Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Finally, A Win

I ask you, are there many things better than watching a walk-off homer in the thirteenth inning, then driving home while rapping 2Pac's Life Goes On (one of my hidden talents)? Oh, and also, it's your birthday.


Thanks for making it a memorable one, Andre.

More to come tomorrow.


NOTE: The inspiration for my syntax in the first paragraph came entirely from probably my favorite all-time Deep Thought, by Jack Handey.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Looks like my quasi-hometown of Niceville, Florida (which I have written about here and here) got a little shoutout on True Blood tonight. I almost screamed when I saw this. Pretty damn awesome. In case you're wondering, I took this picture of my television screen with my iPhone, and brightened up the t-shirt image, so the rest of the image is blown out. That should help explain the quality.


You can learn more about the Boggy Bayou Mullet Festival here, but just so you know, that shirt isn't vintage. The image may be, but the 3rd annual Mullet Festival would have been in 1978, and there's no way that shirt is that old. Apparently some company called Tailgate Clothing makes it, but it's out of stock on Bluefly.com, where I found it just now when I searched. So that blows, because I would totally own the thing if I could. I mean, I own two of my own Mullet Festival shirts, but neither is as cool as this one, and one of them even boasts a Confederate flag. A small one, but still. They're actually both part of my dog's bedding right now, which gives you an idea as to what I think of their quality.

One day, maybe I'll share some snippets of the documentary I made about the Mullet Festival way back in 2000. If you're lucky.

Highway Robbery

Last night, the Dodgers lost. And I was there. And it was rather depressing. But knowing that Brian Wilson blew a lead in the bottom of the ninth to give the Brewers the win over the Giants made the loss a little more bearable. Still, though, I'm heading to the game today, and again on Monday (which just happens to be my birthday), and so far the Dodgers are 1-2 in games I've seen live this season. So they better win the next two so I can at least be .500 on the season.

Christine and I had some really obnoxious fans sitting behind us at the game last night. They were a bunch of guys who were only interested in screaming at Griffey and/or trying to get a beach ball hit over to them in the middle of the game. We have seats only about five rows from the field, to the left fielder's right, so they were even louder than they needed to be to get Griffey's attention. To their credit, Griffey did look over at them more than once, even though their jokes and "insults" were far from original (stuff about him needing an oxygen mask because he's so old, for instance). But the constant yelling meant that we decided to find new seats by the third inning. So, we headed over to section 35 on the field, and sat in one of the back rows.

Turns out, we were sitting behind Russell Martin's girlfriend, Marikym Hervieux, who was hosting a bunch of kids from a children's hospital for the game. They showed a video of the on-field pre-game stuff they had done with the kids after the third inning, so that confirmed my suspicions that this woman was, in fact, a Dodger wife or girlfriend. She was very sweet with the kids while watching the game, and it was nice to see, even though I strongly dislike Russell Martin. Christine definitely hates Martin more than I do, and was annoyed when I showed her this more provocative picture (UPDATE: I removed the link because I got sick of people finding my page while looking for a "sexy" picture of this chick) of the girlfriend, saying, "I wonder if they met at book club." Zing!

In other news, the Dodgers want to charge me $59.99 to download a 5X7 version of this image the "FanFoto" people took of me and Christine at the Phillies game on June 6, 2009:


To just get a print of it, I think a little larger, is $19.99, which is absurd already, considering taking and printing the picture costs maybe $1.50 altogether (and I'm including what it costs to pay the person taking the photo). Quite the profit, huh? But $59.99 for just a downloaded image? Good lord.


Friday, June 26, 2009

Overreaction?

Over at Sons of Steve Garvey, Orel relayed a story that started on the MLB message boards, got picked up by a Nationals blog called Federal Baseball, then by Big League Stew. And now I'm mentioning it. The gist of it is this: a Red Sox fan was heading down to D.C. for the Sox/Nationals series, and he asked Nationals fans if they could recommend a bar. They recommended a gay bar, the guy went there, everyone had a good laugh.

Except for me, of course, because I am the killjoy when it comes to homophobic content, no matter how vague it may be. Here's what I wrote in the comments section over at SoSG:

My first reaction was to laugh about this. But then the gay rights activist in me was like, "Okay, so he was sent to a gay bar. So what?" And the guy had to get out of there as fast as he could, I guess just in case he was raped or something. Those gay boys just can't keep it in their pants, am I right?

I guess my issue just lies in the idea that the worst possible punishment the Nats fans could think of for this guy would be to send him to a gay bar. And as long as this is the prevailing mindset, I'll continue to have an uphill battle.

I'm not trying to get totally up in arms about this because it's certainly not the most blatant example of anti-gay "jokes" I've seen, particularly since I spend my time reading a lot of sports blogs. Fanerman, another SoSG reader, responded with this:

...maybe it's just easy for me (a straight male) to say, but it doesn't seem that... bad.

The joke does play on homophobia (and the guy seemed to have some), and that mindset does indicate the uphill battle. But, to me, it doesn't feel much more than the kind of politically incorrect practical joke that guys do to each other. As far as how bad the punishment is, how many kinds of bars are there?

Yes, we could get into the whole "oh, everything has to be so PC now that no one can make a joke argument," but I don't know if I have the energy for that right now. The bottom line for me is that the mindset is the problem, and as long as it's considered even borderline acceptable for jokes of this type to be made at the expense of gay people, we have a problem.

