Giants 0, Dodgers 2
Finally, I got to see a Dodger victory! And what a victory it was. Chad Billingsley was unstoppable. He held the Giants to five hits and two walks in his complete game shutout. Don Mattingly, managing the Dodgers because of Joe Torre’s suspension, seemed to have found the solution to the team’s bullpen woes — Don’t let the bullpen pitch! Mattingly shuffled the position players in the eighth to improve the Dodgers’ defensive chances, moving makeshift outfielder Jamey Carroll from left field to his native second base, and replacing him there with up-and-comer Xavier Paul.
Defense was the name of the game for the Dodgers, who are consistently handicapped by a boom-bust offense. Anemic some days, explosive the others. Billingsley’s star turn was backed up by a few extraordinary plays by Matt Kemp, who ran down two very challenging flies in the eighth, effectively robbing the Giants of consecutive hits. It’s a good thing, too, because with the exception of Casey Blake’s solo shot early on and his late-game RBI single, the Dodgers couldn’t produce at the plate.
This was my last game in Los Angeles before the move. I’m grateful to the boys in blue for making it a good one, especially against the Giants!#baseball #california #dodgers #score #giants
The Dodger Dog is perfect. A lightly toasted, delicious bun wrapped around a grilled, Farmer John hot dog. It is the perfect balance of the tastes that make ought to make up a ball park frank. 5/5#dodgers #california #baseball #hot dogs
Once again, a Dodgers loss means no scoreboard picture. I know those guys win ballgames. They’ve arrived at the All Star break tied for first in the NL wild card. Why do they never do it when I’m in the park?
John Ely demonstrated once again that the Dodgers rotation needs a boost. I’ve heard that Roy Oswalt is available? Anyway, he gave up six runs before I was in my seat (embarrassing predicament with tickets forgotten in the car), and although the bullpen held the game tight, save a solo shot by Aramis Ramirez, the offense couldn’t recover. All three runs were knocked in by All Star Andre Ethier, and the Dodgers went down somewhat quietly.
Top of the Order is a wonderful baseball book. There are no interesting ideas in its pages, just pure passion. The premise of the book is twenty-five articles by twenty-five different baseball writers about their favorite players. Roger Kahn writes about Jackie Robinson. Buzz Bissinger writes about Albert Pujols (and explains why he referred to him as The Great Pujols so consistently in Three Days in August). King Kaufman writes about Neifi Perez. And many more.
Some of my favorites include an essay about Jeff Kent’s moustache and an essay about Michael Jordan’s attempt at the sport. A fun read, a fast read, it’s by no means a must for any baseball fan, but it certainly deserves a spare afternoon if you have it.
Audio: Three Days in August Review
This is not a great baseball book. Its ideas may be provocative, but they are couched so completely in the boundless adulation of Tony LaRussa, Albert Pujols, and the Cardinals, that it’s challenging to uncover the nuggets amidst the dismissal and insults of those among us not privileged enough to be Cardinals fans. It is nothing short of a love letter to LaRussa. It made me feel dirty to listen to it.
Tony LaRussa is an incredible baseball mind, and his ideas about how to win and lose a game are a compelling and welcome counterpoint to the Moneyball madness that swept across baseball in the middle of the last decade. He’s the winningest active manager, and is certainly worthy of admiration. But the man is not mistake free. Apologists for this book will point out that it does highlight several of LaRussa’s mistakes. But they’re all minor mistakes, that are explained away as a hazard of his creativity. Even the way he abandoned his family is rationalized as a regrettable necessity for making him the manager he is today.
If this is the best baseball book I read on this exploration, I’m wasting my time. I hope it’s the worst.
This was the only baseball game that Tov and I saw in its entirety. We arrived at the park early to make sure we could find our seats before the first pitch. We stayed through the whole miserable end. Tov wore a Dodger hat, announcing to the Fenway faithful that surrounded us that we were ready targets of ridicule as our pitiful team failed.
This was one of the worst games I have ever seen the Dodgers play. The box score may not show it, but not only did they consistently fall apart with runners in scoring position, but their defense was pathetic. It was a generous scorer who awarded hits instead of errors on several of these plays, particularly in the first inning. Pedroia hit a hard grounder that Jamey Carroll mishandled. Pedroia stole second and Casey Blake backed up the play instead of covering third. With no one covering third, Pedroia advanced easily. And then Kevin Youkilis hit a dinky grounder down the third base line that Blake missed as it rolled by him and into the bag, allowing Pedroia to score. None of these were scored as errors, but they were all plays that should have been made.
On the other side, the Red Sox defense was exceptional. Several Dodgers were robbed of key hits, most notably a Matt Kemp line drive that was snagged inches above the dirt for a double play early in the game.
I didn’t take a picture of the scoreboard. I don’t want to remember the game. Only a few days after Celtics fans had, futilely chanted “Beat LA” as the Lakers won the NBA Finals, Red Sox Nation cleverly changed it to “Sweep LA.” And they did.
The Monster Dog is really just a larger version of the Fenway Frank. The bun on this is a joke, barely able to contain the dog. It doesn’t hold up. This was the worst ballpark frank I’ve had. 3/5#Red Sox #massachusetts #baseball #hot dogs
The Fenway Frank is pretty good. The bun has the consistency of wonder bread. The dog is good, but completely overwhelms the bun. 4/5.#Red Sox #massachusetts #baseball #hot dogs
Johnny Baseball is full of clever lyrics and bouncy songs. I walked out of the theater humming the show’s opener, quoted above. The performances are strong, particularly Burke Moses’ turn as Babe Ruth. And the staging is taut, if a little conventional. But none of this can save what is a painfully predictable story. Seriously, there was not a single twist or turn in this plot that caught me by surprise. And while some stories can be predictable in a satisfying way, a way that fulfills narrative destiny, this plot seemed to aspire to revelation and fell far short.
The weakness of the book doesn’t severely handicap Johnny Baseball. The production never stops moving, and the songs really are fun. The sentimentality is played to the hilt, and the ensemble is so funny that the laughs and warm fuzzies really do compensate. I had a blast at this show. It just could have had a better story. Buy the soundtrack, but be wary of any other productions. It could fall badly flat in the wrong hands.