los angeles dodgers

10 Things I Love About Baseball

We are about two weeks into Spring Training, and about two weeks away from the start of the regular season, which has my baseball loving heart soaring. I am once again approaching my happy place: when the notifications on my phone are primarily game scores and player updates, when evening plans can easily be made when my team has a home game, and when frustration with work, life, etc. can be expressed through angrily shouting at poor decisions made by a manager, and terrible calls made by an umpire.

Baseball is BACK, my friends, and since I wrote this post a couple years ago listing my favorite things about football, I thought it was about time I did the same for my favorite sport.

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1) The Season(s)

Since baseball starts in the spring and ends in the fall, the weather is usually pretty glorious, no matter where you might be watching. Sure, it rains sometimes and occasionally gets cold when the sun goes down, but for the better part of the season, baseball gives you the best weather, and calls for the most casual, comfortable clothes in your closet.

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2) The Environment

On average, a baseball game is a minimum of three hours. For some people, this is too long, but for me, it is perfect. Baseball gives you time to relax. To both watch and chat with friends. To eat and drink and laugh and sit in complete, unawkward silence as you listen the sounds of the game, as well as contribute a few of your own. Depending on your home stadium (and how often you go) you are likely to learn a series of “clapping cheers” that the sound booth will cue multiple times throughout the game. Having gone to games since I was little, I was unaware how brainwashed trained I was until I brought a friend to a game who was unfamiliar with baseball, and she asked how she was supposed to know when to clap. I looked at her, bewildered, unaware that it was something I had learned rather than something I was born knowing.

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3) The Food

Again, the specifics on what you will find depends on where you are and what stadium you are visiting, but no matter what, baseball brings out some of the best food in the world.

*pauses for backlash*

*pauses again to signify that I have no interest in arguing this point*

If you don’t believe me, believe Humphrey.

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4) Collective Cheering & Booing

One thing I think we can all agree on is that we, as a world, need to be more united. On grand scale issues, yes, on humanitarian issues, of course, but it can start with the small things. That being said, if you are looking for unity, you’d be hard pressed to find a greater display than that from passionate baseball fans disagreeing with a call that could cost their team the game, or rising to their feet in an effort to cheer their team to victory.

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5) Web Gems

During the season, many sports news outlets create weekly top 10 countdowns of amazing plays, called “web gems.” This is where you see the best of the best in catches, throws, and plays—where fans can agree that this is why they are paying them the big bucks. Do we drastically underestimate how hard the rest of the game is, and thus how impossible these web gems actually are? 100%. But do we give ourselves a break because we have high expectations and can barely afford to buy a second beer? Also, 100%.

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6) Bloopers

On the other side of things, there are also roundups of goofy mistakes made by the players, be it a fall, a drastic miscommunication, or a ball lost in the sun. Personally, I think these demonstrate what most of the population would look like if we tried to play baseball at a professional level, which is why we find these bloopers funny and even endearing, because it’s a reminder that these elite athletes are still human.

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7) Bottom of the 9th, reach for the stars, over the fence, World Series kind of thing

In the classic 1995 Olsen twin film, It Takes Two, this statement is used to describe the feeling of true love. While I adore and respect that usage, I also love its roots. Every baseball player dreams of the once in a lifetime opportunity to become a hero in the 9th inning of a World Series game. Whether that be hitting a home run, making a game winning catch/play, or striking out the last batter of the game. I love that baseball is a game that allows anyone on the team be a hero. Take Kirk Gibson in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, who hobbled to the plate—with two injured legs—to pinch hit, and ended up hitting the game winning home run.

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8) The Nicknames

Like any sport, when a player you like steps into the game, you want to cheer for them, and in cheering for them, you end up coming up with nicknames—sometimes multiple for each player. I would say, at minimum, my family and I have about three nicknames per player, which is useful, because it’s a long season, and sometimes you need to mix it up.

