Lasorda chats Dodgers baseball
Special advisor reflects on his many years in the game
Dodgers legend and Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda participated in a live Web chat with fans Tuesday. Lasorda, in his 58th season in the Dodgers organization, chatted about the mix of young players and veterans on the club, his appreciation to the many players he has coached over the years, and his love for the Dodgers.
Tommy Lasorda: Thanks for coming today. It's an honor to speak with you today.
roxchick: Thanks for all the work you've done on behalf of the Dodgers. Why has working with the Dodgers organization been so important to you? You've turned down other assignments over the years to stay with the Dodgers.
Lasorda: Well, you know the Dodgers have been great to me. In the 58 years I have been with them, I definitely feel that it is the greatest organization in baseball. I've had a lot of opportunities to leave, and for more money, but to me money can't buy happiness and I'm the happiest guy in the whole world being with the Dodgers. And I will continue to be with the Dodgers until my last day on earth.
Thanatos: What countries have you visited as an ambassador of baseball?
Lasorda: It would be easier to state the ones I haven't been to. Let's start with Canada, they're our neighbors. I've been to the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Venezuela. I have lectured in Italy, Scotland, China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Panama. Played in Panama, Cuba, Mexico, Columbia. The list goes on and on.
Thanatos: If you weren't in baseball, what would you have probably done for a career?
Lasorda: I've often thought about that. I would have loved to have been a lawyer. I would have liked to have been a criminal prosecutor because I think that big cases must be judged strictly by the law, and I would like to have been a part of that.
Thanatos: How did you handle problem players?
Lasorda: Communication. Whenever I had a problem with a player, I would take him in my office. He and I would get the problem settled right there. I told my players my office door was always open to them. Any time that they wanted me, I was there. But knowing the player was a problem, I had to convert him to my philosophy of how to play the game and be an outstanding person.
TrueBlue42: When you look back, aside from the championships and awards, do you feel most proud of the impact you've had on all the players you've guided through the Minors to the Majors and many who have become successful managers and coaches? I think it's amazing.
Lasorda: Not only as managers and coaches, but even some who are in the broadcasting booth. I'm proud of them as much as I'm proud of those coaching. I tried to teach them various phases of the game. First of all, I hope they learned from me how to get along with players. Second, to let the fans know how much you appreciate them, because without them, there are no people like us. I never hit a ball for my team, never struck anyone out, never scored a run. But whatever success I achieved as a manager, became a reality only because of the contributions of my players. My players put me in the Hall of Fame, and I am grateful to each and every one of them.
Thanatos: What do you think of the idea of playing baseball in China?
Lasorda: Baseball has become a melting pot. For years, you very rarely saw players that weren't American. But baseball has been spread all over the world. More countries are playing baseball today than ever before. That's why we welcome all good players, no matter what country they are from.
Thanatos: Which baseball figure do you have the most respect for?
Lasorda: I have respect for many, many players, especially the ones that played for me. I try to impress upon them that their morals and respect are very important ingredients in their life.
dodgersfan7800: What do you think about the way the organization has changed since you managed the Dodgers?
Lasorda: Well, under the regime of the O'Malleys, the thing that we had within the organization was consistency. All the scouts were with us year after year after year, all the Minor League instructional coaches all had long tenures. We had an infield that played together for eight and a half years. You'll never see that again. Frank and Jamie McCourt are trying to build that spirit and cohesiveness and the will to have the Dodgers follow in the footsteps because of the reputation the Dodgers had under the O'Malley regime. Every team in baseball then wanted to pattern themselves after the Dodgers, but after the O'Malley's left, we never heard that again. And that's what Frank and Jamie McCourt want. Under the O'Malley regime, nobody wanted to leave the Dodgers. Well, that didn't hold true after the O'Malleys left, and that again, is something that the McCourts want this organization to become.
hfan33: Mr. Lasorda, I believe the Dodgers are in crisis mode. We desperately need production. What are your thoughts?
