Angel of Death, the Day before Nuclear Annihilation

Angel of Death
“Angel of Death” by Lord Hannu on DeviantArt

“FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCK!”

I needed to get that out of my system. These goddamn fucking idiotic humans. It’s not enough that we gave them the earth, plenty of fresh water and bountiful food. It wasn’t enough we gave them orgasms and psychedelic drugs. The capability to feel love, empathy and all of those nice non-carnal emotions. No. They just had to fuck things up, start quarrelling with themselves and annihilate themselves. I should just leave them there, flailing and agonizing in pain and misery. But God won’t like it, and we can’t have her upset. Especially on this day of the month.

It’s her own damn fault, though. She’s the one who decided to make these pathetic creatures. We all warned her. Peter told her they were too stupid to realize that everyone is good. Humans needed to have some gay people around to make sure the population didn’t go haywire. But those fuckers wanted to spread everywhere like cancer. They even made being gay illegal! Can you believe that? Poor Peter. Now he has to argue with those ascending souls that being gay is all right up here. Those fucking humans think they know everything. He’s pissed, especially since he’s salaried and doesn’t get overtime. He doesn’t need their bullshit on top of it.

I was running late into the office this morning. Mike was fun last night, and I was still walking a little funny. I’ve got to remember to take it easy on school nights since the mornings after are always a bitch. Especially when the alarm is blaring and you see that it’s already 7:45 and you have only 15 minutes to get cleaned and dressed and to the office about five miles away.

Needless to say, I didn’t even have time to have my first cup of coffee when I hurriedly walked into the office and saw Azrael who had the graveyard shift. I always felt bad when I was late, but he was usually laughed off my tardiness.

Something was different this morning. Instead of calling me a slut he just sat there looking pale, like he saw a ghost. When I walked in it took him a while before he noticed me, and even then there was no greeting, no nothing. It was just a terrified stare.

“What’s up, Azrael,” I asked as I walked to the kitchen to make some much-needed coffee. “Is everything all right?”

“Oh, hey Adriel. Um. All I have to say is good luck.” With that he got up and ran out of office as if God herself was giving birth on our kitchen counter.

“Um. Okay.” What the fuck was that about?

As my coffee brewed, I walked over to my desk to get my daily requisitions. Usually there were several sheets of paper letting me know whose soul I had to take with their address and their physical description. I soon realized that something was very wrong. I was getting the sense that whatever freaked Azrael out was going to affect me.

Instead of the requisitions there was only a post-it. “Call me. God.”

Fuck.

Need. Coffee.

That didn’t sound good. I automatically started questioning whether last night was worth it to incur the wrath of God. I could still feel Mike’s cum sloshing around my ass. Hell, I could still picture his fist all the way up there. But here I was, still no coffee in my system and about to have to deal with God. I dialed the number.

“Adriel. You’re late.”

“I know. I’m sorry, ma’am.”

“I have no time for this,” God interrupted. “There are more pressing issues.”

I let out a sigh of relief knowing I dodged that bullet.

“As you know,” God continued, “the humans have been fighting amongst themselves more and more. What we were afraid of will be happening in 24 hours.”

“FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCK!”

Well That Was a Willy-Shrinker

Dodger Stadium

Dodger Stadium

Freeway Series, Freeway Series, yadda yadda yadda. Of course there are those who wonder if this is the year we will see a Freeway Series World Series considering both teams are playing well. We call these people “fools”.

Since the Angels started play in 1961, only three times have both the Dodgers and Angels made the playoffs in the same season: 2004, 2008 and 2009. And only in 2009 did both teams make their respective League Championship Series. So excuse me if I’m not brimming with anticipation for the Freeway World Series.

What is giving me a hardon, however, is the centerfielder duel between Mike Trout and Yasiel Puig. Hell, if a porn showed up in my mailbox with the two of them going at it all nasty, that would indeed give me a hardon and then some.

Too bad all of that pent up anticipation amounted to a whole bunch of nothing thanks to the top of the first inning. Zack Greinke made 21 pitches in that dubious half-inning giving up a single and two doubles to Kole Calhoun, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols that scored two. Then Hanley Ramirez made a horrific throw to first base on Howie Kendrick’s grounder that allowed Erick Aybar to score the third run. A David Freese single brought in Kendrick, and there it was: a 4-0 Angels lead.

