Category Archives: Lessons Learned

Today in Knuckleball History: June 21, 1997

Candiotti Throws Seven Shutout Innings as Emergency Replacement

June 21, 1997

Los Angeles Dodgers 11, San Francisco Giants 0 At 3Com Park

Tom Candiotti:  7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 SO.

So that’s why the Dodgers kept Tom Candiotti around. As insurance, just in case one of their starters went down.

Sent to the bullpen to begin the season, Candiotti finally made his first start of the year, filling in for injured starter Ramon Martinez, who’d complained the night before about a sore right shoulder. The knuckleballer responded by flummoxing the San Francisco Giants for seven shutout innings, lifting the Dodgers to an 11-0 victory over their arch rivals.

Candiotti had been sent to the bullpen because of the emergence of right-hander Chan Ho Park, who joined a Los Angeles rotation which already included Martinez, Hideo Nomo, Ismael Valdez, and Pedro Astacio—a pitching staff that was second in the majors only to the Atlanta Braves’ staff headed by Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz. 

Although Candiotti, with 126 wins and a 3.53 ERA in his 13 big-league seasons entering 1997, was rumored to be traded all spring, Dodger general manager Fred Claire hung on to the knuckleballer, and it proved to be the right decision. 

Through June 10, pitching exclusively out of the bullpen, Candiotti had three wins and a 2.03 ERA in 22 games, with five walks and 18 strikeouts, holding opposing hitters to a .212 average. 

Then, on this Saturday afternoon, he held the Giants to just four hits in seven innings as the Dodgers bounced back from a 5-2 loss in the series opener on Thursday and a blown 7-0 lead on Friday night—a game which saw L.A. use six pitchers. Candiotti even delivered at the plate, driving in the Dodgers’ sixth run on a squeeze bunt. The other Dodger heroes offensively were Raul Mondesi, who smacked an RBI triple and two-run single, and Tripp Cromer, who had three hits and three RBIs.

Candiotti and the Dodgers expected this would be his only start, as Ramon Martinez was expected to return after skipping just this start. As it turned out, though, Martinez’s injury was revealed to be a torn rotator cuff, and the Dodger ace would be sidelined for two months.   

Although the Dodgers did not win the division in 1997, losing out to the Giants by two games, Candiotti did do the job for L.A., going 6-2 with a 3.62 ERA in 11 starts during Martinez’s absence. It should have been at least seven wins; he nearly beat San Francisco again on July 12, handing the bullpen a 2-1 lead only to see the Giants rip two relievers for seven runs in the ninth. 

Candiotti pitched well enough as a starter that when Martinez did return in August, the Dodgers dealt fourth starter Astacio (4-8 with a 5.19 ERA over a three-month stretch) to Colorado for second baseman Eric Young while keeping the knuckleballer in the rotation for the rest of the 1997 season.

A free agent after the season—he signed with the Oakland Athletics in the off-season—Candiotti would finish his six-year Dodger career with a 3.57 ERA but just a 52-64 record, thanks primarily to a paucity of run support. No Los Angeles pitcher with an ERA as low as Candiotti’s had a lower winning percentage than his .448 in a Dodger uniform. (It should be noted that Ramon Martinez, who received much better support from the Dodgers, was 72-48 with a 3.67 ERA during that same stretch. In 1995, for instance, Martinez was 17-7 with a 3.66 ERA and a league-leading 81 walks and 138 strikeouts over 206.1 innings. Candiotti, perhaps L.A.’s unluckiest pitcher ever, was 7-14 with a 3.50 ERA in 190.1 innings with 58 walks and 141 strikeouts.)

But, as Charlie Hough often told other knuckleballers, “When the other guys get hurt or don’t pitch well, be there when they need someone.” And that’s exactly what Candiotti did for the Dodgers in 1997.

So they say, “Go Google that #@!”

In the latest episode of the podcast, I shared with the guest host a story about the time when I interviewed a former athlete who told me to “go Google that @#!#” in response to a question about a game in which his team won.

This reminds me of a recent incident when I expressed frustration in using a new system to a colleague. This was a fellow whom I respected — and, in fact, I had written two glowing recommendation letters for him for professional reference purposes recently — but what did he do?* No, he didn’t say “go Google that @#!#!”

He came close, though. He essentially told me off — in a condescending manner — commenting that the system was “pretty easy.” But the tone was definitely condescending. I was disappointed that he would react that way, especially since I had just written those letters for him. I guess you just never know.

*I even personally spoke to the two places about him, giving glowing verbal recommendations. Both places were extremely interested in his services, but he decided to brush them off — despite the fact he had asked me to get in touch with them in the first place. I’d even shared teaching resources with him umpteen times. Never again. But come to think of it, I should have known better. When I told him a couple of times about my podcast, he didn’t show any interest or give any words of congratulations or encouragement. His only response was succinct: “I only listen to Tim and Sid.” Okay, whatever.

