Posted on: May 6, 2011 7:07 pm
Edited on: May 6, 2011 11:13 pm

Relaxed Ethier has hit in 30 straight

NEW YORK -- His hitting streak is at 30 games, and people are starting to notice. His right elbow is sore enough that he had to miss a game, sore enough that people are asking about it.

Still, Andre Ethier looked as relaxed as could be Friday, even before the first-inning single that kept his streak alive for another day.

And maybe that's how he ended up hitting in 30 straight games in the first place. Maybe that's why he's hitting .379, after a 3-for-5 night Friday, in the Dodgers' 6-3 loss to the Mets.

The word on Ethier has always been that he doesn't relax, that he spends too much time in the batting cage, that he's too tough on himself and on others.

Now, with a hitting streak that's closing in on the Dodgers' 42-year-old franchise record (31, by Willie Davis in 1969) and with a three-deep pregame crowd of reporters around his locker, Ethier gave the impression that nothing could bother him.

"I haven't lost a wink of sleep because of [the streak]," he said, in a tone of voice that led you to believe him.

He said his elbow is better, good enough that he wants to play. He said the only bad thing about the streak was that he'd rather focus on wins and losses, especially after a 2-4 homestand. He said he's not superstitious.

"I change my socks," he said. "I've used four bats, three different models in some games. I eat something different every day."

He answered every question, never looking like it bothered him. He joked that the streak "will be a nice filler for the media guide next year."

I think he was joking when he said that.

"I don't think it will define my season, or our season," Ethier said.

That depends on how long this goes.

It goes on for another day, after Ethier lined a single to center field off Jonathon Niese of the Mets in his first at-bat Friday. It goes on, even as the Dodgers lost for the fifth time in the last six games, to fall to 15-18.

Ethier seems to understand that his streak is a story, but he also realizes that it's harder to celebrate personal accomplishments in a losing clubhouse.

"It's neat, but it's not helping us snap this little skid," he said after Friday's game. "You celebrate when you get the hit, but you play nine innings. It's just one at-bat."

At 30 games, the streak doesn't yet define the Dodger season. Even at 32 games, a new Dodger record, it still doesn't define the season.

But any time a streak gets this long, we all think of 56. We think of Joe DiMaggio.

And yes, if Ethier approaches DiMaggio, then the streak defines the season.

I know off the top of my head that DiMaggio's streak was in 1941. I had to go to the record book to see if the Yankees won the World Series that year (yes, they did).

At some point, the streak becomes the story, although I'm not sure I can tell you exactly what that point is.

Already, Ethier has people in Los Angeles talking about him. Already, his streak has given the Dodgers something of significance to discuss, besides the ownership circus.

"Someone asked me who Zack Wheat was," Ethier said. "I thought he was another minor leaguer. I thought maybe we were calling him up."

He knows now that it Wheat who had a 29-game hitting streak for the Dodgers in 1916, and that it was Wheat's record that Davis broke in 1969.

"Were they the Bridegrooms then?" Ethier asked.

Actually, they were the Bridegrooms a few years before that. They were the Robins when Wheat had his streak.

"I guess I'll be one of those Vin Scully trivia questions," Ethier said.

At 30 games, yes, he'll be a trivia question. If the streak goes on much longer, he'll be more than that.

Category: MLB
Posted on: May 6, 2011 6:23 pm
Edited on: May 6, 2011 7:26 pm

Ethier's streak hits 30

NEW YORK -- Yes, 56 is still a long way off.

But Andre Ethier's hitting streak is now at 30.

Ethier lined a single to center field off Jonathan Niese in the first inning of the Dodgers' Friday night game against the Mets, giving him the second-longest streak in Dodger history. He can tie Willie Davis's club record of 31 Saturday night.

Thirty-game hitting streaks aren't all that uncommon. Ethier's is the sixth streak that long just since the start of the 2005 season.

Three of those streaks ended at 30. Only Jimmy Rollins (36 in 2005) and Chase Utley (35 in 2006) went longer.

