June 2010

What a weekend

For three days, the eyes of the baseball world were focused on Chavez Ravine. (I’d say the entire sports world but a little footy contest in South Africa may have drawn some attention as well).

Sure there was Halladay vs. the Jays. Santana vs. the Twins. The North Side vs. the South Side. The battle of the Lone Star State. Even the Red Sox vs. the Giants. But one series stood above the rest this weekend as the World of Dodgertown took on Yankees Universe in a marquee matchup that felt like Opening Day…in October…for three games in a row!

First things first, we lost the series. There’s nothing to say that will change that and nothing can erase the pain of Sunday’s defeat. Our fellow blogger, Alyssa Milano, said it best as she tweeted, “#Yankees, breaking hearts since the early 1900′s.”

The good news? This was not October. In fact, these games meant less in the standings than the three to come in San Francisco. So if I may, I’d like to take a quick step back to remember the last 72 hours before the next series is upon us. They were pretty special.

From the moment the teams began BP on Friday afternoon, it was easy to see that there was something different about the weekend ahead. It was made easy by the traveling band of media that accompany the Yankees from town to town. It was wall-to-wall press on the field as Joe Torre, in his first appearance AGAINST the Yankees since he departed the Bronx, greeted his former players. From Derek Jeter to current Yankees Manager, Joe Girardi, every hand-shake and hug was documented.

In case you missed the ads – we’ve been running them since February – there was also a Rivalry being Renewed at Dodger Stadium and a few men who help define the term were also on hand including Tommy, Garvey, Cey, Russell & pinstriper named Reggie. They all exchanged pleasantries as well, including a feisty ‘discussion’ between Lasorda and Jackson on the air during Saturday’s telecast (all done in jest). One thing was certain, Tommy bleeds Dodger blue.

Opening Night (as it could easily have been dubbed) was kick-started by a rocking National Anthem performance by members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, which was immediately followed by a standing-ovation-inducing first pitch by Lakers Center, and World Champion, Pau Gasol. If that wasn’t enough to get the engines started, the Dodgers went up 1-0 in the first inning…of course they would fail to score again. However, despite falling 2-1 in the opener, Vicente Padilla gave the fans plenty of moments to cheer.The tight score gave game one the drama the series deserved and the renewal was underway.

Game two of the series was the first of two to be broadcast across the country and included its own pre-game, made for TV – rather HBO – moments as E, Turtle, Johnny Drama and Vinny Chase threw out the first pitch. The Entourage boys got their fair share of applause, but the ovations would come even more often during the game with the Dodgers loading the bases three times, knocking AJ Burnett out of the game early, and earning a much needed victory despite falling behind 3-0 before an out was recorded.

The series finale had it all. First of all, it was on ESPN with Joe Morgan, Jon Miller and a familiar face, Orel Hershiser, calling the game. Second, the stars of Hollywood came out in droves to experience the rubber match of the rivalry for themselves. There was Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore. Tom Hanks and Tom Cruise. Alyssa Milano and Jack. Jake T. Austin and Zac Efron. And those were just the famous faces found by DodgerVision! The celebrities added an air of importance to the game and the Dodgers youngest star took his cue as Clayton Kershaw masterfully shut down the Yankees without allowing a walk for the first time in his career. Of course the drama continued late into the night in a heart-breaking sequence of Broxton, Cano, Mariano, and scene.

As we look ahead to the Giants and D-Backs, followed by the final homestand of the first half, this series will eventually fade in our memories – especially since we ended up on the losing end. However, from the rally towels to the Yankees rally, Dodger fans were treated to a 3-part drama that is typically reserved for the fall. The title, “Christmas in July” is a phrase often used to describe an event that brings about unexpected excitement. I think if we take a step back, we’ll realize that we all just experienced “The World Series in June”. At least in my own estimation. I hope to see you all at the sequel this October.

- Josh Lukin

 

Yankee finale…

What an awesome series this has been so far! Fifty-six thousand fans, waving towels and getting into the game the last 48 hours. While some say that it feels like postseason baseball in the stadium, I’m not sure it’s quite reached that level. I’d say it’s more like late September pennant-race baseball. But it’s been a heck of an atmosphere in stadium and the finale is just a few hours away.

We’ve been so busy with the extra media and all that’s going on, somehow we didn’t post anything Friday or Saturday, but you guys have kept the conversation going on Inside the Dodgers. We’ll figure out a tour soon…and it’ll obviously be open to any and all who read these messages.

Should be cool to hear Orel Hershiser break down Clayton Kershaw on tonight’s national telecast. A series win could do a lot to boost the confidence of the team after a tough couple weeks. And with a six-game road trip looming back against the NL West teams the Dodgers seem to play well against (with Billingsley coming off the DL), a win today would be huge.

And by the way, if you come out early today, be sure to stop by Viva Los Dodgers and get an autograph from Steve Yeager, who will be signing out there.

Turning point?

We’re hearing a lot of fans who think that last night could have been a turning point in the season. Let’s hope it was a lesson learned (the hard way) and that it jolts the team back into some positive results prior to tonight’s game and the big weekend with the Yankees.

As a reminder for all coming out this weekend, gates open half an hour early (4:40 tomorrow), so please try to carpool and come early so that you don’t have to deal with traffic headaches. You can meet Bill Russell at autograph alley and there will be a buzz in the stadium, I presume, like we haven’t had in a while. It’s rare to get the longtime rivals here, let alone a few months removed from their latest World Series title.

But first, the team needs to go out and play well tonight. There’s no looking past a big game against the Angels so let’s hope last night’s game was the lowest point of the season and that it’s all good stuff from here on out.

And thanks to those who provided feedback on an Inside the Dodgers Tour. We’ll figure out something…

Come Together for a Cure!

