July 29, 2014
I think, as baseball fans, we can pretty much all agree that the All Star break is the worst. I mean, sure, the Home Run Derby is sort of entertaining. And it’s kind of fun to see all of that talent together on the field in the All-Star Game. And it’s good for the players from our favorite teams to get some much-needed rest. But when it comes down to it, it’s four days in a row without your team playing any games (and two days with no baseball action at all), which is sort of miserable.
So, I figured this brutal day without baseball was as good a time as any to finally make the trip to the Reagan Library for the baseball exhibit. It was definitely worth the drive. Like, I’m not even sure where to begin with how awesome this exhibit was. Among the highlights:
- Artifacts from so many of the game’s greats—game-worn jerseys, gloves, baseball cards, etc.
- A showcase of the evolution of baseball gear throughout the decade
- Art, as well as extensive collections of baseball memorabilia
I only spent an hour and a half in there, but I easily could’ve spent three times that long just soaking everything in.
I really liked the fact that, in this exhibit, they presented both Major League AND Negro League history. After all, you’re not really getting the complete history of the national pastime if you’re ignoring an entire demographic’s contributions to the game prior to a certain point in history (i.e. Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier). (On that note, there was also a bit about women in baseball, though it was sort of hidden away in a corner downstairs. Oh well. I guess I should be happy it was there at all.)
The exhibit featured a ton of Dodgers-related stuff, focused especially on the team’s Brooklyn days. The most fascinating thing for me was, probably, seeing some of the team’s alternate jerseys, since for such a long time there’s been very little variation in the Dodgers’ uniforms. Don’t get me wrong, I love that the Dodgers keep it simple and classic with their look—but it was still interesting to see examples of times when they tried to change things up a bit. You can kind of see a few of the alternate looks on the right side of the above picture; apologies for my lackluster iPhone photography.
Basically, if you’re a baseball fan in the L.A. area (or who’ll be traveling to the L.A. area in the next month or so), find a way to get to this. The exhibit is at the Reagan Library through September 4th, and it’s $16 for adults to get in. Tickets can be purchased here.
(The Reagan Library is totally worth visiting on its own, too, regardless of how you feel about the man or his politics. It’s absolutely gorgeous out there in Simi Valley, and there’s some really neat stuff. For instance, you can walk through Air Force One! And you can buy all the Jelly Belly beans your heart desires.)
Final score: San Diego Padres, 0 @ Los Angeles Dodgers, 1
As I mentioned in my post about Roy Campanella Night, the main reason I bought tickets to this game was because I wanted that bobblehead. I probably still would’ve bought the tickets even if I’d known that Paul Maholm was going to be that night’s starter, but it wouldn’t exactly have been an added incentive for me.
Sure enough, the pre-game tributes to Roy Campanella and Pee Wee Reese were wonderful. Roy’s daughter and Pee Wee’s son each spoke about their dads before throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. There was also a really lovely video about Roy Campanella Night (and the legacy of Campy and Pee Wee) that I very much hope is posted online at some point. That alone was worth the price of admission.
What followed, however, had to be one of the silliest ballgames I’ve ever seen. I just don’t know how else to describe it. Pretty much everything about it was bizarre. I expected Maholm to be awful, but as this was his first start in nearly 2 months, I absolutely cannot complain about 2 hits across 6+ shutout innings, especially with 4 K’s and no walks (and yes, it is the unimpressive Padres offense he was facing, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t good). (On that note, shoutout to Brandon League, J.P. Howell and Kenley Jansen for their scoreless innings of work.)
The Dodger offense was also silly, looking rather lackadaisical against San Diego starting pitcher
and massive jerkface Ian Kennedy. Sure, Kennedy really hasn’t been all that bad this season, but in the Dodgers’ two prior games facing him, they were nowhere near this helpless. Tonight, though, Kennedy delivered 8 scoreless innings, allowing 3 hits and walking 4 while striking out 8. It didn’t help the Dodgers that Yasiel Puig got ejected in the 4th inning for telling the home plate umpire that he was stupid. Oy.
