World Series (again)

This blog isn’t much of a reflection of what’s going on in my life, or for that matter what’s important to me. These days it’s mostly a space to write about music once a week. And while music is important to me, there are other things that occupy most of my daily life——namely, my family and my job.

And then there’s baseball. From April to October I watch a lot of Dodger baseball. When I can’t watch, I listen on the radio or follow along on my phone. It’s a rare Dodgers’ game that goes by where I haven’t participated in at least an inning or two of it.

Baseball is one of those things that balances out the bad stuff in life. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about (read about, talk about, learn about, teach about) the current war against Latinx migrants and families. Not a day goes by that I’m not equally involved in the consequences of a racist, sexist, homophobic, and transphobic regime ruling this country.  Baseball is my relief from those horrid reminders of the shortcomings of the human species. It’s my escape and my positive connection to those same flawed humans, my community of fellow fans.

I know it’s “just” baseball. That said, it never fails to amaze me how much a bunch of grown men playing a kid’s game can affect me, both positively and negatively. It’s also an excuse for me to work on perspective. After all, if winning the World Series is the goal of every team every year, 29 of us are going to come up short.  It’s been 30 years since we’ve won a series.  We’re getting good at perspective.

So you learn to appreciate the steps along the way.  I love a good game.  I love it when the Dodgers win.  I love it when the players I like turn in amazing days at their jobs.  I enjoy talking about baseball with other Dodgers’ fans.   At the end of the day, it’s the little things.

Of course, I care about the big things, too.  I often say baseball is one of those sports where, at the end of the season, you get to see who the best teams are.  We play 162 games.  I think the teams sitting on top of each division and each league at the end of that road have something to be proud of.  They’re the best.  I’m fortunate that the team I love has won the Western Division for six years running.  It’s a great achievement, one that I can use to console myself since being the best is different than being successful during the playoffs.

Playoff baseball is a different beast than the regular season. The best team doesn’t always win. It’s not about being the best——it’s about being the best on the field that day.  Sure, better teams have an advantage.  But it’s way more complicated than that.

The Dodgers are about to play in their 20th World Series competition in their storied history. Our very first was in 1916 against the Boston Red Sox. (At that time we were the Brooklyn Robins.) We lost that one, as we did the next six we played in. The Brooklyn Dodgers would lose 7 World Series before winning their first and only title in 1955. The next year they’d get there again, but lose. That’s a 1-8 record.
(Six of those losses were against one team——the New York Yankees. So was their only victory.  Perspective.)

We’ve won five World Series since moving to Los Angeles. We’ve been in the Series another 5 times and lost. That’s a 5-5 record for us. Not bad. And I know I’m lucky to have a team that’s made it to the big show for two years running. We’re back-to-back National League Champions. That’s nothing to sneeze at. Of course, I still want the Dodgers to win it all.

Last year I was confident but also pretty realistic. Houston was playing at their best for much of the playoffs and they had momentum. The Dodgers were a better team, but even with their massive winning streak and killer winning percentage for a chunk of the season, they were still a tricky bunch. After all, this was a team that went on a 1-16 losing streak. Needless to say, I was hopeful they’d win game 7 last year but I was emotionally prepared if they did not. Perspective.

This year is different. The Dodgers are not as good a team as Boston. Boston is better by almost any measure that matters. And while the Dodgers have some degree of last year’s weaknesses, they are a much more seasoned group of guys. Perspective matters there, too. And then there’s our offense, which only matters when it does, and it often does.

Over the next week, I’m going to be really happy and really stressed and really sad, just not all at the same time or in the same measure. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the achievements——the sixth in a row Western Division title and the back-to-back National League titles. Whatever happens, I’m lucky to be a fan of one of the last two teams playing ball right now. And I’m prepared for whatever may come.

Especially if that’s a World Series title.

Helpless Stupidity

Baseball might be the stupidest thing in my life. Why should a bunch of grown men playing a kid’s game matter so much? Why should another adult–who has three kids, work, and a home to worry about–care so much?

There are lots of ways I could answer that, justify it, explain it, but at the end of the day, none of them really makes the whole thing less stupid. But it is what it is. And, more importantly, I am bonded with millions and millions of other people in my stupidity. It is bigger than any one of us.  It is historic; its cultural.  It is a collective stupidity.

