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A Week In Blue Heaven: Dodgers Nation Gathering Recap



I spent the last week with the personalities that make up Dodgers Nation and this post is going to tell you all about the adventures and fun I had over the course just a few days.

Along with that, we were fortunate enough to meet some of the personalities surrounding the Dodgers organization. It’s a funny thing. When you’re a kid and growing up, you root for a team because of a particular player or Vin Scully. Now as a grown man – I feel like the Dodgers represent an extended family or brotherhood to me.

I talk to the guys on a daily basis. So much that; I felt like I knew them before ever meeting them in person. After actually meeting them, I felt like I was hanging out with buddies I have known for 20 years. I can’t overstate the quality of people who work hard to bring you Dodgers coverage each day on Dodgers Nation. If you run into them at the park or some walk of life; you’ll understand. They’re good people. And they’re a lot of fun.

Wednesday (Dodgers Defeat Brewers 6-4 in 10 innings)

When I got off my flight, I headed down to Pasadena and found the studio of our Blue Heaven Podcast being built from the ground up, literally.

Getting to hang out with Kevin and FRG was a lot of fun. FRG is the type of guy who will make you laugh until your stomach hurts without even trying. Even more reason to subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, etc. (he would be very happy that I said this). I spent some time talking with Kevin about his celebrity run-in in the Hollywood Hills which will not be posted here.

Kevin has a nasty hook shot, we’re talking like Magic Johnson in-his-prime, lite.

These guys have a great natural chemistry. After seeing them tape a pilot episode of a future installment of Dodgers Nation entertainment, we met up with some more members of the team and headed to Chavez Ravine.

At the park we met up with Greg Bergman, Jacob Walters, and our Senior Editor in Chief Brook Smith. Again, three great guys who will keep you laughing and know their Dodgers baseball.

One of the best parts of my week was when we had the chance to meet Joe Davis. I touched on this earlier, but you couldn’t meet a more down to earth guy. Not much can be said by me that hasn’t already. When you meet Joe Davis and realize what a good dude he is – his humility, his genuine nature – you realize the Dodgers as an organization fill themselves with quality people.

He took a good amount of time to talk with our team before the game. As much as I loved Vin Scully, we are in such great hands. Joe told us that Cody Bellinger was going to break out of his slump soon, and look what ended up happening.

I almost had a random encounter with Charley Steiner. He was there for the taking – but I just froze. Is it weird that I got a case of Steiner jitters? I should have said hello, but I just couldn’t do it. So I just snapped a picture and ambled down the hallway like a weirdo.

Our owner, the big boss – Gary Lee – landed us some amazing seats out in center right around where Justin Turner hit the NLCS walk-off last year. I’m not just saying this because he may read the post; but you couldn’t do this for a better person. The freedom he gives us to write about what we want and the opportunities he helps create for our group are unparalleled to anywhere I’ve been.

He also didn’t mind us hollering all night at Joc Pederson in center (mostly FRG – his zingers are the best) and Lorenzo Cain of the Brewers.

The Dodgers weren’t losing this game. Not on my first night in California with the whole gang in the house.

Trailing 2-1, you will see the humble beginnings in which ‘Dozier Stadium’ was born. If you have software that allows you to break this down like a Zapruder film, you’ll see our crew go into hysteria. All I remember is somehow high-fiving Bergman and Brook even though they were five seats away. Brook was screaming ‘second half’ and we were all just dying laughing.

The Bums wouldn’t trail again that night, and we were treated to a Yasmani Grandal walk-off in the bottom of the 10th. Drive home safely folks.

Thursday (Dodgers Set Franchise Runs Record Of 21)

My friend from Palm Springs drove over to Brentwood where I was staying. She wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer – she had never been to Dodgers Stadium, and Clayton Kershaw was pitching. In all fairness, I didn’t try to bargain too hard out of going to my second game in two nights.

I’m glad that she talked me into this, so I could end up seeing history at Chavez Ravine. This was one of the greatest games I’ll ever see in person. Plus there was this:

I had a feeling that Cody Bellinger was going to have a nice week with me arriving in town. When Joe Davis confirmed it; I knew something big was coming.

Bellinger hit a grand slam off the foul pole in right. My friend happened to catch it on video.

What a special moment to see live. The Dodgers were just getting started at that point of course.

This was the first night I can remember being at a baseball game and the pace made me tired. Think about that for a moment – the Dodgers pounded on Milwaukee pitching until it seemed like they could score 30. Hernan Perez entered and didn’t fare real well in his own right.

After all that, I needed to get some sleep. I headed back to the Brentwood to find that another guest had basically parked their vehicle in my room! No really, here’s proof.

Look at that! If you could have seen me – I basically crawled over the Hyundai (Colorado plates) to get in my damn room and sleep. Priceless. On a bizarro world night where the Dodgers set an all-time franchise record for runs scored at home; I would expect nothing less.

