It’s Time… to Enjoy the Ride

Here we are. The Dodgers are just a few hours away from beginning their 2017 playoff run. The Arizona Diamondbacks are the first obstacle blocking their path to the World Series.

This is exactly where we want the Boys in Blue to be. And this is exactly where they’ve been the previous four seasons.

Will this year be any different?

It certainly feels like it but then again the Baseball Gods are a fickle, fickle bunch as we were reminded time and again over the course of the season. From the Dodgers’ slow start that gave fans serious concerns about the Dbacks and Rockies running away with the division, to breaking off a 43 and 7 run before losing 16 out of 17 games and making fans fear the absolute worst.

Along the way, there was absolute madness, and Rich Hill’s heartbreaking near miss at perfection, and a kid named Cody who arrived a year early and set the National League record for rookie home runs and brought the crowd at Chavez Ravine to its feet every time he stepped to the plate.

While this blog went MIA over the course of the regular season thanks to the combo of real life getting in the way and an overall feeling of impatience to get back to the main event of the playoffs, I did manage to make some wonderful memories at the ballpark over the course of 36 games viewed from our summer home in Section 2. I made some new friends, reconnected with old friends, and had a lot of laughs. And that’s what a baseball season should be all about.

To me, the summer of 2017 was reminiscent of the summer of 1987 when I obsessively tried to beat Super Mario Bros. If you remember the game, then you know it’s a long slog to get to Bowser at the end. Back in the Golden Age of video games, there was no such thing as saving a game. All you could do was hit pause and hope your little brother didn’t come along and sabotage your efforts. But if you made it to Bowser and ran out of lives, your only option was to start over to at the beginning. If memory serves. I came up short three times before I finally rescued Princess Toadstool.

Here’s hoping the firth time is the charm for these Dodgers.

2017 Regular Season Recap

Games Attended: 36 
W/L Record:
25-11 (including a 19 game winning streak!)
Dodger Dogs consumed: 18
Pounds of peanuts consumed: 9.5 (had a lot of help)
Beers: Lost count
Red Bull Vodka Slushies: 1
Dole Whips: 4
Nacho Helmets: 0 (new record)
Balls Snagged: 5

The Regular Season in Tweets

Game 2: Dodgers 3 – Padres 1

The matchup: Dodgers vs Padres (4.5.17)
Special Guest: Me!
Snacks: Dodger Dog w/ spicy brown mustard and onions (x2), Bud Heavy, Point the Way IPA, plus many more beverages at the Short Stop and Little Joy following the game.
Giveaway: Fernando Valenzuela jersey.
Memorable Moment: Tie between Puig’s first homer and Kenley’s first appearance.

RECAP: Now this is the Dodgers team everyone expects to see this season. Compared to the previous night’s frustrating shutout, these guys played like a well-oiled machine up and down the lineup.

Rich Hill made his first (and hopefully not only) start of the season and continuously buckled the Padres with a curveball that more than justified his free agent signing. The offense came out swinging and put up a pair of runs in their half of the first that would be all Hill and the rest of the pitching staff would need.

Yasiel Puig countered Hunter Renfroe’s 4th inning solo home run with a no doubt bomb of his own that landed in the Dodger bullpen to put them ahead for good.

I’m not gonna lie. I was weird seeing Sergio Romo make his debut in Dodger Blue. It felt like half the crowd started to instinctively boo thanks to his years in San Francisco but we all pumped the brakes before any real noise made. If this game is any indication, the 8/9 punch of Sergio and Kenley is going to bum out a lot of teams.

My friend Meg, who joined me for a few games last season, bought a chunk of our tickets for this year. She asked me to join her for her first game to get the lay of the land and meet her new Section 2 family.

Ran into this guy on a beer run. Is there any better reason to dress up like a hot dog on a Wednesday night than a Dodger game? I need to find him again so he can remind me of his Instagram handle. I woke up the next morning remembering half of it but it was no help. You wouldn’t believe how many variations of @weeniedog you’ll find on the ‘gram.

Dodgers win! One intangible upside to Kenley coming back is we get 3-5 more years of California Love.

 

Spotted this family leaving the game. They must really love Kershaw. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Game 1: Padres 4 – Dodgers 0

The matchup: Dodgers vs Padres (4.4.17)
Special Guest: My lovely wife.
Snacks: Dodger Dog w/ spicy brown mustard and onions (x2), Bud Heavy
Giveaway: Phone charger
Memorable Moment: It only took 14 minutes to drive home from this game.

RECAP: The long, brutal off-season has finally ended and it’s time for Dodger baseball that counts. For us, The Day After Opening Day has become our official start to the season and spirits were running high when we left for the stadium.

Along the way, we took a pit stop to do our civic duty.

Voting is an important right to exercise. (And that is as political as this site will ever get.)

One of the best off-the-radar aspects of the Dodger Stadium experience is the consistency among the game day staff. If you go to enough games, you’ll eventually notice the same employees posted up in the same spots. Game after game, season after season.

