All Pro Nation

Bon Voyage, Manny Machado (and Other Tales from a Disappointed Dodger Fan)

 

      People recollect on where they were when historic events happen, JFK, The Challenger, Pearl Harbor or when Justin Timberlake flashed Janet Jackson’s boob during the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVIII. On the most famous Sunday of the year our Lord 2004, I was sitting in front of my mom and a plethora of others at a barbeque when the aformentioned bosom was shown on the television to us and millions of others, my mother quickly put her hand in front of my uncorrupted eyes.

     Later that night the not oft mentioned Jake Delhomme and his Carolina Panthers fell to the mighty New England Patriots led by none other then Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. “Why can’t anyone else win one?” I said, crying my nine year old eyes out, fifteen years later everyone else outside of the greater Boston area is still singing the same song. Positively one would have to think that there may be something in the water over in Foxbourough with sustained success that has been had by that franchise. What could be the answer?

TB12 Method  

“Do Your Job” Mentality?

Orchids of Asia Day Spa?

But I digress.

EXT. SOMEWHERE OFF THE FAIRWAY ON THE 8TH HOLE AT RIVER RIDGE COUNTRY CLUB IN OXNARD, CALIFORNIA

    “Dammit” I exclaim as I slam my pitching wedge a few centimeters short of the heart of Titleist ball as it lackadaisically pitters and patters 20 or yards ahead of me. “Dude” my friend Matt says from the golf cart, “The Dodgers just traded for Manny Machado.” How he got this information you might ask? The answer is simple, Bleacher Report, because believe it or not I don’t golf with the likes of Ken Rosenthal or Adrian Wojnarowski. “Hmphmh” I thought. “Mannywood 2.0”.

       You see I have become a dejected Dodger fan, whether it was the 2014 NLDS where I was present in the Chavez Ravine to see Clayton Kershaw give up a bases clearing triple to Matt Carpenter which ultimately flipped the script of the series to lead to a St. Louis victory, or the two following years when I was present to see the New York Mets celebrate a NLDS victory on our home turf and the next year when the Chicago Cubs ultimately handed the Boys in Blue their final home loss of the year, ultimately two days later the Cubs would wrap up the series in Wrigley and then the Fall Classic to finally shake The Curse of the Billy Goat (Let’s attribute that one to destiny). Then came the next year where Dodgers finally shook the proverbial playoff monkey off their back to face the young and talented Houston Astros in late October. Making it all the way to Game 7 you would think watching the game that the Ghost of Shoeless Joe Jackson had the Houston money line (+110) and got some of the Dodgers players in on the action.

    At that point came 2018 and the Doyers got off to a snails pace at one point being last in the NL West. It came a certain time where the once faithful LA fans decided to abandon ship, right around the same timeframe where shortstop Corey Seager went down with a season ending Tommy John surgery, and field side seats with personal waiters and leg room galore went for about 1000% less then what it had cost during the World Series a mere 6 months ago. But alas came the trade deadline, Andy Fraudman and the gang made some splashes with the likes of Minnesota power hitting second baseman Brian Dozier and arguably the best shortstop this side of the Mississippi, Manny Machado. Speculation had been bubbling about on the social medias for months on end for where the star would land once the lowly Baltimore Orioles, for once he called home, had surmised that he would not be interested in renewing his services as his contract was to expire at the end of the year. Some said New York, others Chicago, but an exchange between LA outfielder Matt Kemp and Manny on the basepaths during the All Star Game in Washington D.C. all about sealed the fate of where The “Maestro” would be looking for a new home. 

       As the season went on and it was three horse race between LA, Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks. Arizona held the division lead for most of the season but suffered a late season collapse which led to a off season overhaul that included sending star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt to the friendly confines of Busch Stadium. The season ended in a tie for the divison lead and a tiebreaker game was set against the team from the Mile High City. The young Walker Buehler took the mound and proceeded to pitch a near perfect game while homeruns from 2017 Rookie of the Year Cody Bellinger and the revelatory Max Muncy sealed a victory and a sixth straight division title.

