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.

 

 

 

 

Game 17: Justin Turner 3 – Brewers 2

The matchup: Dodgers vs Brewers (6.17.16)
Special Guest: My buddy Greg. He grew up in Milwaukee but knows who to root for.
Snacks: Uh, somewhere between the beers and margaritas (I shall decline say how many) there was a Dodger Dog or two.
Giveaway: Nope. It was Fireworks Night.
Memorable Moment: Getting to hang out with Greg. He’s got a crazy job that has him pretty much circumnavigating the globe every week.

Greg and Todd

Greg and I at our first game together since the original Vin Scully’s bobblehead night in 2012.

RECAP: It took a few tries (and seasons) but my buddy Greg and I were finally able to make it to a game together AND his hometown Milwaukee Brewers happened to be the Dodgers’ opponent.

Sunset at Dodger Stadium

This view never gets old.

We met up at The Short Stop to pregame with some tall boys before making the walk over the hill to Dodger Stadium. One of the first people we saw when we staggered onto Vin Scully Ave was this guy.

Aaron Rogers jersey

But where’s the cheese head?

Julio Urias made his second career Dodger Stadium start and was lights out. Justin Turner gave him a 1-0 lead with solo shot in the bottom of the first and the kid made it last for five innings on a mostly efficient 85 pitches. Then, out of fear his arm would fall off if he threw an 86th pitch, Urias was pulled in the top of the sixth for Louis Coleman.

Four batters (and one Adam Liberatore appearance) later, the Brewers took a 2-1 lead and erased any chance of Urias getting his first career win.

As things were looking extra dire for the Dodgers, Greg dropped some absolutely mind blowing trivia on me. The Milwaukee Brewers’ classic logo features a hidden ‘m’ and ‘b’.

Call me slow on the uptake, but I never realized that. Now it’s as plain as day.

brewers

See the M and the B in the mitt?

Luckily for the Dodgers, that Justin Turner fellow went up to bat in the bottom of the eighth and launched a 1-2 pitch into the Dodger bullpen to tie the game.

Suddenly faced with the prospect of a game going into extras, Greg and I made the executive decision to call it a night. He’d been up since the wee hours of the morning to fly back to LA and was fading.

Luckily for us, he found a second wind as we walked by El Compadre and ducked in to watch the game and have another drink or three. It was my first time there and was pleasantly surprised to see it was pretty much a Dodger sports bar. In all my years of living in LA, I never knew such a thing existed.

After watching Pedro Baez semi-miraculously hold Milwaukee scoreless in the top of the tenth, the Dodgers got right to work in their half of the inning. Will Venable hit a ground-rule double and was moved over to third on a sacrifice bunt by A.J. Ellis. Faced with a runner on third and only one out, Brewers manager Craig Counsell did the totally logical thing and intentionally walked the next two batters to bring up Turner with the bases loaded.

Justin Turner steps to the plate

The fans behind home plate are smiling because they know what Turner is about to do.

Turner didn’t let an 0-2 count scare him and lined the game winning hit into center field and sent high fives flying around El Compadre. To the best of my knowledge, this was my first-ever walkout walk-off.

Finally, tonight’s Obscure Jersey of the Night Award goes to Greg.

Who is Mausser

Greg said he found this Dodger jersey in his boss’ storage unit. I have no idea who Mausser is and neither does Greg.

 

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.

 

Game 15: Rockies 1 – Dodgers 0

The matchup: Dodgers vs Rockies (6.08.16)
Special Guest: Solo mission. I was recruited for bobblehead duty again and scored a pass to the Stadium Club.
Snacks: Dodgers Blonde Ale (x2), taco salad, banana cream pie(!).
Giveaway: Don Newcombe bobblehead.
Memorable Moment: Finding out Don Newcombe was on the mound when Vin Scully made his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Banana Cream Pie

Hello, old friend. We meet again.

RECAP: Thanks to my burgeoning career as a bobblehead courier, I was able to crash the Stadium Club again. Now that I knew the drill, I headed directly to the bar and posted up for the pregame festivities honoring Don Newcombe’s 90th birthday.

Don Newcombe - 90th Birthday

“It’s time for Dodger baseball!” – brought to you by Don Newcombe.

Since I’m supposed be training for a triathlon (and didn’t want to feel too guilty about needing to eat a slice of banana cream pie) I opted for the Stadium Club’s taco salad.

Stadium Club Taco Salad

Goes to a baseball game and eats a salad. Yep.