Our aisle has had the same usher the four seasons that we’ve been in Section 2. She was all smiles as she welcomed everyone back. My favorite beer vendor was at my favorite, super secret beer stand, and I got my nightly scouting report from my favorite cashier at the self-serve concession stand. I always start our transaction by asking how the Dodgers are looking tonight and she replies with a detailed scouting report that’s usually sprinkled with some Yoda-level wisdom.

The stadium was still buzzing in the wake of the Dodgers’ 14-3 Opening Day romp. The new pre-game pump up video is incredibly well done. Instead of relying on Kendrick Lamar (like last year) or some other random grab bag of celebrities, the new video features a wide assortment of Dodger fans all around LA that gives a real sense of pride in being a fan. The best part about the video is that it starts out with a slow burning “Let’s Go Dodgers” chant that gets the crowd rocking as if it were a playoff game.

As the randos that made up the Padres’ starting line up were introduced, I wondered why they were even out there. They’d save themselves a lot of time and trouble and make it easy on everyone if they just forfeited the game. They’d probably have more fun catching an early dinner than catching a second consecutive beat down from the Dodgers.

Then the game started and the Boys in Blue forgot how to play baseball.

Our friend Marc is already in mid-season meltdown form.

Following the Padres’ 2 run offensive explosion to start the game, my lovely wife asked me to pass her our binoculars.

“Why?” I asked.

“So I can get a better look at Dave Roberts punching Kenta in the face,” she replied.

(It should be noted that my lovely wife was only kidding but if she ever managed a team, she’d take a lot of pride in having the shortest leash in baseball.)

The Dodgers’ half of the 1st started out promising until Corey Seager stepped to the plate and promptly grounded into the first of four spirit crushing double plays of the night. Most everyone hit the ball hard, the only problem is that everything was hit right at the defense.

By the 7th inning, all we could do was accept the Dodgers’ fate and have a few laughs about such a bummer way to start the season. I guess you need games like this one to make October that much sweeter.

Even still, I would have been perfectly happy if the Padres would have forfeited.

As these fans passed us walking into the stadium, the fella in the Corey Seager jersey told us that he hates walking but he hates giving Frank McCourt money even more which is why they park outside the gates.

The free woodpile is going off right now!

The last photo I took during the game. The irony was cranked up to 11 when my phone’s battery died on phone charger night. Good times.

It’s (Finally!) Time For Dodger Baseball

Hey there,

Remember this blog that fell off the face of the Earth right when the Dodgers started their playoff run last October? Well, it’s back for 2017 and there’s a long story about why it vanished at the end of the regular season.

(The story itself is boring so I’ll spare you the details. Let’s just say you never want to get swamped with house hunting duties while the Dodgers are in the middle of a playoff run. It really drains your free time.)

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s do a little recap of the 2016 postseason. We’ll make it quick.

Game 3 of the NLDS against the Nationals (aka the Dodgers’ first home game) was the first time my lovely wife ever saw the Dodgers lose in the playoffs, dating back to our first playoff game together in 2008. She’d been such a good luck charm that we didn’t even think to get a playoff selfie until we left the stadium. In the background, you can see the FREE wood pile that can be found along Scott Road. Seriously, if you need free wood, there’s always a pile right next to the stadium. Have no idea where it comes from.

In a tie for my favorite moment of the 2016 playoffs was this kid rocking a Clayton Kershaw jersey during the must-win game 4 against the Nationals. Kershaw was on the mound in a total ride or die situation and I got to see this kid have the best day of her life.

I arrived at the stadium early to stake out my usual spot over the bullpen and this girl and her dad showed up in the nick of time to snag the last available seat, which happened to be right next to me. They weren’t there for more than 30 seconds before her dad asked if I could keep an eye on her while he ran to the restroom and hit the concession stand.

Before I could even let him know I was marginally qualified for the task on my best day, he was gone. Words can’t describe what an avalanche of responsibility it is to be suddenly put in charge in the well being of a random child. Before her dad sat her down next to me, I was a dude sitting by himself day drinking a Bud Heavy and somehow, I was deemed “responsible enough.” I still can’t believe it happened.

While her dad was away, we had a nice little bro down and it didn’t take long to realize she knew more about the Dodgers than me. They lived up in Ventura and her dad surprised her by pulling her out of school to take her to the game. She had no idea it was happening until she was called down to the principal’s office to get checked out for the day.

After about 45 excruciating minutes, in which every horrible scenario flashed before my eyes, her dad finally returned with pizza slices.

If you’re keeping score at home, this kid was pulled out her fifth grade class to go to her first Dodger playoff game with her favorite player pitching AND she was having pizza for lunch.

Now here’s where it gets unbelievably good.

Once her dad was returned, he started talking strategy to her to try to snag a ball from Clayton during his warmup. I chimed in with the tip not to ask Clayton but to ask pitching coach Rick Honeycutt right after he gave Clayton a fresh ball.

