As I write this, it’s a chilly Southern California day with rain in the forecast. Much of the nation is still nestled under a blanket of snow. However, in Glendale, Arizona – the home of Camelback Ranch – there’s a hint of Spring in the air. Spring Training baseball, that is. The temps are in the mid to high 70’s with Dodger blue skies. The freshly manicured fields sit waiting for players to arrive. The bleachers are empty, but soon they’ll be full of winter chilled fans stripping off their jackets and donning their Dodger blue tees.
Pitchers and catchers report on February 15th. Position players are due on February 20th, but if this year is like others they’ll all begin trickling in early. Everybody’s ready to get this season started. The first spring training game is on February 25th and then we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief – Dodgers baseball is back!
Ain’t that the truth? We fans carry on with our busy lives during the offseason, but there’s always that nagging feeling something’s missing. That something is baseball. I don’t know a true Dodger fan who can’t tell you how many days until Spring Training starts. Thoughts of baseball are always sitting in the back of our mind.
However, this season will be different. For the first time in my life, and most of yours as well, there will be no Vin Scully calling the games. We were lucky to have him for so long, but no amount of time would’ve felt long enough. But, as we move forward with Vin-less baseball, I’m excited for the new era with Joe Davis and the rest of the amazing Dodgers broadcasting staff. They’re truly the best in the business.
When I look back on last season I think of every single Vin broadcast and how heavy it felt knowing we were coming to the end of an era. I also think about how close the Dodgers came to the World Series. I know, I know – close, but no cigar.
The biggest takeaway for me was this team showed us something that’s been lacking in years past – grit. Grit in the face of what could’ve been insurmountable adversity. They were plagued with injury after injury (28 DL stints!), the most notable, Clayton Kershaw. Many pontificators assumed the Dodgers would crumble without Kershaw, but the opposite happened. They battled through an eight game deficit to overtake the Giants and clinch their fourth consecutive NL West title.
A new hero was born every night. Andrew Toles, Rob Segedin and Vin Scully’s last call at the Ravine – Charlie Culberson’s epic NL West clinching, 10th inning, 2-out, Walk-off home run. Could Hollywood have written a better ending for Vin and the Dodgers than that? I think not.
Watching our boys in blue grind out wins started giving fans that feeling… you know the one, there’s something happening here – something special, something ‘improbable’. Unfortunately, once again… it wasn’t our year. The baseball Gods felt it was time to relieve the long suffering Cubs of their 108 year curse. I can’t begrudge them too much. I mostly hope the much maligned Steve Bartman has found some peace. What a burden that poor shmoe has unfairly carried.
The Dodgers had a productive, albeit mostly unexciting, offseason. The consensus was that re-signing Kenley Jansen and Justin Turner was going to be an either/or prospect, but much to everyone’s delight we retained both. Plus, we locked in Rich Hill.
We acquired a much needed every day second baseman, Logan Forsythe, while losing top pitching prospect José De León. Forsythe, over the much talked about Brian Dozier, is just another example of the front office showing their now customary restraint. The Twins simply wanted too much in return. Forsythe isn’t a flashy player, but he’s solid and should competently fill our needs at second base.
While working on this article the word came down that the Dodgers signed (pending a physical) Sergio Romo from the hated, SF Giants. Many Dodger fans (Giants fans as well) on Social Media weren’t feeling the love for this move.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) February 4, 2017
romo agrees to dodgers deal. $3M plus incentives. he took significantly less to do LA deal.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 6, 2017
Dodgers twitter after seeing the Sergio Romo signing pic.twitter.com/5mc2aRo7Pt
— Sandhesh (@IamBeingSandy) February 4, 2017
As for me, I’m good with it. I know he was a rotten Giant, but just seeing their heads explode makes this kinda sweet. As long as his elbow that plagued him all last season isn’t an issue, I think he’s still got gas in the tank. When healthy his filthy slider is brutal to right handed batters. The Dodgers were often victims of it themselves. Top it off, he grew up a Dodger fan, so he can’t be all bad. Let’s just see what happens. (Please don’t be Brian Wilson all over again!)
Finally, all of this is just talk, baseball talk that gets us through the long winter. We look back until it’s finally time to look forward. In a couple of weeks Spring Training starts and we get our first look at our 2017 Dodgers. Once again our hopes and dreams for the season begin. Resting in the back of our minds, despite the long season ahead, are visions of that parade… that long awaited, much coveted parade down the streets of LA in celebration of our Los Angeles Dodgers – World Series Champions. It’s been much too long and the excitement starts with Spring Training.
So, get ready Dodger fans it’s (almost!) time for Dodgers baseball! See ya at the ballpark!