When I was 10 years old I started to follow the Dodgers for the first time in my life. It was 1977 and Tommy was the manager and they had one of their greatest teams with a great core.
That is still MY team. When I think of the Dodgers that is what comes back to me…not Piazza, Kirk Gibson, or even Kershaw…but that seventies and early eighties team with Lasorda as manager. His name went with the Dodgers… he was with them since the 50s…and so was Vin Scully. Those two will forever be Dodgers. I would love to catch a Dodger-Giants game on tv in Candlestick park and watch the Giant fans boo Lasorda as he changed pitchers…he loved the attention.
In September of 1976 the quiet and understated Walter Alston stepped down and the loud and boisterous Lasorda became the manager. Lasorda was a brawler…he loved to fight but O’Malley told him he would have to calm down especially when he was manager. Tommy never really calmed down a lot…but the fist fights did. He managed them from 1976-1996.
I disagreed with many of his managing decisions but he did win 2 World Championships…My favorite being 1981 by beating those Reggie Jackson Yankees. They had lost to them in 1977 and 1978…and of course the other championship in 1988 with the Kirk Gibson homerun.
My favorite Lasorda moment? After Dave Kingman hit three homeruns against the Dodgers…a reporter asked him his opinion of Kingman’s performance.
I can speak about the Dodgers because I lived it… What are the worst trades your favorite team made? If you want…comment below…I would love to see them.
1…1993 Pedro Martinez The number one bad trade – 3 words… Delino for Pedro. No Dodger fan will forget/forgive this trade that involved Delino DeShields from the Expos going to the Dodgers for Pedro Martinez. If free-agent second baseman Jody Reed agrees to a multiyear contract and returns to Los Angeles, this doesn’t happen. It’s not like they didn’t know Pedro was good… in 1993 he appeared in 65 games (two starts) and went 10–5 with a 2.61 ERA, including 119 strikeouts and 57 walks in 107 innings…then Fred Clair traded him…because of his size Lasorda didn’t think he would hold up and he would be a bullpen guy. Then GM Fred Claire takes responsibility for this though.
2… 1998 Mike Piazza and Todd Zeile to the Florida Marlins for Manuel Barrios, Bobby Bonilla, Jim Eisenreich, Charles Johnson, and Gary Sheffield. Yes, they did some quality back with Sheffield more than anyone else…but Piazza was the face of the franchise and a future Hall of Famer.
3…1998 Paul Konerko traded for Jeff Shaw – This was stupid. Yes, the Dodgers needed a closer that part is true and they had Eric Karros at first but he didn’t have anywhere near the career Konerko had with the White Sox. Paul was given 54 games to show what he had with the Dodgers. When he had all of that time to hit…he was traded. Tommy Lasorda was made GM for a very short time…I’m thankful it was short…and he did this. To be fair Shaw was a successful closer but he was not worth the price.
4…1983 Ron Cey to the Chicago Cubs for prospects Vance Lovelace and Dan Cataline. This trade made NO sense. Living by Branch Rickey’s logic…better to get rid of someone one year too early than a year too late…great advice but Cey wasn’t near being done. Cey would end up knocking 84 home runs for the Cubs in the next 4 years. Al Campanis really messed up with this one. Third base would be a wasteland for the Dodgers for years and years after Cey left. Adrian Beltre did great briefly but then…they didn’t resign him. Justin Turner is the first good regular third baseman the Dodgers have had since Cey was traded in1982.
5…1982 Rick Sutcliffe traded to the Cleveland Indians for Jack Fimple, Jorge Orta and Larry White. All because Sutcliffe rearranged Lasorda’s office. This was in 1981 and he just won the Rookie of the Year in 1979.
Honorable Mention…I will lump 3 trades together… Juan Guzman traded by the Los Angeles Dodgers to the Toronto Blue Jays for Mike Sharperson a utility player… Sid Fernandez with Ross Jones to the New York Mets for Bob Bailor and Carlos Diaz…and John Franco to the Cincinnati Reds for Rafael Landestoy. Three very good pitchers for not much at all.