After a bottom second when Angels starter Garrett Richards got out of a bases-loaded jam unscathed, the game got back on the rails to what everyone expected it to be: a well-pitched game. Well, except for the hanging changeup Greinke grooved to Josh Hamilton in the sixth inning to give the Angels the 5-0 lead.

Garrett Richards tossed his first career complete game shutout making it still baffling that he did not make the All Star Game.

So the showdown between the two centerfielders? Trout got the double in the first inning. Neither player had to make any superlative play in the field although Trout was lustfully booed after tracking down fly balls from A.J. Ellis and Greinke in the fifth inning. But the duelling Mutombo fingerwags were the real payoff.

In the sixth inning with Erick Aybar on first base, David Freese hit a fly ball to center for the second out. Puig caught the ball and threw over to first base to make sure Aybar didn’t tag up then did the Mutombo fingerwag at Aybar.

In the seventh inning Pujols took second base after Josh Hamilton flied out to center. Trout, in the dugout, returned the Mutombo fingerwag. See? A little bit of fun to break the monotony of this 5-0 game.

With a Hector Santiago-Clayton Kershaw duel tomorrow, we can only hope for a more compelling game. Please.

Vin Is Returning for 2015

Vin Returns

Vin Scully is returning to the Dodgers broadcast booth next season, and hopefully more than 30% of Angelenos will be able to listen to him on SportsNetLA.

I have been fortunate to have been at Dodger Stadium for some special moments. When Nomar Garciaparra hit the walkoff home run in the 10th inning on Sept. 18, 2006 to give the Dodgers an 11-10 win over the San Diego Padres. When Jonathan Broxton closed a 3-1 win over the Chicago Cubs in the 2008 NL Divisional Series for the Dodgers first postseason series win since the 1988 World Series.

But none of those moments came close to what was heard in the middle of the second inning after Josh Beckett got BJ Upton to strike out swinging to end the top of the second.

The Dodgers aired a “breaking news” video where Hyun-Jin Ryu announced in Korean that the 86-year old Vin Scully is returning for 2015, his 66th season. Then Yasiel Puig announced the same in Spanish which got some in the crowd excited. Then Justin Turner translated for everyone else, and what happened was a couple minutes of a sustained standing ovation.

“It is very difficult to say goodbye,” said Scully in a statement. “God willing, I will be back next year. Over the years I have been blessed to have so many friends, including those that sit in the stands and listen, as well as those at home who listen and watch. It is just too hard to say goodbye to all these friends. Naturally there will come a time when I will have to say goodbye, but I’ve soul-searched and this is not the time.”

There are very few times when Dodger Stadium shakes because of the crowd, and it’s a near certainty that its structural integrity will be tested when Vin is honored. I wasn’t there tonight, but I can only imagine how it was on Vin Scully microphone giveaway night.

Now, as to whether anyone will be able to tune into Vin, that’s another question. Time Warner has recently agreed to binding arbitration after six local congressmen asked them and other local television providers to do so. Directv has refused. It’s unknown whether Time Warner’s olive branch is merely a PR move. But knowing the reputation of content providers and congressman, it’s safe to keep the bullshit meters up.

Of course, all of this serves to bury what a poorly pitched game this 8-4 Dodger victory over the Atlanta Braves was. Dodger fans tend to be spoiled with pitching. For the last two seasons now we see Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu dismantling the opposition. See what they did in San Francisco to bring the Dodgers from 1 1/2 games behind the Giants to 1 1/2 games ahead of the Giants by Sunday.

So when Josh Beckett made 95 pitches through four innings, it was a shock to the senses. He made 37 pitches in the third inning alone, 26 of which came after he gave up a two-run homer to Freddie Freeman to give the Braves the 3-2 lead.

It’s clear Beckett is still adjusting with life after his dominant fireball-dealing days, no-hitter notwithstanding. His fastball has tons of movement hitting the gun as high as 92 mph which is hopeful. His problem is control which is leaving much to be desired. But as spoiled Dodger fans we should get over it. It could be a lot worse. Brett. Tomko. Mark. Hendrickson. Jason. Schmidt.

