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May 20, 2002

The Daily Prospectus

Saturday Night

by Joe Sheehan

Friday evening, Sophia and I on were on our way to have dinner on the west side when she suggested that we take our friends, Shelley and E.J., to the Dodgers game on Saturday night.

You could have knocked me over with an eephus pitch.

Understand, this just doesn't happen. Sophia hates baseball, and goes to maybe one game a year, generally under some kind of duress. Her asking, "How about the Dodger game?" is like Britney Spears saying, "I think I'll wear the prairie dress" or Chris Kahrl exclaiming, "No, no...YOU take the last beer!" It's a miracle along the lines of water and wine, bread and fishes, home runs and Jason Tyner.

She was serious, though, so I pitched the idea to Shelley, who was all for it. She and E.J. have an interfaith marriage--Angels and Dodgers--and while they frequent Edison Field, don't get up to Chavez Ravine nearly as often. This trip would, presumably, make their purchase of an Angels partial season-ticket plan a bit easier to swallow.

I picked up seats for the Dodgers online, a process that was, I confess, disappointing. The Dodgers have such a large season-ticket base that there aren't many good single-game tickets for sale. (As much as I've been glad to see baseball's popularity soar in the last dozen years, I sometimes miss my high-school days, and being able to get $15 field-level tickets at Yankee Stadium on the day of the game.) Having never sat between the bases on Dodger Stadium, I picked up some upper-deck seats just to the third-base side of home plate, and hoped I hadn't forgotten about any sensitivity to heights among the traveling party.

To my surprise, the seats were really quite good. I used to really dislike sitting in the upper desk at a ballpark, perhaps due to growing up with Yankee Stadium, and its steeply canted top level. At Edison Field, though, the upper deck behind home plate is a good seat, infinitely better than a lower deck seat out beyond the bases (the seats face center field, forcing you to spend the game twisted towards home plate). Our seats for this game were also enjoyable; the upper deck--the blue seats, for you locals--didn't induce vertigo, and wasn't so far back as to give the illusion of sitting in Burbank.

You may be wondering why I've written so much before getting to the first pitch. Two reasons: one, I didn't keep score--it was more a social event than a baseball one--so I don't have any notes. Two, it was something of a nondescript game. The Expos won 3-1, the only win they would get on the road trip as they slid out of first place and under .500. Here's what I can say:

  • Carl Pavano was on. In his seven-plus innings, he broke six or seven bats with fastballs. The Dodgers hit almost nothing hard, getting a bunch of their singles on bloops and well-placed ground balls. It was his best outing of the season by far, and came at a time when the Expos desperately needed a win.

  • Cesar Izturis can play some shortstop. He made a pretty backhand play on a ball in the hole, displaying a strong arm in the process.

    Oh, and the consensus was he looks like boxer Fernando Vargas.

  • Two of the spear carriers for BP's LABR team combined for three shutout innings. Giovanni Carrara looked good, while Paul Quantrill wasn't as impressive but pitched out of a jam.

    Izturis and Quantrill are playing well, so the Dodgers look like the big winners in last winter's deal with the Blue Jays. I left it out of my summary for ESPN.com two weeks ago, but with Luke Prokopec being battered from pillar to post, and Chad Ricketts probably out until at least late 2003, the Dodgers look to have done themselves well in that swap.

It was a pretty nondescript game. The Expos scored on two solo home runs and a sacrifice fly, there was very little in the way of rallies (the Dodgers had two, getting one run on their own sac fly) or great plays or excitement. The only times the crowd really got into things, the Dodgers' bats killed the enthusiasm almost immediately.

The thing about baseball that so many people don't get, though, is that it just doesn't matter. You can enjoy a baseball game on just about any level, and under any circumstances. The three people I went with would never have wanted to discuss, say, Vladimir Guerrero's selectivity or the Dodgers' problems scoring runs or Carl Pavano's career path. This certainly wasn't a game you'd put in the Hall of Fame, one that we'd talk about for years. And yet, we had a great time,

It's not about being "inferior" as a fan, a ridiculous concept if there ever was one. It's just about being a fan, and having a great time on a Saturday night with friends in a beautiful setting. It just doesn't get much better than that.

Oh, and the punch line? The game was right out of Sophia's dreams: two hours and 23 minutes. I wonder if she knew something...

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. You can contact him by clicking here.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Joe's other articles. You can contact Joe by clicking here

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