The Morning Column: September 22, 2021
Nomar Garciaparra said the Dodgers needed to sign Albert Pujols the day the Angels released him. "He was actually the perfect fit for this club. They’ve always had a veteran presence on the bench."
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1. ⚾️ Tío Albert does it again
Albert Pujols did it again for the Dodgers on Tuesday night. Tío Albert’s 10th inning, pinch-hit single drove in the go-ahead run for the Dodgers in their 5-4 win over the Colorado Rockies in Coors Field. It brought the Dodgers to within a ½ game of the NL West lead and could have tied them for the division lead but the San Francisco Giants came back to defeat the San Diego Padres, 6-5.
Pujols’ late game heroics were latest example of why his signing four months ago was one of the greatest steals in recent team history. He signed with the Dodgers on May 17 for the prorated major league minimum ($432,447) while the Angels are still on the hook for the remainder of his $30 million salary this season. The 41-year-old Pujols has 17 home runs and 50 RBI this season and is leading the Dodgers with 10 home runs off left-handers.
I asked former Dodgers all-star shortstop and current SportsNet LA analyst Normar Garciaparra why Pujols has been so successful with the Dodgers.
“The day he got released from the Angels, I was on the air saying the Dodgers needed to sign him right away. The reason I said that was because he was actually the perfect fit for this club. If you look at the Dodgers’ success and what they've done over the last few years with eight straight division titles, they’ve always had a veteran presence on the bench. There’s always been some sort of veteran presence there to help the young guys.
Whether it was David Freese or Chase Utley, there's always been someone like that. It’s a veteran guy who's been through it and understands it. Their responsibility was being that every day superstar but now it’s not every day and their responsibility is to make sure these guys are ready because they ultimately want to win a World Series. So, the role has changed and that’s the position Albert is in right now and it’s easier for him to embrace that.
If you're that everyday player you get caught up in it and you have to do it every single day for yourself in order to be what everybody expects you to be compared to now where you can take a step back and know you’re not starting. You’re still there to do a job but you can also support these guys, tell them what you’re seeing in a different light and make sure they’re at their best.
It's amazing what he's done. That’s what they needed. They didn't have that and he was the perfect fit to do that. He's embraced it. It just made total sense and the Dodgers had nothing to lose in order to get someone like this. It’s working out. He’s got the smile and the joy and both sides are loving it.”
2. 💙 Jo Lasorda passes away
The Dodgers announced Tuesday that Jo Lasorda, the widow of former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, died at the age of 91 on Monday night. Her passing came just two days before what would have been Tommy’s 94th birthday.
Tommy and Joe Lasorda were married for 70 years before Tommy passed away in January. I’ll never forget Tommy sharing with me a letter he wrote to God, thanking him for Jo on their 60th wedding anniversary.
"I thank you every day for blessing me with my beautiful wife, Jo.,” he wrote. “If I could have written down on a piece of paper what I wanted in a wife, you couldn't have given me anyone finer than Jo." You can read my story on Tommy here and his letter to God below.
3. 🎶 Song of the Day
4. 📸 Photo of the Day
5. 💵 Odds and Ends Powered by Bovada
Here are some odds on Bovada if you’re thinking about placing a wager today:
6. 📆 Sept. 22, 1986: Fernando Valenzuela makes history
On this day 35 years ago, Fernando Valenzuela became the first Mexican-born pitcher to win 20 games in a season. Valenzuela pitched a two-hit complete game as the Dodgers defeated the Houston Astros, 9-2. Valenzuela would pitch a league-leading 20 complete games that season and post a 21-11 record. Despite it being the only 20-win season of his career, Valenzuela finished second in NL Cy Young voting to Mike Scott of the Houston Astros.
7. 🎂 Happy Birthday Tommy Lasorda
Today would have been Tommy Lasorda’s 94th birthday. It’s still hard to believe he’s gone sometimes whenever I’m at Dodger Stadium and look at where his office used to be or look at where he used to sit behind home plate. He passed away in January after watching the Dodgers win the World Series for the first time since his team did it in 1988. When they finally raised the championship flag earlier this year, I couldn’t help but think of what Lasorda told me a few years earlier after he showed off a a tombstone he kept in his office.
“I want to see a championship flag flying on that pole out there,” he said, pointing to the outfield. “It better be this year because I'm getting closer, you know what I mean? It's getting to be day by day with me, and I want to see the Dodgers win before they put that tombstone to use.”
8. 🎟 Ticket Time Powered by StubHub
Here are the “get in” prices for tickets if you’re thinking about going to a game:
9. 📺 On The Air
⚾️ 5:30 p.m. – Los Angeles Dodgers at Colorado Rockies – SportsNet LA
⚾️ 6:30 p.m. – Houston Astros at Los Angeles Angels – Bally Sports West
10. 📻 The Arash Markazi Show
On Tuesday’s show we talked about the Lakers new jersey patch sponsor, Bibigo, and the passing of Jo Lasorda.
Listen to The Arash Markazi Show on The Mightier 1090 Monday-Friday from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m., following The Rich Eisen Show. The Mightier 1090 has the second strongest radio signal in North America and can be heard from “Baja to the Canadian Rockies.” You can also listen to the show on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Play and Stitcher.
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That’s it for today. Talk to you tomorrow!