After Clayton threw this very pitch, here’s where the ball ended up.

Can you say best day ever? Playing hooky from school to see the Dodgers win in the playoffs, pizza for lunch, AND you get a ball from Clayton? It doesn’t get any better than that and my new friend was a total pro. She yelled ‘Mr. Honeycutt’ right on cue and made a clean barehanded catch. It was awesome.


This was our fireplace when Kenley took the mound in the bottom of the 7th in game 5.

Doing our best to communicate with the baseball gods.

I don’t know if I’ll ever see a performance as heroic and Kenley and Kershaw tag teaming for three inning save.


In the other spot for favorite moment of the 2016 playoffs is my buddy Mike. This GIF is from the Dodgers’ 6-0 romp over the Cubs in Game 3 to take a 2-1 lead in the NLCS. I’ve never seen him so happy in his life. This is exactly where hopefulness peaked on the season.

Unfortunately we all know how things ended.

Another year, another photo of Marc wallowing in his misery.

Third year in a row an unused World Series ticket went into my basket of ticket stubs.

Finally tally on season: 45 games attended (including the playoffs) and 43 Dodger Dogs consumed.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s step into the present.

The matchup: Dodgers vs Angeles (4.1.17)
Special Guest: My lovely wife. This game marked the start of our 12th season together.
Snacks: Dodger Dog (x2), mooched some of my wife’s fries, souvenir sized Coke.
Giveaway: Nope.
Memorable Moment: The best/worst rundown play I’ve ever seen in my life at any level of baseball.

RECAP: 

In our fourth season of being season ticket holders, this was the first year we took advantage of our bonus tickets to see a Freeway Series game. We usually give them to friends but this year we had an important mission. We needed to make a test run to the stadium from our new address.

Seven minutes after we pulled out of our driveway, we slid into our secret parking spot and cackled like idiots at the fact that we now live 2.4 miles from Dodger Stadium. This season is already off to a fantastic start.

Hello, gorgeous.

You see those circled palm trees?

Here they are as seen from our backyard.

Our 12th Dodger season together started with seeing our first tie. Hopefully it will end with seeing our first World Series.

Section 2 legend Chuck is back and is already in mid-season form.

If you can make it down to the Club Level concourse, there’s a new display honoring Vin. Can’t say that it didn’t feel strange not hearing him at Dodger Stadium his presence was felt.

It really cracked me up that Vin’s game notes were called “Super Secret Notes.”

The hallway leading into the Vin Scully Press Box has some new art on the walls.

This is going to be a good year.

Let’s go Dodgers!

 

Game 32: Giants 4 – Dodgers 0

The matchup: Dodgers vs Giants (8.25.16)
Special Guest: My buddy Devin. (He’s a Giants fan but he’s OK.)
Snacks: My first-ever Phillippe’s French dip, some sunflower seeds, and a Shocktop.
Giveaway: Corey Seager bobblehead!
Memorable Moment: Corey Seager bringing a ray of sunshine back to Dodger Stadium on an otherwise lousy day by busting up Matt Moore’s no hitter with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.

RECAP: This is the chat I had with my buddy John as I struggled to summon the motivation to go to the game following the shocking trade of A.J. Ellis.

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 8.36.49 AM

Open in a new tab to enlarge.

During my 16 years as a Dodger fan, the A.J. trade is the only one that has ever truly hurt. It was such a sudden, unexpected gut punch that, to put things in Top Gun terms, it’d be like if Viper strolled into the Officer’s Club and snapped Goose’s neck the moment he and Maverick finished singing You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling.” 

Ever since the Mets knocked the Dodgers out of the playoffs last season, A.J. has been my favorite player and it was all an accident how that came about.

Following the final out, I kicked it with John (the same one as above) at his car for an hour or so while we waited for the parking lot gridlock to clear. Since not a single Mets nor Dodger fan left early, everyone was stuck in place which just compounded the dread.

Emotions around us ranged from jubilant Mets fans to tears from Dodger fans young and old to flat out rage from one fan who really wanted to make good on his vocal desire to jump Don Mattingly when he exited the stadium.

John and I floated in the middle of the spectrum. We were just two bummed fans who saw the Dodgers come up short a third year in a row. We made banal small talk to fill the occasional gap of silence in the melee that engulfed us and turned our sights to the next big priority of the year- the new Star Wars movie. Things were already looking up.

Once cars finally started moving, we said our goodbyes and I headed over to where I was parked. As I Froggered across the road that rings the stadium, I stopped next to an SUV’s bumper to make sure the driver saw me before proceeding.

We made eye contact and I really wish we hadn’t.

A.J. was behind the wheel.

In an instant, I’ve never felt so bad for someone in my entire life.

