Monday, March 31, 2008

Opening Day

Okay, guys. Here's the story of my Sunday night and Monday morning. You ready?

I got home from the Sunday Sox/Dodgers game at about 5 pm, and I took my dog out for a walk. I used my back stairs, which face the driveway of my apartment building, and which lead to my locked back door. There is no gate or door at the bottom of the staircase at the driveway, though. That's important.

At 9 pm, I decided to take my dog out for her last walk of the night. I got almost all the day down the stairs, but when I hit the fourth step from the bottom, my right foot hit something, and I went flying backwards in the air. I landed hard on my posterior (the right side) and my right forearm. I, thankfully, did not hit my head. I also, miraculously, did not let go of my dog's leash. So, I was lying there, understandably confused, wondering just what the hell I slipped on. Right now, I wish it was still a mystery, because I'm certain this will haunt me for the rest of my life. What do you think it was?

Well, if you guessed human feces, congratulations! That's right. On my stairs, and on my pants and sweatshirt, was the largest pile of human defecation you have ever seen in your lives. I didn't even know what to do, so I just froze for a few seconds. Then I realized what I was covered in, and I hightailed it back up the stairs, shedding my clothing as I went. Everything I was wearing went immediately into the trashcan, and I got into the shower.

I didn't know what to think at first, but then I figured out that a homeless person must have seen my dark staircase as quite the inviting place for his/her evening duties. I wasn't about to go outside again, because who knows what the hell was going on out there. So, I called the cops to get them to drive around and look for people who might be pooping in other strange places. And then I decided I wasn't about to go out in the dark to clean it up, so it was going to have to wait until morning.

I woke up early this morning to start my new boot camp program, then came home and spent an hour trying to clean the (ahem) stuff off my steps. It's still not completely gone, but there's only so much a girl can take, you know? I took a break and decided to do some dishes, and while I was washing a bowl, it broke, and cut the center of my left hand. Deep enough to bleed (and hurt) a lot, but not deep enough to need stitches. You can imagine, given my state of mind, how this incident completely sent me over the edge.

So, I was in bad shape. And I was ready for the Dodgers to show me something good to make up for all the nonsense. They did not disappoint.

Of course, I was late for the game because of all my issues. I saw the first pitch, but I missed all the ceremonies where they apparently honored many old Dodger players. This picture is all I saw of that ceremony, and this was the very end as they were leaving the field.


The Dodgers won this one pretty handily, thanks to a two-run home run from Jeff Kent and a fine performance from Brad Penny. Ethier started in left field, Jones was in center, Kemp was in right, and it sure makes you feel optimistic for the upcoming season. Of course, Ethier was hitless, and Pierre was probably on the bench thinking, "I told you so," but I don't care. One guy I was near on the way out of the park said, "If the Dodgers start 2-0, they'll never be at .500 this season." That's a bold prediction, but I like that guy's style.


Player of the Game: Rafael Furcal, back in his proper spot as the leadoff hitter. (3-4, BB, 1 RBI, 1 R)


Let's do another photo essay, shall we? My seats weren't as good today, but I think I got a few good shots in nonetheless.


Erin Andrews. This one's for Jack Cobra and all the other fellas out there who love this woman. I know I was far away. Sorry.


Brad Penny throws the first pitch of the Dodgers' 2008 season.


Ethier takes his first pitch as the official starting left fielder (it was a ball).


Furcal leaves the plate after scoring the first run (driven in on a Matt Kemp single).


Matt Kemp greets Jeff Kent at the plate after Kent's two run shot in the first.


Andruw Jones takes his first pitch as a Dodger (it was a ball).


This would explain all the traffic.


The Dodgers celebrate on the field after the victory.




COMMENTS:

AUTHOR: Q
DATE: 03/31/2008 10:22:51 PM

Which boot camp are you doing?
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AUTHOR: Bruce Paine
DATE: 04/01/2008 01:54:06 AM

I AM SO SORRY. That is a horrible story. Really horrible. There is a psychological break humans suffer when they come into contact with human feces not of their own design, and I have a serious complex about it. Just reading this has broken me a little. I am so sorry. If it helps a little, the fear of discovering another person's feces on my personal property has led me to consider the matter at length and I am generally of the opinion that it probably wasn't a hobo, but rather a drunk walking home. I know that is little consolation, but there it is. When I lived in Bloomington the homeless question was rather limited, but since I moved to Minneapolis I am stunned with how bad the homeless problem is here. Several times I have seen guys on the street and legitimately wanted to roll down my window and yell, "Where do you crap?" I pray to God the answer isn't, "Erin's stairs!"
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AUTHOR: Erin
DATE: 04/01/2008 12:04:34 PM

Thanks, Bruce. Somehow I had a feeling a story about shit might get you out of hiding. I never really thought about having a complex regarding contact with human feces, but I certainly have one now.

If it was a drunk guy, he had been saving up for quite a while, let me tell you.
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AUTHOR: Gus
DATE: 04/03/2008 05:31:34 PM

Does laughing at a story like that make someone a bad person?
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Final Preseason Game

This one is going to be mostly a photo essay, as I don't have enough to say about the game to make it interesting to you.

I will say this, though-- if this were a regular season game, I would have been very torn about the outcome. On Sunday, the Dodgers beat the Red Sox 8-0, and the Sox were only able to manage one hit (it came in the eighth inning). That was brutal. But, it was nice to see Hiroki Kuroda pitch like a master, and Andre Ethier had a good day, thus nailing Juan Pierre's coffin further shut.

And speaking of Pierre, he had a crazy moment in the game that must have been brutally embarrassing, especially when you consider that he had just lost his job that morning. He got on base, then as he was standing at first, apparently thinking of other things, Buchholz fired over to Youkilis. Pierre was maybe two or three feet off the bag, not really taking a lead, but literally just standing there, and Youk reached out and tagged the erstwhile left fielder, who never moved. Seriously. I don't think he even realized what had happened until a few seconds after he was called out. It was embarrassing, and the fans added a few boos for good measure. Sorry, Juan. This is a big boy's sport, though, and you got beat out by people younger and better than you. I look forward to see you in a pinch running capacity in the future.

Anyway, onto the pictures...


The new pictures up outside Dodger Stadium.


It's always a beautiful day at Dodger Stadium.


I don't look good in photos, but everyone loves this shirt, so I had to show it off.


Red Sox fans young and old came out to see the game.


I don't care if it's corny, I still love singing that song.


Me and my brother, still smiling after a Red Sox loss.


I'm getting ready to head out to the Stadium for Opening Day, so I will try to take some more pictures to show you. Happy Opening Day, everyone!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Comments/Complaints?

Pictures referenced in this post are no longer available.

I skipped Saturday's game at the Coliseum, but went to the other two Boston/L.A. games over the weekend, and I waited until now before posting. I'm sorry if you were waiting patiently. Friday's game will be its own post, followed by a separate (probably shorter) post about Sunday's game. A report on Monday's Opening Day game for the Dodgers (against the Giants, a game I will also attend) will be another separate post. Hope you can handle it, folks. We're about to get heavy with the posting around these parts.

People, I'm not gonna lie to you. There were some problems at Dodger Stadium on Friday night. And I was not pleased.

