Results tagged ‘ Dodgers ’
The 50th Anniversary ceremony before yesterday’s game was beautiful. There were Dodgers from every decade, all wearing their uniforms. From the flannels of the 50’s and 60’s to the home-whites in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, it was great to see legends like Duke Snider and fan-favorites like Erik Karros come from the bullpen to their respective positions.
And the reaction from the crowd was heartwarming. The applause and adoration was almost as loud as the B1 flyover.
I had the pleasure of seeing two of my favorite ex-players, Kenny Landreaux and Steve Sax. They were great players, and Sax was a breath of fresh air. He played baseball like my wife shops; all day long.
The only thing with Sax was his intelligence never quite reached the same level as his playing ability. In other words, he wasn’t the brightest guy.
One day we’re playing in San Francisco. I had been harping on Sax to stop hitting the ball in the air because he was a line drive hitter, and to use all parts of the field. So before the game we are standing behind the cage during BP, and Sax comes up to me and says, “Hey Skipper, I think I’ve got your hitting theory down pat.”
“That’s great Saxy.”
“Eighty percent of the time I try to hit the ball up the middle,” he said.
“Twenty percent of the time I try to hit the ball to left and the other twenty percent I try to hit it right.”
I looked at Kenny Landreaux who was standing right next to me and said, “Did you hear what he just said?”
Now Kenny was dumber than Sax. He went to Arizona State University, and I often wondered what the requirements were for admission. Do they check you to see if you’re breathing?
Landreaux said, “Skip, I’ve been in the big leagues for 13 years and that’s the best hitting theory I’ve heard yet.”
And I had to win pennants with these guys!
I couldn’t have been happier when I heard that Brad Penny will be our Opening Day starter. When you start thinking about pitchers who have opened the season, in most cases it is the guy who has had a great spring. In the case of Penny, not only did he have an outstanding spring, but he is also the number on pitcher on our staff at this time.
Penny has all the ability to be a Cy Young Award winner. He’s strong, he should be able to put a lot of innings in and he should win a lot of ball games.
He’s got outstanding stuff.
When you talk about the number one pitcher on the staff, as Manager you expect certain things. A lot of people in baseball say a quality start is going six innings and giving up three runs or less. I think a quality start is a complete game and a win. And I’ve told Penny that many, many times.
In today’s era, I would expect a staff ace to go about 7+ innings, for about 35 starts per year, totaling about 245 innings. Now in my day, in the days of Koufax and Drysdale, those guys threw about 350 innings each season. I’d love to see Walt Alston go out to the mound and tell Koufax, “Hey, that’s it. Your pitch count is up.”
The ace of your pitching staff has got to set the tone. He’s got to be the leader of the staff, and he’s got to win. He’s got to be able to show the other pitchers on your staff how to win. If you are in the middle of a losing streak, the ace is the guy you look to to stop it.
Penny has matured in many ways since joining the Dodgers. First of all, he has improved his temper. His temper used to get him in trouble with the umpires, and as a starting pitcher you never want to make them mad. You just can’t do that, even when you know you’re right and they are wrong.
Maturity is a very important part of Penny’s improvement. As a young pitcher he tried to just blow batters away with his fastball. But what Penny has learned to do is to win even when he doesn’t have his best stuff. That’s the sign of an ace too, and in Penny’s case he understands the opposing batters weaknesses and utilizes them to his advantage. He prepares better in between starts, and he pitches to the count.