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.

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(s) 33 – 40: The homestretch of the regular season

What can I say? The last month of the regular season was a blur. Thanks to actual obligations and the start of college football, things kind of fell by the wayside around these parts. I made sure there was time to go to Dodger games, I just didn’t have time write about going.

Then there was that subconscious denial that if maybe I didn’t acknowledge the regular season was drawing to a close it would keep going and Vin would have no choice but to stay with us a little longer.

That clearly didn’t happen as Vin signed off for the last time in San Francisco with a poignant, heartfelt goodbye that perfectly wrapped up his storied career.

Let’s get on with the recaps.

GAME 33: Dodgers 1 – Cubs 0

The matchup: Dodgers vs Cubs (8.28.16)
Special Guest: My buddy Ivan. Check out his web series about card collecting called The Breaks.
Snacks: Dodger Dog (x2) Frozen Kirin (x2)
Giveaway: Nope.
Memorable Moment: Corey Seager being safe at second by a cleat length. His hustle and the Cubs’ brain fart in the shift allowed the only run of the game to stand after replay confirmation.

RECAP:

Frozen Beer Foam Kirin

Sundays were made for frozen beer foam.

Todd and Ivan

Take a diehard Cubs fan out to the ball game.

img_7732

During the game, Ivan broke down the ins and outs of modern card collecting. It’s way different than the days of riding your bike to 7-Eleven and hoping you hit the jackpot with a Ken Griffey Jr rookie card. Here’s a look at his “wallet cards.” Still miss you, A.J.

GAME 34: Dodgers 7 – Padres 4

The matchup: Dodgers vs Padres (9.4.16)
Special Guest: Myself. (Long story.)
Snacks: Dodger Dog (x2) Souvenir Sized Coke
Giveaway: Sandy Koufax Pin
Memorable Moment: Catch on the field day for season ticket holders.

RECAP:  Thanks to some creative seat shuffling, I gave our tickets to my friend Marc and went as the guest of my other friend Marc and experienced Section 2 from Row J. Marc #1 and his wife have two little kids, one is still young enough to not require a ticket, so all that was needed was a cheap single on SeatGeek and boom, a family of four is taking in a Dodger game on a Sunday afternoon for under $5.

Todd and Marc

Marc and his family. The little guy was definitely NOT playing games on his phone. He was looking up stats on FanGraphs.

Marc

When you realize the old guy sitting next to you doesn’t fully understand Field Independent Pitching.

img_8002

Marc #2 and I through the lens of Marc #1.

img_8003

And here’s a fish eye.

catch-on-field

Following the game, Marc #2 and I got to go down on the field to play catch. Video of our epic round of long toss does exist but for the time being I’m going to hold off from posting it out of respect to not upstaging Puig’s noodle cannon.

GAME 35: Dodgers 10 – Diamondbacks 2

The matchup: Dodgers vs Diamondbacks (9.5.16)
Special Guest: My lovely wife.
Snacks: BBQ Plate, Dodger Blonde Ale.
Giveaway: Souvenir Cap.
Memorable Moment: Seeing Zack Greinke’s return to Dodger Stadium, until it stopped being fun five Dodger home runs later.

RECAP: It took nearly the entire season but Zack Greinke finally returned to square off against his former team. My wife and I snagged the last seats above the visitor’s bullpen and joined the other Dodger fans (plus a lone DBacks fan) to welcome Zack back to Chavez Ravine.

It was a sincere welcome too. Halfway through his warm up a “Come back Zack” chant broke out which was nice to see. Hopefully Zack remembers that more than the “Hit the road, Zack” chant that broke out when he mercifully got the hook in the 5th inning.

img_7961

Still doesn’t look right to see Zack in a such an ugly uniform.

img_7965

Not a bad spot to enjoy a little Labor Day BBQ.

img_7979

The Dodgers’ home run assault on Zack had Cora giving her bubble gun a workout.

img_7994

My hunt for a Dole Whip brought me up to the Top Deck just in time to catch a perfect sunset to close out the summer.

img_7990

USA USA USA

GAME 36: Dodgers 2 – Giants 1

The matchup: Dodgers vs Giants (9.19.16)
Special Guest: My buddy Mike.
Snacks: Dodger Dog with YELLOW mustard (spicy mustard is in short supply this time of year), regular fries, Bud Heavy Tall Boy.
Giveaway: A Giant beat down was the only gift we needed.
Memorable Moment: A tie between the return of Clayton Kershaw and a walk-off Dodger win.