I arrived at the stadium at about 6 pm, assuming that, like always, the gates would have opened two hours prior to game time. Game time was 7:40, and people were allowed in to park at around 5:40, but the gates to the field were not open when I walked up with the crowd. In fact, they did not open until around 6:10, 90 minutes before game time. This is the first of many, many problems I had at this game.

I had field level seats, which meant I was allowed in the gate I crowded around. Normally, though, prior to the game, anyone can enter at field level in order to watch batting practice. The people in front of me, who had upper deck seats, were denied, however, and told that batting practice was already over. I went in, sat down at my seat, and proceeded to watch the Red Sox take batting practice for at least the next 20 minutes. Then an announcement came over the loudspeaker, asking fans who did not have field level seats to vacate the field. Funny, since none of them had been allowed there to begin with.

Another apparent change at the ballpark, also involving mistreatment of fans, is the inability of the average fan to access the field. Just like with batting practice, fans of all classes are usually allowed to get close to the field to take pictures, get autographs, whatever. Not on Friday, though. There were ushers stationed at the entrance to every baseline seat (the first eight rows or so along the baseline, which are tickets that sell for $200 each), telling people that they could go no further. So, those who received autographs either had to crowd into the corners by each foul pole (and I didn't see anyone signing down there), or pay $200 for a seat. The rich get richer, huh? I'm not sure I understand the change in policy, except that it just appears to be another way that Dodger executives are attempting to shut out the everyday fan. Not a wise move, guys.

Let's talk some of the changes that occurred during the offseason at Dodger Stadium. First up, there were new options for dining, as well as new, nicer locations at which to purchase your food. The concourses at field level were also wider, which I guess is just supposed to make everything feel less crowded (which it might do, but it's hard to tell when the stadium is only half full). The improvements to the concessions areas were appreciated, and I could even still smell fresh paint as I walked toward my seat. I also noticed the new lights, but from what I hear, most of the money in the renovations was spent in redoing the luxury boxes. It's likely that I will never see those changes, but it's nice of the Dodgers to take care of the people who really matter to the team, right?

If I seem bitter, it's because I am. Things just went from bad to worse when I settled into my seat, and then decided to go and have a Dodger Dog. I'm sure you can imagine that I had been craving one all winter, and all day on Friday I was certain that I would die if I didn't get one in my body ASAP. I purposely didn't eat much all day, mostly because I made the mistake of checking the nutritional value of the Dodger Dog, and realized that if I didn't want to gain a pound that day, I should lay off all other food.

Turns out that I would have to wait even longer once I got to the stadium. Why, you ask? Well, because apparently the influx of thousands of people at game time was a big shocker to the Dodger Stadium staff. When I walked up to the window, probably less than an hour before the game was to begin, they had no Dodger Dogs. I was shocked, as were many around me. Then I learned that they did have Dodger Dogs, but just no buns. Oh, well, that's better, right? I was incredibly hungry at this point, and so I was forced to order and eat nachos, thus ensuring that I would spend the weekend retaining water, thanks to the sodium content of the food I would be eating.

I sat down for a while, and then just before the game, I went back to the window to find out if there were Dogs available. There were. I was second in line, but it took about 20 minutes to get my food. This is because, though they weren't making any announcements about this, the concessions staff had learned that only one of their six computers was accepting credit cards. In the line to my left, one guy waited for fifteen minutes only to get up there and find out they weren't accepting his debit card. But then they decided that they would accept his card, and spent five minutes trying to relay his order from one station over to the one with the working computer.

Now, I've never been one to accuse Dodger Stadium concessions staff of being efficient or speedy, but this was just getting ridiculous. The lady at my station literally just stood around for ten minutes after the guy in front of me ordered, and she gave no indication as to just what the heck it was we were waiting for. Seriously, that picture is exactly what I spent altogether too long looking at, all while just attempting to give this team more of my money. Hence the reason I had plenty of time to make sure I composed the perfect shot of a Dodger Stadium employee doing what they seem to do best.

I finally, finally got my Dodger Dog. Now, here's what you need to know if you've never been to Dodger Stadium. Dodger Dogs are always piping hot. They hand them to you, and sometimes you suffer third degree burns in the transfer. But that's okay, because you're in love, and you don't feel pain when you're in love. You bobble the package between your two hands, trying not to let it rest in one place too long, and you head to the condiments area to load up on whatever you'd like to accompany that heavenly goodness.

There were two things preventing that scenario from occurring on Friday night. One, the Dodger Dog that I had, by this time, waited about an hour to receive, was not hot. It was barely lukewarm. I told someone at the stand about this, and she essentially shrugged. What was I going to do? I knew none of them were going to be hotter than the one I had, so I took my Dog and headed over to get some ketchup and relish (yes, that's what I eat on my Dodger Dogs, so deal with it). And here, if you can believe it, I ran into another problem. In years past, when you wanted relish and/or onions, you used a little ladle and dipped into a vat filled with either of those two condiments. Perhaps not the most sanitary, but it got the job done. Ketchup and mustard were a little annoying, because you had to hold down some button that didn't start pouring right away, and when it did, it poured out a ton of those items. A ton. So you had to try and perfect exactly how long to hold the button, and then let go, praying the whole time.

The ketchup and mustard now just come out of nozzles that are much easier to control. That's an improvement. But for the relish and onions, there's a new contraption, which I'm sure exists in other locations, and maybe I've even seen it, but that didn't make it easy for me to use. I'm not a moron, but I tend to follow directions pretty explicitly, particularly when they're clearly written on the device that I am about to use. So, the idea was to turn a wheel on one side of this box, and the relish would come out the other side. The problem? On the first one I tried, the directions were backward. So, I reached up my hand to try to turn one side (without paying attention to the wheel on the other side, I guess), and came away with a hand sticky with relish. Besides that, my hands were already dirty just from the ambience of the stadium, so anyone else who came up to get relish afterward would also be getting whatever I just left behind from my hands.

No matter, though, because when I realized my mistake and tried to do it the correct way, I found the relish dispenser to be empty. Same thing on the next one down (ten feet away). And the next one. In fact, it wasn't until the fourth one I tried that I was able to find relish, which then proceeded to come out in tablespoon sized dollops that I had to try and spread with my aforementioned filthy fingers. Anyone think I should call the phone number listed on that picture and inform them of their insane mistake? I don't even know how they did it. The whole thing seems to be one big sticker. The "turn it here" and the "get it here" are not separate (I checked), so how exactly did the whole thing wind up backwards? It's a mystery for the ages, I tell you.

These may seem like minor issues, but they weren't to me. And I don't know how a stadium whose sole purpose is to make money from the fans can find such a unique way to not take that money. How could there be no Dodger Dogs? How is that possible? Yes, I know this is the first game of the season at the Stadium. I don't care. You knew we were coming, and you had quite a few months to prepare, if I'm doing the math correctly here. The basic staple at this place is the Dodger Dog. It's historical. It goes back quite a while, and it's what people want when they get there. So give it to them. It's simple. You grill them, you deliver them, and we hand over $5 for the 36% of our daily recommended value of sodium.

