An Opening Day Lineup Worth Remembering

Chris+Taylor+Cody+Bellinger
(Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images North America)

Ever since the original Opening Day to the 2020 season was indefinitely delayed, I’ve had a fixation on looking at lineups of the Dodgers for their openers to numerous campaigns, as I thought it was a great tool to see how some of these squads developed over the course of a full season.

Last week, I came across an Opening Day lineup for Triple-A Oklahoma City that may be really tough to beat, at least as far as minor league clubs go.

The season was 2017. OKC hosted the Iowa Cubs in front of almost 10,000 people at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. Sure, there was plenty of excitement in the air, but little did fans know what magic was about to follow in the months to come, specifically at the big league level.

Here’s the crew that took the field for Oklahoma City in the top of the first inning:

  • Taylor SS
  • Bellinger 1B
  • Thompson RF
  • Segedin 3B
  • Verdugo CF
  • Dickson LF
  • Calhoun 2B
  • Wilson C
  • Oaks P

Although a whopping six of these starters would eventually put in time on the big league roster that season, perhaps the most remarkable thing was that all nine of these players competed in the majors over the course of the next two seasons.

And, we all know how the season turned out for the kid named Bellinger.

Chris Taylor was forced to begin the year with OKC because the middle infield was overcrowded with a pair of veterans in Chase Utley and Logan Forsythe, alongside super-utility man Enrique Hernandez. Nevertheless, when Forsythe hit the disabled list with his dreaded toe injury in mid-April, Taylor was recalled. To say that he made the most of his opportunities would be an understatement.

Having never played outfield at the big league level, CT3 would mainly play left and center field, along with some secondary time at the middle infield spots. He went on to play 140 big league games that season after having appeared in just 34 the previous year. He slashed .288/.354/.496 with 34 doubles, 21 homers and 72 RBI.

Cody Bellinger made his major league debut in late April, but it certainly didn’t come easy. Trayce Thompson and Brett Eibner both saw action in early April, but were optioned back to OKC in favor of the lefty hitting Bellinger. Andre Ethier, Franklin Gutierrez, Rob Segedin and Joc Pederson all hit the DL in April, which definitely made the path for Belli much easier.

Bellinger was also very versatile for the Dodgers defensively, playing all three outfield positions as well as first base. The unanimous National League Rookie of the Year batted .267/.352/.581 with an NL rookie record 39 home runs to go along with 97 RBI.

Taylor reflecting on his own and Bellinger’s 2017 journey:

“It was awesome just to see how the year started for both of us in Triple-A and not where either of us wanted to be. But we both got an opportunity very early and we both capitalized. And it was really cool going from living together in Oklahoma City to living together in L.A. and eventually playing at the highest stage in the World Series. Both of us had really good years. I knew all along how good Cody was going to be eventually. I didn’t know how quickly it was going to happen, and fortunately, he got the opportunity and he just ran with it. It was so awesome to watch all his success and everything he did this year. Unanimous Rookie of the Year and all of his achievements, it was definitely fun to watch.”

Once the dust settled on the regular season, Thompson played 27 major league games (most of them in March and April), Segedin appeared in 13, Alex Verdugo played in 17 contests and O’Koyea Dickson made seven appearances after the rosters expanded in September.

Following his trade to Texas at the 2017 deadline as part of the package for Yu Darvish, Willie Calhoun made his MLB debut for the Rangers later that year after rosters expanded.

After already having played parts of eight major league seasons, Bobby Wilson played 47 games for the Twins in 2018 and 15 games for the Tigers in 2019.

Trevor Oaks made his big league debut for the Royals in April of 2018 after being dealt to Kansas City for Scott Alexander and Jake Peter.

Coincidentally, OKC lost the game to Iowa, 1-0.

Oklahoma City finished the year in second place in the American North division with a 72-69 record, failing to qualify for the Pacific Coast League playoffs. This did not come as a surprise considering how many of the squad’s key players spent considerable time in the majors.