The Dodgers are doing alright at the present moment, and that makes me happy. If they make the playoffs this year, they’ll have to do better than the San Francisco Giants.  That’s pretty much the only way a team from the NL West is making the postseason this year, since both of the Wild Card berths are looking like they’ll go to teams in other divisions.

And that’s why this recent series against the Giants mattered so much.  That’s not logical, of course. Statistically speaking, every game against every team matters as much as the next. Win more than your divisional opponents and you make the playoffs.  But that’s the statistical reality of it. When you incorporate the bigger picture–the big stupid picture–certain games mean so much more than other games.

The Dodgers swept the Giants this week, and with that got one step closer to the playoffs. We went into this series 3.5 games ahead of San Francisco. To exit it 6.5 games ahead of them, in the first week of September, is pretty good. Add that to the fact that the Dodgers aren’t really playing all that well these days, and it makes them seem even better positioned since the team isn’t quite playing at its potential.

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If the Dodgers win the division, it would be easy to write the story hinged around this past series. You’d say that this is when the division was won. After these three games, even if the Dodgers played .500 ball from here on out, the Giants would have to be 21-8 in the remainder f the season just to force a tie. Of course, it’s not beyond this Dodgers team to return to playing at or below .500, and then there’s a nice four-game series against the Giants again in the last week of the season.

See, drama and stupidity. The kind of stupidity that requires stories and the weighing of possibilities to help you deal with the stupidity.

Here’s another level to the stupidity of it all. While sweeping the Giants and pulling ahead to a more comfortable lead in the West makes me irrationally happy, and the fact that we’re doing that with a team not quite firing at full force makes me feel like there is potential for more, another part of me is less enthusiastic because we’re getting close to making the playoffs with a team that isn’t playing the way you need to to win in the postseason.

While I’m always glad to see a Dodgers team make the playoffs, that doesn’t always bring with it the same level of excitement year after year.  Some years–many years–they really don’t have much of a chance.  Of course, every team in the postseason has a chance to win the World Series, and that slight possibility is what keeps me glued to the TV and, often, sends me on an emotional roller coaster.  But if I don’t think they have a chance to make it very far in the postseason, some years I wish (I think?) they’d wouldn’t make it.

I actually think losing in the regular season hurts less than losing in the postseason.  Maybe it’s not really about “hurt” as much as frustration. And lord knows the Dodgers have provided me with a heaping pile of that in my lifetime.

Since I was born, the Los Angeles Dodgers have made the postseason 15 times. That’s not a bad ratio, by any stretch. They won their division thirteen of those times (1974, 1977, 1978, 1981, 1983, 1985, 1988, 1995, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2013, and 2014) and they made it as a Wild Card two more times (1996 and 2006).

The thing that matters more to me, though, is that in that same timeframe they’ve won only two World Series championships, one in 1981 and another in 1988. (LA’s three other championship seasons were in ’59, ’63, and ’65, before I was born).  Two of fifteen. That’s just better than a 13% completion rate for them in the postseason. That kind of sucks by my standards.

This is the stupidity I face over the next month. Excited as all hell that my team has a real shot at winning the World Series and, at the same time, anguished that my team has a real shot at losing in the playoffs or, worse, in the World Series.

At least I’m not alone.

It’s time for Dodgers’ baseball!

Well, sort of.

Even though most teams don’t get going until a week from now, the Dodgers’ 2014 baseball season gets underway in just a few hours. The boys in blue go head-to-head against the Arizona Diamondbacks in a pair of games being played in Australia.

It’s an interesting change for the start of the season, despite the fact that “change” of any sort often seems a bit out of place in a game drowning in tradition. It shouldn’t be surprising to those who know me, but “tradition” is one of the things that keeps me close to the game. Or maybe it’s habit, I’m not sure. But I got used to inter-league play, so I’ll be fine with two games down under.

The more disturbing change for the season ahead is related to the way I and millions of other Dodgers’ fans will have to go without watching our team play much. The Dodgers sold their broadcast rights to Time Warner for billions of dollars and now Time Warner has created a dedicated Dodgers cable channel that more than 70% of the LA market does not have access to.

Steve Dilbeck broke it down well in his piece for the LA Times. I don’t really care about a 24/7 Dodgers channel. Frankly, I am pretty damn close to being done with cable altogether. Even though I love the team, and wish I had the station, I completely understand why all the other providers won’t pony up to pay the asking price for the channel.