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9) Social Media

A newer addition to this list is the social media presence of teams—especially my team, but I realize I’m biased. I love getting a behind the scenes look at the team. It allows me to better get to know the players and borderline consider them my friends and/or family members. This does make my cheering for them and the outcome of their games much more influential on my overall happiness than it should be, but it’s fine. It’s fun. I love it. And it is glaringly obvious how attached I am to this content when the off-season comes around and my Instagram feed is a barren wasteland.

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10) Dodger Stadium

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Last and the furthest thing from least, Dodger Stadium. This is not only the home of my favorite team, but truly one of my favorite places in the world. I can’t definitively say that it is the best stadium in the world, because I haven’t been to all 30, but even if had/when I do, I know that Dodger Stadium will forever be my favorite because it is where I grew up and where my team plays.

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Go Dodgers!

Thank You, Dodgers. Thank You, Baseball.

When I was little my grandparents had season tickets to Dodger Stadium. There were four tickets, two for my grandma and grandpa, and then two for the lucky duo they brought with them. Oftentimes I went with my cousin, Spenser, or my sister, Natalee. Other times the tickets were given to my parents and my whole family would go.

We’d always get there early to watch batting practice, and then we’d grab a Dodger Dog right before game time so it could digest before we got chocolate malts in the 6th inning. I loved sitting next to my grandma and keeping score inside the program, and always tried to catch the beach balls bouncing around the crowd so I could hand them off to our favorite usher, Irene, to make her job a little easier. The sounds of the stadium, of Vinny, of Nancy Bea on the organ, all became lyrics to a song I could sing in my sleep.

As I grew up, my grandparents eventually gave up the season tickets, but this did little to lessen my passion for the game or the team I grew up watching. If anything, it deepened. With a better sense of baseball and all it entailed, I started to really get to know the boys in blue, no matter what variety a season would present them in. I began keeping track of stats, giving commentary on recommended lineups, and most importantly, dreaming of the World Series.

In my 27 years as a Dodger fan, there have been many seasons when I’ve had that feeling. The one that keeps quiet in public, but at home whispers, maybe. Maybe this is the year. Maybe this is the team. But year after year, at some point that maybe would turn into a no. It always hurt, but come April, the hurt was always replaced by possibility, by a new maybe.

This year, I got that feeling. Even at the first night game I attended in April, I felt like there was something special about this team. That night I scanned my ticket and grabbed a Dodger Dog and a beer and took my seat, anxious for another April, hopeful for another October. Six months later, I was scanning another ticket, taking another seat, and ordering another Dodger Dog, but this time it was Game 6 of the World Series.

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For weeks I had rushed home from work and drove over to my parents’ house to watch the Dodgers climb their way to the Fall Classic, and suddenly I was there, in the flesh. My sister and I walked up the stairs in a sea of blue. Friends and family hugged and strangers high fived and everyone smiled in anxious anticipation.

When we won the game 4 hours later, the stadium erupted. Friends and family and neighbors and strangers hugged and high-fived and cheered and teared up. The crowd moved in waves of blue and white, singing and chanting and smiling. I thought of my grandma and grandpa and the first game I could remember attending and I felt that same feeling of pure magic.

The next day, as I sat on my parents’ couch, watching the last few outs of Game 7 tick off the scoreboard, and submitting my Dodgers to a season just shy of the ultimate finish line, I tried my best to remain solely heartbroken. The loss hurt, but there was something else stirring inside me that I couldn’t quite shake.

As I watched the sea of blue and white (and orange) file up the rows and out to the parking lot, I saw families and friends like mine feeling the same heartbreak we felt in our living room. And suddenly I realized how many other living rooms and bars and hotel lobbies and restaurants held other families and friends either mourning or celebrating. This game, these teams, my team, had brought us all together. And with all the bad going on in the world, we were able to find something to root for.

When my sister and I stepped inside the gates for Game 6, I felt the weight of where we were, but in many ways felt the same way I always do when I walk up the stairs to Blue Heaven: at home. I heard the same sounds, smelled the same smells and looked down at the same view.

