One Jon down, one John up

I was sad when I heard that Jon Garland was going to go on the DL again. Just our luck. The guy doesn’t spend a second on the DL during his entire ML career till his second stint with the Dodgers and this is is second trip to the DL. It was expected that they were going to activate Vicente Padilla, who was also in his second stint on the DL… but as you saw that didn’t happen. Who else could they call up? They already called up Rubby De La Rosa, Javy Guerra, and pretty much anyone else left in the minors.

So, they called up my John Ely again for the second time this season. And it looks like for the second time this season, his stint in the Majors may only last a few days. It depends on if Blake Hawksworth is ready to be activated off the DL. Who wants to guess how many times Ely (since we have too many John/Jon/Juan on the team) will bounce back and forth between AAA and the Majors. Looking at his ERA… he maybe be like Lance Cormier and be sparsely used during his time in the Majors. He pitched 3 innings in Sunday’s marathon-length 9 inning game against the Reds. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the length of the game. It nearly lasted four hours! I had to double check to make sure there wasn’t any kind of time delay. Wow. Nearly four hours.

I’m crossing my fingers that Ely will be with the team during the next homestand since I didn’t get to see him during his first stint. I’m also crossing my fingers that he’ll pitch better. But, if Blake’s ready to come back… I’ll take whoever can perform better!

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Interesting weekend

By now, many of you have heard about how we almost got smoked out at the Dodger game on Saturday. It was a long game to boot too! You know when Kuroda’s pitching, it isn’t going to be a quick game. At least I got a ball from Jon Garland before the game and he signed it (and personalized it) for me. He asked us, “where are the dogs?” We told him out in the pavilion, as Saturday was the “Bark in the Park” event.

I had heard on the radio the night before that Jim Wolf was the umpire at third base. Now, I’m probably the only fan in the world who gets excited about seeing an umpire. I packed my Wolf hat and scrapbook just in case I got a chance to see Jim before the game and talk to him. While I was waiting to talk to Jim, I did get to meet Andre’s agent and talk to his dad. After that, I looked up and notice the umpire numbers. There was no 78 up there. I figured, oh, maybe Jim got the rest of the series off. It happens sometimes.

The umpire comes out and I notice one of them looks like he could be Jim. By now, I’m back at my seat in the baseline boxes. I am kicking myself for not sticking around longer to make sure that Jim wasn’t going to be there. Sure enough. When they announce the evening’s umpires, Jim is at 2nd base wearing the #28. I guess he snatched up the number after the previous wearer retired or something.

One of the funniest things I saw during the game was a pink balloon had drifted into the stadium. First it hovered in the air over left field, between third and left. James Loney was batting and I was hoping to see him get a hit off the balloon. Jim Wolf must have thought the same thing because he had an eye on the balloon too. The balloon kept drifting down, but didn’t touch the field, and then drift up again. Wolfie had his eye on it. I was waiting to see if he would call time. He never did. The balloon almost touched down, but then it just started to drift towards the foul line. In fact, it drifted straight to Chico, the ball boy. He didn’t even have to get up and chase it. It went straight to him!

When I was in the Baseline Club on Saturday, I was smiling at something on the TV. One of the cooks happened to be out there and commented on what a pretty smile I have. Normally, had it been anyone else, I probably would’ve found it creepy and try to get away. But, since I kinda know him, I just took it as a much needed compliment.

After Saturday’s loss, I was 0-4 in games attended since I started my new job. When I mentioned this to SooHoo on Monday, he gave me the “toss” signal. It was funny to see. He just tossed me, like an umpire would toss a player. Well, fortunately for me, the Dodgers won on Monday, evening my 2011 record up to 7-7 and breaking my 4 game losing streak since I started my new job.

Jamey Carroll’s kids were at the game. They’re so adorable. They came down to the field while dad was stretching. He motioned for them to come down and they did. They had some other kids (maybe more family members or friends) with them and they all posed for a group photo. Jamey picked up his little boy, Cole, for the photo. Then Cole would point to a player who was stretching and Jamey would say who Cole was pointing to.

I knew the players were going to wear special caps for Memorial Day. But I didn’t know there were two kinds. The Dodgers wore the dark blue with white while the Rockies wore a red with white. Interesting. I think this was the first time the two teams wore different caps for the Patriotic themed caps. Well, first time I’ve seen it anyway. On Saturday, during the National Anthem, everyone had their caps removed except for Tim Wallach. He had his batting helmet off but not the cap. We speculated maybe he thought the cap was in the helmet and he didn’t realize it didn’t come off with the helmet. Not quite sure.