But if the offense can continue the pace they’re on, then that should ease the Beckett-Dan Haren blues. Matt Kemp golfed two home runs to the opposite field bringing back memories of his 2011 season. Meanwhile Yasiel Puig was a home run short of a natural cycle going 4-for-5 scoring two runs. And for the first time this season the Dodgers have a four-game win streak.

With the Giants losing to the Pirates 3-1, the Dodgers now have a three-game lead in the division. And to top it off, their 60-47 record leads the National League.

Fuck Aging: The 2012 FYF Fest Through the Eyes of a 33-Year Old

James Blake

I shocked a lot of people when I told them that this year’s FYF Fest would be my first music festival I have attended. I’ve done Sunset Juntion and the early incarnations of the FYF Fest when it was still known as the “Fuck Yeah Fest”, but an actual music festival, no. I haven’t been to Coachella. I’ve never done Lollapalooza. I didn’t even go to This Ain’t No Picnic during its only incarnation in 1999. Since I’ve been a music junkie most of my life, it comes as a surprise to most people.

But the lineup came out, and for some reason I decided that this was the music festival I had to be at. Perhaps it was M83. Or maybe it was Dinosaur, or the Vaselines, or Simian Mobile Disco, or Liars, or James Blake or whatever else I wanted to listen. All I knew is that I had to drag my bloated sack of fluids, fat and bones to this thing $90+ be damned.

One of the things I learned is that this business of music festivals is best left for the youth. They’re the ones who can tolerate crowds, the tons of bad music and the dehydration. They have no problems dealing with the mixture of cigarette and pot smoke combined with dust and sediment and whatever animal excrement left on the ground constantly creeping into your sinuses.

It certainly is a sad thing when age creeps up on you. Words like “blood pressure”, “sciatica”, “aching” and “naps” start invading their way into your vernacular. It’s awful and absolutely barbaric. I have eased my way into my 30’s, or to more accurately phrase it, my 30’s have crept into my life like the succubus, and this FYF Fest certainly made me feel it.

Of course it started nicely on Saturday. Despite the near 90-degree weather, a steady breeze blew through the LA Historic Park making it suprisingly pleasant. Being the old fart, of course, I stood and waited to see The Vaselines after giving myself a grand tour.

2012 FYF Fest

The Vaselines did their thing playing the crowd favorites “Molly’s Lips”, “Jesus Don’t Want Me for a Sunbeam”, “Turnaround”. For some reason there was a heckler to which Frances in her Scottish lilt said, “You’re being a bad boy. You need a spanking. Then I’m gonna shit on you.”

Seeing The Vaselines brought about the same emotions as when I saw the Pixies back in 2005. I kept wanting to cry but managed to hold on to a small shred of dignity and merely bobbed my head back and forth to the tunes.

Pains of Being Pure at Heart

I made my way over to see Pains at Being Pure of Heart while sitting at a safe distance on a shaded hill which was fine. I had more than enough exposure to the sun while watching the Vaselines, and despite the distance I still felt like I should have been in the middle of a Gregg Araki movie.

Most annoyingly though all my fault was making my way over to see the Chromatics play at the northern-most stage. For some reason I get them mixed up with the Coachwhips. So instead of lo-fi noisy punkish bullshit, there was lo-fi dancish stuff. Oops. I met up with a friend and we went over to see Hot Snakes play which reminded me of Blonde Redhead if they went hardcore.

I cut out of there right before they allegedly played a Drive Like Jehu song to go see James Blake. In hindsight I had no regrets.

James Blake was an epiphany, a cross between Antony and the Johnsons, D’Angelo and an electronic cocoon. I first came upon James Blake thanks to a local gay porn/experimental film collective and now defunct Black Spark. For the uninitiated, the films were a travel to the underworld of the psyche, a battle between good and evil, and, most importantly, hardcare gay sex between almost mythical chiseled twinks. Sadly all of the videos have disappeared into the ether, and no word has been heard from them since.

