Tuesday, August 19, 2008: Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles CA
Los Angeles Dodgers versus Colorado Rockies
Ebbets Field: Paradise Lost.
Mimi has old wounds dating back to when the Giants’ Juan Marichal cracked the Dodgers’ Johnny Roseboro on the head in the heat of an argument in 1965.
Roseboro needed fourteen stitches. You can still make Mimi livid just by mentioning Marichal’s name. [Ed. note: I remember that game. Koufax pitched for the Dodgers.]
Actor Chazz Palmenteri tossed out the first pitch. He was looking elegant and gaunt and Count Dracula-like, attired in black, with his black hair combed back, his cheekbones as dramatic and prominent as Bela Lugosi’s.
Dodger uniforms are way cuter than the Colorado Rockies' uniforms. The Rockies' uniforms look Star Trekky. The Dodgers' simple white and blue uniforms are elegant, dignified, classic, and show dirt right away from honest on-field activity like sliding into bases……while the Rockies’ strangely shaped black shirts and laundry-water gray striped pants look mismatched, like badly designed children’s pajamas.
Happily, rumors that recently acquired Dodgers slugger Manny Ramirez had cut off or substantially trimmed his trademark flowing rasta braids are untrue. Were Manny to cut his locks, it would be a hair crime on the scale of Samson’s unfortunate barbering in the Old Testament. Fans were sighted at Dodger Stadium sporting at least three different styles of Manny hats. One: batting helmets with fake Manny braids attached. Two: regular baseball caps with fake Manny braids attached. Three: Manny style blue babushka kerchiefs/doo rags (he wears one under his baseball hat) with the aforementioned ropy faux dreads dangling down. Take your pick. All look great.
Mimi consumed a super Dodger dog with relish, mustard, catsup, and a triple helping of minced onions -- the full compliment of condiments available for dog eaters at Dodger stadium. She enjoyed the dog so much she kept closing her eyes while she ate as though she were listening to Mozart. Upon finishing the dog she requested a fork so she could eat the leftover onion bits out of its paper wrapper. She also shared a bag of famously salty Dodger peanuts (salted in shell! how do they accomplish this? are they soaked in brine before roasting?) and a diet Coke.
The garlic fries at Dodger stadium are top notch: prodigiously greasy yet marvelous visibly garlicky, flecked with parsley, creating a personal garlic cloud for eater and seatmates. One of the best Dodger Stadium foodstuffs. Eat them and you won’t get a cold for weeks.
Beer glasses with a little ring of flashing strobe lights around the base of the glass (like a sunken UFO at the bottom of your beer) are now sold at Dodger stadium and were a popular, if slightly distracting item.
Snacks from home: We brought carrot slices and hummus, tortilla chips and red seedless grapes. One twenty-four ounce beer, $12.
“DodgerVision” is an enormous video screen on field. It’s the largest Standard Definition video screen in Major League Baseball (tied for that distinction with the Cincinnati Reds).
When players come up to bat, their huge, usually nervously grinning or grimacing image appears on screen along with some of their recent stats and allegedly amusing text about them. Two substandard Dodgervision puns from said texts may benefit from editing:
For Nomar Garciaparra: “NO MAR MESSING AROUND!”
For Manny Ramirez: ‘SHOW ME THE MANNY.”
Actual game-related remarks
The Dodgers had just acquired forty-two-year old legend Greg Maddux from the Padres that afternoon, and although he did not pitch, there he was suited up in his new blue and white uniform that evening. The following conversation ensued:
B: having Maddux on our team is like having Confucius in the dugout. He has wowed teammates and coaches by accurately predicting where every hitter in the lineup will hit the ball.
A: Uh oh, our pitching coach is walking to the mound.
B: I always thought Honeycutt was an odd choice for pitching coach as during his days on the mound he was once thrown out of a game for having an emery board hidden in his glove.
A: So he could do his nails during the game?
B: No, so he could scuff the ball for enhanced gripping, which affects the movement of the pitched ball and makes it do freaky, subtle things.
Postscript: The Dodgers have long held the terrible ability of acquiring superstars after their prime. Pittsburgh Pirate batting god Bill Madlock wa a Dodger before retiring. The list of almost pensioners they’ve acquired in the eleventh hour is endless, embarrassing.
The Rockies scored two runs on three hits in the first inning. When you play the Rockies. you have to survive the dangerous Holliday/Hawpe duo and we did not. Holliday lined a comebacker off Kuroda’s left foot and one pitch later Hawpe homered. Kuroda said about the homerun pitch, “I wasn’t able to transfer my will to the ball.” Then we had a string of sketchy middle relievers -- Jason Johnson, Hong-Chih Kuo, Tanyon Sturtze and Ramon Troncoso -- who gave up several more runs. The bullpen has been a Dodger strong suit, but not if the starting pitchers falter every game, with minimal run production adding to the pain
Manny being Manny
Manny can’t do everything, as the L.A. sports page announces three times a week, but he has been able to boost Jeff Kent’s batting average by twenty points by simply being there; Kent is getting tasty strikes to hit, because Manny's on deck. Mr. Kent had two hits in the game, briefly raising his batting average to 280 from the 250 zone it has been in for half a decade. Mr. Kent, National League MVP in 2000, was once the possessor of outrageous numbers: 33 HR, 125 RBI, and 334 BA. (His lifetime BA is a more modest but still impressive.289.) He is one of the slowest second baseman in the history of baseball, and when he dives for a grounder, take note of the vain effort, which resembles a lethargic dinner guest volunteering to do the dishes after three quarters are already drying on the rack. He, Kent, was at his best when he played for the San Francisco Giants, frequently giving teammate Barry Bonds a piece of his mind.
Manny is beautiful, like a bouncy lumbering bear. He plays loose and free, and most of his new teammates appear to love him. He’s kid-like. And never hits a ball gently. His pop ups scrape the sky; his foul balls are lethal weapons. One foul curved in our direction (field box, first base side), whipped away at the last minute like a muscular dragon’s tail, and bruised a sequence of human palms before slamming into an abandoned seat.
The other Dodger delights include Matt Kemp, who combines power and speed, and has become a more disciplined hitter; James Loney, an elegant, reliable first baseman with a Ted Williams swing; and Russell Martin, the Canadian, who, earlier in the season, had “Play that Funky Music White Boy” played before his at-bats. (Dodgers get a snatch of their “favorite song” played when they’re batting at a home game.) Most joyous: brooding Nomar Garciaparra wisely selected “Low Rider” by War as the song to play before his at-bats. Nothing could be more nearly perfect for Dodger fans.
-- Benjamin Weissman and Amy Gerstler