The 1988 Dodgers: Reliving the Championship Season

Sorry, A’s fans… But the book The 1988 Dodgers: Reliving the Championship Season will be released in a couple of days, and some have already received their review copies.

IMG_7488It’s time to discuss how this book was born. The general manager of that 1988 club, Fred Claire, and I had some talk about book ideas in December 2016. An idea that came up was a book to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the 1988 champions.

I initially dismissed the idea, because I’d seen at least two other books about that 1988 Dodgers team come out in recent years. Mr. Claire, however, talked about the “unsung heroes” of that championship team. What has happened to those guys, players who weren’t household names but nonetheless played significant contributions to the Dodgers that year?

I figured that it was a great point. A guy by the name of Holton came up huge in relief in Game One of the World Series. He also was clutch in the NLCS. Well, he was no Andrew Miller or Rob Dibble, but you don’t hear anything about him these days.

What about their catching situation? Sure, any baseball fan who follows the sport today knows what the Dodgers’ top two catchers from 1988 have been up to over the past 30 years. One has been a big-league manager for the same team for the last two decades. The other is currently, as of 2018, a broadcaster.

But there was a third-string catcher who warmed up Orel Hershiser during September 1988, the month in which “The Bulldog” logged a record 59 consecutive scoreless innings. The catcher was a fellow named Reyes… but what’s happened to him?

IMG_7490The 1988 Dodgers’ No. 2 starter… a guy who finished with more strikeouts than the aforementioned Hershiser… Leary… He actually came out of the bullpen and pitched three shutout innings to give the Dodgers a chance in Game One of the World Series. What’s he been up to?

The closer of that team was clutch in closing out Game Four, the contest that put Los Angeles up 3-1 over Oakland. He recorded seven outs to close that ballgame out, and no, he wasn’t Mariano Rivera – but for that one October night, he might as well have been. Yet, nobody talks anymore about the job Howell, the closer, did that night.

So, as much as people want to remember the 1988 Dodgers as Kirk Gibson and Orel Hershiser, the reality is that many others contributed to their winning ways. It was a team effort, and 30 years later, it’s interesting to find out what their thoughts are today about that year.

You’ll find out about those players’ thoughts, and more, in The 1988 Dodgers: Reliving the Championship Season, which will soon be available in stores near you.

For anyone interested in purchasing the book, here is a promo code to a discount!

USE PROMOTIONAL CODE RLFANDF30 AND SAVE 30%
$36.00 $25.20     Hardback  978-1-5381-1308-0    2018    324 pp
$34.00 $23.80     eBook         978-1-5381-1309-7    2018    324 pp
To order, visit http://www.rowman.com, call 800-462-6420, or print and mail our order form

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I still believe the Mariners will collapse

I’ve been on TSN1040 Vancouver the last few weeks discussing baseball as an in-studio guest. Every time the Seattle Mariners were brought up as a topic, I kept saying they are going to choke. I said it on air three weeks ago, two weeks ago, and even this week (with last week not having a show).

I am no Angels fan. I am no Mariners fan. I’m no Mariners hater. I don’t like the Angels. But crazy as it sounds, I still believe the Angels, with Mike Trout, could surpass the Mariners. Yes, the deficit is huge for that second wild-card spot. But if people are saying that Trout is always an MVP candidate, well, okay, then prove it by rallying the Angels to the playoffs!

The Mariners’ biggest concerns? Look at their run differential. As of Thursday, their run differential was +1. And since they lost Friday night in extras in Anaheim by a run, that means their run differential now is zero. That’s not a playoff team. Also, the James Paxton factor – once again, he’s on the DL. It’s an annual occurence. I didn’t get a chance to say this on the air, but look at Paxton’s last two good starts – one was against Baltimore and the other was against KC – teams struggling to play .300 baseball this season. And also, the Mariners have now lost 11 of their past 17. Good for them!

The links of the radio shows will be posted later, but I still feel the Mariners will choke.

EDIT: Here are the links.