Lasorda: Well, first of all, we are drawing more people than we ever had, and if the Dodgers win 102 games, which is a lot, that means that we will lose 60 times. So, we know one thing before the season starts. That we're going to be miserable 60 times. If you are a true Dodgers fan, then you would have to understand that we're going to lose at least 60 times a season.
gizmocosmo: Most fans on the blog and many others think that the Dodgers should play their younger players more than the veterans. Nomar Garciaparra, Jeff Kent and Juan Pierre are not performing. What is your opinion on this?
Lasorda: Well, I disagree with that remark, because I believe that Nomar [Garciaparra], [Jeff] Kent, [Juan] Pierre, Rafael Furcal and Luis Gonzalez are doing a good job, just as Russell Martin, James Loney, Matt Kemp, Chad Billingsly, Jonathan Broxton and Tony Abreu are. If you put them in the blender, and mix it all up, that's when championships come out. It indicates that we have the veterans and the youngsters together, and it comes out well.
dodgrfan805: Having been a victim of a flying bat, do you feel first and third base coaches should wear helmets or protective gear?
Lasorda: I've coached third base for thousands of games, and thank God, I've never been hit with a baseball, but getting hit with a bat, well, that's rare. It wouldn't hurt to have coaches wear one when they're on the coaching line. I agree with you wholeheartedly, that's a good point, and we've spoken about that many times.
1baddesire: If you could change one Major League rule, what would it be?
Lasorda: The first thing I would do, is I would change the pitch count. I cannot understand how players today can pitch under a pitch count. They're not strengthening their arm by doing that. Juan Marichal one year pitched 30 complete games for the Giants. Robin Roberts of the Phillies had 20 or more. Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale -- how in the world could you count pitch counts with them? So that would be the number one thing I would change.
Buckner22: With youngsters such as [Russell] Martin, [Matt] Kemp, and [James] Loney creating excitement for Dodgers fans, it sort of reminds me of when Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes and Ron Cey came up. What are your thoughts of the young bucks so far?
Lasorda: I think they remind me a lot of when I had nine National League Rookies of the Year. All my players came up to the big leagues when I became manager here. Seventeen of the 25 played for me in the Minor Leagues. So watching [Russell] Martin, [James] Loney, Andy LaRoche, [Tony] Abreu, [Matt] Kemp, [Chad] Billingsly and [Jonathan] Broxton, reminds me a lot of the young guys that played for me. Personally, I thought Martin should have been Rookie of the Year last year. He is getting better each year, and he has the ability to become a superstar. When the other cities vote for All-Stars, they vote because they want their players on the All-Star team, but that doesn't happen here. So let's get out and vote for [Russell] Martin, Andre Ethier, Nomar [Garciaparra], [Jeff] Kent and all the other Dodgers.
1baddesire: What is your favorite movie?
Lasorda: I've seen a lot of movies about baseball, but my favorite movie is "The Pride of the Yankees". My main movies would be John Wayne in "The Quiet Man" and James Cagney in "Yankee Doodle Dandy".
stolenmonk: What is the most important part of a manager's job?
Lasorda: Extracting from all the players all the desire and will to win that's within them. You must get the players to play for the name on the front of their jersey, and not play for the name on the back.
TrueBlue42: Do you think the current club has what it takes to go deep in the playoffs?
Lasorda: I really and truly believe that we have a good enough team to get us into the playoffs.
1baddesire: Which Minor Leaguer are you most looking forward to making the big club?
Lasorda: Clayton Kershaw. I think he has outstanding ability and he could be pitching for the Dodgers maybe in the next couple of years.
dawjerblu: In your opinion, with the deadline approaching, if we have a chance to pick up another player should we go for a pitcher or a power hitter?
Lasorda: I would think that we have enough offense to win this thing, because in 1947, the New York Giants just destroyed the record of home runs hit. They broke the record and finished last. It's not power that wins games. It is pitching and defense that will win games.
Lasorda: Thanks for coming. I enjoyed chatting with you all immensely and look forward to doing this again soon.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.