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Sunday, April 25, 2004

A Waking Dream, The Perfect Day

The Magic Tickets

The father of a friend of mine at work has had season tickets at Dodger Stadium since, roughly, the beginning of time (i.e., Walter Alston). Some days, when he can't use them, we inherit them. These are magic tickets, we've decided; in previous games where we got these tickets, the Dodgers They couldn't be in town this weekend -- something about a family friend's bat mitzvah in San Diego -- and so we inherited yet another set of tickets. They are amazing seats: first base, loge level, between home plate and first base -- an ideal view of the game, with many opportunities for foul ball collection. It is the perfect vantage for the Beautiful Game, in the most beautiful park in baseball.

Small Ball

We arrived at Dodger Stadium, Blue Heaven on Earth, one half hour before the game started. On the field, a clutch of kids milled about, anonymously. The announcer said they were all Little Leaguers and various schoolkids who had done something or other noteworthy. Some of the players signed balls for them, which must have been quite a thrill. As Helen noted, they don't do that for football. But the stands were still mostly empty; one blog doesn't have to worry about its title becoming obsolescent, at least, not yet.


The Giants roster was peculiar today. There's a saying, play to win on the road, tie at home. I've never understood that, but maybe it's because of the home field advantage. Dustin Hermanson, we learned later, was a late scratch, to be replaced by AAA callup Brian Cooper. Backup catcher Yorvit Torrealba filled in for A. J. Pierzynski. Dustan Mohr manned center, and Pedro Feliz started at first.

This is not a group you have high hopes for if you're a Giants fan.

The game began uneventfully: three straight flyouts, though the Giants managed to work the count full each time. Roberts scratched out a single, Izturis got aboard on a fielders' choice, Bradley flew out to center. Green grounded out to first to end a fairly fast inning.

Then Ishii got three more, inducing a pop fly from Bonds to second. Alfonso lined out on a magnificant play by Alex Cora, and Ishii struck out Pedro Feliz to end the inning.


Beltre took a pitch on what looked like his pelvis -- ouch. Encarnacion reaches on an error. Ross struck out (will we ever see his 2003 again?) And then Alex Cora came to bat, fouling off a mess of pitches, working a full count, with Cooper throwing far too many idle pickoffs:
Rob (to Cooper): Pitch already!
Becky: C'mon, it's only Cora!
Helen: I'm off to the concession stands. Anybody want anything?
Immediately after she left, he dumped one into the right field bleachers.

54,000 people simultaneously went nuts.

Skipping ahead to the third -- say, Ishii's having a remarkably good game today, there's another three straight he's retired -- Izzy comes up and whang the world is turned upside down as the team's two worst hitters suddenly become human dynamite. So does Milton Bradley, the angriest man in baseball, dropping one in to the right center bleachers.

It is no longer a game; it is a dream, the kind of dream where you can describe everything, lucid, clear, vivid, concrete.

Cora: Is this heaven?
Rob: No, it's Dodger Stadium.
But they aren't done yet.

Encarnacion gets aboard on a fielder's choice after Green walks and Beltre singles. Ross sac flies one home.

We know we are dreaming, for they intentionally walk Alex Cora. This is his first intentional walk this year, only the eighteenth of his career.

Ishii, appropriately, bursts the delirium with a 4-3 groundout.


In the fourth, Roberts scores again on a single by Green, and in the sixth, another Bradley homer. Two in one day, and the first time in his career for that. He's come back strong from yesterday's incident. And again the eighth... Roberts goes round and round, whoa-ohh, and he comes out here.

In the seventh, we look up: nobody in the bullpen.

Bottom of the eighth: still nobody. Surely they're going to give him the hook?

But no. No Gagné, no wires, nobody helping. And he does it, a complete game shutout in 128 pitches, the best game of his major league career, this from the man who's been a winning pitcher in five Japan Series. We beat the Giants at home, taking the series and sending a reeling team even further into the cellar. Wow.

The Perfect Day

Thank Verizon Wireless for their Internet connectivity at the park, for we are able to find out that Every one of the teams we root for won. All of them are on top of their respective divisions at the moment. You enjoy moments like this, because they're rare. Tomorrow the Angels might fall back down to .500, tomorrow the Giants may whup up on the Dodgers and send them reeling.

But now, bliss.

Update 11/25/07: B-Ref box

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