Dodger Thoughts and Beyond: An Interview With Author Jon Weisman

Mary McCoy, Senior Librarian, Art, Music, & Recreation Department,
Sandy Koufax at the pitch
Sandy Koufax | Brothers in Arms

If you're an Angeleno with even a casual interest in the Dodgers, you've probably heard of veteran baseball writer Jon Weisman. Since 2002, Weisman's blog Dodger Thoughts, his self-described "outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers", has been home to consistently sharp and thoughtful sports writing.

Never alarmist or bombastic, Weisman's writing has often kept me from panicking about the Dodgers and just as often deterred me from a road towards false hope and unfounded optimism. To read him is to take a deep dive into Dodgers lore, shot through with fascinating connections, everyday wonder, and unconditional love. For a dose of that beauty, check out What Does It Mean To Lose a World Series?, his recap of the Dodgers' thrilling heartbreaker of a World Series ride, where he writes:

"What does it mean to lose a World Series? It means you don’t take that exhaustion anywhere except home. You toss it in the trash if you choose. Or, you own it, and you take pride in it, you treasure it, even if it is nothing like joy, nothing like euphoria, nothing like pounding your chest and shouting to the heavens."

Weisman will be at Central Library on Saturday, May 5 at 2 p.m. to discuss and sign his new book, Brothers in Arms: Koufax, Kershaw, and the Dodgers' Extraordinary Pitching Tradition, which examines the rich history of Dodgers aces and how they've shaped the franchise.

Los Angeles Public Library staff had some questions for Weisman, as we gear up to deal psychologically with the 2018 Dodger season.

In your opinion, who is the most underrated or under-appreciated Dodger?

At the risk of tailoring this answer too closely to my book, I'll say it might be Claude Osteen, who pitched in the shadow of future Hall of Famers Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, and Don Sutton but not only saved the team in the 1965 World Series but helped keep the rotation intact for the next several years. Just an incredibly effective and reliable pitcher, that subsequent generations seem to have mostly forgotten. Burt Hooton is a similar one—I think he was mostly appreciated in his time but overshadowed by guys like Sutton and Fernando Valenzuela. In addition, while he is remembered for a terrible playoff start in Philadelphia, overall he was a terrific postseason pitcher for the Dodgers, and dominant on the way to the 1981 World Series title (0.82 ERA in five starts).

Dodger pitchers Pete Richert, Don Sutton, Al Downing and Claude Osteen take the field.

Dodger pitchers Pete Richert, Don Sutton, Al Downing and Claude Osteen take the field

What gives you the most optimism about the 2018 season?

There's just a great deal lot of talent in place, including elite talent, and numerous alternatives in the event of injuries. I certainly wouldn't read too much into the team's slow start in April, any more than I should have gotten so excited when the Dodgers started the 2005 season 12-2—and ended up losing 91 games. I will acknowledge that the starting rotation doesn't seem as deep as you might like, but with Walker Buehler among those biding time in the minors, I still believe. Many fans, however ironically, tend to worry about their team's weaknesses while ignoring those of the competition.

View from top of Dodger Stadium general admission seats

View from top of Dodger Stadium general admission seats. Photograph dated April 4, 1988

When you're not rooting for the Dodgers, is there a team to which you'd grant runner-up fandom status?

I grew up in an era when the Dodgers and Angels weren't rivals, so unlike some younger fans today, I'm happy to see them do well and would absolutely love a Freeway Series in October. Also, I will root for the Cubs when they're not playing the Dodgers. My dad grew up in Chicago and went to the 1945 World Series at age 10, and when the Dodgers lost to the Cubs in the 2016 National League Championship Series, there couldn't have been a better consolation prize than knowing my dad would finally get his return trip to the Fall Classic at age 81.

What's your favorite book about the Dodgers?

The one Vin Scully hasn't written and might never write, but a guy can always dream ... If for some reason you have any doubt about Vin's writing ability.

Vin Scully and Jon Weisman

Vin Scully and the author Jon Weisman

Book cover for Brothers in Arms: Koufax, Kershaw, and the Dodgers’ Extraordinary Pitching Tradition
Brothers in Arms: Koufax, Kershaw, and the Dodgers’ Extraordinary Pitching Tradition
Weisman, Jon, 1967-