His face was blank. Only his eyes betrayed the emotions he was trying to hide following another all-or-nothing game that ended with nothing. His wife Cindy sat next to him and stared off into the black sky that hung over Chavez Ravine. In the backseat you could see the tops of three little heads. It was going to be a long ride home.

A.J. waved me by. He was on full autopilot.

I paused halfway across the span of his hood and gave him a small fist pump. Don’t know why I did that but it felt right.

A.J. didn’t crack a smile but his mouth creased just enough to acknowledge the gesture.

On with the recap:

RIDING INTO THE ABYSS

The slow ride into the abyss of despair

RIDING THE TRAIN

Nothing says stereotypical melancholy like listening to The Royal Tennenbaums soundtrack on the subway.

PHLLIPE

Drifting to the stadium, I crossed paths with Phlippe’s. So that’s where it is.

BAD NEWS

Bad news.

FREEWAY

Let’s call this one caged paradise.

SANDWICH

The French Dip was good but couldn’t make the misery go away.

17 DOSENT LIVE HERE ANYMORE

Number 17 doesn’t live here anymore.

Why the number 3? The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, duh. 12 years of catechism is still paying off.

GIANTS FANS

These two Giants fans were not at all obnoxious about the no-hitter that was in-progress.

GIANTS FAN FACE TATTOO

Why settle for a lowly tear drop when you can tattoo what looks like an entire resume of felonies across your face?

DEVIN AND TODD

At least my buddy Devin was having a good time.

NEWSPAPER GUY

How tense was the scene with a no-hitter going into the bottom of the ninth? Newspaper Guy set his paper aside and watched the game from the edge of his seat.

Then, with two outs and nearly every shred of hope flushed down the toilet, Corey Seager brought the color back to Dodger Stadium and gave fans something worth cheering about- a bloop single to right.

 

Game 31: Dodgers 9 – Giants 5

The matchup: Dodgers vs Giants (8.23.16)
Special Guest: My friend Leslie.
Snacks: Pulled pork sandwich from the Think Blue BBQ and a Bud Heavy.
Giveaway: Headphone night. (Best ones yet.)
Memorable Moment: The first place Los Angeles Dodgers taking Madison Bumgarner and the Giants to the Elysian Park woodshed.

RECAP: With the Dodgers returning home in sole possession of first place and the dreaded Giants coming to town, this game brought a playoff feel to Dodger Stadium on Tuesday night in August.

The cool air and the earlier setting sun help set the mood and Dodger fans rose to the occasion. The stadium was packed by the first pitch and everyone in blue helped cancel out the cockroaches in orange and black who infiltrated the ballpark.

[We interrupt this post with a special news bulletin}

HOLY HELL. A.J. ELLIS WAS TRADED TO THE PHILLIES.

Um… yeah. I think I’m going to go ahead and let this update go from here. Just not in the mood to remember the good times right now.

Here are a few photos from back when baseball was fun.

GROSS GIANTS FAN

Not saying all Giants fans are gross but this one plucked a hair out of her head and FLOSSED WITH IT while waiting for her order.

Sorry, kid but Adrian Gonzalez is about to ruin your day. (Watch close and you can see my buddy Marc and his dad popping up like Whack-a-Moles.)

YOU'RE OUT GIANTS

It’s one, two, three strikes you’re out, Giants.

WOOD PILE

Did you know there’s a perpetual pile of free wood next to the sidewalk along Scott Avenue near the stadium? This post was going to contain all sorts of woodshed and lumber puns in honor of this pile but now I just want to take a log home tonight and start carving my A.J. Ellis memorial sculpture.

 

Game(s) 22 – 30: The All Killer, No Filler Megapost

Hey there, remember me? I’m the guy who was going to do a game recap after every trip to Dodger Stadium this season. Well, what can I say? As the Dodgers started rocketing up the standings, I started falling way behind with these recaps. Such is life when you go away for a month and then make up for a chunk of lost season by going to nine games in a two week span.

Like the headline said, this post is all killer and no filler so let’s get to it.

GAME 22: Dodgers 3 – Rays 2

The matchup: Dodgers vs Rays (7.26.16) ps: It’s so hard not to call them the Devil Rays
Special Guest: Taylor, aka Dodgers Reddit
Snacks: Special Japanese dog, regular fries, Blue Moon (x2)
Giveaway: Kenta Maeda bobblehead.
Memorable Moment: Meeting a stranger from the internet and having an awesome time with a new friend.

RECAP: After a few seasons of exchanging tweets and saying we gotta go to a game sometime, it finally happened. Taylor was in town for work and it was a total Step Brothers moment from the start when he surprised me by doing an atomic drop into his seat from from behind. We hit the ground running and after few innings in our seats, we took a lap of the stadium and ended the game in the bullpen overlook which turned out to be quite a wild spot thanks to the drunkest guy I’ve ever seen on a Tuesday night calling Joe Blanton FIVES as he warmed up. For a minute he ran with my suggestion of changing things up with a Dos Cinco but when right back to calling him Fives. That’s how a nickname is born, people.

