Tag Archives: Dodgers

Los Angeles: Following the Phillies Part II

After seeing the Phillies wrap-up their series in San Diego on Wednesday I traveled north to Los Angeles on Thursday to see them open a series with the Dodgers. Dodger Stadium is the third oldest ballpark in MLB. I saw the two oldest (Fenway Park and Wrigley Field) last summer, so I was excited to add Dodger Stadium to the list.

I arrived in Los Angeles in the early afternoon and parked by the Los Angeles Police Academy near the ballpark. From there it was a short walk to the Chavez Ravine Arboretum, the oldest arboretum in southern California. It was founded in 1893. I wandered through the arboretum for a few hours. The sun was intense.

A large Tipuana tipu in the Chavez Ravine Arboretum.

A large Tipuana tipu (tipu tree) in the Chavez Ravine Arboretum.

When I walked back to my car I passed one of the closed stadium parking lot gates. I climbed up one of the light poles to take a picture of the lot and the stadium from above the gate (you can see the very top of the fence in the lower right foreground).

Dodger Stadium across the sea of asphalt.

Dodger Stadium across the sea of asphalt.

I wandered down to the Police Academy and talked to a security guard there for a while. He told me which streets I could park on in the neighborhoods by the stadium and safely walk back to my car wearing a Phillies jersey after the game. He also told me that his major life regret was not studying botany. We talked plants.

By this time the gates were about to open, so I walked back to the stadium parking lot gate. I was the only Phillies fan. There were many Dodgers fans. The experience reminded me of attending Temple vs. Penn State games at Beaver Stadium. I saw two baseball fans decked out in UCLA gear, discussing the abomination of in-stadium advertising and decrying the volume of ballpark music. I had to join their conversation. It turns out they were covert Giants fans, but they loved baseball enough to go to games anywhere. It also helped that the National Champion UCLA baseball team was being honored before the game. We talked until the gates opened and then during the trek across the parking lot.

The ticket booths at Dodger Stadium are set apart from the main stadium, like a little row of huts. I purchased a ticket for the Lodge Level, section 168, row O, seat 7. It was Sandy Koufax bobblehead night. I sold my bobblehead inside the stadium because I didn’t want to carry it around with me all night. I used the proceeds to buy a Dodger Dog and a beverage. Batting practice was underway when I saw the field for the first time.

Dodger Stadium in the sunlight.

Dodger Stadium in the sunlight.

Charlie Manuel, Rich Dubee, and Wally Joyner watch Ryan Howard take batting practice.

Charlie Manuel and Rich Dubee watch Ryan Howard take batting practice while Wally Joyner stands nearby.

I was surprised by the low ceiling in the lodge level concourse. The stadium is huge for baseball (seating 56,000), but it feels small in the concourse.

The lodge level concourse.

The lodge level concourse.

View of the field from a seat near the concourse.

View of the field from a seat near the concourse.

Visiting Dodger Stadium and failing to get a Dodger Dog would have been unthinkable. Unfortunately I didn’t realize that they were available grilled or steamed at different stands. The stand I visited had the steamed version–but I would have tried both had I been aware of the possibility. The hot dog was good, though my preference when eating a hot dog is for the bun and the dog to be of equal length (Dodger Dogs are 10″ long, while the bun is ~6″ long).

A Dodger Dog stand.

A Dodger Dog stand.

My seat was one of the worst seats I’ve ever had at a ballpark. I asked the ticket seller for a good view–I think she just threw a dart at the seating diagram. The sun was vicious for the first few innings. But that wasn’t the worst of it. . .

The sun was bright.

The sun was bright.

The real problem with the seat was that the foul pole obstructed my view of home plate. By the end of the game my eyes and head hurt from having two focus fields competing for three hours.

My view of the foul pole (and the game behind it).

My view of the foul pole (and the game behind it).

I noticed that Dodger fans lived up to the main stereotypes I have heard. Fans were arriving during the 7th inning. Fans started leaving during the 8th inning (during a one run game). Movie stars were in attendance (hey, Fred Willard!). Valley girls, lots and lots of valley girls.

The announced attendance was 51,037. That is the largest crowd I’ve ever been part of at a baseball game. I suspect the actual maximum number of people in the seats at one time was close to 45,000 due to late arrivals and early exits.

