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Never leave a Dodgers game early

Never leave a Dodgers game early

June 3, 2009 – Tony Jackson’s Blog  – Watching the Dodgers these days reminds me an awful lot of watching those New York Yankees teams that Joe Torre used to manage. Granted, the Dodgers don’t have four World Series rings, or even one (yet) for that matter. But they approach the game almost exactly the same, that methodical hitting approach that can be absolutely maddening to opposing pitchers because they have to work so hard for each out — and because no matter what the score, it seems like the Dodgers are just never, ever out of a game.
   Tonight was a perfect case in point. Living as I do in Phoenix, I caught the game on the Diamondbacks TV affiliate. Darin Sutton and Mark Grace were practically foaming at the mouth over the performance of Dan Haren, and well they should have been. Haren absolutely dominated the Dodgers, made them look silly through those first seven innings, while the Diamondbacks built what they apparently thought was a comfortable, 5-1 lead

Jeff Pentland teaching Mark Sweeney how to hit.  You aree a year late, dude!  www.LAdodgerTalk.com

Jeff Pentland teaching Mark Sweeney how to hit. You are a year late, dude! www.LAdodgerTalk.com

They should have made it more comfortable, of course. Because as soon as Haren was out of the game, here came the Dodgers. And you almost had a feeling all along that they would.
   Last night was a perfect case in point, as well, even though the boys came up a run short. Again, they had sputtered all night offensively against Billy Buckner and relievers Clay Zavada and Juan Gutierrez, all of whom combined to shut out the Dodgers through eight. But they woke up in the ninth, and it was almost enough to erase the three-run deficit.
   The game ended with Rafael Furcal, the potential tying run, on third base.
   Torre likes to talk about the importance of playing for nine innings. That, to me, is a key difference between baseball’s elite teams and its also-rans, and right now, the Diamondbacks clearly fit into the latter category. Even though they had been dominated all night tonight, even though they were down by four runs heading into their half of the eighth inning, the Dodgers never let go of the notion that they were still in the game and that they still had every intention of winning it.
   Conversely, the Diamondbacks entered the ninth trailing by only one run — but their body language clearly suggested they were a beaten bunch. They had no chance against Jonathan Broxton. After striking out on a ball in the dirt for the second out, a ball that bounced a few feet away from catcher Brad Ausmus, Gerardo Parra simply turned and walked back toward the dugout, not even trying to run to first base and force Ausmus to make a throw that might have been errant and might have given the Snakes a flicker of hope.
   Instead, Parra simply conceded the out. And that is a prime example of a team NOT playing for nine innings. It also is a prime example of why the Dodgers, for now anyway, are so much better than the Diamondbacks.

   Dodgers go to 36-18, and the lead is back to nine, matching the season high. In case you were wondering, the last time the Dodgers led the division by 10 games was at the end of the 1977 season, when they won it by exactly that margin over the second-place and two-time defending world champion Cincinnati Reds. Man, that was a LONG time ago.

   Interesting anecdote about Daniel Schlereth, the D-Backs reliever who took a hardluck loss tonight after giving up James Loney’s game-tying double and Casey Blake’s game-winning single. Many years ago (maybe 10), when your humble correspondent was still covering the Rockies and Daniel’s dad, Mark, was an offensive lineman for the two-time Super Bowl champion Broncos, I remember Mark bringing a young (maybe 12) Daniel to a game at Coors Field. They were down in the dugout during batting practice, and I remember Mark telling someone in a Rockies uniform (for the life of me, I can’t remember who) something like he never respected baseball as a game until his kids started playing and he saw how difficult it was to excel at.
   I also remember John Madden used to refer to Mark during NFL broadcasts as “Stinky” Schlereth. Not sure why. But does that mean we can refer to Daniel as Stinky Junior? Or how about Little Stink?

   By the way, opposing hitters are now batting .064 (3 for 47) against Jonathan Broxton this season at Dodger Stadium, where he has yet to allow a run. They are hitting .096 (8 for 83) against him overall. And the first batter he faces is now 0 for 22 (three walks) in his 25 appearances this season.