Even with my love of the team, whether or not this channel is on my TV is not at the top of the list of factors that is determining how I pick a provider, or whether or not I actually have cable.

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Baseball is a slow sport. A season is 162 games stretched out over half a year. It’s not really something that works as an “event” by today’s cultural standards. The best thing baseball had going for it–especially Dodgers’ baseball–was that you could always turn it on to make it part of your daily life.

The fact that we are about to go from having the most games on local broadcast (free) TV to having none is just sad. It means I won’t get to see Vin Scully in what might be his last season. It means I won’t get to follow the team as closely as a result. Coupled with the ticket prices (which aren’t too high but still make it a big financial commitment to take the family) it probably means I won’t get to see much of the Dodgers at all.

Of course, I’ll still be a fan. And I’ll still follow the team. I have a radio and I listen to games using the MLB app quite a bit. But what about my kids?

I think this TV mess is going to do long term damage to baseball in LA. While I can enjoy a radio broadcast almost as much as a televised one, for my kids–and the millions of other LA kids who are just learning to like the game–it’s all about the visuals. The majority of them will never step foot into the stadium. And now a majority of them won’t get to even see the Dodgers play with their own eyes.

There is a race/class dimension to all of this, of course. The ones who will really suffer are a generation of working-class, Latino kids growing up without the Dodgers on their TV.

However this resolves itself in the coming months (or years), the Dodgers aren’t losing anything with me. I’m here loving them no matter what, and they got their billions from the deal.

But even one season off the TV screen is going to do something to my kids. They’re just learning the game, largely, by learning to watch it. They’re just starting to develop their love of the sport and, by extension, the team. The inability to watch is going to affect the level of love my kids develop for the team. And that’s a problem for the Dodgers’ future.

Anyways…enough complaining. As the title of this post suggests, I’m going to go now and fire up the radio for some early morning baseball from the other side of the globe. The start of my new tradition.

Playoffs

The 2013 Major League Baseball season is over. My Los Angeles Dodgers are the 2013 National League-West Division champs which means we get to keep playing baseball this week.

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I am excited, but I’m not pouring the proverbial champagne over my head quite yet. The Dodgers have won the West 12 times in my lifetime (’74, ’77, ’78, ’81, ’83, ’85, ’88, ’95, ’04, ’08, ’09, and ’13).

That distinction has taken them to the World Series 5 times in my lifetime (’74, ’77, ’78, ’81, and ’88). And, of course, they’ve gone home champs twice in that same span of time, in 1981 and again in 1988.

That’s not bad, but that does mean that 7 times in my life the Dodgers have won the West but lost in the playoffs before making it to the World Series. I remember each of those losses well (especially ’85).

We’ve done a great thing this year, and that makes me happy. We have great pitching and an offense that has shown themselves capable of producing. We also have no shortage of exciting examples of the magical, the kinds of things that make many a baseball fan into a hopeless romantic. But we’ve still got quite a road ahead of us.

I’m optimistic. But I also know we’ve still got some work to do before its time to celebrate.

I’m just glad we get a chance to do that work.

The Rivalry

The Dodgers and Giants took time out of their usual pregame routines tonight to try an diffuse any further violence between LA and SF fans. This unity comes on the heels of the awful attack against Brian Stow in the Dodger Stadium parking lot just after this year’s home opener.

“When the last out is made,” said Giant Jeremy Affeldt, “the rivalry ends on the field.” (For more on the pregame event read the story at Dodgers.com.)

I don’t condone what happened to Brian Stow and I don’t want to make light of it either. But at the same time, I don’t think much is advanced by focusing too much blame on “the rivalry” between these two teams.

As I said on Twitter, I hate the Giants more than just about anybody or anything. And, yet, I have never beaten up one of their fans. This isn’t about the rivalry between our two teams; it’s about a violent attack by two men against one other. Whatever their motivation, their willingness to engage in violence is far more complicated (and more simple) than a rivalry taken to the extreme.

With all due respect to the Dodgers and Giants who spoke before tonight’s game, for me, the rivalry does not end on the field. It is a part of my life, of my love for my team, of my love for the sport. In some small but discernible way, it is part of my identity.

I can understand the need to diffuse the tension of the rivalry at a time like this. For people who carelessly act out of a combination of alcohol, hyper-masculinity, and stupidity, events like tonight might reframe their unquestioned positioning in important (though likely short-lived) ways. But what happened to Brian Stow (much like the thousands of other senseless acts of violence that have befallen people in this state since then) has very little to do with a competitive spirit between “my boys” and “them.”

That said…the Dodgers beat the Giants tonight, 6-1.

From Ponce to Cooperstown

Former second baseman Roberto Alomar has been elected to the Hall of Fame. Alomar received the third highest vote total in history, making it in on his first second time on the ballot.


He is only the third Puerto Rican in history to be elected into the Hall. This year, upon his formal induction, he will join Roberto Clemente and Orlando Cepeda in Cooperstown.

Not bad for a boy from Ponce.

But I thought you were a Dodgers fan

Since I was a kid, my priorities for a baseball season have been rather simple: I wanted the Dodgers to win the World Series. But I knew such an event was rare, thereby defining it’s value. And so, if it could not be, I wanted the Dodgers to at least win the NCLS, and if they couldn’t do that, to at least win the NL West.

When they failed to achieve even this last of achievements, all hope was not lost. I would still consider it an overall “win” if they would just beat the Giants.

Well, the 2010 Major League Baseball season has come to a close. Not only didn’t the Dodgers achieve any of the titular milestones I covet for them year after year, and not only did they lose 10 of 18 games to the Giants, but the San Francisco Giants have won the 2010 World Series.

And here’s a little secret: I was rooting for them.

Some of my friends might be mystified by such a decision on my part. After all, the rivalry between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants is one of the more legendary in sports history, surviving more than 100 years and a move to the West Coast. Any real Dodgers fan is obligated to hate them with every fiber of their being, and I am among the “blue at heart.”

Where did I go wrong?

Well, first of all, I have a history in the Bay Area. I lived there for 8 years of my life, and I have many friends there—many of whom are Giants fans. The San Francisco Bay Area is celebrating tonight, as are many of the people I know and love, and having been there before, I know part of what they are feeling. I can only imagine what it feels like to be part of your city’s “first time” and so I am happy for them, for that, and as a lover of the region, I am happy for the city.

But that’s only part of the story.

When it comes down to it, I am also a National League man. Even though I would have been okay with Texas winning, more of me wants an American League team to lose to a National League team, no matter who the teams are. I even have a connection to Ranger’s infielder Mike Young. He went to my high school. One of my very good friends is very good friends with his wife. I was at the first two games of his professional career, saw his first at bat, and his first hit. Even with all this, I still wanted his Rangers to lose more than I wanted them to win.

One of the other things that excited me was that the San Francisco Giants weren’t the best team in baseball this year. I don’t mean that as a dig, I really don’t. I don’t think the Dodgers were the best team in 1981 or in 1988. But you see, I don’t think the team with the most talent or the most talented players wins every year–or even should.

For me, the beauty of baseball is the intangible spirit of a team. There is a momentum that can build when a group of individuals play bigger than the sum of their parts, when they become a single whole. Not everyone agrees with my view; and certainly, this isn’t always the case. But I always find it enjoyable to watch it when it happens. It’s like proving gravity doesn’t always exist and then taking comfort in the security of knowing the world is as it should be.

All these reasons, though, are still only part of the story. Tonight I am also happy because the rivalry I love so much just got a big boost.

While I am severe in my allegiance to “the rivalry” (I don’t even go to Dodgers vs. Giants games because SF splits the gate with my boys and I will be damned if I’m going to give an of my money to that organization), my sports has never gotten in the way of my friendships. In a way, sports isn’t as much fun without those friends of yours who love the “other guys” as much as you hate them.

And that puts a lot of my feeling tonight into perspective. You see, for most of my life, Dodgers fans have taken a great deal of satisfaction from “the rivalry.” And why not? It’s something we’ve been rather good at. But satisfaction isn’t passion.

When it comes down to it, most of LA doesn’t care as much about the Giants as the folks of the Bay Area care about us. We’ve gotten sloppy in our investment in the rivalry, I think, because it no longer seems like much of a fight.

Partly, this is about numbers. This season’s losses do little to the already robust lead the Dodgers enjoy in the historic totals. The Giants have beaten the Dodgers more times when all of their contests (since 1884 and under various team names) are counted, but in the modern era of the rivalry (since the move West in 1958), the Dodgers come out on top with 478 wins and 449 losses against SF.

The Dodgers also dominate the rivalry on a season-by-season basis. From the 1958 season to the present, the Dodgers have won 25 seasons worth of match-ups with the Giants (SF took 17 and 11 have been tied).

Most importantly, the Dodgers have always had the greatest of advantages over the Giants: we’ve won World Series titles. While we have won 5 World Championships, until tonight, the Giants had won none. As a matter of fact, with 9 NL Championships since moving to LA, the Dodgers had lost more World Series than the Giants had even been in (again, before this year).

This might seem like a sore loser searching for a silver lining, but it’s not. I really view this as a historian first, and I describe the numbers we know so well as fans to mark the context within which tonight’s events unfold for me. A real rivalry can only exist when the two parties are around equal. Otherwise, at some point it becomes a condition where one team really, really cares and the other doesn’t give a shit because they’ve been excelling against their opponent for so long they can hardly remember feeling the other way. (Think Dodgers and Yankees.)

I don’t think the Dodgers and Giants rivalry was at that particular point, but it has been heading that way for a long time. It’s not anymore.

So, I am genuinely happy for the Giants. Their World Championship this year means a lot for them. It means a lot for their fans and for their city. Tonight I am happy for Steven, Jason, Ernie, Charlie, Michael, and all the rest of you.

But, as a Dodgers fan, your victory means something to me, too. It means an infusion of new energy and passion into something that helps define my love of sports, something I love deeply.

So congratulations to the SF Giants–the 2010 World Series Champions! I look forward to next year…and many more after that.

F**cking Dodgers

Let me start by saying I hate interleague baseball. HATE.

Now, what I really want this season is another World Series title for the Dodgers. Second, another League Championship; third, the NL West title.

No matter what happens, I also want the entire Giants organization to die in a fiery airplane crash, or suck like the suckers they are. Whatever.

But if none of this happens, my consolation prize for this season could have been this weekend’s match up with New York. But, because the Dodgers are the Dodgers and blew a 6-3 lead in the 9th, I will have no such satisfaction.

Dodgers fans–the hardcore ones–keep the rivalry with SF alive and well. It is, in many ways, a sacred obligation, like being a Cardinal in conclave and picking the next Pope. It’s historic. It’s holy. It’s God’s work.

But the Yankees are like the Midgets times 1 quadrillion. They are the Devil. The rivalry with SF is so damn satisfying because they’ve never won a World Series in the Bay. They are the pesky chihuahua to our bulldog. It’s kind of cute, really (unless we lose to them). The Yankees, on the other hand, are the reason we exist. They’ve beat us 8 times in the big show. Eight times! Our eternal quest is to even the score, and to hate them and destroy them as best we can until that glorious day.

1981 World Series

As a small child, I learned very quickly that this was as serious business as there was in the world–like words from a priest or a nun. We were a Dodger family in a Dodger town. The lessons came often, and were clear. In ’81, when we beat them in the series, I almost cried. My mom came home later that night to a husband and son jumping out of their skins. When I told her the news (news she undoubtedly already knew) she told me “Congratulations!” like I had something to do with it. In a way, we all did.

That is why this weekend mattered to me, to us. It could have been one step closer to retribution and eternal salvation.

Instead, this weekend is now another reason for me to refocus on my only real life’s work: to raise two (soon, three) children who know how to be loving, caring, peaceful, and humane people–people who simultaneously despise, with all their powers, the fucking New York Yankees.

Dodgers in the 2nd 40

I love baseball.  One of the things I love the most about it is that it has such a long regular season.  162 games.  Almost 6 full months.

Growing up, one the most anticipated times of year for me was the April start of the baseball season, when my beloved boys in blue would take the field “for reals.”  As a kid, I would live and die on any given day depending on how the Dodgers did.  When they won, I felt like all was right in the universe.  And when they didn’t, well, to put it mildly, I was crushed.

I got in the habit of following the numbers on a daily basis.  I would actually begin most seasons by clipping out the standings and box scores, game by game, and gluing them in a special notebook I kept.  When the Dodgers hit a slump–or worse–the pain became too unbearable for me to keep up with my record keeping effort.  Even on a good season, I might make it only to mid-May, the ups and downs often being to much to cope with in a portable notebook.

