Giants' Vogelsong Spurns Dodgers Blue

The Dodgers-Giants rivalry has taken many twist and turns over the years. It's most passionate among the fans. Players come and go, often switching from one team to the next over the winter, such as Juan Uribe moving south this year. But the case of Ryan Vogelsong proved the rivalry still inspires strong feelings among the players, even somebody who hadn't worn a Giants uniform in a decade.

Vogelsong pitched 6.2 scoreless innings Monday in the Giants' 5-0 win, the latest in a long line of pitchers to shut down the Dodgers offense this year. The difference between Vogelsong and the other pitchers is that despite not having a job deep into the offseason, Vogelsong flat-out didn't want to wear the Dodgers uniform.

In the late 1990s, Vogelsong was drafted (in the fifth round) and developed by the Giants. Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti remembered Vogelsong from his days as the Giants' assistant GM, remembered the potential, and wanted to sign him.

In fact, Vogelsong was once so highly valued by Giants management that when the Pirates wanted him as the centerpiece to a trade for Jason Schmidt in 2001, half the Giants' decision-makers said they wouldn't make the deal. Brian Sabean, San Francisco's GM, pulled the trigger reluctantly.

Vogelsong never forgot what the Dodgers-Giants rivalry meant. Even though he was traded to the Pirates, blew out his elbow and missed a whole year, was totally ineffective the next four years, spent three years in Japan, and pitched (again ineffectively) for the Angels and Phillies' Class AAA affiliates last year, he still considered himself a Giant at heart.

So much so that when the Dodgers inquired about signing him in the offseason, he sat on the offer. Instead of taking the job, he asked Giants minor league catching instructor Guillermo Rodriguez, a former minor league teammate, to contact the Giants and say, in essence, "I don't want to be a Dodger; you can sign me for whatever you want to pay me."

The Giants did just that.

Vogelsong started the year in the minors, was called up when Barry Zito went on the disabled list, went nine consecutive starts allowing two runs or fewer, was selected to the NL All-Star team by his manager, came into Monday with the lowest ERA in the league and left to a standing ovation from Giants fans after improving to 7-1 and lowering his ERA to 2.02.

McCourt: 'MLB Deal is With The Devil
Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times reports that attorneys for Frank McCourt called the proposed Major League Baseball loan a 'deal with the devil' and argued the bankruptcy court has no grounds to impose an MLB loan upon the Dodgers over one McCourt has arranged, even if the league offers better financial terms. The bankruptcy court is set to hear arguments Wednesday over whether the Dodgers should be financed during the bankruptcy proceedings with a loan arranged by McCourt or one proposed by MLB, in which the interest rate is lower and almost $10 million in fees are not included. The attorneys foretold of a legal "collision course" between Commissioner Bud Selig and McCourt over the powers of the commissioner in general, and over his authority over assets beyond the team itself. The filing also claims that Selig's "unfounded criticism" of the Dodgers' stadium security and operations led "directly to fan unease and attendant declines in attendance."

Red Sox, Yankees Interested In Kuroda
The Red Sox have called the Dodgers about Hiroki Kuroda, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com. The Yankees and Tigers are also among the many clubs interested in the Dodgers right-hander.

Maury Wills Honored
The Baseball Reliquary's 2011 Induction Day ceremony for its thirteenth class of electees to the Shrine of the Eternals was held on Sunday, July 17, 2011 in Pasadena. The inductees were Maury Wills, Ted Giannoulas (or The Famous Chicken) and Pete Gray, the one-armed outfielder who played for the St. Louis Browns. In addition, the Baseball Reliquary honor the recipients of the 2011 Hilda Award, Chris Erskine.

Wills is universally credited with returning the stolen base as an offensive weapon to the National League in the 1960s and setting the table for future speedsters Lou Brock, Tim Raines, and Rickey Henderson. After nearly ten years in the minor leagues before he got his shot as a rookie with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1959. He stole 50 bases in 1960, the most by an NL player since Max Carey in 1923. Between 1960 and 1965, Wills led the NL in thefts in six consecutive seasons, including a then-record 104 stolen bases in 1962 on his way to copping the NL's Most Valuable Player Award. Wills' legs led the Dodgers to three World Series appearances in 1963, 1965, and 1966.

Wills was introduced by Fred Claire, who was a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers' front office from 1969 through 1998 and served the team as its general manager from 1987 until 1998. He currently is a columnist for MLB.com and is a member of the board of the Rose Bowl Operating Company, the First Tee program of Pasadena, and the Special Olympics of Southern California.