The Dodgers jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the 1st inning. The Phillies fought back to tie the game in the 5th. In the 7th they took the lead, then turned to the bullpen to hold it. So far this season that has not gone well. Sure enough, the bullpen surrendered the lead and the game. Yasiel Puig added to his legend by hitting a single with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 7th to knock in the tying and winning runs. The fans cheered everything Puig did all night (and I don’t blame them).

Yasiel Puig in right field.

Yasiel Puig in right field.

Things got a bit rowdy as the night progressed. Several fans were escorted out of the stands by security guards. I did not see any physical altercations between Dodger and Phillies fans.

The ballpark during the late innings.

Dodger Stadium on a summer night.

The final score was 6-4. I got to see Domonic Brown and Chase Utley hit home runs. I saw Yasiel Puig make some laser beam throws and deliver a game winning hit. I saw Delmon Young go 4 for 4 (he got a hit the previous night in his final at bat, so I saw him go 5 for 5 over the two night stretch–he would start the following game 2 for 2, giving him 7 consecutive hits).

My drive from the stadium back to San Luis Obispo was my best LA driving experience so far. The late night trip was smooth with few brake lights. I got home at 2am.

It was fun to follow the Phillies on the West Coast.

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May 30, 1996: Phillies vs Dodgers

Yesterday I found six of my old journals, which document my life from 7/27/1992 through 11/8/01. I’m amazed at how many memories they stirred up, particularly from happy, carefree summers of the past. I also found some pictures I took in my early teens with my first camera, a disc film Kodak camera that my aunt Karen gave me. Disc film cameras have since followed dinosaurs and dodo birds into extinction. They tended to produce grainy, low quality images. But the film was relatively cheap, so for a kid in the early ’90s it was a great toy.

The Eisenreich autograph.

Some of the last pictures I took with that camera were from May 30, 1996. On that wonderful day my Dad took me and my two best friends (Duane and Matt) to Veterans Stadium to see the Phillies play the Dodgers. I don’t care what anyone says; the Vet was a palace. We arrived early and watched batting practice from left field. Before the game the Phillie Phanatic played with his best friend Tommy Lasorda. I got Jim Eisenreich’s autograph on a Fleer Flair card during the pregame stretching and warm-ups. It’s one of my favorite autographs in my collection.

Our tickets were for box seats on the first base side, just two rows from the field. Benito Santiago was playing first base for the the Phillies, and he seemed so close. Most of my previous trips to the Vet had involved 700 levels tickets or 300 levels seats in the outfield.  The pitching match-up on that night was Mike Williams vs. Pedro Astacio. Todd Hollandsworth, the second batter of the game, hit a home run. In the 6th Raul Mondesi scored on a wild pitch, giving the Dodgers a two run lead.

Todd Hollandsworth grounds out 4-3 to end the 7th.

In the 8th Toby Borland entered the game for the Phillies and pitched a 1-2-3 inning. In the bottom half of the inning with two outs Mike Lieberthal hit a home run to make it a 2-1 game.

Mike Lieberthal rounds the bases after his home run in the 8th.

That home run knocked Astacio out of the game, Chan Ho Park was the next pitcher. He finished the inning as we marveled at his high leg kick (“It looks just like his ’94 Stadium Club card”).

After Borland retired the Dodgers in the top of the 9th the Phillies had one more chance against Todd Worrell in the bottom of the inning. Pinch hitter Mark Whiten led off the inning with a long home run to center, tying the game. With one out the Phillies got a single from Mickey Morandini.

Worrell and Karros attempt to keep Morandini at first in the 9th.

Morandini stole second. Santiago was walked, which brought Pete Incaviglia to the plate. And Inky delivered. He turned on a pitch and hit a worm burner between Mike Blowers (3B) and Juan Castro (SS). Morandini scored and the Vet erupted. A walk off win, 3-2.

Ah, happy memories.

