Friday, September 18, 2009

Living the Life One Last Time

So, here I am, my last night in the press box. I arrived two hours later than I normally do. I got here just about twenty minutes before the gates opened for the common folk, which means I pretty much missed anything worth seeing. But it's cool. I brought Christine with me, as she got herself a single ticket this afternoon, so that part made being late worth it. I don't like driving to and from games without her. I really don't even like watching them without her, but I deal with that when it means I have press box access.

The last two times I've been in the clubhouse before batting practice, I felt like a moron who didn't belong, so even though I missed my chance for the pre-game clubhouse hijinks, I probably just would have felt out of place again anyway. I don't necessarily have official questions for the players; I prefer to observe and comment when it suits me. I'll consider going back down to the clubhouse after the game, but I might not do that either, as it's fireworks night, and I think I'll probably head down to the field to watch them with Christine. But we'll see. The night is young.

I did go down to the field to watch a bit of the Dodgers' batting practice, but I either missed the big guns or they didn't take any BP today. The only players I saw were Castro, Pierre, Mienkiewicz, and Ausmus. Not exactly a murderers' row. It was nice to see that Mattingly takes his time to watch the "B" squad take BP, though.

On the way to the field, I passed through a security "debriefing" with about ten or twelve guys. I don't know exactly what they were talking about, but I do know that the guy leading the meeting mentioned "forming a line" to block something from happening. I think they were discussing protocol for protecting players from something, as the guy also said something like, "if one of our stars gets into trouble..." Something tells me there might be extra security for the Giants series, and these were the new guys learning the ropes.

The signs on the way into the stadium indicate tonight's game is sold out, but I searched the Dodgers website and could still find at least two tickets available. Hard to say what's bringing people out tonight. The baseball fan in me wants to believe that people are genuinely excited about seeing the Dodgers destroy the Giants' playoff hopes. The skeptic in me knows it's more likely that people like to see fireworks, which means fewer people leaving in the seventh inning. Unfortunate, because those people exiting does help--ever so slightly--to ease the horrible traffic on the way out of the lots. Soon, but maybe not until the season is over, I'm going to have to write a post about the parking situation at this ballpark. One of the first posts I ever wrote on this blog was about the new parking protocols here, and I'm sorry to say that nothing has really changed since that post. But more on that later.

I should say that no part of me believes the capacity crowd tonight has anything to do with Vicente Padilla taking the mound. The guy has done a nice job, and I'm happy to have an autographed ball from him, but he's not exactly a star. Christine is convinced that before the season is over, Padilla is going to do something really special for this team. I note this not because I believe it to be true, but because I feel like I should put it on record for Christine, just in case it happens.

In actual Dodger notes, Ben Maller of actually went to Torre's pre-game conference, and passes along the information that Kershaw will pitch out of the bullpen next week, and Billingsley is going to start in the series against the Nationals.

One more thing before the game starts. Before the game, they play a lot of different videos on DodgerVision. Often, it's the real video interspersed with Dodger highlights. The ones I've seen the last few days include "Hole Hearted," by Extreme; "That's Not My Name," by The Ting Tings; and something from Chris Daughtry. But nothing--and I do mean nothing--can come close to the video I'm embedding below. I have all sorts of things to say about it, and I say them, loudly, when I'm at the stadium, but I'll refrain from putting those in print, and allow you to come to your own conclusions about one Mr. Zac Efron. Enjoy.

The Home Stretch

Tonight I venture into the press box for the last time this season. I hope Josh Rawitch will continue this practice of reserving a spot for Dodger bloggers, but even if he doesn't, I think I can speak for all of those lucky enough to take advantage of it when I say it's been a blast. Many thanks to Rawitch and the whole Dodgers PR staff for accommodating a girl whose blog name is based on the presumption that robots will one day completely take over the world. Let's hope Rawitch doesn't come to his senses in the off-season.

