by West Coast Craig
Vin Scully Press Box — First off, as anyone who was at that â€œinstant classicâ€ the other night at Yankee Stadium in the freezing rain until one in the morning might agree, sunny day games are better. Sunny day playoff games, an event probably as rare as a fish taco at Citizenâ€™s Bank Ballpark (while there is actually a Philly Cheesesteak stand at Dodger Stadium, though Philly natives probably wouldnâ€™t be lining up at it), are the best. Now when Horace Greely said â€œGo west, young manâ€¦â€ the lesser known second part of the quote is â€œâ€¦because the weather is a lot nicer there, and the ladies, hoo boy!â€
Alright, now last night Hiroki Kuroda looked woozier than he did when he took a line drive off the head back in August, and heading into tonight thereâ€™s going to be a lot of talk about thin skinned California ballplayers unable to hack it in the cold. Speaking for myself, a guy who used to go skiing in shorts, nearly twenty years out here has thinned my own blood to the point where I get the chills if it drops into the low sixties, so I might go along with that logic. All I know is that Friday, when it was raining ice pellets the size of deer turds back east, it was 105 degrees at Dodger Stadiumâ€¦and offered a ticket to sit out with the old gang, the Pav-Left Dogs (of the Left Field Pavilion), yours truly did the natural thing and played hooky. Hey, in Argentina nobody works when Boca Juniors plays River Platte, this was the least I could doâ€¦and frankly, what other choice did I have, as your humble west coast correspondent, I feel itâ€™s my duty to report on playoff action whenever Iâ€™m fortunate enough to see it.
Gameâ€™s at one, so at noon I drive the opposite way on Sunset and pick up chicken shawerma sandwiches from Zankou (the original Hollywood one), I turned around and took Sunset back to Elysian Park amid traffic and the smell of burning clutch heading up the hill to Dodger Stadium. Parking, by the way, the same $15 as during the season. Still made it to my seats in time, and did I mention it was 105 degrees? Iâ€™ve been out there on some hot days, but this was sweltering and itâ€™s the sunâ€™s anvil out there in the pavilion. Thank god for those rally towels they hand out as youâ€™re going inâ€¦they served as a great sweat mop.
I donâ€™t need to go into the details of the game, itâ€™s ancient history by now. Pedro Martinez looked awesome, and Charlie Manuel went to the hook too early on him (the Mets must be the only team he lets throw 120 pitches against), while Vicente Assassin looked nearly as goodâ€¦I know, I still canâ€™t believe it either. Ryan Howard was goodâ€¦almost Carlos Ruiz good (talk about a Dodger killer, Ruiz must be using chips of Ted Williamsâ€™s frozen head in his iced tea whenever he comes to town), but Chase Utley became haunted by the ghost of Steve Sax, and Charlie Manuel made more walks to the mound in the eighth inning than I think the Dodgers had base runners against Cliff Lee last night. A very important, and indeed lucky win for Los Doyers that day, especially in light of last nightâ€™s destruction.
Perhaps the sun took some of the starch out of the fansâ€¦sure, those towels were waving and there were lusty chants of â€œPhillies suck!â€ and the brave fans who wore red this day took a lot of abuse, but there were no fights, at least where I was sitting (and the Pav Left Dogs all have a pretty good fight-radar, seeing these things develop three full sections away before the rest of the crowd stands and rubbernecks). One Phillie fan came by our section in the nice cheesesteak hat. If only he met the guy in the Dodger dog hat and the two could duke it out. Iâ€™d take cheese steak, unless of course the Dodger dog was wrapped in bacon.
The Pav Left Dogs will wager on many things during the gameâ€¦the attendance, who can spot the fattest patron in the crowd, how many times the camera will show organist Nancy Bea Heafley blinking (I won this day with a guess of eleven…I figured the heat and the bright sun would wreak havoc on her. A lucky guess, but as Branch Rickey said, “Luck is the residue of hard work”).
Did I mention it was hot out there? For a game where both pitchers were lights out, the only scoring for the first eight innings was a home run, and maybe a combined five hits between the two teams, you would normally at least be thankful for a quick pace and maybe that rare under-three-hour game. But then, sitting in a pool of your own sweat, you see them finish their warm-up tosses between innings, get into positionâ€¦and then inexplicably wait. And waitâ€¦and then you see the umpire standing out behind the mound, waiting, waiting for the signal, and then signaling himself to play ball. Damn TV time-outsâ€¦what is this, football? Also, what happens when the ball hits one of those cameras they string up on zip lines between the dugouts? And there are few positions in the glamorous world of sports broadcasting, Iâ€™ve decided, that are more foolish looking that that poor dude who has to carry that camera down around his knees and crab-walk scurry back and forth between the well and home plate to get that looking-up shot of the players returning to the bench.
Then thereâ€™s this guy:
Heâ€™s become a fixture this year in the eighth inningâ€¦the Jack Black-lite Journey guy. Heâ€™s fairly entertainingâ€¦but I wonder if San Fran born Giant fan Steve Perry is as amused. (by the way, I never really focused on the words to that song before. Who are these â€œstreetlight peopleâ€ anyway?) Damnâ€¦Iâ€™m watching the Vikes-Ravens game today, and theyâ€™re playing Donâ€™t Stop Believinâ€™ in the Harumphreydome. Whoâ€™s the Journey-guy there?
After the Dodgers won, and the ubiquitous I Love L.A. blasted from the loudspeakers, the abuse was revved up against the Phillie faithful on their long walks back to their cars. â€œPhillies suck! Phillies suck! Feel my nuts! Phillies suck but your girlfriend is hot!â€ My favorite response was when one idiot guy, acting like the Dodgers had actually won the game instead of having it handed to them, was screaming at a guy in a Victorino shirt: â€œGet out of here, yeahhh! This is our house!â€ They guy just looked at him and said â€œThen you should treat your guests better.â€ A reasonable pointâ€¦and Iâ€™m sure the Phillie Faithful acted accordingly to any fans in blue after the game last night.
Iâ€™ve rambled on long enough here. Should the Dodgers win one of these games in Philadelphia, I might be back next Friday as wellâ€¦a night game, so it wonâ€™t be so hot, and maybe Iâ€™d even get home before 2 am.
Now, if I can just get the MtM accounting department to okay tickets to Angel Stadium this week. I’m hoping to see lots of scenes like this (Dude, this is for you):