    A division series victory was won in 5 games against the Braves of Atlanta, but the real test came for the Dodgers in Miller Park when they faced the likes of Christian Yelich, Mike Moustakas, Stephen Vogt and bullpen ace Josh Hader. The Machado drama show began in a Game 4, with the Dodgers facing a 2 to 1 series defecit, a low scoring affair with the game tied 1 to 1 going in to extra frames. Ocho Machado took a 3-1 offering off Junior Guerra and hit a routine grounder to short for what seemed like a normal play. About a stride short of the play our highly touted shortstop made a move that can only described as premeditated or “bush league” as he stomped on the heel of Brewers first baseman, Jesus Aguilar. Chaos ensued as Aguilar and Machado had a spat on the field before George Lombard got in the middle of the two like the peacemaker at a bar around 1:30 in the morning.

     The YouTube comment community carried the same sentiment as I and some semi anonymous account holders let their feelings be heard. “As a Dodgers fan, this is sad to see,” says RamanatorVlog, “Great skill but attitude and sportsmanship of a child.” Kyle Stewart added “Machado is a dirty player. Has been for years.” The benches cleared but nothing much transpired aside from that and the Dodgers won the game 2-1 off a Bellinger walk off single. But you might wonder where I was during this time. In my other pastime, I found my self in the mecca of street skateboarding but which is also behind enemy lines for any Dodger fan.

INT. BAR IN SAN FRANCISCO, THE NLCS GAME 5 PLAYS ON ONE TV, WHILE THE GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS OPENING SEASON GAME AND RING CEREMONY PLAYS ON THE SIX OTHERS     

     “What?!?!” my friends and fellow Dodger fans exclaimed as a horrible call or some sort of obvious oversight by the umpires against the Dodgers occurred yet again. A man with a 49ers Joe Montana jersey spins 180 degrees from his barstool with a scowl toward our direction that’s similar to someone who just smelled the most putrid fart from a factory farm cow. “Who are these guys rooting for the Dodgers in San Francisco?!” I cowered due to the mere fact of inherent cowardice and that you can’t dispute that the Gigantes have owned us for years while also stringing off a mini dynasty of three titles in a five year span. Small talk proceeded which included a back n’ forth when he corrected my calling of Oakland A’s designated hitter Khris Davis by enlighting me that his name in fact was “Krush Davis”.

     Ocho spent the rest of the series not hustling out ground balls that could’ve prevented double plays (Who am I to talk I suppose as one would not describe me as the athletic type) but the Dodgers prevailed through a game seven victory which was spent on Milwaukee’s home field.

      Then came the World Series against the “Beantown” Boston Red Sox featuring JD Martinez, presumptive AL MVP Mookie Betts, former Cy Young winner Chris Sale and countless others. What was in tow is what can be called as a “Gentlemen’s Sweep”. Games one and two were dominated by the Red Sox but the lone victory came in a game 3, eighteen inning, seven hour and twenty minute spectacle that ended in a Max Muncy homerun on a 3-2 pitch from a overworked Nathan Eovaldi who threw 97 pitches over six innings of relief, after pitching eight shutout inning in the first two previous games. Thrilled with the result of this marathon game I decided to make a $300 purchase.

INT. DODGER STADIUM TOP DECK ROW A SEAT 8 WORLD SERIES GAME 4     

      There I sat in my front row, nosebleed seat for my first ever World Series experience. There was a buzz in the stadium especially up here with the have nots who I feel are the true fans. Through the lens of my worldview I always believed in a city like Los Angeles the October classic would attract the likes of the Hollywood elite and the upper class of the greater LA area but for my cynical estimation I believe those types are there because simply put, it’s the thing to do in town. Dennis Eckersley and Kirk Gibson were responsible for the first pitch relieving the epic Game 1 of the 1988 World Series where a near crippled Gibson smacked a game winning home run off the then thought impossibly lights out Eckersley which started the locomotive heading for the last known World Series victory in LA. Then the game began with first five frames scoreless until the sixth when LA scored on an error by Red Sox catcher Vazquez. At the plate was alledgedly mercurial right fielder Yasiel Puig who delivered big with a three run bomb to push the lead to 4-0. Eduardo Rodriguez, the pitcher who made the mistake that was capitalized upon, slammed his mitt to the ground in utter disgust. At that moment with a 4 run lead and the series still at 2-1, there was hope that the Dodgers could pull this off. If I told you that I did not tear up just a little bit at this moment, I would be lying.

      (Would we later trade the guy who stepped at this moment with exactly was needed to Cincinnati for a washing machine, a set of silverware and Homer Bailey? Yes. Yes we did.)

    After that the flood gates opened, our starting pitcher Rich Hill was pulled with a runner on and one out. A Red Sox fan behind me yelled at no one in particular, “Who you gonna bring in, huh? Ryan Madson?” DING! DING! DING! WINNER! Madson immediately gave up a three run homerun to Mitch Moreland. The managerial bullpen decision was so puzzling, even the POTUS, Donald Trump chimed in on the Twitter. “Watching the Dodgers/Red Sox final innings. It is amazing how a manager takes out a pitcher who is loose & dominating through almost seven innings, Rich Hill of the Dodgers, and brings in nervous reliever(s) who get shellacked. 4 run lead gone. Managers do it all the time, big mistake!” While I feel the president might have more pressing matters at hand, I think we can all agree (Dem or Rep) that he was correct on the matter. The game ended 9-6 in favor of Boston and I was leaving the game as a disappointed fan. As exiting the turnstile, I noticed a camera crew and decided to stick my face in the camera to give my two cents just like the president. “Rich Hill pitched a great game” I declared, “But the bullpen couldn’t keep up so that’s what happens, but we got ’em tommorow!!!!”

     We didn’t get ’em’ tommorow and in poetic fashion, Machado struck out as the last out as Chris Sale came in from the bullpen to pitch a near perfect game to seal up the Boston victory. Right then, I sat at a familiar bar as the Red Sox won on our home field similar to the same fate that had been bestowed on us fans the October previous. The most puzzling aspect of this all in my opinion is that I spent the two World Series deciding games two years in a row patiently watching at the same downtown bar. When the Super Bowl came around for the local Los Angeles Lambies I would watch the snoozefest of 13-3 at the same ill superstitioned bar. 

   SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA is arguably the best city in California, but when it comes to the undying allegiance to their sport teams they fall by the wayside. An example of this came when the then- San Diego Chargers, and its ownership led by Dean Spanos, proposed a bill that would entail the local taxpayers to pay several millions for a new stadium. This referendum was rejected soundly, so just like that Phillip Rivers and his fourteen offspring and wife packed all of their belongings into the 2004 Yukon to the greener pastures of Hollyweird.

    In regards to the San Diego Padres, I always had wondered why it wasn’t more of a free agent destination, I mean beaches, Tijuana, great weather and a cool stadium like Petco Park , what’s not to like? This past summer I found myself in the Diegoan suburb of El Cajon at a barber shop when in passing I asked the man doing the cutting of the hair if people went to see the “Fathers” play, or for that matter even gave a lick about the hometown heroes. “Nope!” was the answer I got, (He did know someone related to former San Diego Pitcher Aaron Harang.)

     Playing devil’s advocate here, they have spent the better part of two decades as the cellar dwellars of the NL West so I suppose going to Sea World might be higher on the list of things to see rather then watch Clayton Richard struggle through 3 2/3. The brass in San Diego started to make some sensible moves last season when they signed former Kansas City first baseman Eric Hosmer to a lucrative contract, come the 2019 off season their names had been attatched to Machado, along side the Chicago White Sox (The White Sox signed Manny’s brother in law, Yonder Alonso), Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees. Ultimately as it turns out, The “Maestro” became a Padre while he followed the money en route to an extremely lucrative contract to the tune of ten years, three hundred million.

    Like before in 2008 with the arrival Machado’s tocayo in L.A., Manny “Mannywood” Ramirez, if viewed through of lens of a movie critic essentially you could say this one was a box office smash but a critical failure. With the owners gaining unsurmountable profits during the playoff run,  which included forty dollars parking, everyone knew with the acquisition of someone the caliber of Ol’ Ocho that it was World Series victory or bust. Now at the writing of this post, the organization is evidently in a staring match with division rival Giants, the Phillies and super agent Scott Boras for the services of Bryce Harper. Harper brings in the star power that Los Angeles is associated to but along with that the hefty price tag which is forecasted to exceed the amount Machado recieved from San Diego. If it were me as the Dodgers General Manager, I would not take on the heavy contract the likes of Harper and Boras would demand it to be. But then again what do I know, thats why I am writing this and not the one in the war room making those big calls. So for now, I am just gonna remember that the world needs plenty of bartenders.

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