The team is already gouging us for parking ($15, which is up roughly 100% since Frank McCourt purchased the team), and ticket prices went up enough that, according to the season ticket holders in front of me on Friday, plenty of their friends decided they could no longer afford their own seats. And so they left. There was apparently no incentive large enough to keep them around. I want to point you to a post at Sons of Steve Garvey, which is all about the blind eye the Dodgers' franchise seems to turn to its more common (read: not so rich) fans. This is more than likely a problem that's happening throughout baseball, but that doesn't mean I have to take it lying down from my own team. I love the Dodgers. I love Dodger Stadium. But I'm not interested in getting jerked around and then forking over money for the privilege. As SoSG points out, this is already a Lakers town, not a Dodgers town, and if the Dodgers aren't careful, it will be harder and harder for them to continue to set attendance records in the league. Just give us a little bit of respect. And some relish. That's all we ask.

That said, I enjoyed watching the game. There were plenty of Red Sox fans in attendance, and I was surprised to find that the stadium was only (maybe) halfway full. I'm sure they sold more tickets, but those people definitely didn't show up to the game. It was just cool to get to see my two teams playing each other, and though I was dressed in Red Sox gear, I will admit that I spent plenty of time clapping for the Dodgers, before stopping myself when I realized that someone might think I was an idiot who didn't understand the game. >But, Jack Cobra was probably right in his comment on my last post, when he said I could cheer for both teams in spring training. A woman in front of me had no qualms about it-- she was wearing a Dodgers' hat and a Red Sox sweatshirt. I should have done that, but I didn't want to do it on Sunday, because my brother came with me, and he's die hard enough to give me a lot of crap for a move like that, even in a spring training game.

The Red Sox lost the game, but that didn't really matter. Billingsley was especially impressive for the Dodgers, and Colon did very well for the Sox (he was sent down to Triple-A after the game, but I think we should expect him back sometime soon, which might not be such a bad thing), so both fans inside of me enjoyed seeing that.

Oh, and hey, guess what? On Sunday, Torre told Pierre that Ethier will be the starting left fielder for your Los Angeles Dodgers this season. I don't think I need to tell you how excited I am about that. More on Pierre in the next post, because he made a truly awesome (read: boneheaded) move during Sunday's game, and I can't wait to break it down for you. Yes, I will beat the man while he's down. Try and stop me. I'm sorry to say that this means the Pierre-o-Meter is, hopefully, retired. I couldn't be more happy, even though I loved that little invention of mine.

And look, it's Joe Torre's first appearance at Dodger Stadium, as he read the Rules of Conduct for the fans. This little moment got a huge cheer, which is nice to see. People are excited about this man coming to town. Let's see what he can do to help us this year.




COMMENTS:

AUTHOR: Jack Cobra
DATE: 03/31/2008 02:46:27 PM

This is some great blogging, as usual.
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AUTHOR: Another Bostonian in LA
DATE: 03/31/2008 04:21:38 PM

Customer service at Dodger Stadium gets worse and worse every year.

I was at Friday night's game, too. My experience with the concessions was, they let people form a big line, and there was a woman even standing at the register, but they went 10 minutes before informing everyone the register was closed. Which meant the other two lines became gargantuan.

Then there was no garlic on the garlic fries. $6.75 for garlic fries, and no garlic. You would have thought the would have gotten the hint when everyone kept sending their fries back to get actual garlic on them, but no dice. Oh, and god forbid they provide utensils for their garlic fries.

Also, the woman who took my beer order charged me for a $10 large beer when I ordered an $8 regular, then gave me an attitude about it even though she was the one who screwed up.

Last year, I went to a game in April. Went to the reserve section to get tickets. They insisted there were no tickets available for less than $50. Much more than I wanted to pay, but I had already plunked down $15 for parking. So I got the ticket ... and not only was it an obstructed view seat, but there were thousands of $20 reserve seats empty, the ones that were supposedly sold out.

That was the last Dodgers game I went to last year. Now I just go to Petco now when I want to see baseball, nicer ballpark, nicer city, cheaper seats, and even with the cost of gas it comes out to a slightly less expensive experience than a Dodgers game. And you don't get the bad service or the lousy attitudes. Now that the Sox are gone I think I'll go back to SD.
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AUTHOR: Go Halos
DATE: 03/31/2008 06:00:00 PM

I was born and raised a Dodger fan - mother was from Brooklyn and moved to California the year before the Dodgers. After the O'Malley's sold the team, it's been all downhill. I don't even bother any more unless someone offers up free tickets. After they told us we couldn't tailgate anymore and you had to hide in your car to drink a beer before the game (oh, and trading Piazza), it was all over for me, which made me sad, since I was born and bred Dodger Blue.

That said, the Angels are currently accepting old Dodger fans. Better team, better baseball experience all around. You can tailgate, grill, it's easy to get in and out of the parking lot...come on down to the OC!
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AUTHOR: YoDep
DATE: 03/31/2008 06:39:09 PM

Sorry to gripe with your blog...but seriously- a bo sox and a doyers fan? come on man. Way to hedge your bets. Are you a big Celtics/Laker fan too?
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AUTHOR: Erin
DATE: 03/31/2008 08:45:13 PM

I am both glad and sad to hear that I was not alone in the bad experience at the ballpark.

As for why I choose to root for these particular teams, well, I was born and raised a Red Sox fan. And now I've lived in Los Angeles for six years. Seemed like some pretty obvious choices to me. And since the Dodgers aren't exactly perennial playoff favorites (neither were the Red Sox just a few short years ago either, I'll remind you), I don't appreciate the implication that I'm a fairweather fan. But, hey, whatever.

And no, I'm not a fan of the Celtics or the Lakers. In fact, I hate the Lakers with an unholy passion. But that's because I'm a Spurs fan. And I'm sure you have a gripe with that, too.

Oh, and sorry, but I will never, ever be an Angels' fan.
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AUTHOR: clh
DATE: 04/01/2008 12:59:48 AM

Maybe you should had taken 33 seconds to find out what time the ballpark opens?

http://losangeles.dodgers.mlb.com/la/ballpark/batting.jsp

This schedule has been in place for many years.
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AUTHOR: Erin
DATE: 04/01/2008 09:35:20 AM

First, I have seen that schedule, and it's new this year because this is the first year there are center field gates that they're allowing fans to enter. So, the "many years" argument is invalid.

Perhaps the gates have always opened at 6:10 on Friday night. I went to around 20 games last year, many on Friday night, and I don't recall ever having to wait like that. In fact, many of the fans around me were surprised as well.

All that said, it's interesting that you pounce upon the part of the post that took up about four lines of a very long post. What time I got into the ballpark was the least of my concerns. It's what happened after I got in that was of issue.
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AUTHOR: LivinLaVidaLA
DATE: 04/07/2008 05:32:54 PM

I went for the home opener and they had everything working properly. Hopefully they keep up with it.
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AUTHOR: clh
DATE: 04/11/2008 06:34:39 PM

You've confused the issue Erin. While the center field option is indeed a new thing this year, the schedule for every gate (including the one you were whinging about) is EXACTLY the same as it's been for years. So your dismissal of my "many years" argument is what is in fact invalid.

As far as "pouncing" goes, the launching point of your argument is something you were incorrect about. If one wants to be taken seriously as having a legitimate, analytical gripe, then one must have a sound basis. You did not and thus it weakened the rest of your rant and this needed to be called out.

All the best with the blog.
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AUTHOR: Erin
DATE: 04/11/2008 06:41:14 PM

I suppose you're right. I was wrong about the gate time, which means that the sticker on the relish wasn't really backward, there weren't any issues with getting Dodger Dogs, and the concessions employees were all speedy and efficient.