I've been to Dodger Stadium twice this week already, on Monday and Wednesday. Both times, the Dodgers won. I missed Andre Ethier's walk-off on Tuesday night, but that's okay.
Seeing two of the three games of the sweep was nice, and I have tickets to all the remaining home games this season (though I'm skipping Saturday), so I think I'll see a few more home runs before it's all said and done. And speaking of my tickets, if you're interested in going to Saturday's game against the Giants, I'm selling my seats at face value on eBay. So check them out. I'll be sweating my butt off at Sunday's day game, so I don't think I can do it two days in a row. Buy my tickets!

Going to a few games recently has given me and Christine the opportunity to get some baseballs signed by the pitchers in the bullpen. We sit in the section right next to the bullpen (until we're kicked out) and wait for the players to come to the fence and sign. Many of them do, and it's nice to see. We got Kershaw last week (that's him signing our ball in the picture), and Padilla
and Haeger this week. I want Wolf or Weaver, but I've never seen either of them sign. And Broxton completely ignores the fans who ask for his autograph, so there you go.

On a side note, I know a lot of guys only want to sign for kids, and/or are worried about those who would just sell the balls on eBay. And to them I say this: growing up, I didn't have the chance to go to baseball games. The closest I lived to a Major League team was when I lived at Edwards AFB for four years as a kid, and my parents weren't able to drive two+ hours to take three kids to a game. I went to a few Kings games because my soccer coach took us, but that's the extent of my live sports event experience as a child. So, it's nice that you want to give autographs only to kids, but just remember that some of us are trying to live that childhood experience right now. So cut us a break. And besides, you can usually pinpoint the guys/girls who only want your autograph so they can sell it, and I certainly don't fit that mold. Neither does Christine. So, come on!

Walking into the stadium a few games ago, Christine and I passed a car that I only noticed because it had both Angels and Dodgers stickers on the back window. I was appalled that anyone could split his/her allegiance that way (it's a little different than being, say, a Dodgers and Red Sox fan), and I wanted to take a picture. Then one of us noticed the license plate holder, and suddenly the stickers made sense. So I took a picture of that instead.

Don't worry--their license plate numbers don't really look like that. I just messed them up in Photoshop because I wouldn't want someone broadcasting my license plate on the interwebs.

On Sunday, September 6, the Dodgers played the Padres on the ESPN Sunday Night game. I was at the game, which meant I was lucky because I didn't have to listen to Jon Miller and Joe Morgan. What was also cool about being there was that I got to see the Goodyear Blimp over the stadium during the whole game. It looks so cool up there, and my iPhone doesn't do it justice, but here's a shot nonetheless:

Tonight, I will once again hang out with Steve Sax from Sons of Steve Garvey for a few innings. I'll gladly leave my perch in the press box to meet Sax's wife and watch a little baseball with him, as it's likely his last regular season game of the season this year.

And finally, in case you've ever wondered whether Christine and I have fun at all these games we go to, here's a shot of us at Wednesday's game:

We look pretty happy, wouldn't you say?

Oh, and the Angels are a bunch of douches. I'm sorry; I know it's blasphemous because I am a Dodger fan, but I hate Mike Scioscia. Hate. And it's all because of that face he seems to be making for 90% of every damn game. He's the Mike D'Antoni of Major League Baseball, and it's hard to watch.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Joe Wilson: 2012 Republican Presidential Nominee?

Joe Wilson, in his attempt to disrupt a presidential address, has made himself both a hero and a villain. He's a hero to the right-wing fringe who believe that he was right when he said the president lies, and he's a villain to the rest of the sane people in this country.

The fact of the matter is, Joe Wilson is allowed to disagree with the president. Since the incident, several outlets have claimed that this is just like what happens all the time in Parliament in Great Britain, so what's the big deal? The first argument against that is that this isn't the House of Lords, and we're not in Great Britain. We follow parliamentary procedure to a point, but if you've ever seen video of what goes on over there, you know we're not quite the same.

But even if you believe we should be more like Great Britain in that regard, please be aware that Joe Wilson would still not have been following the rules had he yelled, "You lie!" in the House of Lords. In virtually every country that follows parliamentary procedure, calling a speaker a liar is considered a violation of that procedure. Wikipedia has the list of countries and what the various offenses are in each of those countries.