The Dodgers finished the season with a 104-58 mark and eventually fell to the Astros in the 2017 World Series, four games to three. Needless to say, there certainly was not a lack of story lines in the Los Angeles clubhouse at any point in the season, much less the playoffs.

It didn’t seem like a big deal at the time, but perhaps the most overlooked transaction of the entire year was when the Dodgers signed free agent second baseman Max Muncy to a minor league contract on April 28. The main reasoning was to bolster middle infield depth at the Double-A and Triple-A levels.

We all know how that turned out.

 

79 thoughts on “An Opening Day Lineup Worth Remembering

  1. I was always a Segedin fan. There was a time when I thought he could actually be something like what Muncy has turned out to be without quite as much power, but he never came close. Ultimately injuries ruined his career. He had a spectacular year at OKC in 2016 and I had high hopes. Nice guy too, but it just wasn’t meant to be I guess.

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    1. Show me this year’s starting lineup at AAA. I’m thinking it looks pretty darn not too bad either. How many in that lineup aren’t on the 40?

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      1. If there is one, i can envision an outfield of perhaps DJ Peters, Luke Raley and Cody Thomas. Not too shabby. Might even get 100 homers between that trio if they were playing a full season.

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  2. Opening day, has a magical ring to it. Been to one. In 1983, Could not stay for the whole game, and I even forget who they were playing….old age has it’s limitations. But I can tell you the starting lineup. Sax, 2B, Landreaux, CF, Baker, LF, Guerrero, 3B, Brock, 1B, Marshall, RF, Russell, SS, Yeager, C, Valenzuela, P. You can bet Lasorda had some pretty powerful lineups at Albuquerque and Spokane when he was managing their AAA teams. Looking forward to seeing some baseball again…

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    1. My son and I had a tradition of attending opening day together which lasted about 10 years. Unfortunately we haven’t been able to do it for the last few years.
      Great event to participate in. A wonderful vibe throughout the park.
      I can’t even describe what a feeling it was to see the fly over by the stealth bomber. Amazing to watch.
      One year (I think it was 2010 or 2011) Placido Domingo sang the Star Spangled Banner and then that incredible flying machine passed over the stadium. I’m sure there is a YouTube video of it floating around.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks my friend. I get chills just watching the video. Actually all of the flyovers, including the Blue Angels, etc. are just spectacular but since I had never seen one of these in person it just left me awestruck.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Jefe, Scoop and I are old enough to remember fly overs by biplanes! LOL…..actually the first one I saw was a bunch of Phantom 4C’s. If you would like to read a really good book about a former Dodger, Roy Gleason, I highly suggest you read it. Called ” Lost in the Sun” Roy Gleason’s journey from the outfield to the battlefield. Gleason was a top outfield prospect in the 60’s. He had one MLB at bat, and got a hit. Never played in the majors again. Severely wounded in Nam. Very well written book. MLBTR is promoting Howie Kendrick as it’s comeback player of the year. Most of it based on his heroics in the playoffs and World Series. Didn’t we have that guy once?? When I was in basic Jefe, we were right next to Biggs AFB. It was a SAC base, that meant bombers. Big ass loud bombers. B-52’s. Taking off about every 10 minutes. Did not get a whole lot of uninterrupted nights of sleep.

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  4. Watched the “Go get it out of the ocean” home run today. That never gets old.

    Still don’t see a May season. I know I said June was a more realistic start date, but I wouldn’t bet on that either. I’m standing by my no baseball this year position.

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    1. If I was a betting man, my money would go to a season not being played. These MLB officials are about as bad as some people in the White House when it comes to predicting dates with regards to when the country will crank up again.

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      1. The only difference is the White House actually has some say in the matter. MLB has to base their actions on what the White House does. Let’s see now, on the one hand we have the medical experts who advise Trump and on the other hand we have the lost income from all his golf courses and Mar-A-Lago. Hmmmmmmm.