The gate time wasn't really a "launching point" in the sense that you're using it, since every other complaint had nothing to do with what time I got through the doors. Some people would just call this the first thing on a list, and realize that being wrong about it doesn't necessarily imply that everything else in the entire piece is therefore invalid.

Yes, I got the gate time wrong. Sorry about that. I wasn't the only one. But the rest of my post is hardly "weakened" by this fact, unless there's proof that I was wrong about anything else. Give me a break. This is why I love the Internet. People will find any excuse to go out of their way to complain about something.
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Friday, March 28, 2008

Almost the Real Thing

Tonight I will be attending my first baseball game at the newly renovated Dodger Stadium. I'm excited to see the changes, and I will be taking a ton of pictures, so get ready.

Here's the thing, though. Tonight is the first time my allegiance will be tested. I know it's just an exhibition game, but these are my two favorite teams playing, and I have to make a choice. For me, it's pretty easy. The Red Sox have been my team forever, and the Dodgers are new to the party (I believe this will be my third season of Dodger love). Still, though, I know I'm going to have to remind myself to only internally cheer when Kemp knocks one out of the park. On the outside, I will be a Red Sox fan.

What is going on at third base for the Dodgers? Garciaparra and LaRoche are out, but it seemed like Tony Abreu would have been ready to go for Opening Day on Monday. But now Abreu, who is apparently as fragile as Garciaparra, is on the DL. That means the only two options are Blake DeWitt and Chin-Lung Hu. Hu is more of a middle infielder, so I don't see them moving him to third base, particularly with Kent probably needing some rest early on in the season. So that leaves us with DeWitt. This is entirely way too much drama for the beginning of the season.

The Dodgers have released pitchers Rudy Seanez and Mike Myers, which only helps to lower the average age of the team. Once Monday rolls around, I'll post the final 25-man roster.

In Red Sox news, Josh Beckett pitched well in a minor league outing, which leaves everyone feeling much better about that situation. John Farrell had said earlier that Beckett's arm strength was pretty good, considering how little he has pitched this year. Francona thinks Beckett will be ready for the second series of the season, in Toronto, but he's not making any promises. I'm okay with them taking their time here.

I'll be seeing Bartolo Colon pitch tonight, so I'll let you know how he looks (besides fat).



COMMENTS:

AUTHOR: Jack Cobra
DATE: 03/29/2008 09:49:38 AM

It's spring training, if you want to root for both teams....root for both teams. I don't think anyone could blame you.

I've been hearing they are going to slide Hu over to third because they like his bat. When I first heard it I thought it sounded like one of those minor moves that teams make at the beginning of the season that seems like a major move at the end of the season because the kid plays his butt off. Supposedly he'd already be the SS if not for Furcal, who leaves after this season, so they think he's major league ready
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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Baseball Boogie

I hope you don't blame me for being so late on the reports for the second game of Boston's season. But if you saw the outcome of that game, you know there is really not a whole lot for me to say. Rich Harden was superb, Jon Lester was not, and the Sox offense never bothered to show up (with the exception of Manny Ramirez, who hit a solo home run). The final score was 5-1, and I'm not sure it was even really that close.

Very soon, I will get into the swing of writing about two teams everyday for six straight months. For now, I offers you just a few tidbits of news and notes.

Now the Sox head to the west coast to play three exhibition games, in what is truly a bizarre opening to a baseball season. Two games at Dodger Stadium on Friday and Sunday (I'll be at both), with the huge, huge game at the Coliseum on Saturday. I will not be attending that game, mostly because 115,000 other people will, and I can't imagine the traffic nightmares that will cause. Also, there are very few good seats for baseball viewing at the Coliseum, and they're costing an arm and a leg. For an exhibition game. Jon Weisman at Dodger Thoughts wrote a piece about it for SI.com. Check it out.

While there is no official word, doesn't it just feel like Torre and Dodger officials are going to do the wrong thing and make Pierre the starting left fielder this season? Again, I point to a Dodger Thoughts post, where Weisman wisely asserts that Ethier didn't need to prove himself in spring training to get the job, because he's already proven his worth. But guess what? Ethier did prove himself. Just look at these numbers...

There was once a graphic here showing the difference between Ethier and Pierre.

I mean, for the love of god, what else do you need to know about this situation. Look at the freakin' numbers! In eight fewer at-bats, Ethier has scored six more runs, has ten more hits, eleven more RBI, 26 more total bases, and eight more walks than the lead-off hitter in this lineup. This is not rocket science people. These numbers say everything, and it's just breaking my heart that a guy as good as Ethier is being wasted because of a bad contract. There's no other way around that-- the powers that be can say whatever they want about liking Pierre's game, but we all know that's crap. No one likes his game! They just don't want to look bad because they're paying him such an absurd amount of money to be a terrible baseball player. Ugh. I can't even think about this anymore, it's so maddening.

There is very little that could make me feel better right now, but the following video is really making a solid effort. If you can actually take your eyes away from the screen, you've done much better than I did. This thing is impossible not to watch all the way through.







COMMENTS:

AUTHOR: Jack Cobra
DATE: 03/27/2008 02:01:28 PM

Pierre hits better against righties so maybe they'll have some sort of platoon form if Jones gets off to a slow start.....did you know you have a 'vote for john mccain' ad on your site?
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AUTHOR: Erin
DATE: 03/27/2008 02:04:01 PM

A platoon would at least be something. I'd take it for now, I guess.

I don't see the McCain ad, but I believe you. I'm not getting political, but let's just say that ad wouldn't be my first choice if I had a say in the matter.
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AUTHOR: Jack Cobra
DATE: 03/27/2008 02:46:27 PM

I figured as much about the ad. It's not on here now so it might be one of those 'rolling ads' or something.

I wouldn't be surprised to see the Phils make a run at Pierre at some point since i doubt Jenkins is going to work out for them in RF. They can move Victorino back over and slide Pierre into center. Actually, I wonder if the Dodgers have contacted them at all about Wes Helms.
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AUTHOR: Rickhouse
DATE: 03/27/2008 09:26:09 PM

Yeah that job should totally be Ethiers. FireJoeMorgan broke down a Plaschke column where he says why he loves Pierre. You should check it out.
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AUTHOR: Erin
DATE: 03/28/2008 12:13:23 PM

Wes Helms would be interesting. The Dodgers are in some trouble, since the top three players on the depth chart at third base (Garciaparra, LaRoche, Abreu) are not expected to be able to play at the beginning of the season. That means the Dodgers will probably have to give Blake DeWitt a chance, and he's young (22) and they weren't planning on bringing him up this soon.

Rickhouse, I saw that post from FJM, and they are, of course, absolutely right. But Plaschke will never be convinced. He's a moron.
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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Man, Is It Early or What?

Opening Day has officially arrived, at least for two of the 30 teams in the league. It's 3 am here on the west coast, and after a short three hour nap, I'm awake and ready to live blog the first MLB game of the season.

I don't know if it's the time or the location of the game, but it's very hard to think of this as a real game. But I'm here to live blog, even if no one is around to read it. If you do happen to be reading this thing this early in the morning, how about leaving some love in the comments section? That way I won't feel so crazy doing this.

It's Matsuzaka vs. Blanton. Here we go.