Here’s my official ticket stub from the game, to prove I was really there. Ironically – it was just two rows back from where I sat at my first ever Dodgers game.

Friday: Dodgers Lose 2-1 to Verlander, Astros

I could have titled Friday ‘the perfect day’, had the game turned out a little differently. The gang met up in Pasadena again, swapping out Kevin for A.J. Gonzalez. It was so great to meet A.J. in person.

We arrived a little early to Chavez Ravine, so we parked on a side street and started playing catch. And here, I experienced something for the first time in my life. Steve Blass Disease, otherwise known as ‘the yips’.

I started firing baseballs everywhere but Brook or FRG’s chest. It was something about the new surroundings; had to be. I will now be filming a future version of me throwing a baseball to perfect execution for a future post.

Meanwhile, Brook Smith is firing in curveballs, knuckleballs, and doing perfect impressions of Dodgers pitchers of the past. I come to find out the guy used to play semi-pro baseball. We have a damn ringer on staff! FRG is pretty good as well. He has quick hands, almost like an Omar Vizquel.

Due to FRG’s Whittier connections, we were granted early access to batting practice.

And here, our story gets interesting. Depending on what witness account you collect; A.J. Gonzalez was hit a scorching 115 miles per hour exit-velocity batting practice homer from a hooded Yasiel Puig. Things happened quickly from here – but the ball hammered off poor A.J.’s thumb. He, like myself; didn’t bring a glove to the park. Who needs one right?

The ball ends  up trickling down to where I was standing. I don’t fully feel right about this still – after all A.J. broke his damn thumb – but the ball rests tonight on my son’s shelf. Hopefully, A.J. forgives me. I will make it up to him.

Plus it was Andre Ethier retirement ceremony night. It was unbelievable to relive all the memories:

Before that, and thanks to Mr. Gary Lee; we tracked down my White Whale. Dieter Ruehle has been special to me for quite some time. He’s played Dire Straits ‘Walk of Life’ and countless other renditions like Brass Bonanza on the loudspeakers when I’ve tweeted him.

A lot of the time – back here in Ohio it’s close to 1:00 AM and if the Dodgers are trailing big – Dieter is what keeps me awake.

Dieter is just the nicest guy. He spent about a half hour talking to us and getting to know our team. Again, these are the things that make you a Dodger fan when you’re in your 30’s. Beyond the shiny white uniforms and the players. It’s the quality people within the organization. I will be forever grateful for the time Dieter spent with us that day.

Still, we know how the game turned out on Friday evening. Justin Verlander threw what seemed like an endless stream of pitches and the Dodgers came up short 2-1.

During the course of the game, ‘Lonely Pedro’ was born. You may or may not see this forever into the future in some iteration. I’m never deleting the picture, even if I get a new iPhone I will require it to be saved somewhere. Above pictures of my children, pets, my wedding; all that.

After the game ended, we were able to go down on the field at Chavez Ravine. This was another bucket list thing for me – I’ve never really been on a big league field. The surface at Dodger Stadium is like a putting green. The fireworks ended all too quickly.

I took a little time to soak it all in – and had some thoughts of taking some of the grass or warning track dirt home with me. However, I respected our transgressions of standing around on the playing surface and just snapped a pic of the most iconic shot that I could.

And then, you have our Senior Editor in Chief showing how damn athletic he is. Brook gets air to the tune of about nine feet and ‘robs’ a home run ball like he’s Brett Butler.

This is probably a good time for our first taco stand review. After the game, we visited Los California Tacos. When we do a taco stand review – we grade it on a scale of one to five.

Los California did not disappoint. I decided on-site to give them a grade of 4.65. This of course makes them our highest grade yet within taco stand reviews at Dodgers Nation. If you want to see one reviewed, leave it in the comments. We will send a correspondent on site to do just that.

Best of the Rest

I skipped Saturday’s 14-0 debacle. Still – on Sunday – I knew great things would lie ahead. The Dodgers were 2-2 on my trip. They have never had a losing trip when I’ve been to Los Angeles.

I checked out of my hotel and headed over to Barney’s Beanery in Santa Monica to (loiter) hang out until my red-eye flight.

From the early going, I could tell that Walker Buehler brought his big game stuff. I also could sense that the Dodgers had a small opening against Astros’ starter Gerrit Cole.

The Dodgers delivered, winning a gutsy game by a 3-2 final. It was just one of those rare satisfying wins that let me feel at peace as I left town. Almost as if the Dodgers were letting me know ‘hey, we’re going to be alright’. And they are.

Final Thoughts

The crew we have at Dodgers Nation from A to Z is just the best group of fellas. There were enough laughs to last a lifetime – and I would be lying to say I wasn’t a little somber when my plane touched down back in Ohio. That said, I leave Los Angeles with some lifelong memories, some new friendships, and a restored drive to build Dodgers Nation to be better every day.

Make no mistake about it – there is no city like Los Angeles – and no team to write about like the Dodgers. How lucky am I, and how lucky are we all?

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