Thursday, May 25, 2017

Chorizo-Stuffed Hashbrowns

THE GAME: Angels vs Rays

One summer night near the end of the last decade, the Angels ran out a lineup that looked like this:

It was the first time any team had put out an all-.300 lineup (with a minimum of 200 at-bats) since Detroit did it in 1934.

This morning, the Angels lineup looks like this:

I don't think I've ever seen a worse Angels lineup. With the obvious exception of Mike Trout, it is complete garbage. Not one, not even two, but three guys hitting below .200?

Today is a day game so Pujols is getting the day off. Well deserved. He hasn't had a day off since... well, Sunday.

Also, he's a DH with a .296 on-base percentage. What the fuck does he need a single day off for, let alone two in a 5-day span? Those four times a week he has to walk 90 feet to first base? 26 million dollars doesn't buy what it used to.

(I suppose it's possible that Trout is getting the day at DH so that he doesn't have to run around on the awful astroturf, but that raises another question: Is Pujols now at the point of his career where he can only DH? I'm afraid so. I always knew the second half of his contract was going to suck... I just thought the first half would have enough good moments to temper that sucking. I was wrong.)

Alex Meyer was supposed to take the mound for the Angels today, but, you know, he's an Angels pitcher, so he just went on the DL, joining Richards and Skaggs. And Heany and Tropeano. And Bedrosian, Street, Bailey and Morin.

Jesus, it's depressing when you write it all out.

So Daniel Wright has been called up from AAA to make a spot start.

This could be one ugly game.

But I'm not working today - a five-day weekend sounded nice - and bad baseball is still better than no baseball... or the NBA conference finals... so why not? Breakfast and baseball.

NOTES ON THE FOOD: 

  • I've mentioned that my local butcher has some of the best meatloaf and meatballs I have ever had. They also make the best chorizo. So I bought a half-pound and cooked it in the wok before draining the grease - a beautiful orange grease unlike anything I've ever seen - and set it aside. 
  • Trader Joe's makes the best frozen hash browns. But I didn't have any of them; all I had was this bag from Ralph's. Still good, though.  


  • I layered hash browns into the bottom of my frittata pan - yes, I have a frittata pan - and topped it with the cooked chorizo. 
  • Next, I took some goat cheese and sprinkled it on top. Melted, creamy goat cheese is a wonderful contrast to salty, spicy chorizo.


  • And then another layer of hash browns on top of all that. 
  • I covered the pan and baked it in the oven for 30 minutes, flipping it once midway. 
  • It was spectacular. It was also way too much food... but I ate it all anyway. I probably gained a pound, but it was well worth it. 

NOTES ON THE GAME: 
  • The Angels announced pregame that Brooks Pounders has been optioned to AAA. True, that has zero impact on this game, I just like to type Brooks Pounders whenever I can. What a great name. 
  • Trout hits a double in his first at bat. Lord have mercy. 31 of his 52 hits this season have been for extra bases. (15 homers, 14 doubles, and 2 triples.) His on base percentage in May is now over .500. 
  • Some of you know this but some of you don't: I named my cat after Mike Trout back when he was a rookie. 
  • The Rays scored two runs in the first inning. They were unearned, thanks to an error on Valbuena - a .177-hitting third baseman who can't field; what a joy to behold - but that might be all they need with this Angels lineup today. Maybe I should go back to bed. 
  • It's only the second inning but I can already state that this umpire has the worst strike zone I have seen yet in 2017. At least he's screwing over both teams equally, I guess. 
  • Through four innings, the Angels have three doubles - including two leadoff doubles - and have yet to score. (I don't know why I mention this like I'm surprised.)
  • Espinosa popped up a bunt. The dude can't even bunt properly. I was saying to my friend Nick the other day that Espinosa is the worst player I have ever seen in an Angels uniform. (As of this morning, his .145 average is ranked DEAD LAST out of 180 qualified batters in all of baseball.) I keep hoping he will do something to prove me wrong, and yet he keeps getting worse. If the organization has given up on the season - and as I've written before, I have no problem with them making their entire focus on 2018 - then his presence makes sense. If they're actually trying to win games, he needs to be DFAd as soon as the team gets back to Los Angeles. Uh, I mean Anaheim. 
  • The Rays got two more runs on a ball to center field that Trout would have unquestionably caught. But, you know, he's DHing today. That's the ball game. I could see this lineup scoring two runs (if Trout hit a homer), but there's no way they can get four. 
  • Once again the replay officials completely botch an easy call. It will never stop amazing me that despite MLB's concern about the future of the game, they don't do a thing about the absurd number of incorrect reviews.  
  • The Rays win. The Angels finish the game 1-12 with runners in scoring position. 
  • So, what I called the worst Angels lineup I've ever seen failed to score a run and the spot starter from AAA gave up at least one run. Shrug. On a Painful Loss Scale of 1-10, with 10 being absolutely gut-wrenching, this was a 1. Those kind of losses only happen a couple of times per season.
  • I've never experienced a 10 on that scale, although the day Trout signs with the Phillies in three-and-a-half years will probably do it. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Caramelized Chicken

THE GAME: Angels vs Rays

Both teams are 23-23. It's not exactly an ALCS preview. But it's a Monday late-afternoon game and it beats working. 

NOTES ON THE FOOD: 
  • I love caramelized chicken when it's not syrupy-sweet. (As the dish is full of sugar, this is pretty rare.) Restaurants tend to serve the chicken sitting in a puddle of the sauce, so I rarely order it when out. At home, however, I can make it to my specifications. 
  • I marinated diced chicken breast overnight in fish sauce, garlic, pepper, and a bit of brown sugar. 
  • Then I threw a bunch of ingredients into the mini-prep: more brown sugar, a shallot, garlic, ginger, and couple of tablespoons of vinegar. 
  • I placed the chicken in a single layer in a nonstick pan and let it cook for about five minutes, then flipped it and cooked it the same amount on the other side. 
  • I scooped the chicken out with a slotted spoon and plated it, leaving a fair amount of the sauce in the pan. (If the chicken isn't sweet enough, you can always add more sauce, but this was fine as is.)
  • I topped the chicken with beni shoga and diced scallions. 
  • It's great like this, and it's almost as good eaten cold as leftovers. 