One of the funnier things I’ve seen lately happened during Jamey Carroll’s triple. As he was running to third, Tim Wallach was getting in position to tell Jamey whether slide, come in standing, or dive. Well, the third base umpire was trying to get in position so he could see the play as well. So, he had to give Wallach a friendly little nudge which he probably apologized for after the play. Still, it was funny to see in person.

The next homestand is going to be a long one! I think I might actually get 4 or 5 games during that homestand. For sure, two of the Saturday games and two of the mid-week day games. The only game I’m not sure about is the Sunday game against the Angels. It’ll depend on my church schedule.

Counting my blessings

After a very long day, one full of many downs, I have many ups that I am thankful for. Like one of my favorite songs (I have too many to choose just one) says: Count your many blessings, name them one by one. Count your blessings, see what God has done. Where does one begin?

1) This being Memorial Day weekend, let’s just start with that. The amazing opportunity to be living here in the States, being raised here, having privileges that I take for granted every day that my parents did not have when they lived in Cambodia. Carpooling with my dad last week opened my eyes to his past, a past he has never shared with me before. Maybe he feels now that I’m older that I can handle his past. I don’t know.

2) The freedom we have here that other countries do not allow their citizens to have. Even when it seems our freedom is slipping away, little by little… I am thankful for the freedoms we do have. Since this is my baseball blog, I will say that I am thankful that we can be free to root for whatever team we want to. It makes me think of the speeches Jeremy Affeldt and Jamey Carroll made before the first Giants/Dodger game after the Opening Series. Like Jamey said, “There is no room in this game for hatred and violence.”

3) The amazing friends who have opened their hearts and welcomed me into their arms, their circles, and made me feel like I’m part of their families. And I’m not just talking about my baseball friends, but overall. I’m humbled and touched by the awesome friends I have made over the last five years, ever since I attended my first Dodger game. There are no words to describe my gratitude and my affection. Without them, I doubt my love for the Dodgers would have blossomed into what it is now.

4) The incredible opportunities God has given me over the last two years. When I found out two years ago that I was going to lose my job, I didn’t know what I was going to do. Through His guidance, I went back to PCC to try to finish my courses for the library technology program. I signed up for one class thinking it was one thing, and completely surprised by what it turned out to be. That was a blessing in disguise, as that laid the foundation to where I am now. At the time, I couldn’t see where God was leading me. I just had to trust Him and let Him lead. “Trust in the Lord with all thine Heart, and lean not to thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (I’m quoting it from memory, so please forgive me if I got that wrong). Or as I am reminded by the scripture on Lance Cormier’s glove, “For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee: fear not, I will help thee” (Isaiah 41:13). I am amazed as I look past and see how God has directed and provided and led.

5) Similar to the one above. I am thankful that I have a roof over my head, food on the table, a car to drive, and a job to go to every day. Enough said. I think.

6) I am extremely thankful for every game that I am privileged to go to. Even before, when friends would call me, e-mail me, text me, saying they have an extra ticket. I was always grateful for the opportunity to go when I otherwise could not go. Again, there are no words to express my gratitude. I wish I could repay them back for their kindness and generosity. Maybe one day. And I hope to one day pay it forward to someone who is in a position like I was.

7) I am thankful for every kind action, every kind word. You never know what a person is going through and what can brighten their day. Sometimes I look back and think, did I do enough? Did I say please and thank you and express my gratitude? And sometimes, all I can do is try to pay it forward. A kind smile. A kind word. A random act of kindness. Sometimes I wish I could do more. Sometimes I wonder if I did enough.

8) Like the first point was, I am thankful for all the men and women who put their lives on the line for our freedoms and liberties. The ones in uniform. The ones who aren’t. The ones who face situations we can never imagine. The ones who make the ultimate sacrifice. The ones who make sacrifices every day of every sort of variety.

9) I am thankful for the opportunities to have met so many Dodger players in the last five years. Well, technically four I guess since I didn’t start going to autograph signings until 2007. This is my fifth full season as a Dodger fan. There are a few players I have met several times and I’ve always wondered if they remember me or recognize me. I’ve always thought, they see so many fans and sign so many autographs … why would they remember me? As you can well remember from the Beach Caravan… some do.