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One knuckleball is one too many (guest post by Drew Farmer)

As I’ve been busy, I haven’t had the opportunity to post more regularly. In the meantime, here’s one from Fantasy Sports insider Drew Farmer.

One more knuckleball is one too many

By Drew Farmer   |   Twitter @DrewMFarmer   |   Facebook @DrewMFarmer

One more knuckleball is one too many… or perhaps one more season in the Big Leagues is too many. For former Major League Baseball player Phil Coke, the knuckleball was an attempt at preserving his Big League career. It was a chance for one more day in the sun as a member of the elite class of the boys of summer. Yet, one more knuckleball is one too many.

Coke’s dream of returning to The Show at 35-years old was spurred on by the befuddling pitch that defies bats, catchers’ mitts and the laws of physics. Coke hoped he could master the greatest pitch in a hurler’s arsenal for one more chance at MLB glory. It is the pitch few attempt and even fewer master. It is an uncontrollable slow-moving bastard of a pitch. But the nine-year veteran of the mound just didn’t have it and the knuckleball was too elusive.

Coke made his MLB debut with the New York Yankees as a relief pitcher. His stuff was average as his four-seam fastball hit the mid-90s and topped out at 97 on a good day. He was hittable, and for the most part, Coke’s ERA showed it. Good left-handed relief pitching is difficult to come by, however. The need for an arm to gobble up innings is a necessity and Coke played the role perfectly for the Yankees, Detroit Tigers, Chicago Cubs and Toronto Blue Jays. His success as a relief pitcher provided Coke with the chance to play in the Big Leagues as a journeyman. The need to play match ups late in games gave Coke an extended career. Perhaps one others haven’t been afforded.

Coke’s best season came in 2010 as a Tiger. He recorded a 7-5 record while posting a 3.76 ERA in 74 games. He also had two saves. But as the arm declined, so did Coke’s chances. Every season was a fight to stay with an MLB team. Every spring there was the fear of being cut. He had to perform on the days he was called upon. Two innings here, four innings there; whatever he could get was a chance to impress. It was also a chance to move closer to the exit, if he gave up runs.

After bouncing around the bigs in 2015 and 2016, playing for four different teams, Coke’s MLB career was finished. He went to Japan and pitched one season for the Orix Buffaloes. It was more of the same for the hurler, and after just one season, the club parted ways with Coke.

Despite registering a 4.56 ERA in Japan, Coke had one last go at an MLB career. In the spring of 2018, he attempted a comeback. He was accompanied by a new pitch; the unharnessed, unreliable knuckleball.

Coke hoped to make a club in spring training, but the best he could do was a contract in Mexico with Acereros de Monclova. The knuckleball didn’t last long, however. Coke was released less than two months after signing on with Monclova.

The lefty reliever wasn’t able to get the knuckleball to work and impress clubs. Nor could he get his knuckleball to defy the bats and batters in spring training or south of the border. The odds of returning to MLB with a new pitch in his mid-30s were always against him. Although Coke is still searching for a team that will let him take the hill just one more time, it looks like one more knuckle ball is one knuckleball too many.

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April 26 appearance on TSN 1040 (Apr. 26, 2018)

I was invited to be in studio for Season 10, Episode 2 of Vancouver Canadians Game Day by host Rob Fai, along with four other guests (Lou Filippo, John Stewart, Niall O’Donohoe, Steven Von Vooght).

Here is the link of the show.

I was part of the first half hour as well as the final hour, where “The Bullpen Session” was in session – a round-table discussion about the hot topics in baseball.

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Talking baseball on TSN Radio

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I had the opportunity to talk baseball with Rob Fai last Thursday (April 19) as Vancouver Canadians Game Day made its 10th season debut. It wasn’t my best effort, but it’s always exciting to talk baseball.

Thanks to Rob for having me on in the first segment*. I strive to do better in future appearances.

*Not sure how long these links stay online, but I have downloaded a copy of the audio for my own collection.

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