Matt Kemp: Goodness, Gracious

Los Angeles Dogers outfielder Matt Kemp warms up.
Matt Kemp

As I blogged yesterday, I attended the San Francisco Giants game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday.  A grudge match, as usual.

One thing I failed to mention in my post:  After the game — which the Dodgers lost — a gracious Matt Kemp jogged over to my section and gave half his uniform to a young, disabled Dodger fan seated almost directly in front of me.  No hoopla or posing.  No cameras around, except for the personal iPhone of someone seated nearby that was used to shoot this video.  (Unfortunately, I had already stored my camera away by that point, and the encounter happened too fast for me to pull it back out.)

No exaggeration, you could have heard a pin drop in section 125.  Kemp, who gets booed with every at-bat in AT&T Park, left a number of us pretty choked up.  The young fan was at the game with an older gentleman — probably his Dad — who was obviously thrilled and touched beyond words.

I am not much for heckling opponents, so I was never among the Matt Kemp booers to begin with.  But going forward, I may manage some polite clapping, instead of stoney silence, when he’s at the plate. 

I’m not sure I could manage flat-out cheering, though.  He does, after all, still wear Dodger blue.

Spring Training Day Two: Naming Names

Day two of spring training took me to Goodyear, Arizona where my old hometown team the Cleveland Indians welcomed (and ultimately shut out) the evil Los Angeles Dodgers.  A good and just baseball outcome in a very dry heat.

There was less power hitting than in Tuesday’s 4-3 win over my current home team, the San Francisco Giants:  No home runs today vs. five yesterday.  But there were two botched pick off attempts by Dodgers pitcher Matt Palmer that allowed the Indians to score.

Even worse, two Indians players were hit by pitches.  In fact Matt Carson — up from the minors — got beaned, and was escorted to the locker room by Manager Terry Francona and a trainer.  He seemed OK, but wow the sound of a ball on a batting helmet is a terrible one.

Poor Carson. I realized today that some guys like him, non-roster or minor league Indians players, have neither a photo on the scoreboard nor a name on the back of their jerseys.  I suppose that’s to prevent fans like me from forming too much of an attachment to players who might not be around in April.

Too late.

Indians fans sitting around me really had a soft spot for these young guys, shouting encouragement — rather than insults — when they pretty much swung at every pitch that didn’t hit them in the head.

I have a new baseball crush, left fielder Tim Fedroff.  As I said in my last post, he is Hunter Pence in a different uniform.  Yesterday he was the guy to know, if you were under 14 years of age and wanted an Indians player to autograph your baseball.  Fedroff would take a kid’s ball, ask which player’s signature he or she wanted, descend into the dugout and badger that teammate until he signed.  The kids were busting.

That said, I asked one young boy which player had autographed his ball and he replied, “Honestly I have no idea.  I am a Dodgers fan.”  Boo!  Apparently they let anyone into Scottsdale stadium these days.

Today Fedroff was again effusive.   He didn’t start, and spent the early part of the game hanging over the dugout railing—apparently having a blast.  When he was called to play, he BOUNDED across the field.  He zigzagged like a kid pretending he was an airplane, and the other players laughed.  This is why I love spring training.

At one point I think he, Lonnie Chisenhall and Mark Reynolds may have been trying to get my attention.  (I was the woman with the biggest camera, three rows back.)  They were sort of miming that someone—possibly me—should take their photo.  I wanted to, but… the only thing worse than missing that opportunity would have been thinking it was directed at me, only to discover that they were talking to some hot, buxom chick in daisy dukes a few rows behind me.

(Have you ever seen the Southwest Airlines commercial in which a woman thinks a handsome colleague is professing his love for her before a big meeting?  She gushes her feelings in return, but he’s actually talking to his girlfriend via his bluetooth headset.  OUCH.  That’s what I was thinking about. ”Wanna get away?”)

Plus I didn’t have the heart to tell them that my camera was actually focused just behind them, on Jason Kipnis poised to steal second base.

That’s the kind of thing that happens at Spring training, though, when players and coaches are a little more loose and very accessible to fans.  Yesterday in Scottsdale, Will the Thrill Clark was channeling Shecky Green.  He knew all the regulars in my section and kept a running banter going with them.  He even threw fistfuls of gum into the stands.

Tomorrow the Giants and Indians will meet again, this time at Goodyear.  I’ll have no conflicting loyalties, because spring training is a time when you just want everyone to play well.

Especially the faceless new guys, wearing nameless jerseys.

A Win-Win Weekend For The San Francisco Giants

Buster Posey

It was a great weekend for San Francisco Giants baseball.  We didn’t sweep the L.A. Dodgers, but we took the series putting us 5 1/2 games out in front in the National League West.  Toward the end of Sunday’s shut-out, one of ESPN’s announcers speculated that the Dodgers now probably have a better shot at capturing a wild card spot than of winning the NL West.  Music to my ears.

I caught the first game of the series, going back on my solemn promise never to attend another Friday night Giants/Dodgers match-up, after several near-death experiences in past seasons.  I even sat near the visitor’s dugout, and while the inmates were restless… I survived without ever throwing a punch.

Four hecklers behind me were tossed pretty early on.  They were annoying, because two were Giants fans and two were Dodgers fans.  So it was nonstop screaming no matter which team was at bat.  These guys were particularly fond of the F-bomb — but apparently the police officers positioned nearby were not.

As I was leaving AT&T Park after the Giants’ 5-2 victory, the gentleman next to me summed it up nicely.  “WOW, what a game!  I have a feeling every game will be a dog fight like this one from here on out.”

I say, bring it!

I ended the night with more than 1,500 shots.  Here are some of the best, if I do say so myself.  Next up for me and my Canon… September 17 vs. the Colorado Rockies.

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