Any sort of event that furthers the attitude that it's okay to make fun of gay people, however innocuous the joke may be, is grounds for complaint from the gay side of things. The idea is to change people's minds, and to make them see that we are the same as everyone else, and only want equal rights. Now, you might say, "okay, if you're the same as everyone else, then we should be able to make jokes about you." But the thing is, a lot of people aren't joking. A lot of people see the "gay rights movement" as a call to arms, a reason for them to stockpile weapons and spew hate whenever they get the chance. And if we continue to further this notion that "gay" equals "stupid" or "wrong," we simply lend credence to the idea that gay people are somehow less than human, and therefore not as deserving of the same rights the rest of you get.

Steve Sax of SoSG wrote me and had this to say:

[Maybe they were] just sending him someplace they figured wasn't consistent with what the BoSox fan expected (whether they knew for a fact or assumed). It's like Victoria Beckham rolling into town and asking for a furniture store and sending her to Ikea.

That is definitely a fair point. But when you actually go to read the message board (which you can find here), there is one post that jumps out at me. After the man came back from his gay bar adventure, and posted a comment thanking the fans for directing him there, one fan had this to say:

The original poster wanted to know of a good bar near the park, I just recommend [sic] the place where I thought a Red Sox fan would feel most comfortable.

Since it's clear the Nationals fans had a problem with the Sox fan asking for some advice about their city (their absurd reaction is an entirely different post that I won't bother with), you can almost create a syllogism out of this thing:

All Red Sox fans are stupid and awful for invading our ballpark to cheer for their team.

Gay people are stupid and awful.

All Red Sox fans are gay, and would therefore feel "most comfortable" in a gay bar.

Does that make it more obvious why this would bother someone like me? Hey, I'm not innocent, believe me. I have called someone who offended me a "fag" (though not to his/her face, ever) on more than one occasion, and I can't promise I won't do it again. So I'm part of the problem, for sure. But I'm working on it, which is more than I can say for most everyone else who makes these kind of jokes. This country is almost completely desensitized to the use of "gay" as a pejorative, and that doesn't make the fight for equal rights any easier.

I felt like I had already written about this, and it turns out I was right, as this post (the important part is after the baseball stuff, halfway into the post) from this time last year ago attests. And damned if that post isn't much, much better than this one.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Worldwide Leader

Can you find the mistake in the graphics of one of Tuesday's Sportscenter broadcasts on ESPN?

The picture gets much, much bigger if you click on it.



Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Naked Truth

Here's what you've been waiting for: my experience during the pre-game conference with Joe Torre. I was out on the field for about twenty minutes, then Torre walked toward the dugout and sat down, and everyone gathered around. You can see the picture of my view during this conference in my previous post. I could have reached out and touched the man's knee. I didn't, but I could have.

The whole thing lasted about 30 minutes, with guys asking different questions about Jeff Weaver (he's starting on Saturday, and the Angels are sending his brother, Jered, to the mound), Jonathan Broxton (wasn't available last night because he got a cortisone shot for a toe problem), and a few other topics. If I had been on the ball, I could have transcribed them and gotten quotes to you last night, when they would have mattered, but I didn't get that done, so I won't bore you with them today.

I was standing next to Dan Shaughnessy the whole time, and didn't see him write a thing down, or use a tape recorder, for the majority of this time. I wasn't entirely sure what he was doing there, actually (after Torre was done, another reporter asked Shaughnessy if the Red Sox were in town, which is exactly what I had been thinking). Then, right near the end of the chat, Manny Ramirez was mentioned (he'll start his rehab assignment next week). That's when Shaughnessy perked up and finally started writing things down. Guess that answered the question as to why he was there at all.

Oh, and then something big happened. The subject of pitch counts came up somehow, and I decided to ask about Clayton Kershaw. So, after Torre had spent some time discussing how strike zones have changed over the years, we had the following exchange:

Me: Other than learning the umps, is there anything specific you're doing with, like, say, Kershaw, to keep him from throwing 77 pitches in four innings, like on Tuesday?

Torre: It's gonna be a process with him. Last night I thought he was very good. But still, as you see, his pitch count was a hundred. 'cause you don't count the intentional walk stuff because if you count that, you'll start counting warm-up pitches, too. He's just gonna have to feel for that. You know, and it comes down to trusting your stuff, and just the mental approach to the fact that, you know, you sit here and watch batting practice, and they know what's coming, and they don't hit every ball out of the ballpark. You know, but that's too simplistic to try to sort of compare the two. But that's what it amounts to. You have to trust your stuff, and make him hit the ball. But I just think the mentality has to change. I still think we're in a place where we're trying to keep 'em from hitting the ball, or even swinging at it.

But I did not stop there, friends. No way. Kevin Baxter of the L.A. Times said something about the 1971 World Series, and how a pitcher had batted for himself in the eighth inning. Torre said that would never happen today, so I took that opportunity to ask him another question.

Me: Did you think about pinch-hitting for Kershaw in the sixth inning of Tuesday's game, when the game was still scoreless?

Torre: Um, you know what? I thought, a couple of things. I liked the way he was pitching. The fact, and a bigger part of it was that the first and the third hitters were left-handed the next inning. And tie game, to me, I still felt I had an advantage, being at home like that.