   Finally, this has nothing to do with baseball, but does anyone else out there hate those new environmentally friendly Aquafina bottles as much as I do? They are so thin and flimsy, and they dent so easily on the bottom that they don’t even stand up right. And if you leave a half-empty one sitting around for a while, the plastic starts popping and snapping.
   Screw the environment, I say. Bring back the old bottle.

35 Responses to “Never leave a Dodgers game early”

  1. Mark_Timmons says:

    Thanks for the segway, Tony. Perfect time to plug our sponsor US WATER. You don't need to buy bottled water, for $159.95 you can make your own:

    http://www.uswatersystems.com/shop/products/US-Wa

    Now wasn't that a blatant attempt at commercializing this site?

  2. Mike B says:

    Tony just to let you know, the reason Mark Schlereth is referred to as "Stink," he claims that when he played in the trenches as he loves to say, he used to go to the bathroom in his pants obviously makig him stink.

  3. Blue Haze says:

    Broxton is soft and Loney is soft. If you don't believe me, just watch the game.

    They used to call Mark Schlereth a pussy, but as the years wore on, he lost something and lost the "pussy" moniker and gained the "Stankie" title. He was also known to be called "fish taco".

  4. Badger says:

    I am stuck listening to the Arizona broadcast too Tony, and I think Mark Grace is one of the most difficult to listen to broadcasters I have ever heard. Daron Sutton is good, as is the occasional guest Matt Williams, but Gracie is bad.

    Bad move by Parra. That will cost him around the Dback clubhouse. Everybody saw it and the broadcast team went on about it for a bit.

    Haren is one solid starting pitcher. We didn't get him at all. Fortunately, we got to the hamburger squad late and had them for lunch. (yeah, I know, that was bad) I can't help but wonder why Schlereth in that situation. That is asking a lot out of a kid that was in college last year.

    Big hit by that Blake feller. But I was looking at his stats this morning, and WRISP he is hitting only .261. WRISP two outs – .231. Now, that's pretty soft, isn't it Mark?

    On the other hand, that LaRoche kid over in PIttsburgh is hitting .326 WRISP and .313 WRISP two out.

    Mark is right about the water. We have an RO system at the house and glass bottles that we re-use. When I need new filters, I just contact U.S. Water and they ship them right out. Easy peasy.

  5. Evan says:

    Great post Tony!

  6. Mark_Timmons says:

    QUICK!

    Dodgers behind 6-5 in the bottom of the 9th.

    2 outs.

    Bases Loaded.

    List the top 5 current Dodger hitters you would want up to bat (in order of preference, with #1 being your 1st choice):

  7. Mark_Timmons says:

    My Choices:

    1. Loney
    2. Pierre
    3. Hudson
    4. Blake
    5. Kemp

    That's without checking #'s

  8. Badger says:

    real quick……

    since Loney is our best RBI man I'll take him. Kemp strikes out too much and I would guess his numbers with the bases loaded are poor. I know Blake's are, so he's out. Hudson makes good contact so I'll take him second. Same with Pierre. Don't know about Martin, but he would be in the mix.

    Is Manny considered a current Dodger? I'll take him over anybody in all situations.

  9. Bill_Russell says:

    I also have tthe us water system in my house and I can't tell you all the money I;ve saved over the years of not buying aquafina/sparklets and there crumby plastic bottles. The taste is worth the money alone. Buy the system, you will never go back to bottled tap or pool water again. (dogs drink the later).

  10. DRomo says:

    What a game last night! It was a rare occurance but I was in the stands and thought we were toast down by 5 against Haren. You gotta believe and I can't say enough about this team's heart. Ethier looked great last night, J.Lo was clutch again with the bases loaded, and The Beard (AKA The Foundation) made several big money plays in the field and sealed the deal with a clutch AB.

    I couldn't help but notice how empty the stadium felt. I hope that turns around (is it the economy? Manny?, who knows?)

    We need to finish this series and home stand off strong! We are now back to .500 at home since our 13-0 start!

  11. Badger says:

    Good thing starters don't complete games anymore or we lose that one 5-1.

    Yeah, only 32,853 last night. Dodgers only averaging 43K this year, down from 46K last year. Cubs and Yankees only teams averaging more. I suppose it might pick up some when Manny returns.

  12. DRomo says:

    I gotta tell you Badger 32,853 was the PAID attendence. If they gave an actually head count like back in the day it would have been in the neighborhood of 22,000. But it was a Tuesday night & Manny is out but I was very bummed to see so little fan support.