NOTES ON THE GAME: 
  • Tropicana Field is the only MLB stadium that I have no desire to visit. Partly because it's in St. Petersburg, but mostly because it looks like an absolute dump. It's the smallest ballpark in baseball, it's the only non-retractable dome, and it often looks about 10% full. 
  • Also, there are different sets of ground rules for batted balls that strike the catwalks. Seriously. It's 2017 and players have to worry about balls bouncing off of catwalks suspended from the ceiling of a dome.  
  • The Angels are starting a guy at second whom I'd never heard of before today. Do you think that's a good sign?
  • Mike Trout walks in his first plate appearance, pushing his OBP to .470, easily the best in baseball. That's good.  
  • Next batter, Pujols pops up to third. His OBP is .291 - the fifth-best on the team. That's not so good. 
  • The Rays lead off the inning with a homer. As I mentioned the other day, the Angels pitchers give up a ton of home runs. I remind myself that their four top starters are all on the DL and I shouldn't expect much out of these replacements... but it's still not fun. 
  • Three batters later, the Rays hit another homer. 
  • Interesting stat: the Angels starter, JC Ramirez, has an ERA of 10.3 in the first inning. From the second inning on, his ERA is 2.5. 
  • Nolan Fontana, the second baseman of whom I'd never heard, is making his major league debut today. He's two months older than Trout. 
  • He hit into a fielder's choice, attempted to steal second, and was ruled safe. Then the Rays challenged the call and the umpires got together and overturned the call without bothering to look at the replay. I've never seen that before. (However, the television replay showed that he probably was indeed out, so I'm not upset about it.) 
  • Marte just struck out looking - at a strike right down the middle - when all he had to do was put the ball in play to get a run across for the Angels. I sometimes wonder if players get any coaching at all. So many of them just seem to have no clue about the fundamentals of the game. 
  • Cameron Maybin hit one off the catwalk rings... and no one was sure what the call was. Turns out it was a home run. 
  • They showed the rules so I took a photo of the TV. See for yourself: 
  • Jumbo Diaz is pitching in relief for Tampa Bay! I saw him pitch for the Great Falls Dodgers in Montana in 2002! He was like 300+ pounds then. These days he's listed at a svelte 278. 
  • Hey, check this out: 
  • Two balls, two strikes, two outs, in a 2-2 game. Maybin at the plate is 2 for 2. Can't you just hear Vin Scully? "So now the deuces are really wild." Damn, I miss him. 
  • Jumbo got yanked (although I'm hesitant to phrase it like that - I read a biography of Lyndon Johnson the other day; apparently he was obsessed with showing off his penis, which he called Jumbo) for a new pitcher. The new guy threw a wild pitch and now the Angels have a 3-2 lead. They definitely pulled Jumbo out too soon. You know what, let's just move on. 
  • Ramirez is done for the evening. In typical fashion, he gave up 2 ER in the first inning and 0 in the next six.  Maybe the Angels should use their closer in the first inning when Ramirez pitches. (Although, not surprisingly, their closer and his two backups are all on the DL at the moment.)
  • 4th-string closer Bud Norris gets the 4-out save and the Angels win 3-2.
  • Still, this was not an enjoyable game to watch. The Angels were 0-9 with men in scoring position, the winning run came on a wild pitch, Trout didn't do anything special and, despite the low score and regular length, it took more than three-and-a-half hours to play.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Fish & Chips... Chips

THE GAME: Cavs vs Celtics

It took the Celtics - the #1 seed in the East, mind you - six games (and an injury to Rajon Rondo) to defeat the #8 seed Bulls. 

It took them the full seven games to defeat the #4 seed Wizards. 

And now they're facing the Cavs in the Eastern Conference Finals. I imagine somebody outside of New England is picking the Celtics to beat the Cavs, but I'm not aware of it. I've been watching the NBA as long as I can remember, and I can't recall a #1 seed ever being more of an underdog. It's probably never happened.

But, as they say, that's why they play the games. 

NOTES ON THE FOOD:
  • If you love food like I love food, it's a wonderful time to be alive. You can buy battered Twinkies ready to be deep-fried. The limited-edition White Chocolate M&Ms were so popular that they're becoming a permanent item. Only a few blocks from me is a hole-in-the-wall taco joint that sells magnificent fish tacos for 99 cents each every Wednesday and Sunday. And now, you can buy potato chips that taste like fish & chips. 
  • (BTW, I'm not joking about that taco place. Here's my lunch the last time I went there: two tacos and free chips & salsa and roasted peppers. $2.18 total.)
  • I got this bag of chips at Cost Plus. They also had the flavors "salt & vinegar" and "full English breakfast." The former might be worth trying; the latter, not so much. 
  • 18 months ago, I was in southeastern Washington and noticed billboards for a deli. I stopped in, hoping I could get a turkey sandwich and a Coke. I could, but the place also sold hundreds of different condiments. Literally. I bought several, though the only one remaining is the vinegar spray. So I dusted a few of the chips with it, just like I would fish & chips. (Well, I mean, I use malt vinegar on fish & chips, but this was all I had.)
  • My favorite tartar sauce is sold at a fish market 12 miles away. But by the time I had acquired these chips it was mid-afternoon, which means that 24-mile round trip could take anywhere from 60-90 minutes. So I just bought some of Bob's Big Boy's tartar sauce at the local Ralph's. It's delicious, too. 
  • And really, these are potato chips. I don't need tartar sauce. I just thought it would be a funny picture to eat "fish & chips" chips with tartar sauce. 
  • The chips were delicious. They didn't taste of fish, really, more like beer batter and salt. But, whatever, I love those two things. 
  • They were better by themselves, without the vinegar and tartar sauce, but I'm pretty sure I knew they would be. 

NOTES ON THE GAME:
  • I mentioned not long ago that I have never been more wrong about a college player's NBA future than I was James Harden's. You know who is probably #2 on that list? Kevin Love. I knew he was a really smart player and he is one of my three favorite players I have ever watched at UCLA, but I just wasn't sure what position he was going to play in the Association. (To be fair, I had no idea he was going to become such a workout/diet fiend and transform his body from slightly-chubby rebounding center to sleek triple-threat forward.)
  • Marv Albert just announced that there is "bad blood" between Kelly Olynyk and the Cavaliers. That's putting it mildly. 
  • Unlike Golden State, who looked bored and sluggish after all their time off, Cleveland looks rested, and Boston looks exhausted. 
  • The Celtics are currently 1-14 from three. That's 7.1%. 
  • Boston has missed 6 shots in a row; Cleveland has scored 12 unanswered points and lead by 23.
  • IT hit a three-pointer at the buzzer so the Celtics finish the half with 39 points - just a smidge over half of what the Warriors had in the first half last night (72). 
  • Boston really can't play any worse than that. In addition to ending the half 2-16 from three, they are 5-11 from the free throw line. 
  • I got distracted watching baseball and didn't watch the first 8 minutes of the 3rd quarter. Judging by the score, it doesn't look like I missed much. 
  • I did, however, watch the Angels surrender their 61st home run of the season, the most in all of baseball. Interestingly, their team ERA is in the top half of baseball, 13th out of 30 teams. So it's not like they're giving up a ton of runs, just a ton of home runs. (Although the Angels have played more games than anyone else; even though it's only May 17, they've already played six more games than the Yankees and seven more than the Twins.) 
  • Boston made a few shots to cut the deficit to 17 points at the end of the third quarter and the crowd is going crazy as if they'd tied it up. I guess they're so used to teams completely choking against the Patriots that they assume NBA teams will do the same thing against the Celtics. 
  • Brad Stevens on what the Celtics need to do in the 4th quarter: "Just single after single." Wrong sport, dude. But that does remind me of a story from 8th grade baseball. (Why not? This game is boring.) We were down by a lot, maybe 6 runs (I honestly don't remember, it was a long time ago) and our coach said "We don't need home runs, guys, just singles." (Which was a pretty ridiculous thing to say in and of itself; we were 13-year-olds playing on a high school baseball diamond; not one of us hit a home run all season.) My best friend raised his hand and asked "Coach, if I accidentally hit a home run, is that okay?" The coach pulled him from the game for being a smartass. 
  • LeBron James got fouled on a layup and is now limping around and grabbing his calf. "Look how he's walking!," Reggie Miller exclaimed, as if LeBron is actually injured and doesn't pretend like he's hurt 80% of the time he gets fouled. 
  • Somehow IT just ended up guarding LeBron. Not surprisingly, LeBron went straight to the hole, got fouled and made the shot. Maybe don't have the 5'9" guy guard the best small forward of all time. 
  • Boston fans heading for the exits with 6 minutes left. 
  • Cleveland wins by 13, but it feels like a lot more. The outcome was never in doubt. 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Meatloaf Sandwich

THE GAME: Warriors vs Spurs

Okay, now we're talking. 11 of the first 12 playoff series were boring. (And I expect the Eastern Conference Finals to be boring, no matter who the Cavs play.)

While I expect the Warriors to beat the Spurs in the WCF, anyone who writes off the Spurs as having no chance has not watched Popovich's teams over the last decade.

Plus, what else am I gonna watch today? The Angels are throwing Alex Meyer out there; the Tigers are countering with Justin Verlander. That probably won't end well. Sunday Night Baseball tonight is guaranteed to be a Derek Jeter slobberfest, so that's out. I only watch NHL games when they go to overtime, and even then I don't know enough to make any comments on the game.

So NBA basketball it is.

NOTES ON THE FOOD: 
  • I've mentioned - including just two days ago - that my local butcher makes the best non-homemade meatballs I have ever had. They also make the best meatloaf I have ever had, no qualifiers. 
  • E. Waldo Ward is a San Gabriel Valley family-owned company that has been making jams, jellies, and condiments for a century. (I mentioned their chili sauce back in February when I made my own version of a Big Boy.) They use nothing but natural ingredients and make their items by hand in the same manner that they've been doing since the beginning. Needless to say, their stuff is great, including their barbecue sauce. 
  • I baked the meatloaf in a meatloaf pan for 45 minutes, then slathered barbecue sauce all over it and allowed it to cook for another 35. 
  • I removed it from the pan, let it rest for 15 minutes, and then carved off a slice. 
  • I put the slice on a telera roll, covered it with more barbecue sauce, added several Bubbies pickles, and squirted garlic aioli onto the top half of the bun. 
  • Along with some onion rings on the side. It was an awesome lunch. 

NOTES ON THE GAME: 
  • Golden State is the top offensive team in the NBA; San Antonio is the top defensive team. This is actually only the fourth time that has happened in the last 30 years. (The best offense has won twice, the best defense once.)
  • Pau Gasol blocks Draymond Green in the opening minutes and then converts a three-point play on the other end. I really miss him. He was my favorite Laker since Magic's retirement. Anyone who watched the 2010 NBA Finals knows who the real MVP of that series was. (Hint: it wasn't the guy who went 6-24 in Game 7). It was disgraceful - though not surprising - how little respect the Lakers gave him, constantly involving him in trade rumors. I want to see Golden State play Cleveland in the Finals, but I would love it if Gasol could get another shot at a ring. 
  • I switched over to the Angels game to watch Trout bat in the first inning. He crushed a home run off Verlander. The Angels really do not deserve Mike Trout. 
  • Golden State has six turnovers in the first quarter, Curry just threw up an awful airball, and the Spurs lead 30-16 at the half. Still, it's not entirely unexpected that Golden State looks rusty; it seems like they haven't played a game since mid-April. 
  • Lamarcus Aldridge had 11 points in the quarter. The Warriors might want to find an answer for him. 
  • 15 minutes into the game and the Warriors have yet to make a three. No wonder they're getting their asses kicked. Live by the three, die by the three. 44-19 San Antonio. 
  • A TWENTY-FIVE FUCKING POINT LEAD in the second quarter. I actually used the Google calculator just to make sure. 
  • Mark Jackson just informed us that this (now 19-minute) stretch without a three-pointer is the longest stretch of the season for the Warriors. I had a hunch. 
  • As soon as I type that, Curry scores 5 points in 6 seconds, including a three-pointer. The Spurs lead is still 14, but as long as GSW can chip away a little more before they half, they should feel just fine about themselves. They won't play this badly in the second half. 
  • I switched back to watch Trout's second at-bat. Verlander hit him. Not surprising. To be honest, I don't know why anyone ever pitches to Trout at this point. He's almost literally the only guy who can hurt you. Take a look at this joke of a lineup the Angels are running out there today and see how hard it is to guess which one of the 9 isn't crap: 
  • Okay, back to basketball. Danny Green drills a three-pointer at the buzzer and the Spurs lead is back up to 20. Any one of them can get hot, but that's still a big hole to be in against the best defense in the NBA. 
  • Off-topic, but who cares, it's halftime - my cable box autotuned to Simply Ming, something I'd set several days ago when I noticed he was making a crusted halibut with chorizo spread. Remember the days before program guides and autotuning? Not long ago, I was explaining to my teenage cousin that when I was her age, a thin paper guide arrived in the LA Times every Sunday with television listings for the week. He reaction was half-stunned, half-repulsed: "You mean, you had to actually remember when shows were coming on?" 
  • Golden State opened the half by cutting into the lead by 5 points, and then Aldridge drained a three as the shot clock expired. Maybe this is just one of those days for San Antonio. 
  • Or maybe not - Steph hit a three and Kawhi turned his ankle by stepping on his own teammate on the next possession. 
  • Draymond picked up a taunting technical. With his team down 20. That's Rasheed-Wallace-level ridiculous. 
  • Kawhi rolled his ankle again because Zaza Pachulia stuck his foot under Kawhi when he landed. Dirty? Yes. But the Spurs have been doing shit like that to other teams for years. Payback is a bitch. 
  • Commercial Note: Which song do you prefer from that commercial break, Simon & Garfunkel's "America" for VW cor Elton John's "Rocket Man" for Samsung? 
  • Golden State scores 18 unanswered. Five-point game now.
  • Going to the 4th quarter, Spurs up 9, but Kawhi isn't coming back. 
  • Four minutes into the quarter, the lead is still 9, Klay looks like crap on offense... and Steph is on the bench. Bizarre. 
  • Shaun Livingston with a sweet dunk and a touch shot to pull the Warriors within one. I'm glad to see that. His injury in 2007 was probably the most gruesome I've ever seen on live TV. 
  • Down 3 with two minutes left, Curry missed a three, got the rebound, Durant missed a three, got the rebound, Curry finally made a three. San Antonio probably shouldn't be giving them three tries at it. 
  • Warriors by 5 with 30 seconds left but Trout is coming up again, so I'm gonna watch that without hesitation. The dude has reached base in 8 straight plate appearances, which include two home runs. (He ended up hitting a sacrifice fly.) 
  • I made it back in time to see the final 9 seconds of the NBA game. Warriors win by 2. 
  • On one hand, they showed a lot coming back from a 25-point deficit and shaking off the rust from their time off. 
  • On the other hand, should they have been down 25 to begin with? And do they make up that big of a deficit without Kawhi being injured? 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Nasi Goreng with Meatballs

THE GAME: Celtics vs Wizards

Isaiah Thomas when the refs allow him to carry, travel, and bail him out with foul calls: "Not one man can guard me."

Isaiah Thomas when he isn't allowed to carry, travel, and the refs don't bail him out: "I can't be allowed to be held and grabbed."

He gloats when he wins, he whines about the refs when he loses, and he feels entitled.

In other words, he is a perfect fit for the Boston Celtics.

NOTES ON THE FOOD:
  • I haven't had any nasi goreng - Malaysian fried rice - in many years. I was at a Chinese supermarket the other day when I noticed this jar of nasi goreng paste. I sent a photo of it to a Malaysian friend of mine. "Yes!" she wrote back. 
  • My initial idea was to make it with chicken and prawns. But when the day came - meaning, I guess, today - I had a craving for meatballs. I've written before that my local butcher makes their own blend of beef & pork meatballs that are the best I have ever had that aren't homemade. 
  • I cooked the meatballs in my wok until they were about halfway done, then dumped in the jar of paste - although it's much more of a sauce than what I think of as "paste" - and let them simmer for 30 minutes. 
  • I then added a three-day-old container of white rice I had received with my entree at a fast-food Chinese chain the other day. I went there because I had a BOGO coupon that expired the next day; it was one of the ten worst Chinese meals of my life. (And one of the three worst if we exclude all the godawful Chinese meals I ate in New York a few years ago.)
  • In a smaller pan I scrambled three eggs, then added them to the meatballs and rice when the latter two were heated through.
  • I also added diced scallions, orange pepper, and beni shoga (Japanese pickled ginger). 
  • It was the best fried rice I have ever had. I cannot think of any that was remotely as good as this.

NOTES ON THE GAME: 
  • The home team is 0-10 so far in elimination games this season, which is a mind-blowing stat. (Or, maybe not: remember, as I just wrote yesterday, so far these playoffs have been absolutely awful.) However, the home team has won every game so far in this series. So, obviously, one of those streaks is going to end tonight. 
  • The Celtics showed up to the game dressed head to toe in black. That's a cool move if you can back it up; pathetic if you can't.
  • Aside from a sweet Bradley Beal reverse layup, that was one boring first quarter. Both teams missed some easy shots. The Wizards lead by 5, which means nothing at this point. 
  • The second quarter was more of the same, and the teams basically reversed positions. Boston by 1 at the half. 
  • John Wall looks awful. I mean, like James-Harden-last-night awful. He's forcing shots and missing almost all of them. The Wizards won't be winning tonight if he doesn't get his head on straight. 
  • Well, he started the 3rd quarter by scoring 7 points in a very short period. 
  • Kelly Olynyk literally jumped into the defender with his shoulder, an obvious offensive foul, and then threw his arms up perplexed when the foul was called. There may be some players in the league who get the benefit of the doubt, Kelly, but you ain't one of them. 
  • 10 minutes left in the game and I checked the box score for the first time: the Wizards are 2-20 from three. I knew it was bad; I didn't realize it was that bad. 
  • IT just got away with a carry - nothing new there, he does it almost every time he touches the ball - but then he immediately traveled. Neither were called. 
  • I switched over to the Angels game at the commercial break to watch Mike Trout bat. Can someone come up with an app that causes his at-bats to pop up on a picture-in-picture screen no matter what I'm watching? It seems like this is something we should be able to do. 
  • The Wizards just allowed IT to get two open looks in a row with less than two minutes to go. He made them both. Washington deserves to lose if for no other reason than that. 
  • Beal makes his first three of the game with 70 seconds left. Better late than never, I guess.
  • Tie game with 42 seconds left. At least this one has been entertaining, unlike... well, all the rest of them. 
  • The Wizards are down 2 with the ball and 7.7 seconds left. The announcer feels compelled to say "This is big right now." Dynamite analysis there, fella. 
  • Wall hits a three. On the other end, IT misses a three. Game 7 on Monday. 
  • Washington ended the game shooting only 20.8% from three. Wall and Morris did not have good games. And they still won. 
  • That being said, I would be shocked if they win a Game 7 at Boston. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Coconut Butterfly Shrimp

THE GAME: Yankees vs Astros

I took off a couple of weeks from watching and writing about sports. Part of it is personal - I've had several things going on in my life that took up a lot of time - but mostly it just hasn't been an exciting couple of weeks.

The NBA playoffs so far have been as boring as any I have ever seen. Four series in the first two rounds were sweeps, and, as I wrote several months ago, there has never been a season in which two teams were more likely to meet in the Finals than Cleveland and Golden State are this year. It seemed that way on opening night. It seemed that way at the All Star break. It seems that way now. The Finals should be really fun. The rest of this has been crap.

Mike Trout has missed five of the last six games with a bad hamstring. Watching the Angels without Mike Trout is basically like watching a AAA team.

And I have DirecTV, so even after all these years, I still can't watch the Dodgers.

But it's a beautiful spring day and the teams with the two best records in all of baseball are playing, so I settled in to watch.

NOTES ON THE FOOD: 
  • I was at Whole Foods, staring down at one of those open-top freezer boxes, when I spied a package of butterfly shrimp. I love Whole Foods frozen shrimp, so I immediately grabbed it. Except I was looking at it upside down, and I failed to notice the words "Crunchy Coconut" at the top. I don't exactly hate coconut, but it's not one of my favorite flavors, and I've never enjoyed coconut shrimp. But I didn't notice until I'd gotten home with the box. Oh well. 
  • I decided to clean out the pantry and see what kind of sauce I could make out of almost-empty condiments. I mixed rice vinegar, orange marmalade, Texas Champagne, and Wine & Pepper Worcestershire sauce. 
  • Of course I fried the shrimp. Oven-baked seafood is not good; fried seafood is one of the best things in the world. 
  • They were the best coconut shrimp I have ever had, no question. However... they were still coconut shrimp, so I wasn't a huge fan. I won't be getting them again, but I sure wish Whole Foods would make these without the coconut flavor. 

NOTES ON THE GAME: 
  • Oh goodie, Bob Costas calling a Yankees game. Take a drink every time he smugly brings up some obscure Yankees reference to show how much more he knows about the team than you do. 
  • On second thought, don't do that, it could prove fatal.
  • Even in year 5, I'm not used to the Astros being an American League team. Does anyone else have a hard time with this?
  • What team would be the hardest to get used to if it switched leagues? The Yankees in the National League? The Cubs in the American League?
  • I'd say the easiest to get used to would be the Rays. I'm not even sure what league they're in. 
  • Three minutes into the broadcast and we're already into the "All hail Aaron Judge" phase. Yes, he is a good, extremely strong player... but are we supposed to ignore the fact that he plays in a fucking joke of a stadium? I've seen several games in Yankee Stadium: pop-ups that would die in shallow right in any stadium on the West Coast drift over the wall for home runs. 
  • Want some numbers for context? Here, take a look at his home vs away splits: 

  • In case you're not a huge baseball fan, I'll cut to the chase: in 14 games at home, Judge has hit 10 homers, is batting .408 and is slugging 1.061. In 15 games away from that little league stadium, he has less than one-third as many homers, his batting average is ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY points lower (!!!) and his slugging percentage is reduced by more than half. 
  • I Googled Carlos Beltran because I wasn't sure how old he is; he just turned 40 a couple of weeks ago. 
  • A couple of years ago, while watching the Astros at happy hour, I tried to convince one of my best friends that Dallas Keuchel's nickname is "The Kike." She didn't buy it. 
  • I'd be hard pressed to think of a non-Angel or Dodger whom I have ever liked more than Jose Altuve. Probably Vladdy when he was with Montreal, and maybe Tony Gwynn, but that's it. 
  • Costas and Smoltz are debating whether Beltran is a Hall of Famer. Seriously? I mean, it's not as ridiculous as the discussion I heard a few weeks about about Bobby Abreu (no, I'm not making that up; there are actually people who think Bobby Abreu - who played in exactly two All Star games in his 19-year career - belongs in the Hall of Fame) but it's still pretty silly. 
  • Yankees had the bases loaded with two outs and got a run because of... catcher's interference while Jacoby Ellsbury was at bat. 
  • Costas just gave an amazing stat. I had to look it up myself to verify. Last season, Ellsbury reached base on catcher's interference twelve times. You know how many catcher's interference calls there were last season in all of baseball? 39. That's astounding. In 1923, Babe Ruth hit 54 homers, which was more than any other team in baseball. I always considered that the ne plus ultra of baseball stats. But Ellsbury being responsible for 31% of all catcher's interference calls in the entire MLB season? That's more impressive.
  • Woah, I assumed Houston (Rockets, that is) would be destroying a Kawhi-less Spurs team in Houston. I just flipped over to check - San Antonio is winning by 18 in the first half. 
  • The Yankees have left somewhere between 4 and 30 men on base today. We're going to the 9th with Houston up 3-1.  
  • The game ends when Ellsbury - representing the tying run - gets thrown out at the plate. That was awesome. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Sweet & Spicy Fried Chicken Sandwich

THE GAME: Angels vs Blue Jays

The Angels went 6-2 in the first eight games of the year. They had the highest average in the American League.

In the twelve games after that, they have gone 2-10 with the worst average and fewest runs per game in all of baseball.

So which team is the real Angels?

Probably neither... but I'm guessing it's closer to the latter than the former. (Especially since once again they have lost their #1 starter, Garrett Richards.)

But, what the hell. I'm not in the mood to watch any basketball tonight, and even with the Angels sucking, it's always fun to watch Mike Trout.

NOTES ON THE FOOD: 
  • I sliced a chicken breast in two so that it would cook quicker.
  • I've mentioned my preference for Bubbies pickles on more than one occasion. It just so happened that I recently had finished a jar, so I saved the liquid, which makes a great marinade for chicken before frying. 
  • I left the pieces in overnight. Any longer than this and they turn pale and gummy. (You can still eat them, they just take on an unnatural, unpleasant texture.)  
  • Sometimes I make my own mixture to bread/batter a piece of chicken. But more often than not I use a premade mix. I've tried more than a dozen. My favorite was Thomas Keller's ad hoc fried chicken kit. But that costs $17 and at any rate I haven't seen it for sale in at least a year. Dixie Fry is the second-best; it costs $2.50 and can be found at almost any grocery store. I shook the marinated chicken pieces in the mixture and fried them for roughly seven minutes. 
  • I placed one of the cooked pieces on a soft roll, drizzled over a healthy amount of "sweet & spicy" wing sauce, then topped it with slaw. 
  • It wasn't quite as good as the Nashville hot chicken sandwich I made back in January, but it was still fantastic.

NOTES ON THE GAME:
  • The Blue Jays had three wins on the season coming into the weekend. It was the worst start in the history of the franchise. But if they win tonight, they will have doubled their win total since Friday. The Angels are really bad right now. 
  • And I'm not sure it's going to get better anytime soon: As I wrote above, the Angels #1 starter is on the DL with no certainty about what is wrong with him. Their #2 and #3 starters are missing the entire season with Tommy John surgeries. Their three best relief pitchers are all on the DL right now. If you have a great farm system, you might be able to weather a stretch like this. The Angels have what is regarded as anywhere from fourth-worst to the very worst farm system in baseball at the moment. So these numerous injuries have crippled the team.
  • The pregame informs us that the Angels picked up a new pitcher from Atlanta today. That makes four new pitchers they have added in the last four days: David Hernandez, Kirby Yates, Chet Steadman, and Brooks Pounders. 
  • Quiz: I made up one of the above names. Can you guess which? 
  • If you're, say, 12 years old, and your memory of baseball only extends for the last five years or so, do you realize that the guy batting cleanup for the Angels is one of the greatest players in the history of the game? Or do you think of him only as an incredibly slow, heavy-set guy hitting .234 and making 26 million dollars this season?
  • The Angels end the 2nd inning by grounding into their 26th double play of the season, which is shocking: it feels like they've had twice that many. (Still, that's second-worst in all of baseball.) 
  • Quiz answer: Chet Steadman. That was the pitcher in Rookie of the Year, played by Gary Busey. 
  • The Angels announcer just mentioned that they used to have a "skills competition" during All Star Weekend. I have no memory of that so I looked it up. Apparently 1989 was the last year.
  • Russell Martin hits a homer and the Blue Jays go up 1-0. That is the 32nd homer allowed by the Angels this year. Wanna take a guess where that ranks? You got it: dead last in all of baseball.
  • Trouts leads off the 4th inning with a triple and scores on a Pujols single. Without Trout, I don't think there's any question the Angels would be the worst team in baseball. 
  • On that note, what if Trout ends the season with 11 WAR and the team only has something like 65 wins? What's the largest % of a team's wins that a player has ever accounted for? 
  • Cameron Maybin has been disappointing in most aspects so far this year, but as they say, speed never slumps. He scored from third on the contact play just now. 
  • Pujols just broke his bat on a groundout, it flew about 80 feet and impaled in the ground, not far from the Blue Jays 3rd baseman. That was pretty cool: 
  • Bases loaded, two outs, full count... and Maldonado watches a strike right down the middle of the plate. The Angels had the bases loaded with one out and couldn't get another run. Wanna bet - considering their makeshift bullpen - that failure to add another run comes back to haunt them?
  • Former Angel Joe Smith comes in and retires the side on 7 pitches. He only needed one to get Trout. That was, sadly, predictable. 
  • Justin Smoak came to the plate representing the go-ahead run for Toronto. That guy has destroyed the Angels for years. (Just to be sure, I double-checked on baseball-reference.com, and sure enough, he has 15 home runs against the Angels, more than any other team.) Fortunately, the Angels new pitcher, Hernandez, picked off the runner at first to get out of the inning. 
  • That's about as boneheaded a mistake as you can make as a baserunner: getting picked off first with two outs and the go-ahead run at the plate. It's nice to see other teams make mistakes like that instead of it always being the Angels. [Ed. note: Smoak led off the next inning by getting a hit.]
  • Despite putting two on with no outs, the Angels 4th-string closer gets a K and a DP to get the save. I was wrong, that failure to score in the 7th inning didn't come back to bite them. 
  • But I'm not exactly going to break out the champagne to celebrate a split at home against the team with the worst record in the league.  

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Gameday Eating vs. Carl's Jr.'s Western Bacon Cheeseburger

THE GAME: Dodgers vs Rockies

Some things I'll just never get used to.

My grandmother has been dead since the beginning of the century, but every time I drive past her old house, I look to see if her car is in the driveway.

There was a Sicilian restaurant in town that served the single best pizza I have ever tasted, and every time I consider where to go out for dinner, I still think of it as a possibility. I catch myself when I realize the place has been closed for a decade.

And if I live to be 100, I don't believe it will ever stop being strange to watch a Dodgers home game on television and not hear Vin Scully's voice. It's just not as much fun anymore. I knew this would happen, but that knowledge doesn't make the situation suck any less.

That being said, I try to always make time to catch a Kershaw start. If you love baseball, you know what I mean.

NOTES ON THE FOOD: 

I was talking with a friend of mine the other day after I wrote about how crappy I think Carl's Jr. is. My friend and I have known each other since high school and back then we used to eat at Carl's on occasion. (Not nearly as much as we ate at In-n-Out or Taco Bell. The former of which I still love; the latter, not so much.)

Back then, I really liked the Carl's Western Bacon Cheeseburger. My friend suggested that I try it again, see what I thought, and then make my own version.

"The way you made your own version of the McDouble, do that with the Western Bacon Cheeseburger, but make it side-by-side, like a competition."

I loved this idea. Partly because it's in the spirit of competition like the sports I write about on this blog; mostly because it means I get to eat more burgers.

My burger is on the left; Carl's on the right.

  • THE BUN. The bun I used was a clear victory for me. Not that my bun was great, but Carl's was terrible. I don't understand why places use sesame seed buns. Come to think of it, why do sesame seed buns even exist? Was someone eating a plain bun one day and suddenly declare "You know what would make this great? If we put a bunch of seeds on top!"?
  • Ironically, Carl's Jr. uses a freshly-baked bun for some of their sandwiches, such as the "big chicken fillet"... and it is the best fast food bun I have ever tasted. They should use that with all of their sandwiches. (I just looked at the Carl's Jr. website, and apparently you can request that bun if you want. That had never occurred to me.)

  • THE FRIED ONIONS AND SAUCE. Back when I used to eat this sandwich, it usually came with two or three sad, limp onion rings on the bottom bun. This time, I received several crispy pieces of onion. They were fantastic. And Carl's barbecue sauce has always been one of my favorite fast food barbecue sauces. This was a victory for Carl's. I did not see that coming. 

  • THE BACON.  This was the best bacon I have ever received from Carl's Jr. Unfortunately for them, that's like being the valedictorian of summer school. Carl's is notorious for using lousy bacon. While I actually ate the bacon this time, it was not as good as the thick, Amish-style bacon that I roasted in my oven for 40 minutes. 
  • THE CHEESE. Although the Tillamook cheddar I used would unquestionably be tastier eaten by itself than the American cheese Carl's uses, it didn't stand out at all. Both cheeses got lost amongst all the other flavors. 

  • THE MEAT. Obviously, there was no comparison. I used USDA Prime ground beef from my local butcher. Carl's uses flabby, grey, dried-out meat. This is why it's impossible to take seriously their claim of being "pioneers of the great American burger." If you're proud to serve meat that looks like this - if you merely find it acceptable to serve meat like this - you don't get to call yourself a pioneer of anything.
  • WINNER: GameDay Eating. Although Carl's Jr.'s burger was better than I expected it to be, and I loved their onions, there was just no way for me to get past the crappy bun and flavorless meat. 
  • That was fun. Let me know if you have a suggestion for another fast food item I should try to replicate. 

NOTES ON THE GAME: 
  • Three years ago, I stopped into one of my favorite bars for a drink. The bartender told me that a couple of Rockies had been in the night before - they were staying at a hotel just a few blocks away - and were talking about how Kershaw was overrated. "I'm gonna go yard off Kershaw tomorrow," one of them announced. The next day Kershaw threw a 15-strikeout no-hitter against the Rockies, one of the greatest games ever pitched in the history of baseball. I think of that anecdote every time I see Kershaw pitch against Colorado. 
  • That ain't happening tonight - Kershaw walked the first batter he saw and gave up hits to the second and third. Bases loaded, no outs.
  • I don't have any stats in front of me, but I'm going to go ahead and guess that Kershaw has never given up a grand slam without recording a single out.
  • According to a survey from LMU, the Dodgers have surpassed the Lakers as the most popular L.A. team. That's not terribly surprising considering how awful the Lakers have been for the last four seasons. 
  • After letting the first three reach base, Kershaw has retired 9 in a row. 
  • Joe Davis is now talking about Kershaw's no-hitter. Not surprisingly, he sounds extremely bored doing it. 
  • Trevor Story leads of the top of the 5th with a double. Remember when he started off last season with homers in his first four games and sportswriters started asking "Is Story better than Tulowitzki?" That may have been a little premature. 
  • Story still didn't score. Chris Taylor leads off the bottom of the 5th with a double for the Dodgers. Let's see if they can do better. 
  • They can. The Dodgers lead 4-1. Kershaw is on base. I miss when I was a kid and Dodgers pitchers used to put on those shiny blue satin jackets when they got on base. The current warmup jackets that pitchers wear are much more attractive but not nearly as cool, if you get what I'm saying. 
  • Not a whole lot more action in the game. Kershaw came out after 7, the Dodgers used three relievers in the final two innings and win 4-2. 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Moo Shu Pork

THE GAME: Angels vs Royals

For a long time, the Royals were my second-favorite team in the American League. There were several reasons.

First, I'm not old enough to remember all the battles the two teams had from 1976-1986, when both teams were in the AL West. (In those 11 seasons, the two teams combined to win nine of the division titles. In five of those years, the teams finished 1-2 in the division.)

Second, I attended an Angels-Royals game in Kansas City in 2002. Kauffman Stadium was a surprisingly fun, old-school stadium, and the fans were - and still are - the friendliest fans I have ever encountered in an opponent's stadium. (The least friendly? Yankees fans. Although I've never seen an Angels game at Fenway; I imagine Red Sox fans would be worse.)

But most importantly, the Royals simply didn't matter for almost 30 years. Between 1986 and 2013, they never won their division nor a wild card spot. They had lots of great players come through Kansas City over the years, but they never could put it all together. (Hell, one year they had an outfield of Carlos Beltran, Johnny Damon, and Jermaine Dye, and they still finished with a losing record.)

But now I can't stand the Royals. Part of it, of course, is that they swept the Angels in the first round of the 2014 playoffs, after the Angels had spent the season acquiring the best record in baseball. But mostly I just don't like the players.

Eric Hosmer has a habit of screaming like a teenage girl at a Justin Bieber concert every time one of the Royals gets a hit. Yordano Ventura would start a fight with almost anyone who dared get a hit off of him. He once got into an altercation with Mike Trout after Trout hit a ball back up the middle that almost hit Ventura, as if Trout can direct the ball at particular players. Kendrys Morales would take what seemed like 90 seconds to round the bases after hitting a home run. (Although, admittedly, that might be as fast as he can go.)

I do not have a good feeling about this game, but I'm still gonna watch. It's a Friday night in spring, it's been a long week... why not?

NOTES ON THE FOOD: 
  • I saw a recipe the other day for moo shu pork that utilized sausage instead of pork tenderloin. I loved this idea, particularly since my local butcher shop sells sweet Italian sausage that is as good as any I have ever had. So I picked up four links. 
  • I removed the pork from the casing, added a generous amount of garlic and ginger, and cooked it in a wok. When it was done, I drained most of the fat and set the pork aside. 
  • I shredded half a head of cabbage and a few ounces of shiitake mushrooms and sauteed them in the residual pork fat. 
  • Once they softened, I added the sausage back into the mix, along with vinegar, soy sauce, and a drop or two of chili oil. 
  • I'd never purchased moo shu pancakes before. I thought maybe I could find them at the local Ralph's. Nope. So I went to 99 Ranch Market, the nearby Asian supermarket. I looked amongst the refrigerated egg roll and dumpling wrappers. They weren't there either. Finally I asked for help. "We keep them in the freezer, they're not a very popular product," I was told. So I bought and defrosted a package. 
  • A few weeks ago, I was watching a video of Rick Bayless and Ming Tsai cooking together. They are two of my favorite chefs in America - actually, they're probably #1 and #2. Ming made a dish with hoisin sauce on the side, and he recommended squeezing some lime into it. So I tried this for the first time. It was awesome. I spread some on each pancake and ladled in the filling.
  • This was the best moo shu pork I have ever had. I ate four of them. To the final one, I added a healthy amount of hot mustard to clear the sinuses.

NOTES ON THE GAME: 
  • J.C. Ramirez is making his first ever career start. It's only 10 games into the season, but the Angels' best pitcher is already on the DL, with no timetable for return. With a lot of teams, that would be a big story. With the Angels, it's more like "Wow, I'm surprised they've only lost one pitcher so far."
  • Danny Duffy is starting for the Royals. That's one of the more fun names to say in baseball. It feels like it should belong to a character in a movie about a Little League team. 
  • Mike Trout has already earned 1 WAR this season. It's only ten games old. That's pretty crazy. Is he going to end the season with 16.2 WAR? (I'm gonna go ahead and guess no - the all-time record belongs to Babe Ruth: 14.1 in 1923. He hit .393 with 41 homers that year.) 
  • As soon as I wrote the above, Trout hit an RBI single. For the third year in a row, I'm going to spend the season wondering how awful the Angels would be without Trout. 
  • Wait, I didn't think Billy Butler was in baseball this season. Oh wait - that's Mike Moustakas. He, uh, looks well fed.
  • Two pitches in and Ramirez has given up a single and a home run. Kansas City now leads 2-1. Speaking of which: 
  • The Angels offense has been fun so far. They're leading the AL in batting average (for now) and Trout and Escobar are on fire. They've had some exciting comebacks, including the seven-run 9th inning that I mentioned the other day. But their pitching has been nothing short of atrocious. They have the 3rd-worst ERA in the AL and in 10 games they've only had a starting pitcher go six innings once. (I will point out the obvious: the Angels have had comeback victories this season because they've had to come back - their pitching dug them a big hole.)
  • 5-1 Royals. Kansas City had the second-worst batting average and the second-fewest runs scored in the AL coming into this game. In 9 games, they'd only scored five runs on two occasions. Tonight they have five runs in the 3rd inning. Angels pitching: the cure for your shitty offense! 
  • To be fair, this isn't unexpected. Garrett Richards is already on the DL and I don't think they really know what's wrong with him. Tyler Skaggs is coming off Tommy John surgery AND a shoulder problem and he's still unproven. Heaney and Tropeano would be the #2 and 3 pitchers in the rotation but they're out for the season with Tommy John surgeries. This whole season should be about making moves for next year. 
  • I guess Kansas City got another run but I was watching the bottom of the 9th of Yankees-Cardinals. I'm probably gonna watch Dodgers-Diamondbacks soon, too. Kershaw vs. Greinke. That sounds better than this game. 
  • Raul Mondesi Jr. just robbed Escobar of a hit with a hell of a catch. With that, I'm done. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