And with that, the chat was over. I had asked two questions, which was two more than I ever thought I would, and I didn't sound like a moron doing it. That was pretty damn cool.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

So, as you know, the game ended badly, and I packed up my stuff and headed down to the clubhouse. I asked the guard at the door where Joe Torre's office was, but I didn't really understand his instructions, so I figured I would just follow the other reporters, because surely they would go listen to Torre talk about the game.

I got down there, and once again felt a little out of place. A reporter, a man whose name I did not get, came over to me and said, "You can come in, you know. They won't bite." I wasn't trying to be a weenie about it; I just really didn't have anything to do other than observe what happens after the game.

And a lot of what happens after the game involves nudity. If you would like to know what it was like for me last night, I invite you to watch the following video, and envision me in Shirley MacLaine's role:



No joke. Except it was a little quieter in the Dodgers' clubhouse.

I crowded around Hiroki Kuroda while some other reporters asked him questions. They asked him how he feels since his return from the DL. He said, "Physically, I feel fine. I think I had stuff in me to throw one more inning, or two." He said it just happened that his spot in the batting order was coming up, and that's why Torre pulled him. Kuroda also said that, after he gave up some runs, he "maybe put a little pressure on [himself] and may have overthrown a bit."

After the Kuroda interview was over, I started to walk away, and ran into the reporter who had earlier admonished me not to be shy. I looked at him, then glanced back at Kuroda and said, "He bit me. I don't know if you saw that." I got a big laugh from that one.

Matt Kemp was asked if he feels like the Dodgers are never out of any game, what with their comeback abilities this year. He agreed with that, but also said, "I think we need to start scoring runs earlier." He admitted that the Dodgers "didn't take advantage" of mistakes the Athletics made.

Some reporters were interviewing Casey Blake, but I avoided that one because I saw how sad he looked as he stared into the locker when I first walked in the room. I guess he didn't like the fact that he was the final out in a one-run game, and I wanted to leave him alone.

I stood around a little more, then realized I didn't see most of the reporters in the clubhouse anymore. I couldn't hear Torre speaking, and I didn't know where the hell they had all gone. I know I could have asked, but I already felt awkward enough being there, and I had gotten enough of a high from the pre-game conference, so I figured I wouldn't miss much if I skipped out on this one. So, I headed out, followed closely by Rafael Furcal, who was already dressed in street clothes and ready to go home.

The one thing I didn't do was find Steve Lyons, to see if he was going to follow up on that wink. Oh well. There's always next time.

Picture Time!

I'll have thoughts on Joe Torre's pre-game chat a little later, as well as a little bit about what happened after the game. But for now, pictures!

The slideshow is below. As always, click on it and you will be taken to a site (on a separate page) that allows you to view bigger pictures.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Still More to Come...

...but not until the morning. I'm tired, and I've written many, many words already tonight (4,528, not including this post, to be precise). Tomorrow, the important stuff from Torre's pre-game stuff, as well as more of my thoughts, and of course plenty of pictures.

In case you're joining us late, here are the links to the posts I wrote tonight. I've reordered the paragraphs within each post, so you no longer have to read them from the bottom up (though if you're looking at them all just from the home page, the most recent is still at the top; hopefully that's not too confusing; you'll see what I mean when you visit the links):








"Erin's Stadium Adventure," or "How I Learned to Stop Gawking and Love Juan Pierre" Parts XI-XIII

Part Eleven:

Martin struck out. Then Mitch Jones came in to hit in the pitcher's spot, and got his first Major League hit on a little bloop to right field. Nice reaction from the crowd, just like in his first Major League at-bat last night.

Of course, next up was Juan Pierre, and he grounded into a double play to end the inning. Belisario is going to pitch the top of the ninth, then the Dodgers will have Furcal, Hudson and Loney in the bottom of the inning, looking to at least tie the game.

Orlando Hudson is a friggin' BEAST at second base. He just made one hell of a diving play to stop a sure hit, then got up and threw the guy out at first. Awesome, awesome play. Now let's up he backs that up with a hit in the bottom of the ninth (a homer would be nice, but I'll take a double).

And suddenly I'm recapping the game. Enough of that for now. The woman next to me asked if I work for a blog, and I told her yes, but offered no more information because I really didn't want to have to frantically start deleting everything I wrote about her. That would be way too stressful.


Part Twelve:

I really, really love watching things develop from up here. It makes me realize how much I enjoy sitting in the loge section, even though Christine prefers field level. Rajai Davis just tried to steal second and got thrown out, and this is just the perfect way to see it all happen.

Dodger Vision is showing the Kirk Gibson home run video montage, which never fails to both choke me up and get the crowd going. Then they follow with footage from more recent comebacks, including Ethier's big hits a week or so ago. Now's the time, boys! Let's get it done. No promises on my noise level in the press box when we get a walk-off win here.

Furcal does his job and gets on base, thanks to his speed, a double-clutch from the second baseman, and a bad throw, too. Looks like it was called a base hit, which is just fine with me.


Part Thirteen, in which the Dodgers stop believin':

Hudson popped out on a bunt, Loney popped out to the third baseman in foul territory, and Casey Blake grounded into a fielder's choice.

And now I must head down to the clubhouse, where there will likely not be any happy campers.

"Erin's Stadium Adventure," or "How I Learned to Stop Gawking and Love Juan Pierre" Part VIII-X

Part Eight:

Loretta grounded out, then Pierre tried to bunt on the first pitch and was, predictably, out at first. That was quite a letdown. It's back to a three-run deficit, but the Dodgers are running out of outs.