The last time I felt this moved was when I saw Ladytron for the first time at the John Ford Amphitheater. Then I felt I was a part of a gothic rave. For James Blake, I felt like I was getting ready for a good all-night orgy although I did conveniently close my eyes so I didn’t have to see any of the double-x chromosomes.

I ended up going back on the knoll where I saw Pains of Being Pure at Heart to take in M83. I then realized how boring that band is despite the couple of head-bobbing songs they have in their repertoire and decided to take off.

I felt great leaving the park and walking to the Gold Line Chinatown station. The energy of the festival was still brimming inside me, and I couldn’t wait to come back on Sunday.

When I woke up Sunday, it seemed that every dust particle I inhaled on Saturday decided to attack every part of my sinus. I sneezed and sneezed and was just a snotty mess, which also happens to work well with a beard. I felt attacked my every cell in my body, but I still felt determined to go.

As I was driving to the Artesia Transit Center so I could Metro it up the festival, I thought about the line to get in, having to deal with my camera, sitting in the sun, being around people and the pain I was feeling.

I figured the bands I really wanted to see were Dinosaur Jr., Liars and The Faint. I’d seen Liars several times already, and the thought of catching the two other bands didn’t outweigh me wanting to return home and become a vegetable. So I made a detour to the market and went back home.

I really try to keep age at a distance, refusing to let it get the best of me. But it has started to claim me.

I’ll live I suppose. I also suppose I’m spoiled since I am usually separated from the unwashed masses occupying the press box in local arenas and stadia. But fuck it. No matter the aches, the pains, the age, the allergies, the dust or what not. I had a shit ton of fun on Saturday. Fuck yeah!

ESPN’s College GameDay, Fandom and a Fruitless Reclamation of Youth


College GameDay Set
The empty set of ESPN's College GameDay with the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in the background.

Originally published on LAist on Oct. 30, 2011.

The coldest time of the day is the immediate hours before sunrise. At least that is what we are told. I’m usually safely ensconced in the layers of bedding in various states of unconsciousness unless there is a sudden urge to evacuate my bladder. Regardless it’s a rarity that I am outdoors when it’s so cold*, but there I was in the Saturday predawn walking towards the torch-lit Coliseum and into the condensed remains of my breath in the still dark morning.

* I know full well that it was snowing on the East Coast and power got knocked out to two million residents. But I also know I pay more to live in a place that should always be sunny and 80 degrees year round. So I will complain about the cold, and all of the people who question my complaints can just get fucked.

Sun Rise
The sun rising in the east behind ESPN's College GameDay set.

ESPN’s College GameDay has become a phenomenon. Week after week host Chris Fowler with analysts Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso and Desmond Howard go to the site of the biggest football matchup and do their pregame show using the cheering students as a backdrop for their set. Like other pregame shows, they give out the talking points of the day’s matchups. What does Duke need to do to upset Virginia Tech at home? Will Russell Wilson shake off last week’s disappointment and have Wisconsin win big on the road at Ohio State? Is Kansas State’s head coach Bill Snyder the best coach there is?

But it’s become more than your standard run-of-the-mill pregame show.

“We want to be analytical,” GameDay coordinating producer Lee Fitting told me after a production meeting Friday evening. “We want to be historical. We want to be educational. We want to be entertaining. That’s the goal to find the mix.”

For three hours, the first hour hosted by the lovely Erin Andrews on ESPNU, it chugs and chugs on until their final segment, the climax of the morning. Offstage goes Howard and onstage comes a celebrity guest who along with Herbstreit and Corso pick games. The final game they pick is the game that is hosted at the site they are at and culminates with Corso wearing the mascot headgear of the team he picks to win.

That’s the money shot. That’s why the hungover masses from last night’s parties braved the lines (at least approximately 15% of the folks I asked in my highly unscientific poll). As to why I’m there, that is something a bit more complicated.

Back in the spring of 1997 while looking for colleges I didn’t base my decision on the state of their college athletics: I based it on who would accept me as an electrical engineering major**. That’s how I wound up at UC Santa Barbara, a school without a football program in any division.

**One of a string of horrible life decisions I made. Obviously I’m not an engineer. I suppose if I could have gotten in to UCLA or Cal as an English major or undeclared, but what can I do about it now?