Ethier played Friday, after missing the Dodgers' Wednesday game against the Cubs because of a sore right elbow. He said Friday afternoon that he felt healthy enough to play in the first game of a series against the Mets, and manager Don Mattingly wrote Ethier into his usual third spot in the Dodger lineup.

Asked if his elbow felt better, Ethier said, "Somewhat. It's not to the point where it would keep me out of the lineup. Not at this point."

Mattingly said he thinks Ethier's elbow shouldn't be an issue for more than a few days.

"The other day was just, for me, too dangerous," Mattingly said. "He couldn't take a full swing. The last thing we need is to lose this guy for a long time."

Category: MLB
Posted on: May 5, 2011 7:43 pm

3 to watch: The play the percentages edition

You might think this is the worst time to face Andre Ethier.

R.A. Dickey thinks it's the best time.

"The percentages are in your favor the more games his streak goes on," the Mets knuckleballer said. "I'd rather he had a 50-game streak. You think, this is going to end sometime."

It's hard to know whether it will end this weekend, and not just because an inflamed elbow kept Ethier out of the Dodgers' Wednesday game against the Cubs, and has his status in some doubt for this weekend's series against the Mets.

What we do know is that Ethier has a .147 career average against the Mets, easily his lowest against any National League opponent.

We also know that Ethier's hitting streak is at 29 games, which gives the next couple of games extra significance. The longest hitting streak in Dodger history is 31, by Willie Davis in 1969.

Davis' 30th and 31st games came against . . . the Mets. His streak ended in the next series, in San Diego against the Padres.

If Ethier gets a hit Friday, he could tie Davis with another hit on Saturday night. While Ethier has bad career numbers against the Mets, he has great numbers (12-for-29, with six home runs) against Chris Young, the Mets' Saturday night starter.

"I'll just pencil him in for a hit," Young said with a smile.

Young said he met Ethier last year in the Dodger Stadium weight room, when Young was with the Padres.

"He came up and asked how I was doing," said Young, who was coming back from an injury. "He's first and foremost a nice guy, a great player, who has a ton of success off me.

"I had to apologize to him, because by getting hurt I cost him some hits."

If Ethier can carry his streak until Sunday, he'll face Dickey.

By then, the percentages may be in his favor.

On to 3 to watch:

1. The Giants and Rockies have played some fascinating games the last couple of years. And any matchup of Matt Cain and Ubaldo Jimenez is interesting, even if Cain gave up six runs the last time he faced Colorado and Jimenez has a 7.20 ERA. It'll be Cain and Jimenez, in Rockies at Giants, Friday night (10:15 ET) at AT&T Park.

2. Young can joke about his lack of success against Ethier, but his first four starts for the Mets have been no joke. He's just 1-0 (losing two potential wins to blown saves), but he has a 1.88 ERA and has allowed just 12 hits in 24 innings (with a .146 opponents batting average). Young faces Jon Garland in Dodgers at Mets, Saturday night (7:10 ET) at Citi Field.

3. Rangers fans probably don't need many reminders that their team went to the World Series last year, for the first time in its history. But having the Yankees in town for the first time since the American League Championship Series can't hurt. This hasn't been the best of times for either team, as both the Rangers and Yankees had their first three-game losing streak of the season. It's still a big-time series, and maybe the most interesting pitching matchup of the series will be CC Sabathia against Alexi Ogando, in Yankees at Rangers, Sunday afternoon (2:05 ET) at Rangers Ballpark.

Posted on: May 5, 2011 1:19 pm
Edited on: May 5, 2011 1:22 pm

If not for Sanchez, Ethier would be at 31

Andre Ethier is a long way from tying Joe DiMaggio. He's not far from tying Willie Davis.

If not for Jonathan Sanchez, he already would have.

Sanchez was the Giants' starting pitcher on April 1, the only time this year that Ethier was held without a hit. He had a hit the day before, and he's hit in all 29 games he's played since.

Sanchez is why 29 isn't already 31, which would tie Davis's Dodgers franchise record.

"He just doesn't see me that well," Sanchez said. "Lefty on lefty. I get him out. I'm not sure why."