The woman sitting next to me is going to the Dodgers games in Anaheim this weekend. I really do not understand why. This situation is so strange to me. Maybe she works for the team? On a side note, I just got up for a minute and left my screen open to this page. So there's now a very good chance that she read what I wrote about her.

When I got up, I finally got my soft serve ice cream, and it is not disappointing me. I watched Nancy Bea Hefley play "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" on the organ, and that was pretty damn awesome. I wanted to take a picture, but wasn't sure of the etiquette on that one, so I didn't do it.

By the way, I hate that Dodger Stadium has decided to, just this year, start having someone sing "God Bless America" in the seventh inning stretch. I think I've mentioned this before, but I'm doing it again because everyone in the press box stands for the song, and I might have looked like a jackass if I had remained seated.

Thanks to a terrible non-catch on a pop-up, the Dodgers have two on and nobody out. Only time will tell if we'll blow this opportunity, too.


Part Nine:

This just in: eating ice cream makes me cold.

Loney swung at the first pitch and popped it up. Cabrera managed to drop the ball, but the infield fly rule was called, so Loney was out anyway. Wasted opportunity #77 for the evening. But Blake just got a single to load the bases, and here comes Mr. Walkoff, Andre Ethier.

Who promptly hits a two-run single to make it 5-4, Athletics! Sweet. Kemp is up with runners at the corners and one out. And...ground ball to second for a double play. Crap. But okay, we cut it to a one-run deficit. We can do this.


Part Ten:

Attendance for tonight's game is 46,274, which includes the nearly 3,800 tickets bought at the box office at the stadium tonight. The free parking brought some people out, though I bet McCourt was hoping for even more. Still, though, for a Wednesday night game, that's a pretty damn good turnout.

Holliday leads off the top of the eighth with a hit, then immediately steals second. Guillermo Mota is in, and he really needs to make sure this stays just a one-run deficit.

And Mota does it! Time for one of the rare appropriate moments for the Dodgers' new eighth inning song, "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey. Impossible not to sing along with this song, even if it doesn't always make sense for it to be played. Listening to this song (and reading the lyrics provided on the scoreboard), I do wonder what "streetlight people" are, though.

Russell Martin leads off the bottom of the eighth. Will he simply ground out to third (his usual), or might he actually get on base? Stay tuned.



"Erin's Stadium Adventure," or "How I Learned to Stop Gawking and Love Juan Pierre" Part V-VII

Part Five:

The internet is spotty at times in the press box. More than once I've stared at a page trying to load, only to get a message that the server stopped responding or that I'm not connected to the internet. Seems a little strange for a room in which there are people who rely on the internet for their jobs, but maybe I'm the only one having the problem. The best was when I first got here and the "Blogger" page wouldn't open for the first five minutes.

Christine has not responded to a text or my phone calls in about an hour now. Very peculiar. I can sort of see her in her seat in the front row, field level, on the fair side of the foul pole, but I certainly can't get her attention from this far away. Does it not interest her to know that her fiancé might be doing a "post-game show" with Steve Lyons (if you know what I'm saying, and I think you do)?

In the press box, the fifth inning means only one thing: free Dodger Dogs!! I'm not even hungry, but who can resist the sodium-filled goodness of a Dodger Dog? It may appear to the casual observer that I am more excited by the food options than by anything else, but I swear that's not the case. I just really happen to love Dr. Pepper, cookies, soft serve ice cream, and Dodger Dogs. Oh, and Steve Lyons.


Part Six:

I really have to at least tap my fingers when the crowd starts the "Let's go Dodgers" chant. I can't help it. I have to do something. And now our boys have finally scored, so it's 4-1, Athletics, and we're threatening for more. I think I may need to be gagged in order to keep myself from cheering. You think Steve Lyons is into that sort of thing? (Sorry, Mom. I know you're reading. But I've got what we in the business like to call a "motif" going now, and I couldn't stop it if I tried).

Two more runners left stranded as the Dodgers can only managed one run off Cahill. And an unearned run at that. But the comeback has begun.

Call me a party pooper, but I hate the wave. I especially hate the wave when we're losing. And Ireally hate the wave when we're losing and the other team is batting. Maddening. Quit it, people.


Part Seven:

The woman sitting next to me (the one who is not supposed to be here) is making me crazy. Right now she's looking up limousine rentals, while doing her best to unplug my computer from its power source, using only her foot. She's the reason I wasted all that beautiful Dr. Pepper, and she's the reason I'm having to lean over every few minutes when the camera guy to my left wants to get a shot of a foul ball. If I could just scoot six inches to my right, everything would be golden. But I'd hate to interrupt her one and only opportunity to look up prices on a new cell phone (yes, that's right, I looked at her screen, and I hope she's looking at mine, too).

As if to make me feel better, the Dodgers are showing signs of life. Runners at second and third (one is on base thanks to an Orlando Cabrera error), nobody out. Cahill has thrown 98 pitches, so maybe he's getting tired. Let's take advantage, shall we?

Okay, here we go. Runners at first and third, one out, new pitcher, and Mark Loretta pinch-hitting for Kuroda. The outcome of this tense situation will be relayed to you in the next post.