I have never experienced the thrill of pre-funking in the dorms then making the trek down to the stadium on game day blitzed out of my mind. Although looking back at it not having a football team didn’t really make a difference: I still don’t remember much of my Saturdays in college.

There were no fight songs. No chants. No cheerleaders. Not even a Division III game. And there definitely was no GameDay for me.

I have no context as to how autumn Saturdays work for the millions of college students across the country. So that’s my best guess as to why I dragged my 30-something corpse to a place that belongs to teenagers and 20-somethings – to figure out what all the hubbub of Saturday football is all about.

The Start of the Broadcast
The view of walking towards the set of ESPN's College GameDay set with the lit torch of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in the background.

The broadcast starts at 9 a.m. Eastern time which means it’s a pre-sunrise 6 a.m. on the West Coast. “It definitely adds a different dynamic to the show,” stage director Mike Ruhlman told me. Despite having to be awake at 3 a.m., “we can get some great shots of the sun rising.”

The glow of stage lights could be seen from miles away, a stark contrast from the dark sky. I followed that glow until I made it to the set where they were 15 minutes into the first hour where the students had already gathered with their signs.

At the heart of the show are the students. When I asked coordinating producer Fitting what was the best part about doing GameDay he replied that it was going to a campus for the first time.

“To see the excitement and the thrill these kids have to see the guys and be a part of the show, it’s awesome. It just adds to the show when you have a group of kids that excited.”

Obviously the GameDay crew has been out to USC on eight separate occasions, but nonetheless the students seemed to be filled with enough enthusiasm. There were the signs: “Yahoo should investigate the NCAA.” “Occupy the NCAA. 99% of sanctions. 1% of violations.” Admittedly I didn’t get that one. There were also the douchebaggery signs: “We are the 1%.” And there was the funniest one: “9 out of 10 California girls are hot. The 10th one goes to Stanford.”

The Signs
Some of the signs held by students for ESPN's College GameDay broadcast.

What really incurred my wrath was how awake the students seemed to be. Here I was feeling it required Dr. Frankenstein to get me alive and walking much less coherent at such an hour. I guess that’s why they don’t do GameDay against a backdrop of 30-somethings.

There were a couple of kids who had stayed up from the night before. Most were like a group I encountered near the bronze nude statues at the peristyle entrance of the Coliseum: “Coffee and more coffee,” they answered when I asked how they were alive.

It was at that point when my initial dose of coffee was beginning to wear off. As I was heading backstage to get some much needed coffee, I hear two whistles and a charging scream as if I were on the set of Braveheart. The Stanford band dressed up for Halloween decided to charge the crowd. I narrowly missed the stampede and made it safe behind the barricade by a half second.

The Stanford Band
The Stanford band playing a song after their stampede towards the crowd.

The show was not supposed to come to Los Angeles. The original plan had them going to the Little Apple of Manhattan, Kansas for a Big 12 duel between what would have been undefeated Oklahoma Sooners and Kansas State Wildcats teams. Only Oklahoma didn’t follow the script losing at home to Texas Tech. With the enormity of the game diminished, GameDay made the last minute decision to come out for the Standford-USC battle.

“It’s something we always talk about,” GameDay coordinating producer Lee Fitting explained to me Friday afternoon after a production meeting. “We can change directions at a drop of a hat.”

With a dedicated crew that travels with the show, Fitting told me they can have the set broken down in three hours and packed in trucks ready to head to their next location. They haul ass to get to the next location where it takes a day to set things up, and voila! Television magic ready to happen.

And like that moment with the unruly Stanford band charging, it was television magic indeed. It was all a spectacle befitting of an epileptic fit of Guy Debord. Throughout the three hours, there were producers on the speakers telling the crowd, “More energy!” and “We’re shooting this corner and need to fill it up!”

There were even moments while the guys were discussing something on set that the male cheerleaders were jumping up and down in place holding up the cheer cards right behind the set. I didn’t have a monitor in front of me but it probably would have looked like a lot of background energy in the shot.