Andre Ethier Clayton Kershaw AJ Ellis

Before the game Andre, Clayton, and A.J. shagged some flies in left center. Even if 2 out of 3 of them are still hurt, it was great to see the gang back on the field.

Tokyo Dog

Maybe my palate was too sensitive from a month of eating bratwursts up in Wisconsin but the Tokyo dog was the first themed dog that was a solid thumbs down.

Kenley Jansen in the bullpen

Hey Kenley. Good to see you again.

Game 23: Rays 3 – Dodgers 1

The matchup: Dodgers vs Rays (7.27.16)
Special Guest: My buddy Matt
Snacks: Donuts and a Bud Heavy tall boy.
Giveaway: I gave away some donuts. Does that count?
Memorable Moment: Witnessing history as A.J. Ellis recorded his first stolen base.

RECAP:  The game started at noon. I brought a box of donuts. We ate them and the Dodgers lost. The end.

Dodger Stadium Donuts

I made it 20 feet into the parking lot before giving away the first donut of the day. A guy in a parking booth jokingly asked if I had any extras. He quickly learned I don’t joke around when it comes to donuts and hooked him up.

BULLPEN BEER AND DONUTS

Breakfast of champions.

WATCHING THROUGH A DONUT

A donut’s eye view of the game.

Game 24: Diamondbacks 4 – Dodgers 2 

The matchup: Dodgers vs Diamondbacks (7.30.16)
Special Guest(s): My lovely wife plus our friends Jaime and Susan joined us. (This reminds me, he still owes me for the tickets.)
Snacks: A souvenir sized Coke and borrowed some garlic fries from my wife.
Giveaway: Dodger tote bag.
Memorable Moment: Yelling at a child who was gleefully (and with his dad’s encouragement) chucking paper airplanes off the Reserve Level and into the great beyond.

RECAP:  See, I wasn’t joking…

THE KID I YELLED AT

Here’s a photo of the offending youngster as I had a few words with him while his dad was busy being a lousy parent. Kudos to Dodger security though. They gave him and his dumb parents the what for an inning later.

Game 25: Dodgers 14 – Diamondbacks 3 

The matchup: Dodgers vs Diamondbacks (7.31.16)
Special Guest: Solo mission but I ran into some friends.
Snacks: Dodger Dogs (x2) and a Coke.
Giveaway: Jim Gilliam retired number pin.
Memorable Moment: Watching Joc Pederson hit a home run on-demand.

RECAP: With my wife dealing with what turned out to be bronchitis, I thought about taking the day off but changed my mind when I realized I’d been to three games without having a single Dodger Dog. And if you’re keeping score at home, you’d know that translates to a month since my last one and hey, it was lunchtime. Plus, my friends and Dodger super fans BJ and Scott were going to be there so I had to go.

The first thing they did when we met up on the Top Deck was hand me this ball.

OREL BALL

A heck of a grab bag score courtesy of my friends BJ and Scott.

With the Dodgers busy scoring touchdowns against the Dbacks, we roamed the stadium in search of the perfect gear for BJ and Scott’s upcoming East Coast Dodger road trip and had a bunch of of laughs along the way.

In the bottom of the 8th with the score 12-3, Joc came in to pinch hit and a young girl behind us started screaming for him to hit a home run like it was the bottom of the 9th in game seven. Picture Linda Blair in The Excorcist shouting Tony Robbins slogans instead of growling “your mother sucks cocks in hell” and you’ll have the perfect visual.

Imagine her surprise when Joc took her encouragement to heart and sent a ball deep into the Right Field Pavillon for a two run homer. (Little did we know that would be Puig’s last time rounding the bases before getting demoted.)

HAPPY JOC FAN

The kid next to the Ghostbuster was going absolutely bananas for Joc and it was awesome.

Game 26: Red Sox 9 Dodgers 0

The matchup: Dodgers vs Red Sox (8.5.16)
Special Guest: My friend Meg. She’s a Red Sox fan.
Snacks: Dodger Dogs (x2) and beers (multiple).
Giveaway: Nope.
Memorable Moment: Gotta say that getting a Vin Scully signed ball was pretty darn memorable.

RECAP: Welp. Anyone who was a Red Sox fan (approximately 60% of the crowd) had a wicked awesome good time that, in their pantheon of Boston pride milestones, I’d rank somewhere between the joy of seeing Good Will Hunting for the first time and the Sox winning the 2013 World Series.

Dodgers Playing Craps

Before the game, the Dodgers played a spirited game of craps on the field. Or they may have been stretching.

 

The Obscure Jersey of the Game has returned… 

David Ortiz and Darryl Strawberry

Not very often you see the Straw repped at Dodger Stadium.

Jerry Sands Jersey

But a Red Sox fan wearing a Jerry Sands jersey just might be the winner for Obscure Jersey of the Season.

