It's not an uncommon refrain from Dodger fans of a certain generation: I was young when the Dodgers won the World Series in 1988. It's taken me 20 years to appreciate how lucky we were.
Saturday night, 56,000 fans channeled 20 years of anticipation into three hours and three minutes of nail-biting playoff baseball. This was not your ordinary Dodger game. How could you tell? Because the crowd never did The Wave. Not once.
In fact, the atmosphere was downright—dare I say it?—Yankee Stadium-esque. Fans stood, unprompted, for the home team's two-strike counts. Never did the Dodger Stadium scoreboard operator flash that stupid MAKE SOME NOISE message. It wasn't necessary.
But to enjoy this baseball nirvana, you've got to earn your way in: You've got to pay dearly for playoff tickets. And you've got to make it to the stadium on time. We finished dinner at Alegria on Sunset at 6 p.m. We took our seats at 7:25 p.m. That's right: It took us nearly 90 minutes to travel 2.39 miles.
Lesson: If you're going to the NLCS: Leave early. Really early. But at least the traffic allowed us to spend some quality time with other die-hard Dodger fans:
Fortunately, we arrived just in time to see James Loney's two-RBI double in the first. Unlike Games 1 and 2, the rest of Game 3 was not a laugher. It was tense all the way through. One picture sums up the nine innings of suspense:
After Matt Kemp's acrobatic grab to end the seventh, I had to pick my heart out of my popcorn.
And I have newfound respect for Jonathan Broxton, who's provided us with so many rollercoaster moments this season. He was absolutely nails in the ninth; eight of his 12 pitches were untouched strikes.
Cheers to whoever assembled the between-innings videos shown on Diamond Vision. They were much better than the regular-season bits and helped keep the crowd fired up.
Jeers to the low-wattage celebrity quotient featured on Diamond Vision: Vince Vaughn (wearing a Cubs cap and summarily booed), Billy Crystal (wearing a custom-made black Dodger championship cap—now there's a true Yankees fan), former Journey lead singer Steve Perry (recognized after "Don't Stop Believin' " was again shoved down our throats—this has Charles Steinberg written all over it) and "Entertainment Tonight" host Mary Hart (who, to her credit, seems like a big Dodger fan based on her ubiquitous presence in the Dugout Club behind home plate).
Stay tuned for Part 2!
photos 1 & 2 by Orel/SoSG
Kemp photo by Alex Gallardo/LA Times
Broxton photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
Vaughn photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images