  • J.D. Drew is out due to some back problems that apparently occurred just before the lineup cards were turned in. And apparently the Red Sox are the away team here in Japan.
  • The ceiling of the Tokyo Dome is kind of like the ceiling of the Metrodome. I wonder if that will cause any problems.
  • Pedroia is on with a hit up the middle to lead off the game. Youkilis follows and grounds out to third, and here comes David Ortiz.
  • I live in a very quiet building, so it's very hard for me to have the volume up at all, but I think the crowd just went crazy for Ortiz. But then he swung at the first pitch and popped it up to shallow left. Not much to go crazy for (in a good way) on that one. And now Pedroia is at second with two outs, with Manny Ramirez at the plate.
  • Ramirez flies out to foul territory in right. A waste of a lead-off hit.
  • Matsuzaka is taking the mound. This is a huge deal for him and the crowd. I hope he massacres the A's as a result.
  • Matsuzaka gets the first hitter to ground out on the first pitch, but then gives up a home run to, of all people, Mark Ellis. 1-0, Athletics.
  • Matsuzaka's next two pitches are in the dirt, so I hope he can compose himself after that homer.
  • Not composed yet. One out, one man on, thanks to a five-pitch walk from Matsuzaka.
  • After a lovely changeup, Dice-K hits Jack Cust. Varitek hasn't come out to talk to him, which seems like a big mistake. Calm him down, for god's sake. Two on, one out.
  • In other news, has anyone other than Arin ever heard of half of this Oakland lineup?
  • Wild pitch. Runners at second and third. "This is not the return Dice-K had in mind." Oh really? Thanks.
  • Another walk. Bases loaded. Is it too early in the season to throw up?
  • Dice-K should have had a strikeout on a 1-2 pitch, but didn't get the call. Instead, Dice-K makes the nice play on a slow grounder, but a run scores. Two outs. 2-0, Athletics. That borderline call looms large now.
  • Matsuzaka gets the guy to strike out swinging. But the damage has been done. Let's hope the second inning is a little calmer.
  • Mikey Lowell starts off the second with a line drive up the middle. Man on first, Brandon Moss at the plate.
  • Moss hits the ball up the middle, and Lowell is forced out at second. So, a different man on first, and now one out for Varitek.
  • Double play. Ugh. Oakland is coming back up to bat.
  • Single, fly out, strikeout, stolen base. Two outs, Mark Ellis back at the plate.
  • What's awesome about the Ellis home run is the guy in the stands who reached up, caught the ball with his glove, and sat back down. No screaming and mugging for the cameras. He acted like he was just playing a game of catch.
  • Mark Ellis walks. Great. Two on, two out. Matsuzaka is killing me here.
  • And Julian Tavarez is warming up. So things are going from bad to worse. Dice-K is really struggling here, and I hate to echo Steve Phillips here, but why the hell hasn't John Farrell come out to talk to his pitcher?
  • WALK. Bases loaded. And now Farrell comes out. Great timing, chief.
  • Cust strikes out looking. Dice-K has thrown maybe 60 pitches. Still, though, it's only a 2-0 game, so I suppose it could be worse.
  • I hope MLB doesn't start adopting the policy of allowing ads on the helmets and uniforms in all games. The patch on the players' arms aren't so offensive, but the giant "Ricoh" ad on the helmet (I forget if it's on the Oakland players' helmets, but it's definitely on Boston's) looks absurd.
  • Ellsbury strikes out looking to lead off the inning. Lugo is up now, batting ninth, and gets a base hit to center field. Here's hoping Lugo is more effective than he was last year, though it has to be said that it would be hard for him to do worse than his 2007 campaign.
  • Pedroia hits the ball to the warning track, but it's just a big out. Two outs, runner on first, Youkilis up to bat.
  • Youkilis grounds a ball down the third base line, but Hannahan makes a nice play to stop the ball. Youkilis beats the throw, but Lugo has to hold at second. David Ortiz is up to bat, and I'm hoping he sees more than just one pitch. But if he knocks the first one out, I won't complain.
  • Ortiz hits into that damn shift. Threat over. Red Sox don't score, and I'm hoping Matsuzaka can get through the third on only five pitches.
  • Dice-K got the first two outs on five pitches, then threw six to whoever that batter was for the fifth walk of the game from the Japanese sensation. One on, two outs.
  • Sweet play from Lugo on a screaming line drive. He had to jump to get it, but he got it, and the inning was over. I'd imagine that was the last of Matsuzaka, but maybe he'll get one more inning.
  • Three up, three down for the Sox in the fourth. And now the dog wants to go outside, despite the fact that she normally doesn't wake up for another four hours. It's like we're in Bizarro World today.
  • A 1-2-3 inning for Matsuzaka, on what appears to be eight pitches. I missed the whole thing live, but thank god for the wonders of TiVo. Dice-K is around 80 pitches. Now would be a good time for the Sox offense to show up.
  • Varitek strikes out, Ellsbury works it to a full count and then grounds out to first. Two outs.
  • And...Lugo grounds out. Through five, the Sox have four hits, all singles, and nothing to show for it.
  • Matsuzaka is back out for the fifth.
  • Strikeout, strikeout, groundout. Perfect inning, and the guy looked great out there, finally. 95 total pitches That's it for Matsuzaka, barring temporary insanity from Francona. Here's the final line: 5 IP, 2 ER, 2 H, 5 BB, 6 Ks. It wasn't pretty at all, but two runs over five innings is hardly terrible, and this Sox lineup should be doing something to support their pitcher. Come on now. Dice-K can get the win if we do something right now. We're back to the top of the lineup, with Pedroia leading off, so the time is now.
  • I don't know what just happened, but Buck just blew a catch in right field on a Pedroia ball. The ball was hit hard, but it should have been caught. They're calling it a double, though, and both the Boston Red Sox and my fantasy team appreciate that. Kevin Youkilis is looking for his first RBI now.
  • Youkilis walks on four pitches. The last pitch was a bit questionable, but Matsuzaka had a few of those, too. We'll take it. David Ortiz at the plate.
  • Ortiz could maybe use a haircut. He's got this huge puff of hair sticking out the left side of his helmet.
  • Manny's hair is pretty long, too. I'm glad these guys can be themselves, and I'm not advocating we tread into Steinbrenner territory here, but sometimes it just looks sloppy.
  • Ortiz has worked a 3-2 count. This is a big at-bat.
  • And Ortiz pops up into foul territory near third. Crap. Manny's up now.
  • Whoo! First pitch swinging, Ramirez doubles down the third base line, scoring two. Tie game! No loss for Matsuzaka, and now Lowell will try to get him a chance for the win.
  • Lowell strikes out. That was a big out for Blanton. Brandon Moss is up, and it's up to him to get Ramirez home.
  • Hell yes! Brandon Moss comes through with a single to right. Ramirez hustles and scores. The throw comes home, so Moss advances to second. Matsuzaka is happy, as he should be. 3-2, Red Sox.
  • Blanton is done, as the A's head to the bullpen.
  • I wonder how long it will take before I'm sick of hearing about the last season of Yankee Stadium. Wait, I'm already sick of it. Nevermind.
  • Geez. Alan Embree gets Varitek to 0-2, then throws two pitches that really seem like they should have been strike three. And Varitek works it to a full count.
  • Tek strikes out, but the Red Sox have taken the lead. Kyle Snyder should be coming out of the 'pen for the Sox.
  • Oh Christ. After a single, Snyder gives up a two-run homer to Hannahan. Nice going, Snyder. 4-3, Athletics. God, that really sucked.
  • Snyder strikes out Suzuki on three pitches. Where was that one batter ago?
  • Sweeney grounds out to second. Two outs.
  • Buck pops up to end the inning, but that was a big bummer to Matsuzaka, and to the team in general. Let's hope the Sox can get to Oakland's bullpen.
  • Oh, a Pepsi commercial. I haven't had a Pepsi since late December, and any soda since December 31, 2007. Sometimes I miss Pepsi. A lot.
  • Come on Ellsbury. Let's get this comeback started. Again.
  • There we go. Ellsbury leads off with a single, and now have some speed on the bases, with some speed at the plate. Let's go Lugo.
  • It was silly of me to expect to see a different Lugo than I saw all of last year. He grounds into a double play. Two outs.
  • Pedroia grounds out to end the inning. The best I can say is that the Sox will have Youkilis, Ortiz and Ramirez in the eighth.
  • Snyder gets Ellis to fly out, and Francona pulls him. The friendly ESPN2 broadcast does not show me who has been warming up in the bullpen, and does not mention who will be coming in to replace Snyder. Guess they're leaving a little mystery for after the commercial break.
  • Mystery solved. It's the lefty who couldn't pitch well against lefties last year, Javier Lopez, in to face a lefty. This should be interesting.
  • Lopez gets an out on a line drive to first. Two down.
  • Nice work from Lopez, as he gets the batter to strike out looking. This is a one-run game, and we've got some big guns coming up. Let's go Sox!
  • Man, Keith Foulke is pitching for the A's. So weird.
  • Youk hits a ball to straightaway center, and I knew right away that it wasn't going out. The commentator with Steve Phillips (he's a recognizable guy, but I can't remember his name) made it seem like it was a home run. How come guys watching it in person can't see this any better than I can? Anyway, Youk flies out, and Ortiz is back up again.
  • Ortiz flies out to left. He's 0-4 today, and not helping this team. Manny is at the plate. We're running out of time here, boys. And I'm sleepy.
  • And Ramirez strikes out looking. Damn you, Foulke. I'd sleep a hell of a lot better this morning if the Sox could pull off the win here. And now our hopes lie in Lowell, Varitek and Moss.
  • Bryan Corey is the new pitcher for the Sox. He did well late last year, so hopefully he can get through this inning efficiently. And quickly. I'm fading fast.
  • Ellsbury makes a great catch against the wall in dead center. He's grimacing, so I hope he's okay. He hit the wall hard. He's not leaving the game and no one is checking on him, so I guess he's fine for now.
  • Crosby hits a weak dribbler in front of the mound for the second out, and Hannahan grounds out to Corey to end the inning. We're heading to the ninth.
  • Huston Street is in for the Athletics, and he gets Lowell to pop up to center. Frankly, I feel like he was our last best hope to get something started. Moss and Varitek are next.
  • Holy shit, Brandon Moss! I love you! Home run! Sweet lord, that was nice to see. Game tied, 4-4.
  • Varitek strikes out swinging on a ball. I don't think he's going to be having any type of comeback offensive year. I know this is just one game, but it's hard to see any changes since last year.
  • Ellsbury flies out to left, but it's now a tie game. It's either Okajima or Papelbon in the ninth.
  • It's Okajima, and the crowd is obviously quite excited. As am I. Let's see how this guy does in his sophomore effort in MLB.
  • Gary Thorne. That's the guy's name. Duh. I don't like him.
  • Okajima does not disappoint, as he strikes out the first batter swinging on a nasty pitch. And despite the fact that the Japanese have far better technology than we do, they still don't understand that the flash does you no good unless you're three to maybe five feet away from your subject. Upper deck shots with a flash are only going to give you a nicely illuminated view of the head of the guy in front of you. Let's all try to learn that lesson, okay?
  • And then Okajima walks pinch hitter Sweeney on four pitches. That might have been slightly deliberate, to avoid giving Sweeney anything to drive.
  • Nicely done, Okie. He gets a fly ball and a groundout to send this one to extra innings. Of course. The sun is about to come up here, and I'm dragging. No one is reading this, so I'm going to go watch the rest in bed, and I'll be back to finish off the post when I wake up in a few hours.

