Continuing my saga of covering the Dodgers game on August 29, 2011 from the Dodgers' press box (my first time doing so, though the Sons have done this before):
Getting down into the Dodgers' dugout for the pre-game show...it was a little surprising to see all the press there surrounding Mattingly. This press session is decidedly more crowded than the one in St. Louis. Probably because we're the home team, I get it; probably because there's more media outlets for a larger city like Los Angeles. But there's a big difference between being one of four people surrounding Don Mattingly, and being one of thirty.
I stood a couple of rows back when I was in the dugout, partially because I got there late; but the crowd really took me by surprise. It really makes me appreciate the Mattingly session in St. Louis one week ago even more.
But in the press box for the game, it's like I have the best seat in the house. The blog spot is located at the far left side of the box, over by Vin Scully (whom I saw in the box but didn't get a chance to meet). But this seat, which is located right besides the cameramen (and right on top of the round security camera when viewed from the outside of the box), is the best position right behind home plate. All of the other seats go to up the first base line. Very lucky where we are seated.
And I'm not just saying that because I'm sitting beside Ken Levine. Name drop! Josh Suchon is also sitting over my right shoulder and it's clear that Ken and Josh are still a close team (following their team-up on Dodger Talk in years prior). Levine, by the way, is a great guy. I introduced myself to him via Twitter and he was kind enough to pick up on the conversation, and then banter with me throughout the game about the Dodgers, blogging, etc. Really nice guy, very personable not just toward me but toward other journalists in the press box. Here's my first shot of the field once I arrived at the box: you can hear Levine talking in the background:
So let me talk about some of the other journalists I noticed while down in the pit. Joe Block did not look anything like I expected. I can't explain it, but he just doesn't look like what I thought. Dylan, on the other hand, did (probably because of his avatar). but he rubbed his beard more than I thought. Gary Miller is tall and has a really, really deep voice; he waited until after most of the corps had left to ask his question to Mattingly, and once he commanded Mattingly's attention.
ESPN's Ramona Shelburne is also very warm; I caught her roaming the field and she was impressive at getting out there and introducing herself. I suppose one has to do so as a journalist, right? Shelburne recognized Justin Sellers' father from the start and struck up a conversation with him (Sellers' father, former big-league player Jeff, was indeed super-nice, I was lucky enough to do the same though I wanted to wait until after Shelburne was finished).
After the Mattingly session was finished, the reporters scattered. Stan Conte was up the line and was surrounded by a small gaggle of reporters. Here's the scene from the field (panoramic view):
Matt Kemp was greeted by Nancy Bea Hefley (who I believe had some friends in tow), and Kemp was kind enough to greet them politely and spend a couple of minutes talking to them. They congratulated him for 30/30 and he said he was going for 50/50. You know, it's funny; last season the press was circling around Kemp and describing him as a grumpy malcontent. This year, he's broken out AND has the wherewithal to be poised, polite, and charming, amidst all of this success. Kinda makes you think how these public personas are constructed by others, sometimes.
Here's Kemp, in action:
I spent the rest of the time watching batting practice. Trey Hillman was hitting grounders to Justin Sellers, who was then working with Carroll to practice their turns (the Dodgers have turned three DPs as I write this at the end of the fifth inning, so maybe the Hillman practice paid off). Here's some videos of BP:
Over near the Dodgers' on-deck circle, there was a USC class (I believe of aspiring journalists) listening to JA Adande interview Tony Gwynn Jr.; Steve Lyons came by and was addressing the USC group after that.
I had a long talk with Justin Sellers' dad, Jeff, after Shelburne. He was extremely nice and personable, and you could feel the pride he had in his son just oozing from his smile. I was able to describe how Sellers held himself in St. Louis, and Sellers' father (who had driven up from Huntington Beach) was glad to hear that Justin was cool on the road, as well.
I also wandered over to the Padres' side once they came out for their BP: it was a total thrill to meet Dave Roberts on the field before the game. I told him about how my wife was always a big fan of his when he was a Dodger. And his super-cool response was, "Hey, thank you very much--please give your wife my best." He doesn't even know my wife! At least, I think.
Glad I introduced myself as "Steve Sax." More later.