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