Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Greatest Mound Visit Ever

Today, on this slow baseball news day where I read of Colletti’s interest in signing another journeyman outfielder to ensure that Jerry Sands never gets a chance to make the team, I decided to browze through baseball-reference.com.  I noticed that it is the 63rd birthday of former Dodger starting pitcher, Doug Rau.  

I must admit that Rau wasn’t one of my favorites.  He was the number 5 man on the staff and never seen as a true pitching threat on the Dodgers. Always an afterthoughet on a good pitching staff.  I’m sure opponents preferred to face the soft tossing lefty Rau over the likes of Sutton and Messersmith in those days.  And I swear, during those years when the Dodgers had such starters as  Don Sutton, Tommy John, Andy Messersmith, Al Downing, Burt Hooten, Rick Rhoden and Rau...it seemed like Doug was pitching at every game I attended.  I always thought he was the worst of the bunch, but if you look at his numbers, he was actually pretty good.
Over a 9-year Dodger career, with 5 consecutive years in the Starting Rotation, Rau was 81-60, with a 3.35 ERA.  From 1974 through 1978 his WAR was 0.8, 2.5, 4.4, 3.3 and 2.0 which was fairly respectable in my book.   In 1976 he finished second behind John Denny for the best ERA in the league at 2.57.  Additionally, during that five year stretch, the Dodgers won 3 pennants.  In 1979, Rau came down with an arm injury at age 30 and never recovered.  The Angels signed him in 1981 but he never regained his effectiveness and by ’82 he was out of the game.
For those remembering great Dodger moments, with regard to Doug, there’s the ’77 World Series.  Rau will always be remembered for that classic on the mound argument with Lasorda when he was removed from game 4 in the second inning.  As I look back at this game, Lasorda certainly was panicking early and had an extremely quick hook.  I can understand why Rau was upset about being removed after facing just 6 batters.  Tommy was paranoid about getting behind another game.  It should be noted that the Dodger did eventually lose this game 4 to 2.   For those that are easily offended by profanity, I suggest you not hear the youtube clip below.

Here is the background:  The Dodgers are down two games to one and it is game 4 of the World Series at Dodger Stadium.  After a scoreless first, Rau gives up three hits in a row to Reggie Jackson, Lou Piniella and Chris Chambliss.  It is now 1-0 Yankees and men are on 2nd and 3rd with no outs.  Lasorda, sensing that the Series is getting away from him is taking no chances.  He comes to the mound to yank Rau, and Doug isn’t happy about it.  After listening intently to the recording over and over, I have provided a censored transcript of the incident.  Feel free to follow along, perhaps you'll be able to pick up some of the unintelligible audio that I couldn't understand.  Lasorda was wearing a michrophone and below is what can be heard:

John Ramsey (Public Address announcer): Number 9, third baseman, Greg Nettles
Tom Lasorda (to Red Adams his pitching coach while still in the dugout)Give me a sign Red when I get out there.  I’ll mess around for some time.  Okay?  “F” no, he can’t get them “F"ing left handers out for “Ch*&” all-“F"ing”mighty.

Davey Lopes“F"ing Jackson gets jammed on a (unintelligle)
Doug RauI feel good Tommy.
LasordaI don’t give a “S@#” you fell good, there’s four mother “F"ing hits up there!
Rau: They're all “F"ing hit the opposite way!
Lasorda: I don’t give a “F”!
Rau: Tommy, they got a lefthander hitter, I can strike this mother “F"er  out!
LasordaI don’t give a “S” Dougie.  (Helen Dell serenades with the organ in the background).
Rau: I think you’re wrong.
Lasorda: I may be wrong but that’s my “G-D” job.
Rau: I ‘aint “fing” hurtin.’
Lasorda: I’ll make the “F"ing decisions here.
Rau: (unintelligible) am I pitching that bad?
Lasorda: I’ll make the “F"ing decisions here. Okay?
(Pause. Organ music continues)
Rau: There were three runs on the “F"ing board yesterday!

Lasorda: I don’t give a “F!”  
(They are both screaming at each other at the same time,  believe me, I had to listen to this 7 or 8 times to decifer what they each were yelling at each other)
Rau: Hey Tommy I can get this “F”ing guy!
LasordaI don’t need this “S@#!”  “G-D” it!  I make the “F"ing decisions!  Keep your “F"ing mouth shut!  I told you!
Davey Lopes intercedes:  This looks bad up here man, just back off the “F"ing mound and you want to talk about it, talk about it in the office.
LasordaTalk about it in my “F"ing office!
RauIf I f didn't feel good then I wouldn’t saying nothing.
LopesI’m just saying, talk about it inside.  This isn’t the place to talk about it.  Okay?  That’s all I’m trying to say. You jump on me!  “Sh#$”!   I’m just trying to avoid a “F"ing scene out here, that’s all!
LasordaThat’s right.  That’s “F"ing great for you to be standing out here talking to me like that.
Ramsey (PA Announcer):  Your Attention please, coming in to pitch for the Dodgers, number 36, Rick Rhoden
(meanwhile, the argument continues over Ramsey’s announcement)
Rau: If I didn’t feel good, I wouldn’t say so.
LasordaI don’t give a “S#@” Doug!  I’m the “F"ing manager of the “F"ing team and I gotta make the “F"ing decisions.  And I’ll make them to the “F"ing best of my ability.  It may be the “F"ing wrong decision, but I’ll make it!   Don’t worry about it, I’ll make the “F"ing decisions.  I gave you a “F"ing chance to walk outta here.  I can’t “F” around, we’re down 2 games to 1.  If it was yesterday, it’s a different “F"ing story. 
Rau: There’s a left handed hitter coming up... (unintelliglble)
LasordaI don’t give a “S@#!”  You’ve got three left handed hitters and they all got “F"ing hits on ya.  Rivers, Jackson and the “F"ing other guy (it was Chambliss). They all... The guy that just hit the ball was a left hander wasn’t he?  
Rau: I jammed him.  I pitched him on the inside part of the plate.
LasordaI don’t give a “S” whether you jammed him or not.  He didn’t get out.  I can’t let you out there in a “F"ing game like this.  I’ve got a “F"ing job to do.  What’s the matter with you? 
Rau departs mound.  A little scattered applause is heard.
The rest of the discussion, I’m not sure who it is with, but it is about whether to play the infield in or not.  It may be with bench coach Monty Basgall
You can hear the following:
“Upper deck.”
“Just (unintelligble) the “M-F"er to the side.”
“That way you’ve got nothing to worry about.”
LasordaShould I “F"ing bring ‘em back?  I hate to play ‘em in the second inning with a “F"ing left hander.  I’d rather play ‘em back. We can’t give ‘em two more this “F"ing early.   Play them back.
Basgall: “Back, back, Lopes doesn’t want to go back.  Get the “F” back. “
Someones yells “TIME!”
John Ramsey:  Greg Nettles.
end of audio
A few observations:
  1. Davey Lopes is a leader and I can understand why Lasorda named him the team captain for a spell.  I can’t remember the circumstances, but Lopes gave up that role after an incident during his Dodger career.  But you can see that Lopes attempted to stop the incident from escalating and to have them address it later inside.
  2. Lasorda, even after things calmed down a bit following Lopes’ influence, started things up again.
  3. Rau, truly thought he had good stuff and that Yankee hitters were getting lucky hitting a number of jam shots for hits off of him.  He pitched for Lasorda in the minors and apparently didn’t fear riling him up because he said a number of things that were certain to set Tommy off.
  4. It was probably a bad idea for the TV network to mike Lasorda.  I’m pretty sure they couldn’t use any of his stuff due to the “F” bombs.  It certainly is interesting though.
  5. John Ramsey truly was the voice of God.  That man had some amazing pipes.
  6. True to fashion that continues to this day, when the Dodger manager or coach takes the mound to talk to a pitcher, the organ music begins to play.  Can anyone identify the song that Helen Dell was playing?
  7. I would have loved to have witnessed the meeting between Rau and Lasorda in his office after the game.
Happy Birthday Doug!

1 comment:

  1. you are right - bob shepherd had nothing on john ramsey.

    we must have been at the same games because doug rau was always pitching when i went to chavez ravine too!