Ugh. But first, a video montage of the Lakers' victory parade. Man, have I mentioned lately how much I absolutely hate the Lakers? Everyone in this crowd considers this video a harbinger of good luck, but I find it to be just the opposite. I hope I'm wrong.

"Erin's Stadium Adventure," or "How I Learned to Stop Gawking and Love Juan Pierre" Parts II-IV

Part Two:

Want to know the hardest part about sitting in the press box? Not clapping. Hudson and Loney just worked back-to-back walks, and both times I put my hands together once before remembering I'm not supposed to. This is difficult for me. At baseball games, I yell, I scream, I curse, I jump up and down, I shield my eyes from the misery. You know, I behave the way a lady should. This stoicism does not become me, but I'll do my best.

Want to know the best part about sitting in the press box? Dr. Pepper in the soda fountain!! Seriously. Not enough places serve the good Doctor in this town. I am a girl who was raised mostly in the south, so I need me some Dr. Pepper. Thank you, Dodgers! Now serve it in the concession stands, and I'll be all set. Second best part? Cookies and soft serve ice cream. Sugar buzz, you can expect me to arrive in about 20 minutes. Please be a gracious host.

The Athletics' pitcher got two quick outs, then walked three consecutive batters before getting Andre Ethier to pop up on a 3-1 count. That was no fun. I don't want to do a live blog of the game, but I'll let you know the parts that seem somewhat important. Athletics are up 1-0 after one inning.


Part Three:

Steve Lyons just winked at me in the media dining room. As Orel over at Sons of Steve Garveysaid, "[Lyons] didn't get the scouting report!" Still, though, with the way I feel about the Dodgers and Dodger Stadium tonight, maybe Lyons has a chance. I'm not ruling it out.

It is nearly impossible not to make noise when one of our guys steals second, then decides to go ahead and steal third. But I managed to stay silent, even when he got thrown out at home. And I remained silent when some wisp of a man batting in the eighth spot for the Athletics hit his first home run of the season against Kuroda. Barf. 2-0, Athletics.

By the way, have I mentioned that Dodgers' organist Nancy Bea Hefley is located in the press box? Pretty awesome.

Not awesome? Another home run for the Athletics. They're now leading, 4-0. I was trying to pace myself with all the sugar, but now I think I might need a soft serve break.


Part Four:

They showed a video about Fernando Valenzuela on Dodger Vision, then got a live shot of him in his broadcast booth. I've seen the video before, and seen Valenzuela acknowledge the crowd before, but it's still pretty nice. I looked around the press box to see if this would maybe be one of the things the professionals would applaud, but they didn't. So I stayed quiet.

I'm not going to be able to get the quotes from Torre's pre-game chat until after the game. It's too loud in the press box and stadium for me to hear on my recorder, so I'll listen after the game and get them up. I realize this means I won't be breaking any news tonight, but I'm okay with that.

They're showing the same "Bloopers" video on Dodger Vision that I've seen probably a dozen times by now. And it appears no blooper is fewer than ten years old. It's always so strange to see.

In my own blooper news, I spilled my Dr. Pepper earlier, mostly because I was trying to get out of the way of some girl who is not watching the game or seemingly interested in baseball at all, but who has somehow come to the conclusion that the "Dodgers Blog Spot" is meant for her. I cleaned up my mess, and everything is okay in that area. But I just dropped my pen and it disappeared. Like, into a black hole or something.

I don't want to be in the clubhouse after a loss. Two outs in the fourth inning means we're still very early in this game, but we need to begin a comeback right about now.

"Erin's Stadium Adventure," or "How I Learned to Stop Gawking and Love Juan Pierre"

Wow. It's been two and a half hours since I left you, and a whole lot of stuff has happened. I want to get it all in, but I also want to write it somewhat nicely as well (since I pretend to be a writer whenever I can), so I'm going to try to avoid just listing my activities. But I might end up going that way anyway.

After the press box, my first stop was the clubhouse. I signed in with the security guard, who laughed at the "Robots Are Everywhere" written in the "affiliation" portion of my press badge. I suppose I should expect that sort of thing. I wanted to have business cards ready by the time I got here tonight, but I flaked on that. So, next time.

The first thing every blogger has noted about the clubhouse is that it's smaller than expected. I will be no exception to that rule, since the clubhouse was smaller than I expected, even after having my expectations lowered by other reports. It's just sort of long and narrow, but not particularly spacious like you might think. I also noticed that, on the inside of the door, they have posted "MLB Rule 21." This rule is about players not giving opponents gifts, and also mentions that they're not allowed to bet on baseball. I suppose the commissioner refers to this as the "Pete Rose Rule" for short.

James Loney and Orlando Hudson have lockers next to each other. In the common space between, one of them (I would assume Hudson) has hung a picture. This thing is maybe 11" by 14" and features Hudson, in full color and in a Diamondbacks' jersey, jumping a few feet in the air over a sliding, sprawling James Loney, presumably in the midst of turning a double play. It's pretty hilarious.

There was no way I was walking all the way into the clubhouse, so I just sort of hung near the door. Even with a bunch of other reporters in there, I felt completely out of place. So I stood and took notes, observed some things, and stayed out of the way. I became obsessed with the size of some of these guys (don't be thinking lewd thoughts; none of them were naked). Seeing them on the field, even from a decent seat, doesn't compare with seeing them up close and personal, so I found myself noting who was bigger or smaller than I would have thought. Broxton, for instance, doesn't seem nearly as imposing in person, even when he was standing right near me. Weaver, though, seems very tall and extremely lanky. Furcal is my height (5'7" or 5'8"), maybe even a little shorter. Mota seems pretty damn tall.