With that in mind, the only way to describe what Joe Wilson did is to call it disrespectful. Even if he is actually certain that the president was lying, that was not the time or place to let that fact be known. Republicans clamored for years that the president's office is deserving of respect, and that no one should criticize the president during a time of war. Well, let's all try to play by the same rules, okay? No matter how Democrats responded to George W. Bush during his years in office, not one ever called him a liar in the middle of a speech to both houses of Congress.

And for the record, the House bill specifically prohibits illegal immigrants from being covered. The problem is that there is not a system in place to identify illegal immigrants. But that's the case right now, and taxpayers are paying for illegal immigrants' emergency room visits anyway. So why the uproar now, when this bill is at least attempting to work on that problem? Is that really worth yelling, "You lie!" at the president during his speech?

Of course, Wilson has become something of a celebrity because of this. has as its lead story the fact that Wilson has raised around $200,000 since the incident. In paragraph seven (of nine) of that story, the writer notes that Rob Miller, Wilson's opponent in 2010, has raised more than $750,000. As I write this, Rob Miller's number is actually $816,097, and rising every hour (when I first went to that site just moments after Wilson's outburst, it showed that Miller had raised roughly $3500 in his campaign up to that point). I donated $25, and that link in the previous sentence will allow you to do the same if you like. My point is, why is Wilson's fundraising the story here? The story, in my eyes, is that people who oppose what Wilson did, who consider it unbecoming of a Congressman, have rallied behind the man's opponent. Money talks in politics, and the bigger story is that the majority of those talking with their pocketbooks are doing so against Wilson, not for him.

Many have noted that this is just a product of the kind of "debate" Republicans want to have. The "facts" are out there, mostly being presented by radio and talk show hosts who want to rally their base with scare tactics. Congressmen (and women) should be above such tactics, but they're clearly not (note Chuck Grassley's speeches in which he told people that they should be afraid of the government killing Grandma), and it's pretty disgusting. Wilson apologized after the outburst, but is now claiming that he will "not be muzzled," and is refusing to apologize to the House for his actions. We shouldn't be surprised by this behavior when the de facto leaders of the Republican Party are currently Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.

I, for the record, do not care what Joe Wilson wants to say. If he wants to hop on the scare tactic bandwagon of the extreme right, and win elections by lying to his own constituents, that's their problem, not mine. I do care about when he chooses to make those statements, though. Like it or not, a presidential address is only for the president. Afterward, the opposing party gets to counter the president (and what an amazing representative they chose, huh?). If Joe Wilson had wanted to be that guy, he should have petitioned his party for the privilege. Otherwise, sit down and shut up until it's your turn.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Dodgers, Marines, Racism and My Brother

The Dodgers continue to be anything but consistent, particularly when it comes to playing the crappy teams. They split a four-game series with Arizona, then lost a three-game series with San Diego, both of whom are tied for last place in the division, 21 games behind the Dodgers (obviously they were further back before the series started). That's not how you maintain a division lead, and since the Rockies have been winning this whole time, we now find ourselves with only a 3.5-game lead over that Colorado team. Too close. So how about we win some?

I was at the game three times over the weekend, starting with Thursday night's game. You'll recall that I took my brother to this one, and I was absolutely right about his response to "Marine Appreciation Night." The Dodgers themselves did not nothing objectionable;
a Marine sang the National Anthem and God Bless America, and the Marine Color Guard was there with the flags. My brother's problem was with the fans in attendance. Several had Marine flags hanging over the railings, and judging from their age and/or facial hair, it was clear they were no longer active duty. My brother groaned when he saw them and said, "Let it go!"

It's hard not to disagree with that. After all, nobody likes a guy who practically demands to be thanked or congratulated for something. Yes, it was Marine Appreciation Night, but still. Just come and be appreciated. You don't have to make a big deal about it.

My brother also questioned whether baseball might not be as interested in racial equality as we all think. Noting the sign that indicates Jackie Robinson's retired number, my brother mused, "Isn't it a bit racist to make Robinson's number a different color from all the rest?"