Player of the Regulation Game:
Brandon Moss (2-4, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 HR)


Okay, I'm back. By now you probably know how the game ended. Ramirez hit a two-run double in the top of the tenth that he was sure was going out. I was, too, for a minute. But it hit high off the wall. Brian left a comment saying he thought it should have been caught, but I'm not so sure. The Pedroia double earlier definitely should have been caught, but Manny's was pretty high off the wall. It seems like it would have taken a spectacular catch to get it. I don't know, though. Either way, it counted as a double and scored two runs.

Papelbon came in to get the save, but he sure made it a little more entertaining than I would have liked. He gave up a lead-off walk, followed by a double with one out, and was saved by the poor baserunning of Emil Brown, who was tagged out after trying to advance to third on his RBI double. That meant two outs with nobody on instead of one out and a runner at second. Big difference, especially considering the next two guys got singles. But Papelbon got Suzuki to ground out, and the game was over.

Another game tomorrow, same time, same place. But I don't think I'll be live blogging this one. I'll be up and watching, and maybe I'll change my mind about the live blog, but for now, assume you'll be reading about the game at a reasonable hour.


Overall Player of the Game:
Manny Ramirez (2-5, 4 RBI, 1 R)



COMMENTS:

AUTHOR: Brian
DATE: 03/25/2008 09:43:21 AM

Ramirez's ball should've been caught. Ugh. What a way to wake up.
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AUTHOR: Mike
DATE: 03/25/2008 11:51:43 AM

Your dedication is impressive. Most impressive.
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AUTHOR: Jack Cobra
DATE: 03/25/2008 01:26:10 PM

was this up and running all morning? crap! I could have sworn I came here and looked for a live blog and didn't see it.
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AUTHOR: Erin
DATE: 03/25/2008 01:30:44 PM

Thanks Mike.

Oh, Jack. It was definitely here at 3:00 am on the nose, according to the server. I'm sorry you missed it.
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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Oh So Busy

You guys, I'm sorry. I desperately want to be posting more, and I know you miss me, but work has just been crazy in the last two weeks, and I'm struggling. I should be working right this second, but I'm taking the time to give you a little something before I crawl back into my hole.

The Dodgers said goodbye to Dodgertown this week...maybe. After 61 years of spring training in Vero Beach, the team packed up and headed back west, presumably to begin anew in Arizona next season. But, apparently there's a chance that the Arizona facility won't be ready in time, so they could come back to Florida after all. Still, they had a ceremony acting under the assumption that this is the end of the line. It seemed pretty emotional, and I'm sure it must suck for all those people who have been watching this team for years and years. A little bit like when they left Brooklyn, I guess.

Daisuke Matsuzaka will be the Opening Day starter for the Red Sox. Beckett was scheduled, but isn't making the trip to Japan because of his back issues. But, come on. Matsuzaka is the perfect choice. This is his home turf. That crowd is already going to be excited, and now they get to see their golden boy come home. It's going to be madness in there next Tuesday morning at 3 am Pacific time (if you think I'm not going to be up and live blogging it for you, you're crazy). Hopefully the pressure doesn't hurt Matsuzaka, but rather pumps him up to perform even better than he normally would. Jon Lester will be starting game two. I imagine there will be decidedly less buzz in the air for that one, at least from a Japanese standpoint.