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After Game 7, when the confetti started flying and it wasn’t the color I was hoping for, my stomach sank. After the most exciting season of my life, this year’s maybe had officially turned into a no.

When I got home that night, I got a text from a friend, “see you next season.” And even though the wound was still fresh, I couldn’t help but smile. “Always,” I thought, “there’s always next season.” And I know come April I’ll be there, with a ticket, a Dodger Dog, and a maybe.

September/October 2016 Favorites

It’s that time again folks.

The time when I share a few of my favorite things from the past two months, even though you didn’t ask.

Let’s dive right in.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

These past two months have been extremely busy, making it harder for me to cook new/healthy/not impossible meals for myself on a regular basis. That being said however, I did manage to squeeze in this recipe I found in Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook, Cravings.

To be honest I’d recommend the whole book, both to those of you looking for another source of new/delicious recipes, and those that just want to see a bunch of flawless pictures of Chrissy Teigen and John Legend. The book has both, making it a mouthwatering creation in more ways than one.

As of now, the Sweet Potato Gnocchi is the only recipe I’ve tried, so I know it’s probably biased to say it’s my favorite, but I don’t care, IT’S MY FAVORITE. The portion I made fed me for 3 days and that still didn’t seem like long enough. I never wanted it to end. (Find the recipe here)


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When it comes to new fall TV shows, I’m very hesitant to get attached because I have a long history of falling in love with the ones cancelled after only a few episodes, thus leaving me depressed, without answers, and an ever growing amount of trust issues.

However, sometimes there are shows that stick around (is it weird how much I’m making TV shows sound like a boyfriend?) and I think This is Us is going to be one of them.

To put it bluntly: I cry every episode…in a good way…I think.

I don’t know how to explain it; the show is just…real in every way, which makes it both fun and hard to watch.

Plus, any show that essentially leads with Milo Ventimiglia’s butt in its pilot episode is almost guaranteed to obtain my loyalty. (Find the first season here)


 

Easy Street by Eric Hutchinson

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In a marvelous turn of events, one of my favorite artists of all time, Eric Hutchinson, released an unexpected (at least to me) new album at the end of August, and it has been on repeat in my car for the last two months. And even though no one’s asked me to give it a formal review, I give it all the thumbs up. All the stars. All the tomatoes. Everything. I love it.

I dare you to buy it—no wait, I take that back—I ORDER you to buy it and I dare you not to enjoy your life more while listening to it. (Find it here)

Extra note: “Dear Me” is my favorite.


Kindle First

As some of you may know, I’m currently in the middle of a quest to read 30 books in 2016. And while I had a great start, the last few months have slowed me down a bit, landing me in the middle of book 24 with only two months left in the year…but I digress.

One of the things that initially slowed me down was the budget I put myself on, which made me very wary of the cost of everything, especially books, which I used just buy without a second thought. That being said however, in the middle of September, while in the midst of trying to find a book I both wanted to read and didn’t cost more than I make in an hour, I accidentally came across Kindle First.

Now, it’s possible I’ve been out of the loop on this one. Maybe everyone has been using this for years and I’ve been wasting my Kindle’s full potential. But if you happen to be someone like me who had no idea about this section of the Kindle store, THIS IS GROUNDBREAKING STUFF.

Kindle First is essentially a freebie you get each month where you can read a book for free before it even comes out. That’s right, we’re saving money and staying in the loop. Hell, we’re creating the loop. (Find it here)

Extra Note: For my October freebie, I read Evelyn, After: A Novel by Victoria Helen Stone.


 

Dodger Baseball

USP MLB: COLORADO ROCKIES AT LOS ANGELES DODGERS S BBN USA CA

I’m an avid sports fan and can hold my own in a variety of related conversations, however my first love will always be baseball. And while my team (the Dodgers) didn’t win this year, and kind of went out in less than spectacular fashion, this season was a crazy fun ride, one which I will willingly board each and every year no matter the outcome. See you in April boys! (Also, congratulations to the other boys in blue, the Cubs, on their spectacular World Series win)


 

Have anything you’ve been loving over these last couple months? Let me know! My Amazon cart is always open…

See the previous favorites post here.

Always October

We have reached one of most magical times of the year, people.

Yes, I know summer is over and school is back in full swing. Sucks, sorry.

Yes, I know that Southern California is clutching on to the temperatures of hell regardless of the calendar’s announcement of the start of fall, and that we are probably all going to die in a fiery heat wave of death. Keep recycling.

Yes, department stores have started shoving Halloween and Christmas decorations in your face and you can feel a wave of anxiety building in the bottom of your stomach. Keep breathing.

Finding the negatives in life takes little skill and gives you nothing in return, which is why I must remind you what makes this seemingly suckish time of year so special.

IT’S OCTOBER. A.k.a. the time of year when baseball reaches its post season, football reaches its midseason and hockey reaches its preseason. It’s sports haven my friends.

This past weekend I was lucky to attend not 1 but 2 of the Dodgers’ NLDS (National League Division Series) games. As a lifelong, diehard Dodger fan, this was essentially a dream come true.

If you’ve never been to a baseball playoff game, heck, if you’ve never been to a baseball game (which is a crime in 12 states) (not really) (but it should be) (maybe) (just go see a baseball game) I’m going to give you an idea what you might find, at least at Dodger Stadium.

The stadium is located off the 5 freeway. Meaning that seemingly every human in Los Angeles will escort you to the stadium on their way home from work, honking and flipping you off all the while.

Once inside the lot, you will park roughly 400 miles from the stadium. You will tell every member of your group the landmarks around your car (i.e. the shapes of the trees, the storage units, the car you parked next to, and how many spots you are to the left of the light pole) which, when you exit the stadium after the game, will be as useful as a match in a rainstorm.

In your walk to the stadium, you will admire the tall blue walls surrounding it, learning the faces and names of the team’s top players and legends, printed in vibrant color near the field level entrance.

Off to the right of that entrance, you will see the stairs leading up to the higher levels and you will either laugh at the sorry suckers having to climb them and enter field level entrance, or groan at the stairs ahead of you, both telling yourself that you’re earning your Dodger Dog and mentally punching those you saw entering at field level.

Once in your seats, whether yellow (field level), orange (lodge level), blue (reserve or top deck), or the outfield pavilions, you will immediately give into the temptation of the smells infecting the air and get in line at the nearest concession stand.

Looking that the menu you will contemplate the different between a Dodger Dog and a Super Dog, picturing one as a normal hotdog with Matt Kemp’s face on it and the other as a Matt Kemp hotdog wearing a cape. You will then consider getting one of each with a side of French fries, some helmet nachos, a pretzel, peanuts, a water, and a beer, but you will decide against it 1) because you’ve somehow already begun to feel bloated, but more importantly 2) you only have 2 hands.

Retaking your seat, the pregame festivities will start. Music will pump through the speakers and you will find yourself singing and sit-dancing (so much neck and torso wiggling) to a song you thought you hated and will spill mustard on your shirt. (Keep rubbing it with the damp napkin. Even though the dime stain has now become quarter size, if you keep rubbing, it will magically disappear.) (This is a lie)

Then suddenly,

“IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII”

What is that?!

“IIIIIIIIIIIIITSSSS”

What. Is. happening?!

“SSSS TIIIMME FOR THE STARTING LINE UP OF YOUR LOS ANGELES DODGERS!”

No need to panic, it’s just the burly man on the loud speaker telling you which 9 Dodgers are playing today.

You will finish your dinner—immediately wanting to move on to dessert—and for the few moments you have between the lineup announcement and the throwing of the first pitch, you will people watch and this is what you’ll find:

-Faces, arms, legs, chests, and hopefully nothing else, painted blue and white.

-Blue wigs, blur hair extensions and blue facial hair.

