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May 17, 2006

Prospectus Today

Take Two

by Sophia Sheehan

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By now, you've no doubt read my husband's version of last Sunday's Dodger game, so allow me to give you his wife's perspective. Admittedly, I am a baseball fan only by marriage, so my experience of the game is pretty different. The game is an event for me--I take everything in, and baseball is actually the least of the attractions.

To give you an idea about my fandom, I didn't attend my first game until I was 18 years old. Now that I'm "Mrs. Baseball Prospectus," as Joe's ESPNews producer likes to call me, I do attend a few games each year. This game was actually my second of 2006. Joe and I attended an Angels spring training game in Tempe in early March. I went along mostly to visit friends of ours who recently moved to Arizona from Southern California. They happen to be huge Angels fans, so we went to an Angels game. Under any other circumstances it would be insane to drive all the way to Arizona to see a team that's normally 30 miles away from us.

But I digress…If you've never been to Dodger Stadium, you should go. It's a great place to watch a game…but the parking flat-out sucks. It's the only place I know of where if you want to go left, you first have to make a right, and then two lefts. From the time we paid for parking to the time we parked it took at least 15 minutes. If there had been a direct route to our parking lot, it would have taken three minutes.

Next we have to go through "security" to get in. If my staff checked my students--I run a school for emotionally-disturbed children--the way our bags were checked, I'd fire them. It's posted that what they are looking for is glass containers, weapons and beach balls. So, if they actually check for them, how do they get in? Somebody is not doing their job. (This is one of Joe's favorite phrases of mine…you'll hear it again.)

Once inside, my priorities shift. It's time to check out the food. On the way to our seats, I see Chinese food, gourmet pretzels, a sausage stand and, of course, the Dodger Dogs stand. The last of those makes me smile, because it reminds me of my parents. Long before I was born, when my parents each had to work two jobs to get by, they worked one of the concession stands here. They used to tell me stories of people lining up for hot dogs that were actually cooked, and of people who would come by and make sure my dad was cooking before buying. They had the longest lines, and got to meet many famous people. I remember my mom telling me about meeting Milton Berle, asking him if he was who she thought he was, and he said, "I'd better be, because I'm having a ball with Mrs. Berle." So, the stand brings a smile to my face, something Joe won't know until he reads this.

We get to our seats, and I immediately leave to get us some food. The game would be starting soon and Joe brought a scoresheet, so I don't want him to miss any part of the game. I get in line for picante dogs (or "hot hot dogs" as I like to call them), and I remember when Joe went to buy them a few years ago; the nice lady behind the counter kept checking to make sure that the Caucasian boy understood that they were "really hot. No, really hot." The memory brings another smile to my face. (True story. She really didn't want to sell me the dogs.-JSS) Joe loves spicy food, and always gets the hot hot dogs when we come to Dodger Stadium.

Twenty minutes later I return with food and drinks (about 18 of those minutes were for hot dogs and only two for my Chinese food). I sit down and…WHOOSH! A kamikaze bird comes flying between our heads, brushing my hair with its wing. So far, it's a pretty exciting game!

Joe starts giving me information on each and every player…including the one that I happen to know a little something about. One of my favorite things to do is to tell Joe something about baseball or a player, something he wouldn't think I would know, just to see his jaw drop. Unfortunately, there will be no opportunities for that at this game. Although he was surprised that I knew that Nomar Garciaparra was popular amongst the L.A. crowd. This was a "duh" for me.

As we watch the game and the ump signals "safe," I remind Joe about our friend Miranda's theory that the signs for "safe" and "out" are backwards. "Safe" looks like a person motioning "nope, no way." And the gesture for "out" looks more like a fist pump for "Yes!" It's a motion I've actually seen Joe use when the game's on the line and a player does something good. Her theory makes complete sense to me, as I think it would to most women. Joe and I laugh about this for a bit.

I observe the people around me. There is a very loud Dodger fan sitting up behind us and to our right, and she is way into the game. She's also very positive and supportive of all the team members. To my left are two guys who are busy talking about the game and drinking beers. Fortunately there is nobody in front of us, which means that I can stretch out my legs.

During the game I am very impressed by the outfielders' jumping abilities…not that they actually were able to catch any of the balls headed over the fence, but man, could they jump. There are a few errors also, and each time I comment that the player is not doing his job. My favorite was when two players who were simultaneously going for the ball…simultaneously stop going for the ball. They wind up a few feet from each other, staring at the ball on the ground between them.

To me, the game was a blowout and a fast game, which is the way I like it. I admit that my attention span at games is short…if you haven't already figured that out by reading an article on a baseball game that has very little to do with baseball. I usually get bored around the fifth inning. That's when I start rooting for outs, unless of course the game is tied. Extra innings--or "free baseball"--is not fun for me unless I have a playmate. I like watching the people around me and the bloopers on the Jumbotron, and spending time with Joe. I enjoyed my day at the park, just don't ask me for details. I know who the Dodgers played (the Milwaukee Brewers) and that the Dodgers won…just don't ask me by how many points! That one's for Joe--it's fun to see him scowl like I've just run my nails on a chalkboard.

Sophia Sheehan is married to an author of Baseball Prospectus.

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Prospectus Notebook: B... (05/17)
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