Saturday, October 10, 2009

Not At-Game Recap: 2009 NLDS Game 2: Vin Takes Me Home (Part 2)

...continued from part 1...

Driving home and listening to Vin Scully, even in a Dodgers loss, is still a joy. There's something about the calming melodic tones of his voice, or the seamless interweaving of the game at hand along with the stories and backgrounds of the players, that always makes one feel like he or she is sitting in front of a fireplace with a wise old uncle, listening to him spin a yarn. It's calming, it's soothing, and we are so lucky to have Vin around as our broadcaster. Even if he's only on radio, it's a far cry ahead of the tbs broadcasting teams "assembled" for the Divisional Series this year.

And it was Vin who took me into the ninth inning, as my only companion in a metal shell driving home in another anonymous Los Angeles mobile cocoon, isolated from human contact on all sides. Just me and Vin, driving home, letting his words allow me to visualize the scene at Dodger Stadium. A scene which I wanted to see for myself, sure. But this was the next best thing.

With two outs in the ninth and two strikes on final hope James Loney, I thought this was it. The only thing that was giving me hope was Loney's record of getting a hit in all of his ten postseason starts to date. He was 0-for-4, so he was due.

Ryan delivers, fastball, lined to left field, coming up in a hurry to grab and drop it is Holliday, Loney goes into second base! Oh, what a big break!

Matt Holliday had the game over and somehow missed the ball with his glove, it hit him right in the groin--hope he's wearing a cup--and it landed right in front of him. You talk about a painful error....

Loney reached on an error, and the fact that he was chugging around the bases even on what appeared to be the final out of the game put Loney on second base, which was huge. One could hear the cheer of the crowd the instant Holliday dropped the ball, even ahead of Vin's call, so I knew it was a positive outcome, but a dropped ball by Holliday was too much to even believe. Wow. We're still alive. And all Vin could talk about how he hoped Holliday is wearing a cup.

Blake's working of a nine-pitch walk from a 1-2 count was incredible; on every pitch--and he fouled off pitches # 5, #7, and #8--I was holding my breath. Plus, there was that interlude on the called (second) strike in which Vin described Blake with his gameface on, "poker-faced, no sign that he was cheated, no sign of displeasure", not showing emotion even with a questionable umpire call. Of course, that wasn't exactly true, as Blake waved his arm at the first base ump to signal his disagreement.

But Blake was a pro, and the game continued, even as Vin felt the need to describe all the adversity that the Cardinals' Ryan Franklin had overcome in his upbringing (house burning to the ground; spraying shoes while working in a bowling alley). Am I supposed to feel bad for Franklin? Stop it, Vin! Don't make me feel sympathetic for the enemy!

And as the fateful inning progressed, I noted how Vin kept riding Holliday for missing that ball. Throughout his radio call following the error, Vin is careful to describe Holliday's torment and guilt on multiple occasions. "And out there in left field, I'm sure Matt Holliday is really sweating out the game." It's almost as if Vin wants to evoke sympathy for Holliday, and guilt for the fact that the Dodgers have extra life. No! I should be elated! Don't bother me with pangs of guilt!

Ronnie Belliard, first pitch swinging! Base hit! "Here comes Pierre...and it's 2-2 in the ninth!" Holy cow, I can't believe it. We're alive, the game is tied. At least we'll go to extra innings, I thought to myself. At least Wainwright is gone, we've put up a fight, we're not going down meekly on national television.

"And all Matt Holliday can do is be the loneliest man in Los Angeles, while 51,000 echo the sky!"

I could still hear the roar of the crowd with two men on and Martin at the plate again. Tie game meant we would live to see another inning, and who knows what could happen. I exhaled a bit, but was still driving pretty tense. That passed ball to Molina? Nice, but largely insignificant, I thought. Runners on second and third wouldn't matter with two out, especially not with Martin at the plate. But the passed ball did seem to indicate, or possibly foreshadow, further wildness by Franklin, who at this point must have been rattled out of his skull. Martin got a four-pitch walk, and only one of those balls ended up being close to the strike zone.