What made it surreal was the fact that these cheerleaders were absolutely silently. They were smiling and looking enthusiastic, but not one peep was heard from them. The crowd behind them were quiet too, the wear of standing for hours in an unnatural time of the day starting to take its toll.

As Debord said about the spectacle in his sixth thesis of The Society of the Spectacle, “It is the very heart of society’s real unreality.” Everything did feel unreal.

Even backstage behind the scenes watching Erin Andrews trying to warm up donning a baby blue snuggie adorned with penguins; the Stanford tree mascot guy generously allowing Corso to borrow the getup for the headgear segment of the show.

Rejects
Where rejected signs go to die.

It didn’t seem real at any point. The steady build up going up the hill until finally Corso prances around the stage in the Stanford tree. No denouement, no resolution. Just the catharsis of the climax, a couple of deep breaths and a walk of shame.

As I was walking down Figueroa I was wondering what the hell I learned in the previous three hours.

1. I still don’t fully understand the Saturday rituals, and I never will. It’s all right though. Since I don’t have that school loyalty, I won’t understand.

2. Stanford kids are more fun than USC kids. I don’t know whether it was because Stanford was the visiting team or whether it was because they don’t have a history of excellence. With USC it’s different. They have “Conquest”, “Tribute to Troy”, “Fight On”. There’s an austere pretentiousness*** about the Trojans that induces yawns. But with Stanford they just don’t give a fuck. I would much rather have drinks with them (although towards the end of the show I found a couple drinking Bud Lights and had to immediately reconsider that previous statement.)

*** And yes I fully understand that I am criticizing USC’s pretensions in one breath and citing Guy Debord in another. I’m a hypocrite, what can I say?

The Stanford Kids
A view of stage right where the Stanford band and kids had congregated.

3. I will never ever work an assignment that requires me to me up at 5 a.m. unless I’m covering a seven-overtime playoff game in the NHL.

Pose
The students posing for a shot at the camera.

Dodgers Hate Kuroda, Withhold Run Support

Originally published on LAist on July 27, 2011

The Dodgers hate Hiroki Kuroda. After all, how else can one explain the lack of run support Kuroda this season?

“I think it’s him being unlucky,” Dodgers’ Manager Don Mattingly said directing the propaganda. If “unlucky” means “unworthy of getting any runs from us,” then that quote is spot on.

Coming into the game the Dodgers scored an average of 2.9 runs per games that Kuroda has started. Only the San Diego Padres’ Dustin Moseley has worse run support in the National League among pitchers who have started at least 13 games. As a comparison Chad Billingsley has 4.4 runs of support per game, Clayton Kershaw has 4.2, Ted Lilly has 4.1 and Rubby De La Rosa has 3.7.

“When I was stretching I was looking at his record,” Kemp said conspiratorially. “He should have a better record than that. We should score some runs for him. We just haven’t done it when he pitched.”

They keep saying that, but the story never changes. Like a broken record it happened again Wednesday night. While Kuroda’s six innings might not have been the most stellar pitching performance of the season, he limited the six hits and three walks to only one run.

But by dropping his earned run average to 3.11, just outside the top ten for starters in the National League, it still wasn’t enough to get him the win. With only Rod Barajas’ solo shot in the ninth inning as support, Kuroda’s record fell to 6-13 as the Dodgers lost 3-1.

“You do feel bad for him,” Mattingly said. “He does exactly what we ask him to do. He’s doing his job every time out.”

Of course the last three times out were speculation that each game would be his last.

“I really haven’t decided anything,” Kuroda said through translator Kenji Nimura. It’s a sentiment he repeated to reporters after the game despite the animosity shown to him by his teammates in the guise of run support.

“My honest feeling right now is I cannot fathom thinking about wearing another uniform.”

To be truthful there is no animosity in the clubhouse. In fact there is a lot of camaraderie amongst the players, and the thought of a play leaving is hard on them.

“I know it is part of the business,” Mattingly said. “Anybody that would have him would know that this kind of guy is going to keep them in every game.

“But you’d hate to lose one of your guys from the standpoint that he’s been here for four years and pitched really well for us. You really want what’s best for him more than anything.”

Despite how taxing all the trade talk can be for Kuroda, getting no support still tops the frustration list for him.