On the Sunday before the All-Star Game, there will be a 5K run/walk benefiting cancer charities down in Anaheim and you can still sign up to be a part of it at www.allstargame.com and all the information can also be found here:
5K.pdf
.

Jillian Michaels, host of The Biggest Loser will be out there and it’s all for a good cause, so check it out!

Meanwhile, thanks for the reminder on the Inside the Dodgers Tour…just curious – how many of you would actually do this again? I’m just not sure how much more I could add this year that we didn’t do last year? There aren’t really “new” places to take you guys, so I’d hate to have you all come back to hear me give the same schpiel.

And cpompe1: Yes, that was me at dinner with Tommy Lasorda on Saturday night in Boston. He invited a couple of us out to a favorite Italian joint of his and you can’t really say no to that offer, can you?

Need to get back on track tonight in Anaheim. For whatever reason, we’ve never been a great Interleague team but that’s no excuse. We have to win some of these games against the Angels and Yankees…if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best, right?

 

Sunday Night Baseball

James Loney just drew a walk to load the bases in the first inning…

It was hard to believe, but researching the notes for today, it dawned on me that James has basically carried the offense for the past six weeks. The Dodgers were six games under .500 on April 29 and have gone 30-16 since then, for a .652 winning percentage.

During that time, Loney leads the team in slugging percentage, on-base percentage, batting average, doubles, homers and RBI…and his 38 RBI are twice as many as the next-highest total (DeWitt’s 19). That’s crazy. Meanwhile, during that same period, Broxton, Kuo and Weaver are a combined 7-0 with a 1.44 ERA. Pretty impressive.

Anyway, here’s hoping we can get out of town with a victory tonight. For those who follow the team on Twitter @dodgertownusa, we posted some random photos from around town today, as I wandered along the Freedom Trail in Boston, a very nice stroll throughout town. Dodger fans, as expected, were everywhere.

Picture perfect day…

The weather is awesome out here and I’m particularly impressed with the swath of blue-clad fans down the right field line, several of which I believe are readers of Inside the Dodgers. The town has been invaded by Dodger fans, which is very cool. You honestly can’t go a block or two in the city without seeing someone in Dodger attire.

Once we got to the park, I took a stroll around Yawkey Way and it’s a pretty impressive hangout spot for baseball fans. It’s that sort of set up that we’re hoping the Next 50 project will become, where fans can come early and hit up the restaurants, bars, shops and just relax.

Also took the time to go to the top of the Green Monster during BP and then inside of it, which was pretty unique. Lots of players have signed their names on the wall in there over the years, as well as lots of celebrities and lots of lucky fans. I took photos of all this, but can’t seem to get email working here in the stadium…must be too many people on the network.

Meanwhile, it’s a 3-1 game so we need the bats to get going…

Fenway musings

Manny just got a half standing ‘O’ and half standing boo in his first at-bat before flying out to center field on the first pitch. But one thing is hard to debate…this place is a pretty unique and as a fan of the history of the game, you can’t help but be impressed.

The Green Monster is massive and certainly looks like you could hit one over it yourself, though obviously it’s not that easy. Definitely have to take a trip inside it tomorrow.

The bomb that David Ortiz hit past the 420 sign gives you a pretty good idea of just how far you have to hit it to go out to right-center.

There’s a lot of media here for Manny…everyone was curious whether or not he would speak to the media, but I’m more curious to see what he does in the batter’s box this weekend.

A good amount of Celtic green in the crowd and while I feel bad for them, well…no I don’t. Go Lakers.

More importantly, there’s a lot of Dodger blue in the crowd, so thanks for showing up here to support your team.

 

Day baseball

In case you forgot, today is a day game in Cincinnati so tune in now to PRIME Ticket or KABC while you’re in the office or hanging out on a summer morning.

After the game, the team flies to Boston, of all places, where everyone will surely have their eyes on Game 7 of the NBA Finals. We all wish the Lakers luck tonight in the finale and hopefully Los Angeles will have another championship by night’s end. If not, we’ll be stuck watching the parade on Saturday in Beantown.

Out in Cincy…

Joe Torre just passed along the word that Chad Billingsley will go on the DL (though not officially until tomorrow, I think). Vicente Padilla will be back in the rotation this weekend at Fenway Park and as a lifelong baseball fan, I have to say I’m pretty excited to see Fenway Park for the first time.

It’s hard to believe that the only parks older than Dodger Stadium are Fenway and Wrigley. Yet our home feels like a baby compared to those.

That’s about all for now…need to start a little streak here as we hit the road.

 

Tough weekend…

Getting swept is never fun, so there’s not much that can be said after a weekend like that. Let’s just hope the team got it out this weekend and will turn it back on this week against the Reds and Red Sox…

On a more gracious note, thanks to everyone who contributed to ThinkCure Weekend…more than $300,000 was raised for cancer research and the online auction is still going through tomorrow.

Among the things that tend to happen on a daily basis if you purchase the Insider Clubhouse Tour are interactions with numerous current and/or future Hall of Famers, access in areas of the stadium where even the most fortunate fans never get to go and a chance to watch the game from the press box.

I believe last year, the person who purchased this item wound up meeting Vin Scully, Jaime Jarrin, Tommy Lasorda, Joe Torre, Ned Colletti, Fernando Valenzuela, Charley Steiner, Rick Monday and several players, among others. Trust me…we make it worth your while because it’s such a great cause so bid now before someone else gets this lifelong memory (have I talked it up enough).

Tomorrow’s an off day and likely no post, but we’ll be back to posting almost daily starting on Tuesday. Hang in there, Dodger fans. It’s been a tough weekend, but the Dodgers still have the third-best record in the NL and there are still several guys waiting to hit their strides. 

 

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