Likewise, for me, the baseball season didn’t end until the Dodgers lost in the playoffs or until all mathematical possibility had been exhausted for them to make it to the postseason.  After that point, I would briefly fantasize about all the teams ahead of the Dodgers becoming impaired in horrible traveling accidents.  Once the postseason began, if the Dodgers weren’t in it, I was looking toward the next April again.

As I grew up, I began to better appreciate the rhythm of the game.  I began to realize baseball, as much as anything, is a game of momentum.  There are key times in the season when it is imperative that your team clicks on the field.  If they don’t, nothing else will really matter in the end.

This is hard for a numbers kid to grasp.  When you’re up at the top, you’re always following the number 2 or 3, almost as much as you follow your own.  When you are the number 2 or 3, you want that number 1 to lose as much as anything.  It all gives the impression that it’s all connected.  And in most sports, it probably is.  But in baseball, well…the only standings that really matter, are the ones at the end of the season.  All you got to do is win more games than the other guys and, while that only happens when you beat the other guys more than they beat you, it’s not as direct a thing as it appears.

That’s when I started to think of the baseball season in quarters rather than in halves.  162 doesn’t breakdown evenly into 4 parts, but I think of it as four groups of 40 games.  As baseball fans, we spend so much time waiting for the first 40 that it’s hard not to give it too much attention.  There are few things more satisfying than a strong start in the first 40.  (For that matter, there are few things more annoying than a weak start.) But, for almost all of us almost every season, the first 40 is still warm-up.  People are finding their groove; teams are finding their formula.  It’s like the first mile of a race: what happens here is less important than what happens later on.

Instinctively, we also pay a lot of attention to the final 40.  It is, after all, the lead in to the big show.  We have a sense of its importance because we know it is the final stretch.  But even more important than winning this sprint to the finish line is what condition you’re in at the end.  Remember, beyond it is the postseason.

And that’s where momentum comes in.  You don’t just want to win more games than the number 2 team, you want to finish the final 40 while playing well.  You want your strongest players to be playing as well as they can, all the magical things that make a winning team to be happening on a regular basis, and all the intangibles to be, well, almost tangible.

I can’t tell you how many times the Dodgers have made it to the end of the season when you know they have the cards stacked against them in the postseason, not because of who they might face but because they’re not playing in that magical zone.  When your team is there?  Well, no matter how good the competition is on paper, they better get out the way.

This momentum thing is important in the rest of the season too.  For me–and this is my childhood brain talking now–the second most critical time for momentum is in the 2nd 40.  Around mid-May up until the All-Star break, when the Dodgers play like champs, it usually has meant a great season.  I can’t think of a time they have done well in the postseason when they didn’t turn in a solid May and June.

Baseball is a long season.  Any team in a season that long is going to have its ups and downs.  The trick to becoming champs is for those ups to be at just the right times so that they expand on themselves rather than implode.

I’m feeling good this season, wishing I had a notebook and a glue stick lying around.  But I also know it’s a long time until July.

Walter Alston is Still Dead…

Walter Emmons Alston died 25 years ago today, eight years after having retired as manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He passed away on October 1, 1984, at the age of 72.

Alston managed the Dodgers for 23 seasons, four in Brooklyn and nineteen in Los Angeles (where they played for four years at the Coliseum and for fifteen at Chavez Ravine).  In that time he and the Dodgers won seven National League titles and four World Series championships.  His first World Series ring came in 1955 against the Yankees, Brooklyn’s only victory in the big show and the franchise’s first of six (1955, 1959, 1963, 1965, 1981, 1988; not counting the Bridegroom’s 1890 championship).

He was emblematic of a period in baseball’s history when the commercial hype of it all wasn’t yet the daily, unending norm.  He was quiet and matter of fact in his managing style, as the LA Times described him, “conservative and colorless.”  But he was also one of the most successful managers in baseball history.  Dodger pitching-legend Carl Erskine remembered Alston’s first season as manager.  “We weren’t playing too well, so Walt got us together and said: ‘If you expect me to be a rah-rah manager, you’re wrong. You’re all good players.  You know the price you have to pay.  Now go out and do it.'”

Alston retired when I was four, but he remained a revered figure among fans, including Dodger announcer Vin Scully, who for all practical purposes was my baseball history book growing up.  I honestly haven’t one actual memory of Alston as a living person, but I also can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t know who he was.