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2009 NLCS Game 5: It’s a Wrap

The 2009 NLCS just ended. The Philadelphia Phillies have advanced to the World Series, and I am thoroughly enjoying the moment. Game 5 was relatively comfortable from the bottom of the 1st inning on, which was a nice respite after Game 4. Here are a few thoughts about the game and the series as a whole:

  • Cole Hamels had another rough start. He struggled to locate his pitches at times. On the plus side, his curve seemed much better tonight than it has in weeks. But after being staked a nice lead he couldn’t get through five innings. That’s a problem. I’m holding out hope that he has a stellar start left for the World Series.
  • Chase Utley didn’t get a hit, but he did walk. That walk means he has safely reached base in 25 consecutive postseason games, which ties the MLB record held by Boog Powell.
  • In Game 5 the Phillies’ 3 and 4 hitters (Utley and Howard) combined for an 0 for 6 night with no runs batted in. Despite this the Phillies put up 10 runs. That makes me feel pretty good.
  • Jimmy Rollins had a huge hit that dramatically won Game 4. In Game 5 he was hit by pitches twice. Coincidence? Rollins had never been hit twice in one game before. For the record I do not think the Dodgers were throwing at Jimmy.
  • Chad Durbin pitched 1.1 innings of solid relief to get the win. He faced Manny, Kemp, Loney, and Martin at a critical time in the game and got three ground balls and a strikeout.
  • I must bring up my favorite commentator from TBS once more. In the 5th inning Ron Darling made two contradictory statements. Statement 1 = A three run lead in this ballpark is nothing. (This is a stupid comment regardless of what was said after it. A three run lead is something in any ballpark.) Statement 2: How many times do you see a pitcher with a big lead struggle in the 5th inning? (The insinuation he was making is that it is common). So a three run lead is nothing, yet it is a big lead. Riiiigggghhhhhtttt.
  • And my favorite topic of the postseason. The strike zone. Argh. Home plate umpire Tom Hallion called a conservative strikezone. I do not ever recall a series (regular season or postseason) having this many consecutive games with such a small strike zone. I think both teams were hurt by it, but the Dodgers more so than the Phillies. I also think that if Jamie Moyer had been on the Phillies’ roster for some reason he would have never had a chance. Saying the umpires were calling a conservative strike zone does not even do it justice. If the strike zone were an Anabaptist denomination it would be Old Order Amish, more conservative than the Mennonites, Brethren, or Hutterites. I prefer the Evangelical Mennonite strike zone.
  • I’ve made a very disturbing observation about Ryan Howard during the NLCS. Before Game 4 he spoke at a press conference wearing a hat cocked slightly to one side, which I consider an abomination. I had not seen him do this before. After Game 5 he did it again. This grieves me. I have always appreciated that the Phillies do not have players on their roster who wear crooked hats. A backwards hat is fine, but crooked hats are just wrong. Thankfully Howard still wears his in a respectable manner during the game.

Congratulations to the Dodgers on a fine season. They had the best record in the NL and are a good ball club. I’d love to see the Phils tangle with them again next year in the NLCS. That’s a distinct possibility considering the nucleus of young talent they have.

So now I get to look forward to the World Series for the next week. I’m hoping we get to play the Yankees.

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NLCS Game 4: A Sudden Turn of Events

On Monday I spent several hours weighing parts of dead firs in the lab. While I did this I listened to Philly sports radio (610 WIP) via the internet. The mood was joyful and optimistic (as long as the Eagles weren’t mentioned), and the consensus was that the NLCS was all but wrapped up.

I am prone to be cautious, so all this talk of the series being a walkover didn’t sit well with me. As the day progressed I began to develop a foreboding feeling. By the time I sat down in front of my television I was expecting Randy Wolf to pitch well and the Phillies to lose a close game (I’m not saying this is what I wanted; I’m saying this is what I thought was going to happen).

Here are a few thoughts on the game:

  • Ryan Howard knocked in a run in his eighth consecutive postseason game, tying the MLB record held by Lou Gehrig. When he hit the ball out in the first inning I began to feel my fears about Randy Wolf might have been ridiculous.
  • The strike zone Ted Barrett called bothered me all night. I am a strong proponent of a liberal strike zone. If a pitch so much as grazes an edge of the zone I want it to be a strike. Both teams suffered from the micro strike zone that existed. One example of this occurred in the 3rd inning, when Jimmy Rollins took three straight pitches that were called balls that should have been strikes. Three in a row!
The strike zone (yellow) that I like; the one that was called (red).

The strike zone (yellow) that I like; the one that was called (red).