Hard to disagree with that one, ladies and gentlemen.

It was a good night for a game, and we had a fun time hanging out and watching the Dodgers win one. I even had a beer, which, unless I'm visiting with Steve Sax, is a rarity for me at a game. My brother bought a Dodgers hat, which surprised me but also made me quite happy. And then I made him take about twenty pictures with me. Here's my favorite:

The Dodgers only have nine home games left this season, and I have tickets to seven of them (including the last three). Seems that I was thinking ahead when I bought the tickets, and thought the end of the season might be important. What a smart cookie I am. It's a little too close in the division for my tastes, because I don't like to be too nervous about these things. But I guess that's part of the fun, so I'm going to try to roll with it.
Christine found this while checking her Twitter page for Onion updates. I suppose this article might be parody of L.A.'s somewhat laid-back fans, or perhaps a reference to the N.L. West not getting any respect. Either way, it's pretty funny:

Area Man Has Heard of Andre Ethier

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Dodgers: Bringing Families Closer Since 1958

Let's take a break from the healthcare debate (or, technically, the debate about the healthcare debate) for a moment, shall we?

Okay, I feel better. Tonight I'm going to Dodger Stadium to see the Dodgers try to salvage a split with the awful Diamondbacks. To say the Dodgers should have at least won this series is a vast understatement. Instead, after being nearly shutout last night, the boys find themselves on the verge of possibly losing three of four to the worst team (by a lot) in the division. Not exactly how you erase any doubt in the playoff race, you know?

I'll be sitting in loge tonight, because I didn't have tickets in my season plan for this game. But my brother came back from Afghanistan last Sunday, and he wanted to go to a game, so I figured the best choice would be Marine Appreciation Night at Dodger Stadium. He is, after all, a Marine. Christine found a pack of four tickets in the front row of Loge 165, which is the very last section, and right above Mannywood. I actually like the view from over there, though since I doubt this game is a sellout, I'm sure we'll be moving to choicer seats at some point during the night.

So, yes, I am choosing to go on a night celebrating the military, my pacifist tendencies notwithstanding. I am, after all, an Air Force brat, so my ties to the military run pretty deep. And besides, despite what many conservative pundits would have you believe, being against the war(s) does not mean that one is against the troops. In fact, there's a pretty solid argument to be made that wanting the wars to end means that one is supporting the troops more than the other side; I mean, at least our opinion keeps the troops out of unnecessary harm, right?

But I digress. Frankly, my brother probably doesn't care that it's Marine Appreciation Night. I, in fact, expect an eye roll or two, depending on just what this "appreciation" entails. He just wants to go to a game. He is, like me, a Red Sox fan, but he has not split his allegiance to include any National League team. He does not care about the Dodgers one bit, but I don't think he hates them, either. In other words, I think Christine and I (and our friend Tangi, who will be joining us) will have a pretty good cheering partner for the evening.

Unless the Dodgers suck (again), and then that's all I'll hear about all night. So, please, Dodgers, for my sake, could you win this game?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

This Makes Me Want to Barf

I suppose I should be grateful that I live in a country where anyone (and I do mean anyone) has the possibility of holding a public office. But when it comes to that pompous ass, all bets are off; I no longer have to tolerate him when he's on the mound for my team so I'd really rather not deal with him in the Senate, thank you very much.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Who Wants It?

What better way to spend the last few weeks of summer than with a slightly used Playstation 2 and 31 games, all for a low, low price?

Yes, yes, I know that the PS3 is all the rage, but since most of them aren't backwards compatible, those games you love on the PS2 could be gone forever, unless you act now.

This is just my infomercial way of letting you know that my PS2 is now up on eBay. Christine put it up today, with a complete list of all 31 games. Also included are two controllers and two guitars for Guitar Hero I, II and III (the games, of course, are included as well).

So, if you know anyone who might be interested, head to this link and get to bidding. It starts at $50, and there's no reserve, which means you might get the whole haul for half a c-note.