The salad turned out to be a perfect stress-eating companion for the game as the Dodgers proceeded to sleepwalk through nine innings. Kenta Maeda was solid on the mound until he gave up three consecutive hits in the seventh, which led to the Rockies (and the game’s) only run of the night.

Stadium Club Dodger Stadium

Despite the outcome, it was a great night to watch a game indoors.

1981 Dodgers Yearbook

The high five was invented at Dodger Stadium by Dusty Baker and Glenn Burke on October 2, 1977. Four years later, it was featured on the Dodgers’ yearbook.

Game 14: Dodgers 4 – Rockies 3

The matchup: Dodgers vs Rockies (6.07.16)
Special Guest: My buddy Johnny. (See if you can spot us in the crowd back when DeAndre Jordan destroyed Brandon Knight.)
Snacks: Stella (thanks, Marc!), Dodger Dog (x2).
Giveaway: Today’s gift was seeing Julio Urias make his Dodger Stadium debut.
Memorable Moment: About the only thing that could top seeing Urias’ debut would be a walk-off home run and that’s exactly what we got. Thanks, Trayce!

RECAP: All eyes were on Julio Urias for this one but those who arrived early were treated to getting to watch Clayton Kershaw go through his bullpen session. As I entered the stadium, a heavy thump was emanating from the Dodger bullpen. A dozen more steps and that thump began to sound all-too-familiar.

This was the scene when I joined my friends Marc and Leslie at the Bullpen Overlook.

CLAYTON KERSHAW BULLPEN

Clayton Kershaw works out in the bullpen in anticipation for Friday night’s showdown with Johnny Cueto in San Francisco.

Well hello there, Mr. Cy Young/MVP winner.

Clayton Kershaw and AJ Ellis

Must have been a good workout if A.J. led with a fist bump from so far away.

Clayton Kershaw AJ Ellis 2

Clayton and A.J. getting a head start on Best Friends Day.

CLAYTON KERSHAW AND AJ ELLIS 3

Either they’re making plans for dinner or Clayton is busting A.J.’s chops about something.

Once Kershaw wrapped up his workout, the Bullpen Overlook cleared out for all five minutes. Fans entering the stadium wasted no time in staking out spots to wait for the arrival of Urias and my buddy Johnny soon joined us. He’s a Yankee fan for life but is appreciative of the Dodgers’ efforts so he’s always a good time at a game.

IMG_4594

This was the swarm around the bullpen an hour before game time.

Then it happened. Fans’ expressions went from bored to OMG faster than Maury Wills running the bases.

_DSC5099

That moment when a 19-year-old phenom walks onto the field.

Julio Urias had arrived.

JULIO URIAS DODGERS

Julio Urias and Yasmani Grandal make the walk to the Dodger bullpen.

JULIO URIAS YASMANI GRANDAL 1

No pressure, kid. No pressure.

JULIO URIAS BULLPEN 2

No turning back now.

JULIO URIAS DODGER STADIUM

Urias heads to the bullpen mound.

CROWD 2

Gotta get those Chatsnaps.

YASMANI GRANDAL 1

“Hey, guys. What do you think of my new chest protector? Guys?”

JULIO URIAS 1

El brazo de oro. He’s gonna be a good one.

If photos of Urias aren’t doing it for you, here’s a video that I shot because I’m the kind of nerd who just had to bring along three cameras.

(The random voice you’ll occasionally hear is me talking to people who were watching the Periscope I was also doing.)

NERD WITH THREE CAMERAS

I may have a problem.

JULIO URIAS MOHAWK

Time for Urias to go to work.

Once on the mound, the third time was the charm for Urias. He may have only went four innings on 86 pitches but he gave up just one run on three hits and struck out seven of the 17 Rockies he faced.

Following a slightly tense (sorry, won’t describe it as rocky) first inning, Justin Turner got the Dodgers on the board and helped my fantasy team with a three run shot that gave Urias his first lead of his young career and it seemed to settle him down in the following innings. A big positive is that he didn’t unravel when Nolan Arenado doubled home DJ LeMahieu in the third. He promptly erased that threat by striking out some Carlos Gonzalez fellow to end the inning.

JULIO URIAS PITCHING

After years of anticipation, Julio Urias made it to the big club.

The Dodger bullpen was another story. After Louis Coleman and Adam Liberatore combined forces to hold down the fort for an inning, Joe Blanton and Pedro Baez got the Rockies back into the game.

