Categorized | Mark Timmons

The Big Chill

The Big Chill

For those of you that have complained about the Dodgers opening the season in Pittsburg, think again.  During part of World War II, all of the MLB teams were required to abandon the Grapefruit League and the warming air of the Southwest, and hold spring training in cities located above the Mason-Dixon Line.  Six of the then 16 MLB teams held spring training in Indiana and formed the short lived “Limestone League”. Only some of these teams actually were able to train in nice weather. You can presume that those teams chose to play in a college town whose university had a field house.

The Limestone League included teams that held spring training in the following “metropolitan” areas:

  • Reds – Bloomington, IN -1943-1945
  • Tigers – Evansville, IN -1943-1945
  • White Sox – French Lick, IN – 1943-1944; Terre Haute – 1945
  • Cubs – French Lick, IN – 1943-1945
  • Indians – Lafayette, IN – 1943–1945
  • Pirates – Muncie, IN – 1943–1945

Although the Cubs played in the World Series in 1945, none of these 6 teams won the World Series during those 3 years.

As a side note, two teams actually chose to hold spring training in Indiana in lieu of going to an area with a warm climate:

  • Browns – French Lick, IN – 1902
  • Cardinals – West Baden, IN – 1911 (10 miles from French Lick)

Currently there are 15 teams holding spring training in the State of Florida, constituting the Grapefruit league, and 15 teams holding spring training in the State of Arizona, constituting the Cactus League, (including 2 in Tucson). Strangely, during the last 20 years (19 World Series), 16 of the World Series winners held their spring training in Florida as part of the Grapefruit League; 2 winners held spring training in Tucson and only 1 winner held spring training in Phoenix (the Los Angeles Angels) of the Cactus League.

Based upon the above “stats” Florida has it hands down over Phoenix as the place to hold spring training and Phoenix appears to be only slightly better than French Lick, Indiana, as a place to hold spring training! It appears that even though Phoenix is a warm place it has put a chill on the ability of the teams in the Cactus league to win the World Series.

Mark – If you were born 90 years ago you could have enjoyed your spring vacations in Indiana!

–Written by Ken

About Ken

Ken is a professional working in multiple disciplines who has participated in various sports from elementary school through post intercollegiate level. He may be the only athlete in intercollegiate sports history to have started as both a middle blocker on an intercollegiate volleyball team and as a hook on an intercollegiate rugby team during the same season. He has been a Dodger fan since youth and now regularly watches over 150 Dodger games per season.

25 Responses to “The Big Chill”

  1. Roger Dodger says:

    Not complaining about opening in Pittsburgh (the other day); Joe not use the same pitching rotation as he would if he were in L.A. and MAYBE better weather.

    Also, looking to the rotation for the first two go arounds and the teams and pitchers they are facing.

    I leave in about 10 minutes for the Texas coast. Meetings. So will be out of touch until Saturday night or Sunday. Do not make any trades without my okay.

    And stop all of this signing old geeeeeezers without my stamp of approval.

    Roger Dodger (THE old geeeeeezer)

  2. Scoop says:

    Who is complaining? I see no complaining in here. What I see is concern over direction and ownership issues, but – complain?

    Who cares where the season starts. Maybe the players don’t want to start on a frozen field, but I don’t care.

    Albuquerque blog (New Mexico Fan) has some interesting film. And, can someone tell me, are the Isotopes owned by the Dodgers or just affiliated? How does the money from L.A. affect the Albuquerque franchise? The reason I ask is I see that they are now charging $5 for parking, and didn’t before. I am just wondering if the clamp on the Major League franchise affects the minor league affiliates.

  3. Bill Russell says:

    Dodger Dugout has a report from Ken Gurnick posted this morning stating that Braden Loopers agent was at Camelback Ranch yesterday. The Dodgers according to Ken Gurnick are only willing to offer a minor league deal. His ERA was well over 5 last year with the Brewers so I’m not sure it would be an upgrade over who we already have in camp. I remember hearing his name last year. Tim from MLB trade rumors mentioned three teams where Washburn could land this year including the Dodgers, Mets and Mariners. I guess if we keep adding aging ex sluggers to the bench, why not give these guys a try at the right price. I know Washburn washed out the second half last year but the first half wasn’t so bad. I always hear that you can never have enough pitching.