Honestly, there was so little action for most of the game that I spent a good deal of time focusing on the absolutely stunning sunset we were treated to tonight:
While it seemed like the offensive futility could last forever, it thankfully didn’t, and fortunately it was the Dodgers who put an end to the run drought. But that even happened in a silly fashion. Adrian Gonzalez led off the bottom of the 9th with a double that would’ve been a sure thing for just about anyone but him, as he made it to the bag just in time. After Matt Kemp struck out, walks to Andre Ethier (intentional) and Juan Uribe (unintentional) loaded the bases with one out for A.J. Ellis. I was rooting pretty hard for a shrimp, but a walk-off sac fly was a pretty silly way to end the game, too. It’s like, YEAH, I MADE AN OUT AND WE WON! WOO!
Silly, silly, silly. And I love it. I love this stupid sport and how very silly it can be at times.
Well, the last time I was at Dodger Stadium, I saw the Dodgers slide into first place after having been 9.5 games out; tonight, I saw the Dodgers walk-off sac-fly their way to having the best record in the National League. I like the way things are going heading into the All Star break, don’t you?
As soon as I heard that the Dodgers were giving away a bobblehead commemorating Roy Campanella Night, I knew I pretty much had to get one. Roy Campanella Night has to be one of the coolest, most touching moments in Dodger history. For anyone unfamiliar with that event, it was an exhibition game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 1959 between the Dodgers and Yankees, held to honor/raise money to support longtime Brooklyn catcher Roy Campanella. Campanella’s career had been tragically cut short by a car accident that left him paralyzed from the shoulders down. The somewhat iconic image that inspired the bobblehead, depicting Pee Wee Reese wheeling Campanella around the field backlit by tens of thousands of matches and lighters, is stunning and moving.
Before I head to the stadium to get my bobblehead (and to see a—hopefully good—ballgame), I thought it could be kind of fun to delve into the Los Angeles Times' archives and find what was written about Roy Campanella Night back in 1959. Here's the article that ran the day of the game (if you can't read it here, you can enlarge it here):
Final score: St. Louis Cardinals, 0 @ Los Angeles Dodgers, 6
Clayton Kershaw is a marvel. In 7 innings of work today, he didn’t allow any runs, while striking out 13 for good measure. Sure, he wasn’t flawless—he allowed 7 baserunners, 2 by walk and 5 by hit (3 of which came off the bat of Matt Carpenter, who’s been something of a thorn in Kershaw’s side since last year’s NLCS). But in some ways, that made his performance even more impressive, as he worked his way out of any jams he had with astounding unflappability.
Of course, today’s outing alone isn’t why Kershaw’s a marvel. It just put the cap on an outstanding month of June for him (which featured, lest any of us forget, his masterpiece of a no hitter). All Kershaw did in his 6 starts this month was allow a total of 4 ER in 42 IP, striking out 61 and walking just 4. I don’t have a clue who could possibly challenge him for Pitcher of the Month honors.
If more than a month missed and one bad start in Arizona had you worried about Kershaw’s Cy Young chances, by now it should be pretty clear that he’s very much got himself back in the race. Consider the following:
- With an ERA of 2.04, he’s UNDERPERFORMING his FIP of 1.48 (as well as his xFIP of 1.53). That’s mindboggling.
- His WHIP is down to .92, and he’s striking batters out at an absurd rate of 12.14 per 9 innings.
- Kershaw leads NL pitchers with an fWAR of 3.2, just ahead of Adam Wainwright’s 3.1. Oh yeah, and that’s with 37 fewer innings than Wainwright has. Translation: KERSHAW BEEN GUD.
- It’s probably also worth mentioning that the previous 28 innings that he’s pitched have been scoreless. We’ll just keep our eyes on that.
The stats are there—all he needs now is to keep making up for lost innings (and for Johnny Cueto’s ERA to inflate a bit).
I guess I’ve gone on for long enough about Kershaw. Well, no I haven’t—I could talk about Clayton forever, probably. He’s that good. But I should also talk about his teammates and the comfortable lead they gave him to work with. The first hit of the day off of Cardinals starter Shelby Miller was a bunt single by Adrian Gonzalez in the 4th inning; that wound up being part of a 2-run rally. The next inning, Gonzalez delivered an RBI single, and Andre Ethier hit his first home run in I don’t even know how long to bring in 3 more Dodger runs. YAY OFFENSE. It wound up being an easy victory.