"And the bases are loaded for Mark Loretta. Oh, is this great? I mean, Game 2 of the postseason, who knows how long it will go, and this one will be remembered for a little while!

Once again, Vin brought up Holliday, how one normally can't tell what other people are thinking, but how we can pretty much tell what Holliday is thinking out there in left field, about a thousand miles away from any teammates or supporting friends. I thought to myself that if Charley Steiner had called this out, it would most certainly jinx the situation, just as it did in Chad Billingsley's latest no-hitter bid gone kaput. Would it be any different if the words came from a baseball god?

Loretta took the 0-1 pitch for a basehit to short centerfield, and it's ballgame. That's it. Dodgers win, 3-2. Vin, ever the gentleman, lets the crowd go wild and lets the noise tell the story. And the Dodgers go up 2-0 in a best-of-five series.

And I wasn't on the field level. Or loge level. Or reserve level. Or even in either pavilion. No, I was right here in my car:


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Not exactly Dodgertown Central, especially at rush hour, when everyone is looking to get home or get dinner or get the kids from day care. And I'm screaming, literally hollering, in my car, throwing up my arms and clenched fists, clapping with gusto in front of my face like I'm in a revival tent.

From my position in the fast lane, motorists passing in the other direction took one look at me and started cracking up. One guy in a white van actually rolled down his window in the bumper to bumper traffic and asked me what's up, and when I told him the Dodgers just won, he breaks out a huge smile himself and says "Yeah!"

And for a minute or two, it was like being at Dodger Stadium itself: surrounded by people you don't know, taking in the joy together and shared, coming together in unison over the accomplishments of the team we love so much. Not everyone was listening to the game; in fact, I recalled looking around and not seeing anyone else losing it in their own metal cocoons, like I was.

But it didn't matter to me. This is my town. I'm going to cheer, and boo, and raise a hullaballoo,...even if I'm not at the ballgame, today.

Go Dodgers! And thanks, Vin, for a wonderful ride home.

6 comments:

rbnlaw said...

Sax,
I shared your pain. I had to be back at work at 6:30 and waited as long as I could before leaving. Had Vin on the radio for the drive. Got back to work, waited in the car for the entire Blake at-bat, ran in, got to my computer only to discover that it had been shut down by some mysterious "power-saving" program requiring a complete start-up. 5 minutes later, Yahoo sports informs me that the Dodgers had just scored the winning run.
Game over.

I've watched to replay of the last at-bats 3 times to salve my wounds.

Nice re-cap.

Mr. Customer said...

Sax,

I was in a van loaded with friends and family for game 1 of the '88 series. We were driving on some godforsaken stretch of the 18 up in the mountains, but I swear to God I could identify the exact spot today.

Listening to Vin in on the radio, overlooking the lights of the city below, I remember thinking...

...I really hope we don't tip this van over.

Good stuff, I can totally relate. It makes me also appreciate my good luck to be able to play hooky for this one.

rbnlaw said...

Ah, memories. I was on the phone arguing with my girlfriend at the time for most of Game 1 of the 88 Series. I finally told her that I had better things to do and proceeded to watch the 8th inning on with guys who were Dodger haters. What a night.

Betsy said...

Sax,

Bummer you couldn't be there, but hell reading your recap gave me chills...it felt like I was at the stadium all over again. We had our radio listening to Vin call the game as well. Can't wait for tonight!

Fred's Brim said...

great stuff, Saxy!
I had to work late that night too, but my work doesnt block MLB radio for some reason (they block almost everything else). So Vin was able to get me through seven and a half innings of overtime. When we were done, I ran across the street to a bar that had the games so I got to watch the near rally in the 8th and then the winning rally in the 9th. Luckily MLB puts up the audio of the game so I spent the next morning listening to how Vin called the last 3/2 innings

5683RJM said...

This is how I heard the setup to the walk off too!! I know people were looking at me like I was a crazy person!! But I didn't care! Best ride home ever!!