Matt Kemp's locker is the first one near the door, so I got to see what he has going on in there. Above his locker is a picture of him with Muhammad Ali, taken at Dodger Stadium, and a Maury Wills baseball card. And all of these guys have a ton of shoes on the floor in their lockers. At one point, Matt Kemp took off his shirt (still had an undershirt on) and threw it in the hamper next to me. I won't lie--I had to stop myself from reaching over and plucking it out of the bin.

I wrote random things down in my notebook this afternoon. Things like, "Cory Wade has a shaved head. Did I know that?" I don't think I did know that, and that's just one little tidbit for you.

The Laker victory parade was today, so there was some talk of them in the clubhouse. Best comment came from an unidentified reporter, who was watching the replay of the parade on the clubhouse television: "L.A. burned down yet?"

After taking notes and feeling weird for being there, and catching a glimpse of the starting pitcher, Kuroda, I headed out to the field to get ready for Joe's pre-game chat. On the way out, I passed Orlando Cabrera walking in the hallway. He seemed taller and more built than I had thought. He seems a bit diminutive on the field. Not David Eckstein small, but still.

The biggest scare came when I walked on the field and saw Mark Sweeney in uniform. I swear it was him, and I swear he threw batting practice to the pitchers, but I had no idea he was still part of the team (other than his role as a color guy to Jeanne Zelasko's play-by-play on the DodgersWIN network), and I got worried that we would be treated to his amazing pinch-hitting skills again this season. But he's not on the roster, so crisis averted.

Brad Ausmus was trying to get on the internet on his phone in the dugout, and yelled at some guy about whether or not he could access the wireless network that is identified as "media." The guy told him yes, but didn't let him know about the necessary password. So I told Ausmus that he would need the password. I didn't want the guy to get stuck trying to look up his fantasy baseball team or something. He was nice about it, though I don't think he exactly thanked me in so many words. Oh well.

On the field, I looked around and wondered why there was such a preponderance of Asian media, but then I reminded myself that Kuroda is starting.

Joe walked on to the field with Rick Honeycutt at 4:13 pm, just before Orlando "O-Dog" Hudson walked by and said to someone, "what's up dog?" Funny.

The media started to gather at this point, and I was writing that fact down in my notebook when Juan Pierre came over and asked to borrow my pen so he could autograph a couple of baseballs. I, of course, said no.

Ha! No, really, I gave him the pen. He signed the balls, and thanked me. Very nice guy.

And then it was time for Torre's pre-game conference. That's going to be in another post, though, so we'll skip over that for the moment.

Steiner interviewed Torre alone after the conference, and Shaughnessy jumped in with a few questions of his own. I didn't listen to that interview. At 4:55, I looked up at the press box and saw Vin Scully in his spot. I'm very close to him in my seat in the box, but there's a wall between us. Sad.

While I was hanging around the dugout, Orlando Hudson walked by. I looked up, and he smiled and said, "How you doing, sweetie?" I could have a crush on him without trying too hard. He has a very pretty smile.

I didn't pay much attention to the actual batting practice, but I did notice that Russell Martin really puts a charge into the ball when he's hitting. I would love to know where that power is during the game.

Jeanne Zelasko showed up on the field, and I really wanted to talk to her about my opinions on the DodgersWIN thing. But she was chatting with two other people, and I certainly wasn't going to interrupt. Then she went over to reunite with Kevin Kennedy, who used to be in the studio with her for the Fox Saturday games. After that, she left to do something on camera, so I never had a chance to speak with her. Too bad. I would have liked to hear her opinion on the matter.

After Christine showed up and I said hi to her and then sent her along to her seat, I pretty much just watched like a fan the rest of the time. I wanted to see who signed autographs and who didn't. I certainly didn't see all of the signing, but I can say for sure that Loney, Loretta, Ellis, Jones, Blake, and Mientkiewicz all signed. Kershaw, Kemp and Torre waved at the people as they went by, but didn't sign. Doesn't mean they didn't sign later, though, and I can tell you that I have definitely seen Matt Kemp sign at other games.

Josh Rawitch just stopped by to say hello, and I refrained from hugging him, though after my afternoon, I kind of wanted to show him how grateful I am to have this opportunity.

So, after being on the field for almost two hours, I headed back into the clubhouse at about 5:45. Before I walked in the door, I saw Broxton standing in an equipment closet, talking on his cell phone. In my fantasy, he was calling home to check on his wife and new baby, and wanted privacy to do it.

I went into the clubhouse to find it very quiet. Only Hudson, Weaver and Blake were in there at first, then other guys slowly trickled in, either from the field or the area where they were getting their meals. Pierre had one of the clubhouse attendants go pick something up for him, and he was so nice about asking for the favor that I don't know if I can ever say anything mean about Juan Pierre again. We'll see how long that lasts.

It should be noted that both Martin and Pierre took off their shirts while I was in the clubhouse the second time around. And surprisingly, Pierre has the better body. Far more muscle mass than you would think. Perhaps he should wear a tighter fitting jersey.

