On Monday night, the scene was all about baseball and the Dodgers as FOX Sports Network Prime Ticket premiered three of its Dodgers-related original programming specials: "Dodgers Insider: Campo Las Palmas," "In My Own Words: Luis Gonzalez" and "Before the Bigs: Rafael Furcal."
"We're in the local sports business," said Steve Simpson, senior vice president and general manager of FSN West and Prime Ticket. "ESPN covers national games. We're about the local teams. Our research has shown, and what we try to do, is embrace the teams outside the event and surround the event and team with more of what the fans want to see. Shows like 'In My Own Words,' 'Before the Bigs' and the 'Dodgers Insider' are exactly what fans want and what we're all about. We're proud to debut these shows."
Gonzalez, Furcal, Dodgers coaches Manny Mota and Dave Jauss and general manager Ned Colletti walked the Dodgers blue carpet at the event on Monday night. All were looking forward to seeing the three half-hour specials.
"The 'In My Own Words' special was one of the coolest things I've ever done," said Colletti, who along with Dodgers chairman Frank McCourt and Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda were the interview subjects last season. "It's not just five minutes, it's pretty in-depth. You get the chance to have more than one-word or one-sentence answers.
"The show gives you a chance to expound a little bit on your life and your career and who you are. That's a unique way of approaching it, and I think that's very nice."
Gonzalez was in a unique position, having been the subject of an "In My Own Words" program last year as a longtime member of the Arizona Diamondbacks. The left fielder, who signed with the Dodgers this past offseason, saw his current special as a way of introducing himself to the fans in Los Angeles.
"I had just come over to the Dodgers and I guess they felt the story was so intriguing that they wanted to do one here," said Gonzalez. "I'm excited to see how it turns out. Hopefully, people will like it.
"I think a show like this gives you kind of a timeline. It tells a little bit about your history and gives the fans a little bit more insight into who you are and what you're all about. Hopefully, after this is over, they don't just know me as a baseball player. [Fans can get to] know me as a normal guy, because that's what I consider myself."
The FSN crew spent a great deal of time in the Dominican Republic to produce its other two specials. "Before the Bigs" explores the life and career of players before they made it to the Major Leagues, while "Dodgers Insider" takes an in-depth look at various aspects of the club.
Last season, manager Grady Little, pitcher Brett Tomko and catcher Russell Martin were profiled in "Before the Bigs" episodes. This season, Furcal, the Dodgers' talented shortstop who grew up in the Dominican, was the first subject.
"I've never been a part of something like this before," said Furcal, regarding the premiere at a legendary movie studio. "I'm just trying to take it all in and enjoy it as much as I can.
"It's fun for a fan who has followed your career [to be able] to see on TV how your life was when you were young, growing up with your family and who your friends were. It was very exciting for me to take part in this show."
While in the Dominican, the crew spent a great deal of time at Campo Las Palmas, the Dodgers' 21-year-old baseball academy that has produced many star players like Pedro Martinez, Raul Mondesi and Mike Piazza, who spent a winter at the facility as a young Minor Leaguer improving his backstop skills.
"I know a little bit about it because right out of college I worked in the Dominican Republic," said Simpson. "You can see a baseball field on every corner. Kids playing with cardboard gloves. Kids playing barefoot. Seeing how the Dodgers developed so many players from that area, it just made sense to go down there and expose it."
"This documentary will show what the Dodgers do at Campo Las Palmas," said Mota, a Dominican legend who joined the Dodgers as a player in 1969 and has been on the coaching staff since 1978. "It will show how they develop the players there and all the great players that have played there and that we are still developing. We are very proud of the work that we have done at the academy."
Mota and pitchers Randy Wolf and Brad Penny will be featured in upcoming "Before the Bigs" episodes. Outfielder Juan Pierre will be the subject of an "In My Own Words" episode later this season.
"Dodgers Insider: Campo Las Palmas" premieres May 1 on FSN Prime Ticket at 10:30 p.m. PT, "In My Own Words: Luis Gonzalez" premieres May 15 at 10:30 p.m. PT and "Before the Bigs: Rafael Furcal" has its premiere on July 2 at 10:30 p.m. PT. For those who'd like to see previous FSN Prime Ticket programming, the network normally broadcasts the specials after Dodgers game telecasts.
Ben Platt is a national correspondent for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less