Saturday, August 18, 2012–Braves 2, Dodgers 6

If I had come for the sole purpose of seeing the Civil Rights Game, and if I had missed the banquet or the round-table discussion on issues of race in sports (as I did), I expect I would have been very disappointed by the presentation on the field at tonight’s game. Fortunately, that was not my sole intent. There was a short presentation as Don Newcombe, members of the band Earth Wind and Fire, and Congressman John Lewis—winners of MLB’s Beacon Awards—were recognized on the field. Aside from that, there wasn’t much about civil rights for anyone who was actually in the stands. This led me to the conclusion that there was probably quite a bit more said on the subject during the telecast. I guess that’s a good thing, ’cause the broadcast would’ve been dreadfully dull otherwise.

Aaron Harang started for the Dodgers, and it looked like the Braves would get him for a big first inning. When David Ross struck out with the bases loaded, the large clump of Dodger fans around me breathed a large sigh of relief. In the bottom of the second I noticed something odd about Atlanta’s scoreboard. After Hanley Ramirez hit a home run off Ben Sheets to tie it up, the scoreboard registered the hit right away, but didn’t register the run until Ramirez had circled the bases. It’s a nice little nod to the most esoteric sensibilities, a run doesn’t really count until the runner touches the plate. I don’t know if Atlanta’s scoreboard operators are the only ones who do this or not, but it’s the first time I noticed it.

Then, two pitches later, when James Loney hit a ball that bounced just above the yellow line in right for another homer, I got another chance to test this theory. Again, the run was not awarded until Loney touched home. On the very next pitch, Louis Cruz hit another homer, much to the consternation of most of the fans. Sheets had given up three taters… on four pitches.

From the second through the fifth, the main highlights were defensive. On back-to-back plays, Dodgers second baseman Mark Ellis made outstanding plays—going up the middle and making a nice jump throw to rob Martin Prado, then diving to his left to take a sure single from Jason Heyward. Not to be outdone, Braves second baseman Dan Uggla dove even deeper into the gap to rob Shane Victorino in the 6th. But the fans could sense trouble when Sheets walked two batters, and when Ramirez hit his second homer of the night, there wasn’t much of interest after that. Well, except my little obsession over the scoreboard: sure enough, all 3 runs were added one-by-one as the runners crossed the plate. In all, the Dodgers only got four hits, but all of them went over the fence.

Here’s the scorecard. I made this one at home—from one of my own templates—because the Braves’ printed scorecard is simply too small for any practical use.


Thinking blue OR The madness begins

Sunday, August 11, 2002–Dodgers 3, Phillies 6

I don’t really remember much about this game. What I do know is that it was sometime, either heading out to California or maybe even during the game itself that I decided I was going to try to see every ballpark in the majors, hence the alternate title to this post. It was August of 2002. I went with my parents on the train out to SoCal. The game was the same evening we arrived, and we only had two tickets, so Mom visited with grandma while Dad and I went to the yard.

Dodger Stadium is amazing, I remember that well enough. The organ, the Dodger Dogs, that groovy scoreboard. There really is something about an organ at a ballpark, and so many of the ones I’ve visited seem like they want to be hosting a rock concert between innings. I’ve been to 20 ballparks over the years, and there isn’t a one that brings me back to my childhood and the Albuquerque Sports Stadium–home of the departed and lamented Albuquerque Dukes–quite like Dodger Stadium.

My dad and I went with one of his library school chums, who had a season ticket in the front row and bleeds Dodger blue. She was able to buy off two of her neigbors’ seats for us. As a way of introducing the stadium to me, dad printed out an e-mail she’d sent with pictures of the time she’d gotten to throw out the first pitch at a game. She says the schedule for pregame festivities is scripted to the minute. We found her to be quite the multitasker. She had her Walkman and a scorebook, and was able to manage keeping score of the game while keeping up conversations with us and at least two of the other season ticket regulars, all without leaving anyone feeling left out. One thing I picked up from her was that I noticed that she changed pens to a different color every time a pitching change was made. It’s a practice I keep up to this day (except when I get forgetful and leave my colored pens at home).

Unfortunately, this was before I started scoring ballgames myself, so I can’t offer much by way of game information. The Dodgers lost to the Phillies and the pitching matchup was Randy Wolf (back before he became a Dodger) vs. Odalis Perez. Please don’t ask me how I remember that detail, ’cause I really have no idea. I seem to remember that the Dodgers had an early lead and let it get away. I remember Dad asking our hostess “Where’s this Eric Gagne fellow we’ve been hearing so much about?”
     And because the Dodgers were behind, there was just a hint of bitterness in the answer, “He only pitches if it’s a save situation.”

Here’s the scorecard (completed and added to post on September 18, 2011, so it’s only 9 years tardy).