There wasn't much action on the field for the game accompanying Tuesday's Annual Dodgers Blogger Night event, but I still found it to be a wonderful evening at the ballpark. In fact, I'm still buzzing about it, a day and a half later (which may be partially driven by the fact that my Dodgers depression has reached such insane depths this year, that perhaps the club's generous invitation to a night in heaven is enough to re-energize me about this 2011 team). I had a blast.
In fact, I learned 11 things at this year's Blogger Night...
1. The new wall decorations on the club-level concourse (first-base side) are beautiful. Where historic photographs once sat (and those were cool too I might add), we now have a full museum full of Dodgers artifacts and memorabilia, from Ebbets Field seats to old-school pennants to sheets of vintage Dodgers baseball cards. I could have spent an hour perusing everything, if not for the fact that we were a little late due to a slight redirection from the press credentials table to the club-level will call window. But I hope I get the chance to go back and really study these historic pieces, as they not only evoked feelings of admiration for the Dodgers' rich heritage, but also were displayed in a way that seemed to get one excited for the game, too. Or maybe that was just my stomach talking.
2. Andre Ethier is pretty awesome to have called into the suite to say hi. When I am sick from work with a high fever, I basically roll around in bed and complain to my wife that I need more gatorade from the refrigerator downstairs. Andre was sick, but he not only went to work anyway (knowing he wouldn't be in the lineup), he also took time out to call in to a room full of rabid Dodger fans just to thank them for their support in his quest to be the NL Final Vote winner (and for pete's sake, go vote here before this contest closes). I liked his answer (about 0:50 into the video) on why he merits our vote: because he's a Dodger. He's earned my vote (or 100).
3. Even among the most ardent Dodger bloggers and fans, the passion for this 2011 team is muted. I'm not the only one feeling this way, unfortunately; this was the first Blogger Night in which more people were hanging out within the suite rather than fighting over one of the Aeron chairs on the terraces outside the suite, facing the field. This may have been because the spread was a bit better this year (at least, I assume those were chicken nuggets). Not that we have had a lot of opportunities to get used to this feeling over the Dodgers' history, but it's hard to get fired up when you're 11 games out and it's not even the All-Star break.
4. Eric Stephen is one crazy motherf'er. No, I'm not talking "streaking on the field" crazy, though it is true that one should always be wary of people with two first names. But Tuesday night, Stephen (of True Blue LA) convinced me that he would be a great guy with which to travel to Vegas, thanks to a series of increasingly absurd proposition bets that we made throughout the night. First, with two RISP and two out in the bottom of the third inning, the hirsute Aaron Miles comes up to the plate, and Stephen promptly says he thinks Miles is going to score two. Miles of course grounds to short. I raise the stakes with Stephen in the bottom of the fifth inning, when again it's two RISP and two out and I predict James Loney would score two. Loney walks (which we agree is a push). But Stephen goes all in and INSANELY predicts the next batter, Juan Uribe, would hit a grand slam. I mean, since that sort of proposition defies any sort of rational thought, I can only assume that Stephen is a risk-taker to the nth degree. Such boldness! Such bravado! Such confidence! Uribe flied out to center. But I give Stephen credit not only for this proposition but also for keeping an otherwise dreadful game interesting, at least for a while.
And here's an extra trivia question about Eric Stephen: guess what first album was? Now you know. Slick, blow.
5. Roberto Baly is one cool cat for a new dad. The man is a one-person blogging machine over at VSIMH, has a three-week old son, and still showed up dapper and ready to party, eyes inexplicably free of any sleep-deprived circle marks that befall all new parents. Shoot, Roberto, why do you have to make us all feel so mortal?
And ironically enough, guess what Roberto Baly's first album also was? (Ah, just kidding.)
