Thursday, March 26, 2015

THE DODGERS & WHY


I really enjoy the BYB posts introducing the staff writers who contribute to the site each week.  It’s yet another great way Casey has illustrated how Bleeding Yankee Blue is really a team in every sense of the word.  From the Skipper on down to this reformed Irish hoodlum, BYB has baseball, heart and a real sense of community and family.

Recently you were introduced to staff writer Alexis Garcia, read MEET THE BYB FAMILY: INTERVIEW WITH ALEXIS GARCIA for that.  One of the questions posed to the Los Angeles native and University of Texas alum (By the way a couple trips to the Series during her time there.  Impressive to say the least.) was how could she convince me to give the Los Angeles Dodgers a chance.


Here's that exchange:

BYB: Mike O'Hara, a fellow BYB writer hates the Dodgers.  Can you convince him to give them a shot?


Alexis Garcia: Mike, I would say hating the Dodgers is about 95% of being a Dodgers fan!  Some of my best memories of going to games was jeering that bum Kevin Brown while stuffing Dodger dogs in my face. We have the money, we have the talent, we have the best weather in the country, and yet we still manage to choke in the off-season. We develop some of the best talent in the league only to trade it away for players past their prime.  It is this frustration of constant under-performance that unites all of us Dodgers fans! Also, we have Vin Scully.

It’s been fairly well documented that I am in no way, shape or form a Dodger fan.  I have said, and will go on saying, that I’d rather hear the cheers on Yawkey Way and all over Bean Town than to see them happy at Chavez Ravine.  Crazy?  Not to me.  It’s a long story, but I will explain so that you can understand why I “dislike” the Dodgers so much…I swear it’s not just an East Coast vs. West Coast thing.

First of all, the Dodgers hurt my feelings.  That sounds childish, doesn’t it?  Well, that stands to reason.  I was merely a small child when the club that left Brooklyn beat my Yankees in the World Series.  I sat on the floor of my folks’ bedroom and cried.


The Yankees weren’t a baseball team to me, they were superheroes.  They couldn’t lose…could they?  How did Reggie let me down?  Who was this Penguin guy?


And could someone please get Lasorda off my TV screen ASAP! I carried that anger with me for years.  It kind of subsided during time in grade school.  I started to resent the Mets more…actually I resented my friends who jumped ship and started wearing Strawberry jerseys because the Yanks weren’t exactly the toast of the town any longer.  I also NEVER allowed them to live it down when they wanted to come back to the Bronx in the mid 1990s.

Now, you’d think that I’d forget why I disliked LA so much over time, but as my Grandfather would say, “Only 2 creatures walking this planet that never forget.  An elephant and an Irishman.” He was 100% correct.  My feelings for the Dodgers were just hibernating.  They would wake with vigor after I graduated college.


I’m an actor.  I moved to Los Angeles, as so many in “The Biz” do, with my game face on.  LA does have great weather.  It is a trip to go to the market and notice that you are in the checkout line behind Jennifer Aniston, and it’s as if she is just any other person…though incredibly beautiful and pretty nice to boot.


She was very friendly when I placed the rubber divider on the conveyor belt so that her rice cakes and humus didn’t get mixed in with my Guinness, cold cuts, Guldens Mustard and Beefsteak Rye bread.  Los Angeles is pretty much as you’d expect to be honest.  The people are sort of different.  They march to the beat of their own drum.  I met a lot of great folks out there.  When I got work it was a great time, but it also is a lonely town.  Now that shouldn’t reflect on the Dodgers…but I allowed it to.  That is not fair and I know it now.

I went to see my first Dodger game the weekend I moved out West.  The Boys in Blue hosted the Pirates.  I got to see that the Ravine is a great ballpark.  It was before so of the recent renovations.  The bullpens are still the worst in the league, but there aren’t any bad seats.  You can get a great look at the game no matter where you sit.


Dodger Dogs?  That is an ENTIRELY separate chapter in this story.  My conclusion is LA fans KNOW that the Farmer John product is awful, but refuse to give in to that knowledge.  LA does have a “little brother” complex about New York’s hot dog and Pizza Empire.  FACT.  Here’s a hint Dodger Concession Director.  Have Pink’s supply the dogs.  They ain’t Nathan’s, but it’d be a step in the right direction.

The pebble that began the avalanche of the return of my DODGER DISLIKE was the fans…there were so few 'actual' fans.  I won’t say that there aren’t true blue Dodger fans.  There are.  They are knowledgeable, invested and all and all pretty friendly.  The problem is they are outnumbered in a big way in their own ballpark.  Fact. Often it’s by fans of the visiting club.  The Mets, Cubs, Sox, Yanks, Phils and Giants all have transplants in the City of Angels and they show up.  There is also the “To Be Seen” crowd.  They don’t care who is playing; they just want to be at the party.  You know the type.  Every club has them, but LA REALLY has them.  They show up in the 4th and leave in the 7th.  They play with the beach balls.


They are on their cellphones.  They have dinner reservations at Beso.  They think Mike Piazza is still behind the plate.  They quote “Naked Gun”…a lot! “Enrico Palazzo! He saved the queen!”  Yep, that’s a good one. It’s almost as if MLB should talk to the NFL and ask, “Hey, why don’t you guys have a franchise here?” Fair? I don’t know.  But it is what it is.

The last factor in my less than favorable feelings toward all things Dodgers is the “Tough Guy” factor.  I saw it every time I went to the stadium and I went a good deal.  There are those at the game who are just looking for a problem.  It’s not about baseball, although they will be decked out in Dodger Blue.  It’s about starting trouble in the stands or in the parking lot.  The Dodgers have been absolutely horrendous addressing this issue.


The Bryan Stow incident just shed a bit of light on what happens more often than not at Chavez Ravine.  I got to see it first hand at an inter-league match up years ago.  I was at the game with some friends from back East.  We saw the Yanks take it on the chin and made our way to the car.  Almost instantly we hear the jeers.  Hey, that’s what you get.  I completely understand that.  We do it in the Bronx.  But these jeers got personal fast.  Them they got increasingly angry.  My one buddy is a bit of a hothead and I could tell he wasn’t going to stay quiet too long.  We found ourselves in outside and noticed that a handful of these Dodger fans had followed us spewing their over the top jabs the whole way.  Now two of my friends were US Marines at the time, and in this particular staring contest the other side blinked first.  We were lucky.  The situation didn’t become a problem…but it could have.

Who needs that garbage?  If you want to find a fight go to a roadhouse bar and knock yourself out.  It’s a baseball game.  We go to have a good time and watch the American Pastime.  Period.  Yeah, there is some good-natured ribbing and no one wants to see his or her teams lose, but it’s not a turf war.  It’s not and should never be personal.  The sad fact is that in almost every trip I made to Dodger Stadium, I saw all of the above.  It has made me close the book on the Los Angeles club.  I don’t like them.  I won’t ever like them.


I want Donnie back.  I love Vin Scully and respect the actual Dodger fan that suffers through the nonsense I saw.  They can’t be happy with that stuff.  I don’t like “I Love LA”.  I don’t consider LA a sports town.  The Lakers stink now…where is everybody?  And again, this is not an East Coast, West Coast thing.  I’ve been to the Bay Area.  I’ve seen games in the Great Northwest.  I’ve loved every single trip to San Diego.


The Anaheim Angeles of Los Angeles, near the 5, close to Disney, South of Knott’s Berry, down the street from that strip mall…no, the other strip mall. They are not my favorite either... I don't care for the Rally Monkeys and Thunder Sticks... trust me. But it wasn’t nearly as bad at LA.


The truth is I’ve liked some Dodger players in my lifetime.  Gibby, Butler, The Bulldog and Piazza were guys I enjoyed seeing play.  No, it’s more about that first team to hurt my feelings.  It’s about the Hollywood fans and the tough guys.  They aren’t what baseball is about and any chance that I’d give the Dodgers a chance rolled away with the credits.  Sorry, Alexis. It’s just one guy’s opinion.

Go Yankees!

** One of my Favorite Bands – Please note I do NOT want anything bad to happen to anyone in Los Angeles.  I love my friends there.   This song just has Los Angeles in the title I like Bad Religion a lot. **




  

 
--Mike O'Hara
Senior "Features" Writer
Twitter: @mikeyoh21






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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

BRENDAN RYAN MADE WATER COME OUT OF MY NOSE


To tell you the truth, I didn't see this one coming.


I just stumbled across this video clip below of Brendan Ryan impersonating the late, great Harry Caray.  To tell you the truth, he nailed it, although, it's almost like he nailed the impersonation Will Ferrell does of Harry Caray.  No matter, I loved it. 

I never thought Brendan Ryan was a funny guy, but I'm sitting here finally relaxing after a long day... I click on the video, I sip my Vitamin Water and I laughed so hard I thought I was going to choke.  It snuck up on me.




Nailed it Brendan... good job!  The only other person that I loved impersonating Caray was of course Ferrell. Here he is:


And here is the original legend himself with some of his best calls in his career. I found it on YouTube. Enjoy:


Great Work Brendan!  That was funny as hell.

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TANAKA SOLID, BUT THE YANKEES NOT SO MUCH


Masahiro Tanaka struck out 7 and went 4 3/4 innings today.  If you're worried about his elbow, we don't need to be worried yet.  That being said, I'm still on pins and needles with this guy.  I'm wondering if Tommy John surgery will just spring up sometime in May, maybe June.  I worry a lot. I guess I should just shut it and watch some ball and try to enjoy myself.


The Mets hit today, no question. The Yankees didn't, and yeah, Tanaka looked good as he airs it out. He gave up a homer. Nothing to be alarmed at. Dellin Betances gave up a homer too.   The Mets offense was just better,

When it came to our offense, there wasn't much there.  As my friend Chet said, "You can not care all you want. I get it, it's Spring Training, but they lost to the Mets." 

Skip Chimed in... "Right around now they DO need to start winning."  


How do I feel about it? I see their points.  Trying new grooves and adjustments is still technically part of the Spring Training ritual at this point. But yeah, they do need to start picking up the pace a bit. Chase Headley had a double today and one of the Yankees RBIs.  Nick Noonan knocked in the other.

Overall, not a huge showing by our bats... don't panic. I'm not, not yet, and I panic about everything.

Mets win this one, Yanks lose... and Tanaka looked good.

Final: Mets 7 - Yankees 2


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DAD KNOWS BEST


My dad and I have our traditions and I look forward to them every year. One of the most important events would have to be Spring Training. Every year, we try to squeeze two games in and usually I pick one game and he picks the other. This year though, we are only able to see one game together. My dad is recovering from shoulder surgery and as uncomfortable as I know he has been lately, he really has handled it well. This year, I am just thankful that he was feeling well enough to go at all.

It amazes me just how different yet alike my dad and I are. When it comes to baseball, we are very different. We like opposite teams and he likes the National League more and I am an American League girl all the way. We are lucky enough to be so close to five teams here that practice within a short 20 minute drive from where we live so we both get to see what we want.


One of my dad's favorite Spring Training facilities is Hohokam Stadium. Up until last year, it was home to the Chicago Cubs. Now they have moved into a new stadium, and the A's have traveled across town, and renovated the Park. It is an older stadium, but my dad seems to like it the most.


When we were trying to figure out which game to see this year, it was a no-brainer for me. My dad loved Hohokam Stadium and he thinks Billy Beane is a genius. So naturally, we went to go see the Oakland A's play at home against the Cincinnati Reds. My dad and I can talk about baseball all the time, but it's amazing to me that he knows sometimes what I am thinking without even saying a word....

As I was driving to Hohokam it got a little quiet in the car. My mind was wandering to not only how happy I was that baseball was finally back, but I feel like this is the world I fit in more than my job that I refer to as "the money making job." It's literally the job that pays my bills and keeps a roof over my head, but doesn't really challenge or satisfy me. My dad knows how much my writing means to me and how much I get out of it. It must've been that fatherly fifth sense that kicked in.

Next thing I knew, I am listening to my dad talk about how he has done well for himself in his life but he has some regrets because he didn't chase after his dreams. My dad's love of cars is my love of baseball and writing. I listened to him tell me how he went the safer route because it was more secure. He wishes he could be one of the classic car gurus, or someone who is the master at restoring cars but he didn't take the risk. He didn't chase after his dream.....and my heart broke a little. I can't imagine living life feeling that way and wondering what might have been. Then I heard him say "please don't be like your dad" and I think the hair on my body stood on end.

Am I taking the safe route?
Am I thinking like my dad was at my age?


I remember when I was younger, one time I told my dad I wanted to be a chef when I grew up. This was way before I realized just how much of a picky eater I was and I changed my mind every 10 minutes so obviously, that would never have worked. I remember him telling me that he wanted me to make sure I got the best education possible, and do something more stable and steady with my life. I remember I was at first disappointed with his reaction, but thought that this was a very "parent like" answer because they only want what is best for their kids. That seems like a very different version of my dad compared to now.


In my dad's eyes, I should have packed up, relocated everything back to Long Island, New York where we are originally from and I should have been a personal assistant to Derek Jeter or a famous beat writer.


My dad really was stuck on me working for Derek Jeter though. All kidding aside, he says I am missing my calling. My dad is a very smart man, and in my heart I know that he is right.

So dad, thank you for everything this weekend. Thank you for the company, wearing a Yankee shirt (for once) the Spring Training game I always look forward to every year, and the advice. I want you to know that I hear you loud and clear, and I love you.



 
 --Jeana Bellezza, BYB Senior Writer and Editor
Twitter: @NyPrincessJ  






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'MYSTERY' TINKERING WITH TANAKA? COME ON MAN!


There's an important piece out today from George King III from the New York Post about Masahiro Tanaka and his dip in velocity.  Should Yankee fans be concerned? Maybe. There's 1 nugget in there that made my eyebrows go up. It's definitely "mysterious" as King says.

His headline freaks me out, I'm not gonna lie: Yankees making mystery adjustments with Tanaka as velocity dips. What the hell does that mean? I dove right in.


"...based on Tanaka’s last outing against the Braves on March 18, there is room for improved arm strength because one fastball was clocked at 91 mph, another at 90 and the rest at 88 and 89.

Before the injury, Tanaka’s four-seam fastball sat between 94 and 96 mph. In two September starts it was between 93 and 94.

'We were working on a couple of things that I don’t want to get into,’ pitching coach Larry Rothschild said of the Braves outing. 'I don’t think there is any difference in the average [from last spring]. When he is ready to go, when it matters the average will be higher. But you aren’t going to see that until he airs it out.’"


It sounds like Rothschild is downplaying it.  Doesn't it? And what are they doing to this guy? Are they gonna mess him up? I don't feel like the Yanks have the best track record with their pitchers the past several years.

Stay tuned. Masahiro's scheduled to pitch today against the Mets. Let's keep an eye on him.

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