Lasorda happy to contribute to Dodgers
Former manager chats online from Spring Training camp
Dodgers legend Tommy Lasorda chatted with fans Wednesday from Spring Training camp about the factors that will make this year's team a success. He also discussed the new additions to the team and prospects that can make an impact and recalled a few highlights from his time as Dodgers manager.
scout01: What are your thoughts on the World Baseball Classic -- how do you think it went?
Tommy Lasorda: First off, let me thank you for being a part of this. For the question, I thought it went exceptionally well. I think we were part of history. It's never been done before and I think it's going to get even better as the years go by.
Todd_Lolley: What do you think about the new seat colors at Dodger Stadium?
Lasorda: I think they're great. The new park where they're putting in the tables and the renovation that they made on the stadium continues to get even better.
thomemyhomie: Who was your favorite player growing up?
Lasorda: My favorite player was Lou Gehrig of the Yankees.
eman29: How did it feel when Kirk Gibson hit the home run against the Oakland A's in the World Series?
Lasorda: Well it felt incredible to see that home run come at that particular time and what's so much greater is that they were never able to recover and we beat them in five games. It not only had an impact on the game, but it shattered their confidence and they weren't able to regroup after that. It played a very important role in our defeating the Oakland club in the 1988 World Series.
uclabruinsean: Who was your inspiration growing up?
Lasorda: My father was my inspiration and he made me believe in myself. He made me understand what it was going to take for me to make it in life. Those are the things I pass onto the young players now. I try to make them understand that.
Michael_Johnsen: Why do you think the U.S. team lost in the second round of the World Baseball Classic and what should they do in 2009 for the next Classic?
Lasorda: I think the reason that they didn't win is because they didn't seem like they were ready to play. They seemed like they weren't prepared and weren't hitting up to their capabilities. These guys worked out for three weeks and they should've been ready. All they've got to do in '09 is get together, get the best players we have and get them playing together for awhile and we can go on and beat those other teams.
uclabruinsean: Who would you say is the best pitcher and hitter in Major League Baseball right now?
Lasorda: The best pitcher, let's see, I would say it is Roger Clemens, who's definitely headed for the Hall of Fame. And the best hitter in baseball right now is Albert Pujols.
Base_Ball: To me it looks like we have good depth with our offense, the free agents and the experience gained by some of last year's rookies. What say you?
Lasorda: I love this year's team. I think we've got players that have experience in the playoffs. I think we can put a team on the field this season that can compete with anybody in the Major Leagues. If our players stay healthy, that once again, the fans in Los Angeles will taste the fruits of victory. We're going to win.
Todd_Lolley: What keeps you involved with the team after all of these years?
Lasorda: Well, I love what I'm doing. I think I can contribute to the ballclub. I think that Frank McCourt and Jamie McCourt have given me the position as special advisor to the chairman to utilize my expertise and my experience. And I'm the happiest guy in the whole world to do it.
Todd_Lolley: Do you miss being in the dugout every day with the team?
Lasorda: I miss it very, very much, but every good thing has to come to an end and my end had come. When I made the Hall of Fame, it was like reaching the top of the mountain. I am completely happy, satisfied with everything, but I really and truly do miss it. The competition, the ability to motivate players. That's what I miss.
Kyle_Wright: What, in your opinion, was the greatest pitching performance in Dodgers history?
Lasorda: Well, the greatest pitching performance, I would have to say, was watching Sandy Koufax pitch against the Yankees in the World Series when he shut them out. I got to see Don Drysdale pitch great World Series games. And I got to see Bobby Welch pitch against Reggie Jackson in the World Series. That was the greatest confrontation I have every seen in my whole life. He threw him 11 or 12 fastballs, the same speed, and by golly, he wound up striking him out. Reggie broke the bat on the ground, he was so disgusted, but that was the most exciting thing I've ever seen.
Base_Ball: I watched Chad Billingsley pitch against Baltimore in Spring Training. He looked very impressive and he appears to have a great work ethic. Do you have any thoughts about his chances of making the Dodgers this year as a spot starter or long reliever?
Lasorda: To me, I think he has a great future waiting for him. He's got great ability, he's got good control and he's going to be one great pitcher in the future. I think he's going to start in Triple-A this year, though.
drphan: How do you think Nomar Garciaparra will do this year and what will his impact be on the team?
Lasorda: If Nomar can play up to his capabilities from three years ago when he led the American League in hitting, I think he's going to be a tremendous addition to our ballclub. He's a great young man and he's got a lot of courage and I think he's going to do a great job for us.
thomemyhomie: What are your thoughts on the good speed at the top of the lineup now?
