Friday, October 9, 2009

Not quite a Holiday

So I won a work raffle for tix to yesterday afternoon's NLDS Game 2 Dodgers-Cards game. The $250 per seat tickets included access to the club restaurant which is essentially a mini buffet, as well as all you can eat dodger dogs, which aren't that good. Fortunately, we sat next to a couple Cards fans in our box so at least we didn't have to endure the endless Dodger chatter all night.

The Dodger's slogan this year is "This is my town", which is an interesting strategy since LA (and perhaps NY) has the most transplants from other cities. I guess they're trying to capitalize on the natives' sense of ownership in their team. George Lopez threw out the first pitch and surprisingly threw it pretty hard - low and outside. It reminded me of how Obama, who throws like a girl, lofted a weak looper that Pujols had to dig out of the dirt in this year's allstar game. Slash did the honors and lamely plunked through the national anthem. Does any other country allow their national anthem to be butchered by random artists in whatever fashion they please? I still despise Roseanne for what she did to the national anthem. If it were me, I'd fly in Josh Groban for every important national anthem in sports. Just sing it. Don't get creative. But whatever, this is America. So the real question is: is baseball still America's past time?

The baseball regular season really is hard to watch. I realize that I'm not a fan of the game as much as I am a fan of my team. While I can practically watch any 2 NFL teams play any given Sunday, I can pretty much only watch the Giants, the Red Sox and maybe the Yankees during the regular season. Maybe Pujols and Josh Hamilton. And really only a few innings at a time. But the postseason is more compelling. Perhaps its the fact that only 4 teams in each league get in, which is stupid in itself. But the other ridiculous thing about MLB playoffs is that the first series is only 5 games. So let me get this straight. Teams battle through 162 tedious games to get into the playoffs but 5 games is all you need to determine the best team in the first playoff series? haha. I think a 11 game playoff series makes so much more sense. Its baseball, just play everyday and twice on Saturdays. At least there's a greater chance the best team will emerge. Anyway, I went to Game 1 of the 2002 World Series when Barry Bond's HR helped to beat the Angels. Phenomenal experience. So was the Dodger's elimination game vs the Phillies last year.

Usually Manny Ramirez hits a HR whenever I go see him. He hit one both times I saw him with Boston at Angel Stadium a few years ago, he hit one at Fenway last year in that brawl game vs Tampa Bay, and he hit one in the NLCS game last year. So naturally, I expected him to crank one last night too. It looks like he's not the same player now that he's off the juice. And his timing looks off. (His 9th inning shot only sailed to the warning track.) Going into the game, I hoped to see both a Manny HR and a Pujols HR, the latter preferably being the game winning shot.

In person, Pujols is a mountain of a man. He's barrel-chested and his thighs look as thick as my torso. But the other Cards player that stuck out to my friend, who's an A's fan, is Matt Holiday. He is almost just as thick as Pujols though he doesn't appear that way on TV. My A's fan friend dejectedly pointed out how he was on fire after the A's traded him this year.

So Holiday homered to left early on but the Dodger's answered with a HR of their own to tie the game a few inning later. While the Dodger's only managed 2 hits before the 9th inning, they were able to keep the Cards from scoring more than 2 runs. Wainwright pitched an absolutely fabulous 2 hitter game through 8 innings and was replaced by their closer. Up comes the bottom of the 9th.

2 outs. A sailing shot out to LF. Holiday runs up toward it with his glove extended upward. Then at the last second, he turned the glove downward but couldn't handle ball, which bounced off his lower abdomen to the grass and kept the Dodger's evening alive. You could feel the fans coming alive too. Then the improbable happened: a well earned walk, then the game tying base hit. Delirium. Then a passed ball and another walk to load the bases. Mark Loretta, who was something like 0-16 lifetime vs Franklin, then hits a game winning line drive up the middle. Bedlam. Absolute bedlam. It was one of those hug-a-stranger moments in sports - I can't tell you how many dodger fans I had to fend off. I wouldn't have felt right even weakly raising a hand to be high-fived by the enemy. But I couldn't help but turn and face the fans to see the mass of pure euphoria.

In retrospect, I have 2 thoughts. The bottom of the 9th made the game an unforgettable moment. Otherwise it would have been just another boring game. I was glad my friend and I saw a great baseball moment. (I had to laugh when I heard Colin Cowherd say this morning that he wished he could have been there for that game. That bandwagoner would say that).

But secondly, I can't believe LA fans always get to win everything. First the Lakers, now the Dodgers, and the trojans are perennially good. Makes me want to throw up in my mouth. Or maybe that's the all you can eat dodger dogs...

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