Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Post-Game 18 Thread / At-Game Recap: Happy Jackie Robinson Day (April 15, 2019)

The Goodyear blimp above the Stadium last night, in honor of Jackie Robinson.


I haven't done an At-Game Recap for a while now, so forgive me if this is rusty or choppy (and, I'm on a conference call right now to which I should be listening).

I could write about the horrible traffic into the Stadium, which denied me my Jackie Robinson jersey (despite being there in the top of the first). I could write about Yasiel Puig's welcome back and game-leading two-run HR off of Clayton Kershaw. I could write about how I didn't see a video tribute for either former Dodger Puig or for Matt Kemp--possibly because they didn't want to obscure the majesty of Jackie Robinson night, but strange as we recently made a video montage to celebrate Yasmani Grandal's return to Dodger Stadium last series (Yasmani Grandal, for pete's sake!).

But instead I want to write about how fun it is to be at a baseball game alongside an Australian who is trying to understand this crazy sport.

I had had the benefit of learning Australian Rules Football (AFL) from this same individual when spending time in Australia. AFL is an awesome game, with rapid gameplay that seems a little like what full contact ultimate frisbee would be, if run on a gargantuan field (a cricket pitch). The scoring is at NBA levels (100+ per team on a game, counted in six-point goals and one-point "behinds"). And the constant movement is very fun to follow, with momentum shifts like volleyball matches; and full-contact hits between huge people without pads (which is terrifying, and somehow also more safe than NFL).

Trying to understand AFL is difficult and takes time. So I can appreciate what it must be like for an Australian, at his second MLB game ever, trying to understand how this game is played.

I got a lot of questions about why players weren't running on fly balls (they have to tag up); at how a pinch runner must be the ultimate job (Chris Taylor entered for David Freese after Freese walked to start the ninth); and how crazy it was to stop the game to sing Take Me Out To The Ballgame (my favorite baseball tradition, probably ahead of even drinking beer). It was great to see Clayton Kershaw back to form (despite that first inning).

I also was delighted to get appreciation for the tension of each pitch during the high-leverage situations of the game (he had heard about this tension in his first game, but in this game he really understood it). And we both were delighted for full-strength beer (which is not available @ most of the Melbourne Cricket Ground, btw).

The Australian was also adamant that if you strike out to end the inning, as Max Muncy did twice during the game, he should have to go back to the dugout and grab his own defensive gear, rather than have a teammate bring that out for him. Frankly, watching Muncy flail at the plate last night (A.J. Pollock was also no better), I would agree.

And the best part, of course, was the game's finish.

My Australian friend was aghast at the people who left the game after Kemp's bloopy single off of Kenley Jansen in the top of the ninth. "Why are these people leaving?", he asked. I explained that there was probably an ~80% chance at that point that the Dodgers would lose (my math was pretty close); and with the crowds for this game (did I mention I didn't get my Jackie Robinson SGA jersey?), these early departers probably wanted to beat the traffic.

But we stayed. David Freese walked to lead off the bottom of the ninth. And then...Joc!

Gotta love how the walkoff HR lands right in front of the only guy wearing a Reds jersey in that section.

What a way to end this game, on Jackie Robinson Night, on a night when the opposition's RBI came from former Dodgers, and yet the new Dodger squad prevailed. The Australian loved the game, and we stayed late to buy a lot of merchandise. And we drove home very happy.


QuadSevens said...

Awesome recap Sax! Sucks that you didn't get your jersey. A guy I work with also had that issue last night.