by Joshua Worley
For Monday's game we had great seats, free seats, obtained through a fortuitous connection at work, down at field level a little bit beyond third base. It's a pity the game turned out to be so dismal for the first two hours.
We also had a preferred parking pass. It was nice not having to pay $15, and also very nice not being told by the parking martinets exactly what spot to park in. I guess wealth has its privileges; I'm even more annoyed that they make the lowly unwashed single-game ticket holders jump through their hoops now that I've seen how they treat the rich folk. It's as if the McCourts resent Dodger fans who buy single game tickets instead of season packages: our parking situation sucks, our concession lines are longer; overall we're treated like unwanted pests.
Then again, there are times when everyone in the stadium is treated like trash. I've had enough of the persistent in-stadium ads and promotion for the direct-to-landfill movie "The Sandlot: Heading Home". None of the fans care, or want to see this movie. It looks awful. It appears the plot is that some bitter, bearded ballplayer gets beaned in the head and is magically transported back to his childhood days where he will learn teamwork and friendship and hitting the cutoff man and proper shaving techniques so he will no longer be bearded and bitter.
I do, however, look forward to the next in the series: "The Sandlot: Tom Emanski's Revenge".
Tara Lipinski the figure-skater threw out the first pitch. She pranced around in front of the mound then threw a pitch that bounced right on top of the plate. This would end up being a good imitation of how Tomko would pitch.
Tomko was wild. And yet he didn't walk anyone, which just made things worse, because he was consistently behind in the count, and instead of throwing a borderline pitch that might produce a walk or an out, he would give in to the hitter and then allow a single or worse. I don't like to be too critical of players but it was a disgusting performance. I even wanted to say "cowardly" but that would be unfair and unsupported.
Why would I want to say that? Because of what of what Tomko did to the game. It's awful to see the game half-lost in the first inning, then completely lost by the second, and then when all is lost see even more bad pitching in the third. If this had been a TV game I would have just turned it off, been able to walk away from the ineptitude. I probably would have checked back in with the game later, but I would have been able to limit the damage by walking away. At the ballpark I can't do that; moreover I shouldn't want to do that.
There were positives to the game. We got to see two Dodger home runs, a rather shocking event. It was really cool to see from our low vantage near third base all the doubles and hard fouls down the left field line. Pierre made some nice catches, though he did have his characteristic hesitation-weave-path to the ball on one of them. The Dodger bullpen was excellent, as usual, and kept alive the tiny bit of hope we did get at the end. I felt privileged to get to see Billingsley strike out the side in his first inning of work. He's the one who should be starting instead of Tomko, Grady. Surely he could see that after today, though I suspect not.
It was great fun to even have the slimmest chance of a comeback when Ramon Martinez came up as the tying run with two outs in the ninth. I've written before about how much I love this scenario. It was great to see the small hope build with the hits by Betemit and Ethier to start the inning. Then there was a fascinating play on the ball Valdez hit. His soft liner up the middle seemed so promising as it came off the bat, but in truth it was a repeat of Pierre's hit up the middle on Sunday with the infield up, only now the infield wasn't up! The soft liner became scary and uncertain mid-flight once we realized it would be fielded, because it wasn't clear if it would be caught in the air or not, and what were the runners to do? But it was caught just off the ground, and the runners were back to their bases in time. And then Furcal hit another soft liner that might have been fielded, but this one went off a glove on the left side of the infield ( I can't remember which ) and fell in safely behind them for a hit. Now that was a great moment, when certain doom was thwarted, and the scrub pitcher was chased besides, in favor of the Cardinal closer. They were panicking! Then Clark broke our hearts by fouling out with a 2-0 count. The fool! We could have had Saenz up as the tying run if he could have gotten on safely. Now we needed Saenz to get on just to prolong the hope. And he did, by not wasting his own 2-0 count and working the walk. What an exciting moment. Finally, after 8 and a half innings and two outs, the Dodgers were finally back in the game, even if barely. Even with a weak hitter such as Martinez, there is a surge of adrenaline in knowing that he could, in theory, swing the bat in such a way that he would hit a home run and complete an astonishing comeback from down 8-0.
Martinez hit a grounder that seemed hard, that I hoped was a hit. But we couldn't easily tell where it was headed from our vantage, so it was only when the shortstop scooped it up that I knew it was over. I'm not sure if the Dodgers ever really had a chance in this game, but for a moment it felt like they did, and that's better than the last awful Monday night game we saw.