As much as I’d normally be annoyed by 30,000 Dropkick Murphys listening, Dunkin Donuts coffee drinking mouth breathers, I couldn’t be bothered to pay any attention to them because a very special ball had suddenly come into my life thanks to some VERY generous friends whose names rhyme with BJ and Scott.

VIN SCULLY SIGNED BALL

Holy GOAT ball. A ball like this deserves its own post and there is a cool story behind it. Stay tuned.

The biggest highlight from game itself came from a fan who was so drunk she had to have started drinking at noon the day before. She was swaying like a palm tree in a hurricane when she arrived and didn’t even make it to the third inning.

When her friends finally decided it was time to get her out of there, she took the drama to a whole new level by very nearly barfing on my friend Marc along with everyone else in her immediate vicinity. It was more suspenseful than watching the Hoover Dam teeter on the edge of bursting.

DRUNK FAN

This fan making it out of our section without ralphing all over the place was the biggest miracle to occur at Dodger Stadium since that one in 1988.

Todd and Meg

When take a dramatic fireworks shot right as the show ends.

Game 27: Dodgers 8 Red Sox 5

The matchup: Dodgers vs Red Sox (8.7.16)
Special Guest: My lovely wife. 
Snacks: Dodger Dogs (x2), garlic fries, Bud Heavy.
Giveaway: Some sweet Dodger Blue socks. A most excellent troll job on Red Sox fans.
Memorable Moment: Seeing Rob Segedin make his MLB debut and go straight HAM.

RECAP: Went into the game with more than a little dread about the Dodgers starting a AAA lineup but then Rob had to become a one man Red Sox wrecking crew. Here’s his first big league hit. (Apologies in advance for the shaky cinematography. Thought that ball was going out for sure.)

And here’s Rob adding to his RBI total. Big ups to him for making it a wonderful day at the ballpark.

But wait. There’s more! Here’s the hot new obscure jersey trend. The Corey Seager all-star edition.

SEAGER JERSEY

That’s a whole lotta brown.

COREY SEAGER JERSEY 2

See… it’s a trend. There’s two of ’em.

Game 28: Dodgers 9 Phillies 4

The matchup: Dodgers vs Phillies (8.8.16)
Special Guest: My friend Leslie. We were on a special mission.
Snacks: Bud Heavies (A few of them.)
Giveaway: Jackie Robinson pin.
Memorable Moment: Getting a pretty cool ball from the Phillies’ Cody Asche. 

RECAP: Along with being a semi-sporadic Dodger blogger, I also run a site dedicated to my first true love, the Nebraska Cornhuskers, called Big Red Fury. This game was all about crossing the streams of my two favorite teams. Leslie also happens to be a  BRF contributor and a huge Dodger fan and was more than game to endure some strange looks by wearing Husker gear to a Dodger game to show some Nebraska love for fellow Husker Cody Asche. You can read all about it here but spoiler alert(!) our field trip had a rad ending.

Check out the ball Cody tossed us.

Cody Asche Go Big Red Ball

This ball was the icing on the cake to the best week ever at Dodger Stadium.

With Cody Ball

Go Big Red!

Game 29: Dodgers 9 Phillies 3

The matchup: Dodgers vs Phillies (8.9.16)
Special Guest: My friend Leslie. We had to keep reppin’ Husker Nation.
Snacks: First Dole Whip ever!
Giveaway: Howie Kendrick bobblehead.
Memorable Moment: Howie being the first Dodger to hit a home run on his bobblehead night since Manny Ramirez was pretty clutch.

RECAP: As much fun as it is when a game is close, it’s so much more relaxing when the Dodgers score early and often. I’d comment more about this game but I was still a little tipsy from the night before and just happy to be there in one piece.

Vin Scully in the Booth

Hey there, Vin.

One thing I will mention though, for the duration of this series not once did the umpire crew partake in their longstanding tradition of saluting Vin Scully. These choads just stood at home plate muttering to each other until it was time to play ball.

LOSER UMPS

This umpire crew (Jeff Kellogg, John Tumpane, Alan Porter, and Brian O’Nora) went three games without doing the traditional salute to Vin. What is this world coming too?

Umpires Saluting Vin Scully

This is what umpires who don’t suck typically do before the start of every game.

Game 30: Phillies 6 Dodgers 2

The matchup: Dodgers vs Phillies (8.10.16)
Special Guest: My friend Matt.
Snacks: Smuggled in a bag of Kettle Chips
Giveaway: Nope
Memorable Moment: Marc reaching a level of frustration not seen in Section 2 since the days of Brian Wilson.

RECAP: It was another weekday day game and another mind boggling loss for the Dodgers perfectly summed up by this photo I took of Marc.

MARC

The feeling of walking up before noon so you can watch your favorite team forget how to play baseball.

On that uplifting note, the Dodgers are in first place and playing the Giants tonight. It’s gonna be a fun week.

