Colletti, a senior adviser to the president of the Los Angeles Dodgers, talked about big steps the team has taken in recent days to set themselves up for the crown during an authors’ night presentation last Thursday at the South Pasadena Library Community Room.
The Dodgers look to keep winning as they roll into Arizona and San Francisco this week for their final six games of the regular season.
“The only team that can beat the Dodgers are the Dodgers,” Colletti told about 200 fans, many donning Dodger blue, as they soaked up his baseball knowledge. “I don’t see a team in the National League that can beat them.”
Seated alongside Dodger Historian and longtime South Pasadena resident Mark Langill, Colletti told the crowd, “I love where the Dodgers are right now and they can get back to the Fall Classic.”
The honored guest, whose book, “The Big Chair: The Smooth Hops and Bad Bounces from the Inside World of the Acclaimed Los Angeles Dodgers General Manager” is a best-seller, talked about the team’s current roster, a TV contract that angers many, the club’s former legendary broadcaster Vin Scully and, of course, the charge to the postseason.
About two weeks ago, the Dodgers had lost two out of three in Cincinnati, but following the series the club has rolled over everyone in its path, winning consecutive series against St. Louis, Colorado and San Diego, setting them up for showdowns against the Diamondbacks and Giants.
“I felt with the depth and experience the longer the season went the more the Dodgers would be the one team that would pull away,” he told the large gathering.
Similar remarks were heard a day earlier when Colletti talked to Petros Papadakis and Matt “Money” Smith on ESPN Radio. “I think the Dodgers are the best team in the League,” he told the listening audience. “I just don’t say that because this is the flagship station. I say it because it’s what I believe. This is very good team. They’re waiting for the last week of the season and the month of October. I don’t see anyone as good as they are and as deep as they are, especially when it comes to pitching.
“I think they have another shot at the World Series,” he insisted.
On the minds of some during his South Pasadena visit was Yasiel Puig, nicknamed “The Wild Horse” by Scully and a crowd favorite who is playing, perhaps, his finest baseball as the regular season is about to a close. “I think he’s really come a long way, especially over the last year and a half,” said Colletti. “I see tremendous patience and calmness at the plate and it’s starting to pay off for the organization. He’s come a long way from a great talent in going through a process to making huge advancements as a player.”
Manny Machado, Matt Kemp, Max Muncy and Clayton Kershaw were among a list of players Colletti praised for their play during the Dodgers drive to a NL West title. A solid starting rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Rich Hill and Hyun-jin Ryu should help pave the way.
“The guy to really watch is Buehler,” said Colletti. “He’s got October stuff with a high and low fastball and a lot of intellect on the mound. There’s also a little bit of edge to him with some grit. When you’ve got Kershaw and him one-two, they’re going to be tough to beat. Those two guys one-two; they are better than anyone else’s one-two. I can promise you that.”
Turning away from the game on the field, Colletti, like millions of others, hopes the situation will resolve itself where Dodger games are seen by more on TV in the future. Broadcasts continue to go unseen by the majority of their fans as Charter Cable, which sells the cable service under the Spectrum brand name, owns the rights to telecasts.
SportsNet LA channel, which carries the games, has been unavailable in millions of Southern California homes without Spectrum.
Colletti, well aware of the situation, wished the problem were remedied. “I don’t know anything I can really tell you,” he said quietly. “I don’t know. The Dodgers made a business decision and chose a partner that I’m sure they thought would take it to Direct TV and put it everywhere. The Dodgers get blamed for it a lot. It’s not necessarily, I believe, their fault. It kind of breaks my heart a little bit it is the way it is. At some point in time I hope it gets rectified.”
And about Scully, Colletti simply called him the “best broadcaster in baseball.” No arguments there.
Before sitting down with Colletti for the one-on-one Q&A, Langill welcomed Dodgers’ icon Roger Owens to talk about his life as a vendor at Dodger Stadium selling – no, make that tossing peanuts – behind his back.
He’s a show within a show at games.
The Dodgers have made 19 World Series appearances and Owens has been a part of 10, walking up and down the hard concrete steps at Dodger Stadium like a wandering minstrel. Along the way, as he swaps stories with fans, tells jokes and smiles freely, while hoisting bags of peanuts around his back and under his legs to those appreciating his ability to make the perfect throws.
“I’m the only pitcher in the major leagues making less that $1 million a year,” the 75-year-old Owens quipped. “You know I work for peanuts and should get paid a lot more.”
He’s been pitching bags of peanuts at Dodgers game for 60 straight years, telling the crowd he worked his way up after selling 7-Up, Coca Cola and chocolate malts.
“It’s a real pleasure for me to work at Dodger Stadium all these years,” said the man who landed on NBC’s “Tonight” show as a guest during the Johnny Carson days. “I never get tired of it and the personal friendships that I have with so many people. We’re like family.”
With a box full of peanuts strung around his neck, Owens, gripping a 6-1/2 ounce bag, Owens asked a New Yorker in the audience at the South Pasadena event if he had heard about two peanuts sitting on a subway in Bronx after the Yankees’ game was over.
“It was about midnight,” explained Owens. “The Bronx is a rough neighborhood.”
Did you hear what happened?” Owens asked before hearing, “No, tell me what happened” The smiling peanut man, joked: “One of the peanuts got assaulted,” prompting laughter from the audience.
“I was born to be an entertainer and just enjoy my work so much,” added Owens, whose late nephew wrote a book –“The Perfect Pitch” –in 2004. Like Colletti’s, it’s available on Amazon.
Demonstrating his unique tossing ability, Owens was among the library community room crowd – or “peanut gallery, as he called it – doing what he does best, connecting with those eager to catch bags of peanuts. “Nice catch,” he yelled to one.
“Good one,” he told another, smiling and laughing with each toss.
It’s all in a day’s work for the good-natured Owens.
“I’m grateful to do what I do and I know the fans appreciate me,” he said. “It’s such a privilege to be out there with them. I love what I do.”
And that’s his story in a nutshell.