Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Final Reflection


A little over one year ago my friends and I started Reflections of Blue with no particular mission statement in mind other than our common admiration (ok, outright obsession) for the Los Angeles Dodgers. From that admiration grew an online destination where both euphoria and excruciating agony mirrored the daily journey that was, if nothing else, an emotional season of Dodger baseball. However, after an almost incredible year, it is time to hang up the cleats. There were never any goals laid out, so while I can't say we succeeded or failed in achieving any aspirations I can say we sure had a helluva good time.

When the site was started a year ago I never could have imagined the countless hours of research and effort needed in attempts to keep the site relevant. Even after posting I often found similar topics covered more thoroughly, and with greater resound, at other Dodger destinations throughout the web. It wasn’t demoralizing per say, but the internal pressure to elevate the content was felt on a consistent basis. That in itself is not the primary reason I have chosen to retire the site, but it's something that has frequented my thoughts over the past two months. I do feel however, that things did click at various points along the way as I found my little “Dodger diary” getting linked more frequently as the season wore on. The guys at True Blue LA and Sons of Steve Garvey were instrumental in making that happen, and for that I politely bow and pass along a humble thank you.

The original idea for Reflections of Blue was imagined after learning about a scrapbook of the 1962 Dodgers that my father kept while growing up in nearby Ventura. (For those unaware the 1962 squad tallied 101 wins in the inaugural season at Dodger Stadium; however, a 3-10 finish forced a three game playoff with the Giants for the National League pennant. If you’ve learned anything from being a Dodger fan over the years I don’t have to tell you how that series played out.) If nothing else, Reflections of Blue carried a sense of personal recollection, and my father’s mementos were the chief inspiration behind that theme. The newspaper clippings, pastel portrait giveaways, and ticket stubs included in that childhood collage were incredible links to the past, and I hope that one day the posts and images that appeared here will allow me to fondly recall the events that transpired as I was captivated by the boys in Blue on a nightly basis.

I can honestly say I've never followed an individual season closer, and never cheered louder for any team, in any sport, as I did for the 2009 Los Angeles Dodgers. However, much like my father’s scrapbook chronicles, the season has come and gone, and now feels like the appropriate time to step back and watch the 2010 season develop from afar. I bid adieu with the uncertainty of the future looming largely in the forefront, but also with the eternal hope of the distant Brooklyn Dodger faithful cry, “wait till next year" echoing constantly in the background.

Friday, December 4, 2009


It sure seems gloomy around Dodgertown right now. So what better time to pass on a link to a recent article over at Big League Stew detailing "The 10 Worst Baseball Contracts of the 2000s," where the Dodgers have three players in the top five.

Andruw Jones and Jason Schmidt were truly awful, but author Jeff Passan really turns the screws on Darren Dreifort and Kevin Malone...

Dreifort is a combination of every malady above. An unnecessarily long and expensive contract. Horrid underachievement. Awful performance. He outschmidts Schmidt in cost per win ($6.1 million), outhamptons Hampton in injuries (two missed years, two partial years and a relief season) and outdoes everybody in baseball over the last decade.

It wasn't merely his five-tool ineptitude that sealed the title. No, the Dodgers — easily the most generous gifter of garbage contracts — somehow thought it was a good idea to give an $11 million-a-year deal to a 29-year-old who had a surgically repaired elbow and was coming off a season in which he allowed 31 home runs and walked 87 hitters. It was Dreifort's best season as a starter, by the way, and his ERA was 4.16. In Dodger Stadium. To know that of the three things a pitcher truly, indubitably controls — home runs, walks and strikeouts — Dreifort was terrible in two categories should have told the Dodgers: run. Run! RUN!!!

They didn't. They saw the Rockies' offer of six years and $60 million (!) and upped the per-annum value. At the time, this wasn't seen as a huge blunder, either. Dodgers GM Kevin Malone told Sports Illustrated: "You could say that Darren's contract shows that pitching in baseball is at the point where you don't need to show consistent performance to get a big, long-term payout. That's not healthy. But you could also say the contract shows we're an organization willing to take a chance to give our fans a winner. That's healthy. If Darren does what we believe he can do — give us 220 innings, start 32 or 33 games, win half of them — we're looking at a bargain."

Dreifort did throw 200-plus innings — over the life of the contract. Exactly 205 2/3. And he almost started 30-something games. Hey, 26 is close. And ... well, that's why Malone, at last check, was selling cars.

Dreifort retired after his contract expired and, even out of baseball, can't shake the injuries. His body betrayed him, making Dreifort's 95-mph fastball and power sinker and slider afterthoughts. His career is defined not by what he did but what he didn't — and by a simple legal document with the number $55,000,000 and his signature at the bottom.

The highlight of Dreifort's career, at least from my perspective, was on August 8th, 2000 when Dreifort hit two home runs in route to his twelve victory of the season. My Dad and I were in attendance for that game. Who knew we'd be seeing the pinnacle moment of the "worst contract of the 2000s."

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Somewhere Logan White Just Ordered Another Drink

By now you've read elsewhere that the Dodgers have opted against offering salary arbitration to Orlando Hudson and Randy Wolf. While the Orlando Hudson option carried its own pros and cons the decision to pass on Randy Wolf sorta feels like paying a super high house insurance premium, waking up to find your house has been vandalized, and then opting not to recoup something from the situation from the insurance company. In this case it's the Dodgers that have been burglarized a valuable starting pitcher, and opted to pass on the insurance draft picks out of fear that the premium might go up once the claim gets filed.

It was simple really, and that's what makes this so confusing. The Dodgers found themselves at a crossroads, and were faced with three paths:

1. Offer arbitration, Randy Wolf accepts, Dodgers get a solid pitcher for one season.

2. Offer arbitration, Randy Wolf declines, Dodgers get two draft picks as compensation.

3. Do nothing, watch Randy Wolf walk away, end up with nothing but memories.

Well, thanks for the memories.

In what basically amounts to a "business decision" the Dodgers have somehow managed to handicap themselves for the present and the future. In what universe is that good business? But hey, look on the bright side. At least we'll get to see Charlie Haeger start more than three games next season.