Speaking of the Red Sox, apparently there was some issue with the coaches not getting paid for this trip to Japan. The players threatened to walk out or something if the coaches didn't get what they thought they were supposed to get. I don't know. It's kind of a weird story, so follow the link if you want to learn more. I'm just glad it's resolved.

Oh, and in case anyone was wondering, Juan Pierre's OBP in spring training through Tuesday is .271. That's some sweet stuff right there, huh? I don't think I even need to break out the Pierre-O-Meter for that one. You know what that thing would read. Jon Weisman over at Dodger Thoughts wrote an excellent post about the Ethier/Pierre debate. What is it going to take to make Pierre go away?

If you're interested in the NCAA basketball tourney, head over to Cobra Brigade, where Jack Cobra has posted many different brackets, including one from yours truly.





COMMENTS:

AUTHOR: Jack Cobra
DATE: 03/19/2008 02:39:59 PM

I was watching PTI the other day when they were talking about the Dodgers leaving Vero Beach and I didn't realize (Wilbon said this) that the dorms and all that were originally built so that all of the African American players the Dodgers had would have a place to stay since at the time they weren't allowed in a lot of places. Pretty interesting stuff, historically speaking.
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AUTHOR: Erin
DATE: 03/19/2008 02:45:14 PM

There's a chance they didn't even build those dorms, since the location was an abandoned naval base. The black players probably got shoved into old, rundown barracks that weren't even good enough for the military anymore. Pretty ridiculous stuff.
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AUTHOR: Jack Cobra
DATE: 03/19/2008 04:00:05 PM

Oh, well that doesn't make for as good of a story.
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Friday, March 14, 2008

Misery Loves Company

I haven't posted in six days because I've been crazy busy, but while I was gone, it seems all hell broke loose.

First, and possibly most important, Bruce Paine is moving to Minnesota to live with his girlfriend, which greatly decreases the chances that Paine and I will run away together to live off the land, build a stockpile of weapons that would rival most nations, and study ancient Roman history by candlelight every night. I am deeply saddened by this turn of events.

With my heart aching, I turn to the baseball world only to find it, too, in a state of flux.

Josh Beckett's back, while not severely injured, is probably bad enough to keep him from making a 17-hour flight to Japan for Opening Day. With Matsuzaka potentially missing the trip because of the birth of his second child, I suppose Wakefield becomes the Opening Day starter. Bad backs, babies? This is baseball, guys! Where are your priorities?

In perhaps slightly better news from the Red Sox camp, the team released backup catcher Doug Mirabelli. Mirabelli has only been kept around because of his ability to handle Wakefield's knuckleball, but I guess the Sox figure backup Kevin Cash can do the job. Of course, they thought that with Josh Bard, and then we had that crazy trade that saw Mirabelli flying in a private jet back to Boston and changing into his uniform in the car, only to make it to the game just in time to catch. Mirabelli has long been a fan favorite, but you won't find any sentimentality here. I appreciate him for his defense, I guess, but I got very sick of seeing that hole in the lineup every fifth game.


In the Dodger camp, things are just insane with this third baseman situation. LaRoche is out, Garciaparra still isn't playing, and possible backup Tony Abreu is hurt enough that he went to Philadelphia to see the sports hernia specialist who performed surgery on him last year. He's been cleared for baseball activities, but there's no word on when he'll actually be playing. No idea who the Dodgers are going to get to play third, assuming Nomar isn't healthy enough (and when is he ever?), but rumors are flying about Joe Crede or Brandon Inge. I'd rather not have either of those two, but I'm not sure what the other options are.

Meanwhile, some of the team, including Joe Torre, is in China for exhibition games. One airs tonight at 10 pm, so I'll try to give it a look and let you know what it's like. I expect it to be rather like any other baseball game, for the record.

Oh, and Jason Schmidt is going to pitch through his pain. What a trooper this guy is. Pain probably feels a lot better when you got paid $15 million last season to nothing. I would like to go to a game this season in which you pitch so hard and with so much grit that your arm actually falls off. That might make me feel better about another ridiculous Ned Colletti contract.




COMMENTS:

AUTHOR: Jack Cobra
DATE: 03/17/2008 01:38:29 PM

I will ask you politely to fill out a NCAA bracket and send it to me one time...after that we'll have to let Paine out of his cage.
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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Thus Endeth the Controversy...Maybe

Andy LaRoche was hit by a deflected ball and will need surgery on his wrist, putting him out of commission for about two months. So, it looks like Nomar will get the job at third base by default. Hard to know how to feel about this one, since nothing can really be done about it. I've said that I would be okay with Nomar starting, but given a short leash. But, I changed my mind about that daily, so maybe we can just be grateful that the decision has been made. And we'll just live with it. Maybe Nomar will surprise us, and then we'll have to deal with this whole mess again sometime in May.

Of course, that's assuming that Nomar is healthy when the season begins. The oft-injured Dodger infielder was actually plunked on the wrist in the same game as LaRoche, but x-rays were negative, and it should be fine. I hope. Tony Abreu would have been another option, but he has some discomfort in his groin area (who doesn't?), so the Dodgers just have to keep looking down that depth chart. Should be interesting to see what happens next.

In other news, Josh Beckett missed his start on Saturday due to back spasm he experienced in his pregame warmups. It doesn't sound too serious, but it's still a little bit scary.

And if you haven't done your fantasy baseball draft yet, consider Red Sox reliever Manny Delcarmen for a spot. The kid is going to kill this year. You heard it here first.





COMMENTS:

AUTHOR: Smeghead52
DATE: 03/09/2008 04:35:40 PM

Hey Erin,
If the Dodgers trade Juan Pierre what are you going to do with the Pierre o meter.

With the type of injuries players are facing you might have a point about spring training. I doubt the Marlins and Devil Rays will face off in the world series. :D)
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Thursday, March 06, 2008

A Nice Invitation

I got an email recently, asking me to join in a roundtable discussion about the Dodgers' 2008 campaign. Home Run Derby and skyking162 are teaming up to cover all 30 teams in 30 days. Ambitious, no? Anyway, I was flattered to be asked, and I'll also be joining the discussion when they cover the Red Sox in about a week. Meanwhile, check out the Dodgers' post at skyking162, as well as the one at Home Run Derby. As you'll see, the guys learned that I can write a lot about my team(s). I hope you don't think I sound like an idiot.

Spring training continues. You know how it goes-- some guys are hitting, some aren't. Some guys are pitching well, others aren't. I'm not sure there is much newsworthy happening at the moment. The Dodgers and Red Sox played today, the first of five preseason games between my two teams (I'll be at two of the games, when they play at Dodger Stadium). Wakefield pitched well, Lowe didn't, and the Dodgers used a seven-run ninth to come from behind and win 9-6. Jason Repko hit a grand slam to put the Dodgers ahead, and that was nice to see. The kid has had some injury troubles in his big league career, so maybe this will be the season he can keep it all together.

Papelbon got a pay increase, after whining about it in the press. I would write about it, but Texas Gal beat me to it, so go check it out. I agree with her wholeheartedly.

It's March 6. Nineteen days until the first real game. I know I've said it before, but I really am having a hard time waiting.




