Great Moments in Good Clubhouse Guys

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This hadn’t occurred to me, but my HBT colleague Bill Baer notes something amiss with the Phillies’ season plan over at Crashburn Alley: Michael Young’s signing was accompanied by talk about building a better clubhouse, but then the team goes out and gets Delmon Young and now Carlos Zambrano. Who, for all of their charms, have never been mistaken for good clubhouse guys. Particularly Zambrano.

It’s almost as if teams sign whoever they can and laud them with whatever handy label they have at their disposal at the time to make everyone think there’s more of a plan and philosophy in place than there really is.

But I do sort of hope this works, even if it means the Phillies winning a lot of games. Because I think it would put to rest the whole idea of good citizens making for good baseball teams, chemistry mattering and all that jazz.

Sandy Koufax to be honored with statue at Dodger Stadium

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Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax will be honored with a statue at Dodger Stadium, expected to be unveiled in 2020. Dodger Stadium will be undergoing major renovations, expected to cost around $100 million, after the season. Koufax’s statue will go in a new entertainment plaza beyond center field. The current statue of Jackie Robinson will be moved into the same area.

Koufax, 83, had a relatively brief career, pitching parts of 12 seasons in the majors, but they were incredible. He was a seven-time All-Star who won the National League Cy Young Award three times (1963, ’65-66) and the NL Most Valuable Player Award once (’63). He contributed greatly to the ’63 and ’65 championship teams and authored four no-hitters, including a perfect game in ’65.

Koufax was also influential in other ways. As Shaikin notes, Koufax refused to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series to observe Yom Kippur. It was an act that would attract national attention and turn Koufax into an American Jewish icon.

Ahead of the 1966 season, Koufax and Don Drysdale banded together to negotiate against the Dodgers, who were trying to pit the pitchers against each other. They sat out spring training, deciding to use their newfound free time to sign  on to the movie Warning Shot. Several weeks later, the Dodgers relented, agreeing to pay Koufax $125,000 and Drysdale $110,000, which was then a lot of money for a baseball player. It would be just a few years later that Curt Flood would challenge the reserve clause. Koufax, Drysdale, and Flood helped the MLB Players Association, founded in 1966, gain traction under the leadership of Marvin Miller.