You have always represented the Dodgers to the highest degree of class, dignity and character.

You are a true caballero, and I say, salute a ti mi amigo, y bueno suerte!


LSU Tigers and College World Series

lsubaseball06.jpgTonight the LSU Tigers play the North Carolina Tar Heels in the College World Series.  Omaha is a tremendous place to play baseball, and every time I watch the CWS I think about my late friend, the great Rod Dedeaux, as he led USC to 11 College World Series titles and 28 conference titles.  He broke the mold for college coaches, as they all wanted to pattern themselves after Rod.


This year, another great coach is on the verge of tasting the fruits of victory.  Paul Mainieri, head coach of the Tigers, has guided his team through an outstanding season.  At one point they put together a 23-game winning streak. 


Twenty three games!


I was great friends with Demi Mainieri, Paul’s father.  Demi, who was the head coach at Miami-Dade, invited me to speak there and we became instant friends.  Paul has filled his father’s shoes.  He was a credit to the Air Force Academy when he coached there, a credit to Notre Dame when he coached there, and is now a credit to LSU.


I love Paul, and he honored me by asking me to be Godfather to his son, Tommy.  In fact, I share that honor with the GM of the Cubs, Jim Hendry, as we are co-godfathers.  I just hope everybody knows that when Tommy wears blue, it’s Dodger blue, and not Cub blue.


Coach Paul is one of the finest in the country.  To reach the finals in any tournament is impressive, but to reach the finals in the College World Series is special.  If I had a son who wanted to play college baseball, I would send him to Coach Paul.


College baseball coaches don’t get the recognition they deserve.  Many times college baseball coaches have to chalk their own fields and wash their own batting practice balls when they get too dirty. 


Do you ever see a college football coach lining the end zone?


Do you ever see a college basketball coach inflating his own basketballs?


We know the answer to those questions.  And it’s the same answer when I ask if you’ve ever seen the NCAA sanction a school for any infractions by a baseball team.


As for tonight’s game, I wish all the players in the College World Series luck, but rest assured that I’ll be pulling for Coach Paul and the LSU Tigers.

Midwest League All Star Game

Midwest ASG 1.JPGI have thrown out many first pitches in ballparks all across the country, and even a few throughout Asia, but to do it in front of young men, future Major Leaguers, is a privilege.

When you see their eyes light up at the splendor and pageantry of any All Star game, it is special, especially when they are part of the celebration. 

Four players from the Dodger system were selected in the Midwest League All Star Game: Steven Johnson (RHP), Miguel Ramirez (RHP), Andrew Lambo (OF), and Kenley Jansen (C).  All four of these players play for the Great Lakes Loons, our Single-A affiliate.

What made it even more special was the Loons hosted the All Star game.  And they played a fantastic host!

What makes a city memorable aren’t its bridges, buildings, streets or neighborhoods, it’s the people.  I’ve been to Midland five times now and each time I return I am even more impressed by the hospitality and courtesy of the citizens of Midland.

These people are the bloodline of America.  They are the pulse of the country, and I am so
Loons.jpg proud for the Dodgers to be associated with Midland, Michigan, and Dow Chemicals who own and operate the Loons.

Talk about a beautiful ballpark!  Dow Diamond could very easily be the most beautiful minor league park in the country.

Dow built the stadium so its employees could have a place to go for wholesome, family entertainment, and they did an outstanding job.

Although the West team won, it was a great game and I wish all the players good luck with the rest of their season, and their future. 

A word to the players: Remember, the only person who can stop you from making it to the big leagues is yourself. 

Set your goals high, and go after them with all the drive and determination you have within yourself. 

Self confidence is the first step towards success.  You’ve got to believe that you will play in the Major Leagues!



Randolph 1.JPGThey say managers are hired to be fired.  That’s the way the game is these days, and it’s sad to see Willie get fired.  He played for me for a couple of years and ALWAYS played with extreme desire. 

He was a credit to whichever uniform he wore, and was always one of the classiest guys on the team.

Lasorda Wine

Wine 1.jpgOver the weekend I went to the Pamona Fairplex to receive a most prestigious award.  Actually, my Pinot Grigio received the award, as it received a gold medal and was named Best Wine, Best in Class at the 2008 Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition’s inaugural Wine World of Sports, which pitted sports celebrities’ vintages against each other.

My Chianti and Montepulciano, d’Abruzzo were also in the top ten, which makes me so happy because I would never get involved with a wine that wouldn’t please the people who drink it. 

It’s especially satisfying because all the wine comes from Italy, which means it’s the best in the world. 

Nobody makes better wine than the Italians!

My father made his own wine in our basement.  He would take me around the markets with him tasting grapes, and by taste alone he would know if it would make good wine.

Here are the top ten winners from the weekend’s competition:

1. LASORDA, Pinot Grigio, Veneto IGT 2007, Best Wine, Best of Class, Gold Medal,
2. JOHN DALY WINES, The Perfect Round, Red Blend, Stellenbosch 2003, Best of Class, Gold Medal
3. GREG NORMAN CALIFORNIA ESTATES, Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County 2006, Best of Class, Gold Medal
4. ANDRETTI WINERY, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa 2005, Best of Class, Gold Medal
5. GUARDIAN PEAK (Ernie Els), Frontier Red, Western Cape 2006, Gold Medal
6. GREG NORMAN AUSTRALIAN ESTATES, Chardonnay, Eden Valley 2006, Gold Medal
Wine 2.jpg 
7. ANDRETTI WINERY, Merlot, Napa 2005, Gold Medal
8. LASORDA, Chianti Classico DOCG 2005, Gold Medal
9. LASORDA, Montepulciano, d’Abruzzo DOC 2006, Gold Medal
10. 99 WAYNE GRETZKY ESTATE WINERY, Icewine Vidal, Niagra Peninsula VQA 2005, Gold Medal

I am very proud of Bill Goldberg and Lorenzo Torelli-Lesky of Casa Torelli Imports.  They run the day-to-day operation of the wine business and put their heart and soul into the business so I say to them, “Salute!”