10) I am thankful for every day. Even when some mornings I don’t want to get out of bed and face the day. There were times when I just wanted to bury myself under the covers and never come out. There were times where I wonder what was there to look forward to. Now I am just thankful for every moment and every day. And I am thankful for the people I have in my life. It’s hard sometimes at the stadium to stop and talk to everyone I want to talk to. It doesn’t always happen that I get to talk to everyone and say hi. And now that the games I attend are few and far in between, I look forward to each one even more. And I look forward to seeing familiar friends and meeting new ones.

Even when every thing is going wrong and nothing seems to be going right… I just have to remember this…

GOD IS GOOD, ALL THE TIME.

AND ALL THE TIME, GOD IS GOOD.

Meeting Dioner Navarro (5-28)

Now time for the good stuff. You can totally disregard the WalGreens rant if you want. It’s just me blowing off steam.

I got to the Kragen’s around 7 and there was no one there. The next guy (Jose) pulled up shortly after I did. I waited until one of the Kragens employees came to open up. I asked him if this was the right location for the Dodger signing as there was no signage anywhere! He assured me that it was. I told Jose that I was going to grab breakfast as I was UBER cranky (see previous post if you want to read my long rant. Warning, don’t read unless you’re prepared to put up with a very cranky blogger).

The line didn’t grow much. By the time my friend Robert showed up, there were maybe five people in line. When my friend Pat texted me to see if the line was long, I told her (Robert’s influence): Oh yeah! All 9 of us. I think overall there may have been somewhere between 50-100 people … maybe somewhere in the middle of that. After all, Jerry Sands had a signing in Lomita and Jamey Carroll in Sherman Oaks.

I had a newspaper clipping from the 2008 All Star Game that Russell Martin signed. When he signed it, he said, “Is that Dioner?” So, I had hoped to one day get Navarro to sign the clipping as well. I didn’t realize one day would come so soon! I met up with Enrique and gave him a crash course on how to use a Canon SLR. We’ve been trying to do this for awhile but never worked it out till now. I probably talked Jose’s ear off. I don’t see myself as a very talkative, outgoing person. I think when I don’t get enough sleep, I go into over drive.

I didn’t take a look at the time to see if Navarro arrived early or on time. They set him up with the jersey and got him comfortable behind the table before they let us in. They had us go down one aisle and back up towards the front so they could curve the “line.” Seriously, there were maybe 25 people in line and they still told us only one item and that we could go back in line for another or if we wanted a photo. I think most people kind of disregarded that. Navarro didn’t mind and the security or reps didn’t say anything. Navarro came in with his wife, Sherley. If you read the information on Wikipedia and follow some of the links, they have an amazing love story and the reason behind why Navarro wears #30. Wow.

Navarro didn’t seem to talk much. He would just say “okay” a lot. It’s could just be a language thing. He was very nice. They usually are it seems when it’s such a small crowd. About halfway in, people were arriving from the Carroll signing.

Once I got my 2008 scrapbook signed, we got in line again to get our second item signed. I went out front to spin the wheel. When I got back, Pat was a little bit further in line. I didn’t want to be like, “excuse me” so I could go back and join her. But most of the people didn’t mind. Well, most. One lady did. She said, “How many times are you going to to through?” I didn’t say anything. Just ignored her and kept going. I was thinking in my head, “Hey lady! I got here at 7 AM and was the FIRST person in line. I’ll go through as many time as they’ll let me.” Whatever. It’s been that kind of morning, remember?

Overall, positive experience as always. Great seeing familiar faces and meeting new ones. I played photographer for a few people. I think Navarro’s wife got a kick out of it. She seemed to enjoy being there. It’s nice seeing a player’s wife hang around and interact with fans. Most times, the wife stays home or just drops off the player.

Even better… I got home and flipped around to see if there was a ball game on. Not only was MLB network airing a ball game … it’s the Giants-Brewers one and guess who pitched? He’s after Shaun Marcum in the rotation and his brother is going to be the 2nd base umpire at tonight’s Marlins-Dodger game. Randy was doing great through 7 innings. He only gave up one hit. One out into the 8th inning, they took him out with two men on. Cameron Loe allowed two runs on an error and a hit and bye-bye win for Randy. Oh well. Only one of those runs was earned. Still a quality start for Randy. Like I said. It’s been that kind of morning.