Game 20: Dodgers 3 – Nationals 2

The matchup: Dodgers vs Nationals (6.21.16)
Special Guest(s): My buddy Matt and his girlfriend Marissa.
Snacks: A pair of Bud Heavies and Dodger Dogs.
Giveaway: Nope.
Memorable Moment: Watching Clayton Kershaw play catch with Julio Urias. Wut?

RECAP: With this being my final game before taking an extended all-star break, I wanted to soak in the entire game day experience, starting with early BP. I even brought a glove in hopes of maybe snagging a couple balls to contribute to the baseball game our family plays on the 4th of July.

But it was not to be. Oh well.

With everyone and their dog still recovering from the heatwave, the Dodgers skipped most of their portion of batting practice. When the gates opened, the only player on the field was Kenta Maeda who was finishing up a running workout.

Kenta Maeda

Kenta Maeda waves to fans after finishing his workout.

Kenta started heading towards the Dodger dugout but something caught his eye and he pulled a u-turn and jogged over to the fans gathered near the foul pole.

Kenta Maeda 2

Kenta reverses course.

This is the crowd that was gathered when Kenta started signing autographs.

Kenta Maeda Signing

This was the crowd five seconds later.

Crowd around Kenta

Out of the scrum emerged a very happy kid with a signed Kenta jersey from his days with the Hiroshima Carp. Safe to say he was probably the reason why Kenta changed his mind on signing.

Kenta Maeda Jersey

Everyone who snagged an autograph from Kenta should have bought this kid an ice cream helmet.

Not long after Kenta left the field, my friends Marc and Leslie arrived and so did a couple pitchers by the names of Clayton Kershaw and Julio Urias. Were they really about to play catch?

Clayton Kershaw Stretching

Julio Urias waits for old man Kershaw to finish stretching.

We soon had our answer.

Clayton Kershaw Wind UP

It’s all in the leg kick, kid.

Clayton Kershaw 2

Kershaw throws to Urias.

Clayton Kershaw 1

The Kershaw equivalent to Ice Man flexing during Top Gun’s beach volleyball scene.

But wait… there’s more!

Clayton Kershaw catching Julio Urias

Kershaw pops a squat.

After a few warmup tosses, Kershaw did his best A.J. Ellis impression and caught for Urias as he fired off some jaw dropping pitches.

See for yourself.

The oohs and ahhs from us two dozen or so fans who were lucky enough to see this rivaled any fireworks show. It was amazing.

When they finished, Kershaw strolled off the field and left his young Padawan to hold court with his new fans.

Clayton Kershaw exits the field

Kershaw’s work here is done.

Julio Urias Photo bomb

Trying to photobomb selfies with Julio Urias.

As for the game itself, because it was Firefighter Appreciation Night, I gave our tickets to Matt and Marissa and purchased an extra ticket for myself so I could snag a Dodger firefighter t-shirt for my cousin Teagan who recently dominated as a junior competitor in the Wisconsin State Firefighter Skills Challenge.

My night as a rogue seat hopper couldn’t have been easier. There were plenty of open seats in our section so we were all able to sit together. I dispensed valuable training advice to Matt and Marissa for their upcoming Malibu Triathlon while I stuffed my face with Dodger Dogs. (And no, the irony was not lost on me.)

Hot Dog With Onions

This guy gets a shout-out piling an entire bin’s worth of onions on his Dodger Dogs.

Scott Kazmir was the good Scott this evening, giving up just a pair of runs while the Dodgers’ bats fell silent. That is until Yasmani Grandal raked a three run homer in the bottom of the eighth. Hello, timely hitting. It’s nice to see you again.

Kenley Jansen came on in the ninth and padded his saves record by getting Ben Revere, Jayson Werth, and Bryce Harper to all ground out to Corey Seager on just 12 pitches.

It couldn’t have been a more perfect ending to my first half of the season.

The Obscure Jersey of the Night Award goes to this guy.

Mat Latos Jersey

What kind of bet do you have to lose to be wearing a Mat Latos shirsey out in public?

Game 19: Dodgers 4 – Nationals 1

The matchup: Dodgers vs Nationals (6.20.16)
Special Guest: My buddy John. Go check out his bar or his dance club sometime.
Snacks: Hanger 24 Orange Wheat, King’s Hawaiian Dog.
Giveaway: Cooler Backpack.
Memorable Moment: Seeing Kenley Jansen break the Dodgers’ all-time saves record.

Nancy Bea Jersey

There’s no Obscure Jersey Award for this game. Only a BEST Jersey Award and that goes to the guy rocking the custom Nancy Bea.

RECAP: I’ve been going to Dodger games with my buddy John longer than anyone I know. We’ve been at the stadium for some big games and some infamous ones, such as that time we had an extremely up close view of Milton Bradley when he tried to fight every fan along the right field line.