RECAP: With Clayton Kershaw on the mound at Dodger Stadium for the first time since June 20, I went full geek-out mode and staked out seats over the Dodger bullpen two hours before game time. It was standing room only an hour before first pitch.

Here’s Clayton’s full warm up from that night. It was so good to see him back.

With the division title on the line and a main event of Kershaw vs Bumgarner, this game did not disappoint. Yasiel Puig got the fireworks started by having the audacity to look Bumgarner’s way has he ran out a dribbler up the first base line. Bumgarner’s theatrics sent the Dodgers and Giants racing from their benches and bullpens and launched a thousand “Don’t look at me” memes.

Two innings later, Adrian Gonzalez delivered the game winning hit in the bottom of the ninth.

A couple important things to note about the following video: 1) I sound like Kermit the Frog when I yell. 2) Yes, I did call Corey Seager and idiot for some unexplainable reason.

GAME 37: Giants 2 – Dodgers 0

The matchup: Dodgers vs Giants (9.20.16)
Special Guest: My buddy Joe. Go see his movie.
Snacks: Dodger Dog (x2), Garlic Fries, multiple Shock Tops.
Giveaway: Vin Scully Bobblehead(!)
Memorable Moment: Getting to catch up with Joe.

RECAP: Following the previous night’s walk off heroics and bench clearing drama, this game was a total dud and not just because the Giants won. It was probably for the best though. An exciting game would have only gotten in the way of our epic gab session. Joe and I both grew up in Nebraska and went through the same program at Husker U. so we had plenty to talk about with baseball and college football seasons in full swing. Joe’s a huge Mets fan and went to all their home games during the World Series. Hopefully, the next time we catch a game together I’ll be able to regale him with tales of seeing the Dodgers in the series.

Ladies and gentlemen, your award winner for BEST JERSEY OF THE YEAR

img_8443

Best. Jersey. Ever.

GAME 38: Dodgers 5 – Rockies 2

The matchup: Dodgers vs Rockies (9.23.16)
Special Guest: My lovely wife.
Snacks: Dodger Dog (x2), Garlic Fries,
Giveaway: Vin Scully Letter.
Memorable Moment: Um… how about every second of Vin Scully Appreciation Day?

RECAP: When Vin Scully Appreciation Day was announced back in April you knew the game was going to be special. It wasn’t until the festivities started that you realized just how special the night was was going to be. It couldn’t have been more perfect. There wasn’t a dry eye in the park as Vin and his remarkable career received the send-off it deserved.

The standing ovation Vin received when he stepped out onto the field was unlike any I’ve ever experienced. You could truly feel genuine love from the crowd.

Vin made sure the mood stayed festive by starting his speech with the magic words that always bring a smile to any Dodger fan’s face.

Vin and Sandy Scully

Sandy and Vin leave the field in style.

Somewhere along the way a was game played between the Dodgers and the Rockies but I don’t remember a single thing that happened.

GAME 39: Dodgers 14 – Rockies 1

The matchup: Dodgers vs Rockies (9.24.16)
Special Guest: My lovely wife.
Snacks: Dodger Dog (x2), souvenir-size Coke, victory Dole Whip.
Giveaway: Vin Scully Commemorative Coin.
Memorable Moment: The Dodgers hanging a pair of touchdowns on the Rockies while my beloved Nebraska Cornhuskers wiped the field with Northwestern.

RECAP: For the third time in as many years, my two favorite teams had to go and schedule games at the exact same time. Thanks to modern technology and free wifi throughout Dodger Stadium, being able to watch both has never been easier.

It’s a far cry from October 4th 2008 (sad side story alert) when the high of watching the Dodgers sweep the Cubs in the NLDS was ruined when I listened to a dear college friend’s voicemail after the game. I had shut my phone off so I could have complete radio silence about what was happening with the Huskers’ game against Missouri. When I saw it was Katie who called, I didn’t think twice about listening to her message. As a lifelong Cubs fan who moved to Chicago after graduation, I assumed she was calling to talk baseball but nope. She had to rant about the Huskers getting pounded 52-17. Well, at least she spared me a couple hours of anguish.

