Dodger director of graphic design Ross Yoshida passed along this video of Dave Roberts when he was the prankee on a September 2003 episode of “The Jamie Kennedy Experiment” on the ol’ WB Network. (Former Dodger catcher Paul Lo Duca is in on the bit.) The Dodgers’ new manager is patient — really patient — but firm and in the end, able to take a joke.
— Jon Weisman
By Cary Osborne
Beyond Mike Piazza and the other former Dodgers up for Hall of Fame induction, there’s a Dodger from a different era who is being considered on another ballot.
Bill Dahlen, who played for the Brooklyn Superbas from 1899 to 1903 and again in 1910 and 1911, is one of 10 names on the Pre-Integration Era ballot to be reviewed and voted upon December 7 at the Baseball Winter Meetings in Nashville.
The Pre-Integration Era ballot is part of a three-year cycle of voting that includes the Golden Era (which was voted on in 2014) and the Expansion Era (which was voted on in 2013 and put Joe Torre, Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox in the Hall of Fame).
These eras consider players no longer eligible for induction by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America and managers, umpires and executives, whose greatest contributions to the game were realized in one of three eras.
By Cary Osborne
Four heavy-hitter college baseball programs make up the field at the 2016 Dodger Stadium Classic.
The games will be played on March 6 at Dodger Stadium and will feature a 3 p.m. clash between crosstown and Pac-12 rivals UCLA and USC, after the Big 12’s Oklahoma Sooners play the SEC’s Mississippi State Bulldogs at 11 a.m.
UCLA ended 2015 ranked No. 17 by Collegiate Baseball and USC finished 24th.
This could be a chance to see Oklahoma’s Alec Hansen — a 6-foot-7-inch, 235-pound hard-throwing right-hander who will go into 2016 rated as one of the top draft-eligible players in the nation. This past March, eventual Dodger draft picks Walker Buehler and Philip Pfeifer pitched for Vanderbilt at the Dodger Stadium event.
Tickets are priced at $40 for Dugout Club seats, $30 for Baseline Club seats, $20 for Field level VIP, $12 for Field level and $10 for pavilion seats. Tickets for USC and UCLA students and children under 14 are $5 and are available in advance only at the UCLA and USC box offices, or at Dodger Stadium on the day of the event.
An exclusive pre-sale for Dodger season-ticket holders will take place today from 1 to 3 p.m. During the pre-sale, Field VIP seats will be only $15. The general on-sale will begin immediately after the pre-sale closes.
By Jon Weisman
Those Dodgers won 92 games but finished behind Arizona and San Francisco in the National League West. Under the current playoff format, they would have made the NL wild-card game against the Giants, who ended up in the World Series against the Angels.
Instead, the ’02 Dodgers missed the postseason entirely, so their record as a team has largely been ignored. But in addition to the arrival of Roberts, there were these individual memories:
By Mark Langill
The hiring of a new manager brings to mind a scene from Spring Training 2003 at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, the main characters resembling the cautionary tale of the tortoise and the hare.
Two players practiced bunting in a small batting cage under the tutelage of Maury Wills, a former National League Most Valuable Player who spent 8½ seasons in the minor leagues. One player was a rookie prospect seemingly on the fast track, coming off a solid Triple-A season. The other player was 30-year-old Dave Roberts, trying to keep his position coming off his first full season in the Majors.
Acquired by the Dodgers with little fanfare after the 2001 season in a trade with Cleveland, Roberts was considered a Triple-A journeyman with 75 career games in the Majors in parts of three seasons with the Indians. Roberts didn’t appear to have a chance to make the 2002 Opening Day roster as the sixth outfielder on the depth chart. But injuries and the surprise retirement of former Colorado Rockies slugger Dante Bichette, who couldn’t envision success as a pinch-hitter, provided a lifeline to Roberts’ career.
Roberts also played the role of good sport during camp when former manager Tommy Lasorda rounded up several low-profile players after their spring-training drills for additional work at Holman Stadium — which he dubbed “Lasorda University” — while the rookie and other projected starters left for the day. The exercise of extra batting practice at Holman Stadium was something Roberts could’ve easily declined, especially with his wife waiting for him outside the clubhouse.
The latest in our weekly series keeping tabs on the Dodger offseason …
— Jon Weisman
By Jon Weisman
Dave Roberts first came to the Dodgers as a nobody. On December 22, 2001, the Dodgers traded two single-A minor-leaguers, Christian Bridenbaugh and Nial Hughes, to Cleveland for an outfielder who had 40 career Major League hits at age 29.
Neither Bridenbaugh nor Hughes would play at any level in any of MLB’s 30 organizations again. But Roberts, he wouldn’t easily be forgotten.
By Cary Osborne
It’s tuxedo season in baseball, and Friday marked the latest in a series of Major League Baseball award presentations.
The winners of the inaugural Esurance MLB Awards were announced on MLB Network and MLB.com, and the Dodgers walked away with two prizes — both Vin Scully related.
Vin Scully took home the prize for Best Call, TV for his “holy mackerel” call of the Dodgers’ June 18 balk-off win.
Minor-league right-handed pitchers Jharel Cotton (left) and Ross Stripling have been added to Dodgers’ 40-man roster today, as expected, ahead of the deadline to protect them from other MLB clubs in the Rule 5 draft.
Cotton, who turns 24 in January, pitched primarily for Double-A Tulsa, with 71 strikeouts and a 1.12 WHIP in 62 2/3 innings, before gaining 7 1/3 innings of Triple-A experience at the end of the year.
Returning from April 2014 Tommy John surgery, Stripling (who turns 26 Monday) had 55 strikeouts and a 1.19 WHIP in 67 1/3 innings for Tulsa.
The Dodgers now have 39 players on their 40-man roster, 23 of them pitchers.