DODGER FOR A DAY, by the…

7 Aug

I’m baaaaaaaaaaack.  In New York.  On the internet.  KOJB.  Posing for my photos.  Pondering all of my options.  Running sprints in Maria Hernandez Park.  Lifting weights at Richie’s.  Preparing.  Group workout tomorrow in the park with the High-School Crew.  Ground balls.  Boom!  Fly balls. Boom!  Tee work.  Bam!  Sprints.  Bucky!  Soft toss. Bang!  Double play feeds.  Boom!  There will be fireworks and magic, people.

In serious news, we had tryouts Sunday for Team Jew.S.A.  16 kids showed up.  A manageable number.  But not enough.  One came all the way from Kansas.  One from Oregon.  One from San Fransisco.

We will take between 15 and 18 players to Israel next summer for the Maccabi games.  Of the 16 kids that came to the LA tryout, depending what happens in Chicago and New York, 5 will likely make the team, and 2 or 3 will be named as alternates.  Chicago tryouts are in two weeks.  And New York the week after that.  We should have a total of between 50 and 75 players trying out.

Tryouts were at a high-school field in Encino.  Josh and I got there early to set up the registration table and get the field ready though it was already good-to-go thanks to Rocco who takes care of the facility.  From the first workout, it appears most of the kids who make the team will be able to play some level of college baseball.  I was so feverishly focused at tryouts that I forgot to take a picture.  If I had remembered, it would appear below.

***

I got to be a Dodger for a day Saturday.  Matt got me an all access field pass.  Can you believe it? – it was the King of All Jewish Baseball’s first time on a Major League field during batting practice!

We arrived around 1:30 and walked into the clubhouse.  It was modest compared to the clubhouse in Minnesota where Matt played before.  I wanted to stare at everything but knew I should not so mostly refrained.  Matt had a lot of gear in his locker–  uniforms, 8 pairs of spikes – and he flipped me a brand new Nike glove with his name on it.  Kershaw was starting that day and was sitting at a chair in front of his locker two spaces down from Matt.  Matt walked me out to the dugout.  He had to get ready to throw his bullpen so I sat and watched some of the guys do their work in left field.

The Dodgers recently aquired Shane Victorino, Hanley Ramirez, and Joe Blanton.  Blanton was running sprints in the outfield.  Jerry Hairston was playing with his son in center field.  Hairston’s grandfather, father, and brother all played Major League Baseball, and he was prepping the next generation for what seems to be his inevitable fate.  Some fans who were on a tour of the stadium spotted Matt in the dugout and screamed, “Holy Shit, Bro, It’s Matt Guerrier.  Can we get a picture with you man?”  I watched Matt’s pen.  He threw 30 pitches.  He looked good and said his arm didn’t hurt.

Game time was 6:05.  I kept an eye on the clock to see what the daily routine is like for these guys.  Most of the players arrived by 2pm, 4 hours before game time.  Next guy out, after Blanton, was Treanor (His wife is currently playing beach volley ball for the United States in the Olympics, and her match was playing on the TVs in the clubhouse after the game). Treanor threw about 20 to seconds base, getting faster and stronger as he went, 10 to third, and blocked for another 10 minutes.  Steve Yeager, the Dodger’s catching coach, came out early too to work with Treanor, and I talked to him in the dugout.

Yeager caught for the Dodgers for 15 years.  And he appeared as third base coach Duke Temple in Major League, the film!  Here he is waving Willy Mays Hayes around to score at the end!

He is also a Jew!  He told me he converted 22 years ago.  Jesus.  How does this keep happening to me?  The power of my Jewish Baseball Magic has grown too strong.  Even crazier, he had a 17 year-old son, who, after explaining why I was in California, being the King of Jewish Baseball that is, came to Team Jew.S.A. tryouts the following morning.

At 3:05, 3 hours before game time, all the pitchers came out together to warm-up, run, and throw before going back into the clubhouse for their daily meeting.  After pitchers, position players came out slowly.

BP started at 3:45.  Ramirez and Victorino came out together and stuck close, the new guys.  Dee Gordon, the starting short stop until a few days ago when Ramirez arrived, was taking ground balls when they came up the dugout steps and the two of them exchanged a look without any friendly acknowledgment.  Mattingly came in the dugout and a group of reporters surrounded him for their feed, a media briefing on the state of the team– Kershaw, the new guys, the San Fransisco Giants who are 1/2 a game up on the Dodgers in the NL West.

The players both did and did not work hard during warm-ups.  It appeared very casual.  But was not.  They have different gears.  These guys are special.  They have a gift.  And they do this every single day.  Most of them wore sneakers during batting practice.  Matt shagged fly balls in right-center field.  The fat, gay guy from Modern Family was throwing out the first pitch so I hung out on the top step of the dugout with him and watched home-runs fly.

Rizzo from the Cubs looked best in BP.  Guy’s a monster and was just smashing the ball the other way with ease.  Hitting group #2 for the Dodgers wasn’t bad either– Kemp, Ethier, Ramirez.

hanley ramirez gets ready for batting practice

I sat behind home plate in the second deck for the game.  Kershaw threw 7.  Kemp homered.  Dodgers won 3-1.  Matty’s spot came up in the 8th inning, Dodgers winning 2-1.  He normally would throw that inning.  But he was in the dugout in a sweatshirt with some other pitchers and watched Ronald Belisario throw a 1,2,3 inning.

I just looked up Belisario.  You’ve got to check out this guy’s wikipedia.  It reads like a wrap sheet. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronald_Belisario.  Between 2009 and 2012 with the Dodgers, he has shown up late to Spring Training every year.  He failed a drug test for cocaine.  He has been issued a DUI.  And he’s served multiple suspensions for failing MLB drug tests for unspecified substances.

belisario throws a pitch, that crazy bastard.

After the game, we took the elevator up the the top floor to the players parking lot, and headed home.  Just another day for a couple of Los Angeles Dodgers like ourselves…

sandy koufax jersey outside the dodger clubhouse.

Click this link, or be turned into fine art…

http://dannydwyer.tumblr.com/

2 Responses to “DODGER FOR A DAY, by the…”

  1. Lars #21 August 9, 2012 at 3:46 pm #

    Nate, don’t know how I found this, but it made my day!
    Can’t believe that I know someone with royal blood in his veins. 😉
    The pics are just too good! Wish you already had that king-cape when you played with us.
    Sounds great what you are doing with the kids and hope to see some good results at the WBC from you.
    Hope to hang out with you once again I ever make it back to NY.
    Big cheers and Prost from Munich,

    Lars

    • kingofjewishbaseball August 9, 2012 at 5:57 pm #

      Lars, great to hear from u! Tell everyone in Munich I say hello and that I love them. Thanks for reading the blog. Team Israel all the way! -Fish

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