Oh, and this win (combined with the Giants’ loss) put the Dodgers where they belong: in first place in the National League West. Sure, they’re sharing the title with San Francisco at the moment, and it’s likely that there’ll be some fluctuation in the standings for a while. The Giants may not be as good as they seemed when they started so hot out of the gate, but I also don’t think they’re THIS bad, and they’ll likely start to play like a halfway decent ballclub at SOME point. Nevertheless, I firmly believe that this Dodger team is the superior outfit in the NL West. And I think this’ll be a(nother) summer to remember for the Boys in Blue.
Craig, Drysdale, Koufax and Podres.
Final score: St. Louis Cardinals, 1 @ Los Angeles Dodgers, 9
That was a fun day at the stadium watching the Dodgers wail on the classiest lil team in all of baseball. The Boys in Blue picked up a run in the 1st inning without the ball even leaving the infield, thanks to some sloppy Cardinals defense. That was followed by a disaster 2nd inning for Lance Lynn, in which the Dodgers batted around and came up with 6 runs on 7 hits (4 doubles) and 2 walks. They’d add another pair of runs in the bottom of the 8th when Juan Uribe delivered a bases-loaded single. Overall, the Dodgers had 15 hits—after only managing 2 runs over the last 2 games, obviously this offensive outburst was nice to see.
There was also Zack Greinke, who continues to be pretty freakin’ great. He followed up his worst outing of the year (5.2 IP, 5 ER, only 4 K) with a brilliant 7 innings and 10 strikeouts. The only blemish on his performance was a home run allowed to Matt Carpenter (which of course didn’t matter in this game, considering the Dodgers’ massive lead). Greinke’s 1.04 HR/9 is the highest of his career since 2006, but it’s worth noting that nearly all of the home runs he allows are solo shots. That’s because with a K/9 of 9.64 and a WHIP of 1.17, he’s doing a pretty good job keeping runners off the bases.
If there’s anything to detract from the general awesomeness of today’s game, it’s the fact that both Justin Turner and Hanley Ramirez exited with injuries; it looks like Turner is bound for the DL, which is especially unfortunate when considering how valuable he’s been to the team thus far.
Oh, and I totally saw Jon Hamm. At first I wasn’t sure if it was him because he was like, in line for food and I was like “No way would Jon Hamm wait in line for his own food!” but then I saw this picture on the Cardinals’ Twitter and I was like “Well, I guess that was Jon Hamm after all.” Cool story, Sarah.
I’ll be back at Dodger Stadium tomorrow to see Kershaw make his (hopefully) triumphant return following his no hitter. I’ll try not to be too disappointed if he doesn’t match that performance.
juan uribe is all of us
I knew it was only a matter of time before Clayton Kershaw pitched a no hitter. He’s just too good for it not to happen. Never in a million years did I think I’d be lucky enough to be there for it.
Earlier today, I was hanging out with my dear friend Case (whom I hadn’t seen in several months). I didn’t think much of it when he mentioned that his mom was going to the game tonight. I think I said something like “Oh, cool, she gets to see Kershaw.”
Not long after that, Case got a phone call from his mom. It turned out that the people who were supposed to go to the game with her had backed out, and we were now invited to go in their stead. I’m never one to turn down free Dodger tickets (plus Case’s family has access to really good season tickets—field level, just to the left of home plate); so, within the next hour, we were in the car headed for the stadium.
Obviously Kershaw was the star of the game, and I’m not going to remember much, if anything, about what the Dodgers did on offense that night. I will say that I’m very grateful that they scored early and managed to build up a substantial lead so that we didn’t have to worry about that while also worrying about whether or not Clayton would make it through.
I believe it was after the 4th inning that I started to think we might see history tonight. Kershaw was looking great (even for Kershaw), striking out Rockies batter after Rockies batter and making the Colorado lineup look utterly silly. I found myself shaking a bit at the thought of perfection; naturally, that shaking only got worse as the night progressed.