  • Randy Wolf did pitch very well. After the Howard home run he  mowed through the Phillies’ line up for four innings. I was happy to see Torre pull him in the 6th.
  • Ron Darling, TBS color commentator, annoyed me again. In the bottom of the 5th Joe Blanton was up with two outs and Ruiz on first. It was a classic second-guess-the-manager moment. Should Blanton hit or not? Charlie left Blanton in. I feel this was the right move. In the top of the 6th Manny led off with a ground ball that should have been an out. Instead Pedro Feliz made an error. After two weakly hit singles the Dodgers had another run, which prompted Mr Darling to make this remark (paraphrased): Charlie Manuel decided not to hit for Blanton and it cost the Phillies a run. The Dodgers have made the better moves and they have the lead for it. What! Blanton pitched well in the inning. The run was unearned. How can you blame that run on Blanton? What if someone had come out of the bullpen and allowed three runs? Would Charlie have been criticized for pulling Blanton? Ron Darling and Buck Martinez have driven me to the point where I miss the commentary of Tim McCarver, how sad is that?
  • Going into the 9th I had hope that the Phils would win, but I felt the game was unfolding just like I feared. And then the rally happened.
  • I think Jonathan Broxton will always hate NLCS Game 4. Last year he surrendered a dramatic home run to Matt Stairs to blow the game; this year he gave up a game winning double to Jimmy Rollins to blow the game.
  • Carlos Ruiz continued to be Dodger kryptonite. This time he was hit by a pitch, then scored the winning run from firstbase on a double.
  • The Comcast SportsNet Philly Phillies Postgame Show is always very good. Michael Barkann is a wonderful anchor, and I really like hearing what Ricky Botallico has to say (as opposed to Ron Darling). I miss Mitch Williams (he’s on the MLB network now), though for the postseason Darren Daulton has been added. Dutch went through an extended period after he retired as a player when he was certifiably crazy (talking about aliens and all sorts of weird stuff). Now he seems stable. After this game he was so excited he almost dropped a few F-bombs while discussing the 9th inning highlights.

I’m thrilled the Phillies won the game, it will certainly go down as a memorable one. Right now it is 2:17am as I type this and there is no way I will be falling asleep anytime soon. I suspect I might have had nearly toxic levels of adrenalin in my system, and it is taking its time breaking down or dissipating (or doing whatever adrenalin does when the party is over).

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NLCS Game One Thoughts

The 2009 NLCS is a rematch of the 2008 NLCS, the Phillies and Dodgers meet again. It is a good match-up. Most oddsmakers had the Dodgers as a slight favorite going into the series.

As I watched Game One many things ran through my mind. Here are a few of them:

  • Cole Hamels did not regain my confidence. While he pitched well for a few innings, his control seemed to abandon him at times. I’ll be nervous when he makes his next start. I also feel Cole showed up Jimmy and Chase in the 5th with his reaction to the botched doubleplay. Sure it was disappointing, but it did not warrant that type of response.
  • Home plate umpire Randy Marsh called a very small strike zone. Clayton Kershaw struck out Ryan Howard twice in the same at bat, then ended up walking him. I miss Eric Gregg’s big strike zone.
  • Carlos Ruiz further solidified his reputation as a postseason hero and general Dodger menace by going 2 for 3 with a big three run homer.
National League Championship Series

Chooch arrives at the plate after hitting a three run home run.

  • I’ve never disliked Manny Ramirez, but his bat flip and response after he hit his homer in the 5th inning did not impress me. After seeing the highlight for the third time I referred to Manny as a punk.
  • J.A. Happ impressed me.  He only faced two hitters, but he looked sharp and poised. I expect good things from him in this series.
  • Chan Ho Park pitched a solid inning.
  • Russell Martin made one of the best plays on a foul ball by a catcher I’ve ever seen in the 1st inning. That was a sweet catch.
  • Brad Lidge has looked like a new pitcher in the postseason. In the 2009 postseason Joe Nathan, Jonathan Papelbon, Huston Street, and Ryan Franklin suffered painful blown saves. Lidge has been perfect. Tonight when Lidge came into the game I actually felt quite confident he was going to get the job done. That’s a good feeling.
Brad Lidge of the Philadelphia Phillies

Back to Lights Out? Good timing.

The Glass is Half Empty:

  • It took 7 pitchers to get through the game.
  • We gave up 6 runs.
  • Ryan Madson had a rough outing.
  • Broxton looks scary good.

The Glass is Half Full:

  • Winning Game One is huge.
  • We’ve got Pedro and Clifton.
  • Chooch is a monster.
  • The Big Piece is clutch.
  • Lidge found the reset button.

Red October continues.

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