This time around, Nebraska was able to handle Northwestern and all was right with my two team sports world. Oh, and Clayton Kershaw pitched seven shutout innings.

img_8540

When your two favorite teams play at the same time.

img_8527

Vin Scully commemorative coin.

After the Dodgers recorded the final out, the Padres game against the Giants was shown on DodgerVision. The Padres rallied but came up short, allowing the Giants to live for one more day.

GAME 40: Dodgers 4 – Rockies 3

The matchup: Dodgers vs Rockies (9.25.16)
Special Guest: Solo mission.
Snacks: Tuna Sandwich (don’t know what I was thinking), Garlic Fries, Souvenir-sized Coke.
Giveaway: Nope.
Memorable Moment: Vin Scully saying goodbye to Dodger Stadium.

RECAP: As much as I wanted to stay in to watch Vin’s final home game, I knew I had to do my part and show up to help make sure there’d be a crowd to cheer him on.

Typically, the last home game of the season is a casual affair but between Vin and the Dodgers having a chance to clinch, the stadium was packed and a playoff vibe hung in the air.

_dsc6312

I hiked out to the far reaches of left field to catch a glimpse of Vin at work for the last time.

Vin Scully

The GOAT in his office.

My favorite part of Vin Scully Weekend by far was Vin leading the crowd in singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” This happened all three games and each time was a serene and magical experience.

When David Dahl homered off Kenley in the top of the ninth to give the Rockies the lead, I began question the humanity of the baseball gods. Surely they wouldn’t let Vin’s final game at Dodger Stadium end on a whimper could they?

Of course not.

Corey Seager tied it up with a monster blast into the Rockies’ bullpen on a full count in the bottom of the ninth.

Then in the tenth, Charlie Culberson stepped to the plate and Vin wrapped up his career at home with one last call for the ages.

(Listen close and you can here Charlie be told to hit a home run.)

Following the Dodgers’ celebration and Vin serenading the crowd Wind Beneath My Wings, I was in such a happy mood I had to go introduce myself to the fella who became known as Newspaper Guy this season. Getting to put a name to the legend was one of this season’s biggest highlights.

img_8583

Chuck has had the same seats in Section 2 since 1975.

 

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.

Talking Clayton Kershaw’s Herniated Disc with My Brother the Neurosurgeon

NOTE: By the time I got around to writing up this post, the news about Clayton Kershaw’s injury had taken a sudden turn for the hopeful so I left it to languish as a draft. Now that the news about Clayton has hit the proverbial fan, I’ll go ahead and publish this sucker. What follows is a transcript of a conversation I had with my little brother who happens to be the neurosurgeon in the family.
_____

Todd and the Brain Surgeon

One of these guys is wearing a tacky t-shirt. The other grew up to be a neurosurgeon.

When it was announced Clayton Kershaw was going on the disabled list with a herniated disc, I fired off a quick text to my brother (he happens to be a neurosurgeon who specializes in spinal work) for some insight and reassurance that everything will be OK.

Because he also happens to be a busy neurosurgeon with three very young kids, I didn’t get a response from him until I finally cornered him at our family’s big 4th of July BBQ up in Northern Wisconsin.

ME: So what’s your thought on Kershaw’s injury?

MY BROTHER THE NEUROSURGEON: What was it again?

ME: A herniated disc. He had an epidural last week.

MBTN: Oooh… that can be a tricky one.

ME: How so?

MBTN: Well, the epidural is only to take care of the pain. It doesn’t actually fix anything. Only rest or surgery can do that. If the hernia is small enough, there’s a chance the body can sometimes dissolve it with rest. The epidural was just to give his body a chance to relax and hopefully attack the hernia.

TROY HERNIATED DISC

My brother and his catch of the day, the largest herniated disc he’s ever removed.

HERNIATED DISC

Look at the size of that thing. (Don’t worry, this hunk of meat is definitely the exception when it comes to herniated discs.)

ME: So is it a good sign that Kershaw had an epidural?

MBTN: No. It’s just the first step but if it was really bad they would have elected to go straight to surgery.

ME: But how do you know when to go for surgery?

MBTN: Either rest takes care of the herniated disc or the pain becomes too much to handle. There really isn’t any middle ground.

ME: But what if you’re an elite athlete? Let’s say you’re the best pitcher in the world, does that make a difference?