    On another subject I happened to watch TMZ late last night and saw Frank McCourt with a pretty young lady tagging along with him. They were asking him about Cuban players but mentioned that He looked like he had been layed for three straight days. He had the big smile on his face. :smile:

  4. lawdog says:

    On yesterday’s thread–Andrew Wagner was correct about the way a traditional cutter moves. 20 years ago all cutters moved like a mini-screwball with velocity just shy of a regular fastball. Since then, different pitchers have different horizontal movement on cutters. Some pitchers can even make a cutter move both ways at will. A cutter that moves like a slider could well be mistaken for a real hard slider with just a little sharp dip and hop. Not sure how they manage the different action but it would make sense that just reversing the grip and last minute wist spin would accomplish the feat.

    Kurshaw needs to either perfect that change or develop a traditional cutter–get something that will move sharp[ly the opposite direction from his curve and slurve. Once he does we’ll have Sandy Koufax shit here again. :shock:

  5. Scoop says:

    You can make a ball (cut) either direction by thumb placement. Put it under your middle finger it breaks one way, put it under your forefinger it breaks the other way. Put it in between, the rotation is true. Same arm motion, same delivery three different pitches. I learned that first from Johnny James (anybody here old enough to remember him?) and then later from Orel Hershiser. Kershaw already has most of what he needs – great stuff. I would have him working on a change up that he could for now just show, but make sure you bounce it. In a few years, it could be an out pitch. The main thing this year is command. This kid is an every year Cy Young favorite once he can locate.

    Washburn to the Mets makes sense to me. I think the Mets will do what is necessary to win and win this year.

  6. lawdog says:

    Don’t you change pressure with the pointer and middle fingers depending on which way you want the cutter to move Scoop? With the “old traditional” cutter I learned back in the middle ages I learned to almost turn the pitch over a little like a screw ball and that meant to put more pressure on the pointer finger at the point of release to spin the ball counterclockwise and have it snap in and down to a right handed hitter (for a right handed pitcher.) Seems logical that you’d “spin” it the other way with pressure from the middle finger to get movement in the other direction–although I never tried to throw one that way. It would be too much like my slider which I could throw pretty hard to begin with and, thus, be redundant.

  7. lawdog says:

    Also, anytime I tried to get break on a pitch by spinning it with my hand the opposite way I threw a screwball, I’d end up throwing a hanger that would spin up to the plate with a “hit me” sign on it. :shock:

    I could get good movement and velocity on a slider by just holding it with the pointer and middle finger close together and releasing it like I was throwing a tight spiral with a football.

  8. lawdog says:

    The main reason I’ve been a real cynic about our chances this year revolves primarily around our starting pitching. I think our position players are not quite as good this year due to the loss of O-Rod and the diminshing skills of geezers like Manny and Blake. I also don’t expect Russell Martin to stop his nose dive offensively. These shortcomings can be compensated for by overall continued improvement of Ethier, Kemp and Loney. It would be nice to see DeWitt break out, but I’m not holding my breath. I think Furcal will look more like the shortstop we thought we were getting and less like the emerging geezer he’s looked like the last couple of yeaers due to his surgically repaired baclk.

    Pitching is where I think we’ll have some real problems. Not in the pen–which will again be our strength. Our rotation is severely weakened by the loss of the Wolf One and the deterioration of Bills and Kuroda. Last year it did not appear that anyone from the farm was likely to step in and step up. If Kuroda and Bills continue to decline we will n ot make the playoffs. If one of them, (most likely Bills), returns to form we’ll probably make “wild card”. Only of both of them step up will we be anywhere near as strong as we were last season.

    And I think we need to find a diamond in the rough from the diamonds on the farm to have a real chance to win the series. In my mind that would require the emergence of a 5th starter. I think the most likely candidate for that role would be to give Haeger a real shot at it because of the effectiveness of a knuckle ball pitcher on a team with so many pitchers who throw primarily gas and breaking balls. I’m not holding my breath on this because I don’t believe Torre will give him a chance because he does not trust knuckle ball pitchers.