WalGreens Fiasco

Today was the Dioner Navarro signing. I’ve known about for awhile. Yet, I forgot to place an order to print out the photo of me and Navarro. I didn’t know there was a Rite Aid right next to the signing (and I don’t have a Rite Aid photo account). I found two WalGreens so I placed my order that way.

I got home from work around 1 AM and went straight to bed after I got my bags together for the autograph signing and for the game. Unfortunately, for some reason I had a difficult time falling asleep. Even when I did fall asleep, I didn’t sleep well at all. When my alarm went off at 5, I said, forget it. I’m not getting up yet. An hour later, after I couldn’t fall back asleep, I finally got up and headed out.

Last night, before I left work I sent in a photo order to Walgreens. I completely forgot to do it till the last minute. I had two options. I could send it to the one closer to the signing and pick it up around 8:30, or send it to the one that was out of my way and it would be ready by the time I left. It said it would be done at 2:39 AM. I figured it would be easier to pick it up on the way instead of going to the signing, putting my chair in my spot, wait for a friend to arrive so I could leave and go pick it up, and come back. So I sent it to the one that was further away and said it would be done at 2:39 AM. It was at a 24 hr Walgreens. My friend Edward has done a late order at a 24 hr Walgreens and picked it up like at 1 or 2 AM. So I figured, alright, it should be done by 2:39 AM so I can pick it up on my way, right?

WRONG.

It’s early when I get there, around 6:30ish. There’s a security guard and one cashier. I walk around trying to see if there’s another employee. There was a long line so I didn’t want to get in line just to ask for assistance, but I didn’t want to interrupt him while he was ringing up. After walking around and the line getting shorter, I finally got in line. He called in someone to help me. The guy comes out, asks me for my name. I told him Eav. He goes, is that the first name?  I told him, no that was my last name, first name Linda. I know they organize the photos by last name so I always give them my last name first. He looks for the photo in the regular orders when I had told him it was an 8×10. He didn’t find it. I tell him again, it’s an 8×10. He didn’t find it, asks me when did I place my order. I told him. He goes, “Oh. It’s not going to be ready. We don’t have a night person for that.” I’m like. Are you kidding me? Then why offer the photo at night and tell me it’s ready at 2:39 AM if there’s no one to process it a 2 AM??? I’ve ordered photos online before and when I select my pick up location, it’ll tell me if the location has it available or not. I guess I can relate to my customers now when they see their expected due date and their order isn’t ready yet. It’s not quite the same but it is.

After a week of dealing with customers, nice and rude and “special” ones, plus I hadn’t eaten yet (and haven’t really been eating well the last few days anyway) and I didn’t really get any sleep … I was CRANKY after that. I was more emotional than I usually am. Normally I wouldn’t get upset by something like this. And actually, most times when I go, they’ll offer to print it up right then and ask if I wouldn’t mind waiting a few minutes. He didn’t say any of that. Just, “Oh, it’s not going to be ready.” I told him straight out. “Just cancel it then. I’m not coming back for it. I came out of my way to pick it up here because it said it would be ready at 2:39 AM.” And yes, I realize the irony of that statement. I was gonna purchase something else but since I wasn’t getting my photos, I put my purchase back.

On my way out, the cashier who called the other guy asked me, “Did you get what you needed?” I told him, “No, it wasn’t ready.” And kept walking out. I was ready to cry. I was that emotionally unstable this morning. Even I was surprised how impatient and cranky I was. I was still cranky when I went to McDonalds and ordered the hot cakes and sausage, oatmeal, and medium iced caramel mocha. The guy gave me half of my order and it took me THREE tries to get his attention to get me the rest of my order. He was going to give me someone else’s order but it was missing the sausage. Guess what? I took one bite of the sausage and it fell off my fork and onto the ground. Just great. That’s my favorite part of the meal. And the oatmeal was too thick! I know. A lot of rants. Forgive me. I’m just in a bad mood this morning and needed to rant. I’ll be better tonight at the game. I promise. Just need another stop at Starbucks before I go and get myself a treat.

Oh yeah. Want to add insult to injury? I got home and noticed a nice lovely crack going across my windshield. Anyone want to rub salt in my wound while the day is still young?

I started out this entry about the signing and realized my rant got too long. Again, sorry about my rant. Just needed to blow some steam.

Sigh. I just got to repeat this to myself: God is good, all the time. And all the time, God is good.