Last season, and almost a year to the day of this game, we saw the Dodgers win 1-0 on a walk-off balk. A group of tourists form Spain sat to next us that night and I really wish I would have recorded our attempts to explain the concept of a balk in broken Spanish to people who knew nothing about baseball. It was comedy gold.

KING'S HAWAIIAN DOG

The King’s Hawaiian Dog. I knew better than to try and mix spicy mustard with mangoes.

Tonight though promised a marquee matchup between Clayton Kershaw and Stephen Strasburg, that is until Strasie (is that even his nickname?) chickened out due to an upper-back strain.

Little Kershaw

This kid sitting in front of me was so pumped to see Kershaw on the mound. When he wasn’t hanging on his every pitch, he plowed through pizza, Dodger Dogs, and ice cream and pretty much had the best day ever. A couple minutes after Kenley’s final pitch, he raced back to his seat to retrieve his Cooler Backpack but it was already gone. I couldn’t let the kid’s night end on that note, so I did my best impression of a responsible grown up and insisted that he took mine.

Instead, Kershaw got to face Yusmeiro Petit and the Dodgers quickly made life miserable for the substitute pitcher. Justin Turner got the fireworks started by hitting a ball to South Pasadena in the first and Joc Pedersen launched a solo shot somewhere over the 5 in the fifth.

Meanwhile, Kershaw was mowing down Nationals as soon as they stepped to plate. He struck out Bryce Harper all three times he faced him and gave up only one run in seven innings of work.

SAD NATIONALS FANS

Kershaw’s dominating performance sent Nationals fans to exits before “Nancy Bea” even made it to her organ for the seventh inning stretch.

Joe Blanton held down the fort in the eighth which meant Kenley Jansen would have a chance to break Eric Gagné’s saves record. Kenley struck out the first two batters he faced but then Anthony Rendon had to go and ruin the trifecta by hitting a little dribbler to Corey Seager for the final out. It was a nice bit of history to see on a Monday night.

 

Game 18: Dodgers 2 – Brewers 1

The matchup: Dodgers vs Brewers (6.19.16)
Special Guest: My lovely wife.
Snacks: Frozen adult root beer, frozen lemonade, frozen beer foam Kirin, Iced Blended Mocha, a few garlic fries, the only solid food I ate all day. It was that hot.
Giveaway: Father’s Day boxer shorts!
Memorable Moment: Not melting.

Sno-cone Vendor

Sorry, Vin. This sno-cone vendor was the most popular guy at the ballpark.

RECAP:  This was arguably the most brutal Dodger game I’ve ever attended. And that includes the rock bottom misery of the McCourt era. With the heat index well past 100 degrees, staying cool was going to be everyone’s top priority. The Dodgers going for the series win? Whatevs.

Dodger Stadium Father's Day

This was the crowd right before the game started. I think a lot of fathers out there willingly said yes to a trip to IKEA instead.

Thanks to one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, our seats are in the shade with a row to spare. For day games, that’s a 20 degree difference and so clutch. The only problem was that a few of the regulars from the lower rows of our section had migrated up to the cool comfort of the shade.

Things were quickly sorted out though.

If the apocalypse ever comes to fruition during a Dodger home game, I shall rest easy knowing that part of Section 2 has the ability to swiftly and smoothly form a democratic utopian society. We all did a headcount and squeezed as many people into the shade that we could. It was nice to know that we had each others’ backs.

Once our improvised seating chart was locked down, it was time to procure frozen beverages and I made the most amazing discovery. The inconspicuous Coffee Bean stand right behind our seats is actually a hidden oasis of adult frozen beverages and I was so excited I had to tweet about it.

The only problem with the hard beer was that it did not skimp on the mystery alcohol. The consensus was that it was root beer schnapps and since it was literally my breakfast, I had to pump the brakes for the second round.

But then I got right back on the day drinking horse.

Due to all the booze and sugar, I had to pep things up for the final round.

With the Brewers nursing a first inning 1-0 lead through the seventh, things were looking grim for the Dodgers and the few fans who remained. After Take Me Out to the Ball Game, my lovely wife tapped out and hid out from the heat in the New Era store.

Dodger Stadium Heat

Anyone who has the MacGyver skills to fashion a hat out of a drink holder is someone you want on your side when the apocalypse goes down. The guy on the bottom right was one of many who turned his Father’s Day boxers into a Shemagh so you know he probably has a particular set of skills too.

Once Kiké Hernandez tied the game with a home run in the bottom of the eighth, I decided it was probably a good time to make one of my better decisions since that time I picked out seats in the shade and go find my wife and call it a day.

It was the second game in a row that I left early that ended with the Dodgers winning in a walk-off. (Maybe I’m their good luck charm?) Thanks to absolutely zero traffic, we were deep into Silver Lake when Scott Van Slyke trotted home as the winning run and by the time the first mouth breather called-in to Dodger Talk, we were already rolling up our driveway.

Getting to miss that segment almost made up for the brutal weather.

Almost.