“Every time you go on the mound you go out there to win. So it’s frustrating and disappointing each time you lose. I’ve now experienced that disappointment 13 times already this season, so I think this is more frustrating.”

Dodgers Set Ablaze By Marlins

Dodger Stadium of Fire
Fans look at smoke from a fire that broke out at Dodger Stadium during the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball game against the Florida Marlins, Saturday, May 28, 2011, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

On Saturday night the awful stench emanating from Dodger Stadium wasn’t merely the Dodgers in their 6-1 loss to the Florida Marlins.

During the game a small fire broke out in a storage warehouse for paper products for Levy Restaurants between the top deck and reserve levels near Section 13 on the right field side of the stadium. Billowing smoke emanated from the stairwell of both levels forcing fans on the right side of those levels to be relocated. The Top of the Park Store was also evacuated.

The fire was contained and extinguished by the Los Angeles Fire Department within 20 minutes with no injuries reported. Unfortunately for the Dodgers there was also no stoppage of play.

“It was something different,” Manager Don Mattingly said.

Unfortunately what wasn’t different was the play of the Dodgers. Despite missing Marlins’ ace Josh Johnson, who is on the 15-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation, the Dodgers still could not capitalize on the procession of relievers they faced all night.

“I don’t know why there were so effective,” Mattingly said. “Obviously we weren’t able to scratch anything together.”

The only damage they did was against the starter Brian Sanchez in the third inning. Sanchez, who was close to hitting his 50-pitch count limit at that point, gave up a leadoff walk to Dodgers’ starter Hiroki Kuroda. With Andre Ethier on first and Kuroda on third with two outs, Matt Kemp hit a double to score Kuroda for the lone run.

Against reliever Edward Mujica (W, 5-2) who in 16 appearances against the Dodgers had given up a .329 batting average and 17 runs? Nothing for two innings.

Against reliever Burke Badenhop who gave up seven runs in four appearances against the Dodgers? Also nothing for two innings.

“You’ve just got to have a plan, stick with it and try to execute,” Casey Blake said. “We just didn’t have enough runners on base, didn’t get enough big hits tonight. A team can be effective like that sometimes throwing four, five guys out there like that.”

The Marlins had no such problems against Dodger pitching. Every Marlins position player reached base safely and only Mike Stanton went hitless. That of course meant that Kuroda (L, 5-5) wasn’t able to rebound from his poor performance on the South Side of Chicago on May 22. The Marlins touched him up for five runs in 5 1/3 innings on 10 hits.

“He’s tough,” Marlins’ first baseman Gaby Sanchez said about Kuroda. “His ball moves a lot, moves all over the place. We just went up there and tried to hit his mistakes.”

“He didn’t seem to have command of his fastball tonight,” Mattingly noted. “That always puts you in a little bit of trouble.”

Kuroda acknowledged the poor locations of his fastball but attributed it to his sliders.

“One of the reasons I gave up a lot of hits tonight was my slider didn’t have a lot of movement,” Kuroda said. “I went to challenge a lot of hitters in the strike zone, and they got the best out of me.”

Minnesota Twins defeat LA Angels 1-0 (10).

Chivas USA tied Columbus Crew 3-3.

LA Galaxy defeat New England Revolution 1-0.

TONIGHT’S ACTION

LA Angels at Minnesota Twins. 11:10 a.m. FSWest, AM 830 KLAA.

Florida Marlins at LA Dodgers. 1:10 p.m. FS Prime Ticket, AM 790 KABC.

Dodgers Saw London, Dodgers Saw France

Originally published on LAist on April 3, 2011.

Men are known to keep their underwear way past its expiration date. Until the darn thing disintegrates in the wash we will keep it in our rotation, holes and frayed elastic be damned. Well someone in the Giants’ clubhouse should alert right fielder Aubrey Huff that his magical red thong that mysteriously propelled the Giants to their World Series Championship last season has outlived its usefulness as evidenced by the Dodgers’ 7-5 victory over the Giants.