Ethier has just four hits -- and 11 strikeouts -- in 30 career at-bats against the Giants' left-hander. He's 0-for-6 with three strikeouts against Sanchez this year, going 0-for-3 on April 1 and also on April 13 in San Francisco.

In the April 1 game, Ethier went 0-for-3 against Sanchez, then grounded out in his final at-bat against reliever Dan Runzler. On April 13, after his 0-for-3 against Sanchez, Ethier singled against Javier Lopez to extend his streak to 10 games.

Sanchez isn't the only opposing starter to hold Ethier hitless this year, but he is the only one to do it twice.

Ethier also went 0-for-3 against Chris Carpenter (in Game 14 of the streak) and Tim Hudson (in Game 15), and went 0-for-2 against Barry Zito (in Game 2) and Ryan Dempster (in Game 20). Ethier also went 0-for-1 against Clayton Richard, who left after one inning because of a long rain delay.

The Dodgers face the Giants April 18-19 in Los Angeles. Good news for Ethier: Assuming the Giants stay with their current rotation, Sanchez (who is pitching against the Mets Thursday afternoon) would not pitch in that two-game series.

Posted on: April 28, 2011 2:56 pm
Edited on: April 28, 2011 2:59 pm

McCourts take battle with MLB to Twitter

Wednesday, they dueled by press conference and press release.

Thursday, they moved on to Twitter.

If anyone doubts that Dodgers owner Frank McCourt plans to continue his fight with commissioner Bud Selig over control of the team, check out McCourt's son Drew, who tweets at @drewmccourt.

Thursday morning, Drew McCourt went to Twitter to take issue with Rob Manfred, the Major League Baseball executive vice president. Wednesday, Manfred issued a press release taking issue with Frank McCourt's characterization of their meeting.

"Recap of meeting with baseball was 100% accurate," Drew McCourt tweeted. "Manfred's comment not truthful."

Earlier Thursday, Drew McCourt told a questioner on Twitter that the McCourts "have never been much good at PR."

So now they're trying Twitter.

Posted on: April 27, 2011 7:47 pm
Edited on: April 27, 2011 9:11 pm

One thing we can all agree on: It's chaos

We want this all to end. We want Frank McCourt to go away.

And we wanted to think that baseball's decision last week to basically take control of the Dodgers was, as CBSSports.com's Scott Miller put it, "a beautiful sight for Dodgers fans."

Then McCourt opened his mouth. And that, I'm telling you, is only a beautiful sight for lawyers.

Some things McCourt said Wednesday seemed (to a non-lawyer, anyway) to make sense. Some things seemed (as usual) nutty.

But the worst part of McCourt's press conference/conference call was what it means:

This Dodger saga isn't over. There's a chance it's not even close to being over.

And that's bad news for all of us (except, maybe, for McCourt's lawyers).

For now, McCourt and Major League Baseball are feuding by press conference and press release.

He says commissioner Bud Selig turned down his proposed new television deal with Fox. Baseball says it only delayed a decision until it can investigate the Dodgers and their finances.

He says Tom Schieffer is coming in as a "receiver," and that MLB is trying to "seize" his franchise. Baseball says Schieffer is a "monitor," and says there has been "no seizure."

"There is chaos that's been created by this appointment," McCourt said.

I think we can all agree -- on the first three words.

There's chaos here. That's for sure.

At the same time that baseball was releasing the statement saying "no seizure," Schieffer was at a press conference in Los Angeles, saying that what Selig had done was "take control" of the franchise, and that "I am his representative."

The Dodgers are a mess. They were a mess when Frank and Jamie McCourt were together, and they've been a bigger mess since they decided to divorce. They've been a mess ever since Selig and baseball's other owners decided to invite the McCourts into their little group.

And now we know this mess isn't going away anytime soon.

"Nobody handed the Dodgers to me, and nobody is going to take it away," McCourt said, in a sentence that may be as factually misleading as it is grammatically incorrect.

McCourt's immediate problem, even more than Schieffer's presence in his town (and presumably in his front office), is that as long as Selig holds up the new television contract, the Dodgers don't have access to all that much-needed cash.

McCourt kept insisting that he's being treated different from other owners, and he kept mentioned that the Dodgers have complied with all MLB rules, and also that they haven't taken any money from baseball's emergency fund.