The K.P. Wee Podcast, Episode 6: Profusa CEO Ben Hwang

The K.P. Wee Podcast, Episode 6: Profusa CEO Ben Hwang

Ben Hwang is a former Los Angeles Dodger batboy and for the past nine years has been the Chairman and CEO of Profusa, a biotech company based in Northern California.

His career in the science and technology space spans over 15 years, and has served a number of leadership positions such as Head of qPCR Platform and President of Asia Pacific at Life Technologies, and Vice President and General Manager of the Asia Pacific Region at Thermo Fisher Scientific.

From 1984 to 1990, he was the Marketing and Promotions Manager for the Dodgers.

Ben discusses his time in baseball and shares the lessons that he learned while in the Dodger organization as well as tips for those who would like to get into the game. He also discusses how the lessons learned in baseball are applicable to life outside of sport.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • [2:10] An introduction to Ben Hwang
  • [6:28] Ben’s experience working for the Dodgers
  • [11:53] Profusa’s mission
  • [16:14] Three key lessons Ben learned in baseball that are applicable to life in general
  • [22:07] Ben explains his motto: “Don’t be afraid to put your name in the hat.”
  • [26:04] Ben on his attempted bid to purchase the Dodgers in 2012

Key Quotes by Ben:

  • “Those years were so much fun that my biggest fear in my teens and late 20s was that my life would have peaked by then. How much greater could your life be as a baseball fan to actually be on the field playing catch with your heroes and putting on a Dodgers uniform?”
  • “We are the sum of all our experiences, and I don’t think a day goes by without me being grateful for the experience that I had in baseball and at Dodger Stadium.”
  • “Professional sports creates a work ethic that is second to none.”
  • “The advice I would give to anybody who is considering a career in any industry, or any discipline, quite frankly, is: Don’t be afraid to raise your hand. The worst thing that could happen is that they say ‘no’. The best thing that could happen is that you get the chance to prove yourself. The most likely thing that would happen is, you just earned the opportunity to articulate your passion and your ambition to somebody who may not be able to help you immediately, but may help you in the future. So, yep, throw your name in the hat every chance you get.”

For more information about Profusa, please check out the company’s website: https://profusa.com/

If you enjoyed the intro music, please follow Roger Chong on Twitter/Instagram: @chongrong 

For the book referenced in the podcast, Tim Madigan and Fred Claire’s “Extra Innings,” please visit https://www.tinyurl.com/FredClaireExtraInnings

The K.P. Wee Podcast, Episode 7: Former Dodger General Manager Fred Claire

The K.P. Wee Podcast, Episode 7: Former Dodger General Manager Fred Claire

Fred Claire is a former General Manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers, a role he held for 29 years from 1969 to 1998.

Following his time working in professional baseball, he started his own business management consultancy for professional sports and entertainment.

He is a founding partner at Scoutables.com, which offers daily scouting reports on every player in Major League Baseball based on recent performance.

Fred shares memories from his Dodger days and offers advice to students and other young people who want to get into sports.

He also talks mentorship and discusses his new book with Tim Madigan (which was released in July 2020) titled Extra Innings: Fred Claire’s Journey to City of Hope and Finding a World Championship Team.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • [2:52] Fred on his passion for mentorship
  • [4:10] Getting started in the sports industry
  • [6:58] Practical steps young people can take to find a mentor in the sports world
  • [9:02] Fred’s encounter with a young Tony Robbins and his brother
  • [13:44] Trading players as a General Manager
  • [21:44] Fred on the Dodgers’ incredible attention to detail in every aspect of training
  • [25:44] How Fred figured that the Dodgers would win the 1988 championship
  • [28:10] Fred’s cancer journey at City of Hope—the story behind the book Extra Innings
  • [34:35] Parting advice to students and other young people on chasing your dreams

Key Quotes by Fred:

  • “Whatever I can do to help others, guide others, educate others, and inspire others—whatever it is—I get great satisfaction from that.”
  • “I’ve always been struck by people, including professional baseball players, who simply had a determination that they were going to reach their goals, and may or may not reach it, but at the end of the day knew that they did the best that they could.”
  • “Words themselves carry great meaning. It doesn’t have to be receiving something in return, because what I found in life is that, many times, those things come later.”
  • “I think it’s a fair statement that the Dodgers have invested more money and more people in analytics than any team in baseball.”
  • “Never, ever be afraid to get a second opinion. I’ve been very fortunate to be able to help a number of people get a second opinion at City of Hope. I just think that’s so important because one’s life can be at stake.”

Follow Fred Claire on Twitter @Fred_Claire / Connect with Fred on LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/fred-claire-1605a01

For more information about the book Extra Innings, please visit https://www.tinyurl.com/FredClaireExtraInnings

If you enjoyed the intro music, please follow Roger Chong on Twitter/Instagram: @chongroger

Podcast episode #18: Baseball Hall of Fame discussion with Jason Takefman

As mentioned in the episode, I very rarely discuss sports with others because they simply don’t want to hear anything other than their own opinions. So, it was a good chance to talk about them with Jason Takefman. It is, after all, my own platform to voice my opinions.