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      2. I’ll put my money on the science, not the man with painted face and wind in hair. Everything I’ve read says the worst may subside by summer, but second and third waves will continue until the vaccine arrives, and that will not be this year. Early on experts in this science said up to 70% of the population will get this virus. That figure has not changed.

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  5. I’m still around Jeff, I’ve been reading, just not posting. I’m kinda upset with bear, he said you were the president of the shlemmings, I didn’t even get an honorable mention, I guess I’m to nice to him, I need to insult him more, like you do.😀

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    1. First of all Keith, don’t pay any attention to what Bear about the Shlemmings. He still refuses to recognize the correct spelling. As Jefe, I hereby elevate you to co-President and there’s room for anyone else who wants to be co-President also. If you’re a Shlemming, you’re a co-President.

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    1. Too bad. I was just speaking to Rob Manfred and he told me they were planning to open the season in Canon City on Monday with all 30 teams playing there. Oh well.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Fruita is up right on !-70. Between the state line, and Grand Junction. I am close to 200 miles south east of there. When I go to California, I go up US 50 to I-70 and head west. When I come back, Fruita is where I take the cut off to US 50. Trust me, you would not recognize it from when you were a kid. It has changed a lot. I used to drive that way a lot when I was driving cross country. There was one truck stop on the south side of the interstate. Now, there is a huge Pilot truck stop on the north side. Shopping center on the north side too. Grand Junction has changed a lot also. They actually have built a road that does not go through downtown to keep the truck traffic down.

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  6. I was in Saratoga Wyoming one summer, and there were snow flakes falling out of the sky, during the night, on June 17th. It can snow any time in Colorado, or Wyoming.

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    1. I got caught in a blizzard on the west side of Eisenhower pass one time on Memorial day. We had our first snow in September. The year before it was November before we got any snow.

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  7. Somebody told me Fruita, and grand junction have just about grown together. They were about ten miles apart, so it must have changed a lot.

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  8. From the Athletic this morning:

    “The plan, depending on your perspective, is either a ray of light during a moment of national disillusion or a dystopian experiment with harrowing downsides.”

    Yep. That ‘bout sums it up.

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  9. I want to wish all of the TBPC family a very Happy Easter! Hope you have a great day..it is snowing here. And Jefe, do not eat too many chocolate bunny’s .

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    1. We celebrate everything in my family Bear. I’m alternating between chocolate bunnies and chocolate covered matzoh.
      Happy Easter/Passover to you and everyone else here at TBPC including the new arrivals.
      May we celebrate next Easter by enjoying an actual Dodger game.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. This is the first Easter in many years that I have spent the day at home. I usually go over to my friend Butch’s house and have dinner with him and his wife. But they are both high risk for the virus, he has a heart condition and COPD, and she is stage 4 COPD, so it is just safer to not go anywhere. I gave up chocolate bunny’s when I found out I have diabetes. Although I can control mine without insulin. A baseball game anytime would be enjoyable that is for sure.

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  10. i have said this before and I’m hearing some more buzz, the season is going to be going on in June. My source says many things not yet confirmed but there are actually some very real foundation items already agreed to and in the panning-hopper for starting up the season, including the ASG being a major spectacle that celebrates baseball and life moving forward. Obviously different states and Govs having to buy in for this all to happen. This talk is not only good for the fans, it is actually good to hear some encouraging words that we may be approaching the much mentioned light at the end of the tunnel to end this fn virus.

    Keep your head up, be thankful for what you got, help others at all times.

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    1. I hope your information is correct IJDM. Getting sports back in June, even if played in empty stadiums and just for a tv audience, would be a real happy pill for much of the population. Something that could let people think about a topic other than the virus. If it’s going to be tv only, I would think the plan of using sites in Az and Fla would be the best bet because it would cut down drastically on travel and make things in general more manageable.