    • Monday night was very sparse in the stands too. It was saddening actually. But I guess Monday and Tuesday night games are probably a low point in attendance during a week. Maybe there were so many fans, that traveled with the team over night from Chicago, that were tired and decided to stay home and rest? ;-)

      LOVE the water plugs! I'm thirsty now.

  13. Bill_Russell says:

    I can't remember attendence being below 40,000 last year for the games I attended even during the week days. The Dodgers keep advertizing the 14 game packages this year where you pick the games to want to see. I can't remember if they had that plan last year or not but I don't remember hearing about it.

    Some of the high priced pitchers may be popping up soon but I'm not sure McCourt will jump on them with attendence in the Johnny flusher. Halliday, Peavy etc. The Yankee's, Red Sox and Phillies will be splitting them up. I heard someone say the other night that the Dodgers Payroll is $40 million below lasts years. I'm not sure if Frank can afford one more starting pitcher but it would get us over the hump.

  14. Tony Jackson says:

    Good points about the attendance. I must admit I hadn't been paying attention. Has to be the economy, I'm guessing. One thing that has always bugged me about Dodger Stadium, though, is those premium dugout-club seats right behind home plate, how they are almost always half-empty, and those are the seats you see on TV from the primary centerfield camera shot. You know why there are so many celebrities sitting down there? It's not because celebrities can afford the higher prices. Celebrities don't pay for their tickets, by and large. Most of them call up the Dodgers (or have their people call the Dodgers' people), tell them they're coming and ask for (and receive) comp tickets. The Dodgers always put them in that section so they can be easily spotted by everyone else. Don't you love how the world works?

  15. vtadave says:

    Grace is and was brutal last night. For some reason that I'll probably never understand, we don't always get the home feed through the Extra Innings package. Maybe I just missed it, but listening to grating Grace just makes you appreciate Vin that much more.

  16. DRomo says:

    Tony, Badger, BRuss,

    In the past I have always thought the yellow seats make the empty seats stand out more. I know it is tradition & they just changed out all the seats a few years ago but it is embarrasing to see this team on such a great run this year to a half empty stadium and the empty seats standing out. It is no wonder there is a big push for "all inclusive" areas of the stadium to keep popping up. Anything to put butts in seats. I do admire the gesture to make it more affordable for families. But how about knocking off the "convienience charge" or backing off the $15 parking.

    I remember a few years ago when I was in New Orleans I stopped by the Super Dome and someone told me they purposley had seats that didn't match so that on TV the empty seats didn't stand out.

  17. Badger says:

    Amen dave.

    Well Tony, the paid attendance was 32.8 K and isn't that what matters? Hard to believe there would be 10,000 no-shows, but, I reckon anything is possible in L.A..

    If they are giving comp seats, why don't they put "fillers" in there until the celebs arrive? You know, like they do at the Oscars. Looking at all those empty seats does look strange on camera. And, by the 7th inning stretch, or even earlier, those seats should be up for grabs. Mr. Cheap Seats, come on down, and bring the wife and kids. Here's another idea, put all the outfield drunks right behind the visitors dug-out, and put all the babes behind the Dodger dugout. If I was in charge, it would happen.

  18. Badger says:

    By the way, where is it written that you have to wait until te 9th inning to bring in your closer? Wouldn't you want him in the 8th, with the bags filled and the go ahead run at the plate? I know I would.

    That's another thing that would happen if I were in charge.

  19. Roger Dodger says:

    Badger, I volunteer to be a filler for those TV seats. But will the Dodger fly me from Texas out to L.A. and put me up at the Biltmore for a month???

  20. Voldomer says:

    Vtadave, I think part of the issue with the Extra Innings package is that they normally use Fox regional broadcasts, and last night I guess a local LA station had the game instead of Fox Prime Ticket. I have the package through DirecTV and also have the package of regional sports channels. Occasionally Prime Ticket has the game but Extra Innings is using the other team's broadcas instead; in those cases I guess they lift the out-of-market blackout on the regional channels package (I live in Illinois), as I sometimes can watch the LA broadcast on Prime Ticket rather than the opponent's broadcast on Extra Innings. That is not common, though, and usually if Extra Innings lacks the LA feed, that means Prime Ticket is not carrying the game.