MBTN: It can only make a difference in the sense that he’s got a whole training staff on top of things but they’re not going to be able to do anything special for him. The fact that this was a big enough issue for him to go on the DL means I wouldn’t have him even touch a baseball for at least six weeks.

NOTE: In retrospect, this was probably a good idea.

ME: If Kershaw needs surgery, what’s that going to be like?

MBTN: Well, the surgery itself is pretty easy. You cut out the hernia and that’s it. The disc itself stays put and wouldn’t be damaged. It’s the recovery that takes a while.

ME: How long is the recovery?

MBTN: Again, everyone is different but 2017 could be a better year for the Dodgers.

ME: Really?

MBTN: Oh yeah, he wouldn’t throw again for this season for sure.

ME: Dang. Well let’s say Kershaw does need surgery but because he’s a bad ass he chooses not to have it, what could happen?

MBTN: He’d have to fight through a ton off pain and deal with some potential nerve damage but it’s not like he’d wind up paralyzed or anything. Depending on which vertebra  is affected he could still even pitch with nerve damage. It’d just feel like his leg was always asleep but eventually he would need surgery at some point. Then he should be as good as new.

ME: Thanks for the uplifting news I was looking for.

MBTN: Anytime.

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 16: Brewers 8 – Dodgers 6

The matchup: Dodgers vs Brewers (6.16.16)
Special Guest: My friend Meg.
Snacks: Bud Heavy (x3!) Nacho Helmet. Boom.
Giveaway: Duke Snider retired number pin.
Memorable Moment: Trayce Thompson’s three run homer is the lone standout among all the moments Dodger fans would like to forget.

MEG AND TODD

Taking it out to the ballgame with my friend Meg. Adding to the miscues on the night was the t-shirt I chose to wear. The Dodgers have never won when I wear this shirt. I thought tonight might finally be the night but no dice. Sorry, KISS. This bad boy is going to Goodwill. 

Recap: Let’s start with a quiz.

Which of these bizarre occurrences happened during this game?

A: Clayton Kershaw pinch ran for A.J. Ellis in the bottom of the ninth with two outs.
B: Yasmani Grandal was a nanosecond away from erasing a game tying sac fly by trying to tag up from first to second.
C: John Stamos kissed Bob Saget on DodgerVision
D: Kenley Jansen warmed up but didn’t enter the game with the score tied in the ninth inning.
F: All of the Above.

If you said ‘F’, congratulations. You guessed correctly. And as fate would have it, an F is a more than fair grade for how the Dodgers played and were managed. This game was filled with more bad decisions than a car load of Kardashians.

Perhaps the craziest one of all was Dave Roberts’ decision to put Clayton into the game as a pinch runner for A.J. in the ninth. After A.J. notched a pinch hit single, my friend Marc and I speculated about who could possibly pinch run for A.J. Thanks to Scott Kazmir throwing 10,000 pitches by the fourth inning, the Dodger bench was long depleted.

Kershaw was the only player left who made the slightest shred of sense on the basis that he might be half a step faster than A.J. but putting him into a situation where he might be involved in a gnarly play at the plate with the game on the line?

No thanks.

He’s a gamer and all but man, that’s a season wrecking disaster waiting to happen.

In better news, though, Trayce Thompson continued his tear with a three run shot and back-to-back errors by Brewer center fielder Keon Braxton made for a nice blast of hilarity and gave Dodger fans plenty of optimism that the Boys in Blue would be getting that W.

Just an inning earlier, the situation was so dire, fans resorted to looking at underpants for entertainment.

DODGER BOXER SHORTS

See, look. Dodger boxer shorts. Free to the first 40,000 fans this Father’s Day.

Despite the outcome, it’s never a bad night when you can drink some beers and eat 12lbs of nachos out of a novelty helmet. Plus, random, non-giveaway weeknight games can be the best because the fans who do show up are the ones who really want to be there.

Empty Dodger Stadium

This was the crowd that stuck around for the bottom of the ninth and we were just as loud as a full stadium.

NACHO HELMET

Obligatory Nacho Helmet glamor shot.

Finally, here’s a brand new feature: The Obscure Jersey of the Night Award.

This evening’s winner belonged to a JD Drew fan.

JD DREW JERSEY

JD Drew in the house.