It started in the first inning after Rafael Furcal blooped a single into shallow centerfield to lead off. Huff lost Jamey Carroll’s line drive in the shadows. Once he caught sight of the ball and dove for it, it skipped past him and dribbled out towards the Giants’ bullpen. By the time Huff reached that ball at the edge of the warning track, Furcal had scored and Carroll was standing as safe as can be at third base.

Carroll didn’t think it was a triple coming off his bat, “but when I saw it get by him, I saw I had time to run the bases.”

Huff’s blunder can be forgiven since both runners would have scored anyway after Matt Kemp took starter Barry Zito’s 84 mph fastball offering half way into the Dodger bullpen for the 3-0 lead.

But in the seventh inning after the Giants had tied the game up 3-3, Huff could do no right.

After James Loney led off the inning with an opposite-field single off of reliever Dan Runzler (L, 0-1) and Rod Barajas struck out, Marcus Thames hit a long fly ball to right-centerfield. Huff turned once, twice, back around and every which way and still had the ball sail over his head. Yet again no error was given. Yet again the Dodgers got a triple. Yet again a run scored.

“I hit it good,” Thames said. “I was just glad to get it past the infield.”

While that would have been poetic enough as it was, pinch hitter Aaron Miles hit an RBI single towards Huff. And Furcal hit an RBI double towards Huff. And after Runzler was replaced with Sergio Romo, Andre Ethier hit an RBI single towards Huff.

“It just happened that way,” Carroll said of the “coincidental” targeting of Huff.

Four runs, five hits and the Dodgers standing pretty leading 7-3.

The Giants battled back in the second inning with Pablo Sandoval’s solo homer, three two-out singles leading to one run in the sixth and Pat Burrell’s solo shot in the seventh – all off of Dodgers’ starter Hiroki Kuroda (W, 1-0).

And after the Huff-plosion, they got back a run in the eighth inning with Brandon Belt walking with the bases loaded off of reliever Matt Guerrier and an Aaron Rowand’s pinch-hit solo homer off of closer Jonathan Broxton to lead off the ninth inning.

“You’ve got to go after them and get quick outs,” Broxton said unfazed by the homer.

Catcher Rod Barajas was equally unfazed.

“I think he’s fine,” he said. “His role is to close games out. He’s 3-for-3 this year. It doesn’t matter how he gets it done.”

While many of the 50,896 at Dodger Stadium could have used new underwear by the time he was done, the fact remains that Broxton did get it done with Buster Posey grounding to shortstop for his third save in as many chances (his 6.00 ERA notwithstanding.)

The MVP of this game for the Dodgers beyond Huff has to be the Dodgers’ promotions department who wisely scheduled the Snuggie night (or, the Dodger Sleeved Blanket due to intellectual property issues.) In front of the national ESPN2 cameras, it made it seem like an actual Dodger game in stark contrast to Saturday afternoon’s game where chants of “Beat L.A.” drowned out the few Dodger fans who remained.

Kings Knock Out Luongo, Canucks 5-3

First published on LAist on April 19, 2010.

Luongo, schmongo. In their first playoff home win since April 27, 2002 against the Colorado Avalanche, the Kings’ special teams battered Canucks’ goalie Roberto Luongo and held on for the 5-3 win in regulation.

The Kings went 3-for-3 in power play opportunities with goals by Drew Doughty 11:00 in the first period and two by Michal Handzus at 4:06 and 11:31 in the second period.

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Dodgers Fifth Starting Spot Competition a Reality

Originally posted on LAist on March 2, 2010

Like I said in my piece last week about Frank McCourt, I don’t fault him for trying make as money as he can so long as he doesn’t compromise the quality of the Dodgers in the process. So here I present the best way to squeeze money out of the usual serenity of spring training: “So You Want to Pitch for the Dodgers.”

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Frank McCourt Wheels and Deals For More

Originally published on LAist on February 25, 2010.

Used car salesman. Dick Cheney. Rampart Division cop. These are all people I trust more than Dodgers owner Frank McCourt.

It’s amazing too since one would think McCourt would have generated some good will with three division championships since swooping in from Boston to buy the Dodgers in 2004. Consecutive trips to the NLCS have revived the Dodgers from the nadir of the Fox days when decorated players were treated like chess pieces for television market domination.

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