Dispatches From my First Dodgers Game of the Year

It took me long enough, but I finally made it out to Blue Heaven on Earth, and caught a ball game. It’s been a couple of hand-wringing weeks – or a few early season games with nothing to worry about – depending on how you see a record of 3-6 ball.  Which Dodgers team would show up this night?

The Dodgers were playing the Oakland A’s, who I heard were fresh off manhandling the Angels, but the Dodgers had just split a series with the Hated Ones, and held on for a tough win in the final game, so  it looked to be a good match up. In addition, the Dodgers were handing out trading cards to fans. Plenty of good reason to get out to Chavez Ravine.

We rode the Metro into Union Station and hopped aboard the Dodger Stadium Express for the ride up…

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Here’s the view looking back at the city from the stadium entrance. It was a beautiful day…

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Corey Seager was awarded his (second) Silver Slugger Award before the game.

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It was clear I brought some heavy mojo with me because Hyun-Jin Ryu and the Dodgers were on fire right out of the gate. Ryu surrendered a walk early, but he was a blue buzzsaw otherwise, pitching a no-hitter through five, and a one-hitter through six.

Although our seats were Top Deck – high up and considered cheap seats – the view was magnificent. The game action was all before us, and from our vantage point, you could see the pitches cross the plate.  Note Ryu’s pitched ball just about to hum in for a strike on the corner.

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I hadn’t sat in this section for years, at least ten, probably more. As I said, the view was great, but I’ve got one grumble: the food selections up here are slim, slim, slim. You have the basic hot dogs and a couple of dog variations, nachos, garlic fries, ice cream and snacks – and that’s about it.

Sure, a dog and a drink should be enough for a trip to the ballpark, but for a guy who’s been spoiled by choices of pizza, sandwiches, food riffing off the visiting team’s cuisine, and so on, the food experience in the Top Deck is an absolute disappointment.

Speaking of disappointments, I got to see Joc Pederson struggling through at bats last night, and it’s even worse in the flesh. Someone please tell me that Andrew Toles will be here to relieve us all soon. Pederson’s late-inning at bat seemed to go on forever, only to end in a strike out took the air out of the stadium. We were all tired by the end of it.

Then there was Ross Stripling. He pitched the eighth, but allowed a couple of base runners, and suddenly a 4-0 coast to victory felt like Mr. Mahem had just walked into the building. Stripling got out of it, and manager Dave Roberts gave him another chance in the ninth. Could Chicken Strip maintain control and save Kenley for another night?

He got the first out and then gave up back to back singles. The game was in jeopardy again. Strip out, Kenley in.

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It was a pleasure to see the gates open and feel the thrill of Jansen jogging in to the opening notes of “California Love”.  the sparse remaining crowd sounded like it was 5 times larger. Kenley quickly shut down the A’s, and Randy Newman filled our ears with “I Love LA”. It felt good to be back in the swing of things.

Oscar Martinez

Oscar Martinez

I was born in the shadow of Dodger Stadium and immediately drenched in Dodger Blue. Chavez Ravine is my baseball cathedral, Vin Scully was the golden voice of summer all my life, and Tommy Lasorda remains the greatest Dodgers manager ever. My favorite things are coffee, beer, and the Dodgers beating the Giants. I also blog about my baseball card hobby at All Trade Bait, All the Time.

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5 thoughts on “Dispatches From my First Dodgers Game of the Year

  1. Kemp is the best thing that has happened to the Dodgers since Bellinger. What is all the fuss about? This team has some real flaws but Kemp is not one of them.

    While the A’s are reaming out the Dodgers, we are witnessing a total collapse of the bullpen. First our starter Wood looses his command and gives up 7 runs. With the Dodger batting problems, it’s all but impossible for them to save this game. Then the bullpen serves up 9 more runs. Oakland is having a field day hitting these chumps. Font gives up 6 runs, 2 HR’s. What is this guy doing on our team? He should never have made the roster. Who’s getting paid off to keep Joc, Font, and Baez? This has got to be Faz ego here.

    I am officially adding Puig to my doghouse. After yesterday’s baserunning blunder, he hasn’t learned anything about timing on the bases. Plus, after last year’s turnaround with the bat, still not that great and mostly due to his coach’s personal attention, he has reverted this year to his old self, the one that can’t seem to find the baseball with his bat. I no longer support him, not that this means anything to the Dodger FO, but it will mean a lot to the Dodger bottom line of wins this year if he doesn’t turn it around fast. This team needs help. I don’t really understand the psychology going on here when it comes to playing time and earning it. I’m very frustrated by the team’s effort.

