Archive for category Dodgers Baseball

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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Now available on Amazon.com + Rowman & Littlefield website…

The 1988 Dodgers: Reliving the Championship Season is now available on Amazon.com and the Rowman & Littlefield publisher website.

The 1988 Dodgers2

Here’s a review from Boston Globe‘s Bob Ryan:

Orel Hershiser IV…Kirk Gibson…the irrepressible Tom LaSorda…you know all about them. But Rick Dempsey, Mickey Hatcher, and Danny Heep—aka “The Stuntmen”—not so much. Now, thanks to K. P. Wee’s The 1988 Dodgers: Reliving the Championship Season, you will. This is the story of a very improbable and, yes, lovable bunch, the last LA Dodger squad to win a championship.
— Bob Ryan, Boston Globe, ESPN

The book is due to be released in August 2018, but all you sports fans out there can pre-order now! What a great gift for the baseball fan in your family!

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If only they’d scored more runs….

On this day, September 17, in history, 24 years ago, the Colorado Rockies set an attendance record and also pounded Dodgers knuckleballer Tom Candiotti in the process.

In that September 17, 1993 game, Colorado ripped Candiotti for seven runs–all earned–in just 1.2 innings. Candiotti’s ERA went from 2.58 to 2.88, and his shot at the NL ERA title was essentially done.

Not many people remember this, but going into September, his ERA was 2.43, which lead the major leagues. The Dodgers that year, however, averaged 2.81 runs of support in his starts, according to Baseball-Reference.com, so he was only 8-10 on the year.

Interestingly, though, teammate Kevin Gross was 13-13–despite an ERA of 4.14. How did he manage 13 wins? Well, according to Baseball Reference, the Dodgers gave him an average of 5.22 runs of support in his starts.

Imagine being on the same team but getting completely different kinds of run support!

If the Dodgers had scored five runs in each of Candiotti’s starts in 1993–the same number of runs they averaged for Gross–he could have gone 24-7. He finished with a 3.12 ERA, seventh-best in the NL.

Hey, 24-7 wouldn’t have been a stretch. That same year, the Giants’ John Burkett was 22-7 with a 3.65 ERA. Tom Glavine was 22-6 with a 3.20 ERA. Consider that from May 1 to August 25, Candiotti had a 1.85 ERA in 22 starts–that’s a lot of games he should have won. Instead, he was just 8-2 with 12 no-decisions.

candiotti 93 stats

Anyway, here’s a video of him striking out the Phillies’ Mariano Duncan from April of that season.

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Why did the ‘star’ pitchers get left out?

This was the AP recap from the Dodger-Padres game from Sunday, May 24, 2015:

LAD

Interestingly, the names of Fernando Valenzuela, Orel Hershiser, and Ramon Martinez were left out – all Dodger aces, of course – even though they had done the same thing before too!

I had referenced Dodger starting pitchers who gave up 10+ runs on this website a year ago, just before my book on Tom Candiotti was officially released.

I’d written the following, in reference to Candiotti’s worst career start in August of 1995, when he gave up 10 runs against the Giants in just four innings:

Interestingly, Candiotti was not the only Dodger starter to give up that many runs in a single game that season. Just one month earlier, on July 2, Dodger ace Ramon Martinez allowed 10 runs over 4.2 innings in a 10-1 loss to Colorado at Dodger Stadium. Also, Candiotti and Martinez were not the only prominent Los Angeles starters to be tagged for 10 or more runs in a single game. On August 9, 1992, Orel Hershiser also gave up 10 runs over 4.2 innings in Atlanta. Back on June 29, 1983, Fernando Valenzuela surrendered 10 runs in 4.1 innings of work in San Diego. Ismael Valdez (10 runs in Houston in 1998) and Chan Ho Park (11 runs in Los Angeles versus the Cardinals in 1999; 10 runs in Colorado in 1998) would later accomplish the feat as well. It happens.

Now, the AP story didn’t include Valdez either, and that’s just poor reporting. It’s not like Martinez, Hershiser, Valenzuela, et al, pitched in the 1900s or 1910s, when record keeping was not reliable, for crying out loud! This just goes to show that sometimes you can’t believe every story you read… But, oh well, to echo what I’d said in that other post I’d written… It happens.

 

 

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Video of Candiotti pitching in 1993

Thanks to YouTube, we are able to once in a while come across rare videos uploaded by people just like you and me. I recently came across a video of Tom Candiotti pitching for the Dodgers in Philadelphia back in 1993, posted by a YouTube user called Classic Phillies TV. Thank you, CPTV!

Now, this wasn’t one of Candiotti’s best games, and most baseball fans will be more interested in seeing a young Pedro Martinez pitch a few innings late in the game. However, following this contest, one in which Candiotti fell to 0-3 with a 6.55 ERA through four starts, the knuckleballing Candy Man would then have a dominant four-month stretch that has since been forgotten. In his next 22 starts following this disaster in Philadelphia, Candiotti posted a minuscule 1.85 ERA and the Dodgers won 15 of those games. Unfortunately, Candiotti’s won-loss record wasn’t great because the Dodgers rarely gave him much support, resulting in a modest 8-2 record in those 22 outings, even with that 1.85 earned-run average. Included in that stretch was a 15-start undefeated streak which saw Candiotti go 5-0 with 10 no-decisions. One of his two losses in those 22 starts was a 2-0 defeat to Atlanta’s John Smoltz, where Candiotti gave up just one run – on four hits – in eight innings (the only run came on a sacrifice fly and then the Braves added that second run in the ninth inning off Pedro Martinez).

In the 22-start stretch after the Phillies game, here were Candiotti’s numbers:

155.2 IP, 122 H, 43 BB, 120 SO, 6 HR, .217 opposing BA

It’s pretty amazing given the fact that Candiotti threw a knuckleball and yet averaged under 2.5 walks per nine innings. And only six home runs given up in those innings with nearly a 3-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio.

That run actually gave Candiotti the National League ERA lead going into September, at a major league-best 2.43.

Thanks again, CPTV, for posting the video.

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