Friday, October 23, 2009

Seriously Chapter 51: Philly is Silly

Not just because the Phillies bounced the Dodgers the way they did but how about those Eagles losing to the, uh, Raiders? What a week.

From the Diamond:

The Phillies Take the NLCS From the Dodgers, 4 to 1 in Games and Advance to the World Series - A Bitter Sweet Dodger Post Mortem

I was walking around an empty Dodger Stadium today, waiting for my old friend, Joe Torre, to finish the last of his final exit interviews. He and I would be having a sit down, as we are want to do at the end of every season, but I must have gotten to the stadium a little too early. Joe and I usually have this annual at Chi Chi's Room, which is a Cuban cigar place on Lincoln Boulevard, but instead he called me over to my old Chavez Ravine stomping grounds. Running into my Dodger friends who are still with the organization is always a thrill, and a few heads did pop out of some offices, but I must admit a touch of melancholia at how few people I even know anymore. There's nothing but kids with MBA's down there! And so many Asians. And no Tommy!! What the fuzz are the Los Angeles Dodgers without Tommy Lasorda? Though we don't endorse the Dodger brand at Sports Seriously, we feel like we're members of the Dodger family, with all the years of business we've done, and not seeing Tommy there was a heartbreak. But I digress. Though I'd had a twenty second conversation with Joe earlier in the day, him telling me to come down, he and I were about to be talking for the first time since the Wednesday Night Philadelphia Beat Down. Now I would never call it the Wednesday Night Philadelphia Beat Down to Joe's face but that's what it looked like to this reporter watching on a 64-inch with the ex-wife in his lap. Now the ex-wife part, that's a whole other story. Though Seriously has done some recent soul searching, as he always does when he cleans house of staff, he's not going to burden Seriously followers in search of the news with tales of bad broads. Suffice it to say that Seriously's personal life is volatile, every time I walk in my house it's like somebody rolled a grenade into the room, but that's not going to affect me to the point where I can't call a spade a spade as it relates to what I do as a professional. Yes, the The Los Angeles Dodgers got the holy, living shit kicked out of them but I'm not going to say that to Joe Torre's face, two days after it's happened. They don't make scotch old enough for me to do that to Joe.
I'm a habitually on-time person so here I was, planted in some modern leather contraption of a chair outside his office. I could hear Joe in there with Manny Mota whose beautiful cackle I would know from half a mile, Manny being a friend and one of the first interviews I ever did for the old L.A. Herald in 1981 when he broke the major league record for most pinch hits. "Cumpleanos" was the only Spanish word I knew at the time and he and I just took it from there. I was, later on, lucky enough to enter into a sexual relationship with his beautiful neice, Patrizia, who I'm friends with to this day, she's an attorney in Century City. So Manny comes out and we reunite. For some reason, he asks me for my card which was a little strange. While I'm not THAT well known outside the sports game, if you're in Quake Town and you can't reach Seriously than you ain't in Quake Town. But being the real and only Manny on the Dodgers, it was just Manny being Manny and he was of great humor and glowing countenance (and Manny Mota doesn't even know what that word means) That is, until I congratulated him on the great season he had. He just looked down and then off and I apologized for bringing it up. Then we shared a couple more jokes, he asked about my families, hugged Joe again and then he was gone. Joe and I looked at each other like - that's the one only Manny Mota of Los Angeles. A beautiful class act. So I go into Joe's office and we sit down. I've never been in his L.A. office, mind you, and this guy makes about ten mill a year, but this office was no more pretentious than the office I provide for my out of town stringers just passing through, looking for a place to finish some work. The only thing on the walls are two pictures, his late Momma Lena and Joe's sweetheart of a brother, Frank, a business man who heroically survived an extremely severe case of butt cancer. But that's Joe for you. While he likes the finer things, he doesn't need the big things, you know what I mean? That's why his office is the way it is. As soon as Joe's rear hit the foam doughnut in his chair, he let out a huff like he was spitting out a drink. It then became apparent that he hadn't slept for a couple days, especially when he told me so. In other words, the tenor of what came out of mouth in the form of speech was entirely congruous with the rings beneath his eyes which hung low, dark and tired like Brooks Robinson after a day/night double header. Yeah, I know that's bad writing but I wanted to mention Brooks and old school eye black, so kiss my ass.
While Joe was drinking his trademark Bigelow decaf tea and going to the can about every six minutes, Joe is a man of the grape and he and I have shared a few cab sav's in our time. Accordingly, it's hard for Joe to not laugh when he sees me, given our escapades of younger days. So sorrow aside, he still was able to maintain that low voiced jocularity as we spoke and he got business out of the way real quickly, telling me exactly what the Dodger plans were for the off season. "This team is close, Seriously. A number one starter and a couple of odds and ends and we're a World Series team." Then he mentioned Juan Pierre and got emotional for a moment and then I asked about Orlando Hudson whereupon he wept. The rest of the meeting was personal and I promised Joe I wouldn't spill the beans on the moves they'll be making in the off-season. Dodger fans just need to know that they'll be very pleased going into spring training next year as these deals are already done, folks. "I know this team can win it all next year." Joe walked me out of the office and we laughed as we shook hands again. We knew we were only gonna have time to run into each other about once or twice in the next year but as he said to me, "Hey that's enough."