With the score tied at three with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Rockies manager Walt Weiss called on Carlos Estevez to face Trayce Thompson. As Estevez threw his warmup pitches, our conversation shifted to how many extra innings we’d be willing to sit through on a Tuesday night.

Two pitches later we were jumping out of our seats as Thompson hit a line drive just over the left center field wall.

Game over.

Dodgers win.

Cue Randy.

Dodger Stadium at Night

It was a great night to be at Dodger Stadium.

Game 13: Dodgers 12 – Braves 6

The matchup: Dodgers vs Braves (6.05.16)
Special Guest: My friend Jihane. This was her FIRST Dodger game.
Snacks: Nacho Helmet AND an Ice Cream Helmet.
Giveaway: Nope. (Unless you were a toddler.)
Memorable Moment: Corey Seager becoming known as “the guy who hits home runs” according to Jihane.

RECAP: This was a game of many firsts. My first Sunday day game of the season. My friend Jihane’s first Dodger game ever. And most importantly, thanks to the magic of Twitter, I was able to bask in the glory of my first Nacho AND Ice Cream Helmets of 2016.

For the record: When we arrived at the stadium, Nacho Helmet was leading 53 – 47%.

DODGER STADIUM NACHO HELMET

Exhibit A for the perfect outdoor Sunday brunch.

However, I had a hunch that a tie could happen by the time the poll closed so I decided I’d to cover my bases.

DODGER STADIUM ICE CREAM HELMET

Exhibit B for the perfect outdoor Sunday brunch. Ice cream always tastes a little better when it’s served in a miniature helmet.

As for the game itself, the Braves got on the board in the top of the first and held their lead for all of two outs. Back-to-back doubles by Adrian Gonzalez and Howie Kendrick in the bottom half of the first evened the score. Kiké Hernandez gave the Dodgers the lead for good when he led off the second with his fourth home run of the season. An inning later, the rout was on thanks to a three run shot from Yasmani Grandal. The scoring would continue throughout the game as Corey Seager belted a pair of home runs, giving him five for the weekend.

With the Dodgers running like a well-oiled machine, Jihane and I ventured out from our shade protected spot and took a little walking tour around the stadium that spanned from the Top Deck down to the Field Level. We made it back to our seats in time to belt out Take Me Out to the Ballgame and watch the Dodger Bullpen give the Braves a glimmer of hope that they could get back in the game.

TODD AND JIHANE

Jihane and I taking a break from the Dodgers’ scoring explosion on the Top Deck. We went up there so she could snag a “First Time at Dodger Stadium” certificate at the Fan Services window.

You couldn’t ask for a better first Dodger experience. Well, technically, I guess you could ask for a better game but Clayton Kershaw no-hitters don’t exactly grow on trees. Plus, the overwhelming lack of drama made for a very chill and stress-free day at the ballpark.

Just the way a Sunday should be.

Game 12: Dodgers 4 – Braves 0

The matchup: Dodgers vs Braves (6.04.16)
Special Guest(s): Us! Our friend Marc invited us to enjoy the spoils of some tickets that he won.
Snacks: Dodger Dog (x2), Dodger Blonde Ale, Souvenir sized Coke.
Giveaway: Don Sutton retired number pin.
Memorable Moment: Since it was just another ho-hum scoreless Clayton Kershaw outing, we’ll go with seeing a brilliantly executed squeeze play.

DODGERS BEER TAP

The Dodgers Blonde Ale is can be found at the bar next to the Left Field Pavilion.

RECAP: Barely a week after I won a major award through the new Dodger Pride Rewards in-game drawings, our friend Marc, who sits in front of us up in Section 2, hit a jackpot of his own in the form of Field Level tickets. My wife and I joined him along with our mutual friend Leslie for a night down in the Larry King adjacent seats.

With Clayton Kershaw on the mound, we met up extra early to snag seats above the Bullpen Overlook. Like always, it was well worth the wait watch him warm up.

AJ ELLIS AND CLAYTON KERSHAW

A.J. Ellis gets loose while Clayton thinks deep thoughts about all the ways he’ll mow down the Braves.

AJ AND CLAYTON GOING TO WORK

Clayton and A.J. make the walk to the Dodger dugout.

CLAYTON KERSHAW PITCHING

Clayton Kershaw lowered his ERA to 1.46 after throwing six scoreless innings.

The first big dramatic moment of the game came in the top of the second when first base umpire Joe West, yes, that Joe West, called a rather iffy balk on Kershaw to send Jeff Francoeur to second base with nobody out. Once the steam stopped shooting out of his ears, Clayton responded by throwing a pair of strikeouts and inducing a ground out to end the threat. The Braves would get a runner to third the following inning but that would as close as they’d get to putting a run on the board the entire evening.

On the Dodger side of things, Clayton (of course) gave himself all the lead he needed in bottom of the third by knocking a single to the fringe of left field and then hustled in from second off a Justin Turner single. One detail worth noting: Justin changed his walk up song from his long used Turn Down for What. I didn’t recognize his new jam but hopefully it gets him hitting again like the Red Dream we all know and love.

BRIAN WILSON JERSEY

When you spot a fan wearing a Brian Wilson jersey, you gotta take a pic.

LIGHT UP PHONE CASE

Not far from Brian Wilson’s last remaining fan was this pro selfie taker. Check out the light up phone case. It’s Kardashian approved!

Things got a little tense when the Dodger bullpen took the wheel in the top of the seventh. Joe Blanton and Pedro Baez each gave up a hit in their respective innings but were able to bridge the gap to Kenley Jansen.

In the bottom of the eighth, the Dodgers took away any potential ninth inning drama by adding a trifecta of insurance runs. With Turner and Trayce Thompson on the corners, Braves manager Brian Snitker called in Ian Krol to face Joc Pederson. Joc laid down the first pitch he saw and it couldn’t have been a more perfect bunt, landing in the no-man’s land between the mound and second base. Turner scooted home with ease and two pitches later, Thompson and Pederson executed the Dodgers’ first double steal of the season.

And if those offensive fireworks weren’t enough to put a Saturday night Dodger Stadium crowd into a partying mood, our section was treated to an epic lap dance late in the game. A group of ladies in the row behind us were celebrating a birthday and a fellow sitting next to my wife seized the opportunity jump over his seat to get his Magic Mike on. It just wasn’t a couple quick air humps either. The dude went for it to the howls and screams of the birthday girl’s friends and he kept on bumping and grinding her until they all snapped souvenir photos. It was such an impressive display of moves that I fished three bucks out of my pocket so I could make it sprinkle for him but my wife pumped the brakes on that. It was probably a wise decision as the sight of dollar bills likely would have had him ripping off his shirt.

I just hope he’s out of the doghouse by now. The poor guy’s boyfriend was not pleased.

CLAYTON KERSHAW

Kenley Jansen, a millisecond away from getting his 16th save of the season.

 

Game 10: Dodgers 1 – Reds 0

The matchup: Dodgers vs Reds (5.23.16)
Special Guest: My buddy Bruce, a hilarious young comic from the mean streets of Bakersfield. Give him a follow.
Snacks: Los Doyer Dog, Goose Island IPA, and some of Bruce’s Red Vines which were surprisingly fresh.
Giveaway: Travel pillows!
Memorable Moment: Watching Clayton Kershaw throw a two hit, complete game shutout was pretty good.

DOYER DOG

First Los Doyer Dog of the season!

RECAP: With Kershaw on the mound, Bruce and I arrived early to watch batting practice and catch Clayton’s pregame warmup from the bullpen overlook. The only hitch in the plan was the part where the Dodgers skipped their half of BP following their 17 inning marathon in San Diego the day/night before.

Bruce worked for the Bakersfield Blaze back when they were affiliated with the Reds and shared some fun stories about Billy Hamilton and other current Reds players coming through Bakersfield on their way to the bigs. It was a great way to pass the time because other than Scott Kazmir’s quick bullpen session, this was our entertainment until Kershaw showed up.

Dodger Groundskeeper

You don’t know how exciting it can be to watch a guy water dirt when you have to hold down a seat for a few hours.

Once Kershaw made his entrance to the bullpen, the wait became instantly worth it. This was the fifth time or so that I’ve seen him warmup and it was just as exciting as the first time. From the moment he steps onto the field to start stretching, the dude is locked in. He doesn’t say a single word. He just stares at the ground and throws fire.

DCIM100GOPROG0051946.

Clayton Kershaw begins his warmup.

CLAYTON KERSHAW BULLPEN

Kershaw returns from his pregame ritual of staring at a wall during the National Anthem to finish his warm up.

Clayton Kershaw GIF

The closest Kershaw gets to speaking during his warmup is when he fist bumps Rick Honeycutt on his way out to the field.

IMG_3969

Kershaw and AJ Ellis make the commute to their office.

And here’s a reverse angle featuring a photobomb from us courtesy of the Dodgers’ Instagram.

Photobombing Clayton and AJ

99% sure Bruce and I were talking about where to eat when this photo was taken.

Aside from the Reds briefly threatening to score in their half of the first, Clayton mowed them down with merciless efficiency. The only real scare for Kershaw (as far as fans were concerned) came on the base paths when he was mildly crushed by Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips when he slid into second following a wild pitch. Clayton though had no time for heart attack inducing near misses. He got right up and motored to third following a horrible throw to second that was Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart’s first of two throwing errors on the evening.

And of course Clayton’s hustle would be rewarded by his teammates by leaving him stranded on third.

Bruce and Todd

Bruce and I enjoying our new Dodger travel pillows.

Kershaw kept things humming as such a brisk clip that the game was somehow in the seventh inning stretch in under two hours. When he took the mound in the eighth, he was only at 79 pitches which meant he had 20 to work with to pull a Maddux. He made it to the ninth with the possibility still intact but a six pitch at-bat by Zack Cozart and Billy Hamilton’s refusal to swing at the first pitch put Kershaw at the 100 pitch mark. Hamilton would fly out to end the game two pitches later.

The near miss on the Maddux added a nice jolt of excitement and makes a person wonder if Greg Maddux, now that he’s on the Dodgers’ staff, would have called to congratulate Clayton on his achievement.

On the way home, I couldn’t help but think how many pitchers out there would give their non-pitching arm to throw a single game like Kershaw’s but for him, and to the fans who’ve become spoiled by such brilliance, it was just another Monday night at the ballpark.

Game 9: Dodgers 5 – Angels 1

The matchup: Dodgers vs Angels (5.17.16)
Special Guest: My buddy Ned. (The last time went to a Dodger game, Jake Arrieta threw a no-hitter.)
Snacks: Caesar salad, Non-Garlic Fries, PBR Tall Boy.
Giveaway: Dodger Welcome Mat
Memorable Moment: Winning a Kenley Jansen autographed baseball. Wut?

RECAP: The best part of the meltdown above? It happened in the top of the first when Clayton Kershaw reintroduced Mike Trout to Uncle Charlie. For reasons that still boggle the mind, that pitch was called a ball and Marc’s internal rage meter went from 0 – 100 before the ball was tossed back to Kershaw.

Ever since we moved over to Section 2 three seasons ago, Marc has served as an in-game barometer for the current state of the Dodgers. Those of us who sit near him still speak in hushed reverence about his Brandon League and Brian Wilson induced meltdowns that would send him pacing up and down the aisle cursing the baseball gods.

It’s all in good fun though. Marc and his dad Russ are at nearly every game and are the kind of loyal fans any team would be lucky to have.

The last time the Dodgers had a welcome mat giveaway, my buddy Ned joined me for the game so I thought this game would be the perfect chance for him to add to his collection.

IMG_3686

For the record, I forgot a Dodger shirt at home.

After getting hosed on that curve ball to Trout, Clayton recovered and proceeded to go full Clayton on the Angels. He’s so good it’s almost not fair to the opposing teams. While he was mowing down Angels as fast as they were coming to the plate, Ned and I took a quick lap around the stadium to see him dominate from a few different vantage points and make some new friends.

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I wasn’t kidding when I said we made some new friends.

We got back to our seats just in time for me to have to go claim a major award. The moment we sat down, I received a text that I had won the evening’s Dodger Pride
Rewards drawing for the evening.

Screen Shot 2016-05-20 at 11.20.56 PMStarting this season, season ticket holders have been encouraged to scan their cards to be automatically entered to win a nightly assortment of Dodger goodies. Being the nerd that I am, I’ve remembered to scan my card at most games and after a whole six or seven tries, all that hard work finally paid off.

I hustled down to the Club Level and I was greeted by this sign.

IMG_3679Along with a couple Dodger employees guarding an assortment of goodies.

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Lucky for me, they never worked at the same carnival as Navin Johnson and I was given a pretty big choice of prizes. It was all really great stuff and I went for a ball that was signed by Kenley Jansen.

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Score! A Kenley signed ball is a way better prize than a pack of carnival Chiclets.

Between Clayton’s performance and Corey and Joc combining for three home runs, going home with this ball was just the icing on the cake.

It was a night at the ballpark that was way too much fun for a random Tuesday.

Clayton and Kenley

The Kenley ball found a home on our Dodger shelf next to Clayton.