Meeting Rod Barajas

Last Friday (May 13), Rod Barajas (catcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers) was signing autographs at a Metro PCS in Panorama City. A few weeks before, I asked several of my friends if they wanted to go. I had my photo taken with Rod on Opening Day and got it signed at one of the day games. I wanted to go so I could bring my gargantuan scrapbook from last year to get signed. This year, I decided I wasn’t going to bring the scrapbook to the stadium to sign anymore. I may bring it if I park inside so it’s not so far to walk.

With my new job, I usually don’t get home until 12:45. That night, my plan was to get home and go straight to bed. Unfortunately, my mind and body did not want to comply. I don’t think I fell asleep till at least 3, if not 3:30. My alarm went off at 5, left the house around 5:30, and got there around 6. There were about 8-10 people in line already. Naturally, my buddy Simon was at the front of the line.

More people showed up, but not as many people as we would normally see. Even Simon said a bunch of the regulars he talked to were not planning on showing up. We were hoping that if the line wasn’t too long, we could get multiple items signed.

Barajas showed up on time, if not early. I forget about the time he showed up. I guess people towards the front of the line were able to get multiple items signed. By the time we got to the front, they were telling us only one item each. My friend Robert had two canvases of Dodger Stadium to get signed, a large one and a medium sized one. I had my scrapbook, Pat’s team ball, and Natalie’s birthday ball. I only needed the scrapbook signed, but brought the balls as back up. I also had a photograph at home but figured I could save that for another time (turns out, I got it signed at the Stadium the next day).

Robert went first. He gave Rod one of the canvases. Rod was like, “awesome! Where do you want me to sign? Behind home plate? Wait, is that me?” He was slightly disappointed that it was Opening Series 2010, so it was Martin behind the plate.

Then it was my turn. I had my scrapbook from last year. He was very easy to converse with. I mentioned that I work by LAX and thought of them as I left work around midnight. He said they hadn’t landed yet. He asked me where I would like him to sign. I told him anywhere.

We got back in line since they told us only one item per person. Robert had the smaller canvas and I had a team ball for Pat or birthday ball for Natalie. I decided to go with the birthday ball. Rod was nice and asked who it was for. He was extremely nice and it was great. It was only 12:30 when I left. There weren’t that many people. I probably could’ve gotten back in line at lest two more times if I had more things but that would just be too many times to go through.

Visitor’s Pass

Yesterday, I needed to get tickets for this upcoming homestand. On Wednesday, I saw that Groupon had a special for Saturday’s game. Reserve tickets were 7, Lower Reserve were 11, and Infield Reserve was 18 (or something like that). They also had a discounted convenience fee. You still had to pay the Ticketmaster fee and for printing, or do will call is what I usually do. Even after all that, the Reserve ticket came up to about $13. I figured, if I was going to go to the Stadium to pick up my ticket, I might has well pay $14 for my ticket there. On the bright side, if you haven’t purchased tickets from Ticketmaster recently (I haven’t. I avoid it at all costs), they have changed the way you buy your tickets. They made some changes earlier this season and I did NOT like how they changed. Well, they have redeemed themselves in that way by changing it once again. I love the new system as you can now SELECT where you are buying your tickets. I didn’t like that before where I didn’t have an option of where I want to sit. Before, I loved sitting on the first base side and sometimes when I would purchase my tickets on Ticketmaster, they would stick me on the 3rd base side.

Anyway, I’m digressing. So I pull up to the security booth at the gate and usually the guard waves me in. I know two of the regular guards and they usually wave me in. Today, I had to stop when he asked me if I was going to buy tickets. I told him that I was. He asked me if I was an employee and if I had my badge. I almost always have my badge with me but I left it at home that day, not thinking that I would need it to purchase tickets. Long story short, he issued me a visitor’s pass.

When I got up to the top, there were two ticket sellers. My favorite seller was available as there was no line and the other seller was busy with a customer. My favorite seller recognized me off the bat. I said, “Hey, are you busy?” He was reading a book I think when I approached. He was like, ‘Hey, Mrs… wait, don’t tell me! He just pitched against us, the guy with Brewers.” During game day, I would walk past him and say hi and he would say “Hi Mrs. Martin” because I wore a 55 shirt the first few times we met. He finally gave up and asked me what his name was again. I reminded him, Wolf. He was like, “Oh yeah! Randy Wolf! So what can I do for you today?” I got my ticket for three games.

My coworker who’s a Dodger fan thinks it’s awesome that these people see me so often that they recognize me.