Lasorda: Well that's what we've lacked the last few years, since Davey Lopes did that. Now we've got Rafael Furcal who can steal bases and a good No. 2 hitter in Kenny Lofton. I think that Ned Colletti and the McCourts and Grady have an outstanding ballclub now.
Todd_Lolley: What don't you miss about being the skipper of the Dodgers?
Lasorda: What I don't miss? I don't miss the losses.
avcampeon: What are your expectations for the upcoming season?
Lasorda: I expect the Dodgers to play like an experienced ballclub. Ned Colletti went out and got guys that really know how to play the game. We have a great pitching staff and deep bullpen. And I've said this many, many times, that pennants, playoffs and World Series are won and lost in the bullpen.
uclabruinsean: What has changed in the game since you played?
Lasorda: I think the big change is that I don't see teams taking infield practice anymore. That disturbs me. And I think the guaranteed contracts and the amounts of money players are making today, sometimes they don't think that they have to produce and work hard once they get those good contracts.
Ty_Meadows: In your eyes, how are the Minor League teams for the Dodgers looking?
Lasorda: Well from what I've seen, this is the first time in a long time that we've had the amount of outstanding prospects that we have. In the next couple of years, you're going to see guys coming up through our Minor League system.
Robert_Galindo: Tommy, how did you feel when Orel Hershiser struck the last guy in the 1988 World Series?
Lasorda: I thought that that was the end of a tremendous year. What we accomplished that year was just unbelievable. Nobody ever thought that we'd beat the Mets in the playoffs. Orel played a big part in that. Nobody thought we could beat the mighty A's and Hershiser starred in that. To me, it was a year of unbelievable success.
chadito: Of all of the players eligible, what player do think most deserves to be in the Hall of Fame who currently isn't?
Lasorda: Gil Hodges. Here's a guy, if you check his numbers, his numbers and Tony Perez's numbers are about equal and Tony played five more years in the Majors than Hodges. There isn't any doubt he should be in the Hall of Fame.
Base_Ball_3: How does it feel to have a heart institute named after you? It must feel pretty good. Any new developments?
Lasorda: I'm honored that they would put my name on that institute. When someone has something done like that for them, that's an unbelievable thing to happen to me.
Eric_Mendez: Aside from Dodger Stadium, what is your favorite ballpark to visit?
Lasorda: Chicago's Wrigley Field. I love that stadium.
brent_cook: What are your thoughts on Joel Guzman? When will he make the big club and at what position?
Lasorda: I think the next couple of years you're going to hear a lot about him. This guy's got tremendous talent and he's going to really impress the fans because when he hits one, he can hit it out of the Grand Canyon.
Eric_Mendez: What are your thoughts on Yankee Stadium being torn down in a few years? I'm sure you have many memories in that stadium.
Lasorda: Yankee Stadium, Wrigley and Fenway -- those are outstanding traditions. It will be hard to see them go.
chadito: Who was the best player you ever managed? Who was the best player you ever played against?
Lasorda: The best player I ever managed, talent-wise, was Reggie Smith. And the best I ever managed against would probably have to be Johnny Bench.
Base_Ball_3: Do you think All-Stars of the early days would be able to compete with the All-Stars of today?
Lasorda: Without a doubt, yes.
avcampeon: Do you feel that there is a difference between this year's team and last year's team?
Lasorda: I think the biggest difference is going to be the health factor. Last year we had so many injuries to guys like J.D. Drew and Eric Gagne and this year, we're just hoping that everyone stays healthy and plays to the best of their ability.
Eric_Mendez: Are you excited to see the changes to the stadium, with the original look?
Lasorda: Honestly, I'm just really excited to start the season and get back to Dodger Stadium, which I call Blue Heaven on Earth. I have said this many, many times, that we have the greatest fans in all of baseball. This game doesn't belong to the owners and it doesn't belong to the players. It belongs to the fans who have supported the Dodgers over the years and there isn't a doubt in mind that our fans are the greatest.
Michael_Johnsen: I can't wait until the Freeway Series in a couple of weeks. Think we'll be able to beat Mike Scioscia's team? He's put together a great bunch of guy's over there.
Lasorda: Let me tell you something about the Angels -- the only Angels that I know are in heaven and they're all ex-Dodgers.
Lasorda: Thank you very much for asking so many questions. I have to get to Port St. Lucie for tonight's game, but keep rooting for the Dodgers and we hope to see you at Dodger Stadium for the Freeway Series next weekend and then for Opening Day on April 3.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.