Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dodger blogger profile: Evan Bladh (Opinion of Kingman's Performance)

In the second installment of my Dodger blogger profile series, Evan Bladh of Opinion of Kingman's Performance answers my questions.

His blog is chock full of current Dodger news/opinion and interesting, lesser-known past Dodger happenings, including a post on Sid Borgia and how he "changed the course of Dodger history."

Some of his posts have caught the eye of Dodger Thoughts' Jon Weisman on a few occasions.

1. How did you become a Dodgers' fan?
- My father worked for a company that sponsored the Dodgers when they first came to Los Angeles. So, he was always bringing us home little Dodger trinkets from work. Balls, miniature bats, pennants, signed photos; things like that. So, my Dodger fanaticism was ingrained in me at an early age. That would have been in the mid-1960s.

My first Dodger memory was the day after my 4th birthday in 1965. My brothers were screaming at the TV because John Roseboro was getting clubbed over the head with Juan Marichal’s bat. I was too young to understand what was going on, but I vividly remember the emotion of the event. The first game that I ever attended was May 13, 1970. I looked it up through the magic of baseball-reference.com. It was a 6-5 Dodger loss to Houston. That was one of the most magical nights of my life. Dodger Stadium was astonishingly beautiful. Those home white unis were so bright. The colors, sounds, smells, everything... I was hooked. As a 9-year-old kid, walking into Dodger Stadium with my dad, it didn’t get better than that. I still can’t believe that there were only 11,612 fans at that game.

2. What got you into blogging?
- I kind of got into it by accident. Call it fate if you will. I intended on studying journalism when I entered college, but I got side-tracked and dual majored in political science and Spanish instead; and then got the MBA. Though sports and writing about baseball was a passion, I simply couldn’t see going after that type of work as a vocation, so my career path went in a completely different arena (law enforcement). I always have stayed in close touch with the Dodgers, no matter where I have lived, be it overseas, Phoenix, Washington D.C., San Diego and currently, San Francisco.

When Al Gore invented the Internet, I started participating in message boards and developed some friendships with fellow Dodger fans over the net. I met a few fellow posters at Vero Beach, Dodger Stadium and even in San Francisco at Phone Bill Park. Once I saw that some had created blogs of their own I thought, “Gee, I could do that too.” Finally, when I was on vacation during the Christmas holidays I decided to start it up. Now it has developed into a passion and I’m constantly thinking of material to present.

3. What are some of goals for your blog?
- My goal is to put out unique, good quality stuff. I know I fall short of that often. It’s tough to come up with fresh, interesting material daily. I try to inject a bit of humor sometimes. Opinion of Kingman’s Performance is not strictly a baseball blog. I try to throw little nuances of life events in there. I’ll voice my opinion definitely and if I see some breaking news, I’ll get it out there, but that isn’t the goal of my blog. My goal is to simply be another voice and opinion. A fan’s point of view. Additionally, I like to provide a Dodger fan’s perspective living amongst the enemy in Giant territory, though I fear that I sometimes become obsessed with that. I am amazed at the vitriol and hatred for all things L.A. related up here. It is the ultimate of inferiority complexes. I call it when I see it. I realize that I need to tone things back a bit in that area though.

4. What is the best experience you've had since blogging?
- I wrote a piece on my father around his birthday in March. His health had been failing due to a stroke and dementia was really getting to be a serious issue. My mother read him my piece and he cried. It was the last real connection that we had. We spoke on the phone for the last times that day. He died 45 days later and by the time I got to him, he wasn’t able to communicate or recognize me. But I have the knowledge that what I wrote about him, touched his heart. If I hadn’t started writing the blog, I would have never expressed those feelings for my dad. He was a great man. I used much of what at wrote in the Eulogy at his funeral.

5. What is your most memorable in-person Dodgers' experience?
- My son and I were present to watch the Dodger clinch a playoff spot (the Wild Card) at San Francisco, AT&T Park. We just stood there in awe and took it in as the Giant faithful filed out. It was a great day because we had taken so much abuse from those fans since moving out to S.F. in 1996.

6. How many Dodger games have you attended? At Dodger Stadium?
- It has to be more than 500. I attended many at Dodger Stadium during my youth where I was a regular in the Left Field Pavilion during the magical 1974 season. Now that I live up north, I see them when they come to town four or five times a season here.

7. Who is your all-time favorite Dodger player and pitcher?
- I seem to always root for the underdog. The guy that can’t quite crack into the lineup, but when he does, he’s a gem. Ken McMullen was a favorite pinch hitter in the 70s. I mentioned him once in a blog post. I’d have to say that my favorite everyday player in the 70s was Bill Buckner. I was crushed when he was traded. Many fail to remember how that guy hustled, that he once had great speed and he’d make diving catches crashing into those unpadded left field walls. I was too young to remember Koufax and Drysdale, but I was around for Sutton and he was a favorite. When he got in the fight with Garvey in the clubhouse, I even liked him more. Never was much of a fan of the Garv. On today's team Clayton Kershaw is my favorite player.

8. What season of Dodgers' baseball do you remember most? Why?
- 1974 was my favorite because it was the first Pennant winning team that I experienced as a fan. We took down the Big Red Machine and the kids were starting to gel. Mike Marshall, the Cy Young Award winner was just an amazing closer and pitched in something like 106 games, often 3 or 4 innings to close things out.

My teenage brother would take me to games in the Left Field Pavilion. We’d get there early and ball hawk, chat with Francis Friedman, and cheer like mad. Jimmy Wynn had a great year. Garvey was an MVP, Sutton and Messersmith nearly un-hittable. It was a 104 win season. That’s what it took to beat the great Red teams because 95 games the year before left us behind in second place by 3.5 games.

9. Who is the Dodger you liked that no one else seemed to like?
- That was probably Bill Russell. He was given the shortstop position over fan favorite Maury Wills and it wasn’t his natural position. Russell was a fantastic defensive outfielder and here he was learning to play one of the toughest defensive positions while in the majors. I know he led the league in errors. Something like 40 in 1972. He was booed unmercifully, but Alston stuck with him. I liked Russell’s grit and determination.

More recently I liked both Jayson Werth and Cody Ross. If you were to check my postings on Dodger message boards a few years back, I was livid we let those guys go in favor of players like Jose Cruz, Jr., Kenny Lofton, Luis Gonzalez and Ricky Ledee.

10. What do you the Dodgers need to do to win another World Series in your lifetime (save axing McCourt and Colletti)?
- We were close just a few years ago and now that goal seems so distant. We need another impact bat akin to what Manny Ramirez was. Who that is? A perfect fit would be Albert Pujols, maybe Prince Fielder, but in order for that to happen, the ownership has to change to someone with deep pockets. If that were to occur, things could be real fun. A lot of things would need to fall into place. Some of the young pitching would have to turn into something special. If Billingsley, Kershaw and De La Rosa continue to progress, that’s a strong young pitching core. Add Zach Lee and Chris Withrow to the rotation and we may be in good shape. Kemp, and to a lesser extent, Ethier need to be included in the future, though I wouldn’t be opposed to dealing Ethier for some future young talent.

I really believe in some of the young kids and I think that they will will pan out. I’m talking about Dee Gordon (very exciting player with so much upside), Jerry Sands, Trayvon Robinson and possibly Ivan De Jesus, Jr.

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