Established in 2001 in memory of Hilda Chester, the legendary Brooklyn Dodgers fan, the Hilda Award recognizes distinguished service to the game by a baseball fan. Erskine has been both graphics editor and a columnist with the Los Angeles Times since 1998. His wide-ranging observations on the national pastime always come from the perspective of a fan, engaging baseball with a warmth and poignancy which allow his readers to reflect on the enduring nature of being a true supporter.

Players Leery of Dodgers
Even if the bankrupt Dodgers somehow come up with the available cash this winter, the turmoil surrounding the franchise may be enough to scare some players away. Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times talked to some potential free agents who said off-the-field issues such as ownership and the front office would be considered before signing with the Dodgers. Prince Fielder, Michael Cuddyer and C.J. Wilson were among those expressing at least some skepticism.

Translation: Frank McCourt (if he is still around) will have to pay a premium to get any notable free agent to come to Chavez Ravine. While Padres closer Heath Bell said he would consider the Dodgers, he sounded an alarm about the flood of empty seats at Dodger Stadium.

NOTES, QUOTES
--RHP Chad Billingsley, pitching on nine days of rest due to the All-Star break, only allowed one run through the first five innings Monday at San Francisco. But after giving up four hits to the first 19 batters he faced, he allowed five hits to the last six batters he faced. That led to four runs in the sixth inning, and his record fell to 8-8 with the loss.

--SS Rafael Furcal returned to the lineup after getting Sunday off, and he went 0-for-3 with a walk Monday. He's now 3-for-35 since coming off the disabled list, and he's batting .163 on the year.

--CF Matt Kemp's daily highlight reel included a very long running catch before running into the wall to rob Giants CF Andres Torres of extra bases in the fifth inning. Kemp went 1-for-4.

--RHP Kenley Jansen extended his scoreless streak to 10 2/3 innings on Sunday, dating back to when he returned from the disabled list on June 18. Jansen has allowed three hits in 35 at-bats (.086 average) with 16 strikeouts. His ratio of 14.49 strikeouts per nine innings is the highest in the majors, and second behind Eric Gagne's 14.98 in 2003 for best in Dodgers history.

--RHP Jonathan Broxton's tentative plan to begin throwing on the current road trip was scrapped. He's doing arm exercises, but he's not going to throw until he's pain-free, and that hasn't occurred yet. As a result, it's getting more likely he's out for the year. The best-case scenario for Broxton now would be returning in September.

--OF Trayvon Robinson homered for Class AAA Albuquerque for the second consecutive day, giving him 24 for the season. Robinson, expected to get called up to the majors at some point in the second half, hit a grand slam Sunday. His previous career high was 17 home runs. One concern is still his plate discipline, as he's struck out 108 times and walked 39 times.

BY THE NUMBERS: 22 -- Innings between extra-base hits for the Dodgers. Jamey Carroll's pinch-hit double in the seventh inning Monday was the first since CF Matt Kemp's solo home run in the second inning Saturday. Just the Dodgers' luck, Carroll's drive bounced over the wall for a ground-rule double. If it stayed in the ballpark, 3B Juan Uribe would have easily scored from first. Instead, he stayed at third base, and the Dodgers stranded the bases loaded when Aaron Miles grounded out.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's not about self-belief. We think we can win, too. I'm not saying we're better than the Giants -- they're the world champions, they lead the division, handily over us. They're set up differently. Their whole belief is that they feel they're going to win each game. That's what we have to get to. It comes from winning. We're in close games, and we haven't won our share. They're in close games, and they are winning their share. They were the same last year. They won a lot of close games. Clubs like that walk around with that look about them. I've been around clubs like that. There isn't a huge difference in ability, but there's a mentality, a feeling they have that's an advantage." -- Manager Don Mattingly, on the difference between the Dodgers' good-pitching, poor-hitting team and the Giants' good-pitching, poor-hitting team.

*M*A*S*H* 4077 MEDICAL WATCH:
--3B Casey Blake (sore neck) went on the 15-day disabled list July 3. He had been playing through the ailment for several weeks. The injury wasn't healing as quickly as expected as of mid-July, so Blake's return was delayed.

--RHP Jonathan Broxton (bone bruise on right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 4. He threw a bullpen session June 7. He made rehab appearances on June 21 and 23 for Class AAA Albuquerque, but he felt tightness in his elbow when playing catch June 25, and he was shut down from throwing. He had yet to resume throwing as of July 18. There is a chance he might not pitch again for the Dodgers this season.

--RHP Vicente Padilla (right radial nerve irritation) went on the 15-day disabled list May 14. He began a rehab assignment with Class A Rancho Cucamonga on May 29, but was shut down in early June due to a neck ailment. He underwent neck surgery June 16, and he will likely miss the rest of the season.

--RHP Jon Garland (right shoulder inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 2. He played catch June 21 but had to shut it down quickly. He underwent season-ending surgery during the All-Star break and began his rehab.

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