    1. I hate to disagree with you Jeff, but in Puig’s case I will. First off that was not a boneheaded play when he tried to stretch that hit to a double, it was a hustle play. It had zero effect on the outcome of the game. He has been hitting the ball hard, but has had a lot of at em balls. Tonight he was robbed on a great catch by Thompson. Also, he has not let the slow start at the plate affect him in the field. His defense once again has been stellar. He is not the reason that the Dodgers are playing the way they are. Myself, I would not have him in the 3 slot, he is better either 2nd or 6th, at least that is what his stats say, and my friend, they are 10 games into the season. Far too early to judge how anyone’s season is going to play out. If anyone should be shipped out it is Kike and Joc. Neither has done squat. Hernandez did hit a homer tonight that was totally wasted….he ought to do that when it means something. I would like to see Puig going the opposite way more. He had success at that last year.

      1. Please don’t misunderstand my post about Puig as a complete dismissal. He is an excellent fielder and has a great arm. This seems to be where his value lies. Overall, he is a mediocre hitter, not a high level batter, who mystified all with his brilliant start to his career. He is not that player anymore. Why? I have no clue. And, he should be moved to a lower spot in the batting order, but this is not his call, but the manager’s, who seems to be asleep at the wheel.

        As far as a baserunner, he has gaffed more times than any other Dodger I can remember. The other night which I mentioned, the moment he took off for 2nd base, I said to myself, this is a mistake, a poor judgement call. Even I could see that the ball did not really get away from the defender sufficiently for him to try to get that extra base. I say it is poor judgement on his part. I never said he was the reason the Dodgers are playing poorly, but he does contribute through his inconsistency at the plate.

        Of course, I agree that Joc and Kike are far less valuable than Puig, but Puig has never been thought of as a middling player, which he kind of is. We all expect so much more out of him because of his explosion into the league. Those days seem to be far gone. He has never approached that level since.

        I’m aware that 10 games into the season is not sufficient to judge the team or individuals. I am waiting for 16 games which is 10% of the season. lol. We are fast approaching this number and it is not looking any better for our boys.

        BTW, Thompson is the same player he was when we had him. No consistency at the plate. At least he is getting PT. How long will Joc and Kike be allowed a seat on the bench with the kind of puny production that both bring?

        1. Puig is not the only 5 tool player who has not lived up to the hype. Since I have watched every game I can tell you that he has been hitting the ball very hard. It has just been right at some one. Over the course of a season that should even out. As far as trying to stretch that hit, He might have misjudged the distance the ball went, easy to do when you are running. What he did see was that no one was covering the base and that’s why he tried. He has showed a lot more patience at the plate and is not chasing those sliders low and away like he used to. You also need to remember that this is a contract year for Yasiel, so it behooves him to do well. I usually wait until a player reaches 100 at bats to get a feel for how the year might turn out. Will he ever be a great hitter? Who knows. Baseball wise, he is still a kid. Some players do not figure it out until later in their careers. If he is still hitting below .250 by May, then I would worry. Roberts batting orders defy description. He is a master at putting players in slots they have no business hitting in. Puig is better in the 6 hole than he is anywhere else and hit stats bear that out. Kemp is very good in the 3 or 4 slot. That is where he has hit most of his career. Having Kike hit 4th is stupid. He is no 4 hitter. Usually your best hitter is batting 3rd. With Justin out, they are up against a wall. Did you realize that Turner is only a couple of months younger than Kemp? Thompson showed promise until he got injured. He has not been the same player since then. But once in a while he shows the skills he does have like that catch to rob Puig last night. A couple of Dodgers who never matched the hype…….Billy Ashley, Greg Brock, Tom Paciorek, Bobby Valentine, and there are many others. A hall of famer who took almost 7 seasons to figure out how to hit…….Ozzie Smith. Could not hit worth a damn until his second year with the Cardinals. Only thing keeping him in the majors up to that point was his glove. As for Joc and Kike, and throw Forshyte in there, at least until the end of May. Reason for Joc is they will wait until Toles has some AB’s under his belt and if Joc is below the Mendoza line, no matter how good his approach has been, they should make a move…..Kike’s versatility is the ONLY reason he is on the roster….his hitting is worse so far than last year.

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