THE GAME: Dodgers vs Giants
Very few words in the English language are as overused as "unbelievable."
The word, according to Merriam-Webster, means "too improbable for belief." Yet when it comes to sports, I hear the word on a daily basis. Just yesterday, I heard a highlight show refer to Cole Beasley's catch in the Dallas-New York game as "unbelievable."
Really? An NFL receiver catching a football is too improbable for belief?
It was certainly a cool catch, no doubt. You don't see catches like that every weekend. But it's not like he caught the thing while wearing handcuffs. It's not like he jumped 15 feet in the air. He put his hands on the ball, it bounced around, and he secured it. I had no trouble believing that it happened.
Anyway, you get the point. There's pretty much nothing in sports that is unbelievable.
That being said, what's happening to the Dodgers right now is damn close.
Let's cut to the chase: from June 7th-August 6th, the Dodgers went 43-7, the best 50-game stretch since 1912. Sports Illustrated put them on the cover, asking the very legitimate question: "Best team ever?"
But in the last 17 games the Dodgers have lost 16 times, the worst stretch of any team in baseball this season. Their only win? A 1-0 victory that I wrote about on September 1st. Last night the Dodgers lost their 11th game in a row, their longest streak since 1944, when they were still in Brooklyn.
The amount of good luck you need to win 43 out of 50 games is staggering. The amount of bad luck it takes to drop 16 out of 17 is also not small. The odds that both things will happen to one team in a three-month stretch? Well, it's... you know.
As Brad Pitt said in Moneyball: "How can you not be romantic about baseball?"
NOTES ON THE FOOD:
- I discovered mini corn dogs - they were called corn dog nuggets - almost 30 years ago at a hole-in-the-wall hot dog shop in my local mall. They quickly became one of my favorite things in the world and all these years later I still love them.
- Years ago, Foster Farms came out with a frozen version that you can fry up yourself at home. That was one of the top 5 days of my life. (I exaggerate... slightly.)
- When preparing to fry them, I always defrost a handful in the microwave for a minute at half-power, otherwise the frozen little weenies inside the corn batter don't cook all the way through once they hit the oil. And nobody wants a frozen little weenie.
- After the defrosting, I fry them in oil for roughly four minutes at 375º, until they turn golden brown.
- Back when I was a kid, ketchup and yellow mustard were all I wanted with my mini corn dogs. Actually... now that I think about it, that's about all I wanted with everything I ate. But these days, especially when watching a game, I like to add a little more flavor to my food.
- I mentioned Hoboken Eddie's last month when I ate some poutine poppers with their "T-Bone Tickler." He makes some of the best sauces you will every try. Tonight, I opted to use the "Asian BBQ" sauce. As soon as the mini corn dogs came out of the oil, I blotted them on a paper towel and tossed them around with the sauce.
- A sprinkling of sesame seeds went on top, along with some chopped green onion.
- On the sides of the plate, I squirted a few lines of extremely-hot wasabi, because why not?
- These were... unbelievable. (Just messing with you. They were extremely delicious, though. I could have eaten at least 25 of them. Which is why I only cooked 10.)
NOTES ON THE GAME:
- I feel lucky to have seen Pedro Martinez and Greg Maddux in their primes. I would put Kershaw's prime as the third-best I have ever seen. (With the caveat that it's possible he's still in his prime. Who knows where I will view his career when all it's over?) If anyone is going to stop this freefall, it's Kershaw.
- Of course, I said the exact same thing last Thursday and Kershaw didn't even make it out of the fourth inning. Because that's how bad things are for the Dodgers right now. (Before that, the team had won the last 16 games that Kershaw had started.)
- The Angels are playing the Astros tonight: Justin Verlander vs. Garret Richards. If Kershaw wasn't pitching and the Dodgers weren't in the middle of this historic funk, I would be watching that.
- Speaking of impressive streaks, the Indians just won their 20th game in a row, tied with the 2002 A's (from the above-mentioned Moneyball) for the most in AL history.
- AT&T Park is a beautiful place to watch a baseball game but it's unquestionably the worst at which I've ever seen a football game. From where I was sitting, I could not see any action inside the 15-yard-line of the nearest end zone. None of that was mentioned when I bought my two tickets (which together cost over $200). I was not impressed.
- Johnny Cueto has not looked sharp through two innings - he even walked Kershaw - but the Dodgers have stranded four runners and failed to capitalize.
- Pence and Panik both assumed the other was going to catch Puig's two-out pop-up. Dodgers have men on second and third now with two outs. It doesn't seem like an exaggeration to say the Dodgers HAVE to take advantage of that mental error.
- Nope. Dodgers load the bases and Grandal strikes out. If you're keeping score at home - though there's no need to, as I'm doing it for you - that's seven left on base through three innings.
- Cueto has thrown 77 pitches in only three innings, with three hits and three walks... and yet the Dodgers don't have a run. That's not good.
- Oldest rule in the book: if you don't take advantage of the mistakes your opponent makes, you'll pay for it. San Francisco leads off the bottom of the 3rd with Kelby Tomlinson hitting a homer off Kershaw. I had to look up how to spell his first name because I'd never heard of him before tonight. 1-0 Giants.
- Chase Utley crushes one into the bay, Kershaw hits a double, Seager sacrifices, Puig hits a massive two-RBI double, and it's 4-1 Dodgers.
- If they blow this lead with Kershaw on the mound, the team has more problems than any of us realize. I'm guessing they don't, however. Kershaw has only thrown 37 pitches. It feels like he's gonna cruise for the next five innings.
- Sure enough, the Giants gets a double and a single in the bottom of the inning but don't score any runs. That's the kind of thing that's been happening to the Dodgers the last three weeks. (And the Angels all season.)
- I've only had SportsNetLA for a couple of months? How frequently do they use that godawful camera angle from behind the catcher and the umpire? They just used it twice with Kershaw pitching in crucial moments in the 6th inning. It is the worst camera angle I have ever seen for a televised baseball game. Who the hell thinks that's a good shot?
- The Dodgers have gotten one more run and the Giants two more. 5-3 as we go to the 9th.
- The Giants load the based with a couple of infield singles with one out and Buster Posey at the plate. It had to happen like this, didn't it?
- We know how much heart these Giants players have, despite their terrible record this season. What I want to know is what these Dodgers are made of. Are they really going to blow a three-run lead at AT&T? Or are they going to say "enough is enough"?
- Jansen strikes out Posey and Hundley. Dodgers win. The streak ends.
- That felt like a playoff game.