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    2. Well the playing ball in Florida and Arizona plan has not had a whole lot of support from the players, at least from what I have read. We just have to wait and see. Here in Colorado the governor extended the stay at home order until April 26th. My brother in California said his is supposedly until May. When it is safe for people to mingle and not worry about spreading the disease, then and only then will they open up the parks.

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  11. Happy Easter to all. If games are played in Arizona, and Florida, they can play in December if they need to. No need to worry about the winter weather in either state.
    World Series for Christmas, now that would be a great Christmas present.😀

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thanks for the link Jeff, that was very interesting. This article brings to light the good things Kasten, and Friedman are doing, that we as fans don’t think about, but are vital in keeping the Dodgers franchise at the top.

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    1. Hah! Wear that badge proudly Keith.
      Interesting that other organizations seem to respect what Kasten/Friedman are doing but the title still eludes us. This would have been the year. Maybe it still will be but even if we win it all this year it would be somewhat tainted because it won’t be a full 162 game schedule. The Mookie Derby is going to be fascinating next off season.

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      1. Why would it be tainted? Short season? They won in 81 which was a strike shortened and split season. I see no reason why it would be tainted at all. And they would be doing the same thing every other team is baseball was doing. Astro’s 17 title is tainted. this one would not be.

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      2. You have a point but somehow I’m assuming that they’ll be lucky to get in 80 games and in 1981 I think the teams wound up playing around 105 games. I guess I’m saying my “tainted line” is being drawn at less than 100 games.
        I’m not even saying the whole world would consider it tainted, it’s just that after waiting that long I’d like to see them win it in a complete season. Not saying anyone else has to agree with that.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. They did play over 100 games. But I think no matter how long they play, all records and stats are legit, so why not the win? You have to think it is not going to be that easy in a shortened year either. Losing streak in that kind of season can kill you. In 81, they won the first half, and were not close in the second. We will just have to wait and see how it all plays out. I am sure MLB big wigs are exploring every option they can think of. Financially, they have got to want some sort of season. If the entire year gets cancelled, there are going to be some serious financial issues for some of the teams.

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      4. You’re right that no 2020 season would be pretty devastating financially to some of the smaller market teams. I’m sure they’ll have a season of some length or other in some place or other if they possibly can. If it’s up to Trump, they’ll start tomorrow. If it’s up to Fauci, probably August-Sept. But it probably won’t be up to Fauci because Trump will have removed him by then. Maybe it will be up to Jared Kushner now that he’s solved the Middle East problem and has pretty much solved the COVID-19 supply problem. By tomorrow every hospital will have enough ppe and Jared can move on to the MLB schedule. We’re lucky to have him solving our problems.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I do not think it is really in the hands of anyone. This is going to have to run it’s course. We had the first fatalities in this area a few days ago. Not in my city, but down the road 50 miles in Salida. A nursing home. I am sure we all would love for it all to be over, and everything back to normal. The country’s reaction was slow. We can only hope to keep the mortality rate as low as possible.

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      6. taint
        — noun

        a trace of something bad, offensive, or harmful.
        a trace of infection, contamination, or the like.
        a trace of dishonor or discredit.

        I see taint everywhere I look. Tell you what though, I’m rocking my hoodie, dark glasses and blue face mask.

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  13. Jeff regarding your 10:46pm post, maybe if the stros and the Sox would’ve played us straight up we would have a WS win.
    As far as the Mookie derby goes I don’t think there will be very many teams that can afford to get in on the bidding. Maybe for an exercise tomorrow we should go through the teams, and guess who we think might be in on Mookie next season, it’s not like we have much else to do.

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    1. Stros yes, but not the Sox. They were so much better that year, we wouldn’t have beaten them under any circumstances.
      As to the Mookie Derby, I think we might be surprised as to how many teams will have money to spend in 2021. There will be lots of salary coming off the books for a number of teams after this year so I don’t think our re-signing Mookie will be all that easy. He seemed to fit in very well in spring training, but it would be helpful to have him play even a shortened season here before trying to bring him back. And that holds true for both sides. After having Machado for half a season, it was obvious to AF he didn’t want to bring him back. I wouldn’t expect that to be the case with Mookie but I would want him to be sure he wanted to be here before having him commit to an 8-10 year deal.