    I was distracted the first few innings last night, then Tivoed the rest of the game and later watched the 8th-9th innings; as such, I didn't notice Grace being a problem. Generally I'm OK with the D-backs broadcasts, and I rather like the Rockies' announcers. The Giants games seem a bit less annoying this year, but I prefer to avoid them and the Padres if possible. The Angels' broadcasters–especially Hudler–are almost unlistenable, and the Astros games are not much better. We are truly spoiled by Scully.

  21. Tony Jackson says:

    Badger, which one of those groups do you think would be more distracting, the drunks or the babes? I like your idea, but you know ballplayers. It might be counterproductive.

  22. Bill_Russell says:

    You wouldn't want fighting to break out right behind homeplate. So I vote for the babes behind the dish. That might also improve attendence for future games. Instead of going to the beach to see hot chicks, you go to the game. What is this beach theme and BBQ thing at Dodger Stadium? I haven't figured it out yet. How does being at Dodger Stadium remind anyone of being at the beach? Only the beach balls from what I see and I hardly ever see beach balls at the beach.

  23. KidCuba says:

    One person I did see sitting behind home plate last night was Scott Boras. Sadly, I had forgotten my slingshot in the car.

  24. Xeifrank says:

    Tony, the Dodgers have volunteers who work for free as "seat fillers" in the Dodger Dugout Club seats behind home plate. I know because I was accidentally trained to be one of them for a game last month.
    vr, Xei

  25. Roger Dodger says:

    Voldomer — this last Angels – Dodgers series, they used the Angel announcers. Now we have some very nice house plants near the TV in that room. After that series with those Angel announcers, all of those very nice plants were dead.

    So I sent the Angels front office a bill to replace the plants. They sent back to message with a recipe to fry the plants and have them for dessert sometime.

  26. Mark_Timmons says:

    I'd like to see Scott Borasss run through a gauntlet of pit bulls wearing only pork-chop underwear.

  27. Mark_Timmons says:

    Hey, watch for more changes and new content on this site. We have a lot of new stuff in store for you.

    • Michael says:

      I'm already enjoying some of the new features edit button twice and delete once, very cool. Take a look see at Glavine?

  28. Brooklyn Dodger says:

    Personally, I like Gracie. He also was on the money last night, often commenting that the D-Backs needed to keep on playing as if the game was close. And it was their inability to tack on runs after the second inning that cost them the game. Their failure to bury the Dodgers early when they loaded the bases with no outs in the first inning was also a key factor in their loss. Of course, the Dodgers pitching deserves some accolades.

  29. Andrea says:

    I don't mind empty seats behind the plate as much as I do the folks who ARE in their seats and doing ANYTHING except watching the game! That blonde woman with the seat just to the 1st base side of the catcher drives me NUTS. I'd kill for seats like that to WATCH the game up close and anyone who wants to talk to me has to wait for the commercial. (Actually, that's my rule regardless of where I'm sitting …) Oh yeah, and the folks that call home to see if they're on TV and start waving … STOP IT!!!

    OK, rant over. <Stepping off soap box> Thank you. ;-)

  30. Badger says:

    All good points.

    I can compromise. OK, families behind the Dodgers, drunk babes behind the visitors.

    Hows that?

    Gracie and his "Stop it!" and "Gas!" just get old very fast for me. He is enthusiastic, I will give him that, but I find myself reaching for the mute button all game. Plus, he is a real homer. Sutton is better.

    I agree Andrea. I got seats in rows 6 and 11 in Spring Training and I had forgotten how great being that close is it had been so long. Those up close seats at Dodger Stadium are obviously way over my budget, but years ago I used to go with my grandpa and he would get them close. Haven't been close in 40 years.

    Leave that one alone mover.

  31. Michael says:

    Boy, that Haren is one bad hombre. I especially savor our victory to wipe off that smug look he had on his face all night. I live in Utah, so whenever we play AZ or CO , I receive their feeds. Gracie isn't bad at all, although last evening he may have had a couple too many Red Bulls. The guy that really sucks bad is George Frazier for the Rockies. P.S. Watching from home, I vote for hot babes behind the plate

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