BBQ Chicken Quesadilla

THE GAME: Dodgers vs Cubs

I was going to make something last night and write about the Sunday Night Baseball game, but by the time it started, I was too exhausted to do much of anything: yesterday afternoon was as exciting as any afternoon of sports watching I have experienced in years.

The Cavs blew a 26-point 4th quarter lead, the largest blown 4th quarter lead in the NBA in more than 14 years. (Since December 6, 2002, when the Lakers came back from 27 points down to beat the Mavericks. About a month ago, I was cleaning out a storage shed at my parents' house and came across the LA Times sports section from the morning after that game.)

Sergio Garcia finally won a major, taking home the green jacket at Augusta National. And at the exact same time that he and Justin Rose were walking down the 18th fairway, the Angels were in the process of scoring seven runs in the bottom of the 9th inning to beat Seattle, their largest 9th-inning comeback in 31 years.

After all that, the Mets vs. Marlins just didn't excite me.

But a Monday NLCS rematch starting at 5 PM? Definitely.

(5 PM is my absolute favorite start time for a baseball game: It feels like both an afternoon game and a night game. That's part of why I love Sunday Night Baseball so much.)

NOTES ON THE FOOD: 
  • Normally I cook my quesadillas in the cast iron pan. Tonight, I had tortillas that were slightly over 12 inches - they wouldn't fit. So I baked this in the oven. 
  • I used a mix of cheddar and smoked provolone cheeses. I usually use mozzarella, but I was out. 
  • I added a couple of handfuls of roasted chicken breast. 
  • Also caramelized onions and chopped scallions.   
  • On the other half of the tortilla I smeared a not-small amount of Zankou Chicken's legendary garlic sauce and several pickled jalapenos. 
  • Normally, I use one of my favorite barbecue sauces, something with a lot of spice or flavor. But there were already plenty of strong flavors present, so I just used a middle-of-the-road, Kansas City-style sauce. 
  • I've made hundreds of quesadillas in my life. This was one of my five best. 

NOTES ON THE GAME: 
  • The Cubs are hoisting their championship banner tonight... but they're not having their ring ceremony until Wednesday night? Why am I not surprised that they're going to drag this out as much as possible? Hell, why not just give a different player his ring every night? They could have ceremonies until the 4th of July. 
  • I just tuned into Baseball Tonight fifteen minutes before the start of the game to see that the pregame ceremony is delayed because of the weather. You mean it's not 77ยบ and sunny everywhere in America today?
  • I'm watching Washington-St. Louis while waiting for this game to start. The ESPN announcers keep gushing over the 8-pitch at-bat between Harper and Wainright. I was guessing they were asleep during King Felix and Trout's 14-pitch battle the other night... but as my friend Nick pointed out to me, ESPN doesn't really consider the AL West to be part of their baseball coverage. 
  • Lester just threw the first pitch at 7:02. So basically nothing I said about a 5 PM start time applies here. 
  • The Cubs are wearing glittering gold names and numbers on their jerseys. I would describe them as somewhere between "unatractive" and "fucking hideous." 
  • Apparently, most of the broadcast is going to be split-screen segments with the game on the right side and some feature on last year's Cubs team on the left. 
  • Puig dropped an easy catch of a Schwarber foul ball for the third out of the inning. What happened next was as predictable as anything you will see in baseball: after Schwarber walked, Kris Bryant smashed a double - the first hit of the game for the Cubs - to score Schwarber. 1-0 Cubs. 
  • Dave Roberts pulls Wood and brings in Stripling to face Kris Bryant with the bases loaded. Not exactly a low-pressure situation. (But he got Bryant to pop out before I'd finished typing that sentence.)
  • Commercial Note: My English teacher during sophomore year of high school bet the class that Eddie Vedder wouldn't live to see the end of the school year. "He's on a death trip," Mr. Garfield proclaimed. Even at the time, I realized he may have just been saying that to show that he knew who Eddie Vedder was, that he didn't really believe what he was saying. But still, it amuses me that not only was he wrong, more than two decades later Eddie Vedder is strumming jingles in an ESPN commercial. You can't get more establishment than that. 
  • The Dodgers get on the board with a Seager double that scores Pederson. It's gonna be fun watching those two hit in the top half of the Dodgers lineup for the next half-decade (or more). 
  • One inning later, the Dodgers had the bases loaded with no outs and couldn't get a run across. It's still only a one-run game, but it's hard not to feel like that was the best chance the Dodgers were going to get to put up a crooked number. 
  • They did, however, get one run on an error by Addison Russell, so now we're going to the 9th inning all tied up. 
  • Commercial Note: Carl's Jr.'s new advertising campaign is that they're getting rid of their ridiculous, overly-sexualized commercials, and are now focusing on the food. They have rebranded themselves "pioneers of the great American burger." But here's the thing: they haven't said anything about changing the quality of their food. And their food is awful. It would be one thing if they were saying "Okay, we're going to start making better food"... but they're not. They're acting as if they've been making good food all along. If they were, they would never have had to use commercials of almost-naked women to begin with. (You'll never see In-n-Out doing that.) Maybe I'm taking this whole thing too seriously. I haven't eaten a full meal at Carl's Jr. in years. Maybe they deserve another try. 
  • Kenley Jansen vs. Kris Bryant in the bottom of the 9th with a runner in scoring position. Moments like these are what baseball fans live for.  
  • Cubs walk off. 10:39 PM. Not exactly the early bedtime I'd originally planned for, but oh well.