COMMENTS:

AUTHOR: Jack Cobra
DATE: 03/06/2008 08:30:20 PM

Congrats! Well deserved!
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AUTHOR: Texas Gal
DATE: 03/06/2008 08:48:15 PM

I think you did great- excellent job!
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AUTHOR: Sky
DATE: 03/07/2008 09:05:09 AM

Erin, thanks again for your contributions. Hope you didn't mind us slicing and dicing what you wrote. Looking forward to you joining us for the Sox in a week.
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AUTHOR: Smeghead52
DATE: 03/07/2008 08:18:59 PM

I was watching the Dodgers-Sox game on ESPN and you could tell by the sound of the ball off May's bat that that ball was going yard.

Anywho the dodgers lost to St. Louis today.
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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

My First Spring Training

Well, I did it, folks. I went to the Phoenix area this weekend, and while I was there, I attended my very first spring training baseball game. On Sunday, I went with my dad to Hohokam Park, where we watched the Cubs take on the Giants. I will admit that we did not stay for the whole game. We left in the seventh inning, because spring training baseball gets a little hard to watch when you have no rooting interest in a team (and when the team you decided to root for, in this case the Cubs, is losing 8-3).

I'm going to give you a few pictures to show you what I saw, and then I'll send some to Jack and maybe he'll want to post them on his page. I took pictures mostly of just Cubs' players, mainly because, aside from Aaron Rowand, I don't think I recognized a single name in the Giants' lineup (sorry, Lefty).

First up is the field itself. Pretty nice, if you ask me. Spring Training probably makes a decent amount of money, so they can afford to keep the field looking pretty professional. It was a nice atmosphere, maybe because it was the smallest professional ballpark I've been in. It felt a little more relaxed. That is, until I got hassled by my first security guy for standing in my own section and taking a picture. As I told my father, spring training should be the one time you get a little break from the overzealous security guys. Spring training pretty much only exists for the fans, so give us a break, okay? I think I should be able to take a picture, especially before the game even freakin' starts.

But I digress. The field was nice, and fans were obviously very excited to be there. The Cubs certainly have a devoted fan base in Arizona, which I've known since my grandparents first moved there almost two decades ago. A lot of the fans had clearly been coming for years, as they greeted old friends when they arrived at their seats. It made me a little excited for the season to just hurry up and get here already.

It was a nice day for a baseball game, and this was definitely a sellout (the stadium holds 12,632, which means it has the largest crowd of any team in spring training). Here's the good news for the Cubs organization: it really looks like you've got the fat, old, white guy demographic sewn up. Congratulations!

The guy who sat in front of me had a hat on with pins from his previous years attending spring training in Mesa. He had at least ten on the hat, and one of them said "1988" on it, so the dude has been coming for a while. One example of the longevity of these fans is a guy named Mark. Mark sells beer. Beer is very popular at Hohokam Park, as evidenced by the drunk guy sitting next to me who, despite never having looked at my camera, told me I had "gotten some nice shots." Thanks, drunk guy.

Anyway, beer. Here's how I know it is popular (along with Mark):


That guy went to a lot of trouble to show how much he appreciates what Mark does for him every year. I don't know whether to admire the guy's effort or be very worried about his priorities.

I walked around the stadium a little bit while getting food, but I won't pretend that I was really exploring everything. We got there about an hour before game time, which means we missed seeing Soriano break his finger during drills (he was announced in the starting lineup originally, by the way, but then got scratched). I grabbed a couple of shots near one of the entrances, one of which was of a mural that takes up a pretty large wall. I thought it was a nice touch to showcase the history of the organization. I don't know how long the mural has been there. It looks even better before being shrunk down, but this site can't handle that kind of thing. So, you get it small.

Speaking of Cubs' history, apparently a guy named Ferguson Jenkins once pitched for the team. I had never heard of him, but he was there signing autographs, and they were promoting some sort of celebrity game he's headlining coming up soon. After never having heard the name "Fergie Jenkins" before, I heard it about a hundred times on Sunday. And, when we were leaving the park, Jenkins was still there signing autographs (for a fee, I think), so I grabbed a shot of him quickly before someone told me I had to pay for the privilege.


Before the game, there were a few honorary first pitches thrown by cancer survivors, which was nice. You should definitely get a round of applause when you beat cancer. What I'm not sure deserved a round of applause was the singing of the national anthem. I mean, the guy sang it just fine. But there were three people out there, and the two women never said a word. It was just the guy. So the women were just there for eye candy? I'm sure you can understand why I just had to take a picture of this spectacle. After the anthem was over, the PA guy informed us that we could go visit the Arizona Renaissance Festival every weekend between now and March 30. He ended his little spiel with a hilarious "Huzzah!" No one else laughed, but I thought it was pretty damn funny, because nothing says baseball like Ren Faire folk.

The game was almost ready to begin, but not before the traditional meeting of the managers and the umps at home plate. Looks like Lou Piniella wanted to start something with the umps early in the year, just to get a feel for it again. I have no idea what he was actually saying, but given Lou's history with going on tirades, this picture just has a familiar look to it, don't you think?


I'm not going to write about the game. That's boring, especially since it happened two days ago. But I had a good time watching some baseball on a nice, sunny day, and I'm more than ready for the real season to start. I have my ticket for the exhibition game between the Dodgers and Red Sox at Dodger Stadium on March 28 (I'm not going to the game at the Coliseum. 115,000 are expected--that place is going to be a madhouse) and a ticket for Opening Day at Dodger Stadium on March 31. It's the 50th anniversary of Dodger Stadium, and they spent the off-season renovating a lot of it, so I'm excited to see what they have to offer (besides grilled Dodger Dogs at every concession stand, which is just amazing).

There were two kids sitting near me at the Cubs' game, and their fathers sent them down to watch from a little closer to the action. Something about them watching really makes me remember why I love baseball. Do you think I can sleep until March 25 (the day the Red Sox start their season in Japan), just to kill some time?




COMMENTS:
AUTHOR: Jimmy
DATE: 03/04/2008 05:18:41 PM

Not sure how old you are but, regardless, you should have heard of Fergie Jenkins...he's a Hall-of-Famer who once pitched for the Red Sox!
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AUTHOR: Erin
DATE: 03/04/2008 05:27:06 PM

In my defense, he played in 58 games for the Red Sox four years before I was born (I'm 27).

But you're right. I probably should know who he is. And I do now. I'll tell you what, though. Of the nearly 300 players inducted into the Hall of Fame, I'll bet there are quite a few I can't name, including some who maybe once played for the Red Sox and/or Dodgers.
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AUTHOR: Mike
DATE: 03/04/2008 06:00:44 PM

Great write up, Erin!
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AUTHOR: Jack Cobra
DATE: 03/04/2008 07:18:52 PM

Awesome write up and pics! I'm currently on travel for work, so I'll try to put up the pics on Thursday.

As for Fergie....he's a hall of famer, come on!
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AUTHOR: Erin
DATE: 03/04/2008 07:35:39 PM

Thanks for the compliments, Mike and Jack.

Guys, I'm sorry I didn't know Fergie Jenkins. As penance, I just ordered a copy of this. I'm not joking. I'll read it and let you know what I learn.
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AUTHOR: stopmikelupica
DATE: 03/06/2008 11:06:27 AM

Great writeup, Erin. Nice pics, too. Drunk guy was right....
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