6. Ron Cey is not one to mince words. I didn't catch this part in my Cey video, but the nutshell is that in this year's visit (Cey also visited the blogger suite last year), he not only looked more mobile (apparently getting over the arthritic conditions that have plagued him in recent years), but used pointed words to shoot from the hip as well. When asked his opinions about colleagues from his playing days who have been in the headlines recently as competing investors to Dodger owner Frank McCourt, Cey was very clear that he thought it was an unethical conflict of interest to do so while being employed by the Dodgers. He easily could have responded with a politically-correct quip, but wasted no time in painting it as a black-and-white situation. Honestly, it was unexpectedly refreshing, and I think the whole suite of bloggers appreciated Cey's candor.
7. Al Ferrara is an animated man. He regaled us with stories of playing piano in Carnegie Hall, growing up in the sandlots of Brooklyn, and even his acting career, which included a stint on the television series Batman along with Zsa Zsa Gabor (Delino had a picture of Ferrara in his wrap-up). It was nice to see him hold the room with such gusto.
8. SoSG DelinO is a really fun guy. Delino and I have spent a lot of time together, including multiple baseball trips to stadia impressive and pathetic. But you know how it is sometimes, life gets in the way of getting a chance to just hang out sometimes. So sitting on the terraces of the suite Tuesday night, overlooking the field, just catching up for an inning or two over a couple of $10 beers, was a real treat (except for the $10 beer part, that is). And DelinO even thought enough in advance to have brought props for three fun videos that I'm going to wait to reveal until tomorrow. I screwed up for talking him into wearing shorts (he's right, we were the only idiots to have done so; my bad). And still, he didn't razz me too much after the Mets started crushing the Dodgers like a tomato. I'm telling you, if you ever run into DelinO at a game, buy the guy a beer and hang out for an inning or two. You won't regret it.
9. Erin is missed. At the first Dodgers Blogger Night years ago, I met Erin of Robots Took My Medicine, a friendship connection which was one of the highlights of that evening. Alas, Erin has moved on (and moved away), dangerously imperiling the male-to-female ratio of the Blogger Night suite. So it was a pleasure to meet Clare Toffoli of the Ravine Report at the suite this year, even though I didn't get a chance to buy her a beer. Sigh. Must have been the Animal mask. Maybe at a future game, Clare? A pseudonym-concealed blogger can dream....
10. Josh Rawitch and Amy Summers are my heroes. I've always credited Josh and his team for their prescience in even considering bloggers as a constituency and inviting us to a suite each year. But this year, they even had a chance to hang out with us for most of the game, giving us bloggers a chance to get to know them a little better and ask them questions on and off the record. Rawitch also asked the group some provoking questions about the viability, appropriateness, and usefulness of social media which elicited a range of responses from the diverse blogging crowd, some of whom post every day and/or are more "news-item" focused than others. I can't imagine that this has been an easy year for the Public Relations department at the Dodgers, but watching Josh and Amy (and their colleagues), you'd never know it--they seem to handle the ups and downs with aplomb. And the logistics for this year's event were smoother than ever--I really appreciated how smoothly the night went. But this is related to the final point, which is...
11. ...SoSG Sax, apparently, can be bought. Walking away from the suite with a swag bag full of promotional items and media literature made me feel like the kid at Halloween that finds the one house on the block that gives away full-sized Snickers bars and not those worthless mini-boxes of stuck-together, half-melted Junior Mints. This was the first year we got swag bags and I was literally giddy with excitement. Between a night in a suite, plus a bag full of goodies, I was beaming with joy by the time I got home. Could it be that Sax is that easy of a mark? Could my viewpoints on the Dodgers be swayed by material objects? Could I let a beach towel, retro t-shirt, and Mattingly bobblehead overcome a half-season's worth of firestorm-like frustrations over this 2011 team and its embarrassing ownership debacle?
It's looking good so far.
But I probably need more testing of this hypothesis to really confirm the theory.
Thank you, Josh and Amy and Yvonne and John and Joe and Mark and Adam (and Ronnie Bobby Ricky and Mike (that's for you, Eric!)) and everyone else for a wonderful night at the Stadium. I really feel honored to have been invited, and appreciate your generosity and hospitality. Let's do this again, soon!