    If Haeger is given his shot and not lost because he’s out of options and if Gagne makes it all the way back as well, I expect the team will definitely compete in the series. If, in addition, the kids step up and Manny plays as well as he did in 2008, Furcal returns to form and Blake doesn’t start geezing before the end of August, we’ll win it all. You heard it hear first! A long shot? You bet. But no longer than the 1988 Dopdger team. ;)

  9. Scoop says:

    Change pressure lawdog? Well, yeah, sort of. The pressure will change from one finger to the other by moving the thumb. Try it and you will see what I mean. The pitch is to look like a fastball, the movement on this is subtle, either in or away and the idea is to miss the sweet spot. Ask Orel, he can explain it better than anyone. It was the pitch he used to bring the Dodgers a World Championship. Gagne’s change is different. It’s a circle change and I hope Broxton pays attention and learns it. He gets that pitch down and he is the new “Game Over” for this team.

    And I agree 100% with your last assessment. How can you be “better” when you lose your All Star second baseman and arguably your best starter without really replacing them?

    Uh oh, there we go being “negative” again.

  10. lawdog says:

    Amazing! Thanks Scoop! I tried it and it is the simplest way in the world to get a little late movement in either direction on the fastball without sacrificing much at all in velocity. I got more movement with the old technique, but lost more velocity. Maybe that’s what they now call a sinker, I don’t know. It’s amazing how far the art of pitching has evolved over the last 50 years.

    I wonder why all major league pitchers don’t use these pitches.

    • Scoop says:

      No sweat. If you are working with high schoolers, this is a good thing to teach as it is not that difficult to master. This is the pitch that a lot of very good Major Leaguer pitchers use to “pitch to contact” – let them hit it, it will be a few inches off the sweet spot and you will get a weak ball hit somewhere. Put your defense to work. Too many young pitchers are trying to strike everybody out.

  11. Mark Timmons says:

    Scoop,

    Albuquerque is just an affiliate of the Dodgers who supply some cash each season to the team.

    In Indianapolis, we pay $10.00 for parking to see the Pirates AAA players, so I don’t see what the big deal is.

    The Indianapolis Indians are typically in the upper tier of minor league team in attendance.

    “How can you be “better” when you lose your All Star second baseman and arguably your best starter without really replacing them?”

    Maybe when you have players already under control, who step up.

    According to Dodger announcers, the Dodgers really want DeWitt to take the 2B job.

    Dodgers up 7-1.

    Martin with a SB.

    Ramon Ortiz-2 IP 3K

  12. LADODGERDAVE says:

    Loney-28 dingers in 2010 You heard it here first.

    LOVE THE SMELL OF DODGER BLUE

  13. Scoop says:

    “Maybe when you have players already under control, who step up.” (Mark)

    Yeah. Maybe.

    $10.00 for parking at a minor league game is a big deal to me. But then, I am just a humble former teacher on a fixed income not a mover and shaker such as yourself.

    This is how I see it going down……..

    Dodgers come out of the starting gate smoking, they fire all their bullets and empty the magazine by mid August, then limp to the finish line with tired legs and arms dragging. It’s the Torre way.

  14. GoNzO says:

    So….who’s O-Rod or do you mean O-Dog ooor is there an inside joke I don’t know about?

  15. Harold says:

    Scoop wrote – “Dodgers come out of the starting gate smoking, they fire all their bullets and empty the magazine by mid August, then limp to the finish line with tired legs and arms dragging. It’s the Torre way.”

    Scoop – I do hope we come with all guns blazing. A good start is important. I think that management is trying to have enough good players available to prevent the second part of what you see. It does seem to be Joe’s way to go to the well until it runs dry. However, I expect that is something we will try to guard against this year so we go into the post season fresher. I also expect some movement at the trade deadline.

    GO DODGERS!!