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    1. Helpful Don’t Matter. Thanks.

      There’s this …. updated daily I believe:

      https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/04/07/825479416/new-yorks-coronavirus-deaths-may-level-off-soon-when-might-your-state-s-peak

      Interesting piece in the Times this morning regarding how incredibly stupid many of our leaders were, and still are. I’ll let you find it yourselves if you’re interested.

      As we move toward summer the idea of baseball sounds both necessary and impossible.

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      1. Pretty amazing how badly the models got it. Good job to have apparently, do terrible work and get rewarded with more work.

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  14. I was just watching a clip of Orlando Hudson’s cycle against the Giants in 2009 I think it was. It was opening day at Dodger Stadium. What made it interesting to me is that Hudson got his single, Homer and double off of Randy Johnson. That is impressive.

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  15. Yikes Badger, you are serious, you have no idea what I am talking about when it comes to modeling. I think we are at a non-starter on having a realistic conversation on the topic. I leave you to your own beliefs and biases. YIKES!

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      1. Yikes, there is a whole new world that you have never experienced. A little wake up call, it’s time has come, Badger.

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      2. There is no “discussion” with that guy. He’s been chippy since he got here. He reminds me of an insufferable catbox poster named Original Dodgerman who hounded everybody years ago on one of the older sites. I’m gonna choose to ignore him.

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  16. I agree that AF would want to see how Mookie fit with the team, but I still only see a half dozen teams as possibilities, Dodgers, Braves, Rangers, Bosox, maybe Cards, Mets, Nats.

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    1. Phillies, Cubs (if they move Bryant and a couple of others), Giants, D’backs, even Marlins (who have about $2 worth of payroll to worry about in the next few years).

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      1. Even if we eliminate everyone on my list except the Giants who will certainly be involved, that still leaves 7 other teams we have to compete against. We might still be the favorites, but I don’t consider it even close to a sure thing. COVID will turn baseball upside down for the next couple of years because no one will be sure how quickly the fans will come back. I’ve heard people say that MLB and the player’s union might even agree to a year or two extension on the current CBA in order to have a more settled situation when they negotiate again. Players won’t be thrilled to do that because they hate the current contract, but I think it is possible.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I agree with that take Jefe and would add we don’t know where Mookie wants to play, and live. He’s approaching the far end of his prime right now and he’s going to get mad money no matter where he plays so other than money, what does he want? I would think championships are at the top of the list so which teams are best set up for the next 5 years? I know we are. If he wants bright lights they don’t get brighter than LA and New York. SF would be great city to live if you’re rich. I don’t get the appeal of Chicago, Georgia and Texas but, who knows, he’s from Tennessee so maybe the south or Midwest appeals to him.

        So much yet to be determined. Everything we know is going to be changed after Covid, and after Covid ain’t happening until we have a vaccine.

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  17. I think teams will be afraid to spend, worrying bout another outbreak, at least until there is a vaccine. I don’t think Mookie will get near what he and his agent wanted in free agency, due to the virus.

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  18. One thing is for sure, the people in lower income brackets will have a harder time affording games. I know that Dodger Stadium is way out of my price range. Once in a while I can go to Coors Field when my bank offers 2 for 14 dollars. I can even get to see the Dodgers play. Things will not be the same for quite a while.

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    1. I got a veteran discount in Arizona that allowed me to go a couple times a year. I don’t think I’ll be driving up to Dodger Stadium. It’s an hour away and unlike the trip from Sedona to Phoenix, the drive to and from LA sucks the ruby begonia.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Giants are rebuilding, Cubs would have to move Bryant and they are going to have to pay Baez also, D backs didn’t seem to want to spend, their Greinke experiment didn’t work out to well for them, I don’t see the marlins as anything but a bottom feeder.

