DodgerHeads: “They Bled Blue” Author Jason Turbow Reflects On Tommy Lasorda, Fernando Valenzuela
Tommy Lasorda, Fernando Valenzuela
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

When discussing Los Angeles Dodgers franchise history, the conversation often touches on some combination of Kirk Gibson’s walk-off home run in the 1988 World Series, former manager Tommy Lasorda, Sandy Koufax and Fernando Valenzuela, among other baseball icons.

Perhaps because it still resides as the franchise’s last World Series title and has a highlight that can be recalled by young and old, the 1988 Dodgers vastly overshadow the championship team from 1981.

So when author Jason Turbow set out to write about the Dodgers, his focus went to the team that doesn’t garner nearly as much attention by producing “They Bled Blue: Fernandomania, Strike-Season Mayhem, and the Weirdest Championship Baseball Had Ever Seen.”

It first released last June but as of Tuesday is now available in a paperback version as well. That Turbow would elect to write about the 1981 Dodgers — not the underdog darlings of 1988 — isn’t the biggest surprise, however.

He grew up a San Francisco Giants fan. Turbow joined Jeff Spiegel and Matthew Moreno on’s “DodgerHeads” to explain rooting for the Giants yet developing an interest to write on their longtime rival.

Turbow highlights Valenzuela’s improbable rise to becoming the Dodgers’ Opening Day starter in 1981, which of course marked the beginning of ‘Fernandomania.’ The Mexican native inspired the fanbase as he threw a complete-game shutout against the Houston Astros and went on to log nine innings in each of his first eight starts that season.

Seven of those were complete games; the lone exception saw Valenzuela hold the Montreal Expos to one run over nine innings and get credited with a win when the Dodgers exploded for five runs in the 10th.

Although Valenzuela is a central figure in “They Bled Blue,” as much if not more of the spotlight goes to Lasorda. As Turbow recounts in the interview with, the fiery Hall of Fame manager was potentially heading toward being fired.

Instead Lasorda oversaw a Dodgers team that endured a strike-shortened 1981 season, had some good fortune on its side and resiliency in the postseason.

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