Game 4: Marlins 6 – Dodgers 3

The matchup: Dodgers vs Marlins (4.26.16)
Special Guest: My friend Leslie. Thanks to her excellent choice in teams (Dodgers, Huskers) she’s like the best sports fan ever. Give her a follow, yo.
Snacks: Dodger Dog x 2, Stella x 1, Bud Heavy x 1.
Giveaway: Tonight’s gift was seeing Clayton Kershaw pitch for the first time this season.
Memorable Moment: Our ol’ buddy Giancarlo Stanton sending a Kershaw fastball to Glendale will be seared into my brain for a long time.

Running From the Stadium

The lack of focus in this photo can be blamed on Dieter, the new organist. When the Dodgers lose, he likes to play Tomorrow (aka that depressing song from Annie) causing us to bolt out of the stadium as fast as we could.

RECAP: With Clayton Kershaw on the mound and Donnie’s Flailing Fish still the opponent, this game couldn’t have been more of a lock for the Dodgers. Unfortunately, as we all know, baseball can be a very cruel game. The Dodgers jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead on a pair of run scoring wild pitches. Clayton helped his own cause throughout the night with a fake-bunt-to-slap-single followed by a run scoring double that put the Dodgers up 3-0 heading into the sixth inning.

Normally, three runs is plenty of cushion for Kershaw but the Marlins refused to get on the hook. They strung together four consecutive hits (netting only two runs) in the top of the sixth to bring Stanton to the plate with two runners on. He promptly deposited a fastball into center field to give the Marlins a 5-3 lead that they would not relinquish.

In the bottom of the ninth, the Dodgers gave the fans who stayed until the bitter end a glimmer of hope. Joc Pederson roped a double and Chase Utley drew a walk, giving Corey Seager a chance to give himself an early birthday present but it was not to be.

Despite witnessing the Dodgers lose consecutive games, the evening at Dodger Stadium was far from being a total loss thanks to getting to watch Kershaw warm up from the bullpen overlook. If you ever get a chance, it’s definitely worth it to arrive early enough to claim a seat over the pitcher’s mound. You’re so close to the action that it’s like hanging out the top of the key while Steph Curry practiced his free throws.

Some photos of the Kershaw warm up experience follow below. Click to open in a new tab to see them full-size.


All eyes are on Kershaw as he begins his pre-game ritual.


Kershaw goes for a nice, relaxing stroll around the field.

Yasmani Grandal

Meanwhile, Yasmani Grandal goes through his own routine.

Yasmani Grandal Prep

Grandal’s hand-eye coordination game is strong.


Grandal gives his glove a quick spritz of who-knows-what.


Grandal follows the spritz by dusting his glove with a rosin bag. Before you can frame a pitch, you gotta be able to hold onto the ball.


Kershaw arrives in the bullpen and is all business.

Clayton Kershaw 2

Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt follows Kershaw to the mound.

Clayton Kershaw GoPro2

Kershaw begins to throw some heat.

Clayton Kershaw GoPro

Wait for it…

Clayton Kershaw GoPro3

Look how far Kershaw strides from the rubber.

Steve Yeager

Catching instructor Steve Yeager, who’s normally a little salty on game day, noticed a tribute to Tommy Lasorda on DodgerVision and immediately became transfixed. It was a nice moment to see and one can only imagine the memories that were going through his head.

Clayton Kershaw Going to Work

Time for Kershaw to go to work.

Game 3: Marlins 3 – Dodgers 2

The matchup: Dodgers vs Marlins (4.25.16)
Special Guest: My buddy Matt. Check out his Star Wars short on Funny or Die.
Snacks: Dodger Dog, regular fries, some of Matt’s fries, churro (for a hand warmer), some of Matt’s peanuts.
Giveaway: Clayton Kershaw bobblehead.
Memorable Moment: The return of Don Mattingly.


Matt shows off just about the only thing a Jewish vegan can eat at Dodger Stadium during Passover.

RECAP: The Dodgers returned to Chavez Ravine after a quick 4 and 2 road trip to Atlanta and Denver and brought some gnarly weather back home with them. And we’re talking gnarly by hearty Midwestern standards. Not “Oh no, a dead palm fond fell on my Prius.”

Clouds over Dodger Stadium

It was a dark and stormy night at Dodger Stadium.

About 45 minutes before game time, a howling wind had the giant flags in center field as stiff as boards, sending rain (yes rain!) flying in every direction and fans running for cover. Things calmed down enough so that everyone returned to their seats in time for the official introduction of Don Mattingly as the manager of the Marlins.

DodgerVision played a montage of assorted highlights from Donnie Baseball’s years in blue set to the theme song for Welcome Back Kotter, a rather melancholy selection. Don was greeted with respectful applause and a smattering of (mostly) ironic boos.

Ross Stripling held the Marlins scoreless until Giancarlo Stanton led off the top of the fourth by sending the crowd at the left field bar running for cover with a cruise missile of a solo home run. Yasiel Puig and Trayce Thompson countered with shots of their own in the bottom half of the inning to put the Dodgers ahead 2-1. Stanton didn’t have to wait long to strike back. He raked a tying double to the wall in the fifth and the Marlins pulled ahead for good an inning later when Puig came up about half a mile short in his attempt to spear Derek Dietrich’s line drive triple out of the sky.

In the bottom of the seventh, Donnie received his most sincere greeting of the evening when he came out to replace starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen. The only way he could have been booed any harder is if he would have called for a double switch (his signature move) that involved Marlins hitting coach Barry Bonds trotting out to play left field. While I like Mattingly, I couldn’t help but laugh at the years of pent up angst raining down upon him.

Over in the Dodger Dugout, Dave Roberts maximized the used chewing gum that was available pitch out of the bullpen and emptied the bench in the most strategic way he could, saving Adrian Gonzales until the bottom of the ninth to pinch hit with Joc Pederson standing on first.

The Dodgers came up short but tonight is a new night and Clayton Kershaw is on the mound.

And hopefully this guy won’t be at the ballpark.

Barry Bonds Jersey

Yep. This guy was wearing a Giants era Barry Bonds jersey to a game between the Dodgers and Marlins.




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.

Kenley Jansen 2

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.


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.