-Foam Fingers (none of which are being violated by Miley Cyrus)

-Dodger jerseys, shirts, and jackets.

-Knockoff Dodger jerseys, shirts, and jackets.

-Homemade Dodger jerseys, shirts and jackets.

-Some unnecessary cleavage from the girls who only came to drink and check out baseball butts.

-A group of guys already being warned by security on their alcohol induced rowdiness.

-A fan of the opposing team quietly walking to their seat amongst the boos from home fans.

-A fan of the opposing team sauntering to their seat, waving, bowing and blowing kisses amongst the boos from home fans.

-A guy having a pensive, selfie marathon in front of the field, accessorized with beard strokes and crooked peace signs.

-Teenage girls organizing a group Instagram post.

-An older man with headphones and a radio, ready to watch the game live while listening to Vin Scully’s commentary.

-Adorable little nuggets dancing in their tiny Dodger jerseys and tiny Dodger shoes that will make you momentarily contemplate kidnapping.

And, if you’re at playoff game, lots and lots of rally towels.

 

Ideally, the first 6 ½ inning of the game will go like this:

Number of Dodger hits: >10

Number of Dodger runs: >5

Number of opposing team hits: 0

 

While you simultaneously experience this:

Number of claps: 5,002

Number of times you’ve said “CHARGE!”:  51

Number of times you’ve said “Let’s go dodgers!”:  67

Number of hot dogs you’ve eaten: 1-2

Number of hot dogs you’ve considered eating: >3

Number of times you’ve complained about the prices of snacks being sold: <10

Number of times you’ve given into the inflation: 2

In the middle of the 7th inning, you will rise to participate in the 7th inning stretch and sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” It’s sung twice. The first time you might feel embarrassed. If you don’t know the words you’ll find yourself looking up at the screen, reading the lyrics, praying with everything inside of you that they don’t put you on camera. The second time ‘round, you’re warmed up. You’ll sway a little, even smile, until the crowd has completely overtaken you and you find yourself screaming the last

“FOR IT’S 1, 2, 3 STRIKES YOU’RE OUT AT THE OLD BALLGAAAAAAME.”

You will then sit down, re-energized, and ready to reach an even 6,000 clap total for the game.

Usually after the 7th inning stretch—but sometimes before, depending on the crowd—you will start to see movement in the outfield. A guy, usually wearing a Dodger cape of some sort, will start from the foul pole side of the right field pavilion and start sprinting through the middle aisle towards center field. The crowd he passes will stand, arms up, in response, starting a well-known tradition in the baseball community known as, “the wave.”  Exciting and uniting, the wave is a guaranteed source of fun for 3 rounds and a sure fire annoyance for all rounds after that.

Come 9th inning, if all has gone as planned, the Dodger’s closer will take the mound to miscellaneous instrumentals heavy with drums and guitar that has been decided will intimidate the opposing team before their last at bat. A close up of the closer’s poker face will be plastered up on Diamond Vision and he will immediately start popping the glove of the catcher with his pitches made for victory.

Then, with 2 outs, with all the fans on their feet screaming their last 20 “Let’s go Dodgers,” a final pitch will bring the Dodgers a win and Randy Newman will start blasting through the speakers singing “I Love LA.”

We won’t talk about the walk back to the car, when you go out a different exit than you went in and you find yourself walking aimlessly around the parking lot, arguing that the car is “just a few rows back” when you know that it’s completely across the lot. We also won’t talk about the task it is to get out of the parking lot, or the aggression it takes to squeeze your way into the lane corresponding to the freeway you need to take home.

No, we won’t talk about those because once you find yourself on the freeway, cruising at a totally non-ticket worthy speed—even though you slammed on your brakes when you saw that cop, which actually turned out to be a tree—you can only find yourself smiling at the night (or hell fiery day) that you just had.

In my case, I went home Saturday night beaming, knowing that my team is one step closer to the ultimate goal in October. But we don’t talk about it, because aside from clapping and hot dogs, superstition is one of the biggest parts of baseball.