Dodger Stadium

Comment of the Day: Don’t dismiss the Downtown Dodgers too quickly


I’ll admit, I’m still kind of steaming over that downtown Los Angeles Dodger Stadium thing I went on about this morning.  But I’ll also admit that, from a “could it happen” perspective, I may be looking at this too narrowly.

My thinking (actually my outrage) is based on the fact that no solvent Dodgers owner would ever consider moving the team out of Dodger Stadium. Why? Because a solvent Dodgers owner owns the park, owns the parking, has no competition from outside food or drink vendors or any of that stuff, and thus has no incentive to move downtown where everything would have to be shared with developers, other retail, etc. But of course the insolvent Frank McCourt and a new but as yet unidentified Dodgers ownership don’t have the same incentive structures.

Against that backdrop, someone I know who knows lots of someones in California business sent me an email a few minutes ago trying to explain the downtown L.A. dynamic to me.  I’ve reproduced it below, and it makes a compelling argument for the “why would the City of Los Angeles be behind the Dodgers moving downtown” angle to it all.  It’s hung on what’s going on with the L.A. Live entertainment complex, the Staples Center and the adjacent development.

I still don’t get why Major League Baseball would want to go this route. Getting around Frank McCourt’s ownership of the ballpark has to be easier than simply abandoning it and going in with some developers, right? But this goes a long way in explaining the non-baseball parts that are moving here.

L.A. Live is incredibly impressive.  And while yes, it got some love in terms of zoning or tax breaks or whatever from the city, it really was built with private capital.

L.A. Live fulfills the self image of L.A., and L.A. politicians, in ways that are hard to express.  It really is a combination of sports and entertainment and glitz all in one place.  The Grammy Museum is there.  People like J-Lo and Denzel Washington are regularly visible from the windows of rooms that I have meetings in.  The Lakers play there, and the role of Lakers tickets in the social hierarchy of L.A. cannot be over-expressed.  The thought of putting a baseball stadium right there, and adding a summer season (“the box seat Hamptons” to go with “the courtside seat Aspen” of the Lakers) excites a lot of rich and powerful people.

For the first time ever, there’s something attractive in downtown L.A. to draw people in.  Until now, the only things in downtown L.A. were politicians who felt lonely.  Do not underestimate the desire of those politicians to have a nice entertainment place nearby. Yes, it will take 10 years, but this move is a key chess piece in bringing the NFL back to L.A. Believe it or not, the Dodgers are like a rook or a bishop at best in that game — maybe a knight is more appropriate.

The fact that it’s bubbling now, as you point out, is to put more pressure on Frank McCourt.  But not only is it a credible threat, it is actually the plan. And when it is done, Dodger Stadium will be bulldozed, the NFL will be back in L.A., and Phil Anschutz will own the stadiums where basketball, baseball, football, and soccer are played in the #2 media market in America. L.A. Live is making lots of money. It’s got huge hotels, a dozen restaurants, three live music venues, a movie theater, a bowling alley, a shopping mall, the Grammy Museum…   just wait until there’s baseball nearby, sweet condos across the street, another urban shopping center built…  you know the drill.

Concrete will be poured.  Money will flow.  Mark my words.

Maybe Alcides Escobar shouldn’t bat leadoff

Alcides Escobar
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Alcides Escobar finished with a .292 OBP this year. He came in at .246 in 117 at-bats in August and .257 in 109 at-bats between September and October, so he wasn’t exactly flying high entering the postseason. Still, that didn’t stop Ned Yost from putting him into the leadoff spot for Thursday’s Game 1 against the Astros.

Yost finally did reconsider hitting Escobar first in September. It took Alex Gordon‘s return to health, plus the previous addition of Ben Zobrist to the lineup, in order to make that happen. However, it didn’t stick. Escobar hit ninth in each of his starts from Sept. 7-26, batting .236 with a .276 OBP during that span. With five games left to go, he was suddenly returned to the leadoff spot. The Royals went on to win all five games. Yost saw it as a sign, even though Escobar went 5-for-22 with no walks in those games.

Escobar went 0-for-4 in Thursday’s loss to the Astros. He did not swing at the first pitch of the game, which probably explains the defeat.

It’s been difficult to argue with Yost since last year’s World Series run and this year’s incredible run out of the game. The blind spot with Escobar, though, gets rather infuriating. One can defend hitting him leadoff against the Astros’ lefties. His career OBP against southpaws is .319 (.316 this year). Against righties, he’s the most obvious No. 9 hitter alive, with a career .258/.290/.342 line (.252/.284/.314 this year). He’s not a pace-setter. He’s not a spark plug. He’s a liability.

Astros top Royals in Game 1 of ALDS

Houston Astros' Jose Altuve, left, celebrates with teammate Luis Valbuena after scoring a run during the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

After shutting out the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game on Tuesday, the Astros beat the Royals 5-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday at Kauffman Stadium. Road teams are now 4-0 to begin the 2015 postseason.

The Astros grabbed an early 3-0 lead against Yordano Ventura through two innings. Chris Young took over for the Royals after a 47-minute rain delay and was very effective for the most part, allowing just a solo homer to George Springer over four innings while striking out seven batters. Colby Rasmus, who homered in the Wild Card game, took Ryan Madson deep in the eighth inning to give the Astros’ bullpen some extra breathing room.

Collin McHugh stayed in after the rain delay and ended up tossing six innings while allowing just four hits and one walk. Kendrys Morales did all the damage against him with a pair of solo homers. He’s the first Royals player to hit two home runs in a postseason game since George Brett in the 1985 ALCS.

The Royals’ offense showed some signs of life in the bottom of the eighth inning with back-to-back two-out hits against Will Harris, but Oliver Perez got Eric Hosmer to foul out to end the threat. Luke Gregerson tossed a scoreless ninth inning to finish off the victory.

Consistent with their identity during the regular season, the Astros won despite striking out 14 times. The same goes for the Royals, as they struck out just four times. Despite putting the ball into play more often, the Kansas City lineup wasn’t able to muster anything aside from the home runs by Morales.

Game 2 of the ALDS will begin Friday at 3:45 p.m. ET. Scott Kazmir will pitch for the Astros and Johnny Cueto will get the ball for the Royals.

George Springer homers to extend Astros’ lead over Royals

Houston Astros' George Springer (4) celebrates with teammates after scoring a run in the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
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After Kendrys Morales brought the Royals within one run in the bottom of the fourth inning with his second solo home run of the game, George Springer took Chris Young deep in the top of the fifth to extend the Astros’ lead to 4-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS.

According to Statcast, the ball traveled an estimated 422 feet and left Springer’s bat at 109 mph. Royals fans are happy it was just a solo home run. It could have been worse, as Jose Altuve singled to lead off the fifth inning before being thrown out trying to steal second base during Springer’s at-bat.

The Royals will try to answer as we move to the bottom of the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium.