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(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 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 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 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.

 

Game 8: Dodgers 5 – Cardinals 3

The matchup: Dodgers vs Cardinals (5.14.16)
Special Guest: My lovely wife.
Snacks: Dodger Dog (1), Garlic Fries, a Coke.
Giveaway: Replica Dodger Stadium.
Memorable Moment: A tie between Scott Kazmir pitching a gem and finding my spirit animal.

Dodger Stadium

It was a gorgeous night at Chavez Ravine.

RECAP: My lovely wife’s streak of not seeing the Dodgers lose in person since last September continued thanks to Scott Kazmir pitching his best game this decade. He even helped his own cause with an absolutely savage drag bunt that went for a hit in a clear sacrifice situation that led to the Dodgers racking up three runs in their half of the fourth.

As exciting as the action was on the field, I was beside myself in the stands when I spotted the greatest fan I’ve ever seen.

GUY WEARING NACHO HELMETNotice the table flat plateau running across the top of his helmet? Yep. It’s a Nacho Helmet. No doubt about it. I wanted to go slap him a high five and become his friend so bad. You just know that anyone who strolls into Dodger Stadium wearing a Nacho Helmet is going to be an all-round good time. Guaranteed.

The Dodgers delivered a perfect game for a Saturday night crowd. It was close enough for some suspense, Corey Seager and Adrian Gonzalez both went yard and Kazimr’s tank hit ‘E’ with one batter to go so fans got to hear California Love and see Kenley Jansen work a three pitch save.

At the woodpile

Forgot to snap a pic at the same so here’s one at the perpetual pile of free firewood that can be found along Scott Road.

 

 

Game 2: Dodgers 3 – Giants 1

The matchup: Dodgers vs Giants (4.17.16)
Special Guest: Big Daddy Delino from Sons of Steve Garvey.
Snacks: Dodger Dog, garlic fries, peanuts, and enough Shock Tops to numb the pain of the Giants fans surrounding us.
Giveaway: Beating the Giants was the only gift we needed.
Memorable Moment: Sniffing Uribe’s jersey.

Todd and Delino

Son of Steve Garvey Delino protects his secret identity.

RECAP: Like his namesake, my buddy “Delino” is also a native son of the Blue Hen State. I can’t begin to tell you what a privilege it was to have the second most famous Delino to ever come out of Delaware flying as my wingman for the game. Delino and I go all way back to the early 2000s when we were neighbors in an apartment building that straddled the border between Los Feliz and Little Armenia. On more than a few occasions, I’ve parlayed my status of knowing one members of the ultra-secretive SoSG into marginally legit street cred among the geekiest Dodger fans.

It was a welcome sight to see the Dodgers not stink up the joint during their first Sunday Night Baseball appearance of the season. I should be more optimistic but sometimes Sunday Night Baseball PTSD still creeps out thanks to having witnessed the horror and anguish of Jonathan Broxton’s legendary meltdown many moons ago.

Between Joc’s two run jam and seven ridiculously solid innings from Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers flexed just enough muscle to keep any doubting vultures at bay. Puig coming out on the right side of a total Puig move (trying to score from second on a ground ball that made it 10 feet into center field) was the icing on the cake.

In the top of the sixth, Delino and I abandoned our post and wandered off for beverage reinforcements (the Giants fans around us were more annoying than usual) and never returned. We ended up taking the long way down to the Field Level where I made a spiritual connection to a game used Juan Uribe jersey.

Sniffing Juan Uribe's Jersey

Soaking up the sweet, sweet smells of a dearly departed Dodger.

Our lap around the Field Level ended at the Dodgers’ bullpen. For some unexplainable reason, the seats directly over the mound were open so we got to see Kenley Jansen get ready to mow down the Giants. It was my first time seeing him warm up and I gotta say he was all business.

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Kenley Jansen goes through his pre-flight checklist.

Once his cannon was properly pre-heated, Kenley stood patiently on the mound and waited for his cue.

Kenley Jansen

This photo was taken a split second before California Love started blasting.

After giving up a single to Buster Posey, Kenley made quick work of the Giants, giving the Dodgers sole possession of first place.

It was a perfect way to close out a weekend.

 

Game 1: Dodgers 3 – Diamondbacks 1

The matchup: Dodgers vs Diamondbacks (4.13.16)
Special Guest: My wife.
Snacks: Dodger Dog w/ spicy mustard and onions (the only way to dress one), garlic fries, Heineken, churro.
Giveaway: Hooded Sweatshirt
Memorable Moment: Kobe Bryant getting the biggest cheers of the night.

Dodger Stadium Sign

Dodger Stadium’s new address.

RECAP:  Rolling up Vin Scully Avenue for the very first time, I took a moment to bask in the glory of Dodger Stadium’s new address and pay tribute to the East Side Kings. The East Side Kings were the closest thing my Nebraska high school had to a “real” gang. It was tradition for those dozen or so dudes to skip the first day of school and roll hard on day two, all decked out in the finest LA Kings gear that could be found at the Conestoga Mall.

For my wife and myself, the day after Opening Day has become our traditional first day back at the ballpark. I couldn’t help but feel a little East Side King-ish when we got to our seats and our neighbors said they were wondering if we’d be back. I thought for sure they’d know how we do it by now. This is our third season in the same spot and all the regulars in our section know each other which has given our section a real Cheers like vibe.

This game also marked our 11th season together. One of our very first dates was a Dodger game and lucky for me, I was only kidding when I tried talking her into stealing a tub of spicy mustard. As someone who only knew the world of Field Level corporate seats, our first game together was a whole new experience for her, starting with buying some strongly haggled tickets off a scalper in the parking lot behind the Left Field Pavillon. Oh the fun you could have in the days before StubHub.

OPENING DAY

11 seasons together and still trying to get on that Kiss Cam.

As for this game, the snakes struck first but Adrian Gonzalez got things tied up with a solo bomb to right center field. The Dodgers then pulled away in the fifth thanks to a couple of errors by the Diamondbacks that led to a pair of runs. Kenley Jansen sparred fans the horror of seeing the bullpen in action by coming on for a five out save that required only 18 pitches.

It was a great start to a new season at Chavez Ravine.