It’s of course a bummer that Kershaw didn’t get his perfect game—he certainly pitched well enough for it. Hanley Ramirez’s error in the top of the 7th felt pretty devastating when it happened, and it very briefly brought the excitement level around us crashing down. But Kershaw’s pair of strikeouts and Miguel Rojas’s fantastic play at 3rd base to keep the no-no in tact got us all amped right back up.
The last two innings were extremely efficient for Clayton. In the 8th, he picked up two more K’s and needed only 8 pitches to send it to the bottom half of the inning.
Fortunately for my nerves, Kershaw retired the first 2 batters of the top of the 9th on just 2 pitches. Perhaps the one upside of the error is that Kershaw had the perfect bookend for his brilliant outing. By striking out Corey Dickerson, Kershaw ended the game exactly how he started it.
Needless to say, the crowd (and Clayton’s teammates) (and Clayton himself) went wild.
When all was said and done, Kershaw had struck out 15 batters. He’d delivered 9 shutout innings on just 107 pitches. Oh, and he hadn’t allowed a single hit. It was one of the most dominant performances you’ll ever witness. According to Dodger Insider, there’s a good argument for it being the most dominant outing in Dodger history (and, by Game Score, the second most dominant 9-inning effort in BASEBALL history).
I mean. You really can’t overstate how good Kershaw was tonight, nor can you overstate what an incredible talent he is. As Dodger fans, we’re so very fortunate to see him on our team; but really, anyone who’s a fan of baseball should feel fortunate to get to watch the continual unfolding of what already looks like a legendary career.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go listen to Vin Scully’s call of the game from start to finish. (The only downside of being there was not getting to hear Vin narrate as it happened.)
Final score: Colorado Rockies, 2 @ Los Angeles Dodgers, 4
Hey, buddies. I kind of stopped writing game recaps. Honestly, it got to the point where it just felt like a chore for me and it wasn’t enhancing my enjoyment of the game. So I think I’m going to officially put an end to the daily recap thing, and maybe start focusing more on the history angle again.
I will continue to talk about games I actually went to, though! Like tonight’s game, which was a pretty awesome experience in several ways.
In 2012, I happened to go to the game where the Stanley Cup came to Dodger Stadium and the Kings threw out the ceremonial first pitch(es). I somehow wound up at this game, too, where the same thing happened but with the 2014 Stanley Cup championship team. I didn’t plan either time to go to those games based on the Cup and the Kings being there, but I’m glad it worked out that way, because it was really, really cool both times around. So much L.A. love going around. (Featured above is the high-quality iPhone photography you’ve come to expect from me, exhibiting many Kings players and many Dodgers players around Lord Stanley’s Cup.)
Actually, I picked this game a couple of weeks ago because I figured it was likely to be Zack Greinke on the mound (and I have made my appreciation of Greinke no secret). It wasn’t his best outing, but he did provide 6 innings of 1-run ball, which is certainly more than acceptable. Greinke struck out 5 and walked 2 while allowing 6 hits (all singles), but he was battling for most of the night. He needed 30 pitches to get through that 6th inning, which brought his pitch count on the night up to 117. Again, not his finest effort, but good enough to get by.
The real fun of the night was that the Dodgers hit DINGERS! Hanley Ramirez delivered a 2-run shot in the bottom of the 3rd, followed by Matt Kemp’s solo home run the next inning. The biggest surprise, though, was Carlos Triunfel’s four bagger for insurance in the bottom of the 8th. Triunfel entered the game to replace an injured Hanley (he took a ball off his right ring finger). I was in the process of explaining to my friend (hi, Meredith!) that Triunfel basically exists in the game entirely for his glove when he went deep. I didn’t mind being made to look foolish in that instance.
I should also mention Yasiel Puig’s fantastic catch; sitting in field level, section 44, we had a pretty great view of it.
Dodger relievers J.P. Howell, Brandon League, Brian Wilson and Kenley Jansen combined to finish the game off, though the 7th, 8th and 9th innings were all pretty tense, as it was a close game and there were pretty much always runners on. But, they got through it with just 1 run allowed (charged to Howell), we got to sing I Love L.A., and everything was good.
Oh, and we got this nifty ball out of it: