Daily Dose: Dodgers kennel O-Dog

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Orlando Hudson has been a very nice pickup for the Dodgers, batting .288/.357/.417 in 139 games after inking an incentive-laden one-year contract this offseason, which is exactly the type of production that you’d expect from a career .283/.347/.431 hitter. However, the three-time Gold Glove winner’s defense has slipped a bit on the wrong side of 30 and Ronnie Belliard’s hot bat since joining the team has Hudson benched.
Belliard started at second base Sunday for the third time in four games and manager Joe Torre indicated that he’ll stick with the midseason acquisition who’s hit .304 with four homers and 14 RBIs in 18 games since arriving from Washington. Los Angeles has a postseason spot locked up, so who plays second base for the next two weeks is of little importance, but Hudson is a better player and should play in the playoffs.
Along with the on-field impact of benching Hudson for Belliard, the off-field impact is that the incentive-filled one-year pact pays Hudson $10,000 per plate appearance at this point. He stands to lose $100,000 or so down the stretch, but deserves credit for saying all the right things when asked about the situation. Hudson has earned about $4 million in incentives along with $3.4 million in guaranteed money so far.
While the Dodgers decide to shake things up with about eight percent of the season remaining, here are some other notes from around baseball …


* Marco Scutaro came into this season as a 33-year-old lifetime .261/.325/.377 hitter, but has obliterated his previous career-highs in almost every key category by batting .282/.379/.409 with 12 homers, 35 doubles, 14 steals, 90 walks, and 100 runs in 144 games for Toronto. Scutaro always showed that type of promise as a minor leaguer, but for whatever reason that plate discipline and power rarely surfaced previously.
Unfortunately his breakout season may be over thanks to a lingering heel injury that he aggravated Sunday. “I’m pretty sure that he’s probably not going to play the rest of the season,” manager Cito Gaston revealed Monday. As an impending free agent Scutaro has earned himself a ton of money during the past six months and should be able to at least quadruple this season’s $1.1 million salary on the open market.
* Aroldis Chapman hasn’t made many headlines since defecting from Cuba in July, but the 21-year-old elite pitching prospect took the next step toward becoming a free agent Monday by establishing residency in the small European country of Andorra. He’s petitioned MLB for free-agent status and may officially be on the open market at some point within the next month.
Some people question Chapman’s true age and there’s plenty of disagreement about his long-term upside, but there’s no doubt that he’s about to become a very rich man. Expect a bidding war between the usual big-payroll suspects like the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Angels, and Dodgers. If eligible for the draft Chapman would almost surely be a top-five pick, but he’s not necessarily ready to make a fantasy impact in 2010.
AL Quick Hits: Denard Span left Monday’s game after being plunked on the helmet by a pitch, but walked off the field under his own power … Chad Gaudin has officially replaced Sergio Mitre in the Yankees’ rotation … Jarrod Saltalamacchia underwent surgery Monday for thoracic outlet syndrome and hopes to be fully healthy for spring training … Daniel Hudson showed some promise in his first MLB start Monday, but took a loss against Minnesota … Junichi Tazawa was placed on the 60-day disabled list Monday with a mild groin strain … Rob Johnson injured his ankle celebrating the Mariners’ walk-off victory Friday night … Kevin Millwood triggered his $12 million for next season by going over the 180-inning mark Monday … Nick Blackburn turned in seven shutout innings Monday to give him almost identical numbers to last season.
NL Quick Hits: Cecil Cooper was fired Monday after managing Houston to a 171-170 record in two-plus seasons at the helm, with third-base coach Dave Clark taking the interim title … Jose Reyes (hamstring) took batting practice Monday and still hopes to play again this season … J.J. Hardy started Monday over Alcides Escobar for the third time in four games … Pittsburgh will reportedly pursue free agent Rick Ankiel this offseason and may also try to re-sign John Grabow … Troy Glaus (oblique) may sit out the Cardinals’ entire nine-game road trip … Ted Lilly has been scratched from his scheduled Wednesday start with shoulder soreness, so Jeff Samardzija will take his place … After another mid-game benching, it seems as though Yunel Escobar is wearing out his welcome in Atlanta … Sidelined since July with a broken foot, Reed Johnson returned from the disabled list Monday … Brett Myers is unavailable out of the Phillies’ bullpen because of shoulder soreness.