If you think I felt weird the first time I was in the clubhouse, you should have seen my discomfort the second time. I was literally the only "reporter" in there for at least ten minutes, and I felt like I was at a zoo or something, but I kept taking notes anyway. The big to-do in the clubhouse before the game centered on some sort of game the guys were playing. It had to do with the U.S. Open this weekend, I think, and it seemed like the guys were randomly assigned some of the golfers. If that golfer wins, the Dodger who had his name wins the pot. I think. The fun that came with this game, like when Ausmus didn't want to come write his name down and Blake insisted that he do it, was pretty darn entertaining, and nice to see.

The breaking news at 5:54 pm is that Juan Pierre was starving. Don't worry, though--he got some fruit. Orlando Hudson and A.J. Ellis discussed something about a meal, and I think Hudson was getting on Ellis about what he was eating. "A sandwich and a pretzel? That's all you want?"

Right before I went back into the clubhouse, it occurred to me that I hadn't even bothered to check the Red Sox score. When I got to the clubhouse, the television was tuned to that game, and I was happy that the Dodgers had accommodated me in that way.

I don't know if I succeeded in writing this well at all, but I wanted to get it done before the game starts, so there was some pressure on me. The next post will feature select quotes from Torre's pre-game chat, including some questions he fielded from a certain intrepid reporter.


Live From Dodger Stadium

I am here. I have arrived. I was late, because I locked Christine out of our apartment and had to go back to give her the keys, but that doesn't matter because in just a few minutes, I will be down in the Dodgers' clubhouse. And this won't be for some lame tour. No sir. This is the real deal.

I am dressed casually, with nice slacks and a good v-neck shirt that shows the proper amount of cleavage. I drove up to the front gate, showed my ID, and got waved through to the media parking lot. Then I showed my ID again, had my bag checked, and was handed a media pass. And then I got in an elevator, took it down to the fifth floor, and found my spot in the press box. Front row, far left side, behind home plate. Unreal.

Right now, Juan Pierre is taking batting practice. He's the only one I can positively identify, but there's a chance the other guy down there is Rafael Furcal. Can't tell for sure, and I keep changing my mind about it.

Someone was doing a phone interview from my seat in the press box when I got here. I have no idea who it was, though he's clearly someone who covers the Dodgers. I'm not going to stare at him, so I don't know if I'll ever be able to identify him for you. He's now chatting with someone who looks a hell of a lot like Dan Shaughnessy. The topic? Manny Ramirez's apparent bronchitis.

It's 3:37 pm. I wanted to write more before going to the clubhouse, but I want to get down there now, so there will be more later. I'll be in the clubhouse for about 20 minutes, then go to the dugout to listen to Joe Torre's pre-game conference. After that, onto the field to watch batting practice and just take it all in. Then, back to the press box. So, more to come.

Stay Tuned

Last night during the Dodger game, something happened that made me remember why I watch this sport. And no, it wasn't the walk-off single from Matt Kemp's bat in the bottom of the tenth inning.

Mitch Jones, who I first read about in a column at Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness, finally made his major league debut after ten years in the minors. That's a hell of a story, and the crowd somehow knew it. I don't know if it was because the PA announcer told the crowd that it was the guy's major league debut, or if there was something written up on Dodger Vision, but the crowd was really pulling for this guy. They cheered through this at-bat, groaned when he struck out, and then gave him a nice round of applause as he walked back to the dugout. It would have been nice to experience that live, but I was near tears just sitting on my couch, so I felt the vibe anyway.

The Red Sox hammered the Florida Marlins yesterday, 8-2, behind David Ortiz's solo homer and two-run single. It seems as though Big Papi has been heating up in June, which is nice to see. I certainly hope it will continue. That article I linked to about the game mentions that Tim Wakefield is making a good case for his first All-Star appearance. He's not flashy at all, just solid and dependable. The article seems to mostly rely on wins as the statistic that should get him in, which is a little bit lame. But what Wakefield does is win. Or, rather, he keeps the team in games so that they can win. He's made thirteen starts, and he's 9-3 in those starts, so only one no-decision. And the Sox won that game. He's given up three runs or fewer in nine of his thirteen starts, and he's averaging over six innings per start. There's a good case to be made for him to finally make an All-Star appearance, so we'll see what happens.

Please come back here later this evening (say, around 6 or 7 pm Pacific time) for a big surprise. I think it will be worth it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Oh, Come On, It's Only Been Twelve Days

You haven't missed me that much, right? Don't blame me. Blame the Caribbean. I've officially been home in Los Angeles since the afternoon of June 5, and I've even managed to get to Dodger Stadium for one game (and what a game it was), but I still feel like I haven't had time to do much of anything. And by "do much of anything," I mean, "write a blog post."