    I like the idea of a CBA extension, I think the owners have the better side of the agreement, but this is not the time for a face off between the union, And the owners, they could lose a lot of fans.

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  20. yeah scoop, there is a lot of traffic between the OC and Dodger stadium. Unical use to run a special when you filled your tank with gas you could get ticket to the stadium real cheap, but that doesn’t help with parking and concessions.

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  21. I think we can all agree that things are about as unsettled as they’ve ever been in MLB.
    I do think that players who negotiate long term contracts next winter will be disappointed in what teams offer, but it only takes one team to do something crazy/stupid/clever. And some team might decide to do that for Mookie.
    With regard to Scoop’s point above regarding where a guy would want to play, I know if it were me that would factor heavily into my decision but I don’t get the idea that most players feel that way. They just say “show me the money”.

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  22. Yeah if I’m going to get more money than I can ever spend already, where I was going to play would become much more important to me than the last ten, or twenty million dollars. I think the union really pushes these guys to take the most money from whoever, so they can keep pushing the contracts higher.

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    1. If my name were Mookie, the union wouldn’t be very happy with me. Where I was playing, coupled with how competitive the team would be would probably be the two most important things on my list. I seriously doubt I would care if I got 290 million or 310 million if those other two factors were good. Like you said, how much money can you spend in one lifetime and, assuming you make even half-decent investments, that would apply to the next five generations of your family as well.

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      1. I was thinking choosing a market for endorsement money might have bearing so I did a quick search on athletes, endorsement earnings, markets etc and I can tell you this – it doesn’t make that big a difference for baseball players because they don’t show up on the lists. It’s golfers, tennis players, soccer and basketball players that dominate endorsements. Trout showed up on one list, not in the top 20 and David Ortiz showed up on another one dated a few years ago. Strange.

        Well I think he’s single, has a daughter, I have no clue where he might want raise her.

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      2. Lots of the Dodgers seem to live in Pasadena, Studio City/Sherman Oaks and the beach communities. I’m sure Mookie could be happy in one of those spots.

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      3. They can live pretty much wherever they want to. I don’t know much about Betts so I have no guess what he wants, other than to be paid $30+ million for 10 years.

        Still talking about the season starting but doesn’t sound like they are any closer on the decision making. One abbreviated weird season where nobody gets to see Mookie in person. How’s he gonna know if he likes playing in LA in front of the largest crowds in baseball when he’s playing in Arizona in front of nobody? Weird indeed.

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  23. Granted, this is just one person’s opinion and it’s from a side of the political spectrum that some of you don’t subscribe to, but if true this is pretty depressing.
    “Biden advisor & Obamacare architect Zeke Emanuel says large gatherings including sporting events won’t be able to return until fall 2021. ”
    Of course he isn’t saying that sports couldn’t be played in empty stadiums but this is the most pessimistic analysis I’ve seen yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The projections have been all over the spectrum and of course the voices of those who value economics over science want things opened up right away. Who you gonna side with? Well, for me it’s a no brainer. Give the scientists all the tools they need and get out of their way!

      We still don’t have organized community testing, some governors still have their heads in the sand and a vaccine is several months out. Yeah, we are starting to hit “peaks” but that doesn’t mean this thing will come to a quick conclusion as our fearful leader first predicted.

      This is the first I’ve heard fall of ‘21 but it must have something to do with when everyone in the country will have been successfully vaccinated. With the way things are going, Dr Emanuel may be right.

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  24. Kershaw stated that if MLB went with the Arizona plan, he would not go. He refuses to be separated from his family for the amount of time he would be sequestered in Arizona. He is not the only MLB player not down with the idea. The consensus is that about half of the Dodger team is ok with that plan. I would think most of the married players like Kersh, would not want to be away from their kids for that long of a period of time.

    Like

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