Jackie Robinson: ” I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag”

FILE - In this April 11, 1947 file photo, Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers poses at Ebbets Field in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Robinson's widow said Major League Baseball has yet to fully honor her husband's legacy. "There is a lot more that needs to be done and that can be done in terms of the hiring, the promotion" of minorities in the sport, Rachel Robinson said Monday, Jan. 18, 2016 during a Q&A session with TV critics about "Jackie Robinson," a two-part PBS documentary airing in April.  (AP Photo/John Rooney, File)
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One more bit of baseball via which we may reflect on the Colin Kaepernick controversy.

In 1972 Jackie Robinson wrote his autobiography. In it he reflected on how he felt about his historical legacy as a baseball player, a businessman and as a political activist. A political activism, it should be noted, which favored both sides of the aisle at various times. He supported Nixon in 1960, supported the war in Vietnam and worked for Nelson Rockefeller. He did not support Goldwater and did support the 1964 Civil Rights Act. He supported Humphrey against Nixon in 1968. He was no blind partisan or ideologue. When you find someone like that you can usually rest assured it’s because they’re thinking hard and thinking critically in a world where things aren’t always cut-and-dried.

As such, this statement from his autobiography, describing his memory of the first game of the 1947 World Series, is worth thinking about. Because it came from someone who spent a lot of time thinking:

There I was, the black grandson of a slave, the son of a black sharecropper, part of a historic occasion, a symbolic hero to my people. The air was sparkling. The sunlight was warm. The band struck up the national anthem. The flag billowed in the wind. It should have been a glorious moment for me as the stirring words of the national anthem poured from the stands. Perhaps, it was, but then again, perhaps, the anthem could be called the theme song for a drama called The Noble Experiment. Today, as I look back on that opening game of my first world series, I must tell you that it was Mr. Rickey’s drama and that I was only a principal actor. As I write this twenty years later, I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag; I know that I am a black man in a white world. In 1972, in 1947, at my birth in 1919, I know that I never had it made.

Colin Kaepernick is not Jackie Robinson and America in 2016 is not the same as America in 1919, 1947 or 1972. But it does not take one of Jackie Robinson’s stature or experience to see and take issue with injustice and inequality which manifestly still exists.

As I said in the earlier post, the First Amendment gives us just as much right to criticize Kaepernick as it gives him a right to protest in the manner in which he chooses. But if and when we do, we should not consider his case in a vacuum or criticize him as some singular or radical actor. Because some other people — people who have been elevated to a level which has largely immunized them from criticism — felt and feel the same way he does. It’s worth asking yourself, if you take issue, whether you take issue with the message or the messenger and why. Such inquiries might complicate one’s feelings on the matter, but they’re quite illuminative as well.

(thanks to Kokujin for the heads up)

Former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt is a sports owner once again

File photo of Frank McCourt leaving Stanley Mosk Courthouse after testifying during his divorce trial in Los Angeles
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There aren’t many major league ownership reigns which ended more ignominiously than Frank McCourt’s reign as Dodgers owner. He was granted access to one of business’ most exclusive clubs — one which being a convicted criminal or even a Nazi sympathizer cannot get you kicked out of — and somehow got kicked out. The clear lesson from his saga was that saddling your team with debt, using it as your own private piggy bank and exercising bad judgment at every possible turn will not get you drummed out of baseball but, by gum, having it all go public in a divorce case sure as heck will.

McCourt landed pretty safely, though. By sheer luck, his being kicked out of ownership coincided with the vast appreciation of major league franchise values and the expiration of the Dodgers cable television deal. He may have left in disgrace, but he also left with a couple of billion dollars thanks to the genius of capitalism. At the time it was assumed he’d ride off into the sunset, continuing to make a mint off of parking at Dodgers games (he retained a big piece of that pie) and not get his hands messy with sports ownership again.

Such assumptions were inoperative:

The soccer club has suffered from poor financial decisions in recent years. So I guess it was a match made in heaven.