But I'm getting back into the routine of my normal, everyday life, and that means more writing. God knows my brain could use the exercise. These are the things you can expect to see covered in the next few posts:

  • I'm still mad at Obama. I sent a penny to the White House in the mail today, as a symbol of the "lost change" that seems to be plaguing the administration these days. A meaningless token, yes, but it's a good start nonetheless.
  • The Dodgers are winning, but they're not really hitting. They're headed home for three games this week to face the Athletics (and then on to Anaheim, which could be tough), so maybe the bats will welcome the rarified air of Chavez Ravine. We've got to get it going somehow.
  • The Sox have a great bullpen, they've beaten the Yankees in all eight games they've played this season, and they just took two of three from the Philadelphia Phillies (aka the defending World Champions), so things are good.
  • Remember when I wrote about the DodgersWIN initiative, and how I felt that the specialized broadcast, hosted by Jeanne Zelasko and Mark Sweeney, was condescending and rather sexist? Well, I did end up getting a response from Josh Rawitch, who essentially said that it's not sexist, and the intention is to engage female fans, and that it's a good thing that the Dodgers have a woman in place for a play-by-play position. It was a good email, and very nice of Josh to respond, and I can't say that I disagree with anything he wrote. I don't want to continue to rant against the organization on this particular topic, so my final word on the matter is this: I think it's great that Zelasko has the job; I love the idea of a female announcer. What I think my issue was with this whole thing was the way in which it was marketed. The press should have been more about the idea of Zelasko in the booth, and less about how she would be teaching all these uneducated women while on the job. No one likes being talked down to, but the Dodgers might have avoided that if it had just simply been hyped as "check this out, a female broadcaster! Another first for the Dodgers!" No need to tell us that she's there to make sure the little ladies understand the game; in a way, that is implied, and by stating it outright, we cross the sexist line. Okay, that's all on the subject.
  • The Dodgers are offering free parking this week for the A's series. And they are promoting the hell out of it, for sure. Do I think free parking is great? I sure do. But as I said to a friend over the weekend, "Frank McCourt offering free parking for Dodger games, and then expecting credit for it, is like the arsonist expecting a reward after putting out the fire he started." Free parking wouldn't seem like such a big deal if the price weren't so atrocious to begin with, and if McCourt hadn't raised it almost 100% since purchasing the team. I've had plenty to say on the parking situation at the stadium in the past, and it hasn't gotten any cheaper (or more efficient) since then, so I guess there really isn't a point in beating a dead horse.

With or without free parking, I'll be at a Dodger game this week. Pictures to follow.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

I Wish I Had Thought of This Loophole Sooner

This is The Onion, so of course it's satirical, but damned if it doesn't seem like this is an argument some Republican will be making one day soon.

Down and Out?

With regard to my "coverage" of the Red Sox this season, there has been one big elephant in the room.  And that elephant is named David Ortiz.  You all know what's been going on.  The man isn't hitting.  He's batting an atrocious .186, his OBP is .282, his SLG is .284, his OPS is .566, and his OPS+ is 45.  Those numbers are not easy to see.

Bill Simmons wrote a column about this, in which he came to the conclusion that Ortiz is likely done, and his release is all but inevitable.  Simmons is a fan, and he acknowledges that saying goodbye to Ortiz will not be easy.  And he's right, it won't.  When SoSG wrote a little post about this issue last month (the day Ortiz left twelve men on base in Anaheim), this is what I had to say in the comments:

Today was painful. I'm frustrated, but I don't think I could ever boo David Ortiz. 2004 was the best year of my life, thanks in no small part to that man. I can't just forget that.

That feeling hasn't changed.  I don't know if I will ever be able to completely believe that Ortiz is done, until the man himself says so.  Simmons points out that fans at Fenway are not booing Ortiz, and everyone there wants him to succeed in every at-bat.  The man has earned this respect from us, and I'm just happy to see that the fans are sticking by him, even if he seems to have no hope of overcoming this slump.  I haven't been to Fenway to see this, but I can tell you how I felt when Ortiz finally hit his first home run of the season.  I got to actually see it happen almost live, thanks to MLB.tv deciding to work for those 30 seconds.  Christine was watching with me, and we both teared up.  The man hit a home run in a game in May, but the crowd (and I) reacted like it was a game winner in October.  That's what this man has meant to us.  

I don't know what the solution is.  Ortiz has been dropped in the order, and that hasn't really seemed to help.  Some point to the fact that he's gotten a few hits lately (he's 3 for his last 22, though, so I'm not seeing anything there), or the fact that he's hit the ball hard, but just right at people.  I haven't been able to see many games down here (though I'll likely be watching tonight, since it's on ESPN), so I don't know about that, either.  There are plenty of experts in the clubhouse who can talk to Ortiz, and I'm sure they have.  I do not have the answers.  I just really want Big Papi to come back.

As for the Dodgers, I will just be so much happier when I am back on the west coast (Friday!), where their games start at 7pm, as opposed to 10pm.  Last night, my internet wasn't working in my hotel room, so I was following the game on my phone.  It was, needless to say, sort of annoying.  And then Wolf allowed an Upton grand slam in the second inning, and the Dodgers were down 5-0.  The frustration of following the game on my phone suddenly stopped being worth it, and I went to sleep.  Imagine my surprise when I woke up this morning to find that the Dodgers had mounted a comeback, scored five in the eighth, and won 6-5.  How about them Dodgers?

Saturday, I'll be at Dodger Stadium to see them play the Phillies, and I can't friggin wait.

If you haven't read Bruce Paine's comments on my most recent gay marriage post, I encourage you to check them out immediately.  I'll have more to say on the subject later, but just go read what Paine had to say first.

Oh, and anyone reading this right now who wants to go to the Dodgers game tonight should email me or leave a comment.  I have two field level tickets, and if you can pick them up from my friend (at an office near the stadium), they're yours.  So, let me know.  First one to respond gets them.

 

Monday, June 01, 2009

Ducks

I love these women.  And their response to Pat Robertson's genius analysis of the gay marriage debate is brilliant.  The Ducktales reference is particularly awesome.