April 2009

USO Tour

 

uso.jpgAt 4:00 a.m. EST time this morning I boarded a plane with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, to go on an overseas USO tour. 

We took off from Andrews Air Force Base and flew to Shannon, Ireland where we stopped to refuel.  While there, we ran into about 1,000 Marines returning from Iraq.  It was a sight to be seen, but even more impressive was their commitment to each other, their partiotism and their courage.  Every single one that I talked to wanted to go back.

Why?  Because they were doing something for their country.

I took the job to manage the 2000 USA Olympic baseball team.  I had already retired from my 20 years of managing the Dodgers.  I had already been inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame.  I had been to the top of the mountain.

Why did I want the job?  Because I wanted to do something for my country.

Obviously winning our first and only gold Medal doesn’t compare to the bravery displayed by our Armed Forces, but we all feel patriotism and I hope that we all look for ways to express it.

This tour is a dream come true for me.  Nobody likes war, but as long as our troops are around the world fighting for us, you better believe I am going to do everything in my power to show my support for them.  I am going to do everytihng I can to motivate them, and to make them realize that they are loved and respected.

I’ll be blogging daily about this trip, and I hope you check in to share this experience with me.

Opening Day 2009

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The season starts right now.  I love Opening Day because you’ve spent all winter waiting, all spring getting in shape and all of a sudden the games count.

Joe Torre did an outstanding job getting this team prepared to go all the way this year.  Ned Colletti and the McCourts have done everything in their power to bring a championship team to Los Angeles, which is something the fans here deserve.

I was 11-9 in my 20 Opening Days.  After one of those nine losses a writer asked me how I felt and I said, “Well at least I now know we won’t win them all this year.”

You see, before a single pitch is ever thrown, you know that your team will win at least a third of their games, which is 54.  And you know they’ll lose a third of their games, which is 54.  So what happens in the remaining 54 games will detremine where the team finishes.

I’m excited to see this 2009 Dodger team and I hope you are too.

Senator Jim Bunning

 


Bunning 5.jpgHidden amidst the white blooms of the Dogwoods and the tall blades of the bluegrass lies a Kentucky institution named the Greyhound Tavern.  Jim Bunning, a Hall of Fame pitcher with the Phillies, Tigers, Pirates, and most importantly the Dodgers, took me to eat at the Greyhound tonight after I spoke for him.

We had some hot slaw, fried chicken, meat loaf, cheese mashed potatoes and all the fixings.  We talked about baseball, named our all-time MLB team and had a lot of laughs.  I listed Jim as one of my all-time right handers, but he declined.

It was a pleasure to speak for Jim.  He was a great pitcher, a great friend, and now that he is in the United States Senate he is doing something great for his country.  While he is a skilled politian, his skill on the mound was tremendous.  But what made him great was his dominance on the inside of the plate.

And he was mean.  He would knock his own mother down, even on Mother’s Day.

Jim comes from an era in baseball without pitch counts, without left-handed specialists out of the bullpen, without steroids and without multimillion dollar contracts.  He played for the love of the game, and he played the game with every bit of drive and determination he had within himself.  He never looked down to the bullpen in the fifth or sixth inning.  He wanted to pitch all nine and beat you.

I look forward to seeing Jim, and his lovely wife Mary of 57 years, every year at Cooperstown for the Induction weekend.  He is a good man and an even better friend and it was great to be with him tonight in Kentucky.

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