  16. ken says:

    Verducci Effect

    Bills may have hit he wall in 2009 even if he did not break a leg. Hopefully he has overcome the additional problems that he allowed to grow last year and will rebound in 2010.

    Fortunately Kershaw overcame the Verducci effect in 2009 and should be good this year.

    Glad to see 2 pitchers go 2 innings today.

  17. Scoop says:

    Well Harold, I think the Dodgers are putting together a bullpen of about 30 guys to do just what you hope to do. I think it’s pretty clear to see the Dodgers don’t have a starting staff of 200 inning pitchers (and that is only averaging a little over 6 IP per start by the way) so, the pen has to be ready for about 500+ innings of regular season relief. When you break that down, that is a lot of innings per relief pitcher, especially when you figure somebody out there is going to be a 1 or 2 out specialist. Complete games are a thing of the past so the bullpen is going to win, or lose, a lot of games for Torre this year. And, we don’t have guys on the bench that fill me with confidence either. I could be wrong about that, I don’t know Johnson that well. Carroll, Belliard, DeWitt, Hu? Uh, not crazy about that bunch either. Those are guys that I hope are just asked to hold a lead, not overcome a deficit.

  18. Harold says:

    Scoop – I think we will get more innings out of our starters – at least Clayton and Bills. A healthy Kuroda will help. Not sure what Padilla will do in the longer haul and the fifth starter may be short on innings. The bullpen will be tested but hopefully not as much as last year. Seems to me I read our pen threw the third most innings of all pens in the majors in 2009. I think we will improve on that this year.

    Reed Johnson plays hard, the way the game should be played. He is a JP type with a better arm but less speed. I’m hoping Blake Dewitt lands the 2B job. Larry Bowa thinks he has improved with hard work during the winter.

    http://losangeles.dodgers.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20100305&content_id=8694504&vkey=news_la&fext=.jsp&c_id=la

    GO DODGERS!!

  19. Brooklyn Dodger says:

    The factor I don’t hear about concerning the distance starters go in games is the OFFENSE. More offense means less close games, and that translates into the starters going deeper into games. If the offense lives up to the potential I think it has, we will see longer outings by our starters. If Kemp hits second, I see this team scoring lots of first inning runs. I’d also like to see the Dodgers tack on more runs when they have the lead. Seems like they often get early runs, and then just hang on in a close game. I want to see a team with a killer instinct that piles on runs relentlessly.

  20. Scoop says:

    Seems to me the Dodger starters don’t go deep because of pitch count. If these young guys will hit their spots, they should get 7 innings out of 100 pitches. 7 innings x 32 starts is 224 IP. Bills and Kershaw could do this (could with a capital C) ….. Kuroda and Padilla? I just don’t know. And we don’t even have a real 5th starter – yet. Our bullpen will likely again be in the top 3 in IP.

  21. ken says:

    Go Dodgers – The seaason starts with the first televised game today.

    2011 Projected 25-Man Roster

    Starting Pitching:
    Kershaw
    Bills
    Kuroda or Padilla
    Heager
    Elbert or McDonald

    Bullpen:
    Broxton
    Belisario
    Kuo
    Troncoso
    Lindblom
    Jansen
    Weaver

    Position Players:
    Martin
    Loney
    DeWitt
    DeJesus
    Blake
    Werth
    Kemp
    Either

    Bench:
    Ellis
    Carroll
    Hu
    Paul
    Repko

  22. Mark Timmons says:

    Ken,

    Did Ausmus retire? Can’t he play until he’s 50? ;)

    Kuroda is GONE after this year.

    Ditto on Padilla.

    Withrow, McDonald, Elbert, Lindblom are all chomping at the bit.

  23. lawdog says:

    Ausmus is back for another year which I’m sure makes Ellis happy. Problem with the idea that increased offense means our starters will go deeper into games and put less strain on the pen is simple. When our guys lose it, the do so in spades. If you let them go deeper in games when they start getting hit thy’ll lose a lot of 16-8 games. We don’t really have any innings eaters with eras around 5.00 like Garland. Those are the guys who can go deep into games and win 7-5 if the pen is lights out.

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