The Angels Are Alive Against the Mighty Yankees, Down 3 - 2 in Games Going Into Tomorrow Night

While this ALCS should be viewed as a possible classic in the making, the entire series has been overshadowed by some noticeably terrible umpiring. Angel Dave is an alcoholic fan who's given great support to the Sports Seriously franchise over the years and I thought it appropriate to give you his unvarnished report on what seems to be an overriding problem in this series.

Umpires Officially Are Screwing the Angels in ALCS vs. Yankees!!
By Angel Dave

Last night's bullshit calls were an abomination to the game, the Angels and even...A-Rod. The Yankees are so good and playing so well, they would probably advance to the World Series regardless. Facing C.C. Sabathia and the Yanks' murderer’s row is tough enough as it is; the Angels shouldn’t also have to overcome shitty umpires who look like they've been bought and paid for. This is embarrassing.
Either the umpires here in the playoffs are incompetent or they’ve been instructed to give the Yankees as many calls as possible. Shitty, horrible calls for New York started in the division series with Phil Cuzzi calling Joe Mauer’s double down the left field line a foul ball when it wasn’t even a close. That was pretty darn egregious. Then it continued in, I believe, Game 2 of the ALCS when the second base umpire didn’t give Erick Aybar the phantom tag at second when he was trying to turn a double-play. Yes, I’ll admit that Aybar never tagged the bag but that’s never been an issue for umps — it’s always been accepted. Unfortunately that call was only small potatoes compared to the two horrendously blown calls by the umps in Game 4. In the top of the 4th, Scott Kazmir tried to pick off Nick Swisher at second with a spin move. The throw from Kazmir to Aybar was spot on and they easily had Swisher, no doubt about it. Swisher was called safe and he later advanced to third. Then the very next inning, the umpires were up to their same tricks and this might have been the absolute worst call of the series - In the top of the 5th, the Yankees had Jorge Posada on third and Robinson Cano on second with one out. Nick Swisher hit a grounder to Darren Oliver who threw home, getting Posada caught in a rundown. Mike Napoli chased Posada back to third and tagged both Posada and Cano out (Cano had headed towards third). For some unknown reason, the third base umpire called Posada out and Cano safe. Yankee fans will point to the fact that no runs were scored because of this mistake, so it doesn’t matter. Problem is, every extra out you give a lineup like the Yankees will kill you. What’s better to start an inning, Melky, Jeter and Damon or Jeter, Damon, and Teixeira? It’s a huge difference when you’re talking playoff baseball.... I'm just saying.

Thank you, Angel Dave, for your surprisingly lucid and appropriate commentary.

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