He didn't mention the Mets by name. He didn't need to.

For all Selig's insistence last week that the Dodgers and Mets were "clearly not similar . . . in a myriad of ways," even many people in baseball believe that the biggest difference is that Selig likes Fred Wilpon, the Mets' principal owner, and detests McCourt.

It was telling that Selig didn't show up for McCourt's meeting with other MLB officials on Wednesday in New York, and even more telling that McCourt answered a question about the Mets by saying, "I suspect that commissioner Selig calls the other 29 owners back."

Selig wants McCourt out. That's obvious.

So do a whole bunch of others, including (we'd suspect) nearly every Dodgers fan.

We want Frank McCourt to go away. We want this all to end.

And he still wants to plead his case.

It's chaos, that's for sure. And it's not done yet.

Category: MLB
Posted on: April 27, 2011 6:35 pm
Edited on: April 27, 2011 7:16 pm

McCourt vows to keep Dodgers

Frank McCourt won't leave quietly.

Maybe that shouldn't come as a surprise, but the Dodgers owner came out swinging Wednesday afternoon, insisting that commissioner Bud Selig has been unfair in failing to approve a proposed new deal with Fox for Dodger television rights, and also in appointing Tom Schieffer as the Dodgers' "monitor."

"Nobody handed the Dodgers to me, and nobody is going to take it away," McCourt said in a combination press conference/conference call, after meeting with Major League Baseball officials in New York. "I'm not going anywhere."

McCourt wouldn't directly answer a question on whether he will sue baseball, either in an effort to get his television deal approved or simply to keep full control of the team. But he made it clear he plans to fight baseball's effort to oversee the Dodgers.

McCourt described Schieffer as a "receiver" rather than a monitor, and said, "I'm not going to accept that."

He accused baseball of trying to take over the Dodgers, and called that "un-American."

"It's not appropriate for somebody's property to be seized just because they got divorced," McCourt said.

In a statement issued shortly after McCourt's call, baseball disputed two of his major points, saying that commissioner Bud Selig had not "vetoed" McCourt's new deal with Fox, and also that "there has been no seizure" of the Dodgers. Rob Manfred, baseball's executive vice president of labor relations, said McCourt was simply told that there would be no decision on the Fox deal until baseball finishes investigating the Dodgers and their finances.

McCourt said the new deal would have given Fox the Dodger broadcast rights for the next 17 years, and would have provided $300 million that he said would have been fully invested in the team. He said he offered to put in writing that he wouldn't keep any of that money for personal purposes.

McCourt also said that he has apologized to commissioner Bud Selig, and that he apologized to Dodger fans.

"I look forward to showing the Los Angeles Dodgers community what I'm made of," he said.

Category: MLB
Posted on: April 14, 2011 1:38 pm

Britton, Kershaw, Belt and the Texas connection

NEW YORK -- Zach Britton was in high school when he met Jake Arrieta.

And when he met Clayton Kershaw. And when he played against Brandon Belt.

So when Belt made the Giants' opening day roster, Britton texted Kershaw to reminisce. When Britton got to the big leagues with the Orioles, Arrieta was already there.

Is this the big leagues, or just a Texas neighborhood reunion?

It would be a big neighborhood. Belt grew up in Lufkin, 230 miles away from where Britton went to high school in Weatherford, just west of Fort Worth. Arrieta is from Plano, just north of Dallas, where Kershaw grew up.

But the connections are real.

Britton's older brother Clay played with Arrieta at Weatherford Junior College.

"I've known him since I was a sophomore in high school," Britton said.

Britton played summer-league baseball with Kershaw at the Dallas Baseball Academy, and the two planned to pitch together at Texas A&M before both were high draft picks and decided to sign out of high school.

"He's a good guy," Britton said. "We talk a lot."

They're not as close to Belt, but they do remember facing him.

Kershaw faced Belt again the other night, in the big leagues. He and Belt may eventually see Britton and Arrieta in an interleague game, or even in a World Series game.

"That would be something," Britton said. "We'd definitely talk about it, and about how far we would have come."

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com